"Signing this legislation makes Illinois and our homeland safer,"
Blagojevich said. "If a person is able to buy a pilot's uniform and
go into restricted areas of an airport, our security is at enormous
risk. Now, impersonating a pilot in secure areas of Illinois'
airports is a crime. We should do even more to eliminate this risk.
Congress should take action quickly to restrict the availability of
pilots' uniforms to the general public, to prevent these uniforms
from getting into the wrong hands in the first place."
1559 makes the impersonation of a pilot, airline employee, airport
employee or contractor in restricted areas of an airport a Class 4
felony, punishable by one to three years in prison. The bill also
prohibits anyone from claiming or falsely representing that they are
a pilot, airline employee, airport employee or contractor at an
airport in order to obtain the uniform, identification card or
license of any airport or airline employee.
"In today's world, we cannot be too careful when it comes to
airline safety," said Dillard, sponsor of the bill in the Senate.
"This legislation is a common-sense measure that will improve the
safety and security of our airports, and I commend the governor for
signing it into law."
"When our citizens get on an airplane, they should be able to
trust that the pilot and the crew are who they say they are," said
Cross, House sponsor. "This legislation will help ensure the safety
of our airlines and airports."
House Bill 1559 was prompted by a CLTV investigative report that
documented how easy it was for someone to obtain a pilot's uniform
and use it as a disguise to deceive airport security. Reporter Bob
Arya found that he was able to purchase a pilot's uniform off the
Internet without any form of official identification, and it arrived
at his doorstep less than two days later. Arya's probe also found
that about a third of the time, airline pilot identification is not
thoroughly examined at checkpoints, making it likely that someone
with a uniform and a fake identification could have access to
restricted areas of airports, including airplanes.
"I want to thank Bob Arya for his excellent work in uncovering
this risk," Blagojevich said. "He noticed a problem, tracked it
down, exposed it, and we were able to act quickly to deal with it.
As a result, everyone will be safer for it."
In response to the CLTV pilot uniform report, Blagojevich lobbied
the federal government to close the dangerous loophole. The governor
sent letters to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Homeland
Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and to David Stone,
assistant secretary of homeland security for the Transportation
Security Administration. The TSA regulates security checkpoints at
airports, where pilots are required to go through metal detectors
and have their identification verified. U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and
Barack Obama also urged Congress and the TSA to work toward banning
access to uniforms.
"The safety of our passengers always has been the benchmark of
our profession," said Capt. Wendy Morse, vice chairman of the United
Master Executive Council Air Line Pilots Association. "Nothing is
more important to those who sit in the cockpit than the safe
transport of all of our passengers, and the confidence and trust
they place in us. The uniform of the airline pilot is the most
visible symbol of that trust and confidence. The bill being signed
today will continue to enhance the safety and security of the
traveling public in this post 9/11 era by protecting that important
symbol. We applaud Governor Blagojevich and the Illinois legislature
for their support."
"These bills help the TSA eliminate a scary loophole in airport
safety, and at virtually no cost to the taxpayer or traveler," said
Joe Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for
Metropolitan Development and professor of public service management
at DePaul University in Chicago. "Securing our airports requires
this kind of state leadership, and these bills will correct an
oversight that should have been fixed long ago."
On Thursday, the governor also signed
House Bill 349, sponsored by Sen. Dillard and Rep. Sidney
Mathias, R-Arlington Heights, which stiffens penalties for
trespassing in an airport's restricted area. The bill makes a
trespassing in an airport's restricted area a Class 4 felony and
makes trespassing while in possession of a weapon, replica of a
weapon or ammunition a Class 3 felony. Previously, trespassing in an
airport's restricted area was a Class A misdemeanor.
"The recent terrorist attacks on London's transportation systems
remind us that we must strive to institute measures that protect
travelers and all other citizens," said Mathias, sponsored of the
bill in the House. "This new law strengthens security in Illinois
airports and works to ensure the safety of airline passengers and
employees throughout their journeys."
[to top of second column in this article]
House Bill 1559, effective immediately, and House Bill 349,
effective Jan. 1, 2006, build on the state's ongoing homeland
security and preparedness efforts.
Last week, the governor signed
legislation that increased security for all municipal utilities
in Illinois. The new law outlines specific safeguards that will
be adopted by municipal utility facilities, including electric
public utilities, restricting access to critical infrastructure.
Last year, Illinois retained the
nation's highest rating ("green") from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention to manage the Strategic National
Stockpile during an act of bioterrorism or other mass casualty
event. Illinois is one of only six states to achieve this
In March 2004, Blagojevich
implemented the Illinois-National Electronic Disease
Surveillance System, a secure, Web-based system for hospitals,
doctors and other health care providers to electronically report
infectious diseases. The system allows medical professionals and
public health officials to effectively respond to public health
emergencies immediately. I-NEDSS is part of a nationwide system
linking state and local public health departments with the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In March 2004, the administration
launched a Web-based version of the hospital bypass system,
providing the state with up-to-the-minute information from more
than 200 hospitals in Illinois on the availability of beds and
other critical health care services necessary to guide the
response to an act of terrorism or other public health
Under the Blagojevich
administration, the Illinois Emergency Medical Response Team has
expanded to 12 teams and 900 participants. IMERT responds and
assists with emergency medical treatment of mass casualty
incidents when activated by the director of public health. Each
team consists of a physician, nurse, paramedic and an EMT who
volunteer their time. The state continues to recruit more
volunteers to participate in this effort.
The Cities Readiness Initiative
is a partnership with Chicago, St. Louis and neighboring states
that focuses on conducting readiness exercises between large
metropolitan areas and states and how the different entities can
work together on preparedness.
The state created the Illinois
Public Health Mutual Aid System last year to strengthen the
preparedness of the public health system in Illinois.
Blagojevich called on all the local health departments
throughout the state to sign on to the project, which provides
for the sharing of resources in the event of a terrorist
biological attack or other emergency. All 95 local health
departments in the state heeded the governor's call to action
and signed on to participate in the system. The pact provides
personnel, equipment and supplies assistance by local health
departments to a stricken area.
The Chem-Pack project is an
initiative geared toward raising preparedness efforts related to
responding to chemical or nerve agent terrorist attacks.
Illinois distributed the packs last fall to hospitals around the
state to protect against a nerve agent attack. The packs contain
medicine to treat nerve agent exposure.
- The State Weapons of Mass Destruction Team is a multi-agency
effort including the Illinois State Police, Secretary of State
Police, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois
Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Emergency
Management Agency. The team is trained to respond to a
biological, chemical or radiological agent attack. Specially
trained individuals determine what type of agent has been used
and how to respond.
[News release from the governor's