New license renewal process in place, watch out for faster trains

New process now in use for drivers’ license renewals
Illinois drivers looking to renew their licenses should take note of some new processes now in place at the Secretary of State’s office. One key change, mandated by the federal government, is an end to the practice of presenting each driver with a new license on-site when the renewal procedure is completed. The REAL ID law requires all new drivers’ licenses to be manufactured in guarded, secured facilities. In Illinois, drivers who successfully renew their licenses at a Driver Services facility will get their old license back with a hole punched through them, accompanied by an additional 45-day paper slip of successful renewal. The old license will remain temporarily valid through the 45-day period. The driver should carry both the old license and the paper slip.

Meanwhile, the information gathered in the Driver Services facility will be transmitted to a central location where a new, secure license will be printed and stamped. The new license will contain features intended to increase the security of the license and further reduce potential counterfeiting. The new license should be mailed to the driver within 15 days, and once received should be carried and used. The old license with a hole in it will no longer be valid.

The Secretary of State’s office is also on course to impose additional security requirements upon first-time applicants for a standard drivers’ license, starting in 2017. First-time applicants will be required to present a U.S. passport, a certified copy of their birth certificate, or immigration documents that show proof of legal residence in the U.S. These are requirements that are being imposed on states by the implementation of the post-9/11 REAL ID Act.

State urges motorists to be aware of faster Amtrak trains
Drivers in part of Livingston County are familiar with the Amtrak trains that travel between Pontiac and Dwight at 110 miles per hour. Now, faster service (up from 79 mph) is almost ready to be expanded to the entire Chicago-St. Louis corridor, and Illinois officials are urging drivers to take note of the faster speeds for trains. The change is expected to take effect next year.

A rail-safety spokesman for the Illinois Commerce Commission said the warning times on crossing signals will be extended from 20-30 seconds up to as much as 90 seconds when the faster train service begins. Faster trains obviously mean shorter reaction times and longer stopping distances. Amtrak and IDOT have been making safety improvements to crossings all along the route in anticipation of the faster trains, but now they are calling on drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to do their part by being aware of the faster trains.

Land of Lincoln health co-op shuts down
Land of Lincoln Health had been founded as a co-operative to provide health insurance policies to Illinois residents in compliance with the mandates enacted by Obamacare. Approximately 49,000 individuals and households bought Land of Lincoln coverage for coverage year 2016.

The insurance co-op was forced to declare insolvency and commence steps to shut down its operations. Its policyholders will be required to seek new insurers that may charge more than Land of Lincoln charged. In addition, the state’s Department of Insurance confirmed this week that the new insurers are extremely likely to demand that their new customers take on a new health insurance deductible and a new insurance out-of-pocket maximum for the remainder of 2016. Moneys paid out by these insurance customers to health care providers under their contracts with Land of Lincoln Health are not likely to be credited to their new insurance accounts for the remainder of 2016.

As with other Illinoisans subject to the Affordable Care Act, former Land of Lincoln Health policyholders will also be required to renew their policies or to find new insurance during the end-of-2016 annual renewal cycle for insurance coverage year 2017.

Illinois is nation’s fifth-largest Presidential elector
As everyone knows, this fall citizens all across the nation will choose our next President. The 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution spells out the process by which the President and Vice President are chosen: the institution commonly known as the Electoral College. Each state is allocated a certain number of electoral votes, a figure determined by the number of representatives in Congress which that state has. Because Illinois has 18 U.S. Representatives and two Senators, we have a total of 20 electoral votes, tying us with Pennsylvania as the fifth-largest group of electors.

Like most states, in Illinois, the candidate who wins the contest in that state receives all of that state’s electors (Nebraska and Maine allocate two electors to the statewide winner and the rest by congressional district). Each party on the ballot will have named its slate of electors, and once the results from November 8 are official, the winning party’s slate will meet in Springfield in December to formally cast Illinois’ 20 electoral votes for President and Vice President. The certificate with the results is then transmitted to the President of the Senate, who opens it and announces each state’s results during a joint session of Congress in early January.

The candidates attaining a majority of electors, 270 out of 538, will become the next President and Vice President of the United States. If no candidate reaches 270, the next President is chosen by the new House of Representatives, and the next Vice President is chosen by the new Senate – which last happened in 1824. Our new President and Vice President will take office on January 20, 2017.

Did You Know?
Of the five counties in the 106th district, Vermillion is the oldest, as it was established on January 18, 1826. Next is Iroquois (1833), Livingston (1837), Woodford (1841) and finally Ford (1859). Vermillion is also the only one of the five which was not formally established in the month of February. Ford County was the last of Illinois’ 102 counties to be established, coming into being just nine days after Douglas County.