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This August, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that will help truckers make informed decisions about the safest, most efficient route through Illinois' municipalities. Potential benefits of the new law may include reductions in Illinois truck accidents and less road maintenance and repair costs.

Authored by Representative Michael Zalewski, D-Summit, and Senator Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, the bill requires local governments to regularly update the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) on their designated trucking routes, or report to IDOT that there is no designated trucking route through a municipality. IDOT will use the information supplied by local governments to create a website that truckers can refer to when making decisions on what route to take through towns. The law will go into effect January 1, 2012.

Benefits of the New Law

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In August, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that will give law enforcement more power to confirm a driver's state of intoxication and make arrests in the field. New legislation will also increase the penalties for driving a school bus under the influence of alcohol.

Driving under the influence is a serious problem in America. Government studies find that close to one third of all Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. About 310,000 people are injured in alcohol-related accidents each year, or one person every two minutes.

Unfortunately, Illinois is not immune from the tragic consequences of drunk driving. In 2002, 51,649 people were arrested for DUI in the state. Illinois' legal blood alcohol concentration limit is .08, and the state's legal drinking age is 21. Unfortunately, this does not stop some teenagers from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Young people ages 18 to 24 represent 15 percent of all licensed drivers in Illinois, but are involved in almost 39 percent of all Illinois drunk driving accidents. In 2002, 32 percent of teen drivers who died in an alcohol-related crash were intoxicated.

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Two recent farm accidents involving teen farm workers reveal the urgent need for child labor law reform in the agricultural industry. The Department of Labor undertook revising its laws last year, but only opened discussion on the proposed changes on September 2nd of this year. Some child rights advocates believe that the White House dragged its feet on the revisions, and that the recent farm accidents that claimed the lives of two teenagers could have been prevented had the laws passed in a timely fashion.

Earlier this summer in a farm accident in Illinois, two 14-year-old girls were electrocuted and killed when they ran into an irrigation rig while detasseling corn. The farm on which the girls were working is owned by agribusiness giant Monsanto, against whom one of the girl's fathers has filed a lawsuit.

Then, this August in Oklahoma, two 17-year-old boys were severely injured when they were pulled into a grain auger, a farm tool that has a metal tube with a large spiral of steel running through it, used to carry grain from the ground into a grain silo. When the emergency responders arrived, they had to cut through the auger to get to the boys.

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Everyone has heard the story: A woman pulls up to a McDonald's drive thru for some coffee. While holding the coffee cup and trying to drive at the same time, she spills coffee on her lap and burns herself. She sues McDonald's, becomes a millionaire, and all her troubles are over. The case is a prime example of a frivolous lawsuit or so-called "jackpot justice."

That, at least, is the urban legend played out by the media, comedians and politicians. What actually happened to the woman in the coffee case is much more serious, a point the documentary "Hot Coffee" attempts to make while looking at the American justice system and the idea of tort reform. The movie uses the coffee case to ask the question: Is justice being served?

The movie explores what actually happened to then 79 year-old Stella Lieback, the woman who suffered burns from the McDonald's coffee. In reality Lieback was a passenger in a parked car and the coffee spilled as she was trying to add cream and sugar to the cup which she held between her knees.

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In June 2011, Illinois passed a bill reforming the state's workers' compensation system in an effort to cut costs and stimulate business growth. In so doing, Illinois joined a long list of states passing increasingly stringent requirements for workers to meet in order to receive workers' compensation benefits for on-the-job injuries. While supporters of Illinois' workers' compensation reform bill claim that it will make Illinois more attractive to businesses by saving them money, many critics argue that injured workers will suffer under the law's new provisions.

National Trends in Workers' Compensation Legislation

Every state in the U.S. except Texas requires businesses that operate in them to carry some form of workers' compensation insurance. Many larger businesses meet this requirement by self-insuring, paying injured workers' benefits according to statutory requirement. In four states, if a company cannot afford to self-insure it must enroll in the state workers' compensation insurance plan. In about 20 states, businesses may self-insure, join the state plan or purchase private workers' compensation insurance. In the remaining states the only option businesses that cannot afford to self-insure have is to purchase private insurance.

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