State Rep. Jakobsson Questions Veto of Security Camera Bill

August 15, 2011

An Urbana lawmaker says she is puzzled with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's changes to a bill she sponsored concerning the use of surveillance cameras at government facilities.

The bill unanimously passed both chambers of the legislature, but Quinn says he is concerned that the present legislation 'may present security risks.'

The veto would exempt state prisons, municipal jails, courthouses, and police stations, as well as water treatment plants, power plants, and airports. Jakobsson questions the governor's reasoning, noting the precise location of the cameras is not in the measure.

"We just want the public to know how many there are, how many the state has, and I think when the governor said this is a matter of security, that's really far reaching," she said. "We're not asking to identify where any of them are, he doesn't want the department of corrections to have to disclose - we never asked them to disclose."

Jakobsson, a Democrat, said disclosure of solely the number of cameras is important, along with any privacy regulations that state and local government agencies have. But she said she is unsure yet if she will override the governor's action this fall.

Meanwhile, Champaign Democratic Senator Mike Frerichs said it is possible entirely new legislation will be introduced this spring. He was the chief sponsor of the measure in the Senate.

"I think there's a difficult decision here to be be made weighing the benefits of public safety and right to privacy," he said. "So, we'll be working with some of the bill sponsors on this to see if the amendment is not overridden, but we feel (Gov. Quinn) might might have gone a little far. There's always the possibility of sponsoring another bill in the next general assembly."

Mahomet House Republican Chapin Rose co-sponsored the original measure, but like Frerichs, he said he would have to review Quinn's changes before deciding whether to override the veto in the fall session, which starts in October.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois backed the legislation before it was unanimously approved by all state lawmakers. Agency spokesman Ed Yohnka said the bill is about transparency, which he said won't be as useful in Illinois if the governor's veto remains intact.

"This is a bill about transparency, and if you're obscuring that transparency, I think that people would be very interested in knowing that and looking at how to move forward," Yohnka said. "(The bill) is still a useful first step forward.

Story source: WILL