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Local lawmaker's bill would make pregnant women eligible for handicap parking

SPRINGFIELD – Pregnant women in their last trimester may be able to more easily receive a handicap parking placard under a new bill filed by a local Illinois legislator.

State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, said he filed House Bill 4778 on Feb. 10 after being made aware of a situation involving a close friend and Illinois General Assembly staff member. He said the friend ran into an issue where they were pregnant and, during their third trimester, had to walk quite a ways from regular parking to the building in which they worked.

“It was a real life situation for someone [who needed it] … especially within the winter months,” Wheeler said.

The way that it was explained to him, Wheeler said, was that doctors are currently able to authorize a pregnant patient a handicap parking placard if there’s a specific hardship or physical difficulty in walking during the last trimester. He said the bill is meant to help women who would have to park down the hill from their workplace and to help eliminate risk to themselves and the fetus that way.

“There may be no medical necessity, but the difference of going through the everyday work process would be something that would warrant a placard,” Wheeler explained.

According to the bill, a decal provided to an expectant mother shall be valid for no more than 90 days. The bill also said the placard shall be issued only after showing adequate documentation from the pregnant woman’s doctor to the Illinois Secretary of State’s office that verifies she has entered her third trimester.

State Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield, co-sponsored the bill four days after it was filed. He said he things can unexpectedly change and get tough in the last trimester of pregnancy especially and supporting the bill seemed like the right thing to do if it meant helping to short-circuit the process for those affected women.

“As father of five, I just think it’s reasonable solution to a problem,” Batinick said.

Wheeler said the bill is still in the General Assembly’s rules committee after it was referred there on Tuesday, Feb. 18. He said next steps include getting feedback from committee members about the bill and to build support for the bill via sponsorships.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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