The following story has been corrected because of technical inaccuracies in the original version regarding the Illinois Constitution and its application to bills passed by both Houses of the state General Assembly.
Springfield, Illinois -- RFFM.org has learned producers for Bill O'Reilly [The O'Reilly Factor, FOX News] recently contacted the office of state senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) regarding the status of Jessica's Law in Illinois. Producers of the highly rated cable news program were inquiring as to why Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had not yet signed the legislation into law. The deadline for the Governor's signature on the bill was fast approaching and some critics were beginning to speculate whether Blagojevich was going to let the highly popular bill, designed to identify and monitor sexual predators of children, expire. [Photo Bill O'Reilly]
Once it reaches his desk, after a bill is passed by both Houses of the Illinois General Assembly, the Governor has 60 days to either sign the legislation into law, veto the bill, simply allow the bill to expire or the law would go into effect automatically after the 60 day period. The legislation, SB1397, puts additional restrictions on child sex offenders and producers of methamphetamine. In addition, the bill will further restrict child sex offenders and methamphetamine producers. It also increases punishments for sex offenders and establishes a meth ingredient sales tracking pilot program in a selected county. [Photo Gov. Blagojevich]
Concern was raised when the date for the signing of Jessica's Law was quickly approaching the deadline for the Governor's signature. The Illinois General Assembly voted passage of the law on July 11, 2007. The legislation was on Governor Rod Blagojevich's desk on August 9th, awaiting his signature. But the bill was not signed by Blagojevich until October 5th.
Senator Brady, who was one of the major sponsors of Jessica's Law in Illinois, was contacted by producers for The O'Reilly Factor only days before Blagojevich finally signed the bill. The law is named after Jessica Lunsford, a nine year old Florida girl who was kidnapped, raped and buried alive. Jessica's killer, John Evander Couey, now sits on Florida's death row. O'Reilly says a version of Jessica's Law has been enacted in over 40 states. The FOX News commentator has made the passage of this bill across America a personal mission and many believe pressure from O'Reilly has led to the successful passage of Jessica's Law in more than a few states. [Photo Jessica Lunsford]
RFFM.org learned producers for Bill O'Reilly also contacted Blagojevich's office shortly before he signed the legislation into law. The bill will go into effect in January of 2008, according to a press release issued by Senator Brady.
"I don't know whether inquiries from Bill O'Reilly had any effect on the Governor's signing of Jessica's Law," said an Illinois law maker. "I know there were special interests group who did not care for the bill and those same special interests groups have a substantial influence on the Democratic Party. But the law has been signed and no matter how we reached the goal or what it took to get there doesn't matter to me, although some voters might see it a different way."
According to O'Reilly, only seven states are now lacking legislation modeled after Jessica's Law. After his daughter's death, Jessica's father, Mark Lunsford, has dedicated his life to the protection of children from child predators. He is seen by many as a catalyst for numerous pieces of legislation designed to identify and track individuals who prey on children.
Copyright 2007 RFFM.org