By Sigrid Pilgrim
As you may recall, IDNR last year provided IPC with the amendatory language to exempt out-of-state paddlers from the WUS requirement if they participated in an organized event.
HB 227 was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, but Governor Rauner vetoed the bill with the explanation that out-of-state paddlers should not enjoy a benefit that in-state paddlers do not have.
I have had extensive conversations and email exchanges with a Policy Advisor on Environment and Energy in Governor Rauner’s office, who also forwarded me the two attachments (linked below) and explained them to me. Attachment one is the Special Order by Joe Morlock, Deputy Chief, Office of Law Enforcement which was signed February 28, 2014 and which states that this rule will not be enforced. We knew that DNR was not going to enforce the rule in 2014, but did not know it was extended beyond. Therefore, if you are a paddling competition or other public event organizer, please be sure to print out a copy of this order and have it with you in case any law enforcement officer may question why there are boats without a WUS (as long as that paddler can proof s/he is not an Illinois citizen.) This order pertains to All Law Enforcement Personnel, not only the Conservation Police, as per confirmation from the Governor’s Policy Advisor.
Attachment two is the regatta application that DNR requires event organizers to fill out and return. The explanation given to me was that DNR wants to know about such events so if there is a need for additional safety they can inform their personnel accordingly.