Quinn Signs Pregnancy Protections, Industrial Hemp Research

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a measure into law aimed at curbing workplace discrimination against pregnant women.

The plan extends workplace protections to pregnant women, including requiring employers to consider accommodations if asked. That includes limits on manual labor and break space for breast feeding.

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson is a sponsor. She says it’s the same situation as an employee who may have an injury affecting their work and may ask for modified duties, like being able to sit down.

The Democrat said Tuesday at an event marking the signing that it’s an acknowledgement of issues pregnant women face, but also affects every family in the state.

Quinn signed the measure Monday. It also outlines penalties for employers.

Quinn also signed a law allowing universities and the Illinois Department of Agriculture to study industrial hemp.

Industrial hemp is in the same species as marijuana but has a negligible amount of marijuana’s active ingredient. Hemp can be used in the production of plastics, fuel, textiles and food.

The Illinois law says an institution of higher education or the state’s Agriculture Department can study the growth, cultivation and marketing of hemp. Those wanting to participate have to notify the state and local law enforcement and provide reports to the state.

Several other states have similar programs.

Illinois’ law takes effect in January.

The state approved a plan legalizing medical marijuana last year.

Quinn has vetoed legislation aimed at increasing the speed limit from 65 to 70 miles per hour on interstate highways around Illinois.

The legislation was sponsored by Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis, the current GOP candidate for U.S. Senate. It follows the passage of a 2013 law increasing the speed limit to 70 miles on interstates which the Quinn administration interpreted to only apply to rural areas. Oberweis’ bill would have empowered the state Tollway Authority and the Department of Transportation to impose higher limits in urban areas.

Quinn Tuesday cited studies showing increased speeds lengthen stopping distance, and produce more violent collisions.

The governor’s action follows the veto of another bill also that would have let large trucks go faster on interstate highways in the Chicago area.

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