Summary: Exempt Our Elevators will fight to restore our exemption or to repeal the fraudulent State Elevator Law regardless of whether SB0886 becomes law. We want our exemption restored so that every private condo and apt. elevator building in Illinois can enjoy the same exemption as every elevator in the City of Chicago has since the State Elevator Law first passed in 2002. We warn every condo and apt. elevator building in Illinois not to contract to comply with any state-mandated upgrade. Any building that does is wasting its money. We urge rigorous monthly maintenance of all elevators to standards grandfathered to their existing parts and design. We also advocate a rigorous annual safety inspection by any competent professional elevator firm.

How Amendment 1 to SB0886 came about: After securing the redaction of all elevator and high tech fire safety upgrades from the Draft River Forest Building code on April 23, 2008, [2] Exempt Our Elevators’ founder, Dr. Barbara Langer, e-mailed state senators Harmon and Lightford, state reps. Yarbrough and Graham and Gov. Blagojevich and Lt. Gov. Quinn on April 28 to exempt elevators in existing condo and apt. elevator buildings from the State Elevator Law by expanding the law’s definition of exempt “Private Residences” to include us and to postpone compliance dates for every non-exempt elevator building in Illinois until the law’s sunset date in 2013.

Sen. Harmon responded by introducing Senate Floor Amendment 1 to a shell bill, SB0886, two days later, on April 30. However, the definition of exempt “Private Residences” in Amendment 1 includes elevators in both existing and new construction of both public and private condo and apt. buildings. On May 1, Exempt Our Elevators immediately asked Harmon to limit the definition to existing private condo and apt. elevator buildings so as to make the exemption more palatable to its powerful opponents, who seek more, not less elevator business. Limiting the exemption to existing buildings also acknowledges that new construction should meet newer standards than existing grandfathered buildings.

Harmon declined and instead introduced Senate Floor Amendment 2 to the shell bill six days later, on May 7. Amendment 2 postpones compliance dates from 2009 or 2011 to 2013 when the law sunsets but does not exempt our elevators. It also “deletes everything in SB0886 after the opening paragraph.” Exempt Our Elevators misunderstood this to mean that it deleted everything in the State Elevator Law after the opening paragraph, a misunderstanding Sen. Harmon actively fostered rather than corrected.

In fact, Exempt Our Elevators only learned on Friday, May 23 that Harmon’s Senate Floor Amendment 2 actually deletes our exemption by deleting Senate Floor Amendment 1. This is not obvious because Amendment 2 does not mention Amendment 1, which remains on the Illinois General Assembly website just as before. But as a practical matter, we lost our exemption when Harmon deleted it April 30.

We want if back and won’t settle for anything less. Repealing the fraudulent State Elevator Law would also restore the grandfathered status most
Illinois elevators enjoyed previously and, like our narrower primary goal of exemption, would serve the Public Interest of Illinois citizens.

On May 28, Rep. Saviano attempted to water down SB0886 by filing House Amendment 1, which eliminates postponement of compliance deadlines for all Illinois apartment elevator buildings and might have derailed the postponement of compliance deadlines for all Illinois condominium elevator buildings as well (by creating insurmountable procedural barriers) if it had not been tabled just before the floor vote on May 30.

Barbara Langer

Exempt Our Elevators

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