Deadlines not made to be broken by state or drivers

Maybe because we're journalists, the concept of deadlines means something to us. We run up against deadlines every day and we certainly make sure we know our deadlines because there is a price to pay if we miss them. So two recent stories caught our eye about deadlines. Both, interestingly enough, involved the state of Illinois, specifically the secretary of state's office.

Daily Herald transportation writer Marni Pyke informed us again this week that the state is no longer reminding drivers when their license plate sticker has expired and showed what happens when drivers forget. The mailings - which, officials say, cost $450,000 a month - were stopped in September as a casualty of the budget impasse between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislature.

It "is not something we wanted to do," secretary of state's office spokesman Dave Druker said. "The feeling was to prioritize mailing out the stickers and titles" rather than the reminders. It's caused renewals to plummet - almost 19 percent in November and 36 percent in December.

But this is not about criticizing Secretary of State Jesse White. He is caught in the middle of a political battle that seems to have no end. And reminders were a nice perk, but, hey, drivers should know when their license plate renewal is due.

But that brings us to another issue with White's office. As of this Sunday, Illinois will be in violation of a deadline they've known about for 10 years. Yes, 10 years.

In fact, they've received two extensions of their deadline but still haven't been able to meet it. That's not acceptable, especially when it means Illinois residents will be the ones inconvenienced by the state's tardiness. Illinois is among a handful of states told by the federal Department of Homeland Security that it will no longer extend a deadline to meet tightened requirements for state-issued identification. The requirements were included in legislation approved in 2005 with an original deadline of 2009.

What that means for Illinois residents is that a passport or some other identification may be needed to board a plane (domestic or otherwise) or enter some federal buildings. White's office is crying poor on this issue as well, but something should have been done to avoid what could be a pain for travelers. A 2016 date for the airport requirements hasn't been set yet, but it's coming and White's office should have been prepared.

Our advice now for travelers is to meet their own deadlines and get a passport.

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