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New Laws Illinois

This Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, photo taken in Chicago shows an Illinois license plate.

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois secretary of state’s office is once again mailing out reminders to drivers whose license plate registration stickers are about to expire.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office stopped mailing notices in October amid the budget standoff between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly. When the two sides agreed on a short-term budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, White’s office said it needed more time to decide whether to resume sending notices by mail.

An announcement Monday said the stopgap budget will allow the office to restart the practice beginning this month.

“The notices are an essential tool for the public to be sure their vehicles are in good standing and avoid paying late fees and fines resulting from tickets issued by law enforcement,” White said in a prepared statement. “The driving public paid the price for the budget impasse and it proved to be an unfair burden.”

Meanwhile, the secretary of state’s office is preparing legislation that would give it the authority to sell advertising space on the renewal notices to help defray the cost of postage.

Spokesman Dave Drucker said a bill is still being drafted, so it’s uncertain what kind of restrictions, if any, might be placed on who can buy ad space.

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The legislation, which the secretary of state’s office plans to introduce in time for the Legislature’s scheduled veto session in November, would also the office allow to remove drivers from the postal mailing list if they sign up to receive renewal reminders via email.

Since the state stopped mailing notices last year, roughly 800,000 people have signed up for email notifications, according to the secretary of state’s office.

During that time, the number of people charged a $20 late fee for failing to renew on time also grew, more than doubling from the previous year.

A bill on Rauner’s desk that would waive the late fee until the secretary of state’s office resumes mailing notices may now be moot. But because the stopgap budget only runs through December, the measure could become necessary again if the governor and lawmakers fail to agree on a spending plan for the rest of the year.

The governor’s office said the bill is still under review.

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