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Illinois EPA starts sending vehicle emission test reminders again

The Illinois EPA has started sending out vehicle emission test reminders after stopping the mailing in December. | File photo

Notices of vehicle emission tests due soon on nearly a half a million Illinois vehicles are finally being mailed out, despite a state budget stalemate, state officials said Wednesday.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had stopped mailing the reminders in December because of the state budget crunch. It resumed doing so Wednesday after the testing contractor, Applus Technologies, agreed to eat the cost of the mailings, state EPA officials said.

The reminders started to go out Wednesday for vehicles due for emission tests in March, April and May, Illinois EPA spokeswoman Kim Biggs said. That covers as many as 498,000 vehicles, she said.

Because of the delays, the Secretary of State’s office has agreed not to require drivers seeking renewals of their license plate stickers to have emission testing until June 1. Normally, drivers cannot obtain a license plate sticker renewal unless their vehicle has passed emissions testing.

However, drivers beware: The Secretary of State’s office is still not mailing out renewal notices for license plate stickers. Failure to pay for license plate renewals on time triggers a $20 late fee.

The late fees jumped 21 percent in the first three months of 2016 compared to those same months in 2015, Secretary of State spokesman Dave Drucker said. They rose from $2.22 million last year to $4.96 million so far this year, Drucker said.

That new money cannot be used to pay for license plate renewal mailings because it is poured into the state general revenue fund, not the Secretary of State’s Office, he said.

“We can’t spend a penny of it unless it’s approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor,” Drucker said.

In addition, he said, the Secretary of State’s office has saved $450,000 a month by not sending out the mailings.