SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A plan to study hemp as a possible agricultural crop
hit another snag Tuesday as proponents struggled to overturn a
gubernatorial veto.

The House debated, then postponed, a measure to authorize the University of
Illinois to study legalizing hemp production for use in clothing and other
materials. The bill passed this year, but Gov. George Ryan vetoed it.

In floor debate, supporters talked about the potential economic benefits.
But the sponsor, Rep. Ron Lawfer, R-Stockton, shelved his veto challenge
before it was voted on.

Lawfer needs 71 votes to overturn the veto. "He wasn't sure he had the
votes," said Sen. Evelyn Bowles, D-Edwardsville. She has helped Lawfer push
the hemp-study idea through two passages in the past two years.

Bowles said she would lobby House members this week, talking to "as many of
them as I can," in preparation for a House override vote. It also would
have to pass in the Senate.

Backers say the hemp study could lead to a major new crop for Illinois
farmers. Opponents say hemp is too closely identified with its biological
cousin, marijuana, and shouldn't be promoted by the state.

The Legislature met Tuesday for the first time since the terrorist attacks
of Sept. 11. People entering the Capitol were subjected to bag-searches and
metal detectors. The House, long known for its raucous, open style, was
muted by new rules restricting floor access by staff members, lobbyists and
reporters.

One journalist was expelled from the House chamber after she left her seat
to use the bathroom and tried to return. Other reporters complained to
House Speaker Michael Madigan about lack of access to lawmakers. Madigan
said security issues overrode those concerns.

The hemp bill is HB 3377.


Newshawk: chip
Pubdate: Wed, 14 Nov 2001
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Copyright: 2001 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Contact: letters@post-dispatch.com
Website: http://home.post-dispatch.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/418
Section: Metro
Author: Kevin McDermott