An amendment change to House Bill 180 that was created in an NIU classroom was unanimously approved by state lawmakers Monday, May 23.
As part of a final project in Sociology 392: Organizing for Social Action, students were challenged with finding a cause and presenting recommendations for its improvement. The result was a possible amendment change that further restricted protesting at funerals and memorials by adding further restrictions on both time and distance allowed by picketers.
The students’ amendment required protestors to stand 1,000 feet away while also extending the time from 30 minutes to one hour before and after the service. The current amendment as written will change only the distance, forcing protestors to move 300 feet away as opposed to the 200 feet presently imposed.
NIU sociology instructor Jack King said he is proud of the work his students did on the project.
“I’m excited that the students’ efforts ended in the bill being passed and that what students learn in the classroom has real-world application,” King said. “Like most legislation, it is about compromise. We got some of what we wanted, and there is always next year for those who want to take another look.”
Student Gayle Deja-Schultz, a former intern for Rep. Kay Hatcher, originally reached out to the state representative about the class project in hopes of implementing a change to the current law.
“I thank Rep. Hatcher for championing the bill through this full legislative session, and I thank student Gayle Deja-Schultz for monitoring and tracking HB 180 on behalf of the class,” King added. “At the outset, many of them believed this was an exercise in futility. Even though the class officially ended, the learning process is open-ended.”
House lawmakers still need to approve the 300-foot distance before sending the amendment to Gov. Pat Quinn for consideration.