New law will limit ‘free admission days’ at museums and parks to Illinois residents

Online Staff Report

A bill signed July 22 by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) will amend the Park District and Aquarium and Museum Act to limit “free admission days” at museums and parks to Illinois residents only.

Senate Bill 1670 will amend the Park District Aquarium and Museum Act. Current law stipulates aquariums or museums are allowed to charge an admission fee; however, they must be open to the public, free of charge, for 52 days each year.

Under the law, free of charge used to meant anyone may be admitted for free, regardless of residency. In an effort to save taxpayer dollars and help local tourist attractions’ revenue, S.B. 1670 will limit free days to Illinois residents only.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Belvidere/Rockford, who was a co-sponsor of the bill, said: “This new law will not only help local parks’ and museums’ revenue, but also the taxpayers as well. The citizens of Illinois are already paying for their free days through the taxes they pay. It just makes sense for out-of-state residents to pay their fair share.”

It is estimated S.B. 1670 would save the City of Chicago $11 million. Rockford and the surrounding area are also set to benefit from this legislation.

Sarah Wolf, executive director of the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, in a statement, expressed how this measure will help the Discovery Center.

“We very much appreciate the work Representative Sosnowski did to get this change,” Wolf said. “This change will most certainly increase our admissions revenue, but still benefit Illinois residents who otherwise might not be able to afford to visit our museums.”

The new law goes into effect immediately.

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