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Finish Line Express, Inc. v. City of Chicago

OPINION FILED JULY 14, 1978.

FINISH LINE EXPRESS, INC., ET AL., APPELLEES,

v.

THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL. — (WILLIAM J. SCOTT, ATTORNEY GENERAL, APPELLANT.)



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hons. John F. Hechinger, Nathan M. Cohen, and L. Sheldon Brown, Judges, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE UNDERWOOD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiffs, corporations operating businesses commonly called racetrack-messenger services, brought this action in the circuit court of Cook County challenging the constitutionality of section 39.1 of the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 8, par. 37-39.1), which makes it a felony to accept, for a fee, money to be delivered to a racetrack for wagering on horse races. The circuit court dismissed plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a cause of action, but the appellate court reversed (59 Ill. App.3d 419), finding that the plaintiffs' right to engage in business was unconstitutionally restrained and that "the proper remedy for the legislature would be to regulate the activities of these messenger services to be sure they operate within the framework of the Illinois Horse Racing Act, not to prohibit their operation" (59 Ill. App.3d 419, 424). We granted the Attorney General leave to appeal and we now reverse the appellate court.

A preliminary question relates to the plaintiffs' motion to strike the Attorney General's brief or the references therein to a 1977 Legislative Investigating Commission Report to the Illinois General Assembly entitled "Race Track Messenger Services." Plaintiffs contend that this report is not a part of the record and cannot be utilized by counsel nor considered by this court.

The report in question is the product of the Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission, an agency created by the General Assembly. One of the primary functions of the Commission is "to conduct investigations * * * on any matter upon which the General Assembly may legislate." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 63, par. 301.) The report was prepared in response to Senate Resolution 447 adopted December 2, 1976, pertinent portions of which are as follows:

"WHEREAS, There has recently been established in the State of Illinois messenger services which relay bets to race tracks; and

WHEREAS, These services have reduced or may have a tendency to reduce attendance at the licensed race tracks in Illinois; and

WHEREAS, Reduced attendance at the licensed race tracks and racing meets reduces revenues to concessionaires and race meet operators licensed by the State of Illinois and as a result reduces revenues to the State of Illinois and municipalities in the vicinity of such race tracks; and

WHEREAS, There has occurred a drop in revenues to the State of Illinois; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE SENATE OF THE SEVENTY-NINTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that the Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission is directed to investigate such messenger services and any other activity, and their legality together with any fiscal impact on the revenues of State and Local Governments of such messenger services or other activities; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission report the results of its investigations together with any recommendation or proposed legislation to the Illinois General Assembly no later than February 15, 1977; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a copy of this preamble and resolution be transmitted forthwith to the Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission to the end that this investigation may begin forthwith."

We do not understand plaintiffs to contend that the Commission's report is not a public record, and we think it clearly is. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 116, par. 43.103.) Judicial notice may be taken of such public records. (Gadlin v. Auditor of Public Accounts (1953), 414 Ill. 89, 94.) Additionally, in Moran v. Bowley (1932), 347 Ill. 148, this court held that legislative debates may be considered to determine "the history of the times or of the evil which the legislation was intended to remedy." 347 Ill. 148, 155.) Similarly, the Legislative Investigating Commission Report is informative of the circumstances and problems which prompted the General Assembly to exercise its police power and adopt the challenged statute. Accordingly, the motion to strike the Attorney General's brief, or the references therein to the report, is denied.

At the time of the report, in March 1977, there were nearly 400 racetrack-messenger services operating in the Chicago area. Such services are operated ostensibly as follows. At locations away from the track and convenient to their patrons, plaintiffs accept money from bettors who direct plaintiffs to purchase a certain ticket in the parimutuel pool at an area racetrack. The bettor is charged 10% of the cost of the ticket for this service. Plaintiffs then take the bettor's money to the track and buy ...


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