GOVERNOR CALLS SPECIAL SESSION ON PENSION REFORM
Governor Pat Quinn is calling lawmakers back to Springfield August 17 to act on reforms to Illinois’ state employee retirement systems.
Governor Quinn is calling lawmakers back to pass pension reforms to reduce the $83 billion in liabilities associated with the state retirement systems, but the outcome of the special session is uncertain. The Governor did not outline what reforms he’d like lawmakers to consider, although he has indicated in the past that he does not support “partial” pension reform.
A pension reform measure passed by the Senate during the spring would impact only state employees and state lawmakers. The House of Representatives did not act on House Bill 1447 before the General Assembly adjourned for the summer.
Because House Bill 1447 has an immediate effective date, it would require 71 votes—instead of the regular 60—to pass during the August 17 session. The Illinois Constitution requires a three-fifths majority to pass any bill with an immediate effective date that is considered after the May 31 regular session deadline.
Governor Quinn also continues to push a cost-shift proposal that would likely result in higher local property taxes for downstate and suburban homeowners. It would require local school districts and universities to pick up the costs of their instructors’ retirement plans.
I oppose the proposal. Transferring pension obligations to the school districts will not save costs or reform the system, but simply shift costs from income taxes to property taxes.
AROUND THE DISTRICT
I had the privilege of introducing Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka at an event July 31 at Marcfirst in Normal.
The Comptroller was in town to let not-for-profit human service agencies know that they can call her office if they are facing severe financial difficulties as a result of delays in state payments. She has said her office will do what they can to expedite payment to these agencies.
Marcfirst provides job training, residential support and other services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
CHANGE IS CONTROVERSIAL
Also during the week, the Governor made dramatic changes to a previously non-controversial bill intended to help Illinois businesses compete with out-of-state retailers and assist law-abiding gun owners.
In its original form, Senate Bill 681 would have allowed FOID card holders to mail-order ammunition purchases from in-state licensed firearm retailers and have the ammunition shipped to their homes. Ammunition purchases from out-of-state dealers are already allowed under the law. With the Governor’s changes, the bill would instead ban some semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Many lawmakers have spoken out against the Governor’s move, saying his actions could doom a business-friendly bill and noting the provisions of the ban are too broad. The ban would apply to a variety of firearms commonly used for hunting.
EMPLOYERS CANNOT ASK FOR SOCIAL NETWORKING ACCESS
Illinois is now the second state to pass a law prohibiting employers from requesting or requiring workers to hand over their personal social networking account information.
House Bill 3782 prevents employers from requesting social account information, including passwords, in order to screen potential job candidates or reprimand current employees based on information from their social media accounts.
Signed by Governor Quinn August 1, the new law does not impact an employer’s ability to monitor use of social media during office hours, or when using company resources. As a result, employers will be able to control and enforce the company’s Internet policies, protecting the company from potential litigation sparked by an employee’s unauthorized actions or statements.