NEW LAWS TARGET SEX OFFENDERS
Several measures aimed at sexual predators, including one prompted by the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, were among the bills signed into law during the week.
The expanded reporting requirements contained in House Bill 3887 will require university athletic department staff and other higher education employees who witness or suspect child abuse to report their concerns to state officials. The legislation was signed just days after former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 child sex abuse counts.
Many colleges and universities offer training camps for youth in a wide range of activities from volleyball, soccer and basketball to cheerleading, sciences, drama and music.
Three other measures targeting sex offenders also were signed into law.
Senate Bill 3579 prohibits sex offenders from participating in holiday celebrations, such as handing out candy at Halloween, or dressing as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny at events where children are present.
Park districts would be able to run criminal background checks on job applicants to determine if they have been declared a delinquent minor for committing certain offenses, including sexual assault, under Senate Bill 3809.
Senate Bill 3258 clarifies information about violations that are to be included in the state’s Sex Offender Registry.
HELPING MILITARY FAMILY MEMBERS
Also approved during the week was a measure to streamline the professional licensing requirements for spouses and other military family members who have been transferred to Illinois and help them to more quickly qualify for jobs.
Senate Bill 275, the Military Family Licensing Act, allows for family members of military personnel to receive a temporary professional license, such as a teaching certificate or medical license, when moving into Illinois from another state where the individual already held a comparable license.
NEW LAW GIVES PRISONERS CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED
As the Governor proceeded with plans to shutter state prisons in Tamms and Dwight, he approved a measure that offers a limited expansion of a Meritorious Good Time (MGT) program that he suspended during his 2010 campaign for Governor.
Under Senate Bill 2621, inmates in prison can earn additional “sentence credit” (formerly MGT) for time served while in a county jail while awaiting trial or sentencing. To earn the time, they must participate in programs offered at the jail or complete their GED.
This legislation would restrict the award of other types of sentence credit (up to 180 days) based upon a risk assessment analysis or history of violent crimes by the inmate, although the director of the state’s Corrections Department is given discretion in awarding the credit.
NUMBER OF REGIONAL SUPERINTENDENTS CUT
Another measure approved during the week would reduce the number of Regional Superintendents of Education in Illinois from 45 to 35.
Senate Bill 2706 (PA 97-703) increases the minimal population for educational service area to 61,000 (instead of 43,000).