On August 10, the Governor used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite House Bill 1353 to abolish the program, which has drawn criticism because of its cost to the state university system and because of past decisions in awarding of the tuition wavers. The original legislation passed by the General Assembly this spring and sent to the Governor would have prevented awarding legislative scholarships to relatives of legislators.
The Legislature will have an opportunity to vote on the recommendation to eliminate the program during the fall veto session. Many lawmakers have already opted out of the scholarship program, citing repeated evidence of abuses and misuse.
News headlines publicizing a criminal investigation into potential abuse of Illinois’ General Assembly tuition waiver program preceded the Governor’s announcement that he is moving to abolish the scandal-plagued tuition waivers.
NEW LAW PROHIBITS MISUSE OF WORKERS’ COMP BENEFITS
A new law signed August 8 will prohibit an employee from receiving workers’ compensation benefits if the employee has been convicted of committing a forcible felony, aggravated DUI, or reckless homicide that led to the employee’s injury.
Senate Bill 1147 was introduced following the tragic deaths of Kelli and Jessica Uhl, two Collinsville sisters who died following an accident caused by an off-duty State Trooper. In 2007, Illinois State Trooper Matt Mitchell was talking on a cell phone and driving in excess of 120 mph when his squad car crossed the median and fatally struck the sisters’ vehicle.
Mitchell survived the crash and sustained serious injury to his legs. Despite his role in the crash—for which he pleaded guilty to reckless homicide, following the accident Mitchell filed a claim for workers’ compensation insurance.
The legislation passed overwhelmingly in the General Assembly. Most lawmakers agreed that the state’s workers’ compensation system was intended to protect workers who are injured during the routine course of their employment—not those whose personal injury is the result of reckless and illegal actions.
PATIENTS’ RIGHT TO KNOW ACT
The Patients’ Right to Know Act was signed into law August 9. The new law will reinstitute a provision of the state’s 2005 medical malpractice reform law, which was struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2010.
While the broader reforms were found unconstitutional, this year lawmakers pursued a popular component of the medical malpractice law that allowed the public to look up information online about their physicians.
Now that House Bill 105/PA 97-0280 has been signed into law, patients will be able to once again locate information about their physicians on a state-moderated searchable database. The Web profiles will highlight if a physical has been fired, convicted of a crime, or has been the subject of a medial malpractice suit.