New information on driver’s licenses could also make it easier for service providers to identify veterans and steer them toward available services, thanks to another new law that takes effect January 1.
I cosponsored Senate Bill 2837 (PA 97-739), which allows for Illinois driver's licenses and identification cards to clearly designate that the individual is a veteran.
One goal of the law is to make it easier for social service agencies to assure that veterans receive all services and benefits to which they are legally entitled, such as healthcare, education assistance, and job placement.
‘SUPERMAX’ PRISON TO CLOSE EARLY IN JANUARY
The New Year will bring the closing of Illinois’ “supermax” high-security prison in Tamms in southern Illinois. Following a Supreme Court order, a judge in Alexander County cleared the way for Governor Pat Quinn to close the prison.
The closing date has been set for January 4.
About 200 inmates remained at the prison after 25 inmates were to be transferred December 20. Just over half of the remaining prisoners were high security prisoners housed in a single-cell isolation portion of the prison, while fewer than 100 were minimum security prisoners.
GOVERNOR UNVEILS ANOTHER VIDEO, BUT NO PLAN
Also, Governor Quinn has unveiled another video in his series designed to bring attention to the state’s serious pension funding problems; and while public employee unions recently offered their own recommendations.
The latest video is the second of two videos that follow a group of children who decide to hire a lobbyist to represent them on the pension issue.
As with the Governor’s previous videos, no solution or recommendation is outlined. Despite his call for the General Assembly to address pension changes before January 10, the Governor has yet to offer a plan for lawmakers to consider.
UNIONS ADDRESS PENSION CRISIS
A coalition of public employee unions offered their ideas December 19 about how to address the pension crisis.
The unions indicated they would consider requiring public employees to pay two percent more toward their retirement, but also pushed higher taxes and ruled out most benefit cuts.
OTHER NEW LAWS HIGHLIGHTED
Among the dozens of new laws that take effect January 1 are several important changes that have not received major attention. They include:
Underage Drinking (HB 1554/PA 97-1049): Cracks down on parents or other adults who allow underage drinking parties on property they own or control. While parents can already be prosecuted for allowing underage drinking parties in their homes, this measure extends the ban to other property, such as barns, cabins, boathouses and vacation homes.
Child Support Payments (SB 3549/PA 97-1029): Clarifies the law to address cases involving persons who are self-employed or own their own businesses and who are found in contempt of court for failing to pay child support. The new law will make it easier to discover the true income of those who own or operate businesses and owe child support and impose penalties on those who refuse to pay.
Aiding a Fugitive (SB 2520/PA 97-741): Allows the state to prosecute family members who help a fugitive flee the state in order to avoid prosecution. Family members who help their relatives skip the country could face felony charges. Previously, immediate family members could not be prosecuted for concealing or aiding a fugitive.
Victim Compensation (SB 3693/PA 97-817): Adjusts the crime victim compensation procedures, by providing for broader forms of compensation while increasing the amounts of certain types of financial loss. This law also requires more transparency between claimants and compensatory government entities. Family members who pay expenses that a victim incurs as a result of the crime could be reimbursed for those costs.