SCHOOL FUNDING FAIRNESS COMMITTEE TO MEET MONDAY
A special bi-partisan committee to examine school funding fairness has scheduled its first hearing for Monday, August 19, in Springfield at 2 p.m. The Advisory Committee on School Funding grew out of a special Senate Republican report on how education dollars are allocated in Illinois and is tasked with looking at ways to make school funding more fair statewide.
LEGISLATION SIGNED TARGETING DEADBEAT PARENTS
"Deadbeat" parents owe $3.1 billion in unpaid child support in Illinois. That number may soon go down thanks to a new law that would require parents who are behind on their child support to forfeit gambling winnings to make their payments.
House Bill 2843 garnishes the gambling winnings of parents who win more than $1,200 at a casino or racetrack. The garnishment will be turned over to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and given to the custodial parent of the dependent child.
Public Act 98-0318 took effect immediately, making Illinois the largest state in the union with this type of gambling garnishment.
COMMONSENSE LAW TO BENEFIT ILLINOIS MOTORISTS
Summer construction season is in full swing and most Illinois drivers are familiar with the delays and frustrations often caused by road construction and maintenance. This week a piece of commonsense legislation creating separate offenses for speeding in a construction or maintenance zone when worker are or are not present was signed into law.
Previously, under certain circumstances motorists could be subject to the penalty of a license suspension if caught speeding in a construction zone, even if workers were not present and not in danger of being hit. House Bill 1814/PA 98-0337 removes that license suspension penalty if no workers were currently at the construction site.
VETERANS TO BENEFIT FROM A NUMBER OF LAWS SIGNED BY GOVERNOR
A number of new laws to benefit Illinois' veterans and active duty service members were signed into law this week. These laws include measures to identify better ways to serve female veterans; protect veteran memorials; help veterans and service members at the state's public universities and community colleges; and assist disabled veteran business owners.
In response to evidence that many veterans' services and programs target men, House Bill 3346/ PA 98-0310 requires the Illinois Discharged Servicemember Task Force to further explore the needs and issues of Illinois' women veterans. These issues range from compensation parity and rehabilitation, to outreach efforts and health care needs. The task force will then make recommendations on how the state can better respond to the needs of female veterans.
Senate Bill 2231 seeks to deter the damage or defacement of veterans' graves or memorials by enhancing penalties for this crime. Memorials of police officers, fire fighters and historic figures are also included in the bill.
Two additional measures signed August 12 benefit Illinois service members pursuing a higher education. House Bill 2245 requires public universities and community colleges to give veterans and service members the earliest possible enrollment opportunity they offer. The measure seeks to address a problem created because the federal government has been slow in reimbursing veterans; by allowing veterans to submit the information to the federal government earlier, the hope is they will be reimbursed in a more timely manner.
Senate Bill 2229 will give anyone who served more than 10 years in the Illinois National Guard an additional 2 years of tuition and fee waivers from any public university or public community college. This increases total tuition and fee waivers for Illinois National Guard members from four years, to six years.
LEGISLATION SIGNED INTO LAW
A variety of bills were signed into law this week. Click below to read more.
No Indoor Tanning for Minors (HB 188): Prohibits a tanning facility from permitting any person under 18 years of age to use tanning equipment which emits ultraviolet (UV) radiations. Provides for exemptions such as devices used to apply chemicals to the skin to achieve a bronze color, known as a spray-on, mist-on, or sunless tan.
Nicotine Sales to Youth (SB 1756): Prohibits the sale of alternative nicotine products to persons under age 18, such as electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine.
Survey Rebranding (HB 1209): Changes statute to reflect rebranding of surveys at University of Illinois. State Natural History Survey, Geological Survey, State Water Survey, Sustainable Technology Center, and Archaeological Survey are now housed under the UI Prairie Research Institute.
Military Leave of Absence (SB 2163): Adds public institutions of higher education to the list of employers who must provide a leave of absence for active military service. The measure codifies the formula that CMS uses to determine the pay differential between the employees' military daily rate and the employees' public employee daily rate. The intent of the bill is to get the U of I to follow the formula as it appears in statute; currently they refuse to do so. As a result many University of Illinois police officers are being treated differently than all other state employees in terms of their pay differential when they go on military leave.
Global Warming (SB 2183): Requires the state to take into consideration global warming and other environmental issues when contracting for freight, small package delivery and other forms or cargo transport and shipping services
Fatal Accident Memorials (HB 1345): Extends the state's fatal accident memorial marker program through 2014. The program is designed to offer survivors of persons killed in vehicle accidents an opportunity to have an official marker installed. The intent is to discourage persons from placing homemade markers at accident sites, which can be dangerous for those putting up the markers and also interfere with traffic and right-of-way maintenance.
Stormwater Runoff (HB 1522): Allows DuPage and Peoria counties to adopt stormwater management plans. The bill would allow for a change in the funding system for county stormwater management, from a property tax-based system to a fee system. Proponents argue that using a fee system allows counties to impose a higher fee on properties that have a significant impact on stormwater drainage and lower fees on those that better manage stormwater.
Commercial Fishing (HB 1650): Requires commercial fishermen and individuals assisting commercial fishermen to obtain a sport fishing license in addition to a commercial fishing license. Allows watercraft to be used as a primary collection device for commercial fish by licensed commercial fishermen, as long as it is tagged with a commercial watercraft device tag and is licensed by the State and in compliance with Coast Guard boating regulations. The bill exempts persons taking Asian Carp by boat for non-commercial purposes.
Construction Zone Speeding (HB 1814): Creates separate offenses for speeding in a construction or maintenance zone when workers are present and are not present. Removes penalty of license suspension in construction zones when construction workers are not present and no danger of hitting a construction worker exists.
Social Work Services (HB 2322): Allows social work services in to be provided by those who hold a Professional Educator License with a school support personnel endorsement in the area of school social worker under the new teacher licensure system.
Veterinary Medicine (HB 2517): Updates the state's veterinary medicine regulations and extends the regulatory act until January 1, 2024. Allows a veterinarian to dispense a limited amount of medicine without the presence of a traditional client relationship and makes various changes to the Act.
Epilepsy Deaths (SB 1226): Requires all autopsies in the state to include an inquiry as to whether the death was the result of a seizure or epilepsy. Also creates a definition of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP.)
Water Infrastructure (SB 1869): Updates language in the state's Municipal Code to allow cities and villages to construct, and maintain storm sewers, detention basins and retention basins (currently drains, ditches, levees, dykes, pumping works, and machinery). An amendment allows construction of "green infrastructure" including green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales, tree boxes, porous pavement, porous pipe systems, native plantings, constructed wetlands, and cisterns. Cities and villages may also acquire land to manage runoff by infiltration, evapotranspiration, or collection.
Contractor Violations (HB 922): Allows the Department of Labor to bring an action against a contractor up to five years after a violation of the Prevailing Wage Act is alleged to have occurred (currently two). Requires contractors and subcontractors who participate in public works projects to keep records for five years, currently three, from the date of the last payment. Requires a public body to keep records for five years, currently three. Authorizes contractors to retain records in electronic format (currently must be kept in paper form).
Hispanic Employment (HB 3270): Creates the Hispanic Employment Advisory Council in the Department of Central Management Services. Aimed at increasing Hispanic hiring.
Drycleaner Insurance (HB 3349): Creates the Drycleaner Environmental Response Trust Fund Task Force. Would charge the task force with studying resource challenges and implementation issues as well as how to better fund the Fund. Also gives dry cleaners participating in the state's optional insurance fund a 30 day grace period for payment of any past-due insurance premiums. The Drycleaner Environmental Response Trust Fund Council provides environmental remediation liability insurance coverage for drycleaners and assists drycleaners with the cleanup of soil and groundwater contaminated by dry cleaning solvents. An owner or operator may purchase coverage of up to $500,000 per facility.
Renewable Energy (HB 1070): Allows cooperatives that own and operate agriculture-based biogas (anaerobic digestion) systems to organize as a non-profit. Activities of the cooperatives may include the marketing and sale of biogas system products including but not limited to methane gas, electricity, and compost. Anaerobic digestion is a collection of processes by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. Anaerobic digestion is a source of renewable energy, producing biogas that can be used as fuel or upgraded to natural gas-quality biomethane.
Child Support and Gambling Winnings (HB 2843): Establishes a process for gambling winnings to be withheld to pay delinquent child support (after any taxes due are withheld). The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) will provide lists of persons who are delinquent in paying child support. Tracks and riverboats will cross check against the list when they are otherwise required to provide withholding notice to the individual.
Rural Ambulance Service (HB 3233): Allows Fire Protection Districts, by referendum, to levy a special tax for ambulance service at a rate of 0.40% (currently 0.30%) of the value of all taxable property in the district.
Crowds on Railroad Tracks (HB 3255): Prohibits having a parade on roadways without receiving a permit from the local municipality. If permits are not required by the municipality, then permission is required from the principle law enforcement officer of the community. The municipality or principal law enforcement officer may prohibit any portion of the route that requires crossing active railroad tracks. This stems from an incident in 2012 where four veterans were killed and 16 other people were injured when a train slammed into the parade float that was carrying them to a banquet to honor them in West Texas.
Utility Tax Exemptions (SB 1379): This bill changes the Public Utilities Act to allow a business, Keystone Steel in Peoria, in what is known as an Enterprise Zone, to retain 750 jobs per year, for a total of 3,750 jobs created between 2013 and 2017, to qualify for an exemption from municipal and state utility taxes that are added to its utility bills.
Board of Review Political Affiliation (SB 1657): Provides that no more than two members of a board of review shall be affiliated with the same political party.
Police Privacy (SB 1693): Would allow peace officers to provide their work address instead of a home address when applying for an Illinois Identification Card, a driver's license or instruction permit.
Special Court Fees (SB 1768): This bill would allow the Supreme Court to determine the amount of several civil court filing fees. Fees would be used for costs associated with electronic filing and case management systems in the courts as well as the operation of committees and commissions established by the Supreme Court. Opponents raised concerns that giving the Supreme Court this authority with no ability for legislative oversight could lead to excessive fees.
Bring Parents to School Day (HB 129): Creates a "Bring Your Parents to School Day" on the first Monday in October of each year. Allows a school board to permit the parents or guardians of students to attend class with their children and meet with teachers and administrators during the school day.
Veterans In-State Tuition (HB 2353): Beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year, if a person is utilizing benefits under the federal Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 (or any subsequent variation) then that person shall be considered an Illinois resident for purposes of tuition. Affects all public universities and public community colleges.
Emergency Use of Civic Centers (HB 2737): Requires that Civic Center authorities must make their buildings available for emergency services at the request of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, a State-accredited emergency management agency or the American Red Cross.
Out of State Agreements (HB 2761): Allows local governments in border areas to sign mutual aid agreements for emergency services with local governments in a neighboring state.
Animal Fights (HB 3388): Establishes a training program in animal fighting awareness for law enforcement officers. Would help law enforcement officers to identify animal fighting operations and respond appropriately. Training would include non-lethal ways to subdue a dog.
Rockford Area Hotel Tax Increase (SB 1859): Allows the Winnebago County Board to impose a 2% hotel tax on a county-wide basis with the consent of municipalities representing at least 67% of the population of Winnebago County. Revenue collected from the tax will be set aside and used for either sports, arts, or other entertainment/tourism facilities or programs. Also creates a Tourism Facility Board to direct the use of the revenues collected from the 2% hotel tax. Requires any sports, arts, or entertainment facility that receives revenues from the new hotel tax to be considered public works and enter into a Project Labor Agreement (PLA).
National Guard Grants (SB 2229): Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, the measure gives any person who has served over 10 years in the Illinois National Guard an additional two years of tuition and fee waivers from any public university or public community college. This would increase the tuition and fee waivers to six years.
Disabled Veterans Business (HB 2408): Allows qualified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small businesses (SDVOSB) and veteran-owned small businesses (VOSB) to also certify itself as a "female-owned business," "minority owned business," or a "business owned by a person with a disability" for purposes of qualifying for a procurement set-aside or goal. Also authorizes CMS to establish one or more special funds, as separate accounts, to be held by the Director of CMS outside of the State Treasury in order to receive the transfer of moneys from the Workers' Compensation Revolving Fund.
Women Veterans (HB 3346): Directs the Illinois Discharged Service Member Task Force to investigate the needs of women veterans on issues like compensation, rehabilitation, outreach, health care, and to make recommendations. Findings would be included in the Task Force report in 2014.
Veteran Memorial Maintenance (SB 1824): This bill allows counties, townships and municipalities to appropriate funds to maintain veterans' memorials that are erected. Park Districts that lease land for the use of a memorial may transfer the maintenance of the memorial to the organization holding the lease.
Damaging a Grave (SB 2231): Enhances penalties for criminal damage (and defacement) to property if the property damages or defacement is made to graves, gravestones, or markers that memorialize or honor a person or group, including police officers, fire fighters, veterans, or historic figures.
High School Athletics (HB 1225): Requires the Illinois High School Association to post a training video on CPR and automated external defibrillators on their website. The video must be provided free of charge and can not be more than 15 minutes in length. Also requires school districts to notify parents, student athletes and staff in newsletters, bulletins, calendars or other correspondence currently published by the school district of the video and encourage them to watch it.
Veterans Priority Registration (SB 2245): Requires public universities and community colleges to give veterans and service members the earliest possible enrollment opportunity that they offer to any class of students. This benefit must be used within 15 years after leaving military service. This is to address a problem where the federal government has been slow in reimbursing veterans. The intent is to allow veterans to submit the information to the federal government earlier.
Illinois Ag Promotion (HB 1272): Designates the first Saturday of each month as "Eat Local, Buy Illinois Products Day" to promote local food initiatives, Illinois agribusiness, and to encourage citizens to invest in local economies.
Weights and Measures (HB 2273): This bill clarifies laws affecting agricultural weights and measures scales. Specifically it was proposed by grain and feed, fertilizer and construction aggregate associations to address problems in regulating and assuring consistency in heavy truck scales.
Wheat Development (HB 2709): Requires that members of the wheat development plan committee need to be nominated by an association representing wheat producers. Also changes the assessment under the Wheat Development Act from a mandatory 1.5 cents per bushel to an optional assessment of up to 1.5 cents. Extends the refund application deadline from 60 days to 90 days.
Agriculture Experience (HB 2748): Requires at least two members of the Illinois Finance Authority board to have an agriculture business or production background.
Egg Product Act (HB 2783): Adds to the list of violations of the Illinois Egg and Egg Products Act and makes the license fee paid to the Department of Agriculture non-refundable. This is to address problems when out-of-state suppliers sell eggs to wholesalers who are not licensed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The intent of this legislation is to give the Department better ability to ensure safe eggs are on the market and to be better able to trace where eggs originated if a problem arises.
Access to Justice (HB 3111): Creates the Access to Justice Act, which would encourage the State Supreme Court to implement two pilot programs: a program to provide a legal assistance hotline for military personnel and veterans and a program to provide court-based legal assistance within a circuit court in each appellate district. The programs would be paid for via a new court filing fee. No money collected from a special set-aside fund could be used for lobbying.
Free Museum Entry (HB 1200): Reduces the number of days that aquariums or museums must be open to the public free of charge from 52 (one day a week) to 26 days each year.