Week in Review: July 25-29, 2016
I am always pleased when I have the opportunity to hold events for our citizens and the communities that I serve in Senate District 44. It is refreshing to visit with individuals that may not contact our office for anything in particular, and yet they are a great source for what is happening within the community.
I was able to speak with many of our citizens from the Lincoln area at our Senior Health Fair last week. It was me and Representative Butler’s first time hosting a Senior Fair in Lincoln and we hope to make it an annual event. Thank you to the Oasis Senior Center and all of the vendors who participated and made the event a success!
We also hosted a free fishing derby for the kids at Conservation World in the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Many thanks go to Department of Natural Resources Dan “The Fisherman” Stephenson for helping the kids and educating them on the sport of fishing. Families enjoyed a beautiful morning with the kids and the fish were biting! Kids were entertained by catching blue gill, a large catfish and even a six pound bass! This was a great outdoor activity to enjoy with the kids before school begins in a few weeks.
This past week there was a renewed call for a constitutional amendment to put terms limits on the ballot; Illinois Lottery is seeking a new private management partner; and a second outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease is a cause of concern for Veterans Home in Quincy.
This is the time of year when legislation that was passed during the spring session is presented to the Governor’s office to be signed into law. I have highlighted some of the ones from this past week. A comprehensive list of legislation passed during the 2016 Spring Session is available to view on my website. If you have questions about a particular bill please contact our office for additional information.
Senator Bill Brady
Governor promotes term limits
Gov. Bruce Rauner traveled throughout the state this past week extolling the need for a constitutional amendment that would put term limits on the ballot in Illinois. Speaking before residents in Belleville, Rauner called on Illinois lawmakers to “come back to the fall veto session, let’s vote on a constitutional amendment to get term limits on the ballot.”
Currently, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is the lead sponsor of legislation that would place term limits on the ballot, which would give Illinois voters the ability to decide this important issue. Unfortunately, constitutional amendments (SJRCA 14 and SJRCA 16) introduced by Radogno were scuttled in a Senate subcommittee by Democrat majority leaders this past April.
New laws target child abuse, pension spiking and rail crossing dangers
Dozens of new laws were signed this week, including a measure that would increase collaboration between state government and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on child abuse and neglect cases filed against members of the military.
House Bill 4425 was introduced at the urging of the DoD, and will require the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to notify the DoD if a member of the Armed Forces is named as the alleged perpetrator in a child abuse or neglect report. If the accused is a member of the Illinois National Guard, DCFS is also required to notify the Office of the Adjutant General.
Also this week, a new law seeks to address pension “spiking” within the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) system—or at the very least provide a more transparent process to promote public awareness of large end-of-career salary increases. House Bill 5684 requires disclosure at a public meeting of a local government body of any proposed salary increase exceeding six percent to a retiring employee’s reportable monthly income. The new reporting requirement does not include those employees subject to collective bargaining agreements.
The new law targets situations where retiring employees are given a significant end-of-career salary “boost” as a way to increase their retirement income. Proponents of the measure hoped that requiring public disclosure of significant late career income bumps would make local government entities think twice before engaging in the costly practice of pension spiking.
Finally, in an effort to deter motorists from crossing train tracks with an active warning device, Senate Bill 2806 will double the fine for not stopping at a railroad crossing. The first violation is increased to $500, up from the current $250; any subsequent violation would be an increase to $1,000 from $500.
In 2015, Illinois had the third-highest number of rail crossing collisions (140, behind Texas and California), the second-highest number of rail crossing fatalities (24, behind California) and the third-highest number of rail crossing injuries (79, behind Texas and North Carolina). Illinois is also home to the second-largest rail system of any state with more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 10,363 public highway-rail crossings.
Legionnaires’ disease hits Veterans Home in Quincy again
Two new cases of Legionnaires’ disease were discovered at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy this past week. A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs would not disclose the condition of the two residents affected, but noted there have been no deaths.
Last year, Legionnaires’ disease led to 53 illnesses and 12 deaths at the same facility. The Centers for Disease Control announced the bacteria that causes a severe form of pneumonia was most likely spread by the home’s aging water system, which is 129 years old. This week, while touring the home to review the newly installed $5 million water treatment plant and delivery system, Gov. Rauner noted that “we cannot let it happen again.”
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, legionellosis is a bacterial disease of the lungs caused by Legionella pneumophila. The disease can range from a mild respiratory illness to severe pneumonia and death. The most common form of legionellosis is known as "Legionnaires' disease," named after an outbreak in 1976 when many people who attended an American Legion conference in Philadelphia became ill.
Illinois Lottery seeks new private management partner
On July 28, Gov. Rauner and the Illinois Lottery announced the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new private management partner. The new private management partner will share the Lottery’s goals of increasing profits to the state, responsibly broadening its player base, introducing new technology and innovation, and ensuring responsiveness to public needs and concerns.
In 2010, the previous administration poorly negotiated a contract, which resulted in the private manager consistently underperforming while being allowed to circumvent FOIA laws and withhold information from the Lottery and the public. The previous administration did attempt to terminate the contract in a deal that would have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars had it been allowed to go through. The Rauner Administration fought the implementation of that prior termination agreement and renegotiated its terms to improve taxpayer protections and save $22 million in immediate savings and $28 million overall for taxpayers.
“Our goal is to continue to provide the beloved games of the Lottery while also driving value for taxpayers,” Rauner said in a press release announcing the RFP.
The following goals are the guiding factors in picking a new private manager:
· Eliminate conflicts of interest
· Eliminate profiteering off of taxpayers
· Incentivize Lottery to innovate and grow online sales
· Eliminate risk of financial shortfalls to Common School Fund
· Ensure greater transparency and openness
· Prevent taxpayers from being hit by large termination fees
· Create fair bidding process for all interested bidders
· Expand and grow Lottery revenues and customer base
It is anticipated securing a new private manager will take 5-6 months.