House Republicans with law enforcement experience were central to the successful effort to implement a host of law enforcement reforms in the form of SB 1304 and signed into law as Public Act 99-352 on Wednesday, August 12.

The measure, which was worked out with substantial input from police officers, prosecutors, and criminologists, includes provisions intended to sharply increase the number of body cameras (“bodycams”) worn by Illinois police officers as part of their uniforms. This measure responds to concerns raised by the overwhelming level of negative media stories surrounding law enforcement around the nation during the summers of 2014 and 2015.
Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2042 today, which appropriates money for the pass through of federal dollars without adding to the state’s budget deficit. The clean bill allows the state to provide some services to the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

“Governor Rauner supported and signed this clean pass through bill because it will help those in need without adding to the state’s budget deficit,” Director of Communications Lance Trover said. “While the Governor continues to work on passing a balanced budget with structural reforms to maximize how much we can invest in our schools and important social services, some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens will be able receive additional support.”
The Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act mandates that school with athletic programs develop rapid-response concussion emergency action plans that will enable medical help to be obtained and prompt care available in cases of actual or suspected head injuries. Parallel mandates are placed on youth sports leagues and on park districts that organize youth sports activities. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and other affected groups will develop rules and policies to implement the new law, which went into effect immediately and will apply to the 2015 high school football season.

The new law is the result of the passage in spring 2015 of SB 3 by the Illinois General Assembly. The bill was signed into law on Monday, August 3 by Governor Bruce Rauner. The House vote on SB 3 in May 2015 was 104-1-1, with almost all House Republicans voting in support of the measure.
The annual Illinois State Fair opened on Thursday, August 13 and will continue until Sunday, August 23. Held at the State Fairgrounds on the north side of Springfield, the gathering features entertainment, festival food, rides and attractions. State fairs have been held since 1853, with the exception of the years during World War II. In a typical year, between 0.5 million and 1.0 million fairgoers attend the festivities.
As the FY16 budget showdown continues, House Republicans took the lead in keeping a federal only pass through bill on track, ensuring approximately $5 billion in federal dollars will flow to state agencies and service providers. SB 2042, as amended in the House on Wednesday, August 12, will appropriate federal funds given to Illinois for specific state programs mandated or strongly encouraged by Washington, D.C. The Governor has signaled his support for a “federal funds” budget bill.

Despite overwhelming passage in the Senate, the original SB 2042 almost failed in the House due to a late amendment added by House Democrats that attempted to hold these federally-funded programs “hostage” to the overall budget impasse. In the end the majority party yielded and allowed the original federal funds appropriation bill to be voted on by the full House with a handful of Republican suggested additions related to homeland security.
One ugly law that Illinois has imposed on its residents is a requirement that when the ownership of a motor vehicle moves from a late husband to his widow, or from a late wife to her widower, the surviving partner is required to pay a full vehicle transfer fee in order to get a new title and protect his or her right to legally own and drive the vehicle.

Representative Terri Bryant, working with a constituent who brought this issue to her attention, has pushed a bill through the General Assembly to reduce this financial burden. HB 3797 was signed into law on Tuesday, August 4. The new law authorizes the widowed partner to file an application to “correct” the title. The widowed partner will have to submit information to the Secretary of State’s office within 180 days of the death of the original owner. A corrected motor vehicle title applied for in this way will cost $15, as opposed to the $95 charged by the Secretary of State’s office for transferring the title.
HB 1335, co-sponsored by Representatives David Harris and John Anthony, affects patients who have been diagnosed with conditions that, in the absence of additional treatment, are likely to result in death. Under current law, health providers cannot prescribe or provide investigational drugs, biological products, or medical devices to Illinois patients until the items in these categories have been fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – a time-consuming process that often takes many years. The Right to Try Act gives medical professionals the right to prescribe or provide items in these categories to members of this group of patients if they are very ill, and shields these medical care providers and professionals from professional discipline based on these unapproved medical products.
The issue followed up on the release of videotapes showing officials of Planned Parenthood negotiating the transfer of fetal tissues for supposed medical research purposes. The negotiations included discussions about the condition of the tissue and the price to be paid for the expenses involved in recovering and transferring them.

Under Illinois law, the transfer of human tissue is controlled by the Illinois Anatomical Gift Act. HB 4266, filed by Rep. Peter Breen and sponsored by Rep. Barb Wheeler, provides that this Act covers individual human organisms from fertilization until live birth, and bans the use of the Act to cover the transfer of fetal tissue resulting from an abortion. HR 671, filed by Rep. Jeanne Ives and sponsored by Rep. Barb Wheeler, asks the Illinois Attorney General, the Executive Inspector General, and other enumerated branches of State government to investigate Planned Parenthood’s procedures for abortions and the sale or donation of human tissue. HR 689, filed by Rep. Thomas Morrison and sponsored by Rep. Barb Wheeler, urges Gov. Rauner and the members of the Illinois House to withdraw State funding from Planned Parenthood, and asks the State Police to investigate whether Illinois taxpayer dollars have been complicit in the transfer of fetal tissue/baby body parts. All three measures were filed on Wednesday, August 5.
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the nonpartisan agency within the Illinois State Legislature that tracks the budget status of the State, issued its monthly report for July 2015 on Monday, August 3. General funds tax receipts continued to fall short of spending in the first month of the FY16 fiscal year, largely due to the partial rollback of State income tax rates in January 2015. In July, income tax receipts fell by $204 million. Of this shortfall, $189 million of the shortfall was in personal income tax receipts and $15 million was in corporate income tax receipts.
The Illinois Senate has approved a bill, SB 2042, to appropriate the federal funds allocated to Illinois in FY16 for spending and use. Programs that operate senior centers, Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition efforts, adult education programs, and home weatherization assistance offices are among the programs funded by federal grants that are funneled through the State. These programs may be able to maintain some of their operations with the help of this bill.

SB 2042, as amended, is scheduled to be voted on by the Illinois House this week. Complex appropriations issues may make it necessary to further amend the measure in the House. These federal funds, which total nearly $5 billion, are separate from the money paid by Illinois taxpayers to the State. This State of Illinois “general funds” budget remains approximately $4 billion out of balance, with no solution to this section of the State’s budget woes in sight. The Senate voted unanimously (57-0-0) on Tuesday, August 4 to pass the bill. Action by the Illinois House would be required to further move this bill forward.
The bill applies to persons who, by making a prank call to a 9-1-1 emergency-response number, commit the offense of disorderly conduct. This offense is defined as the act of knowingly transmitting a false alarm to an emergency-response 9-1-1 number. Persons who unknowingly transmit a false report to 9-1-1 should not be charged with the offense.

Under HB 3988, sponsored by State Rep. John Anthony, if a knowingly false 9-1-1 prank call is made, the court shall order the perpetrator to reimburse the emergency response pubic agency for the reasonable costs of the emergency response, not to exceed $10,000. As a retired sheriff’s deputy, Rep. Anthony is well aware of the cost to public safety rapid-response teams and their personal of prank calls like these. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed HB 3988 into law on Tuesday, July 28. The House had previously agreed to the final language of the bill by a unanimous vote of 111-0-0.
Gov. Rauner signs HB 3533 as Rep. Wheeler and members of the Mains family join him for the occasion.
CHICAGO – Today, Gov. Rauner signed legislation offered by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) to place harsher restrictions on repeat DUI offenders. The legislation, House Bill 3533, requires that repeat DUI offenders must have their vehicles equipped with Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices, better known as BAIID devices, for longer periods and also requires offenders to be disallowed from reapplying for a license with the Secretary of State’s office until first completing a period with a restricted driving permit.

“Everyone makes mistakes in life, but when a person places themselves and others at risk by repeatedly driving under the influence, we need to make every effort to keep them from doing so again,” said Wheeler. “While fatalities from alcohol related accidents have gone down greatly since the 1980s, the number has started to rise again over the past few years and clearly new steps are needed to keep our roads safe.”
The measure, SB 659, directs the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to create a one-stop “licensure application website” for businesspersons wishing to create new businesses or relocate businesses to Illinois. The General Assembly has directed that information be included on the single website to “walk applicants through” the initial stages of the permit application/license application or applications that may be required for implementation of these job-creation plans. Other states have already set up similar websites.

Gov. Rauner signed SB 659 into law on Friday, July 24, and the new website should be online by July 2017.
An Illinois Supreme Court decision in early May struck down the 2013 “pension reform” bill, SB 1, and ordered Illinois government officials and taxpayers to cover the entire unfunded costs of pension benefits promised to many Illinois workers in the public sector. These unfunded costs are estimated to exceed $100 billion, and the burden of meeting these costs is one of the elements in the FY16 budget crisis.

The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision was an interpretation of legal language within the Constitution of 1970 that granted explicit contractual protection to pension benefits. While the constitutional interpretation of each state’s constitution is traditionally a subject for the sole jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of that state, some legal scholars believe that the urgency of this issue could grant the Attorney General standing to appeal the 2015 decision to the federal Supreme Court. The Attorney General is in the process of filing a paper asking for additional time to study the issue and possibly file this appeal. Lisa Madigan’s action was described by “Crain’s Chicago Business” on Tuesday, July 28.
The measure, HB 576, amends State law to block implementation of the automatic pay increases slated to be paid in FY16 to Illinois elected officials. This action is necessary to prevent an annual automatic pay increase from being paid to members of the General Assembly, statewide elected officials, certain Cabinet-level executive branch agency directors and appointees, and county state’s attorneys. Automatic pay increases of this type have been mandated by the Compensation Review Act since 1984.

The increase for FY16, which is designed to help beneficiaries keep up with the level of inflation, is 2.0%. If HB 576 passes through the Senate and is signed by the Governor, this 2.0% pay hike will be blocked for the year. HB 576 also blocks scheduled increases in the legislator per diem and legislative mileage reimbursements that are meant to compensate legislators for their living expenses when living in, or traveling to and from, Springfield and other places of legislative duty.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses is urging Illinois residents to weigh in on Governor Rauner’s agenda at the request of small businesses from across the state who want to create jobs and put Illinois back on sound financial footing.

Follow the link here to head to their website and sign the petition.