Senate Week in Review: August 20-24

Springfield, Ill. – As many Illinois children head back to school, new laws were signed by the Governor during the week to keep kids healthy and safe both in the classroom and at home, according to State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris).

Other measures signed by the Governor provide additional protection and assistance for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Under a new law, younger children will now be able to receive flu and tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccinations from a pharmacist, which many hope will improve overall health outcomes statewide as more children are properly immunized in a timely fashion. Senate Bill 3513/PA 97-1043 allows pharmacists to administer these vaccinations to children ages 10 to 13 as long as the child has a prescription from a licensed physician. It’s estimated by state officials that the new law will expand vaccination access to nearly 630,000 children.

This measure brings Illinois in line with a majority of states, which have allowed pharmacists to administer the vaccinations as a way to improve access and convenience, lower patients’ costs and bolster overall public health.

Another recently signed bill targets underage drinking by cracking down on parents who allow young people to drink on their property. House Bill 1554/PA 97-1049 expands current law, which already states it is illegal for parents or guardians to allow underage drinkers to consume alcohol at their residence. The new law takes that law one step further, specifying that it is also a crime to allow the minors to drink on any property under the parent’s or guardian’s control—including barns, cabins, boathouses, guest houses, etc.

Also during the week, several laws were signed to provide counseling and greater protections for victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse. House Bill 1645/PA 97-1035 will boost state revenues for sexual assault prevention and counseling. The new law requires live adult entertainment facilities—commonly known as strip clubs—to pay either a $3 charge per entry into a club, or pay an annual surcharge based on their sales of $5,000 – $25,000, which will be deposited into the state’s Sexual Assault Prevention Fund.

House Bill 5689/PA 97-1037 creates the Eradicate Domestic Violence Task Force, charged with developing courses for high school students to educate young people on domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying and other acts of violence, as a way to prevent hostile, dangerous behavior in Illinois schools.

The Governor also signed House Bill 5264/PA 97-1036, which will allow prosecutors to use evidence of prior domestic violence during first- and second-degree murder trials that involve domestic violence.

Other legislation signed into law during the week includes:

AIDS Transmission (SB 3673/PA 97-1046): Clarifies the law to make it easier to investigate and prosecute cases where an individual who is HIV positive knowingly engages in activities in order to spread the disease to others.

Elevator Safety (HB 4674/PA 97-1048): Moves up the deadline for installing a “restrictor” to the opening of elevator doors to Jan. 1, 2014. The new deadline was prompted in part by an incident in which a two-year-old child in Joliet was critically injured when he fell down an elevator shaft.

Injury Settlement (HB 5823/PA 97-1042): Initiated by the Illinois Trial Lawyers to match an injury settlement or verdict’s pay out with the amount that would have been paid under the reduced rates of the injured person’s health care insurance and/or health plans. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the amount of comparative fault and the full value of the claim will be determined by the court having jurisdiction over the matter. The ITLA believes that providers have an inequitable opportunity to collect more than they would otherwise, if the claimant didn’t receive medical care as a result of an incident that led to a claim for personal injuries or wrongful death.

I-SEARCH Elimination (HB 5023/PA 97-938): Removes “I-SEARCH” references in current law and replaces them with State Missing Persons Clearinghouse. “I-SEARCH” no longer exists.

Loan Enforcement (HB 3935/PA 97-1039): Makes loans void and unenforceable if they are issued by an unlicensed person under the Consumer Installment Loan Act.

Nursing Homes (SB 3614/PA 97-1045): Seeks to give nursing homes more flexibility to adjust the number of beds from one facility to another within a specified geographic area. Currently, the number of beds in an individual nursing home is strictly regulated.

Police Funds (HB 5021/PA 97-1050): Allows funds in the Secretary of State’s Driving Under the Influence Fund to be used for police officer salaries among other items, as long as the salaries are for DUI enforcement. Previously, the funds could only be used for equipment.

Police PTSD (HB 5587/PA 97-1040): Requires the State Police and the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board to hold a training program in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for State police officers and law enforcement officers of local government agencies.

Police Training (HB 196/PA 97-1051): Adds a new $15 fee to criminal, traffic or ordinance violation convictions or guilty pleas. Funds will be channeled to a new State Police Merit Board Public Safety Fund to provide for the hiring and training of new ISP cadets. This fund is not subject to sweeps by the Governor or Legislature.

Religious Excused Absence (SB 2949/PA 97-1038): Provides that any college student who must miss a test or class due to religious beliefs must be given the opportunity to make up the work if he or she has a reasonable excuse. Requires the student to notify the faculty/instructor in advance.

Utilities and Minority Contracts (SB 2526/PA 97-1041): Requires utility companies to do minority procurement reports and other types of reports that must be published on the Internet, in a searchable PDF format and kept for five years.  

Visitation Abuse Penalties (SB 3823/PA 97-1047): Enhances penalties for those individuals who abuse their visitation rights, making visitation abuse more on par with those penalties associated with failure to pay child support.

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