Senate Week in Review: August 5-9

Dozens of measures, covering topics as wide ranging as student athletes, domestic violence, rehabilitation of criminals and hunting were signed into law during the week, Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said.  Bill signings moved into high gear as the Governor faces an end of August deadline for acting on most measures approved by the General Assembly during the 2013 session.

Also this week, Sen. Rezin reminds residents of her upcoming free Senior Health Fair with Rep. Roth and gives a report of her recent experience at Harvard University.  

Rezin and Roth to host Senior Health Fair in Morris

Sen. Rezin and State Rep. Pam Roth (R-Morris) are set to host a free Senior Health Fair this month in Morris.

The event will be held on Friday, August 16 at White Oak School in Morris from 9:00 a.m. till noon.  The admission is free and attendees will be able to learn how to live a happier and healthier life through the resources available to them throughout the community.  There will be over 50 participants in the fair with various information on state, local, and private programs.

Additionally, there will be free screenings at the fair which include flu shots, posture screening, body fat analysis, blood pressure screening, and more.  Information on hospice, assisted living, nursing homes, adult daycare, safety, nutrition and more will be available as well.

For additional information please call Sen. Rezin’s district office at 815-220-8720 or visit her website at, or call Rep. Roth’s district office at 815-416-1475 or visit her website at  

Rezin sharpens her problem-solving skills at Senior Executives program at Harvard University

Sen. Rezin recently participated in the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Boston, Massachusetts.  

The three-week program took place in an interactive classroom, where faculty and participants worked together on real-life case studies and learned from each other.  Sen. Rezin said this was helpful considering one of the most frequently cited problems of public officials is how to create and engage in public discourse about difficult subjects.  She said as part of the experience, they were placed in simulated situations where the classroom served as a forum for raising difficult issues and practicing the skill of creating and maintaining a conversation that leads to change.

“I look forward to taking all I learned through this three week course and applying it to better serve the constituents of the 38th District and the State of Illinois,” said Sen. Rezin. “This forum reinforced the importance of maintaining an open and engaged dialogue when attempting to facilitate positive change—which is something I think we can all agree is sorely needed in Illinois.”

According to the program’s website, the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government provides a balance of traditional and hands-on learning experiences to help seasoned public officials meet the changing needs of their constituents and communities. In particular, the program enables participants to become more effective public managers by challenging assumptions about how to exercise leadership in the public sector, including developing new conceptual frameworks for addressing policy issues, examining innovative partnerships and new models of collaborative governance, exploring the relationship between citizens and their government, understanding the behavioral dimensions of decision-making, and exchanging ideas with experienced faculty and a diverse group of colleagues.

No taxpayer funds were used to finance Sen. Rezin’s enrollment in program.  

Legislative measures signed into law this week:
Student Athlete Insurance

Prompted by the death of a high school football player, irreparably injured during a game, “Rocky’s Law” was passed and signed into law to require all Illinois high schools to offer catastrophic insurance coverage for student athletes.

Rasul “Rocky” Clark, who played for Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, suffered a spinal cord injury during a game which left him paralyzed from the neck down. In May of 2011, he reached his insurance benefit limit of $5 million and his coverage was dropped, leaving him and his family with mounting medical bills. Clark passed away in January 2012 from surgical complications.

Senate Bill 2178, which Sen. Rezin supported, requires all public and private high schools in the state to provide a minimum policy covering $3 million in benefits or five years of coverage relating to medical injuries for athletes who participate in an IHSA school-sponsored athletic event.

Domestic Violence Protections

Numerous bills targeting crime were also signed into law during the week, including several measures targeting domestic violence.

One of these new laws cracks down on individuals with repeat domestic battery convictions. Currently, many domestic crimes are considered misdemeanors, and are punishable by lighter sentences such as probation or conditional discharge. Seeking to keep chronic domestic abusers off the street and send a strong message this type of crime won’t be tolerated, HB 958 will classify domestic battery as a Class 3 felony if a defendant had three prior convictions, or a Class 2 felony for 4 or more previous domestic battery convictions—punishable by up to 14 years in prison.  Sen. Rezin supported the measure.

Similarly, House Bill 3300 seeks to protect domestic violence victims who are covered by their abuser’s insurance policy. Under the new law, insurance companies will be required to comply with requests to communicate with victims of domestic crime through specific channels, whether it is through email, telephone, etc. House Bill 3300, which passed the Senate unanimously, seeks to ensure that an abuser doesn’t involuntarily gain access to their victim’s personal information, such as their address.

Violence Task Forces

Finally, two bills targeting crime were signed into law this week. House Bill 2879 establishes a Violence Prevention Task Force whose members are charged with gathering information to help in providing future job, training and shelter opportunities to at-risk young people and adults. Proponents of the law hope to increase the potential for personal and professional success as a way to reduce violence.  An additional bill (HB 3236), will extend by one year the Eradicate Domestic Violence Task Force’s deadline to submit its report to the General Assembly. The task force now has until April 1, 2014 to present its recommendations.  Sen. Rezin supported both measures.

While laws seeking to increase criminal penalties and deter crime are always popular in the Statehouse, this year lawmakers advanced several measures to give former criminal offenders a fresh start. At this time, more than half of Illinois inmates return to prison within three years of their release.

Second Chance for Offenders

Through a new “Second Chance Probation” program created by HB 3010, some former felons could see their records cleared if they complete a special probationary program. The bill would apply to non-violent crimes, such as theft, retail theft and criminal damage to property.

Though some lawmakers objected to allowing for the expungement of what they viewed as serious crimes, many lawmakers voted for the bill saying it would increase job prospects for ex-offenders. Under the program offenders would have to complete at least two years probation to have their slate wiped clean. Proponents hope this will help them secure good-paying jobs, instead of turning to criminal activity as a way to provide for themselves and their families.

Hiring Ex-Offenders

Another bill will increase the tax credit employers receive for hiring an ex-offender from $600 to $1500. Business owners would receive a credit for hiring certain ex-offenders within three years of their release under SB 1659. The bill removes the previous exclusion of arsonists, murderers, violent criminals and those who commit violence against young people; only those registered under the Sex Offender Registration Act are excluded.

One additional measure will relax the process for persons seeking to expunge and seal their criminal records. Though HB 2470 was portrayed as a clarification of current law, the Illinois State Police (ISP) raised serious questions about this bill. ISP said they believe certain provisions in the legislation could allow people convicted of hate crimes, domestic battery and kidnapping to be expunged and sealed, even though under the law these offenders are not supposed to qualify for record expungement or sealing.

Sen. Rezin did not support either measures.  

Traffic Safety Bills Honor Victims

Two tragic traffic accidents led to the approval of legislation named in honor of the victims.

“Patricia’s Law” (HB 1010), supported by Sen. Rezin, would prohibit a judge from giving court supervision for offenses that caused of the death of another person. This legislation is in direct response to the case of Patricia McNamara, who was killed by a distracted driver in McHenry County in 2011, when the driver rammed into her car after running through a stop sign.

The driver, who had three previous speeding tickets, pled guilty only to failure to obey a stop sign. He was fined and sentenced to court supervision, which meant no conviction would appear on his record.

Kelsey’s Law

Another measure also supported by Sen. Rezin, known as “Kelsey’s Law,” grew out of a serious accident in Grundy County, when Kelsey Little was struck by the passenger-side mirror of a truck as she and several friends were walking along the side of road in 2011, where there was no sidewalk. The truck was driven by a 15-year-old boy who had only his learner’s permit.

Just days after the accident, the boy was able to obtain his graduated driver’s license because the existing form did not require him to disclose he had a pending traffic ticket.  House Bill 1009 prohibits the issuance of a graduated driver’s license to anyone with a pending traffic citation and allows the Secretary of State to pull the graduated license of anyone who had a pending citation at the time the license was issued.

Hunting and Fishing Measures Pass

Several measures will affect those who enjoy hunting and fishing. House Bill 1651 gives hunters a safer ammunition alternative for taking fur bearing mammals, such as foxes and coyotes, by allowing the use of shotguns loaded with slugs. It has been against the law to take any species of wild game with a shotgun loaded with slugs except for white tailed deer. Shotgun slugs are used to provide rifle-like accuracy, but not range, from a shotgun. They offer an alternative in cases where the range of a rifle can present a safety hazard, but traditional buckshot is ineffective.

Another measure makes the common-sense declaration that water is not considered “bait.” House Bill 1003 was enacted to clarify that the law prohibiting hunters from using bait to attract deer and turkey does not apply to water. This will assure that farm ponds or other bodies of water will not be considered as “bait.” However, the water cannot have any additives.

Thanks to Senate Bill 1538, those interested in non-traditional forms of fishing will be able to use a “sling bow” to take certain fish.

Finally, Senate Bill 1620 makes it illegal for any person having control over harvested game mammals, game birds, or migratory game birds that have a bag limit, to waste or destroy usable meat of the game. This is targeting situations where outfitters and their clients are killing deer, removing the head/antlers as a trophy and then dumping the carcass.

All four measures were supported by Sen. Rezin.  

Variety of Other Measures Signed

Dozens of other measures were also signed into law during the week.  They include:

Child Abduction Evidence (SB 1814): Allows evidence of prior offenses of child abduction that involve the luring of a child to be introduced in a trial to prove a propensity of the defendant.  

Young Adult Drivers (HB 772): Requires anyone aged 18-21 to successfully complete an adult driver education course before they can be issued a driver’s license. The Secretary of State expressed concern that individuals were waiting until they were 18 years old and then applying for their license without having completed a driver’s education program.

Commercial Driver’s Training (SB 1757): Creates the Commercial Learner’s Permit, which would authorize individuals to drive a commercial motor vehicle when accompanied by a holder of a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for behind the wheel training. No one would be issued a CDL without first holding a learner’s permit for a minimum of 14 days.

Firefighter Donations (HB 956):  This is aimed at groups like firefighters and first responders who solicit charitable contributions from drivers at a street corner or intersection. Requires charitable organizations seeking to solicit in a municipality or county, to provide a location as well as three alternative locations for the solicitation.  If the county or municipality determines the original location too dangerous, then the county or municipality must approve one of the alternate locations for the charity to host their solicitation.

Mental Health Training (HB 1538): Requires the Department of Human Services to establish the Illinois Mental Health First Aid USA training program to provide Illinois residents, public safety officials, and members of the public with training on how to identify and assist someone who may have a mental health disorder or an alcohol or substance abuse disorder.

Optometrist Definition (SB 1876): Replaces an outdated definition of “therapeutic optometrist” with “optometrist.”

Contact Lens Providers (SB 2218): Prohibits anyone other than a licensed optometrist, licensed pharmacist, or physician from dispensing contact lenses to patients.  Essentially closes a legal loophole. Also clarifies that decorative and colored contact lenses are treated as contacts and therefore must be dispensed by the proper medical professional.

Water Rate Hikes (HB 576):  Spells out notice requirements for water and sewer utilities with greater than 15,000 total customers when a rate hike occurs.

Advanced Practice Nursing (HB 1052): Provides an advanced practice nurse shall not be prohibited from providing primary health care or treatment within the scope of his or her training and experience. This language provides more flexibility and access to advanced practice nurses’ services.

Restaurant Inspections (HB 1192): Allows Cook County municipalities to enter into agreements with local health districts to take over restaurant inspections.

Pertussis Vaccine Offer (SB 1623): States that parents and guardians of a newborn child in a neonatal care unit must be informed about the importance of parents, guardians, and immediate family members being immunized against pertussis to minimize the chances that the disease will be communicated to the newborn child and must also be informed about where they may obtain the appropriate vaccine.

Legal Document Abuse (HB 1013): This measure is intended to crack down on the abuse of “apostilles.” The apostille is intended to serve a simple, limited purpose, for verifying documents by other nations. For instance, if someone obtains an apostille on his Illinois birth certificate, he may use the birth certificate for identification purposes in another country. The apostille certifies that the Illinois Department of Vital Records issued the birth certificate and is the proper authority to do so. However, according to the Illinois Secretary of State, individuals have been misusing apostilles and certifications, using the apostille/certification process to claim “official state sanction” on a variety of notarized documents. Many of these claims relate to citizenship, sovereignty, and immunity. They purport to renounce citizenship and absolve individuals of tax liability, debts and even criminal liability. The FBI uncovered various schemes involving the misuse of apostilles, including a conspiracy in Missouri in which perpetrators used apostilles to create fake diplomatic identification.

Business Regulation (HB 1048): This is a “clean-up” of state law requested by the Secretary of State affecting the Business Corporation Act of 1983, the General Not-for-Profit Corporation Act of 1986, and the Limited Liability Company Act.

Anatomical Gifts (HB 2339): This would bring Illinois into compliance with federal law and would refine various definitions and attorney privileges within the Act.

Prevailing Wage Reports (HB 2540): Deletes language requiring copies of prevailing wage reports to be filed with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has no responsibility over prevailing wage rates and the filing simply duplicates information already filed with the Illinois Department of Labor.

Securities Fraud (HB 2969): Extends the time limit to bring a suit and/or seek remedies for securities fraud against a financial institution or broker.

Leave of Absence for Elected Officials (SB 206): Closes a loophole at the Secretary of State’s office that allowed employees who are also elected officials to go on an unlimited “leave of absence” from the Secretary of State. Limits leaves to five years or until that person leaves office, whichever is shorter.

Late Vehicle Titles (SB 1828): Authorizes the Secretary of State to charge delinquent vehicle dealer transfer fees of up to $100 to dealers who are late giving certificate of title to the Secretary of State. Allows a Secretary of State Police investigator to issue administrative citations to new or used vehicle dealers. Adds the National Motor Vehicle Title Information Service (NMVTIS) to the list of services for which money from the Commercial Driver’s License Information System/American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators network (CDLIS/AAMVAnet) Trust Fund may be spent.

Secretary of State (SB 1871): This is an omnibus measure requested by the Secretary of State dealing with out of state license cancellation, out of state traffic citations and security judgments less than $5.

Secretary of State Parking (SB 2378): Allows the Secretary of State to lease parking spaces at State-owned Secretary of State facilities to either public or private entities. Any lease fees will be used to repair parking lots at SOS facilities.

Electric Cooperatives (HB 58): Permits municipal officials to serve on a board of an electric cooperative as long as it is not an investor-owned public service corporation.

Student Online Privacy (HB 64): States that a post-secondary school cannot request or require a student (or his parent/guardian) to provide any account information, including passwords, in order to gain access to social networking sites. However, this does not apply when a post-secondary school has cause to believe that a student’s account on a social networking website contains evidence that the student has violated school disciplinary rule or policy. Also requires elementary and secondary schools to provide notification to students and their parents that they have the ability to request or require account information, including passwords, in order to gain access to social networking sites, if the school has reasonable cause to believe that the student’s account contains evidence that the student violated disciplinary rules or policy.  The notification must be published in the disciplinary rules, policies or handbook.

Insurance Penalties (HB 104): Permits the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to impose an administrative penalty on insurance companies that fail to provide the information required by the Insurance and Public Aid Code on individuals receiving services under medical assistance programs and a third party health insurer.

Zion School District (HB 160): Introduced to benefit Zion Elementary School District #6, this measure would give school districts more flexibility to access a dedicated Tort Immunity Fund and use the funds for educational purposes only. Applies only under certain conditions, requires a public hearing and expires in 2016.

University Liquor Service (HB 631): Allows Chicago State University to serve and sell liquor at special events where students are not present. This option has already been provided to several other state universities.

Vacating Convictions (HB 821): Clarifies and streamlines the procedure for a petitioner who has been granted a certificate of innocence after having been found actually innocent. The bill allows the court making the finding of actual innocence to issue a certificate, rather than requiring another court appearance.

TIF District – Ohio (HB 963): Extends a Tax  Increment Financing (TIF) District in the Village of Ohio from 23 to 35 years. The TIF was originally adopted in 1992.

Dodd-Frank Implementation (HB 991): Allows Illinois to immediately provide financial assistance to companies that may need immediate assistance to prevent bankruptcy. This is part the state’s efforts to implement the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Physical Restraint Allowances (HB 1005): Authorizes restraints or seclusion to be used in cases involving people with mental health or developmental disabilities, only with the written order of a clinical professional counselor

Demolition (HB 1020): Currently only residential buildings can be declared a hazard and demolished. This would allows for non-residential outbuildings, such as a garage or shed, to be demolished as part of an order declaring property to be a hazard.

Prisoners and Medicaid (HB 1046): Authorizes prisoners to apply for medical assistance at any time prior to their scheduled release (rather than 30 days). One reason for this is to assure that when prisoners are released and become eligible to receive Medicaid, the state qualifies for the maximum available federal match.

Plumbing Act Sunset (HB 1217): Extends the sunset of the Plumbing License Law to January 1, 2024.

Mother Mary Ann Bickerdyke Day (HB 2775):  Designates the 2nd Wednesday of May in each year as Mother Mary Ann Bickerdyke Day in honor of the contribution of military nurses.

Sealing of Felony Offenses (HB 3061):  Significantly expands the classes and types of felony offenses that can be sealed under current law. This will prevent employers from being able to access the criminal history of those with serious offenses in their background. Among the offenses that could be sealed would be Class 3 and Class 4 felony conviction records for theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, and forgery.

Passport Confiscation Crimes (SB 39): Provides that a judge shall (1) order the confiscation of a person’s passport or (2) impose travel restrictions for any defendant arrested for first degree murder or other “violent crime,” if the judge determines that this will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant.  Though the bill as introduced applied to only non-U.S. citizens, as amended the bill allows a judge to confiscate the passport of both citizens and non-citizens.  This bill is similar to legislation introduced last year in reaction to a series of articles in the Chicago Tribune citing nearly a dozen instances in which suspects charged with murders, rapes and other violent crimes have fled American jurisdiction to avoid prosecution.

Teacher Certification Fees (SB 84): Requires that all back fees for teacher registration must be paid into the Teacher Certification Institute Fund instead of the Teacher Certificate Fee Revolving Fund. The Teacher Certification Institute Fund is operated and utilized by the Regional Offices of Education for costs associated with teacher registration.  The Teacher Certificate Fee Revolving Fund is operated and utilized by the State Board of Education to help offset the costs of certification staff, software and computer systems associated with teacher certification duties and processes.

Opened Wine Bottles (SB 722): Provides that Illinois wineries may permit a patron to remove an opened and partially consumed bottle of wine for off-premise consumption. The wine must be resealed in a tamper-proof package.

Composting Pilot Permits (SB 850): Allows the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to issue an 18 month pilot permit to two waste transfer stations in Elgin and Stickney to allow them to accept landscape materials and food scrap for composting.

Dental Assistant Anesthetic Administration (SB 1217): Allows dental assistants to monitor nitrous oxide and general anesthetic.  A dentist may supervise a maximum of four dental assistants at a time for the monitoring of nitrous oxide.

Medically Prescribed Diet (SB 1229):  States a “medically prescribed diet” can only be performed as initiated by a licensed physician.  This is primarily intended for residents of nursing homes who need special diets.

Nursing Home Care Act Clean-Up (SB 1373): Amends the definition of  “Resident’s Representative” in the Nursing Home Care Act.  This is a “clean-up” bill that removes a section of bill language that is no longer applicable.

License Plates – Illinois Nurses (SB 1383): Creates the Illinois Nurses License Plate.

License Plates – Red Cross (SB 1439): Creates an American Red Cross License Plate with a portion of the proceeds going into a new Red Cross Fund. Money in the Fund will be paid as grants to the American Red Cross subject to appropriation by the General Assembly.

Veterans Probation Program Clarification (SB 1497): Clarifies that eligibility for a Veterans and Servicemembers Court program or a mental health court program (probationary programs) is limited to only those defendants whose crime is eligible for probation. Any defendant who is ineligible for probation is not eligible for a Veterans and Servicemembers Court program or a mental health court program.

Window Tints (SB 1524): Preempts home rule with respect to window tinting of automobiles. State law establishes a maximum level of tint. The intent of this bill is to prohibit municipalities from mandating a lighter tint. This would prevent motorists for being ticketed while driving in cities they don’t normally visit.

Emergency Services Reimbursement (SB 1658): Clarifies in statute that payment for a visit to the emergency room cannot be denied – even if the conditions are later determined to be non-emergency – simply because the emergency department visited is not the preferred provider for a particular insurance company.  This legislation protects non-network physicians at hospitals in emergency care reimbursement situations.

Water Reclamation District (SB 1691): Allows the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to include 9.9 acres of land from the Village of South Barrington Facility Planning Area into their territory. This is so the Willow Creek Community Church can receive sewer and water service for their new building addition.  

Veterans Remembrance Day (SB 1703): Adds Oct. 7 to the list of commemorative holidays recognized by Illinois public schools for an Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Remembrance Day. This legislation is a result of a class project from the Edwardsville Elementary School in the St. Louis Metro-East Area.  The class assignment was to come up with an idea for legislation.

Risk Based Capital (SB 1729): Extends Risk Based Capital trend test reporting requirements to insurance plans provided by Fraternal Benefit Societies.  Risk-Based Capital (RBC) is a method of measuring the minimum amount of capital appropriate to support an entity’s overall business operations in consideration of its size and risk. A “fraternal benefit society” is an organization formed to provide social, insurance, and other benefits to its members who often come from a common ethnic, religious, or vocational background. The Knights of Columbus is an example of a fraternal benefit society that offers insurance to its members.

Department of Insurance Lien Authority (SB 1730): Gives the Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) lien authority over real and personal property of an insurance company for failure to pay an assessed tax or penalty. This gives DOI another way to recover these monies, as opposed to waiting to go to court, in which case the assessed person or company could have spent down the funds such that nothing is available by the time the court rules.  In a lien situation, when the property is sold, holders of the liens get paid before the owner of the property receives the remaining funds from the sale.  

Credit Insurance Limited Licensure (SB 1758): Allows those individuals selling credit insurance to only have to obtain a limited lines license.  

House Arrest (SB 1854): Allows a person who is sentenced to jail on a misdemeanor or probationable felony to be considered committed to the custody of the Sheriff and may serve their sentence at home, i.e. “house arrest,” through an electronic home detention program under the terms and conditions of the Sheriff.

North Shore Sanitary District (SB 1954): This is an effort by the North Shore Sanitary District to update their statute.  The North Shore Sanitary District (NSSD) was organized in 1914. The District owns and operates more than 100 miles of sewer lines and pumping stations serving Gurnee, Waukegan, and Highland Park.

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