During the final two weeks of session, Senate Republicans were able to pass several different initiatives through the General Assembly.
The Senate Republican legislation that passed in the final days include:
- Senate Bill 1405 – ensures the opportunity for at least one visitor of a patient in a hospital or long-term care facility.
- Senate Bill 1486 – allows Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) frontline workers to carry pepper spray for defensive purposes while investigating child abuse and neglect. The employees would be required to complete a training program from the Illinois State Police (ISP) on the proper use of pepper spray.
- Senate Bill 2942 – clarifies that a judge can use his or her discretion to clear disinterested parties, excluding media, from the courtroom during the victim’s testimony even if the victim is over 18 years of age as long as the crimes were committed while the victim was still a minor. To safeguard the constitutional rights of defendants, the judge must find that particular parties do not have a direct interest in the case and must put their basis for that finding into the record.
- House Bill 5184 – clarifies the relationship between Veterans Assistance Commissions (VAC) and county boards regarding funding. There are currently six pending lawsuits in Illinois regarding the perceived misinterpretation of the current statutes as they relate to funds appropriated in county budgets for veterans’ assistance. It also gives county VACs sole control over administration and distribution of the funds, removing county board involvement.
- House Bill 5496 – replaces the words “accident” or “accidents” with the words “crash” or “crashes” to clarify that not all vehicle collisions are accidents. The idea for the legislation was brought forward by the family of an individual who was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Since those who drive drunk are making a choice to get behind the wheel while impaired, the family felt the word accident did not describe the tragic circumstances of the crime in which their loved one was involved.
- House Bill 4593 – prevents predators from claiming they did not know they solicited a minor for sex in order to escape punishment.
- House Bill 5447 – permits members of the Downstate Police Pension Fund who marry after retirement to designate their spouse for a limited survivor benefit. The deceased pension fund member would have had to be married for a minimum of five years, and the benefit expires after a period of 15 years.
- Senate Bill 3127 – classifies emergency dispatchers as first responders under Illinois code in order to give them the same recognition as police, firefighters and medics.
The General Assembly adjourned its spring legislative session in the early hours of Saturday, April 9. Legislators are expected to return to the Capitol for veto session sometime this fall.