December 30, 2014
Happy New Year!
In This Issue:
  • You’re Invited!
  • Special Session is both Unconstitutional and Expensive
  • New Laws Take Effect
  • Yes Virginia, There is a Four-Year Degree
  • New Year’s Resolutions
You’re Invited!
Some of you may already be aware that the Illinois Legislature will be sworn into office on Wednesday, January 14th at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Public Affairs Center Auditorium.  I would like to personally invite you to be my guest at the inauguration ceremony.  You will be part of history as the 99th General Assembly is seated and organized.  Following the ceremony I will give a guided tour of the Capitol and host a luncheon.  If you are interested in attending, please contact my office for details at (815) 748-3494.

Special Session is both Unconstitutional and Expensive
With the holiday season upon us, you may not be following the news about filling the vacancy in the office of State Comptroller created by the death of Judy Baar Topinka.  Never in our 198 year history have we in Illinois faced the situation of a state office vacancy at the end of one term and beginning of another term.

Governor Quinn has called a special session of the legislature for January 8 to pass legislation establishing a special election in 2016 to fill the State Comptroller position.  While such an election sounds reasonable and would follow how vacancies in some units of local government are handled, it violates our constitution for state office holders.  Therefore, I believe the goal of the special session is both unnecessarily expensive and unconstitutional.

Not only is the cost of a special session unnecessary since the legislature could consider some action when it meets in regular session later in January, but also the cost of litigation over the constitutionality of this action would be great.  If we want to set up a different way to handle vacancies, let the legislature pass a constitutional amendment that citizens could ratify in 2016.

As for the vacancy in Comptroller, why not combine the office with the State Treasurer and appoint the Treasurer to also be the Comptroller?  Many have proposed this idea for saving millions of dollars in the cost of running a separate office and the idea was supported by the late Judy Barr Topinka.  Then the legislature would have time to pass a constitutional amendment consolidating the offices.  This would certainly shake-up Springfield.

New Laws Take Effect
The legislature passed over 500 laws in 2014 and many take effect on January 1st.  For a full list of new laws, please visit my website at www.pritchardstaterep.org.  Here are a few of the more significant new regulations which I haven’t covered in earlier newsletters.

PA 98-0650 (SB 3411) Ban Police Ticket Quotas
The law prohibits county, municipal, conservation, and state police agencies from implementing ticket quotas.  Officers may still be evaluated on “points of contact,” including the number of traffic stops completed, arrests, written warnings and crime prevention measures.  This is an initiative to refocus law enforcement on public safety instead of revenue generation.

PA 98-0698 (SB 3433) Boating Safety Certificates
Provides that no one born on or after January 1, 1998 shall operate a motorboat with more than 10 horse power without securing a valid Boating Safety Certificate from the Department of Natural Resources or another approved agency.

PA 98-0746 (HB 5895) Nighttime BiOptic driving permits
Allows persons using non-traditional visual aid instruments, such as BiOptics, to apply for a special, restricted driver’s training permit.  Currently, no process exists for drivers who wear BiOptic lenses to practice driving prior to taking the nighttime road test.  BiOptic glasses are vision enhanced lenses with extreme magnification.

PA 98-0774 (HB 5701) ‘Ban the Box’ bill
Prohibits employers from seeking information regarding a potential employee’s criminal history until after an invitation to interview or a conditional offer of employment has been extended.  This is intended to allow job seekers with criminal history to be considered on their merits and experience rather than being dismissed out-of-hand for an offense.

PA 98-0775 (SB 2636) Use of medical cannabis for minors
Amends the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act to allow individuals including those under the age 18 to use medical marijuana for seizures and epilepsy.  The Illinois Department of Public Health may create rules saying minors must have parental consent, have the recommendation of two medical doctors and may not smoke the cannabis.

PA 98-0870 (SB 2583) “Sign and drive” in Illinois
This new law institutes “sign and drive” in Illinois by prohibiting the confiscation of a motorist’s driver’s license as bail when stopped and cited for a minor (no jail time) traffic offense.  Since 9-11, state-issued photo identification has become a necessity for such things as travel, gaining access to some buildings, obtaining health-care, and renting vehicles.  The driver’s license is still the standard, accepted form of photo identification.

PA 98-0977 (SB 3506) Emergency Medical Treatment
Seeks to avoid confusion in the type of care that a medical facility provides from the name it uses.  A facility may not use emergency or similar name unless there is an emergency room connected with the facility.  The Act provides that a person, facility, or entity is not prohibited from holding itself to the public as an “urgent” care center.

PA 98-1050 (HB 8) Workplace Pregnancy Accommodations
Provides that it is a civil rights violation if employers do not make reasonable accommodations for employees with conditions commonly related to childbirth or pregnancy.  Further, employers cannot require a job applicant or employee to accept accommodations; to require an employee to take leave for a medical condition related to childbirth or pregnancy; or to retaliate against a person who has requested, attempted to request, used, or attempted to use a reasonable accommodation.

PA 98-1089 (SB 352) Internet sales tax collection
Will allow the state to use an Internet “click-through” relationship as a way to demand that the Internet retailer collect and remit sales taxes to the State of Illinois.

PA 98-1052 (HB961) Faster Transfer of Funds
Amends the State Revenue Sharing Act and the Illinois Income Tax Act by requiring the transfers from the General Revenue Fund to the Local Government Distributive Fund no later than 60 days after the State Comptroller receives the certification of the amounts from the Treasurer.  In the past, transfers have been intentionally delayed much longer.

Yes Virginia, there is a 4-Year Degree
In a parody of the child’s letter about Santa Claus, Complete College America wants to burst the myth that it takes longer than 4 years and mountains of debt to get a college degree.  On their web site (completecollege.org) they outline best practices of students and colleges to achieve the goal of an affordable college education.

With college students home on break, it’s a good time to talk about progress toward a degree and the cost of an education.  For example is the full-time student taking at least 15 credit hours of classes per semester?  Are they following structured schedules to achieve their degree?  Too many students take more credit hours than necessary for the degree.  Are they using guided pathways to identify their career goal?

Colleges and universities must continue to reduce their cost of operations and encourage students to accept the counseling and tutoring necessary to be successful.  For students ill-prepared for college, more universities and colleges should be offering co-requisite remediation course work.  Almost no students complete college when they just take non-credit remedial classes.

A degree beyond high school is still essential for the jobs of the 21st century and a desirable income.  Then too students must be working for marketable skills and employment that will repay the cost of the education.

New Year’s Resolutions
As we approach the dawning of a new year there is reason for optimism despite huge fiscal problems facing Illinois.  Citizens elected Bruce Rauner their governor to bring some much needed change to state policies and procedures.

Here are a few New Year’s resolutions for the Governor-Elect to get our state back on track.  Resolve to make Illinois a business-friendly state.  A recent Gallup poll gave Illinois an “F” in all things related to business.  Instead of favoring big business, why not help small businesses to succeed since they employ nearly half of the private-sector workforce and contribute two-thirds of the job creation according to a Chicago Tribune article.

Resolve to balance the budget.  As I have worked on several appropriation committees over the last decade, I've seen first-hand the gimmicks to get a so-called balanced budget by overstating revenue and understating expenses.  Yes, we will have to cut expenses but that can be done with the suggestions of front-line workers, more efficient procedures, less fraud and by helping those who can to get off public aid and back to work.

Illinois should also resolve to fix the pension pressure on the budget, school funding inequities and inadequacies, and how the state generates revenue.  These are all issues that have been facing us for years but the citizens want officials to throw out partisan politics and roll-up their sleeves to solve these issues.  There is a new governor who campaigned on changing the procedures; appointing people to agency management with experience and desire to operate more efficiently and effectively for our citizens.

There is much more we could resolve but these are good places to start and the results would change the state’s reputation and outlook of our citizens.

May the hope, joy, peace, and love of this holiday season remain with you through the New Year.  May your resolutions all come true.  And may the God of all creation continue to bless you, Illinois, and the United States of America.

Bob
The following list contains all the laws that will become effective as of January 1, 2015.  If you have any questions regarding these laws, please feel free to contact my office.

PA 98-0519 (SB 1898) Increases minimum mandatory coverage for liability insurance policies
The new law raises the required minimum coverage for 1) Bodily Injury or death to any one person from $20,000 to $25,000; 2) Bodily Injury or Death of 2 or more persons in any one accident from $40,000 to $50,000; and 3) Injury to or destruction of property from $15,000 to $20,000. Only apply to policies issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2015.

PA 98-0528 (SB 1598) Collection of racial and ethnic data from arrests
Acknowledging the disproportionality of arrests among racial and ethnic minorities, data will be collected for each adult and juvenile sentenced to the Department of Corrections and Department of Juvenile Justice for the following criminal justice contact points: arrest, referral, diversion, detention, petition, delinquency findings, probation, secure confinement, and transfer of juvenile to adult court.

PA 98-0628 (HB 2317) Allows for property tax bill to be sent via e-mail upon request
Permits County Treasurers to send property tax bills via e-mail if the property owner or taxpayer makes a request in writing. In addition, requires sales tax on leased vehicles to be collected on the monthly payments, as opposed to prior law which provided the tax be collected on the value of the vehicle at the inception of the lease.

PA 98-0629 (HB 1584) Children’s Community-Based Health Care Centers
Amends state law to eliminate conflict and confusion arising from two different titles referring to the same program by redefining "children's respite care centers" as "children's community-based health care centers”, thereby making it easier for Illinois residents to see U.S. Health and Human Services Dept. reports by requiring that Home Office Cost statements related to children’s community-based health care centers also be sent to DPH and for DPH to post them on the Department’s website.

PA 98-0635 (HB 5815) Record Sealing/Expungement – Municipal Ordinance Violations
This act allows an individual to have their municipal ordinance violations sealed or expunged, excluding minor traffic offenses and speeding tickets. As enacted, an individual over the age of 18 convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, other than a minor traffic offense, can petition the court to expunge the records of his/her arrests two years after the completion of their sentence.

PA 98-0637 (SB 978) Expungement of Juvenile Arrest Records
Eliminates barriers on young adults seeking to pursue higher education, secure employment, join the military, and/or obtain or maintain public housing by requiring the State Police to automatically expunge all arrest records (misdemeanor or felony) of a minor if the arrest did not result in charges being filed. The state would have to expunge arrests automatically when the minor turns 18 under specific conditions.

PA 98-0638 (SB 2727) Ban Synthetic Microbeads in Cosmetic Products
Prohibits the manufacture or sale of any cosmetic products that contains synthetic plastic microbeads, a pollutant composed of non-biodegradable solid plastic particle used to exfoliate or cleanse in a rinse-off product. Illinois is the first state to enact such legislation, aimed at protecting the Great Lakes and other bodies of water.

PA 98-0650 (SB 3411) Ban Police Ticket Quotas
The law prohibits county, municipal, conservation, and state police agencies from implementing ticket quotas. Officers may still be evaluated on “points of contact,” including the number of traffic stops completed, arrests, written warnings and crime prevention measures. Initiative enacted to refocus law enforcement on public safety instead of revenue generation.

PA 98-0661 (HB 5716) Access to Digital Public School Emergency Crisis Response Plans
Allows school boards to update public school building’s emergency crisis response plans and make them accessible in a digital format to allow emergency and crisis plans to be available to first responders, administrators and teachers for implementation through the use of applications on electronic devices, including, but not limited to, smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers.

PA 98-0666 (HB 4418) Referendum to Dissolve Municipal Fire Department
Requires municipalities with 500 or more residents to seek approval from the electorate in a referendum before dissolving a full-time fire department. This new law ensures greater public accountability and protects full-time firefighter staff in the event that a municipality considers going to an all-volunteer fire department.

PA 98-0685 (HB 4083) Department of Corrections and Juvenile Justice Technical Changes
Makes technical changes to the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. It enables the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of corrections to update administrative rules to clarify roles. The clarifications do not change current practice by either Department, but only better define responsibilities.

PA 98-0689 (HB 4781) Contact Visits for Department of Corrections
Amends the Unified Code of Corrections to clarify that the six month limitation on contact visits applies to the Department of Corrections, and not to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

PA 98-0690 (HB 5410) Lead Poisoning Prevention
Amends the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act to bring the Act into compliance with recent federal regulations, by requiring health care providers to report to the DPH when the provider has verified information of the existence of a blood lead test result for any child or pregnant person. Also provides that the prohibition on disclosure of information regarding lead testing does not prevent the DPH from using the information to prosecute an person who violates the Act.

PA 98-0692 (SB 3443) Budgeting for Results Omnibus Bill
Eliminates various boards, task forces and commissions and allows a number of required reports to be published online. Removes duplicative State agency functions and repeals obsolete programs.

PA 98-0693 (SB 121) Changes to the African American Family Commission
Makes changes to the Illinois African American Family Commission by requiring more state agencies to collaborate with, and obtain guidance from, the commission. Also changes the appointment structure from being made entirely by the Governor, to appointments being made by the Governor and the four legislative leaders.

PA 98-0697 (SB 2731) Safety for Persons Towed by Watercraft
Amends the Boat Registration & Safety Act to require operators of a watercraft towing a person to display an orange flag on their watercraft from the time the person prepares for towing until the person reenters the boat.

PA 98-0698 (SB 3433) Boating Safety Certificates
Provides that no one born on or after January 1, 1998 shall operate a motorboat with more than 10 horse power without securing a valid Boating Safety Certificate by the Department of Natural Resources or another approved agency.

PA 98-0699 (SB 3434) Forfeiture and Seizure of Watercraft
Provides that a watercraft used with the knowledge and consent of the owner for the commission of specified offenses may be seized.

PA 98-0701 (SB 2922) Public Adjuster Rates
Amends the Illinois Insurance Code by setting a cap on the amount a public adjuster may charge, agree to, or accept. Sets the cap at 10% of the amount of the insurance settlement claim paid by an insurer on a claim resulting from a catastrophic event unless approved in writing by the Director of Insurance.

PA 98-0704 (HB 5949) Access to Birth Certificates of Adopted Persons
Allows adult grandchildren to access birth certificates and other information regarding their deceased grandparents if the grandparent was adopted. Also allows a birth parent of an adopted child to receive a non-certified copy of an original birth certificate if certain conditions are met.

PA 98-0707 (HB 671) Personal information of children
This Act changes the Children’s Privacy Protections and Parental Empowerment Act to state that the sales or purchase of a child’s personal information without parental consent is not prohibited in the course of criminal and civil investigations. Current law states that the sale or purchase of personal information concerning a child without parental consent is prohibited.

PA 98-0708 (HB 2544) Guidelines and protocols for laboratory testing
The law creates the Accountable Care Organization Clinical Laboratory Testing Advisory Board. The Act says that every accountable care organization providing diagnosis and treatment for patients in this State must establish an advisory board to consider and recommend guidelines or protocols for clinical laboratory testing.

PA 98-0717 (HB 4266) Protecting crime victims’ privacy
This Act prohibits the Prisoner Review Board from releasing any name or address of the victim to anyone other than the law enforcement officer or the victim. This Act also prohibits the Attorney General from releasing personal information of any person registered to receive notifications to any other person except State or local officials.

PA 98-0718 (HB 4336) Updating GED-related statutes
Changes references relating to General Educational Development (GED) testing and certificates to high school equivalency testing and certificates throughout various Acts.

PA 98-0719 (HB 4340) Updating statutes relating to the Illinois Community College Board
Existing statutes are updated to change references from the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Community College Board to the Executive Director of the Illinois Community College Board.

PA 98-0725 (HB 4417) Armed probation officers
This Act states that probation officers may only carry weapons while in the performance of their official duties, or while commuting between their homes, places of employment, or specific locations that are part of their assigned duties, provided they have received the prior consent of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court for which they are employed, and they have received weapons training according to requirement of the Peace Officer and Probation Officer Firearm Training Act.

PA 98-0726 (HB 4422) Secretary of State omnibus bill
The omnibus bill for the Secretary of State makes the following changes: under the Illinois Identification Card Act, expands the definition of “disability” to include “oncological impairments” within Class 1A and Class 2A disabilities. It also amended the Illinois Vehicle Code concerning the Secretary of State’s discretionary authority to suspend or revoke the driver’s license or permit of military personnel. It removes the “J48 restriction” from statute. This restriction limits a driver to operating only a school bus and no other type of commercial motor vehicle.

PA 98-0728 (HB 4687) Fees for shipping radioactive material
For truck shipments of less than 100 miles in Illinois that consist entirely of cobalt-60 or other medical isotopes or both, the $2,500 per truck fee shall be reduced to $1,500 for the first truck and $750 for each additional truck in the same shipment.

PA 98-0730 (HB 4707) Out-of-state CPA licensees awaiting Illinois licensure
Any individual who is the holder of a current and valid license as a certified public accountant of any state who has properly applied to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for licensure by endorsement may perform accountancy activities until the expiration of 6 months after the filing of the application or until the denial of the application by the Department, whichever occurs earlier. This Act further provides several changes to the Illinois Public Accounting Act in regards to the licensure of certified public accountants.