Halbrook Announces District Office Operating Hours

 
Brad Halbrook

Charleston, IL…State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Charleston) announced today the dates and times which his two district offices will be open.

Halbrook’s Charleston office, in the Professional Center, 506 West Lincoln Avenue, Suite 200 C-1, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and can be reached by phone at (217) 348-1110.   His Robinson office in the Professional Arts Building located at 405 S. Cross will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and can be reached at (618) 544-4800.

“I wanted to get these new district offices open and running as soon as possible,” Halbrook said. “By opening these two locations, my office can better serve the residents of the 110th district without forcing someone to drive too far for in-person assistance.”

Halbrook said that while most of the state’s 118 representative districts are located in Chicago or suburban areas which are very small geographically, downstate members often have sprawling districts, forcing them to spread resources over a larger area. The 110th district includes all or parts of Clark, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Edgar and Lawrence counties.

Halbrook added that he can be reached via e-mail at staterephalbrook@gmail.com, and also on Facebook or at www.bradhalbrook.org.  Constituents may also sign up for Rep. Halbrook’s e-mail newsletter by emailing the above addresses and requesting to be signed-up.  To receive updates on the House floor from Brad Halbrook text update110 to 41411.

Rep. Halbrook Appointed to Four House Committees

SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Charleston) was appointed to four committees in the Illinois House of Representatives, including those dealing with agriculture and higher education.

“I look forward to working in committee to represent the interests of our communities in east central Illinois,” Halbrook said. “Agriculture is the engine of our economy and higher education is such an important part of our region with Eastern, Lake Land and Lincoln Trail.”

 The 98th General Assembly committee assignments were formalized this week, and Halbrook was named to the House committees on Agriculture, Appropriations-Higher Education, Counties and Townships, and Environment.

“I hope to be a strong voice for east-central Illinois on these important committees,” Halbrook added, “and I know that the knowledge and experiences of the farmers, educators, local officials and everyday citizens of the 110th district will be a valuable resource to me in doing so.”

The General Assembly reconvenes on Tuesday and Governor Quinn will offer his State of the State address on Wednesday.

NEW 98TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY SWORN IN

Brad Halbrook

On Wednesday, the newly-elected members of the 98th General Assembly were officially sworn in during a ceremony at Sangamon Auditorium in Springfield. I was proud to stand up alongside my colleagues and take the oath to represent the people of the 110th district. I am looking forward to getting to work this spring on the important issues which are facing our state.

Legislation is being drafted now, and the House will reconvene on January 30 to begin debate on these many issues. I hope that you will keep in touch with me over the coming months of the spring session and let me know your thoughts on these proposals.

98TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY SWORN IN

98TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY SWORN IN

 

 

LAME DUCK SESSION PRODUCES FEW RESULTS

A lame duck session of the 97th General Assembly which began with talk of dramatic action on gun control, pension reform and medical marijuana, ended with very little action this week.

The House voted to approve granting Temporary Visitor Driver Licenses to persons in the country illegally, provided they could produce proof that they have lived in Illinois for at least one year, have insurance and pass a driving test. I voted against this legislation on the grounds that I do not believe the state of Illinois should be in the business of extending privileges to those who are in our country illegally. I am concerned that laws such as this will only encourage more people to enter the country and our state illegally.

A rumored assault weapon ban, and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, failed to get enough support to be called for a vote in the Senate, and thus never made it to the House chamber. I was pleased to see common sense win out in the Senate because I do not believe that imposing Chicago-style restrictions on the Constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners is going to solve our nation’s crime problem. It hasn’t worked in Chicago, and I do not believe it will work statewide.

Several proposals for pension reform were floated and voted on in committee, but in the end no final action was taken. On the final day of session, a pension proposal which would have reduced cost-of-living adjustments for retired teachers and state employees went nowhere, and was replaced with a proposed “pension super-committee,” to come up with a reform plan by April 30. In the end, neither one of these proposals was able to garner enough support to be called for a vote on the House floor. Pension reform is likely to be the number one issue legislators will try to address in the newly-convened 98th General Assembly.

HALBROOK OPPOSED TO DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

On Tuesday, State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) voiced his opposition to a proposal that will allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.  Senate Bill 957, opposed by Halbrook, would create temporary visitor driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants residing in Illinois.

“This is the wrong approach to deal with immigration policy and it is an ill-advised program that defies the United States Constitution,” said Rep. Halbrook.  “Obtaining a driver’s license is a privilege that must be earned.  I cannot support legislation that will grant additional privileges to individuals who continue to flaunt our laws and remain in our country illegally.”

SB 957, which has passed the Senate and House, would allow the Secretary of State to issue temporary visitor driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants which would be valid for three years.  Applicants would be required to submit a valid, unexpired passport from their country of citizenship and pay a minimum fee of $30.  They must also comply with Illinois mandatory insurance requirements.

Halbrook said the proposal lacked a number of important fraud and public safety safeguards, and was opposed by local law enforcement agencies.  “This bill did not require these individuals to be fingerprinted.  It did not require a notice to be sent to the Secretary of State when insurance coverage is cancelled or terminated.  What we will see with this new law is an increase of illegal immigrants traveling to Illinois to obtain an I.D.  That is not something that the people of the 109th district support,” said Halbrook.

2013 NEW LAWS

Active Notice of Orders of Protection (SB 2869/PA 97‐904): Requires the sheriff or other law enforcement official charged with maintaining State Police records to notify the Department of Corrections (DOC)

within 48 hours when an order of protection, a civil no‐contact order, or a stalking no‐contact order is entered against an individual who is committed to DOC or who is on parole or mandatory supervised release.

Adoptions (HB 4028/PA 97‐1063): Eliminates unnecessary delays in adoptions where the child is currently residing with the specified person and all involved parties have consented to the adoption. An initiative of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), it also updates DCFS forms to recognize civil unions.

Adult Entertainment Surcharge (HB 1645/PA 97‐1035): Requires either a $3 entry into an adult entertainment facility, or requires club owners to pay an annual $5,000 ‐ $25,000 surcharge. Facilities could choose which they pay. The proceeds will largely go to the Sexual Assault Prevention Fund.

Alzheimer’s Disease (HB 4548/PA 97‐768): Creates an Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Plan and an Advisory Committee to hold public meetings throughout the state and to use Web casts and online surveys to get feedback from patients and health care providers.

Ambulance Free Toll (HB 4691/PA 97‐784): Allows public and private ambulances engaged in an emergency service to use the tollway without paying.

Aquatic Transportation (HB 3888/PA 97‐850): Allows the Department of Natural Resources to ask people to clean their seaplanes or watercraft of aquatic plants or animals on the exterior before they are placed in different bodies of water. The measure is designed to prevent the spread of invasive species.

Autism Insurance Mandate (SB 679/PA 97‐972): Stipulates that an individual who has been diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder for which treatment is medically necessary remain eligible for insurance coverage even if subsequent changes to the diagnostic criteria are adopted.

B

Bilingual Education (HB 3819/PA 97‐915): Requires the Advisory Council on Bilingual Education to submit a report by Jan. 1, 2013, to the State Superintendent of Education, the Governor, and the General Assembly, that addresses certain questions relating to the modification of bilingual education programs.

Breastfeeding (HB 4968/PA 97‐713): Requires all hospitals that provide birthing services to adopt an infant feeding policy that promotes breastfeeding.

Bulk Plastic Containers (SB 3201/PA 97‐1085): Outlines records that must be kept for the purchase of five or more plastic bulk merchandise containers, when proof of ownership is required, as well as penalties for severe violations. This bill is targeting the increasing theft of bulk plastic containers.

 

C

Capital Project Funds (HB 5656/PA 97‐792): Provides that the unused portion of any federal funds received for a capital improvement project that are not contributed toward the cost of the project will remain in the Capital Development Board Contributory Trust Fund to be used for future capital projects.

Car Accidents (SB 3409/PA 97‐763): Allows persons to move their vehicles to the nearest off‐ramp, access road or other safe location following an accident if it is a property damage‐only accident.

Caylee’s Law (SB 2537/PA 97‐1079): Responds to the nationally covered case surrounding the death of two‐year old Caylee Anthony, whose mother, Casey, failed to report her daughter missing and then lied about circumstances surrounding the child’s disappearance and death. Increases penalties for failure to report the disappearance or death of a child 13 years or younger within 24 hours (one hour if younger than two years). Expands the obstruction of justice definition to parents, guardians or caretakers of a child younger than 13 who provide false information to law enforcement or other authorities investigating the child’s disappearance or death. Includes Department of Healthcare and Family Services/Department of Human Services/Department of Children and Family Services social workers, case workers and investigators in the offense of threatening a public official, if the threat was specific to the individual.

Cell Phone Ban (SB 2488/PA 97‐830): Extends the ban on cell phone use when driving in construction or maintenance zones to all projects, not just those with a reduced speed limit.

Cell Phone Insurance (HB 5047/PA 97‐939): Requires the Department of Insurance to maintain a registry of all entities that provide or solicit portable electronics insurance coverage within the state. These companies offer insurance on cell phones.

Certificate of Good Conduct (HB 5771/PA 97‐1113): Reduces from three years to two years, the time frame a convicted felon must wait after the completion of his/her sentence before applying for a Certificate of Good Conduct or a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. Also allows a person who was convicted of a felony more than twice to receive these certificates. Allows a person convicted of a crime in a jurisdiction other than Illinois to receive these certificates. A Certificate of Good Conduct provides evidence that the ex‐convict has been rehabilitated for purposes of employment.

Charitable SECA Funding (HB 5480/PA 97‐1005): Allows a charitable organization to become qualified to be a recipient of State and University Employees Combined Appeal (SECA) funding if they attain 500 signatures from state employees or annuitants and submit these signatures electronically to the Comptroller.

Child Deaths (HB 4966/PA‐1068): Requires the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to supply more complete information in reports on the death or serious life‐threatening injury of a child whose care and custody or guardianship has been transferred to DCFS. This is an effort to make it more difficult for the agency to cover up the failure of its case workers to adequately investigate reports or protect the child.

Child Luring (HB 5265/PA 97‐998): Increases the victim’s age in the child luring statute from younger than 16 to younger than 17. Also, if the victim was traveling to or from school, it allows for felony prosecution when the victim is 17 or younger. This was prompted by a DuPage County case in which a 17‐year‐old student was on her way to school and was being followed by a sex offender in a van. The van was stopped by the police but they could only charge him with disorderly conduct because the current child luring statute applies to minors 16 and younger.

Child Pornography (HB 5235/PA 97‐995): Clarifies the state’s child pornography statutes regarding victims younger than 18 and provides for enhanced penalties if the victim is younger than 13.

Child Sex Offender (SB 3258/PA 97‐698): Changes the definition of “child sex offender,” as it relates to residency and location restrictions, to include certain sex offenses where the victim was younger than 18 at the time of the offense. Adds “bikeway” and “trail” to the definition of “public park” and eliminates a redundant statutory cross reference. Also includes a provision that allows persons to have their records cleared of a reckless driving conviction once they reach age 25, if they have had no other reckless driving or DUI charges or arrests.

Child Sex Offender Holiday Costume Prohibition (SB 3579/PA 97‐699): Prohibits sex offenders from participating in holiday events involving children, such as handing out candy at Halloween or working or volunteering as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

Child Support Payments (SB 3549/PA 97‐1029): Provides the court with additional methods to pursue child support from a parent who is found guilty of contempt for failure to comply with an order to pay child support, and who conducts a business or is self‐employed. Self‐employed individuals cannot have their wages garnished. Requiring these individuals to provide monthly financial statements, provide detailed written accounts about job search efforts, and/or report to the Department of Employment Security for job search services, may help individuals obtain the employment they need to provide support or provide incentive for these individuals to pay their support.

CLEAR Commission Rewrite (HB 2582/PA 97‐1108): Changes the “Criminal Code of 1961” to the “Criminal Code of 2012,” adds cross‐references, reorganizes definition sections, and restructures sentences. This is one of the final measures of the CLEAR Commission, which has been working for several years to update the state’s criminal code and eliminate duplicative or obsolete language. The goal has been to develop a criminal code that is easier to understand and apply consistently. (HB 3366/PA 97‐1109): Moves several current provisions of the Criminal Code and Chapter 720 Criminal Acts dealing with harm to children offenses into a new Article 12C Harms to Children.

College Search Committee Financing (HB 5914/PA 97‐0814): Prohibits the use of state funds or tuition revenue to fund a hiring search committee, except for hiring the university president, or in cases where the university president and board of trustees demonstrate a need for specialized guidance.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Cell Ban (HB 5101/PA 97‐829): Provides that, with some exceptions, a driver may not use a hand‐held mobile telephone or text while driving a commercial motor vehicle.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Definition (SB 968/PA 97‐795): Changes the definition of “commercial motor vehicle” in the Vehicle Code to include vehicles designed to transport 9 to 15 people for compensation.

Condensed Notification Form (HB 5922/PA 97‐1017): Allows police to use a more concise and convenient “short form notification” when delivering a notice of an alleged violation of a court order for stalking.

Condo Internet Easement (HB 3950/PA 97‐751): Allows condominium associations to include high‐speed Internet as a type of easement. Currently easements are allowed for cable television cable, but high‐speed Internet was not included.

Construction Notification Policy (HB 5180/PA 97‐992): Requires IDOT to develop and publish a policy to notify members of the public before starting construction projects that impact their communities.

Copper Purchases (HB 4013/PA 97‐924): Requires recyclable metal dealers purchasing recyclable metal containing copper to enter specified identifying information into forms provided by the State Police and retain a copy of the form for two years for each transaction. Currently this only applies to purchases of recyclable metal valued at $100 or more and metal street signs.

Coroner Training (HB 5635/PA 97‐1009): Establishes a training program in death and homicide investigations for coroners, and allows only coroners who have completed the training to be a lead investigator in coroner’s investigations.

Crime Victims (HB 5187/PA 97‐815): Amends the Illinois Police Training Act to provide law enforcement training for better communication with victims. Amends the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act by providing strengthened notification requirements for crime victims as to their rights and how to enforce them.

Customer Pollution Notices (SB 3591/PA 97‐1092): Permits information about the source of electricity and Environmental Protection Agency information on pollution to be excluded from an electric bill payment envelope, but may instead be sent by e‐mail or located on the company Web site.

D

Day‐care Radon Testing (HB 4606/PA 97‐981): Requires licensed day‐care centers, licensed day‐care homes, and licensed group day‐care homes to be tested for radon at least once every three years. Test results would have to be posted at the center or home.

Debt Buyer Regulation (HB 5016/PA 97‐1070): Clarifies the definition of debt buyers to assure that they are subject to appropriate provisions of the Collection Agency Act. Requires debt buyers to comply with any applicable statute of limitations time period. Also allows the Attorney General to enforce violations as an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.

Deceased Police/Fire Plates (HB 4982/PA 97‐947): Expands eligibility for deceased police officer or firefighter license plates to include the parents of the deceased. Previously parents only qualified if the deceased had no surviving spouse.

Dental Coverage (SB 3242/PA 97‐805): Restricts insurance providers from issuing a provider contract requiring dentists to provide services at a fee established by the insurer, unless the services are “covered services” under the policyholder agreement. Addresses situations where insurers have modified contracts to establish a new policy capping the amount dentists can bill a patient for services not covered by the insurance plan.

Dental Service Plan Corporation Board (HB 5109/PA 97‐989): Increases independence of the members of the Dental Service Plan Corporation Board of Trustees by reducing the number of members on the board who have material relationships with the corporation, from a majority of the members to one‐third of the members. Intended to ensure the board’s integrity by limiting influences that might compromise the board’s ability to make independent judgments.

Directed Trusts (HB 4663/PA 97‐921): Establishes a “directed trust” in the Trust and Trustees Act. The Illinois State Bar Association proposed this new form of trusts to help bring Illinois trust law in line with other states and add flexibility to estate planning and administration of such trusts.

Discrimination Subpoena (SB 3677/PA 97‐1032): Helps the Attorney General’s office more effectively investigate claims of discrimination by granting more compelling subpoena power. States that any person who fails to comply with an AG subpoena, or if copying or reproduction of requested material can’t be done and the person refuses to surrender the material, the Attorney General may serve the person with a court order for the enforcement of the subpoena.

Disability Plate Fraud (HB 5056/PA 97‐844): Increases penalties for using another person’s or a deceased person’s disability plate, decal, or device.

Disabled Parking (HB 5624/PA 97‐845): Creates a two‐tiered disabled parking system beginning in January 2014. The first tier would only be able to park in disabled parking spaces. The second would be able to also avoid meter fees. Current law allows all persons with disabled plates to avoid paying meters. Those exempt from parking fees would have to have a doctor’s statement that they are unable to: insert coins into the meter; reach above 42 inches; approach a meter due to a wheelchair or other mobility device; or walk more than 20 feet.

DNR Funding Package (SB 1566/PA 97‐1136): Creates more than $32 million in new revenue for DNR through the creation of entrance fees, use fees, shipping fees, consultation fees, and increases to current fees. DNR has been struggling to perform necessary functions due to budget constraints. However, opponents argue this legislation places the burden of financing DNR on the public, and point out there is no language to prevent future fund sweeps.

Driver Education (SB 3367/PA 97‐1025): Sets the stage for new standards for driver education in Illinois. Opponents raised concerns the legislation would lead to new restrictions on private instruction schools.

Drug Forfeiture Funds (HB 4937/PA 97‐985): Allows municipalities to share in any funds received through drug forfeiture cases, when the municipality has an agreement with another local, municipal or county law enforcement agency to provide police services. To save costs, some smaller cities are contracting with county or other law enforcement agencies to provide police services. This would allow those municipalities to receive a share of drug forfeiture funds to help offset the costs of providing police services.

Dry‐cleaning Facilities (HB 4526/PA 97‐1057): Imposes rules on dry‐cleaning facilities that use perchloroethylene dry‐cleaning machines. Upon the yearly license renewal with the Drycleaner Environmental Response Trust Fund Commission, the drycleaner must certify that the storing and transporting of hazardous waste is in accordance with federal law and regulations. The Illinois EPA is to report to the General Assembly in 2016 on the impact of all “perc” releases on ground water. Drycleaners that do not use perc are not required to undergo the training required in the bill.

E

Economic Data Task Force (HB 5444/PA 97‐788): Creates the Economic Data Task Force to analyze potential benefits and the feasibility of expanding public access to data produced by the Department of Employment Security. The goal is to focus on what information can and should be disclosed that would attract businesses to the state.

Elder Abuse (HB 5098/PA 97‐862): Amends the Illinois Police Training Act to require that the curriculum for probationary police officers include a course in the recognition of elder abuse and neglect, and crimes against the senior citizens.

Elder Abuse Records (HB 5266/PA 97‐864): Expands the list of persons and agencies that have access to all records that have been generated as the result of a report of elder abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or self‐neglect investigations. Entities affected include law enforcement agencies, fire department agencies or fire protection districts. This is an effort to inform local first responder agencies of elderly people who are at possible risk and therefore increase oversight and protections for these individuals.

Elderly Exploitation (HB 5653/PA 97‐865): Seeks to make it easier to prosecute cases involving financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability. Allows prosecutors to freeze assets of the defendant for purposes of restitution for the victim. Adds criminal intimidation to the definition of intimidation. Includes a paid or unpaid caregiver for the elderly person or person with a disability to the definition of a person who stands in a position of trust and confidence.

Electronic Games (HB 4320/PA 97‐1126): Clarifies that electronic, mechanical or computer‐generated games of skill are not considered gambling so long as the value of the potential prize does not exceed $25 per single play of the device. Prizes must be in merchandise form only.

EMS First Responder (HB 5880/PA 97‐1014): Requires “first responders” to be at least 18‐years‐old. Also establishes a new definition of “provisional first responder,” in which a person must be at least 16‐years‐ old and have completed an emergency medical responder’s course in order to provide first response services prior to the arrival of an ambulance or other medical professional. DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH must allow for an alternative rural staffing model for vehicle service providers in rural populations of 10,000 or less.

Equal Pay Violations (SB 2847/PA 97‐903): States that under certain circumstances an officer of a corporation can be held personally liable for Equal Pay Act violations. The individual must willingly and knowingly permit the violation.

Ethnicity Education (HB 1473/PA 97‐909): Allows the Chicago Board of Education to develop a plan for implementing a program that seeks to establish common bonds between youth of various backgrounds and ethnicities. The program may be similar to that of the “Challenge Day” organization, which sponsors all‐day events at schools to challenge and subsequently create connections between students.

F

Facebook/Social Media Privacy (HB 3782/PA 97‐875): Prohibits employers from requesting or requiring any current or prospective employee to provide any account information, including passwords, in order to gain access to the employee’s social networking Web site.

Family Fugitive Concealment (SB 2520/PA 97‐741): Creates a new sub‐offense of aiding a fugitive to flee the jurisdiction, targeting those family members who assist criminal suspects to flee apprehension by law enforcement. This is a response to media reports highlighting situations where close relatives assisted suspects in murder, rape and other serious crimes flee American jurisdiction by providing rides to the airport, money and shelter. Illinois is one of 14 states that exempts family members from prosecution for harboring or aiding fugitives no matter how serious the fugitive’s crime.

Farmers’ Market Assistance (HB 5893/PA 97‐1015): Directs the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to encourage municipal convention centers to provide space at a reduced rate or without charge to local farmers’ markets when bad weather prevents the use of the markets’ regular outdoor locations.

Filing Deadline (HB 5203/PA 97‐1044): Provides that two or more petitions filed during the last hour of the filing deadline will be considered to have been filed simultaneously. If this occurs, a lottery will be conducted to determine the ballot position. The bill targets the jockeying among candidates to be the last on the ballot, which is thought to be an ideal ballot position.

Fire Sprinklers in Dorms (HB 4757/PA 97‐899): Allows colleges and universities to file a plan pledging their compliance with a new state law requiring the installation of sprinkler systems in dorm halls by 2014. Since the installation is so expensive, many schools have had to delay completion of the installation projects; this gives them additional time to install the systems.

Fire Marshal Funds (SB 3373/PA 97‐901): Consolidates a number of funds administered by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and makes changes to various loan programs administered by the SFM.

Firefighter Museum Repairs (HB 4468/PA 97‐755): Changes how the Illinois Firefighters Memorial Fund may be used to allow for the current 10% cap to be exceeded in order to pay for emergency repairs related to the structure of the Firefighter’s Museum.

First‐Time Offenders (SB 3423/PA 97‐889): Allows a first‐time offender charged with or convicted of possession of less than 15 grams of methamphetamine to receive treatment in a drug abuse program, rather than a prison term.

FOID Cards (SB 1034/PA 97‐1131): Makes a number of changes to state FOID laws. Clarifies the law to ensure people who have been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” are not issued FOID cards. Restricts issuance of FOID cards to non‐Illinois residents. Outlines protocol for new, eligible residents who possess firearms to obtain a FOID card. Enhances mental health reporting by courts to ISP. Addresses Amish religious concern regarding photographs. Provides more accountability for seized/confiscated/revoked cards being returned to ISP. Amends provisions regarding judicial review of ISP Director’s decision to deny a request for relief from a person who has been denied a FOID Card.

Fox Waterway (SB 2993/PA 97‐943): Provides that the executive director of the Fox Waterway Agency must be a person of recognized ability in business or waterway management.

G

Gift Certificate (HB 4689/PA 97‐954): Expands the definition of a “gift certificate” to include a credit slip issued by a store to a consumer who returns goods, if the credit slip enables the consumer to receive other goods of similar value in exchange for returned goods.

Gold Star License Plates (SB 2494/PA 97‐723): Makes Gold Star license plates available to family members, including siblings, of a person who has lost his/her life while serving in the Armed Forces.

Group Healthcare Purchasing (SB 2885/PA 97‐715): Changes the law under which Health Insurance Co‐ops may be formed including defining an employer as an individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, firm, corporation, association, or any other legal entity that has one or more employees and is legally doing business in Illinois and includes employer under the HIPPA definition. Increases the maximum number of employees that a participating employer can have from 500 to 2,500 and adds language that states health purchasing groups “shall utilize a licensed insurance producer” to obtain insurance for the group.

Guardian Appointment (SB 3592/PA 97‐1093): Creates a new $100 fee for the administration of an estate, which will go to the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission. Requires that when a court appoints a State Guardian for a disabled adult, the court must indicate the reasons for that appointment rather than the appointment of another interested party.

H

Handicapped Plate (HB 1151/PA 97‐918): Outlines requirements for a disabled veteran to qualify for a license plate with the international symbol of access, and to park in a handicapped parking space.

High School Math Requirement (SB 3244/PA 97‐704): Requires state education organizations and other stakeholders to study issues relating to the middle and high school math curriculum and then develop an educational curriculum model that would be given to school districts and teachers. This is an effort to promote math skills and increase education standards with relation to math and curriculum.

Home Loans (SB 1692/PA 97‐849): Creates new definitions and rules for High Risk Home Loans which mainly comply with existing federal law. Creates new definitions and rules for Tax Refund Anticipation Loans and Tax Refund Anticipation Checks.

I

Immunization Data (HB 5013/PA 97‐910): Requires school immunization data submitted to the Illinois State Board of Education to also be made publicly available.

Injury Settlement (HB 5823/PA 97‐1042): Matches an injury settlement or verdict’s payout 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. Initiated by the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, which believes that providers have an inequitable opportunity to collect more than they otherwise would 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.

In‐line Speed Skates (SB 3336/PA 97‐1023): Allows in‐line speed skaters outside Chicago to travel on roadways with a posted speed limit of 45 mph or less, provided they stay as near as practicable to the outside edge.

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.

J

Jury Fees (SB 2492/PA 97‐840): Allows a juror to waive their jury service fee.

L

Lake County Assessment (SB 1900/PA 97‐797): Changes the Lake County deadline for submission of assessment books from October 15 to July 15. Late property tax assessment reporting in Lake County has caused problems in the Supervisor’s office finishing the end‐of‐year reports because of the large volume of reports they receive in October.

Law Enforcement Records (HB 5602/PA 97‐1104): Permits the sharing of written law enforcement records with the appropriate school officials under a reciprocal reporting agreement only if the agency or officer believes that there is an imminent threat of physical harm to students, school personnel, or others who are present in the school or on school grounds. Expands offenses to include misdemeanor crimes of violence. Allows for oral sharing of information when a minor is the subject of a current police investigation that is directly related to school safety. Provides for counseling and referral services to be made by the school for the minor.

License Plate Charity Decals (SB 2568/PA 97‐940): Allows designated charities to design and establish a fee for the purchase of decals for retired military license plates designating the branch of service, theater of action, or both.

License Restrictions/Nursing Plates (HB 4692/PA 97‐1127): Allows the Secretary of State to place information about driving restrictions (such as medical conditions) on driver’s licenses. Also creates Illinois Nurses license plates, with a portion of the fees going to the Illinois Nurses Foundation.

Lifejackets (SB 2839/PA 97‐801): Requires sailboats to carry a life jacket for each of the crafts’ passengers.

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.

M

Mechanics Liens (SB 3792/PA 97‐966): Extends the time frame to obtain a mechanics lien to five years from the commencement of work or furnishing of material for property, other than residential property which remains at three years.

Medical Bill Sharing (HB 3443/PA 97‐705): Adds new regulations to govern “medical bill sharing ministries,” which are religiously‐affiliated organizations that offer their members a medical bill‐sharing plan as an alternative to health insurance. Under such bill‐sharing arrangements, members contribute into a fund that is used to cover medical expenses when needed. (SB 2876/PA 97‐707): Prohibits medical bill sharing ministries from having off‐shore trusts or bank accounts to pay medical expenses. It also requires the organization to provide a monthly statement of its financial status to its members.

Metro East Police (SB 549/PA 97‐971): Creates a special police district in St. Clair County that incorporates the corporate boundaries of East St. Louis, the Village of Washington Park, the Village of Alorton, and the Village of Brooklyn. This bill was controversial because it permits TIF funds to be used to hire police officers in East St. Louis and surrounding areas.

Military Family Licensure (SB 275/PA 97‐710): Allows for expedited licensure for service members and spouses of service members.

Military Re‐enactors (HB 4901/PA 97‐936): Establishes a short‐barrel rifle exemption for military re‐enactors, as well as Curio and Relic (C&R) license holders.

Motorcycle Sport Plates (SB 3555/PA 97‐914): Allows special motorcycle license plates that honor professional sport teams. Similar plates are already allowed for cars and trucks.

Moving Violation Taxi Info (HB 3982/PA 97‐1062): Requires circuit clerks to furnish a list of all moving violations involving taxi cabs. The list must provide the name of the defendant, taxi registration plate number, type of violation or alleged violation, and the status of the case.

N

Nursing Home Complaint (HB 5134/PA 97‐863): States that when a nursing home facility submits comments in response to licensure findings, it will be considered an informal dispute resolution if the same findings were not submitted for an informal dispute resolution for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to review documentation when a facility submits documentation to DPH on the grounds of informal dispute resolution. If the documentation is not enough to refute the finding, then DPH will write an explanation on why the evidence was not enough to refute the finding.

Nursing Home Safety (SB 680/PA 97‐866): Clarifies what procedures, equipment and accessories are acceptable for safely moving, lifting and transferring nursing home patients. The bill also requires healthcare facilities to train nurses and resident care providers on safe lifting policies and the proper techniques for operating lifting equipment.

Northwest Metra Commuter Rail District (SB 2937/PA 97‐1116): Creates the Northwest Metra Commuter Rail District, which is composed of municipalities located within McHenry County or any territory annexed to such district. Requires any property tax created by the district be submitted for a referendum.

Non‐Violent Offenders (SB 3349/PA 97‐1118): Creates a voluntary 12‐month diversion program to allow persons charged with certain felony offenses such as burglary, felony theft, felony retail theft, forgery, or possession of a stolen vehicle, cannabis, controlled substances or methamphetamine to complete a program, instead of going to prison.

No Wheelies (SB 3452/PA 97‐743): Imposes a minimum fine of $1,000 for driving a motorcycle on one wheel while speeding. Also limits motorcycle handlebars to the same height at the driver’s head (currently handlebars cannot be higher than the operator’s shoulders).

 

O

Open Government (HB 222/PA 97‐744): Requires employment and salary information from counties, townships, and municipalities to be included in the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal database.

Open Meetings (HB 4687/PA 97‐827): Requires a public body to take reasonable steps to ensure that a copy of any meeting notice and agenda are continuously available for public review during the entire 48‐hour period preceding the meeting. Publication of the notice and agenda on a Web site satisfies the continuous posting requirement. Exemptions are granted if the Web site goes down through no fault of the public body.

Optometrists Board of Health (SB 3484/PA 97‐810): Adds an optometrist to the State Board of Health. Increases the number of persons on the State Board to 20.

Optometric Records (SB 3538/PA 97‐1028): Allows for optometric exam records to be stored in a secure offsite storage facility. Provides that all fines collected for optometrists’ disciplinary action will be deposited in the Optometric Licensing and Disciplinary Board Fund.

“Oxy” Dealers (HB 5250/PA 97‐997): Provides for increased penalties for dealing in certain prescription pain killers containing hydrocodone, dihydrocodeinone, dihydrocodeine or oxycodone. Proposed by the Cook County State’s Attorney in response to a case in which a Skokie pharmacist charged with diverting about 70,000 pills of prescription pain killers faced only a maximum penalty of two to five years in prison.

 

P

PACE Bonding (HB 4036/PA 97‐770): Allows PACE bonding power of $100 million for four projects. The bonding is subject to RTA approval.

Police DUI Funding (HB 5021/PA 97‐1050): Expands the allowed uses for funds in the Secretary of State Driving Under the Influence Fund. The funds could 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 would be channeled to a new State Police Merit Board Public Safety Fund to provide for the hiring and training of new State Police cadets. This fund is not subject to sweeps by the Governor or Legislature.

Police Vehicles (HB 5780/PA 97‐794): Allows municipal police vehicles to transfer registration from one vehicle to another without a fee beginning in 2013.

Postal Worker Assault Penalties (SB 3665/PA 97‐0693): Makes assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, robbery, armed robbery, or aggravated robbery of a letter carrier or postal worker while performing his/her duties delivering mail for the United States Postal Service a factor in aggravation for purposes of sentencing by the court.

Postsurgical Recovery (HB 5050/PA 97‐987): Defines “ambulatory surgical treatment center” or “ASTC.” Allows patients to be discharged from a postsurgical recovery care center in less than 24 hours if the attending physician or the facility’s medical director believes the patient has recovered enough. Provides that blood products may be administered in the postsurgical recovery care center model. Allows a postsurgical recovery care center model to provide sleep laboratory or similar sleep studies.

Prevailing Wage Notification (HB 5212/PA 97‐964): Allows a written stipulation to be included in all public project contracts/written documents to state that the prevailing rate of wages are available on the Department of Labor’s official Web site.

Prisoner Review Board Sealing (SB 3458/PA 97‐1120): Allows the Prisoner Review Board to issue a certificate of eligibility recommending the court order the sealing of all official records of a person who has been convicted of certain Class 3 or Class 4 felonies and who has met eligibility requirements. The Board may only authorize the sealing of felony conviction from one information or indictment, and a petitioner may only receive one certificate of eligibility for sealing during his/her life. Upon request, the State Police must furnish information to a financial institution regarding whether an employee, applicant, or other person who participates in the institution’s affairs has been convicted of a felony or any criminal offense related to dishonesty, breach of trust, or money laundering.

Private Security Guards Firearm Training (HB 5682/PA 97‐1010): Specifies training requirements and a firearm control card to allow private security guards to carry concealed firearms.

Public Administrator Records (SB 2536/PA 97‐882): Designates that in Cook County, the public administrator will retain records in accordance with the Local Records Act, instead of turning them over to the Circuit Court Clerk, who is no longer accepting them. This gives the Cook County public administrator a way to archive or dispose of the records.

Public Benefit Corporations (SB 2897/PA 97‐885): Allows companies to form as “benefit corporations,” which are something of a hybrid between non‐profits and corporations. Benefit corporations attempt to balance a responsibility to earn profits on behalf of shareholders with a responsibility to further a general or specific public benefit.

Public Utility Account Holds (HB 5025/PA 97‐821): Requires a public utility to notify credit agencies and release an account hold on a customer’s account within five business days after the customer has made a payment in full.

R

Reckless Driving Violation Funds (HB 4577/PA 97‐931): Designates into which funds money will be deposited after it has been collected from people convicted of offenses related to reckless driving, or for speeding in excess of 40 miles‐per‐hour over the posted speed limit, when the violation caused an incident resulting in an emergency response.

Recycling Review Task Force (HB 4986/PA 97‐853): Creates a Task Force to review recycling and solid waste management planning in Illinois.

Renaming ID Cards (HB 4531/PA 97‐1064):

Changes the name of the Illinois Disabled Person Identification Card to the Illinois Person with a Disability Identification Card.  Changes “disabled person” to “person with a disability” throughout the Identification Card Act.

Rental House Support Expenses (HB 4615/PA 97‐952): States that operating expenses under the Rental Housing Support Program for local administrating agencies can not exceed 10 percent for grants less than $500,000 and 7% for grants more than $500,000 on an annual pro rata share. This is to prevent overpayment by the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

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/she has a reasonable excuse. Requires the student to notify the faculty/instructor in advance.

Review Appeal (SB 3386/PA 97‐1054): Requires assessment change notices made by a board of review or a board of appeals to also be mailed to a taxpayer’s attorney, if the taxpayer had been represented by an attorney. Cook County can provide electronic notice. Allows taxpayers to file assessment complaints electronically.

RTA Fraud (HB 4440/PA 97‐781): Allows the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health to share data so that the RTA can identify cases where a free‐ride card is still being used after the card holder has died.

S

Sales Tax Evasion (HB 5289/PA 97‐1074): Creates the crime of sales tax evasion in response to an investigation of gas stations that found many retailers were collecting sales taxes but not turning the money over to the state. The Illinois Taxpayers’ Federation raised concerns that the measure is drafted too broadly and could allow criminal charges in cases where there is a legitimate dispute over the taxes owed.

School Consolidation (SB 3252/PA 97‐1022): Gives school districts that are seeking to consolidate flexibility to reconcile taxpayer obligations due to past bond issues. Gives the combined school district a five year phase‐in to adjust the tax rates.

Sealed Records Dissemination Prevention (SB 3433/PA 97‐1026): Strikes current provisions allowing sealed criminal records to be disseminated to certain agencies or entities, including park districts, schools, transportation, health care agencies, Department of Children and Family Services, fire departments, law enforcements, etc. This is an attempt to remove barriers to employment that could exist if that sealed information is provided to a potential employer or licensure entity.

Service Member Benefits (SB 3287/PA 07‐913): Extends benefits to service members who are active duty or members of the National Guard who have been called to duty by the Governor for more than 30 days. Proposed additional benefits include the right to terminate a residential property lease; stay of administrative proceeding; default judgment protection; protection from property repossession on installment contracts; and a court authorized adjustment to a loan obligation in foreclosure proceedings.

Serving a Child Protocol (HB 5062/PA 97‐988): Specifies that a child’s guardian, rather than the child, would be served legal papers by a process server if the child is under 14 years old, under this proposal. This was recommended by an adoption attorney, who pointed out that young children are often confused and frightened when served the legal papers.

Sex Offender Evaluations (SB 3638/PA 97‐1098): Establishes three new professional licenses for sex offender evaluators. Also requires that juveniles who seek to be taken off the sex offender registry receive a risk assessment.

Sex Predators (HB 5280/PA 97‐1073): Provides that any person who is convicted of luring a minor is considered a sexual predator. Currently, persons must be convicted twice before being declared a sexual predator.

Sex Trafficking (HB 5278/PA 97‐897): Allows prosecution for sexual trafficking and sexual servitude for a minimum of one year after the victim turns 18, but not less than three years after the offense occurred. This is designed to make it more likely that underage victims of sexual trafficking will report the crime after they turn 18.

Scrap Metal Theft (HB 3825/PA 97‐923): Addresses the growing problem of metal theft by strengthening record‐keeping requirements to make it more difficult to sell stolen metal, requiring greater proof that the seller owns the scrap metal and by providing tougher criminal penalties for selling or buying stolen scrap metal. Records of transactions must be retained for three years instead of two years.

Shark Fin Ban (HB 4119/PA 97‐733): Prohibits a person from possessing, selling, trading, distributing, or trying to sell a shark fin on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

Social Services (SB 278/PA 97‐1077): Creates a permanent Illinois Human Services Commission, which would essentially be a government‐sponsored entity to advocate for state funding for social services. Gov. Pat Quinn created the Commission in 2009. This would make it a permanent body and allow the Governor to appoint virtually any number of persons to the Commission from more than 20 different categories of social service providers.

Special Service Areas Notice (SB 409/PA 97‐1053): Requires notice be given to affected property owners prior to the levy of taxes for a special service area, and outlines notification requirements.

State Board of Health (SB 174/PA 97‐0734): Requires the State Board of Health to deliver the third installment of the State Health Improvement Plan to the Governor by Jan. 1, 2016, and every five years thereafter.

State Fire Marshal Certificates (HB 4545/PA 97‐782): Amends the definition of “local governmental agency” to include the Office of the State Fire Marshal (SFM), to allow employees of the Office to receive training certifications if they meet the minimum standards. Currently only firefighters employed by local governments can receive training certificates; SFM employees are not currently allowed.

State‐owned Vehicles (HB 5650/PA 97‐922): Requires each state agency (exempts the judicial branch, the Legislature, and units of local government) to designate a vehicle use officer to monitor the use of state‐owned vehicles.

Swimming Pool Licensure (SB 3727/PA 97‐957): Establishes a fee structure for the Department of Public Health to impose construction, licensure, and inspection fees for swimming pools and water facilities. Outlines qualification requirements of architects and professional engineers and contractors who would provide services to the public for designing, constructing and modifying public swimming facilities.

T

Tax Agreements (HB 3859/PA 97‐976): Requires counties and municipalities to provide the Department of Revenue with a report on their sales tax rebate agreements and exempts these agreements from FOIA.

Telephone Billing Ban (HB 5211/PA 97‐822): Prohibits a third‐party vendor from billing a consumer for goods or services that will appear as a charge on a consumer’s telephone bill. Called “phone cramming,” this is a growing problem where people are solicited for free trials, coupons or prizes, but never told they’re purchasing a service and then they are later billed.

Tenant Damages (HB 5314/PA 97‐999): Amends the Security Deposit Return Act to allow landlords to send a list of itemized damages by e‐mail to an e‐mail address provided by the tenant.

Terms of Divorce (SB 2569/PA 97‐941): Imposes conditions and timetables in divorce proceedings for property dissipation claims and codifies case law regarding child support obligations for extra expenses such as medical needs not covered by insurance, child care, education and extracurricular activities.

Terrorism (HB 5121/PA 97‐990): Provides that a prisoner convicted of an attempt to commit terrorism must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, rather than the customary 50 percent.

Trucking (SB 2579/PA 97‐883): Provides that the “kingpin to rear axle length” restriction on Illinois highways does not apply to trailers or semi‐trailers used for the transport of livestock.

Trusts (HB 4662/PA 97‐920): Modernizes Illinois trust laws. Based on model legislation in other states, it is designed to give those who administer long‐term trusts the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while preventing abuses that could adversely affect the trust.

U

Unemployment Cleanup (HB 5632/PA 97‐791): Removes obsolete language throughout the Unemployment Insurance Act and make sure state law conforms to federal law.

Underage Drinking Parent Penalties (HB 1554/PA 97‐1049): Cracks down on parents or guardians who permit underage drinking on property they own. Makes it a crime to allow underage drinking not only at a parent’s or guardian’s home, but also on property under their control, Including a barn, cabin, boathouse, etc.

V

Vehicle Seizure (HB 4863/PA 97‐984): States that a motor vehicle used while driving on a suspended or revoked license is subject to seizure and forfeiture if the person’s driving privileges were revoked or suspended for a similar violation in another state if the offense involves operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol; leaving the scene of a personal injury accident; refusing to submit to alcohol or drug testing; or reckless homicide.

Veterans Home Eligibility (HB 4442/PA 97‐927): Adds “Gold Star” mothers and fathers through adoption to be allowed admittance into an Illinois Veterans Home should vacant beds exist. “Gold Star” parents are parents of service members killed while on active duty.

Veteran ID Designation (SB 2837/PA 97‐739): Adds a veteran designation on ID cards issued by the Secretary of State, including driver’s licenses, state ID cards, and ID card for a person with a disability.

Victim Compensation (SB 3693/PA 97‐817): Makes various adjustments to crime victim compensation procedures, including providing for broader compensation to crime victims and increasing the amount for victims of certain types of financial loss.

W

Wholesale Drug Distribution (SB 2935/PA 97‐804): Extends the repeal of the Wholesale Drug Distribution Licensing Act, which was set to sunset on Jan. 1, 2013. Extends the Act to Jan. 1, 2023.

Wiretaps (HB 4081/PA 97‐846): Adds a new exception to the eavesdropping statute. Allows a law enforcement officer, or a person acting at the direction of a law enforcement officer to record or listen with the aid of an eavesdropping device to a conversation in the course of an investigation of a felony drug violation. Instead of a court order, the wiretap can occur if approved by the State’s Attorney. The person listening or recording must be a party to the conversation.

NEW LAWS TAKE EFFECT JANUARY 1ST

With the start of the new year, many newly-enacted state laws will take effect. In fact, this year, there are more than 150 new laws which will be in place on January 1st.  Issues such as cell phone driving restrictions, government transparency, protecting our children and many more new laws will be on the books on beginning in 2013.  I have put together a brief roundup of some of these laws so that residents of our area can familiarize themselves with the upcoming changes.

Keeping our roads and waterways safe

  • Senate Bill 2488 extends the existing ban on cell phone use in a construction or maintenance zone to all work zones. Previously, cell phone use was only outlawed in those work zones with a speed limit restriction.
  • House Bill 5101 provides that, with a few exceptions, a driver may not use a handheld mobile phone or text while driving a commercial vehicle.
  • House Bill 5056 will increase penalties for using another person’s or a deceased person’s disability license plate or decal.
  • Senate Bill 2839 requires sailboats to carry a life jacket for each passenger on board.
  • Senate Bill 3452 will impose a minimum fine of $1,000 for driving a motorcycle on one wheel while speeding.  The law also limits motorcycle handlebars to the same height as the driver’s head.
  • Senate Bill 2579 provides that the “kingpin to rear axle length” restriction on Illinois highways does not apply to trailers or semi-trailers used for transporting livestock.

Protecting our children

  • SB 2537, which is better known as “Caylee’s Law,” increases penalties for failure to report a disappearance or death of a child 13 years or younger within 24 hours.  Parents or guardians who provide false information to authorities can be charged with obstruction of justice.
  • House Bill 4966 requires the Department of Children and Family Services to supply more complete information in reports on the death or serious injury of a child who is under the care or custody of the Department.
  • House Bills 5265 and 5280 take on subject of child luring. HB 5265 increases the victim’s age from 16 to 17 in the case of child luring. If the child victim is going to or from school, the charge is subject to felony prosecution. HB 5280 makes a single conviction of luring a minor grounds for automatic classification as a sex offender, rather than waiting for a second conviction under the previous law.
  • Senate Bill 3579 prohibits convicted sex offenders from participating in certain public holiday events, such as handing out candy on Halloween or dressing up as Santa Claus.

Imposing fiscal discipline

  • House Bill 5914 prohibits the use of state funds or tuition revenue to pay for a “hiring search committee,” with the exception of hiring a university president.

Making government more transparent

  • House Bill 5180 requires the Illinois Department of Transportation to develop and publish a policy to notify residents before starting construction projects that may impact their communities.
  • House Bill 222 will require counties, townships, and municipalities to be included in the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal database, which posts employment and salary information.
  • House Bill 4687 requires public bodies to take reasonable steps to ensure that a copy of any meeting agenda and notice are available for public review during the 48 hour period before the meeting is scheduled to take place.

Cutting down on copper thefts

  • House Bill 4013 requires metal recyclers purchasing copper to enter specific identifying information into forms provided by the State Police and retain of copy of that form for two years.

Saluting our nation’s heroes

  • Senate Bill 2494 makes Gold Star license plates available to family members and siblings of a person who has lost his/her life while serving in the armed forces.

We still have much work to do to get Illinois’ fiscal house in order, solve our pension crisis, improve our schools, keep our roads and communities safe, and support our veterans, kids, seniors, military personnel and our neighbors in need. I am looking forward to returning to Springfield in January to continue the work for the people of the 109th District.

HALBROOK AGREES THAT ILLINOIS GUN LAWS GO TOO FAR IN RESTRICTING CITIZENS 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHTS

State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) said he was pleased that the Seventh Circuit Appellate Court ruled that Illinois gun restrictions regarding the right to carry firearms in public go too far and do, in fact, infringe upon citizens constitutionally guaranteed 2nd Amendment rights.

The Court’s decision states:

“The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside. The theoretical and empirical evidence (which overall is inconclusive) is consistent with concluding that a right to carry firearms in public may promote self-defense.

“Illinois had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety. It has failed to meet this burden.”

“This is a victory for 2nd Amendment advocates and those who have said all along that a person’s right to use a firearm in self-defense is constitutional in the home, as well as out in public,” said Rep. Halbrook.  “The court has said that the state legislature has 180 days to craft a responsible proposal that meets constitutional muster regarding an individual’s right to bears arms.  I would urge the Democrat leaders in the House and Senate to allow a vote on a concealed carry measure that has been stalled for the past two years.”

HALBROOK VOTES IN FAVOR OF CUTTING, ELIMINATING LEGISLATOR PENSIONS

On Friday, State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) voted in favor of reducing current General Assembly member’s pensions and eliminating the defined benefit system for future legislators.  Halbrook stressed that this is far from the comprehensive solution needed to fix our state’s nearly $100 billion pension liability, but said it would mark small progress that will hopefully spur further pension action.

“There is not one part of me that believes this is a legitimate proposal to offer a comprehensive fix for our pension problems,” said Rep. Halbrook.  “I agree that we need to cut General Assembly pensions and I campaigned on the platform of eliminating pensions for new legislators all together.  When I took office I made a promise to the people of Illinois that I would not accept pension benefits.  I continue to believe that G.A. members should be the first to sacrifice their pensions, but to call this the fix our pension systems need would be false.”

Senate Bill 3168 would only affect the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS).

The legislation would allow current GARS members to choose between retaining their current compounded COLA but future salary increases will not count toward their final pensionable salary and they will not have access to a retiree healthcare plan provided by the state.  Members could opt for the alternative option by taking a smaller COLA and continuing to have access to retiree healthcare benefits.  SB3168 also would eliminate pension benefits for new General Assembly members.

The legislation would have little effect in reducing the state’s unfunded pension liability, with some predicting savings of between $45 and $100 million over 30 years.  These savings are too small to significantly reduce yearly pension payments, which are expected to rise by over a billion dollars next year.

“In terms of savings for Illinois taxpayers; this bill is like pouring a glass of water into the ocean.  There will be no noticeable budget relief because of this bill.  Our pension systems will not be better funded because of this bill.  The Speaker of the House, who has watched our pension liabilities grow from $15 billion in 2000 to over $80 billion today, called this bill for a vote for one reason; political gamesmanship.  He knows this is not the true pension reform that is needed to stabilize our states finances, and he showed he has no interest in staying in Springfield until we resolve our pension problems.”

Senate Bill 3168 failed by a vote of 54 to 53 in the Illinois House.

HALBROOK SAYS QUINN’S ASSUALT WEAPON BAN PROPOSAL MISGUIDED, OVERSTEPS EXECUTIVE POWERS

State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) released the following statement in response to Governor Quinn’s recent proposal to institute an assault weapons ban and large capacity magazine ban throughout the state of Illinois.

“We have so many important issues to deal in this state, but the Governor has instead decided to create a crisis where one doesn’t exist.  The Comptroller has said we are carrying $8 billion in unpaid bills, we have the worst funded pension system in the nation, and our unemployment rate rose again last month, yet this is what the Governor feels is the best use of his time?  It’s just unbelievable.

“The Governor’s recent veto action is nothing more than a distraction and a desperate attempt to appease his liberal Chicago supporters.  He overstepped his authority by essentially writing an entirely new bill, and he knows full well that his proposal will never be approved.  All he did with his amendatory veto of Senate Bill 681 is jeopardize the fate of legislation that would have been an asset to businesses who produce and sell legal ammunition.  This action is simply more self promotion for our Governor at the expense of a growing Illinois industry.”

On July 31st, Governor Quinn issued an amendatory veto of Senate Bill 681.  The Governor’s veto message proposed a ban on buying or selling assault weapons, .50 caliber rifles, and large capacity magazines.