Tuesday, May 20

Senate week in review

May 12-16

[MAY 20, 2003]  SPRINGFIELD -- A measure that will help limit telemarketing calls and legislation banning the kind of ephedra products that have been blamed for the death of a 16-year-old central Illinois football player are among the bills acted on by the Illinois Senate during the week of May 12-16, according to Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield.

May 16 was the deadline for action on bills introduced in the House of Representatives and being considered by the Senate, but that deadline has been extended.

Senate Bill 1418 regarding ephedra products has been approved by both the Senate and the House, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich has already indicated his intent to sign the legislation into law. [For more information, see yesterday's LDN posting "Ephedra ban heads to governor."]

The Senate approved legislation May 13 that will help limit the number of telemarketing calls by giving consumers access to a free no-call registry. The Illinois Restricted Call Registry Act, which lawmakers approved last year, was set to be implemented by the Illinois Commerce Commission this year, allowing customers to be listed on a no-call registry for a $5 fee. However, the Federal Trade Commission is now giving consumers access to a free national "do not call" registry. The Federal Trade Commission will announce information about registration in June. House Bill 3407 now returns to the House for concurrence with changes made to the legislation in the Senate.

In other action, Senate Republicans continued to fight Democrat efforts to strong-arm Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's agenda though the legislative process but were not able to stop committee action that advanced a Daley anti-gun proposal. On May 14, Senate Democrats pushed a portion of Mayor Daley's anti-gun agenda through the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, despite the fact that the same proposal had been defeated by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this spring because of questions about the constitutionality of the bill.


House Bill 2579 -- commonly known as the "one-gun-a-month" bill -- restricts handgun sales. Proponents argue that the bill would slow the practice of "straw purchases" -- when a person with a FOID card purchases a gun with the intention of selling or giving it to someone, such as a criminal, who is not eligible to own a gun. Opponents successfully argued that the bill is an infringement on citizens' constitutional rights. On May 16, the Senate defeated the legislation.

Also during the week, the Senate Executive Committee heard testimony May 12 about another controversial proposal backed by Daley. Senate Bill 802 would give the city of Chicago "quick-take" powers to acquire land necessary to move forward with the expansion of O'Hare Airport. Proponents argue that O'Hare must be expanded and modernized to keep it a world-class airport facility. Opponents said the particular legislation gives the mayor unprecedented authority to seize private property from nearby municipalities for the expansion of O'Hare, with little regard to property owners who would be displaced. No vote was taken by the Executive Committee. The legislation is pending in the House of Representatives.

On May 14, the Senate Executive Committee bowed to pressure by Senate Republicans and allowed public debate of several executive orders filed by the governor to restructure several state agencies. Senate Republicans support streamlining state government but wanted a public hearing because Executive Orders 9-12 contain technical flaws, raise constitutional questions and include provisions that contradict current law. At the May 14 committee session, the auditor general and the attorney general raised concerns that the executive orders are targeting services currently offered by their offices and would duplicate them in state agencies controlled by the governor. Questions have also been raised about the real cost savings produced by the restructuring plans, since much of the savings can to attributed to early retirement. The governor's office responded to questions but offered no immediate remedy.


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The following House bills were approved by the Senate during the week of May 12-16.  Each legislative measure has now been approved by both chambers of the General Assembly and moves to the governor's desk.

Newborn safety (HB 2298) -- Educates teenagers about the Illinois Safe Haven law, which protects parents who safely abandon their newborn child at a hospital or staffed fire station. The law allows the parents to remain anonymous as long as the baby shows no signs of abuse.

Left-lane driving (HB 1574) -- Clarifies when it is appropriate to drive in the left lane. In addition to passing another vehicle, the proposed law would allow left-lane driving in situations where no other vehicle is directly behind or when traffic or weather conditions make it necessary.

Chronic wasting disease (HB 2918) -- Allows the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to add deer hunting seasons to control dangerous diseases affecting the deer population and to establish rules for the additional deer harvesting periods.

Small business (HB 3209) -- Requires state agencies to publish on the Internet plain-language rules and regulations that affect small businesses. The explanation must contain the effective date of the change and remain posted for six months after the effective date.

Domestic violence (HB 2525) -- Allows prior domestic violence convictions in other states to count against offenders who are sentenced in Illinois courts. (HB 3547) -- Prohibits discrimination against domestic violence victims when they purchase or renew property and casualty insurance.

School arson (HB 2446) -- Increases the penalties for arson of a school building from a Class 1 felony to Class X felony -- the toughest felony there is -- with a prison term of six to 30 years.

The following Senate bills were approved by the House during the week of May 12-16. Each legislative measure has now been approved by both chambers of the General Assembly and moves to the governor's desk.

"No" means "no" (SB 406) -- Clarifies that "no" means "no" under Illinois' sexual assault laws and specifies an individual's right to withdraw consent to sexual intercourse. The bill was introduced in Illinois after courts in California questioned the intent of their similar law.


Early learning (SB 565) -- Better coordinates early childhood learning programs to ensure every child is ready to meet the demands of a K-12 education. Creates the Illinois Early Learning Council to oversee and integrate existing state programs for children from birth to 5 years of age.

Vision screening (SB 805) -- Requires written notification be given to parents of schoolchildren explaining the difference between vision screening tests performed in school and a comprehensive eye exam by an eye doctor.

Group housing (SB 809) -- Authorizes group housing purchased by a special needs trust or not-for-profit care provider. The homes will provide housing and care for up to four people with similar diagnoses of mental illness who require similar intermittent care.

Sexual abuse (SB 1035) -- Extends the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse crimes. Allows criminal cases to be filed anytime before the person victimized as a child turns 38. Civil cases can be filed until the victim turns 28 or within five years of discovering the abuse and recognizing it caused harm.

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