"Our country is relying more heavily on
citizen-soldiers than it has in the past, so when they are called to
duty, they leave behind families and civilian jobs and all the
related obligations. We need to make sure that they can come back
from service and resume their lives without difficulty," said Gov.
House Bill 4660 strengthens employment protection for Illinois
National Guard and Reserve members who are called to active duty.
The new law imposes fines ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 against
employers who terminate soldiers' jobs while the citizen-soldiers
are serving on active duty. If the Service Member's Employment
Tenure Act is violated, House Bill 4660 also requires employers to
compensate the person called to active duty for any loss of wages or
benefits, along with reasonable attorney's fees and costs. The
legislation was sponsored by state Rep. Lisa Dugan, D-Kankakee, and
state Sen. George Shadid, D-Pekin.
"National Guard members and reservists
who are called to active duty to fight terrorism across the world
should not have to fight for their jobs when they return home," said
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.
Quinn was instrumental in winning
approval for legislation that helps ensure military service members
are informed of their rights and benefits.
Senate Bill 2526 requires the Illinois Department of Military
Affairs to publish a document outlining the rights and
responsibilities of military service members under state and federal
law. The information will be available both electronically and in
paper copies for service members, their families and organizations
that assist service members. The bill was sponsored by state Sen.
Patrick Welch, D-Peru, and state Rep. Kevin McCarthy, D-Orland Park.
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House Bill 4372, the third piece of military legislation signed
Wednesday, gives National Guard members the same rights when called
to service by the president as they receive when the governor calls
them to service. Currently, military members are entitled to certain
rights in connection with a stay, postponement or suspension of
court proceedings and to a monetary credit or refund of college
tuition and fees when they are called to service by the governor.
The new law extends those same entitlements to service members
called to active duty by the president. Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia,
D-Peru, and Sen. Lawrence Walsh, D-Joliet, sponsored the
National Guard and Reserve members will
also now have access to MIA-POW scholarships.
House Bill 4491 amends the school code definition of eligible
veteran or service person to include an "Illinois National Guard
member" in the provision concerning MIA-POW scholarships. The change
makes National Guard members eligible for the scholarships if they
are declared prisoners of war or missing in action or if they are
permanently disabled from service-connected causes while on active
duty or in training. Chief sponsors of House Bill 4491 were Rep. Ron
Stephens, R-Troy, and Sen. Denny Jacobs, D-Moline.
"This allows for equal benefits and
recognition for all Illinois service members regardless of their
duty status," said Gen. Randal Thomas, director of the Illinois
Department of Military Affairs. "The Guard and Reserve have played a
key role in our nation's defense, with more than 5,000 Illinois
citizen-soldiers answering the call to active duty in the last few
bills are effective immediately.
[News release from the