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Senate week in review  (Nov. 18-21)

Veto session          Send a link to a friend

[NOV. 22, 2003]  SPRINGFIELD -- Senate Republican lawmakers played a significant role in the waning days of the veto session, helping to craft comprehensive ethics reform, working to keep 10,000 trucking jobs in Illinois and putting crucial death penalty reforms into law, according to state Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield.

Senate Republican lawmakers contributed to the comprehensive ethics reform package approved with bipartisan support this week. The package is a combination of the reform plan passed by lawmakers last spring (House Bill 3412) and a culmination of plans developed by the four legislative leaders (Senate Bill 702).

Among the tenets of the bill suggested by Senate Republicans are time sheet requirements for all state employees, financial disclosure of unpaid advisers who act as "shadow government" and a ban on government-paid promotional pieces (such as bumper stickers, posters, billboards, lapel pins, stickers or magnets) that include an elected official's name or photo.

Only 14 hours later, Senate Democrats asked for loopholes in Illinois election laws that could lead to voter fraud and could dismiss all violations and fines currently before the State Board of Elections. Senate Republican lawmakers voted against the proposal -- even though it contained the language that would place President George W. Bush on the Illinois ballot -- preferring to maintain the integrity of Illinois' elections laws rather than bow to Democrat pressure. The measure failed 23-27-0. Republican lawmakers will reintroduce the legislation in the spring to ensure George W. Bush appears on the Illinois ballot following the Republican National Convention.

Senate Republicans also worked to begin eliminating the excessive tax and fee hikes imposed on truckers this year, a move that will save as many as 10,000 trucking industry jobs. House Bill 852 gained approval in the Senate only after Minority Leader Frank Watson and Senate Republican lawmakers won a commitment that the fees will be rolled back over the next two years, instead of the three-year rollback suggested by Democrat lawmakers. The Republican plan, which will be amended onto House Bill 852 in the House, has the support of the trucking industry.

In other action, lawmakers voted for crucial death penalty reforms, culminated after four years of bipartisan effort. Senate Republican lawmakers played a strong role in the task force that drafted the reforms contained in Senate Bill 472. The law allows for continued review and reforms through the Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee, allows judges to rule out the death penalty in cases that rely on a single eyewitness or police informant, allows the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn a death sentence, prohibits execution of mentally disabled individuals, and allows condemned inmates to more easily clear their names with newly discovered evidence and to see state's evidence that favors them -- including some previously off-limits documents.

House Bill 576, a follow-up bill, also gained approval this week. That legislation deals with the governor's concerns about removing police officers who commit perjury on the witness stand.

Private and parochial schools that would have otherwise lost their state accreditation status will again be recognized under legislation approved by the Illinois Senate. Senate Bill 1014 requires the Illinois State Board of Education to register nonpublic elementary and secondary schools.


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Both houses voted to override the governor's vetoes of the following measures. The measures are now law, as follows:

Human Services 211 (HB 429) -- Establishes 211 as a non-emergency telephone hot line for information about governmental and nonprofit services and referrals to human services agencies.

Sex offenders (HB 3556) -- Requires some sex offenders to receive treatment upon release. Requires all sex offender treatment to comply with standards set by the Sex Offender Management Board and prohibits the Illinois Department of Corrections from hiring sex offender evaluators for treatment services without board approval.

Prison commissaries (SB 629) -- Increases the commissary profits 25 percent on non-tobacco items and 35 percent on tobacco items.

TANF diversity (SB 1364) -- Requires the Department of Human Services to report on the TANF program's impact on people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Park districts (SB 83) -- Creates two exceptions to the tax cap law in order to provide funding for park districts and forest preserves. (SB 1881) -- Creates a tax cap exemption for joint park district recreation programs that provide recreation and transportation for disabled individuals.

Cook County schools (SB 606) -- Makes sure new industrial developments in Cook County are taxed fairly and recaptures money Cook County schools and libraries and other taxing districts should already collect.

Brush pickup (SB 1353) -- Allows townships, with voter approval, to use permanent road funds, general road and bridge funds, or township funds for disposal of brush and leaves and for disaster relief services. 

The General Assembly voted to accept the governor's amendatory changes to the following measures, which will become law as amended:

Redeploy Illinois (HB 2545) -- Creates the Redeploy Illinois pilot program to reduce the number of juveniles in adult prisons and use the savings to develop local programming for youth offenders.

Deaf assistance (SB 1523) -- Expands the duties of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission.

The Senate also approved the following measures, which now await consideration by the governor:

Budget (SB 867) -- Creates the Budget Stabilization Act.

Welfare (SB 1935) -- Restores the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grants.

Dangerous schools (SB 1957) -- Requires the Illinois State Board of Education to have a policy for moving students from a persistently dangerous school to another public school that is in the same district and is not dangerous.

[News release provided by Sen. Larry Bomke]

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