Illinois Issues: Legislative Checklist
Gov. Bruce Rauner has taken action on hundreds of bills over the summer. He signed most of them into law, but he also made some high-profile vetoes.
Signed By The Governor
Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed hundreds of bills into law since the spring legislative session.
Medical cannabis program extension - Senate Bill 10 The state’s medical cannabis pilot program was extended to 2020 under this law, which was proposed by Skokie Democratic Rep. Lou Lang and Alton Democratic Sen. William Haine. Terminal illnesses and post-traumatic stress disorder were added to the list of ailments that qualify for treatment under the program. Patients will no longer have to have their doctor recommend marijuana in order for them to get it. Instead, doctors only have to verify that patients have an illness that qualifies them for treatment through the program.
Insurance coverage - SB 466 Insurance companies will be required to cover 3D mammograms under this legislation, which was sponsored by Chicago Democrats, Sen. John Mulroe and Rep. Michael McAuliffe.
House Bill 5576 Insurance companies will be required to cover all forms of contraception approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under this proposal. Northbrook Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz and Sen. Toi Hutchinson, a Democrat from Olympia Fields, sponsored the legislation.
Health care right of conscience - SB 1564 Health care professionals who choose not to offer a treatment under the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act will be required to give patients information on where they could obtain that treatment elsewhere. Evanston Democrats, Sen. Daniel Biss and Rep. Robyn Gabel, sponsored the measure. The new requirement is currently being challenged in court by an Illinois doctor and an anti-abortion organization.
Marijuana decriminalization - SB 2228 This law will make possession of small amounts of marijuana a ticketable offense. Under the proposal, possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis will be a civil offense, similar to a minor traffic violation, and will be punishable by a fine of $100 to $200. If people ticketed under the law had drug paraphernalia on them, too, that will also be considered a civil offense and will carry the same penalty. The legislation sets a standard for driving while intoxicated by marijuana. Chicago Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Chicago Democratic Sen. Heather Steans sponsored the measure. The Illinois Supreme Court recently created rules to implement the law.
Cell phone tracking - SB 2343 This law will restrict police use of a technology that mimics cellphone towers. The device, known as a Stingray, allows police to track the locations of cell phones. Under the proposal, which was sponsored by Evanston Democratic Sen. Daniel Biss and Chicago Democratic Rep. Ann Williams, police will have to get a warrant before using a Stingray. They will also have to delete data collected from people who are not under investigation.
Juvenile interrogation - SB 2370 This legislation will guarantee that children age 15 and younger have a lawyer present if they are being interrogated in a murder case. Chicago Democrats, Sen. Patricia Van Pelt and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, sponsored the bill.
Tampon tax - SB 2746 Consumers will no longer have to pay state sales taxes on sanitary pads, tampons and other feminine hygiene products. Melinda Bush, a Democrat from Grayslake and Chicago Democratic Rep. Will Guzzardi, sponsored the legislation.
Seed exchanges - SB 3130 Free seed sharing groups and seed libraries will by exempt from regulations, such as testing and some record keeping, that apply to commercial seed business. Springfield Republican Rep. Tim Butler and Plainview Republican Rep. Sam McCann sponsored the bill.
Excused absence for playing Taps - HB 4432 Children in grades 6 through 12 will be allowed excused absences from school to play “Taps” at military funerals in Illinois. Students will also get time to make up missed schoolwork. Gilson Republican Rep. Don Moffitt and Peoria Republican Sen. Chuck Weaver sponsored the bill.
Accessing digital assets after death - HB 4648 This new law will make it easier for family members to access photos and other info posted to deceased loved ones’ social media accounts by treating it like other possessions. That means a judge can rule a spouse or family member be granted access as part of settling an estate. Democratic Rep. Chris Welch from Hillside and Republican Sen. Michael Connelly from Wheaton sponsored the law, which also requires that social media providers offer users the option to name a beneficiary who would be given access to the account after they die.
Professional licenses for ex-offenders - HB 5973 Some people with criminal records will have an easier time getting certain occupational licenses in the state under this law, which was sponsored by Chicago Democrats, Rep. Marcus Evans and Sen. Kwame Raoul. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will only be able to take a past felony conviction into account when deciding whether to issue a license if the offense relates to the kind of work the applicant is seeking to do. The department will also be required to issue a written decision if it rejects an applicant on the basis of a past conviction. The law covers licenses for funeral directing and embalming, roofing contracting, cosmetology, esthetics, hair braiding, nail technology and barbering.
Prison phone calls - HB 6200 Urbana Democratic Rep. Carol Ammons and Chicago Democratic Sen. Jacqueline Collins sponsored this law that will limit the rates prisoners in Illinois can be charged for phone calls to 5 cents per minute. Currently, commissions are charged on the calls and the state makes an estimated $12 million a year off of them.
Vetoed By The Governor
Rauner also vetoed several bills this summer. Lawmakers will have the option to try to override his vetoes during the November veto session. Three-fifths of the members of each chamber must vote in favor for an override to be successful. When the governor uses an amendatory veto to suggest changes to legislation, lawmakers can vote to accept or reject those changes. If the legislature opts not to take up a veto, the bill dies.
Automatic voter registration - SB 250 Illinois residents would automatically be register to vote when they get their driver’s licenses under this bill. Under the plan, sponsored by Bunker Hill Democratic Sen. Andy Manar and Evanston Democratic. Rep. Robyn Gabel, drivers could opt out of automatic registration. Rauner vetoed the plan, saying he agrees with the concept but has concerns about the way the bill is written.
Notice for grants and contracts - HB 581 Under this legislation, state agencies would have to provide written notice before suspending or reducing the amount of a state grant or making changes to a contract the state has made with a provider for goods or services. Chicago Democrats Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie and Sen. Heather Steans sponsored the legislation. Rauner suggested changes to the measure through an amendatory veto because he says the bill would not give agencies the flexibility they need to manage their budgets.
Since Rauner took office, state agencies have frozen payment on several grants and social service providers have gone for an entire fiscal year without getting paid for some services they executed under contract with the state.
Child care assistance - SB 730 Access to subsidized child care would be expanded under this proposal. The bill, sponsored by Maywood Democratic Sen. Kimberly Lightford and Rockford Democratic Rep. Litesa Wallace, would increase the income threshold for the program to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The cutoff would go up to 250 percent in 2017. In his veto message, Rauner said he supported expanding childcare but argued that the state could not afford it at this time.
Democratic lawmakers and the governor previously battled over the program after Rauner unilaterally raised the income eligibility threshold last year from 185 percent of the poverty level to 50 percent. He then lowered it to the current 165 percent of federal poverty level after is appeared legislation that would have overturned his change was poised to pass in the General Assembly.
U of I student trustee residency - SB 2204 This legislation would relax the residency requirements for University of Illinois student trustees. Chicago Democratic Sen. Iris Martinez and Cicero Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez proposed the bill after a student was disqualified from running for one of the positions because he is an immigrant without legal status. In his veto message, Rauner said that he thinks the bill would make it possible for students from out of state to serve on the U of I Board of Trustees.
Paying for prison - SB 2465 This legislation, sponsored by Evanston Democratic Sen. Daniel Biss and Chicago Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy, would end the practice of the state suing inmates to help cover the cost of their incarceration. Rauner used an amendatory veto to make changes to the bill. He suggested that instead of completely ending the practice, the Department of Corrections should adopt a financial threshold. Prisoners with less than that threshold in bank or prison accounts would not be sued to pay for incarceration costs.
Biss told the Chicago Tribune that Rauner’s veto has essentially killed the bill because he doesn’t plan to move to accept the governor’s changes, but he also doesn’t think he can find enough support to override them.
Minimum wage for caregivers - Raunervetoed two bills that would have increased wages for people who provide care to the elderly and disabled. In his veto messages, he said the state can’t afford the raises.
SB 2931 Under this bill, a minimum wage of $15 an hour would be set for workers who provide in-home care to the elderly and disabled. Chicago Democratic Rep. Sonya Harper and Sen. Michael Hastings, a Democrat from Orland Hills, are sponsors of the legislation.
HB 5931 - Workers who care for people with developmental disabilities in group homes and other community settings would get a $15-an-hour minimum wage under this proposal from Chicago Democratic Sen. Heather Steans and Evanston Democratic Rep. Robyn Gabel.
Hardin County Work Camp - HB 4326 The Hardin County Work Camp would be reopened under this bill, which was sponsored by Benton Democratic Sen. Gary Forby and Harrisburg Democratic Rep. Brandon Phelps. The minimum-security facility offered education and vocational programs to inmates. In his veto message, the governor said the state doesn’t have the money to make repairs needed at the facility to keep it running.