Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
April 15, 2013
In this issue:
· Hundreds of Bills Considered as Deadline Approaches
· House Votes to Abolish Lt. Governor Position
· State Sells Construction Bonds; Receives Favorable Rate
· Refocusing Pension Discussions
· Early Results from Medicaid Audit Show Widespread Ineligibility
· Lobbying Increases Over Medical Use of Marijuana
· Early Childhood Advocates Discuss Outcomes
· Earth Day Celebrated Across the Globe on April 22
Hundreds of Bills Considered as Deadline Approaches
Activity in the House intensified and session days ran longer last week as members try to have their bills passed before the April 19 House Bill action deadline. A few of the more interesting bills that were passed by the House last week include:
· HB1225: Requires that all athletes, coaches, trainers and referees watch a video about cardiac arrest and how to best respond to that type of emergency. The video will deal with hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillators.
· SB1515: Implements portions of a new state labor contract regarding retiree health insurance. It requires Central Management Services to create a group health insurance program for Medicare-eligible retirees, and also establishes a $500 per month incentive for certain annuitants to opt out of the group insurance plan (to save money for the state).
· HB961: Requires the Illinois Department of Revenue to deposit the local share of state income tax revenue directly into the Local Government Distributive Fund rather than the General Revenue Fund. By requiring timely and direct deposits, local units of government will receive their funds faster.
· HB772: Requires that people between 18 and 20 years of age, who have not participated in a driver education class must take an online driver education course before obtaining a driver’s license. A growing number of license applicants have not taken any formal driving instruction perhaps due to school scheduling conflicts or fees that may run into the hundreds of dollars.
· HB1441: Requires that members of the General Assembly take 12 furlough days during the next fiscal year, and freezes pay levels and travel reimbursement rates. This is the fifth year the legislature has tried to set an example of shared sacrifice by cutting its costs. Meanwhile the Governor just negotiated a labor contract with state workers that awarded a 2 percent pay increase and no furlough days which increase state expenditures by $50 million.
· HB1868: Allows for a provisional vocation teaching license in Illinois. The bill is in response to a shortage of vocational teachers and is supported by employers who are having trouble finding qualified applicants for manufacturing jobs.
· HB983: Protects taxpayers from property tax hikes that exceed the legal limit in cases where municipalities sell alternative revenue bonds to fund capital improvements. These bonds are typically tied to an identified revenue source, but if the revenue source comes up short, taxpayers end up repaying the debt through property-tax increases.
· HB2250: Bans teens under the age of 18 from purchasing or using electronic cigarettes. This is a growing problem for school-aged children who mistakenly believe that electronic cigarettes do not pose a health risk.
· HB3009: Strengthens laws against gang recruitment in that police don’t have to prove that physical force or coercion was used in recruiting gang members.
· SB1894: Increases the Senior Homestead Exemption by $1000 beginning in calendar year 2014. If this becomes law, senior citizens will receive a $5000 reduction in their home equalized assessed value.
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