PCG's 2012 Legislative Priorities

We’re almost halfway through the legislative session, and we thought it was about time we shared the full list of our prime legislative priorities. We’ve already had a lobby day for the Minimum Wage legislation, and Environment Lobby Day is next week, but there is work to be done on all of these issues so please contact us if you’d like to get involved. You can email Laura Dean Friedrich at ldfriedrich@thecommongood.org or Courtney Eccles at Courtney@thecommongood.org.

We’ve provided you with a brief description of what the bill or issue is, as well as the status of progress. Take a look and let us know what you think!

Download PCG’s 2012 Legislative Priorities

State Budget – Revenue

Supporting Revenue Options & Discouraging Human Service CutsPCG will continue to work with the Responsible Budget Coalition to push for adequate funding and revenue for vital human service, health, education, and public safety programs. We will oppose spending limits below the expected revenue in order to avoid further cuts and will support revenue alternatives (expanded sales tax base, increasing the cigarette tax, etc.) as a means of minimizing the potential cuts to human service programs.

Graduated Income Tax — As part of a long-term solution, PCG has joined the Responsible Budget Coalition and other policy groups in launching a multi-year campaign to create a graduated income tax in Illinois. Requiring the passage of a constitutional amendment by the General Assembly and approval by the voters, the campaign will focus on engaging legislators and building public will for significant tax reform in Illinois. Once the amendment is in place, the state legislature will determine the new graduated rates for the personal and corporate income taxes.

Economic Justice

SB1565, Increasing the Minimum Wage — Raises Illinois’ minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to just over $10 per hour over the course of three years with adjustments every following year to keep pace with the rising cost of living. The bill also brings the minimum wage for tipped workers to the same rate as non-tipped workers. Passage of this legislation will ensure a living wage for all workers and inject billions of dollars in new consumer spending into the state’s economy.
Sponsors: Sen. Lightford, Martinez, J. Collins, Hunter, Jones III, Delgado, Hendon, Trotter, Munoz, Silverstein, A. Collins, Sandoval, Raoul, Noland, Schoenberg.
Action: Senate: Assigned to Executive Committee.

Maintain TANF Timeline — Opposes the Governor’s proposal to limit the lifetime for receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from five to three years. Were this policy to be implemented, 4000 families would immediately be removed from the TANF roles, affecting 8000 Illinois children. PCG will work with our partners at the Shriver Center, Heartland Alliance, and Project IRENE to convey the importance of this program to the House Human Services Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Criminal Justice

HB 5723, Sealing Bill — Amends the Criminal Identification Act by expanding the list of Class 2, 3, and 4 felonies for which a person can petition the court to seal their records. Petitions can be made four years after the individual’s release, provided that person has had no contact with the criminal justice system during that time.

Sponsors: Rep. Ford, Howard, Flowers, M. Davis, Turner, Mayfield, and Golar.
Action: House: Passed out of the Criminal Law Committee 5-2; on 2nd Reading for a full vote of the House.

SB 5278, Sex Trafficking Prosecution — Amends the Criminal Code to ensure that Illinois’ anti-trafficking laws are applicable to the methods used by sex traffickers today, allowing for state’s attorneys to better prosecute offenders. The legislation also clears up language that will allow for the collection of fees to cover the costs of services for victims of the sex trade.
Sponsors: Rep. Cassidy, Golar.
Action: House: Passed Criminal Law Committee with a unanimous vote, now awaiting a vote by the full House.

Health Care

Fair Care Coalition (FCC) — Works with community activists, labor groups, and policy organizations to develop a solution on charity care that provides health care access to all that need it, ensures that all hospitals do their fair share, and gives IL taxpayers a value for the tax exemptions received by non-profit hospitals across the state. The FCC is involved in negotiations with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois Hospital Association, the Department of Revenue, the Attorney General’s Office and legislative leaders to establish a legislative standard by which non-profit hospitals can meet their legal obligation to help people get medical care and financial assistance (charity care) in exchange for the hospitals’ tax exemptions. Two bills have been introduced, but neither is expected to become the negotiated bill.

HB 3027, Comprehensive Sex Education Bill — Requires any public school in Illinois that chooses to teach sex education to use curricula that are medically accurate, developmentally- and age-appropriate, and contain complete information. The bill applies only to 6th through 12th graders, allows parents to remove their children from sexual health education courses for any reason, and allows school districts to choose which acceptable curriculum they want to use.
Sponsors: Sen. Steans, Sullivan, Holmes, Martinez, Noland, Schoenberg, Trotter, Jones II, DeIgado; Rep. Lilly, Yarbrough, Gabel, Feigenholtz, Currie, M. Davis, de Buclet, Hernandez, Howard, Berrios, Carli, Jakobsson, Colvin, May,Chapa LaVia, Turner, Smith, Sente, Jones, Cassidy.
Action: Senate: Passed by 30 to 28 to 1. House: Passed the Human Services Committee, but has not yet been voted on in the full House.

HB 30, Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act — Permits the use of cannabis by patients with serious medical conditions. Medical cannabis can be obtained through dispensaries, which would operate on a non-profit basis. A second opinion is required if cannabis is to be used in any instance other than treating patients with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, or agitation due to Alzheimer’s disease. Landlords can prohibit smoking on the premises of leased property. The bill also stipulates that a quantitative blood and urine testing standard be added for use either by employers or police in driving stops.
Sponsors: Rep. Lang, Saviano, Williams, Gabel, Dunkin, Feigenholtz, Cassidy.
Action: House: Held for postponed consideration after failing by a few votes last spring.

Environment

SB 3280, Fracturing Chemical Disclosure Act — Requires companies extracting natural gas from shale in Illinois to disclose the list of chemicals they use to the IL Department of Natural Resources and to the public. Prohibits the injection of volatile organic BTEX compounds into the groundwater. Outlines safeguards for storing and disposing of waste water and creates standards for well casings. (Same language as the bill that stalled in the House last session.)
Sponsors: Sen. Frerichs, Koehler, Noland, Steans.
Action: Senate: Held for a vote in the Environment Committee.

Funding Package for the Department of Natural Resources — Ensures adequate funding for the Department of Natural Resources through permit and use fees outside of the General Revenue Fund. This will be a comprehensive funding package that supports programmatic operations, including the maintenance of our state parks, as well as ensures staff capacity to regulate the industries that fall under DNR’s discretion.
Action: Negotiations are underway with environmental groups, industry representatives, and DNR staff. A comprehensive piece of legislation will likely be introduced closer to the end of session.

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