Lame Duck Was Just That -- Lame!

The Illinois General Assembly met for five days in early January, but produced very few positive results in its so-called lame duck session. Not only did the legislators fail to enact any pension reform bills, they also left several other important issues unresolved.

Here’s a report on our 2012 priorities and what happens next on each of these bills:

SB 957—Highway Safety: Driver’s Licenses for All Illinois Motorists
Bill passed both chambers and has now been sent to the Governor for his signature. Bill provides a way for Illinois immigrant motorists without Social Security numbers to obey driver’s license laws by getting tested on their driving skills and on the rules of the road, and purchasing car insurance.

HB 30—Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program
No action. Advocates are working on new bill to be introduced in the 2013 session. Bill creates a limited exception to Illinois’ criminal laws to permit the doctor-advised medical use of cannabis by patients with serious and usually chronic medical conditions.

SB 1565—Raise the Minimum Wage
No action. Advocates are working on new bill to be introduced in the 2013 session. Bill calls for raising the current Illinois minimum wage of $8.25 an hour incrementally over three or four years until it reaches its historic value of approximately $10.50 an hour.

HB 5723—Expanding Sealing for People with Felony Records
No action. Advocates are working on a new bill to be introduced in the 2013 session. Amends the Criminal Identification Act and allows a person to petition the court and the court to order the sealing of Class 2, 3, and 4 felony conviction records four years after termination of the person’s last sentence if the individual has had no further involvement with the criminal justice system.

HB 6240—Debt Re-Structuring
Bill assigned to the House Executive Committee, but no further action was taken before the extended deadline of January 8, 2013. Authorizes the state to issue general obligation bonds with a low interest rate for sale to the public and the money generated by selling these will be used only to pay that State’s past due bills. It will not fund new programs.

SB 3280—Fracturing Chemical Disclosure Act
Bill re-referred to the House Rules Committee on January 8, 2013. Institutes a one year moratorium on high volume fracking so that a task force of legislators, industry representatives, and environmentalists can come together to create robust regulations that will protect Illinois’ water, land, and air.

SB 282—Illinois Corporate Tax Disclosure and Responsibility Act
Bill approved by the State Senate in November 2012 and failed 3-6 in the House Revenue & Finance Committee. Requires all publicly-traded corporations to disclose the amount of corporate income taxes paid to the state of Illinois. After two years, the information would be disclosed to the general public.

The newly elected legislators were sworn in on January 9, 2013. The first day of the 98th General Assembly will be February 1, 2013.

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