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Illinois General Assembly moves several items to the governor

IBJ Staff Report
    A number of bills were approved by the Illinois Legislature and sent to the governor in the last days of the spring session. Here is a sampling.

3D mammography covered by insurance
    Last year the General Assembly passed a measure that would add 3D mammography to the list of low-dose mammograms covered by insurance agencies. In an effort to correct issues with that proposal, Sen. John Mulroe, D-Chicago, sponsored a new legislation.
Senate Bill 466 amends the insurance code by adding tomosynthesis to the list of definitions of low-dose mammograms. As a result, the insurance mandate will cover 3D mammograms as well as the traditional 2D mammograms.
Previous technologies only took a single dimension view of breast tissue when screening for cancerous cells. Tomosynthesis, also known as a 3D mammogram, takes a multidimensional view of the breast during the screening. As a result, a 3D mammogram has a higher success rate of detecting cancerous cells that are often difficult to detect.

More police training on domestic violence
    Police investigators will get additional training on dealing with domestic violence under a newly passed proposal sponsored by State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake.
    Currently, the law recommends but does not require police departments to coordinate domestic violence response training with service organizations and develop appropriate arrest procedures. The new training is aimed at the prevention of further victimization, focusing on looking beyond the physical evidence of domestic violence and giving officers an understanding of the deeper psychological aspects of abusive relationships.
    The legislation is House Bill 5538.

Making workforce more competitive
    A measure called the 2016 Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act aims to help high schools in Illinois better prepare their students for the 21st century workforce.
    It would require districts that participate to develop a model for better college and career preparedness and a curriculum that aligns with that model. State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, was chief co-sponsor.
    “Illinois has made it a priority that by 2025, 60 percent of the adult workforce will have a post-secondary credential, whether that’s a college diploma or an advanced training certificate,” said McGuire. “That means everyone who graduates from high school must be ready to move ahead by learning more.”
    To address that, the legislation requires participating districts to develop “pathways” for students to earn college credit in mathematics. Students would then choose a pathway that aligns with their college or career goals, such as STEM, other technical fields or data analysis. Other provisions in the act include development of industry sector endorsements on diplomas to show that graduates have taken coursework that prepares them for their intended career path and opportunities to earn credit outside of school, such as an internship or work experience.
    “Education is becoming like a series of extension ladders,” McGuire said. “Preschool now overlaps with grade school, grade school with high school and high school with college. That’s how our students and our state will continue to climb.”
    House Bill 5729 was sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, and passed both chambers unopposed.

Extending statute for financial exploitation
    House Bill 5805 extends the timeframe when someone can be prosecuted for financial exploitation of an elderly or disabled person.
    Under current law, prosecution must occur within three years of the offense being committed. A bill sponsored by state Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, increases the statute of limitations to seven years.
    In general, most states allow individuals to be prosecuted for financial exploitation of a senior or disabled person longer than three years after the offense occurred.

Expanded coverage for contraceptives
    The House and Senate voted in support of expanding insurance coverage for contraceptives for women. State Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, was a co-sponsor of the legislation.
    Under current law, not all forms of contraceptives are covered by insurance. The proposal backed by Murphy would require insurance companies in Illinois to provide coverage for nearly all FDA-approved contraceptives, drugs, devices and products. It also would require insurance companies to provide up to 12 months of contraceptives at one time.
    The measure is House Bill 5576.

Barring lawsuits for prison room and board
    Senate Bill 2465 would prohibit the Illinois Department of Corrections from suing current and former inmates to recoup the cost of their incarceration. Illinois has had a law allowing the state to sue inmates since 1982, but it was rarely used until recently. A Chicago Tribune investigation raised questions about the practice.
    Illinois has discretion in determining which inmates and parolees to sue. Most of them are poor and had received modest inheritances or civil settlements involving private matters or their arrest.
    The state has recovered about a half-million dollars since 2010, but most of it was from two inmates.
    The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago.
     “By pursuing these lawsuits, the state sends the wrong message about what it means for inmates to pay their debt to society,” Biss said. “Rather than encouraging them to make a fresh start when they’re released from prison, Illinois is choosing to push them toward a life of poverty, reliance on government support or recidivism.

Keeping retired dogs with their officers
    Senate Bill 3129 requires a retiring police dog to be offered to the primary handler of the dog. If the officer doesn’t wish to keep the dog, it can be offered to another officer or employee, a nonprofit organization or a no-kill animal shelter.
    State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D–Villa Park, and state Rep. John Anthony, R-Morris, carried the measure.
    “We need to take advantage of this opportunity to protect the special bond formed between an officer and their police dog,” said Michele Kasten of the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners.

Designating roads for fallen soldiers
    House Bill 4344 would create the Heroes Way Designation Program. The program will allow family members of fallen Illinois soldiers to apply and pay for an honorary road designation as a tribute to their deceased loved one.
    The applicant has to be a family member who is related to the soldier by blood, marriage or adoption.
    Eligible roads include interstates, state-numbered highway interchanges and bridge segments within Illinois’ highway system.
    A family member seeking to have a road named after a fallen soldier would have to submit an application to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
    The lead sponsor of the legislation in the House was state Rep. Mark Batinick, R-Plainfield. State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, led the effort in her chamber.

Letting children keep health insurance
    Thousands of children would be protected from losing their health insurance under legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez, D-Chicago.
    The Covering All Kids Health Insurance Act is set to expire in July of this year, but Martinez’s legislation would extend it to 2019. Extending the act would prevent more than 40,000 children, regardless of their legal status, from losing their health insurance coverage.
    The Covering All Kids Health Insurance Act covers a subset of children in the Illinois All Kids Health Insurance Program — the state’s health insurance program for children.
    Covering All Kids provides health insurance to children who can’t access other health-care plans and whose family income is between 209 and 318 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
    The program receives an annual $40 million federal match that reduces its already modest cost to the state. All families covered are required to pay a monthly premium of $40 for one child and $80 for two children.
    The measure is House Bill 5736.

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