Legislature measures address pay, wind energy, workplace issues

Wind energy encouraged under newly signed law
    
    Gov. JB Pritzker has signed House Bill 2988, clarifying current law around zoning standards for wind energy development across the state.
    The new law is designed to revitalize communities with new investment in rural areas — including tens of millions of dollars in annual payments directly to landowners and farmers and hundreds of millions of dollars in property tax payments to schools and local government bodies — and produce clean, renewable energy that will help Illinois work toward lowering its emissions.
    The law takes effect immediately and allows only counties and municipalities to establish standards for wind farm development. Townships will no longer have zoning authority over wind farm development.
    
Bristow bill seeks coverage on monitors
    
     Legislation introduced by state Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Alton, to help protect children who require heart and lung monitoring passed out of the House with bipartisan support and was pending in the Senate. Marlie’s Law would require insurance coverage for crucial health monitors.
    House Bill 3471 would require insurance companies to provide the necessary coverage on cardiopulmonary monitors for a person 18 years old or younger who has had a cardiopulmonary event and remains at a higher risk for another.
    The legislation was brought to Bristow by Mary Cope, a Wood River resident, whose granddaughter Marlie died during an episode of apnea. The family earlier had requested a monitor but was told that the cost was too high.
    
Equal pay bill advances, prompts local petition
    
    To fight against wage discrimination in the workplace, state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, sponsored and supported House Bill 834, which passed out of the Illinois House in late March with overwhelming bipartisan support and was pending in Senate committee.
    Stuart was circulating a petition in support of the measure.
    The Stuart-sponsored bill would crack down on discriminatory hiring practices that can lock women into what she called career-long wage inequality. The bill is intended to strengthen the Illinois Equal Pay Act by making it a violation for employers to ask job applicants about their prior salary or to confirm it with their employer, in order to stop perpetuating unequal pay. Instead, employers should hire employees based on their skills and experience and pay them based on their budget and the going rate for the job.
    To add your name to the petition, or for a copy, contact Stuart’s office at (618) 365-6650.
    
Measures aim crack down at sexual discrimination
    
    State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, is working on a series of measures aimed at providing protections for employees and victims of sexual harassment and discrimination.
    Senate Bill 30 creates the Workplace Transparency Act, which protects employees from being forced to sign nondisclosure agreements relating to sexual harassment, retaliation and unlawful discrimination.
    Senate Bill 1507 creates the Civil Remedies for Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images Act, which allows victims of revenge porn to recover economic, non-economic and punitive damages.
    Senate Bill 1588 creates a new civil remedy called the “Sexual Harassment No Contact Order” for cases where relief is unavailable under any other existing protective order. That measure passed the Senate and was in the House.
    Senate Bill 1829 is an omnibus bill that includes the Workplace Transparency Act (limitations on NDAs, forced arbitration clauses, non-disparagement clauses), and several other components.
    Bush introduced the measures after hearing from victims, advocates and members of the business community during the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention’s hearings last year.
    
Legislation creates new youth parole system
    
    Gov. JB Pritzker has signed House Bill 531, which creates a new parole system for youth facing long sentences.
    The legislation creates a mid-sentence parole consideration system for those under 20 at the time of their conviction.
    Victims, witnesses and others will have the opportunity to provide input, while their identities are protected, to the Prisoner Review Board as it evaluates each case.
    House Bill 531 also creates a preparation process for youth in the justice system to ensure they receive information on the parole process, legal guidance and representation, and rehabilitation along the way.
    Consideration can take place after 10 actual years of incarceration for most crimes, with additional consideration hearings at 15 and 20 years if denied release. For higher crimes like first-degree murder and aggravated criminal sexual assault, consideration can take place after 20 actual years of incarceration, with an additional consideration at 30 years.
    
Minority contractors supported by bill
    
    To push for greater fairness and diversity in contract work, Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey, proposed new legislation setting goals for larger municipalities to include minority-owned businesses.
    The legislation would set goals for cities which receive more than $1 million in state motor fuel taxes to hire more minority-owned and -operated businesses when awarding contracts. The measure is an effort to include more minority, veteran and woman-owned businesses in local government contracting.
    Forty-six municipalities and 21 counties received more than $1 million in fiscal year 2017.
    Senate Bill 177 requires the Illinois Department of Transportation to assist municipalities in implementing business enterprise programs.
    The outlined municipalities would have to set a goal of awarding no less than 20 percent of the total dollar amount of state contracts to businesses owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities. All contractors would need to satisfy all existent qualifications.
    The measure was approved by the Senate and pending before the House.

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