IBJ_logo_101117_5

Manar wants ICC members from Downstate, too
    
    Appointments to the Illinois Commerce Commission – the panel that approves electric rates and monitors railroad crossing safety – would be geographically balanced to ensure the interests of rural and downstate taxpayers are represented, under a new measure introduced by state Sen. Andy Manar.
    Senate Bill 3626 requires that at least two commissioners on the five-member panel live outside of Chicago and the collar counties. Of the remaining three members, one would be appointed from Chicago, one from the suburbs and one would be an at-large member who could live anywhere in the state.
    Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, said that for the first time in a century, no Downstate member sits on the Illinois Commerce Commission, the powerful five-member state panel that regulates utilities, approves utility rates, licenses trucking and towing companies and oversees railroad safety and crossing improvements.
    Senate Bill 3626 does not change the existing requirement that no more than three commissioners can be of the same political party at the time of appointment. Commission terms are five years.
    
Law aims to help protect state family workers
    
    Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation to better protect state workers in vulnerable positions.
    The measure requires law enforcement agencies “to make all reasonable efforts to assist”’ Department of Children and Family Services workers when requested. It also allows officers to cross jurisdictions to provide that protection.
    The legislation was introduced in February, a week after DCFS worker Pamela Knight died from injuries suffered when attacked as she was trying to take a child into protective custody.
    
Proposal to help combat opioids signed into law
    
    A proposal by state Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, that would allow home nurses and members of law enforcement to safely dispose of unused liquid medication has been signed. 
    The new law, passed under House Bill 1338, would expand the ability of nurses and law enforcement to properly dispose of leftover medications.
    Currently, hospice and other home nurses are legally allowed to dispose of solid medications left over when a patient no longer needs them or is deceased. Liquid medications – including pain medicine often used in end-of-life care – are not currently allowed to be disposed of by nurses.
    House Bill 1338 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2019. 
     
Gold Star families now have more lease powers
    
    VILLA PARK — The families of armed service members killed in action or on duty will have greater power to terminate their fallen loved ones’ lease obligations thanks to a law championed by State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park).
    House Bill 4317 allows dependents of fallen service members to terminate a lease. Previous law allowed service members to terminate a lease if they receive changes to deployment orders, but there was no law in place to allow dependents of fallen service members to terminate leases. 
    The measure, effective immediately, was modeled after North Carolina law.
    
Law reduces cost of some birth records
    
    SPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, aims to ease the financial burden on people who grew up in youth care.
    Currently, the fee for accessing birth records from the Department of Public Health ranges from $10 - $15. The new law allows for young adults who can verify they were once in youth care to have these fees waived until they reach 27 years of age.
    The measure was House Bill 4909 and was unanimously supported.
    
New laws aim to improve veteran housing issues
    
    Gov. Bruce Rauner signed two new state laws sponsored by state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, to protect veterans at state homes from deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.
    The first measure, House Bill 5683, will expand the list of facilities operated and maintained by the veterans home to include the Sycamore facility in Quincy, allowing for temporary housing of veterans.
    The second measure, Senate Bill 3128, aims to speed up construction at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.
    Among other things the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs or the Capital Development Board would be given the authority to use the design-build procurement method to rehabilitate and redevelop the home; and allows the CDB to use federal funds directly for capital projects related to Quincy Veterans’ Home, rather than requiring these funds be used for debt service.
    
Measure creates firearm restraining order act
    
    Family members and law enforcement officials concerned about disturbing or threatening behavior in an individual with access to a firearm now have the legal ability to act before tragedy occurs under legislation sponsored by state Senator Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, that was signed into law.
    Morrison’s new law, which passed under House Bill 2354, would create the Firearms Restraining Order Act, allowing a family member or law enforcement official to alert the court system when an individual with access to a firearm is displaying threatening or unsafe behavior that could lead to injury to themselves or to the general public.
    If a judge finds clear and convincing evidence that the respondent is a danger, the court can require firearms to be temporarily removed from the respondent’s possession.
    The new law will also protect individuals contemplating suicide. The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence estimates 80 percent of individuals considering suicide give some sign of their intentions, often to family members.
    “We cannot continue to sit idly by while Washington fails to act to protect our residents,” Morrison said. “This new law is part of a broader effort to ensure Illinois has comprehensive and reasonable gun safety laws on our books.”
    House Bill 2354 goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.