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IBJ Legislative News

Law creates Route 66 Centennial Commission

    Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation creating the Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission.
    The commission will develop plans for celebrating the famous road’s 100th anniversary in 2026.
    The state was the first to pave its leg of the highway, from Chicago to St. Louis.
    Centennial events could include programs highlighting the growth of local communities as construction proceeded along the route, the cultural impact of Route 66 in the U.S. and globally, the portrayal of Route 66 in music, artwork and folklore, and guidance on how to maintain its mystique and appeal for future generations.
    The Illinois Route 66 Centennial Commission shall consist of 20 members who reflect the interests, history and importance of the communities along Historic Route 66 in Illinois.

New law promotes convention tourism

    Mid-sized convention centers like the one in Collinsville will continue to benefit from a state grant which helps them compete with other states under a new law sponsored by state Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines.
    The legislation is designed to spur tourism, economic activity and competition with convention centers in other states, Murphy said.
    House Bill 4990 extends the Municipal Convention Center and Sports Facility Attraction Grant until 2022. Through this program, mid-size convention centers can receive up to $200,000 in reimbursements for incentivizing business. This legislation applies to convention centers in: Schaumburg, Lombard, Tinley Park, Peoria, Springfield, Collinsville, Quincy, the Quad Cities and Rockford.

Golden parachutes get wind taken out

    A new Illinois law aims to stop golden parachutes for disgraced public employees.
    State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, sponsored Senate Bill 3604, which eliminates severance packages for employees that have been fired for misconduct and limits government-paid severance packages to an amount no greater than 20 weeks of compensation.
    The law was brought forward in partnership with the Better Government Association as part of its ongoing effort to fight the misuse of taxpayer dollars.
    The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Law trains teachers for tough schools

    A new law passed by Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez, D-Chicago, expands the Grow Your Own Teacher initiative, a program designed to train people to become teachers in hard-to-staff schools.
    Under the new law, eligibility for the program is extended to high school students enrolled at dual-credit courses at participating colleges and universities and to all pre-K teachers, not just those teaching at public schools.
    The Grow Your Own Teacher initiative provides financial, academic and emotional support to people studying to become teachers. After graduation, participants commit to teaching at least five years at a high-needs school or in a high-needs teaching position, usually at schools with a high percentage of low-income students.
    House Bill 4882 takes effect immediately. 

Disabilities mandate for workforce board

    DES PLAINES — A new law sponsored by state Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, requires the governor to appoint two individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities to the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board.
    The Illinois Workforce Innovation Board seeks to evaluate and meet Illinois’ workforce needs. It includes a variety of members from the public and private sector who represent the interests of the business community, workers and educational field.
    Senate Bill 3222 requires the governor to appoint two individuals who self-identify as individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are advocates for the rights of individuals with disabilities to the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board. Currently, nearly 50 members serve on the board.

Process to be streamlined for Medicaid renewal

    Elderly and disabled Medicaid patients residing in long-term care facilities will soon see their applications automatically renewed under a new law sponsored by state Sen. John G. Mulroe, D-Chicago.
    The law aims to expedite the process for certain applicants and automatically renew current Medicaid patients in long-term care facilities.
    Senate Bill 2913 requires the Department of Healthcare and Family Services to implement passive renewals for Medicaid patients residing in long-term care facilities, many of whom are elderly or disabled. It also requires the departments to establish an expedited long-term care facility eligibility determination and enrollment system.
    Additionally, the law requires the DHFS to adopt policies to improve communication between long-term care facilities and applicants and for applicants to have the opportunity to speak directly to a trained individual over the phone.
    The legislation was effective upon signing.

Schools can no longer limit dual credit courses

    Legislation supported by the governor aims to improve post-secondary education opportunities by allowing high school students to enroll in an unlimited number of dual credit courses in which they can earn both high school and college credits.
    The courses, whether taken in class or online, must be taught by instructors who are in compliance with the Dual Credit Quality Act.
    SB 2527 amends the School Code and prohibits a school board from enacting limits to the number of dual credit courses a student may enroll in or the number of credits a student may receive from dual credit courses, provided the courses are taught by Dual Credit Quality Act-compliant instructors, licensed teachers, or community college professors. With some exceptions, the bill also states that if a school district establishes a dual credit online learning program for students, the school board may not limit which students may participate.
    The bill, passed unanimously in both houses and takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Law addresses shortage of mental health staff

    Underserved communities across the state may soon see more mental health professionals thanks to a new law sponsored by state Sen. Heather Steans.
    Both rural and urban areas across the state are not adequately staffed with mental health professionals. The law will incentivize mental health professionals to work in those shortage areas, Steans said. 
    The law creates a loan repayment assistance program for mental health professionals practicing in underserved or designated mental health professional shortage areas. To be eligible for the program, an applicant must work at least 12 consecutive months in the designated area and have an outstanding educational loan balance. The amount of the grant would vary based on the applicant’s degree.
    Under this program grants would not exceed the following amounts:
        up to $35,000 per year for a psychiatrist;
        up to $15,000 per year for an advanced practice registered nurse or physician’s assistant;
        up to $12,000 per year for a psychologist who holds a doctoral degree;
        up to $6,500 per year for a licensed clinical social worker or a licensed clinical professional counselor; and
        up to $2,500 per year for a substance-use professional.
    House Bill 5109 takes effect July 1, 2019.

State Council on Women will focus on solutions

    A law whose goal is to fight the systemic barriers facing women and girls in work, education and life is now law.
    The Illinois Council on Women and Girls will be tasked with gathering information about the specific issues women and girls face in every sector of family, education and career life. The council will issue regular reports to the General Assembly detailing possible legislative solutions on its findings.
    The legislation was House Bill 5544. It takes effect immediately.

Students will be better educated on loan debt

    Illinois college students will have more information on hand to make financial decisions under legislation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Senate Bill 2559 will require the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to develop a three-year pilot program to better educate students on loan amounts, repayment and interest.
    Each public university and community college will be required to send an annual letter detailing the current loan and annual repayment amounts to all students with college loans.