Despite the looming end of the regularly scheduled spring legislative session with its scheduled May 31 adjournment rapidly approaching, it appears a great deal of work remains on several controversial issues.
Although legislation on the major issues remains unclear, a number of bills sponsored by Senate Republican members are one step closer to becoming law, including a bill that would provide fire safety protections at kennels, a measure that cracks down on school bus safety violators, and legislation that helps service members and spouses earn professional licenses.
Also during the week, the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus unveiled its annual Wall of Remembrance in honor of Memorial Day.
Fifth Annual Wall of Remembrance Display in the Illinois Capitol opens
The display, put together every year by the Senate Republican Caucus, was officially opened by Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady at a ceremony May 23 in the Rotunda of the Capitol. The Wall of Remembrance features a moving display of photos and stories of men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Visitors also have the opportunity to share their own stories and memories of loved ones and friends who have fallen in the line of duty, or to simply express gratitude by filling out notes to post on the Wall.
Also addressing attendees at the ceremony was Jim Frazier, a former Marine, contract Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator for the Department of the Army and Gold Star Dad, who stressed the importance of celebrating the memory of those who have served. His son Jacob Frazier, a Staff Sergeant with the Illinois National Guard, was killed in an ambush in south central Afghanistan in 2003.
“There’s an old saying, ‘A person dies twice, once when life leaves their body, and again when their name is spoken for the last time.’ Remember them, speak their names,” said Frazier.
The Wall of Remembrance display is open to the public from May 23 to July 4, during normal business hours in the Capitol.
Fowler appointed to Economic Development Committee
State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) was recently appointed to serve on the Midwestern Legislative Conference Economic Development Committee, made up of state and provincial legislators from across the Midwest and Canada.
On July 21 and 22, Sen. Fowler will join 14 other lawmakers in Chicago to examine and identify strategies to encourage economic development.
The Economic Development Committee is one of six standing public policy and leadership committees created as part of the Council of State Governments Midwestern Legislative Conference. According to the Council of State Governments, these committees provide an opportunity to exchange information, target key topics of common concern and seek out collaborative solutions to issues.
Unresolved Issues Remain as Legislative Session Nears Adjournment
With just four days remaining until the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn the spring legislative session on May 31, several controversial issues remain unresolved.
Lawmakers have not yet acted on issues like an overhaul of Illinois income tax system from a flat to a graduated tax system, legalization of recreational cannabis, sports betting, or a much needed capital plan. Additionally, lawmakers must approve a budget for Fiscal Year 2020 in the remaining days.
Throughout the coming days, Senate Republicans will continue to meet on these issues and hope to resolve them in a matter that is in the best interests of the state and their constituents.
Public Safety Measures Move in the Legislature
Those who do not properly stop for school buses on the roadway will be fined twice as much if Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs House Bill 1873.
House Bill 1873 seeks to crack down on those who ignore the stop arm on school buses by increasing the fine from $150 to $300 for the first offense, and from $500 to $1,000 for the second or subsequent offense.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, on average, 33 school-age children are killed every year nationwide in school-bus related crashes, many of which are caused by a passing vehicle in violation of the school bus warning systems.
House Bill 1873 passed the Senate unanimously with a vote of 53-0 and now heads to the Governor for his consideration.
Another public safety measure, House Bill 2383, which would crack down on drivers who violate right-of-way rules and injure pedestrians in crosswalks, passed the Illinois Senate during the week.
House Bill 2383 would require a one-year suspension of an individual’s driver’s license if they commit a right-of-way violation at a crosswalk or a crosswalk in a school zone that results in bodily harm or death. The legislation was filed in response to the death of Iroquois resident Mason Knorr, who was killed in a traffic crash when a semi-truck failed to obey a posted stop sign.
House Bill 2383 passed the Senate unanimously on May 21 and is now headed back to the House for a concurrence vote.
Legislation Calls for Fire Safety Regulations at Kennels
Legislation aimed at better protecting pets housed at kennels is on its way to the Governor’s desk.
House Bill 3390 requires pet boarding facilities that do not have 24/7 staffing to be equipped with a fire sprinkler system or a fire alarm monitoring system that triggers notification to local emergency responders.
Current law requires owners to have these systems installed when they build a new facility; however, there’s nothing in current statute that forces owners to install these systems if they open their business in an already existing structure.
House Bill 3390 is in response to a recent fire at a West Chicago kennel that killed several animals.
Senate Passes Legislation to Help Service Members and Spouses Earn Professional Licenses
Members of the Armed Services and their spouses who are stationed in Illinois may soon have an easier time finding work in their field, under legislation passed by the Senate unanimously.
House Bill 1652 creates an expedited professional license application process for service members and their spouses. The applicant must be licensed in another state, stationed in Illinois, and otherwise eligible for licensure in this state.
The legislation will also require the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to designate a staff member to serve as a military liaison to review and report on the process of the expedited licensure program.
House Bill 1652 is now headed back to the House for a concurrence vote.