SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois legislature's annual veto session is in high gear and several pieces of major legislation have passed in both the House and Senate, according to State Sen. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove).
In a relatively short amount of time, state lawmakers addressed issues relating to education, prisons and the sale of ammunition. However, for those looking for the desperately needed pension reforms, they will most likely have to wait until at least the lame-duck session early next year.
Senate, House Approve CPS Closing Plan Extension
The Illinois Senate voted unanimously on Nov. 29 to extend a deadline for the Chicago Public School (CPS) system to issue a plan for proposed school closings. Quick action was needed because of a looming Dec. 1 deadline. Under the legislation (SB 547), which has now been approved by House and Senate lawmakers, Chicago Public Schools would have until March 31 to issue the school closing report, Sen. Sandack explained.
The measure gives the school system more time to solicit input from the public, which officials say will allow them to proceed more thoughtfully and deliberately with a school closure plan.
School officials estimate 140 Chicago schools are at 50 percent capacity, and approximately 100,000 seats are without students. Additionally, CPS faces a $1 billion budget shortfall for the next fiscal year.
More Bureaucracy for Illinois Businesses
In yet another effort that could complicate matters for Illinois businesses, Senate Bill 282 was passed by the Senate without a single Republican vote. This bill mandates that all publicly traded corporations doing business in Illinois must disclose information about their net income and taxes paid. The information becomes available to the public after three years.
Sen. Sandack said the measure, which has yet to be approved by the House, is viewed by employers as yet another example of an anti-business attitude that has contributed to Illinois’ poor business climate. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce warned that employers fear the sensitive tax information could be used by politicians seeking retaliation against corporations that speak out on public policy issue.
Victory for Illinois Ammunition Businesses
Senate Bill 681 was originally intended to allow Illinois residents to make online purchases of ammunition from Illinois-based businesses. An oversight in the existing law blocked Illinois residents from buying ammunition over the Internet from Illinois businesses, while allowing such purchases from out-of-state firms.
However, the Governor rewrote the proposal to ban semi-automatic firearms. Sen. Sandack, along with the vast majority of the Senate, voted to override the Governor’s veto and reject the Governor's changes in order to enact the measure as originally passed. If the House follows the Senate in rejecting the measure, the bill will go into effect without the Governor’s changes.
Lawmakers Fight against Prison Cuts and Closures
In an attempt to overturn the Governor's intent to reduce or eliminate spending for several correctional facilities, the Senate has overridden the alterations to Senate Bill 2474 by the Governor. If the House follows suit, the spending would be restored; however, there is no guarantee that the Governor would spend the money, even if authorization is approved. Sen. Sandack voted against the override, reasoning that spending cuts must be made if Illinois’ fiscal condition is to have any chance of improving.
Immigration and Driver Safety
The Senate Executive Committee voted 12-2 on Nov. 29 to offer the state’s temporary visitor’s driver’s license to undocumented residents (Senate Bill 957). The legislation specifies that the temporary visitor’s driver’s license is not a proof of identity, and an amendment has further specified that the license will be considered invalid if the holder is unable to provide proof of liability insurance upon a police officer’s request, which is a petty offense. Proponents view the measure as a safety issue, noting that there are already an estimated 250,000 undocumented resident drivers who are currently not trained, tested, licensed or insured. Opponents say the legislation offers an official sanction for persons in the country illegally.
Sen. Sandack said that he is supporting the issue by signing on as a co-sponsor of the legislation, noting that it comes down to ensuring that all drivers have insurance and that it ultimately aims to protect all drivers on Illinois roadways.
Passages Hospice Food and Clothing Drive Ends
Sen. Sandack expresses his thanks to all who participated in the Passages Hospice Food and Clothing Drive that took place throughout the month of November.
“My deepest thanks to those who took the time to drop off food or clothing at Passages Hospice,” Sen. Sandack said. “It is always touching to see members of our community help others in our community that are in need. I’m pleased we were able to collect so much for the three locations.”
Sen. Sandack partnered with Passages Hospice to promote the food and clothing drive where the items donated will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Goodwill of Naperville.