By: Mark Glennon*
Illinois Senate Democrats posted their “Top 10 New Illinois Laws for 2017.” If it weren’t labeled as being for Illinois, you’d seriously have to wonder if it was from some thriving, growing state. Where is there anything significant to help beaten-down employers, grow the tax base, end the state and local fiscal crises, stem the flight of people and companies or address the 800-pound gorilla — pensions? Zip. Nothing.
It’s not that these things are bad. Most passed with bipartisan support and all, obviously, were signed by Republican Governor Rauner. The problem is what’s missing. This is about priorities. (That one pension reform bill addressed obvious abuse, should already have been law and won’t make much difference). And its interesting they don’t include the new energy bill that will sock consumers with higher rates and was easily the most significant new law of the year.
They just don’t get it. They don’t care. It’s the same story in the House except that Madigan doesn’t even feel any need to put out PR pieces like this. There’s no hope as long as this crowd controls the General Assembly.
Their list is below and their full release is linked here.
- The Tampon Tax Senate Bill 2746 updates Illinois’ tax codes to ensure essential women’s health products such as tampons, pads and menstrual cups aren’t charged the same sales tax as shampoo. Sponsor: Sen. Melinda Bush. [No, we didn’t write that last sentence.]
- Senate Bill 3129 gives police officers first preference to adopt their police dogs to ensure retiring police dogs can remain part of the officer’s family.
- Ending Domestic Violence Sponsor: Sen. Bill Cunningham House Bill 4264 trains cosmetologists, estheticians, nail technicians and hair braiders to look for signs of domestic violence by requiring them to take a one-hour continuing education class about domestic violence and sexual assault.
- Birth-Control Coverage Sponsor: Sen. Toi Hutchinson House Bill 5576 creates a seamless process to all women to access birth control without additional costs by requiring Illinois insurance companies to provide coverage for almost all FDA-approved contraceptive options. Insurance companies are required to cover up to 12 months of contraceptives at a time.
- Worker protection Sponsor: Sen. Patricia Van Pelt Senate Bill 3163 bans any company from asking a worker paid less than $13.50 an hour to sign a non-compete agreement.
- Ending Pension Abuse Sponsor: Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant House Bill 4259 makes lobbying groups ineligible to receive taxpayer-funded pensions to end the abuse of vital state dollars.
- Patients’ Rights Senate Bill 1564 is an update to Illinois’ Health Care Right of Conscience law, which forbids medical providers to refuse certain medical treatments based on religious objections. Under the new law Medical patients – and women in particular –will be better informed about their medical care.
- Sick Time Flexibility Sponsor: Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins House Bill 6162 requires employers to give their workers greater flexibility in using their sick time. A company providing sick leave to employees must allow them to use up to half of their allotted time to attend to the medical needs of family members.
- Removing Lead Toxins Sponsor: Sen. Donne Trotter Senate Bill 2300 prohibits the sale or re- lease of properties with high lead levels until the problem is mitigated and the property is considered safe. Older homes are more likely to contain lead and children are more susceptible to poisoning.
- Cash Bail Senate Bill 2907 requires law enforcement officials to accept cash to post bail. Due to a credit card machine malfunction, a county kept a man over a weekend for a minor offense.
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.