Fall Veto Session Concludes with Action Taken on Several Vetoed House and Senate Bills
General Assembly Sends Comprehensive Sexual Harassment Prevention Legislation to Governor
Members of the House and Senate approved a comprehensive piece of legislation last week that seeks to address the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield. SB 402 includes a mandate for annual sexual harassment training sessions for State Constitutional offices, state employees, lawmakers and lobbyists. The bill also includes a provision brought forward by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, which would create a telephone hotline for persons seeking relief in cases of sexual harassment. Examples of help that the hotline could provide could include assistance in filing a sexual harassment complaint, referral of a victim to counseling, or referral of a victim to protective services. House members received their training on November 8 and Senators received their training on November 9.
SB 402 was part of a package of sexual harassment reforms passed in the wake of allegations of misconduct at the Capitol. Other bills that seek to change the culture in Springfield include HJR 83, a resolution that condemns the culture of sexual harassment and calls on all lawmakers to work together to change the culture, and HR 687, which creates a task force on sexual discrimination and harassment.
Legislative Inspector General Appointed
The Legislative Ethics Commission, a bipartisan working group within the Illinois General Assembly, has appointed Julie Porter as a special legislative inspector general. A former federal prosecutor in Chicago, Porter will play a key role in the General Assembly’s internal disciplinary process for members and staff. The appointment came in the wake of a nationwide inquiry into sexual harassment in American workplaces.
Reports of sexual harassment can be made on a confidential basis to the Legislative Ethics Commission. With approval of the Commission, the special legislative inspector general (LIG) will examine the reports. If a complaint appears to be valid, the LIG may conduct further inquiries, and may initiate a remediation process. In some situations, the remediation process may require a referral of a specific report and case to law enforcement.
Rep. Reick to Host Mobile Office Hours in Richmond on Tuesday, November 14
The money was transferred to the Office of the Illinois Comptroller, which was authorized to sign checks to make the payments. The payment cycle reduced the estimated quantity of past-due bills owed by the State from more than $16.5 billion to less than $13.3 billion. Even after this payment cycle, Illinois continues to carry a significant backlog of past-due bills, and has the lowest credit rating of the 50 states. Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have assigned the lowest rank available which still allows investment-grade bonds to be sold in the debt markets.
Reick Calls Out House Democrats on Tax Freeze Gimmick
Illinois is home to 72,000 farms on 26.7 million acres, and the state is among the top three corn producers in the nation. Last week Governor Bruce Rauner declared a statewide harvest emergency to assist farmers and grain handlers who are grappling with the fallout of rain-related delays. Under a new law signed Aug. 11, the declaration permits drivers of trucks carrying agricultural commodities over state highways to obtain a free permit to exceed gross vehicle weight limits by 10 percent. Further, local authorities may waive the permit requirement at their discretion. The emergency declaration is in effect for 45 days beginning Nov. 5. The Illinois Department of Transportation already is mobilizing the permitting process and notifying law enforcement agencies throughout the state. More information is available at https://truckpermits.dot.illinois.gov/.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Illinois corn harvest at the end of October was 17 percent behind the prior year and 11 percent behind the five-year average. The corn harvests in the Northwest, Northeast and East regions are especially hard hit. Farmers made up ground toward the end of October, but early delays still are causing backups in the transportation chain.
Reick Fights to Protect Voter Intent in McHenry County
Hotline and Network of Legal Services Launched to Assist Veterans and Service Members
Judicial, government and civic leaders have announced the launch of the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN), the first-ever statewide hotline and network of legal support services for veterans, active-duty military, National Guard, reservists and their dependents. Through the IL-AFLAN, veterans and military personnel can obtain free legal help for urgent family, housing and consumer problems, as well as issues such as discharge upgrades and benefit appeals.
The free hotline can be accessed at 1-855-452-3526 (1-855-ILAFLAN) and is staffed by attorneys Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:30 PM. Serving as the entry point to the IL-AFLAN, the hotline will offer legal advice and brief services and then connect veterans and military personnel to legal aid providers near their community. Nine organizations, spanning every major area of the state, have received grants to provide legal aid services as part of the IL-AFLAN. To be eligible for services through this new program, veterans and active duty military members need to have an income less than 80 percent of the Chicago area median income. For a family of four, this translates into $63,000 annually.
Bicentennial Campaign will Honor 200 Illinois Veterans
State officials have announced the launch of HONOR 200, a signature program of the Illinois Bicentennial Celebration, honoring the work of 200 veterans whose contributions are above and beyond the call of duty.
The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs will work with veteran’s organizations throughout the state to promote HONOR 200 and solicit nominations for those who will be recognized as part of the program. Nominees will be evaluated on their achievements and on the extent to which their contributions have aided, benefited and provided inspiration to their community. Anyone can nominate an Illinois Veteran. Written nominations can be sent to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, 69 W. Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60601 or on-line at www.illinois.gov/veterans.
The Official Illinois Bicentennial Celebration will begin on December 3rd, 2017 with events in Springfield and Chicago. The celebration will continue with programs and events throughout 2018, ending with the Bicentennial Birthday Party on December 3rd, 2018 at the United Center. The HONOR 200 veterans will be recognized during the Birthday Gala. For information on the Bicentennial and to find out how your community can participate go to www.illinois200.gov.