Senate Republican initiative to protect middle-class taxpayers
Members of the Senate Republican Caucus joined State Sen. Dan McConchie on March 26, to unveil a proposal that could give a stronger voice to Illinois voters regarding new tax proposals and potential increases.
Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 12, co-sponsored by Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield) proposes an amendment to Illinois’ Constitution that would require any increased state tax or new tax or fee to be approved by a two-thirds super-majority vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Currently, legislators only need a simple majority to pass a tax increase or to implement a new tax.
“Increasing taxes in Illinois is too easy,” said Sen. McClure. “It’s too often considered a first resort when dealing with financial issues. Right now there are not adequate protections for the middle class, but SJRCA 12 would give taxpayers the option to change that.”
A three-fifths majority vote of lawmakers is required to put SJRCA 12 on the ballot in 2020. For the amendment to be adopted, voters must approve it on the ballot with three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election.
If placed on the ballot and approved by voters, the amendment would require 40 votes in the Senate and 79 votes in the House to pass any new state tax or any state tax increase.
‘Zipper merge’ method to be added to state’s Rules of the Road
Legislation that makes an effort to keep traffic flowing, prevent backups and promote safety passed the Senate during the week. Senate Bill 2038 would require the Secretary of State’s Office to add information on how to properly merge into one lane of traffic to its Illinois Rules of the Road guide.
Under the legislation, the “zipper merge” method would be required to be taught to drivers. Experts believe this is the proper and most efficient way to merge multiple lanes of traffic, as drivers utilize both lanes until they reach the point that one lane narrows. Drivers then take turns merging with the other lane of traffic, creating a zipper-like effect.
Proponents note that studies prove that merging early only creates one single long line and slows traffic because it minimizes the amount of usable road. The “zipper merge” method, on the other hand, uses two lanes of roadway for as long as possible.
Senate passes legislation to help stop exploitation of seniors and the disabled
Senate lawmakers are clamping down on those who financially exploit senior citizens and citizens with disabilities.
Senate Bill 69 would provide tougher penalties for those who prey upon our most vulnerable populations, and also make it easier to identify those with a history of this criminal activity.
The bill calls for changes to the Criminal Code to help prosecute individuals who exploit seniors. The legislation expands the venue for the offense of “financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability,” to make it easier to prosecute perpetrators who live in a different state or facility than the victim.
The bill also makes “theft by deception from a person with a disability” a Class 2 felony, which could come with prison time and penalties. In addition, it prohibits sealing the records of certain offenses where someone was convicted of a financial crime against the elderly, along with eliminating the “consent” defense if the defendant knew the elderly or disabled person lacked the capacity to consent.
The legislation passed out of the Senate on March 27, and is on its way to the House.
Schools to see savings under commonsense changes in recordkeeping
The state could soon save schools money by updating outdated regulations as proposed in Senate Bill 117. The legislation calls for updates to the rules on recordkeeping and the outlined process for destroying old records.
Under current law, schools are required to keep certain types of records for various periods of time—some for as many as 60 years. After that, they cannot be disposed of or transitioned to electronic format unless the district is able to contact the parent of the student and offer them a chance to first copy the information on record. Current standard practice is to attempt contact parents by mail or publish a notice in the local newspaper.
The proposed updates in SB 117 would allow the school district to instead, send notice via email with receipt confirmation and also allow the communications to go to the former student. Burdens in the current law often mean school districts are incurring unnecessary costs or forced to house records for much longer than necessary. The legislation passed out of the Senate on March 27, and is now headed to the House for further consideration.
State Issues Health and Safety Tips as Residents Return Home from Recent Floods
After historic flooding in Winnebago and Stephenson counties forced hundreds of people from their homes, the State of Illinois is urging residents in and around the flood zones to take precautions as the clean-up begins.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has expressed concern for homeowners, warning them against the potential harm floodwaters and sewer overflows can bring, including bacteria, viruses and other organisms that may cause disease. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), and IDPH can provide important guidance for residents looking to return home and begin damage assessments.
IDPH cautions that flood waters can contaminate or damage food, water and house appliances. To avoid illness, IDPH says it is important that people whose homes have been affected by flooding to make sure their water is safe to drink, throw out any food that has gone bad and properly clean items touched by flood waters.