As always, you can contact me via webform at www.repbennett.com, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106) Watseka.
443 bills passed both houses this spring
Since the beginning of the year, the House and Senate passed a total of 443 bills to Governor Rauner’s desk, almost evenly split between bills originating in the House and bills originating in the Senate. These included large bills affecting every corner of the state; like the budget agreement reached on June 30; and small bills that only impact one program or one community. Some were bipartisan agreements which passed with large majorities, and others were more controversial and passed on party line votes.
The Illinois Constitution gives the Governor 60 days to act upon a bill, starting the moment it reaches his desk. He has a number of options to choose from when it comes to acting on a bill. If he does not act in that time, the bill becomes law without his signature. Of course, he can sign a bill in its entirety, or he can veto it completely as well.
Unlike the President of the United States, who has only those two choices, the Governor of Illinois has several other constitutional options. He can issue an Amendatory Veto, in which he can suggest changes to a bill and then send it back to the legislature for approval. In the case of a budget bill, the Governor may issue a Reduction Veto, in which he would cross out or reduce specific items of spending in the budget, while signing the rest into law. The legislature would then have the chance to accept or reject his reductions.
I am proud to report that four of those bills now on the Governor’s desk are bills which I sponsored: legislation for hunters, drivers, county governments and the families of fallen firefighters. I will keep you posted through the summer as the Governor takes action on these and other bills.
Legislation would waive vehicle sticker registration renewal late fee if no warning mailed
Since last fall; when the mailing of vehicle registration sticker renewal reminders was suspended; many Illinoisans have gotten citations for having an out-of-date vehicle registration sticker. Now there is legislation on the Governor’s desk which would suspend those late fees if reminder notices are not being sent out.
The waiver is only effective if the Secretary of State has not previously mailed a motor vehicle license sticker-renewal notification to the affected vehicle owner. These notification letters, which had been familiar elements in the mailboxes of Illinois drivers, were suspended last fall due to Illinois’ budget situation. Many Illinois residents have complained about no longer getting the letters and then facing penalties for late sticker-renewal actions. In addition, police are authorized to stop motor vehicles with expired stickers.
The supplemental late-fee waiver bill was approved by the House on June 30. The House vote on HB 4334, as amended, was 111-0-0. As the Senate had previously approved the final language of the bill, the House vote marked the final legislative step necessary to send the measure to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner for final action.
Also on the Governor’s desk is legislation which I sponsored, HB 5651, to allow Illinois drivers to change their renewal date to their birthday in order to make it easier to remember in the event that reminder notices are not mailed.
Governor signs enhancement to Open Meetings Act spurred by suburban college turmoil
The new law will require that any and all available minutes and verbatim recordings of meetings closed to the public must be made available to a newly elected official who has been selected to fill a seat in a public body. The new law grants a “level playing field” to access to confidential board-of-directors information to newly chosen members of the body’s board of directors. This is significant when a newly chosen member or members have been chosen as part of a reform effort aimed at questionable or improper actions affiliated with the previous board.
HB 4630, sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Ives, was approved unanimously by both houses of the General Assembly this spring. It was inspired by recent management events at the suburban College of DuPage and the election, by local voters, of a “Clean Slate” who took a majority position on the college’s board of trustees. Governor Rauner on June 30, signed HB 4630 into law as P.A. 99-515.
More people leaving Illinois than moving in
For a few years now, Illinois has had the sad distinction of leading the Midwest in outmigration, that is, a larger number of people moving out versus moving in. The Census Bureau reported at the beginning of the year that over 100,000 more people moved out of Illinois than moved in during 2015. United Van Lines, one of the largest moving companies in America, had similar news in its 39th Annual National Movers Study. That study found that Illinois was #3 in the nation for people moving out, behind only New York and New Jersey. Illinois has ranked in the top five in the survey for the last seven years.
Why is Illinois losing so much population? Part of it is no doubt because of factors such as weather: most states losing population are in the northeast and Midwest, while those gaining are in warmer regions of the south and west. But Illinois leads our Midwestern neighbors by a margin too big to be explained away by cold weather alone. We need to be doing more in Springfield to build an economy that encourages people to create and retain jobs here. We need to make our tax structure and overall economic climate competitive with our neighboring states. Illinois has so many natural advantages: transportation, a central location, rich farmland and so much more. We should not be squandering those advantages with poor economic policies in state government that drive people out instead of inviting them in.
Secretary of State’s office is more than just drivers’ licenses
Many Illinois residents visit an office of the Secretary of State, but for the most part it is only to obtain or renew a drivers’ license or license plate registration sticker. The Secretary of State, an office created by the first Illinois Constitution back in 1818, maintains all official state records and the state seal. The office runs the Organ/Tissue Donor program, for which more than 6 million Illinoisans have signed up.
The Illinois Secretary of State is Jesse White, who is the longest-serving state officeholder, having taken the office in January 1999. In addition to the other duties of the office, the Secretary of State is also the State Librarian and State Archivist, responsible for overseeing the Illinois State Library and State Archives in Springfield, as well as seven regional depositories throughout the state. Among the publications of the Secretary of State’s office that many Illinoisans are familiar with are the Illinois Rules of the Road and the Handbook of Illinois Government.
Did You Know?
On July 9, 1893, the first successful open-heart surgery was performed here in Illinois, at Chicago’s Provident Hospital. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams performed the procedure on the victim of a stabbing, and saved his life. James Cornish was brought into the hospital’s emergency room with the stab wound, and Dr. Williams and six other physicians opened his chest and successfully closed the wound. President Grover Cleveland would later name Dr. Williams surgeon-in-chief of the Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington D.C.