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  1. Lt. Governor

2011 Legislative Agenda 

Senate Bill 3539 (96th General Assembly)
Sponsors: Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) 
Bill status: Signed by Governor on March 9, 2011. Effective July 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012.

SB 3539 eliminates the death penalty as a form of punishment for crimes committed in Illinois. Former Governor George Ryan placed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2000. Ryan also commuted the sentences of 167 inmates on death row in 2003. The moratorium stayed in place until Governor Pat Quinn signed SB 3539 into law. Illinois joins 15 other states in banning the death penalty.

In a letter to Governor Pat Quinn, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said: “We try criminal cases to a standard of 'beyond a reasonable doubt.' It is a higher standard than the burden in civil cases, but it is not 'beyond all doubt.' Our system links an irrevocable punishment to a standard where jurors could have some nagging questions about the defendant's guilt. Even in the best of circumstances, our system allows for error. As a matter of public respect for our justice system, we cannot tolerate errors in execution. As a former prosecutor and your Lt. Governor, I urge you to end the death penalty in Illinois.” 


Senate Bill 1716 (96th General Assembly)
Sponsors: Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago)
Bill status: Signed by Governor on January 31, 2011. Effective June 1, 2011.  

SB 1716 creates the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act and allows for civil unions in Illinois, defined as a legal relationship between two persons, of either the same or opposite sex. Provides that a party to a civil union shall be entitled to the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses. The law makes Illinois the tenth state to allow same-sex marriage or civil unions.  

At the celebration of some of the state’s first civil union ceremonies on June 2, 2011, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said: “Today we honor the commitment and courage of those who worked to make this day a reality. We recognize the couples and families that are now protected under our state law. And we look forward to the day that other states and the federal government decide to celebrate with us and take this important step toward marriage equality.”  


House Bill 1503 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsors:  Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), Sen. Edward Maloney (D-Chicago)
Bill status: Signed by Governor on August 12, 2011. Effective January 1, 2012.

HB1503 creates a commission that will devise a system to award funding to colleges and universities based upon performance metrics, as a way to promote and measure student success in degree and certificate completion. Performance metrics will be devised by the Illinois State Board of Higher Education with input from a wide variety of stakeholders and must be included in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget recommendation to the Governor. The metrics must take into account the differentiated missions of higher education institutions as well as differences in the demographic makeup of institutions’ student bodies. Performance funding will apply to each of Illinois’ eight state universities and 48 community colleges.

During a Senate committee hearing on a companion bill, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon testified: “This bill is going to move us in the direction of greater success in terms of college completion. Higher education in Illinois, in the United States, is really what makes the American dream possible. It means someone with talent, with ability, can find their pathway to do what they want to do no matter where they come from. We need to make sure that we are delivering on that dream. Students are doing a good job of getting themselves to school. We need to make sure that, as a State, we are giving incentive to have those students successfully exit from that educational process.”  


Senate Bill 2185 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsors: Senate President John Cullerton, Rep. Edward Acevedo
Bill status: Signed by Governor on August 1, 2011. Effective immediately. 

SB 2185 provides that the State Treasurer's College Savings Pool must be available to any individual with a valid Social Security number or taxpayer identification number for the benefit of any individual with a valid Social Security number or taxpayer identification number. Requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to establish an Illinois DREAM Fund Commission to accept and evaluate applications for scholarships from the children of immigrants and issue scholarships to selected student applicants. Additionally, the bill establishes an Illinois DREAM Fund to provide scholarships funded entirely from private contributions.  

In a statement, Lt. Governor Simon said: “We must open the doors to educational opportunities today to best prepare the leaders of tomorrow. The Illinois DREAM Act is a critical law that brings a college education within the reach of more Illinois students. Our children’s achievement should only be limited by their dreams and aspirations, not by their background or financial status.”     


Senate Bill 840 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsors: Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), Rep. Lisa Dugan (D-Bradley)
Bill status: Signed by Governor on August 16, 2011. Effective January 1, 2012.

SB 840 allows for small family farms to more readily participate in local food markets by removing barriers to food entrepreneurship such as the requirement that vendors can only sell foods made in commercial kitchens. This will allow homemade baked goods to be sold at farmers’ markets and other community events. To ensure public health, the bill limits the kinds of food that can be sold. All food items must have a Food Service Sanitation Management Certificate, be accompanied by appropriate labels listing all ingredients, and identify that products are homemade.  

Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said: “Locally-grown, fresh food is becoming more prevalent, but I am working for it to become common practice. Purchasing from and promoting local food producers will not only lead us to healthier eating habits and lifestyles, but we can also boost our economy and create sustainable jobs.” 


Senate Bill 1237 (97th General Assembly) 
Sponsor: Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge)
Bill status: Session Sine Die 

SB 1237 requires additional information to be provided on Statement of Economic Interest forms and aims to replicate the federal disclosure forms at the state level. Additionally, legislation would call for an electronic means of submission and an online database of all submitted forms.  

While disclosing her full tax returns and financial disclosures from her senior staff, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said: “Government works best in the sunlight, so we’re starting by shining the light on ourselves. The economic disclosures currently required by law are weak, reveal very little about any potential conflicts of interest and are practically meaningless to the people we serve. The current state financial disclosure document is flawed by asking questions in ways that fail to identify people’s true economic interests.”  


House Bill 1216 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsors: Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora)
Bill status: Signed by Governor on August 23, 2011. Effective immediately.

HB 1216 establishes the School District Realignment and Consolidation Commission to make recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly on the number of school districts in this State, the optimal amount of enrollment for a school district, and where consolidation and realignment would be beneficial. The bipartisan commission is comprised of a broad base of stakeholders, including teachers, administrators and parents. Recommendations must focus on reducing duplicative spending and improving education. The Lt. Governor would serve as chairperson for the Commission.


Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 1197 (97th General Assembly)  
Sponsors of SB 7: Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) Sponsors of HB 1197: Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) and Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago)  
Bill status: Signed by Governor on June 13, 2011. Effective immediately.

SB 7 and HB 1197 enact sweeping changes to the state’s education system in an effort to improve education for all Illinois students. Some topics addressed include: promotion for excellent teaching, weighing teacher performance in retention, providing more transparency in contract negotiations and introducing new steps prior to a strike.  

In a statement on April 14, 2011 in support of education reform, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said: “The next wave of education reform required all of us – teachers, administrators, community members and policymakers – to rethink business as usual. The result is a meaningful reform bill that will help us weed out bad teachers and seed new ones. It puts students first, while also preserving the collective bargaining rights of their greatest advocates. The process behind and the passage of this bill will make Illinois a model for the rest of the nation.”  


House Bill 1710
(97th General Assembly)
Sponsors: Sen. Edward Maloney (D-Chicago) and Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Hinckley)  
Bill status: Signed by Governor on August 10, 2011. Effective immediately.  

HB 1710 creates the College Planning Program, administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, to identify low-income and potential first-generation college students to promote college awareness and planning.


Senate Bill 1852 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsors: Sen. David Luechtefeld (R-Okawville), Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro)  
Bill status: Signed by Governor on August 16, 2011. Effective immediately. 

SB 1852 establishes the 24-member Farmers’ Market Task Force, which will consist of a wide variety of stakeholders including the Lt. Governor, five farmers chosen by the Lt. Governor, public health officials, representatives from agriculture, and members of the public. The Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health will serve as the chair, and members of the task force will serve without compensation. The task force will conduct a comprehensive review of the laws and administrative rules regulating farmers’ markets and issue an annual report to the Illinois General Assembly with recommendations for statewide standards.