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2012 Legislative Agenda 

 
House Bill 1645 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights); Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago)
Bill Status: Signed by Governor on August 20, 2012. Effective January 1, 2013.    

House Bill 1645 would require strip club owners who serve or allow alcohol to be consumed on their premises to pay either a $3-per-patron entrance fee or a flat fee based on the taxable receipts the club reports to the Illinois Department of Revenue each year. The money would be appropriated to a new Sexual Assault Prevention Fund, which would be used to fund grants to community-based organizations that work to reduce sexual assault or aid crime victims.  

Speaking at a press conference with State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) in support of the bill, Lt. Governor Simon said, “As a former domestic battery prosecutor, I see a connection between the alcohol-fueled exploitation of women and violence against women. It is only fair to require the people who profit from the adult entertainment industry to finance those who provide advocacy and counseling services to the victims of sexual assault.”
 
Testimony in support of HB 1645:
HB 1645 Fact Sheet
Lt. Governor Sheila Simon
R.T. Finney, President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police
Dr. Richard McCleary, University of California-Irvine professor and leading adult entertainment business researcher

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Senate Resolution 530 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria)
Bill Status: Resolution was adopted on February 9, 2012.

Senate Resolution 530 urges Congress to pass a 2012 Farm Bill that supports and promotes the development of local and regional food systems, thanks to the growing demand for local foods and the health and economic benefits of a local food system. The Farm Bill, which expires in September 2012, funds a variety of agricultural-related programs such as crop subsidies, food stamp benefits and the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant, which helps improve and expand farmers markets and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.  

Lt. Governor Simon notes that farmers markets in Illinois saw a 522 percent increase in LINK sales from three years ago. Speaking in early 2012 to downtown Springfield business owners, Lt. Governor Simon said, “LINK sales at farmers markets are picking up steam. This is healthy news all around. More low-income residents are gaining access to fresh, healthy foods. Our farmers are finding new buyers. And we’re keeping our downtowns vibrant places to visit.”

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House Bill 3810 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago); Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Streamwood)
Bill status: Signed by Governor on July 11, 2012. Effective July 11, 2012.    

Senate Bill 3810 would abolish the legislative scholarship program effective June 1, 2012. Nearly 100 of the 177 members of the General Assembly have now opted out of giving legislative scholarships this year. In Fiscal Year 2011 the program cost state universities across Illinois nearly $13.5 million.  

“While legislative scholarships help a small number of students, the program’s abuse comes at an incredibly high cost in terms of trust in government and absorbed tuition at colleges and universities,” Simon said. “We would do better by our schools and students if we strengthened the need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants that help thousands of Illinois students across the state fulfill their dreams of higher education. By eliminating the legislative scholarship program, Illinois can take a meaningful step toward improving our ethical standards, while focusing our efforts on making college more affordable for all students.” 

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Senate Bill 3259 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago); Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora)
Signed by Governor on August 8, 2012. Effective August 8, 2012.   

Senate Bill 3259 creates the Commission for High School Graduation Achievement and Success to study the issue of high school graduation in this State, with the goals of increasing educational attainment, increasing high school graduation rates, and ultimately improving the workforce in this State.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure students not only finish high school but use that time in a meaningful fashion that prepares them for college,” Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said. As part of her community college reform package, Simon has proposed changes that will improve college readiness in math.

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Senate Bill 3261 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Iris Martinez (D-Chicago); Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago)
Bill status: Signed by Governor on June 14, 2012. Effective June 14, 2012.   

Senate Bill 3261 amends the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Systems Act  to better align licensing classifications and definitions with the National EMS Educational Standards. Included in these changes are new titles for EMS personnel including an Emergency Medical Responder, an Emergency Medical Technician, an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician, and a Paramedic while continuing to recognize the Emergency Medical Technician – Intermediate (EMT-I) and other EMS personnel previously recognized.  

“I commend IDPH and the EMS community for working together to address their concerns regarding the new National EMS Educational Standards and coming to an agreement on what works best in Illinois,” Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said. “I know there is more work to be done in order to make the new National EMS Educational Standards work for Illinois, and I look forward to working with stakeholders to continue improving EMS in Illinois.”

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Senate Bill 3244, Amendment 2 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign); Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia
Bill status: Signed by Governor on June 25, 2012. Effective January 1, 2013.

SB 3244, Amendment 2, directs the Illinois State Board of Education to design math curriculum for high schools by March 2013. This would be the first-ever recommended statewide curriculum model for any subject. It would define the scope and sequence of study for math and math equivalent courses throughout a student’s high school years and could lead to early college enrollment. SB 3244, Amendment 2, aims to better prepare students for post-secondary work and reduce expensive and time-consuming remedial math needs at colleges and universities.

“Students learn locally, but they compete globally,” Simon said. “Employers and colleges are telling us that too many of our students are not competing in math. This bill will provide educators across the state, in all zip codes, the tools they need to prepare their students for college and career math.”

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House Bill 5248, Amendment 2 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago); Rep. Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago)
Bill Status: Session Sine Die

House Bill 5248, Amendment 2, would require public and private colleges and universities to publish annual “College Choice Reports” with key student and institutional data. The College Choice Reports could contain information such as degree and certificate completion rates, net costs, debt loads and job placement outcomes. Upon passage of HB 5248, Amendment 2, higher education stakeholders will convene a committee to determine the style and content of the reports by January 1, 2014, and the first College Choice Reports will have to be produced by January 1, 2015.   

“Future undergraduates will be able to access College Choice Reports online to comparison-shop among institutions,” said Simon, who helped draft the legislation following her Complete College Tour of the state’s 48 community colleges. “Think of this new tool as a consumer report, guiding parents and students toward high-quality, affordable higher education investments.” 

HB 5248, Amendment 2 Fact Sheet

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House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 29 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie)  
Bill status: Tabled

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 29 amends the section of the Illinois Bill of Rights concerning crime victims. Currently, the Bill of Rights outlines certain protections for crime victims, but fails to offer any sort remedy if a right is violated. The resolution permits crime victims to ask that their rights be enforced and requires the court to act promptly on such a request. Illinois is the only state in the union that does not provide such a remedy for its crime victims.  

“The criminal justice system affords many protections for crime victims, but without proper enforcement, the protections are barely of any use,” Simon said following passage of the resolution in the House. “By adopting this resolution, representatives have brought this critical issue to light and give Illinois residents the opportunity to make these changes to the state Constitution.”

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House Joint Resolution 73 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Patrick Verschoore (D-Rock Island)
Status: Resolution was adopted on May 17, 2012.   

House Joint Resolution 73 urges the President and Congress to protect the Rock Island Arsenal from further budget reductions. The resolution acknowledges the Rock Island Arsenal’s historical, military and economic significance. The arsenal has over 8,500 employees and is home to the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center; one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturing facilities.  

Simon, who chairs the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC), visited Rock Island Arsenal last year and said, “The Rock Island Arsenal is the largest single employer in the Quad Cities, and we want to keep it that way. I will work with local and federal leaders to grow partnerships that will keep the Rock Island Arsenal a cutting edge and efficient economic engine for this region.”    

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House Joint Resolution 81 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Rep. Daniel Biss (D-Skokie)
Bill Status: Tabled  

House Joint Resolution 81 requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) to convene a task force to create new rules for the state’s needs-based Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant. The 10-member task force would be chaired by the ISAC executive director and include a representative from the Lt. Governor’s office. The panel must submit recommendations to the General Assembly by January 1, 2013.  

“We would do better by our schools and students if we strengthened the need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants that help thousands of Illinois students across the state fulfill their dreams of higher education,” said Simon.

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Senate Bill 3941 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge)  
Bill status: Session Sine Die

Senate Bill 3941 overhauls a financial disclosure form – known as Statement of Economic Interests – filed by constitutional officers, elected officials and certain high-ranking public employees every year. The new form would require filers – for the first time – to list outside sources of income, lobbyist relationships and loans made or accepted on terms not available to the general public. It also closes loopholes that allow filers to answer “not applicable” to almost all of the questions on the current version of the form, which was introduced 40 years ago.

Speaking at a press conference with State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) in support of the bill, Lt. Governor Simon said, “At over 40 years-old, it’s time our financial disclosure forms get a facelift. This legislation is about making our Statement of Economic Interests more understandable for the people who fill them out, and making them more transparent for those who want to get information from them.”

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Senate Bill 1566 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights); Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley)
Bill Status: Signed by Governor on December 7, 2012. Effective January 1, 2013.   

Senate Bill 1566 provides the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with over $30 million in sustainable funding. Revenue is raised primarily through a $2 increase in license plate fees, state park entrance fees to non-residents, and fees for the use of a public beach, bike trail and equestrian trail. DNR’s budget has been cut in half since 2002, creating a $750 million backlog in park maintenance.   

“In these trying economic times, this new, sustainable source of revenue will address years of defer="defer"red maintenance at our state’s national parks and public lands,” Simon said. “Protecting these spaces now will ensure that future generations can enjoy some of the best natural land Illinois has to offer.” 

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Senate Bill 957 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago); Rep. Edward Acevedo (D-Chicago)  
Bill status: Signed by Governor on January 28, 2013.  Effective November 28, 2013

Senate Bill 957 would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a temporary driver’s license. The temporary license could not be used to apply for a FOID card, purchase a firearm or vote, and applicants would be required to complete driver training and obtain car insurance. According to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, unlicensed, uninsured drivers are involved in almost 80,000 accidents in Illinois annually, costing residents millions in damage claims.  

“This bill is a proactive step to help guarantee the safety and well-being of all Illinois residents. Our goal is to train, license and insure every eligible Illinois driver, regardless of legal status, to make our roads safer for all travelers. I am pleased to support this progressive bill and call on legislators to vote in favor of this public safety measure,” Simon said.

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House Bill 4963, Amendment 2 (97th General Assembly)
Sponsor: Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago)
Bill Status: Session Sine Die

House Bill 4963, Amendment 2 would create the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act allowing same-sex couples to marry in Illinois. This would make same-sex couples eligible for a variety of benefits they do not currently qualify for under a civil union including Social Security survivor benefits, family leave and veteran’s benefits. The legislation would not require any denomination to perform, solemnize or recognize same-sex relationships.  

“Passing a marriage equality bill in Illinois is the right thing to do, and we should do it now,” said Simon, a longtime advocate for marriage equality and LGBT rights. “People across Illinois recognize the importance marriage plays in protecting and recognizing families, and we need to ensure that our legislators hear that message, too.”