Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: Aug. 4 – 8, 2014

Governor Signs 5 Syverson Bills

This week Governor Pat Quinn signed five bills sponsored by State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford). Quinn is also planning to sign a sixth bill in Rockford on Saturday. That legislation will create Gold Star license plates available to the surviving children of Gold Star Recipients. Representative John Cabello was lead sponsor of the measure in the House, with Syverson the Senate sponsor.

The five bills already signed are:

Child Placement (SB 3283/PA 98-0846): Adds “fictive kin” to the definition of “relative.” This is designed to help place children with persons who have played a major role in caring for the child, even if the person is not a blood relative.

DCFS Report (SB 3009/PA 98-0839): Requires the Department of Children and Family Services to submit an annual report on its progress in meeting its licensing goals for child day care no later than Sept. 30 each year.

Long-Term Care Definition (SB 3048/PA 98-0841): Adds long-term care facilities to the definition of “provider” under the Health Maintenance Organization Act and the Managed Care Reform and Patient Rights Act. This change is necessary to ensure nursing home residents and providers have the same protections that would be available to them if they were in another care setting.

Nursing Home Closure Plans (SB 2968/PA 98-0834): Mandates that nursing homes submit closure plans to the Department of Public Health outlining the “safe and orderly transfer” of current residents caused by facility closure. Reduces the required 90-day notice of closure to a 60-day notice of closure. Shifts the notification requirements to nursing home administrators rather than owners. Specifies that the state-approved closure plan must be included in the 60-day notification. 

Sanitary District Boundaries (SB 2814/PA 98-0828): Clarifies that sanitary district boundaries are only those of the corporate authority and do not cover areas that the district might contract with for service. This is an Illinois Association of Wastewater Agencies initiative seeking to clarify that the district is defined by its physical boundaries. It will require that trustees must live within the boundaries of the district.

Dozens of other bills signed

In the meantime, dozens of new laws were signed by the Governor, including a series of measures impacting children and child protection, as well as bills on topics as varied as off-road vehicles, search warrants, unmanned drones and animal welfare.

The flurry of bill signings was a run-up to the Illinois State Fair, when governors have traditionally signed numerous pieces of legislation, often themed to particular days at the fair, such as signing bills affecting veterans on the fair’s Veterans Day or older persons on Senior Day.

The Governor also issued his first amendatory veto of the year, expanding the scope of SB 1630. As passed by the legislature, the bill spells out billing practices of “anatomic pathology services.” The Governor expanded the measure to impose greater restrictions and disciplinary action on doctors who improperly mark up a medical bill.

More Quinn Hiring Woes

The Quinn administration continues to draw heat for its hiring practices. An Associated Press story released Aug. 6 revealed that while the Governor claims his office corrected problems with political hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation, the administration is refusing to release information on what the fix actually was.

The Associated Press requested information on what actions the agency took to curb political hiring, but was denied access to records. The Quinn Administration argued that the actions they took are preliminary and therefore not subject to a Freedom of Information Request.

According to the Associated Press, the Freedom of Information denial “contradicts the administration’s assertion that it fixed the problems in the spring. The administration is also refusing to disclose the guidelines the government has used for two decades to decide which jobs must be open to any applicant and which can be given to someone because of his or her political connections.”

Click here for Legislation affecting children and families

Cyber-bullying controversial

A well-intentioned but potentially troublesome measure aimed at addressing “cyber-bullying” was also signed. House Bill 4207 drew criticism because it requires schools to intervene in cases of electronic bullying, even if it occurs off-campus and uses private computers, cell phones, tablets or other electronic devices.

While acknowledging that bullying through social media platforms is a serious concern, opponents argued that expecting schools to regulate speech that occurs outside of the school day and off school property breaks new grounds, places an unrealistic burden on schools, sets a dangerous precedent and is very likely to be found unconstitutional.

To view other measures that became law, click here.

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