Lawmakers are due back in Springfield the week of April 9.
Jobs reforms focus on recidivism, blighted areas
Republican Senators are co-sponsoring jobs reform legislation to help reduce the tendency of convicted criminals to commit another crime, and ensure neglected areas in communities receive honest advantages when it comes to tax increment financing (TIF) revenues.
Senate Bill 2282 provides protection for employers, specifically negligent-hiring liability, when they employ an individual with a nonviolent, nonsexual criminal conviction. Senate Bill 2880 would restrict transferring TIF dollars from one TIF district to another, and puts more restrictions on when a blighted area of a community can be considered for tax increment financing. Both bills await hearings before Senate committees.
Several Senators are also sponsoring legislation to battle the seemingly non-stop barrage of robo-calls and scam calls that keep cell phones ringing around the clock. Estimates place the number of robo-calls per month at 2.4 billion in 2016, up from 1.5 billion in 2015. The increase is driven largely by Internet-powered phone systems that have made it cheaper and easier to place the calls from anywhere in the world. The Federal Communications Commission reported in October that telemarketing calls were the number one consumer complaint.
Senate Bill 2573 would strengthen the Illinois Automated Dialers Act by making it a separate violation to disguise their caller ID information. The bill also requires prior written consent before callers can use an auto-dialer to initiate a telemarketing call. The legislation would also make the unlawful practices subject to enforcement by the Attorney General. Senate Joint Resolution 59 would create the bipartisan Illinois Automated Dialing and Solicitation Task Force to study penalties for violating the Do Not Call List and penalties for call spoofing, as well as exploring any new technology for preventing automated calls.
Warnings about synthetic cannabinoids
The Illinois Department of Public Health has issued a warning about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, after six people in northern Illinois who used synthetic cannabinoids suffered severe bleeding. All reported using synthetic cannabinoids, often called fake weed, K2, and spice. Officials say synthetic cannabinoids are not one drug, but hundreds of different chemicals manufactured and sold. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they act on the same brain cell receptors as the main active ingredient in marijuana. The health effects from using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and harmful—even life threatening.
Illinois Vietnam Veteran Commemoration
On March 29, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Illinois Bicentennial group commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. The celebration thanked and honored veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war, or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States, and thanked and honored the families of these veterans. Each Vietnam Veteran received a Commemoration Pin during the ceremony and was recognized for the bravery they exhibited while serving our country. The event was held at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Joint Task Force hearing
The Joint Senate/House Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment is continuing to meet as part of a comprehensive review of the legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment in the public and private sectors.
The bipartisan group convened in Chicago March 27 to discuss federal policy and legislation on sexual harassment, as well as similar policy and legislation in other states. The Task Force heard testimony from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office of Legal Counsel, and the Congressional Office of Compliance.