- The Illinois House of Representatives is back in session this week as the pace of legislative activity begins to pick up. The House unanimously passed legislation I introduced to extend the temporary permit period from 6 months to two years for those applying for a license as a community mental health or developmental services agency, known as CILA’s (Community-Integrated Living Arrangements). This bill is an effort to move adults with mental and developmental disabilities out of institutionalized care into a CILA where they will have greater opportunity to thrive as individuals while receiving the personalized care they need. My legislation, House Bill 741, has now gone over to the State Senate for consideration.
- House Bill 2907 would expand telehealth services as a cost-efficient and effective way to provide easily accessible services across the State. Telepsychiatry and telemedicine services would be included in the law under my bill, which is currently on the House Floor ready to be called for a final vote. For those who are unfamiliar, telemedicine is the use of a telecommunication system to provide medical services for the purpose of evaluation and treatment when the patient is at one location and the rendering provider is at another location.
- House Bill 706 allows a nurse to dispose of unused medication found at the scene of a death while engaging in the performance of his or her duties in the absence of police officer, coroner or medical examiner. It is important that we ensure that unused medications are properly disposed of in such circumstances.
Budget – COGFA Report
- COGFA reduces State revenue forecast by $657 million. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget forecasting arm, reported to the legislature this week on trends in State revenues that will affect the reminder of FY17, ending June 30, 2017, as well as the approaching FY18 (starting July 1, 2017). Areas of weak or absent revenue growth included individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, sales taxes, public utility taxes, cigarette taxes, and corporate franchise taxes. This cash flow picture has forced COGFA to reduce its FY17 Illinois tax revenue forecast by $657 million, worsening the State’s fiscal situation. This pattern of revenue stagnation, while State spending continues to increase, underlies the current inability of the State to pay its bills on time. The State’s ledger currently counts more than $12 billion in unpaid bills. The COGFA revenue report was presented to the General Assembly on Tuesday, March 7.
Budget – State Financial Report for FY16
- Comptroller reports Illinois operated at $9.6 billion annual deficit in fiscal year 2016. The deficit number was released in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report compiled by the Office of the Illinois Comptroller. The red-ink number is believed to be the largest deficit in State history. It reflects the expiration of much (although not all) of the “temporary” State income tax hike enacted in January 2011, poor revenue numbers from remaining tax streams, and exponential growth rates in continuing expenses such as pensions and health care costs.
Criminal Law – Hate Crimes Initiative
- Governor Rauner announces new initiative to crack down on hate crimes. The initiative, announced this week by Governor Bruce Rauner, responds to an epidemic of hate crimes reported recently by Jewish community centers, synagogues, schools, cemeteries, and other places of Jewish identity throughout the United States. Hate crimes include telephoned bomb threats, vandalism, and graffiti.
The proposal includes tougher penalties for crimes committed against churches and religious centers if they are charged as hate crimes by law enforcement. The Governor also pledged that completion of community service and an education program about the Holocaust and genocide will be part of the required file on a prisoner before the prisoner can be considered for his pardon or parole from the Illinois Parole Board for an Illinois hate crime against Jews. The Governor also called for expanding the State’s current educational mandate that school districts implement anti-hate education in schools.