• Ben Szalinski
    AUG 02, 2023


    Bills pushing South Suburban Airport forward, allowing non-citizens to become cops among latest round of bills signed by Pritzker 

    The Illinois Capitol 

    Gov. JB Pritzker signed more than 130 bills into law Friday as the governor continues to whittle down the number of bills from the spring session requiring action.   

    The bills signed by Pritzker Friday included several key initiatives from the spring session that tackle infrastructure, crime, ethics and education.  

    HB1199: Italian-American Heritage Month  

    Normally bills designating commemorative months get little attention, but a bill by Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights) generated controversy on a few occasions during session, including with complaints by DeLuca that the bill wasn’t getting fair consideration. The bill designates October as Italian-American Heritage month. It comes after others have called for removing commemorations of Columbus Day.   

    HB1342: RTA initiatives   

    The law extends relief lawmakers have granted transit agencies since the pandemic severely reduced ridership. Normally transit agencies are required to receive 50 percent of their revenue from rider fares, but with ridership remaining sluggish even since significant pandemic restrictions were lifted, agencies have struggled to reach the 50 percent threshold. The law extends a pass for the agencies through 2025 that does not require them to receive half their revenue from fares.      

    The law also allows transit agencies to suspend riders for assault, battery, sexual assault or public indecency, though it does allow for an appeals process.  

    Related: Senate advances bill giving transit agencies financial breathing room, mechanism to improve safety   

    HB2123: “Deep fakes” regulation  

    Lawmakers took action to crackdown on producing false “sexual images” without a person’s consent. The law gives a person who is a victim of the fake, reproduced images the ability to take legal action against the distributor.  

    “This is not a matter of free speech, as some want to claim, but rather of bodily autonomy, safety and defamation,” Sen. Mary Edly-Allen (D-Libertyville) said in a statement in April. “Revenge porn or image based sexual abuse creates an immense breach of a person's rights: rights to privacy, rights to dignity, and rights to sexual autonomy.”  

    HB2245: Cook County carjacking hotline  

    The law allows the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to establish a hotline to help officers recover vehicles stolen in carjackings or in kidnappings. Vehicle manufactures will also have to maintain a 24/7 hotline for law enforcement to contact to help them track stolen vehicles when law enforcement obtains a warrant, the car’s owner gives permission, or when contacted by police. The bill only applies to Cook County, however.  

    “We already know that there is technology readily available to track carjackers and kidnappers as they travel from Point A to Point B,” Sen. Mike Hastings (D-Frankfurt) said in a news release Tuesday. “It is essential that we empower law enforcement with these tools to successfully apprehend these criminals.” 

    HB2431: Bans video calls while driving  

    Anyone driving in Illinois will no longer be allowed to take FaceTime calls, participate in Zoom meetings or any other type of video call while behind the wheel. The bill was an initiative of Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias  

    “We need to take steps to change the culture surrounding distracted driving, which will lead to more responsible drivers and ultimately save lives,” Giannoulias said in a March news release. “Zooming takes hands, eyes and minds off the focus of driving. Our goal is that a combination of increased education, stronger laws and tougher enforcement will encourage drivers to change bad behaviors for the better.”  

    Even lawmakers have participated in Zoom calls while driving when the House and Senate previously allowed lawmakers to vote and speak remotely during the pandemic.   

    HB2531: South Suburban Airport   

    The law require the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to seek design proposals from private developers for the long-proposed South Suburban Airport in southern Will County, though it does not require IDOT to approve any proposals. And after years of debating about the necessity of a third passenger airport in the Chicago area, the bill states the airport would be “for air travel and domestic and global freight cargo.”  

    “The construction on the airport will create tens of thousands of jobs directly through construction and operation and indirectly through economic activity spurred by additional cargo and transportation capacity; helping to make this region the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), a key supporter of the airport, said in a news release in May.  

    The plan to build an airport in Peotone has been discussed for decades as proponents say Chicago needs a third airport dedicated to cargo as warehouses and other distribution hubs grow in the south suburbs. However, others have raised concerns including environmentalists and those who say the cargo demand is already being met by O’Hare and Rockford’s airport, which is one of the nation’s largest cargo airports. Air cargo carriers have not commented on the airport.   

    Related: Bill landing on Pritzker’s desk could move long-proposed third Chicago airport forward  

    HB3203: Expands access to fentanyl test strips  

    Pharmacies will now be able to sell fentanyl test strips over the counter under a new law pushed by House Minority Leader Tony McCombie (R-Savanna). The goal of the legislation is to allow drug users to know whether or not they are consuming a drug laced with fentanyl, which can be fatal at nearly any dose.   

    “Fentanyl is in each and every one of our communities and many of us even know someone who has been touched by a fentanyl death,” Sen. Sally Turner (R-Beason) said in a news release in April.  

    HB3751: Non-citizens can become police officers 

    The law allows Illinois residents who are DACA recipients to become police offers, but only if Congress takes action to allow non-citizens to carry a firearm as a police officer. The bill is supported by the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, and the Illinois Sheriff’s Association officially took a neutral position on the bill.   

    The bill was sponsored by Reps. Barbara Hernandez (D-Aurora) and John Cabello (R-Machesney Park), who is also a Rockford police officer. While the bill initially passed the House unanimously, Senate Republicans opposed the bill arguing people should have to be a U.S. citizen to have arrest powers. Some House Republicans also voted against the bill on a second vote.  

    No sane state would allow foreign nationals to arrest their citizens, this is madness!” U.S. Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) tweeted Friday.   

    At a news conference Monday, Pritzker was forced to defend the bipartisan law in response to Miller’s tweet.   

    “We have a U.S. military that has 35,000 immigrants who are not U.S. citizens who are serving in the U.S. military today,” Pritzker said at an unrelated news conference. “Eight thousand more sign up every year. We allow that in our U.S. military. We allow it in a couple of other states and more states are adding on to this list of state are allowing legal permanent residents [to become police officers]. So I’m proud that we are doing this. I think it’s the right thing.”  

    Related:  House, Senate Republicans take opposing stance on bill to allow DACA recipients to become police officers — pending federal legislation   

    HB3903: Red-light camera ethics bill  

    Under the law, automated traffic systems like red-light cameras and speed cameras would be subjected to new regulations that largely target ethical questions raised by various incidents of corruption and aggressive ticketing by the devices. Any government employee or elected official would be prohibited from being employed by or receiving any compensation from an automatic traffic device company.  

    It also prohibits automatic traffic device contractors from contributing to political committees and specifies that only municipalities that control the devices can issue traffic tickets for violations.   

    The law sets a series of regulations for implementing automated traffic control devices including a permitting process with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). It also gives the department just 30 days to reauthorize installing cameras that had been removed for a construction project. IDOT can also now revoke approval for any red-light camera installed in a municipality if an official has been charged with bribery or another form of corruption related to the camera’s installation.  

    Multiple public officials have become wrapped up in scandals with red-light cameras. Most recently Sen. Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) was charged with taking a bribe from SafeSpeed, the company at the center of many of the scandals, in exchange for killing a bill that would have required a study of automated traffic cameras. Jones voted for the bill, which would require studies every two years of the safety impacts of red-light and speed cameras.  

    Related: After years of ethics troubles, lawmakers target red-light cameras   

    SB1072: Honor and Remember flag  

    The bill sponsored by Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris) makes the Honor and Remember flag the state’s official symbol of remembering members of the U.S. military who died in service to the country. The red and white flag has a star in the middle with a flame inside above a folded American flag and was designed by the father of a soldier who was killed in Iraq. The law requires the flag to be flown at government buildings on certain days of the year.   

    SB1707: Aligns CFD promotions with other departments  

    The law makes the Chicago Fire Department’s (CFD) promotional process for officer positions the same as other Illinois fire departments. Members of the Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2 said the current promotional process was nearly unexplainable as applicants for promotions waited years for test results and how decisions were made about who should be promoted weren’t clear.   

    “For too long, testing has not been fair to Chicago firefighters,” Sen. Willie Preston (D-Chicago) said at a March news conference. “Testing has been infrequent for firefighters. Too many of our bravest look around at counterparts from across the state and across the country and realized that they’re [not] moving up the ranks based simply because of the rules in Chicago.”   

    Related: Chicago firefighters call on Springfield to change department’s ‘archaic’ promotional process  

    SB2243: Statewide literacy plan   

    The State Board of Education (ISBE) will be developing a statewide literacy plan for school districts to follow beginning in Fall 2024. The board will develop a rubric “by which districts may evaluate curricula and select and implement evidence-based, culturally inclusive core reading instruction programs, a template to support districts when developing literacy plans, and guidance on practices for effective structures for training and deploying literacy coaches,” according to the bill’s synopsis.  

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