Latest News

Illinois expands employee leave for certain family situations
The Child Bereavement Leave Act was signed into law earlier this summer. Under the Act, Illinois employers who have at least 50 employees must grant up to ten days of unpaid leave to eligible full-time employees who have suffered the loss of a child. Except in emergency situations, there must be 48 hours of notice. The employee will have 60 days during which to take the leave time. Some Illinois employers already have bereavement policies under which they voluntarily pay workers who take this kind of leave.

The legislation was Senate Bill 2613. It passed the House 108-1.

New hunting laws take effect
Some pieces of legislation affecting Illinois hunting and fishing opportunities were signed over the summer. The new laws include legislation centered on youth trapping; bow hunting for catfish; and simplified landowner hunting permit procedures for deer and wild turkey.

The landowner bill, SB 3003, applies to owners and resident tenants who have at least 40 acres of Illinois land. Under the new law, which amends the Wildlife Code, these hunters will be able to apply for and receive a deer permit, a turkey permit, or a new combination deer/turkey permit that will cover both types of game. In the past, the separate landowner deer and landowner turkey permits were issued without fee, and this will still be the case. If a hunting club, hunting partnership or hunting cooperative owns its land they can be eligible for the permits under the new law as well.  The bill passed the Illinois House unanimously.

New concussion guidelines are in effect for contact sports
As awareness of the dangers of concussions in youth sports have grown, so too has the need to take action to better protect student-athletes from these injuries. New guidelines, adopted this season by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), are intended to reduce the number of concussions in contact sports. Student-athletes will be required to be tested and monitored during contact-sports activities.  The goal is to diagnose concussions as quickly as possible.

Legislation, executive order, aims to help kids in DCFS system
There are approximately 16,000 children in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Ideally, when a child needs a guardian, an adult relative or friend from the child’s background is selected, but this is not always possible. In some cases, the guardianship over a young person is assigned to the state. These young people were traditionally called “wards of the state,” but a new executive order will request that people in this standing now be called “youth in care.”

New legislation increases veterans services, honors Gold Star families
Several pieces of legislation to aid Illinois veterans have been signed into law over the past couple of weeks. The bills provide needed assistance to veterans and their families and honor to those who have sacrificed so much for our country and our state.

Two more bills signed into law
I am proud to report that two more of my bills have been signed into law. House Bill 4603 helps local governments cut down on excessive paperwork by allowing county boards to have the option of requiring a report from their public defenders quarterly rather than monthly. It was an idea presented to me by the Livingston County Board and I was glad to see it make its way all the way through the process.

Lots of action affecting agriculture in the spring session
The stopgap budget passed by the General Assembly, as well as some other legislation passed by both houses and expected to be signed into law this summer will affect agriculture in Illinois. Among the items in the budget was funding to make sure that important functions such as health and safety inspections of meat and eggs will not be interrupted. The budget provides $5 million for Soil and Water Conservation Districts and conservation programs. It includes the same level of funding for county fairs as did the FY15 budget. There is also $13 million for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension program.