New Legislation for 2015

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Mar 23, 2015 Comments Off on New Legislation for 2015 Jon

With the beginning of a new session comes the introduction of legislation. Below, you’ll find a description of various bills I have introduced and will be working on this year. For a full list, visit ilga.gov.

HB 217- Conversion Therapy Prohibition

What it does: Bans the use of conversion “therapy” by licensed mental health professionals aimed at changing the sexual orientation or gender identity of minors.

Why it’s needed: Every national mental health organization has determined that this type of practice is not only ineffective, but can cause severe depression, anxiety, guilt and even suicide. The justification for its use comes from the false premise that certain sexual orientations and gender identities are “mental disorders” that must be “cured”. This practice has a devastating effect on the youth who are forced to participate.

 
 

HB 218 – Uniform Civil Enforcement of Cannabis Offenses

What it does: Creates a uniform enforcement system for cannabis offenses, making possession of less than 30 grams a petty offense with a $100 fine, with automatic expungement of related records.

Why it’s needed: Currently, the State is characterized by a patchwork of laws related to cannabis enforcement. With more than 100 municipal ordinances, each with differences in allowable amounts and fines, the result is confusing and can result in unfair enforcement with a disproportionate impact on people of color. This bill creates a uniform system across the state, solving that problem. In addition, incarceration for low level possession of marijuana cases costs the state and local governments millions every year at a time when scarce criminal justice resources could be better utilized. 

 

HB 485- Corporate Tax Credit Moratorium

What it does: Prevents corporations from claiming income tax credits, deductions or exemptions created or expanded by the general assembly. Creates the Corporate Tax Incentive Accountability Commission.

Why it’s needed: Over the past several years, we have seen the General Assembly hand out generous tax incentives to large, profitable corporations based on questionable threats of moving out-of-state. These incentives often come with vague or weak standards tied to job creation. Particularly in a time of tight budgets, we can’t afford to hand large sums of money to corporations, especially when the benefits are unclear. This bill would put a temporary end to these incentives while studying the outcomes, in particular the number and quality of jobs created from their use.
 

 

HB 486- Condo Foreclosure Costs 

What it does: Requires that, in the event of a condominium foreclosure, the mortgagee (financial institution) must pay the association all fees outside of 9 months of monthly assessments and applicable attorney’s fees. Creates a disclosure statement to new purchasers outlining which fees, if any, they will be responsible for.

Why it’s needed: Currently, purchasers of condominiums can be saddled with enormous backlogs of fees, special assessments and rental costs, often with little or no notice. This bill would place these fees on the entity that owns the property while accruing the fees, the bank, while providing transparency for new purchasers. Last session, a proposal would have placed these expenses on the association, incurring large costs for other owners. We successfully advocated for an amendatory veto which as not upheld, but is embodied in this legislation as written.
 

 

HB 494 / HB 3931- Absolute Bars to Hiring for Schools and Park Districts

What it does: Removes a variety of non-violent offenses from being absolute or long-term bars to employment at schools or park districts.

Why it’s needed: Currently, certain offenses prohibit an individual for life from being employed at schools and parks. These policies insinuate that an individual can never rehabilitate, even decades after an offense, and create barriers that could eliminate the best candidates for positions. Specifically, individuals who have made mistakes in the past and grown since then are unable to share their stories with students who could benefit from hearing them. The bill doesn’t require individuals with offenses to be hired, but rather gives them the opportunity to make their case.

 

HB 1366- Unemployment offset

What it does: Removes social security as disqualifying income for unemployment benefits.

Why it’s needed: Illinois is the only state that counts social security income against unemployment benefits, often meaning seniors qualify for little or no unemployment, even though they are required to pay into the system and face the negative consequences of unemployment.

 
 

HB 1368- Paid sick leave

What it does: Mandates that employees shall accrue paid time off to cover healthcare or care of family.

Why it’s needed: Currently, hundreds of thousands of workers in Illinois lack fundamental protections related to paid sick leave or paid time off to care for family members. An illness can severely damage someone’s income. This bill allows employees to earn paid sick leave at a set rate, ensuring necessary protections.

 
 

HB 3322- Resentencing for Updated Penalties

What it does: Allows for individuals convicted of a crime to file a motion for resentencing when the penalty for their offense has been changed since their original conviction.

Why it’s needed: As a state, we have embarked on efforts to rethink decades of “tough on crime” policies that have led to overcrowded jails and prisons.  As we work towards a smarter criminal justice system and sentencing policy reform, many crimes are being considered for lowered penalties.  An individual convicted of a crime that was a felony could be reclassified as a misdemeanor soon after. The reasons for changing the severity of crimes is often complex, but should apply equally to those convicted of it before or after the change was made. This gives individuals the opportunity to seek resentencing under the updated penalties.