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Senate Week in Review: Aug. 11-15, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

More than 125 new laws were signed, as the deadline for the Governor to act on legislation from the spring 2014 session neared. The measures covered topics as wide ranging as smoking on campus to fur trapping to dangerous new “designer” drugs.

The Governor also used his amendatory veto power to make changes to two measures, adding additional notification procedures to a bill designed to expedite the siting process for facilities that handle construction debris. House Bill 4606 was designed to make it easier to site facilities that accept and recycle uncontaminated materials from home construction, remodeling, demolition and repair projects. Such facilities are seen as helpful to the environment because they reduce the amount of debris that ends up in landfills.

The other measure altered by the Governor was Senate Bill 2664, which limited the assessments that condominium associations could collect from buyers of a foreclosed condominium. The legislation was intended to encourage persons to buy and refurbish foreclosed condominiums that have been on the market for long periods.

List of all bills signed recently in the full Senate Week in Review

Fire department grants available

Local communities are being reminded of a Sept. 30 deadline to apply for grants for firefighting equipment through the state Fire Marshal’s Small Equipment Grant Program. The program offers grants to local fire departments and fire protection districts of up to $26,000. Information is available on the Office of the State Fire Marshal website, and the application form can be found at: http://www.sfm.illinois.gov/documents/FY15_Small_Equipment_Grant_Application.pdf.

Audit hits ‘faulty’ bookkeeping

A federal audit has revealed that Illinois spent more than it was allowed under its federal Medicaid account, the Chicago Tribune reports.

An audit by the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cited Illinois for "faulty" and "imprecise" bookkeeping, revealing the state took out an average of $60 million more than it was entitled to each quarter between 2010 and 2012.

Smoke-free campuses

Beginning on July 1, 2015, smoking will be prohibited on the campuses of all state supported institutions of higher education and public community colleges under SB 2202.  A controversial section of the legislation that would prohibit smoking inside of a private vehicle that is parked on campus was removed by a companion measure, HB 3961, which was also signed into law.

Another smoking related measure, HB 5868 requires that e-cigarettes be sold from behind the counter, in an age restricted area, or in a sealed display case.

Anti-drug measures

In response to a powerful new hallucinogenic synthetic drug which has caused overdoses and fatalities in youth, SB 3275 would add "25I-NBOMe," "25B-NBOMe" and "25C-NBOMe" to the list of Schedule One controlled substances.

It has been marketed as an LSD substitute as it targets the same serotonin receptor as many other hallucinogens including LSD. Small amounts can cause seizures, cardiac and respiratory arrest, and death. According to the DEA, reports from medical examiners link at least 19 deaths of people aged 15-29 years in the U.S. between March 2012 and August 2013.

House Bill 5526 prohibits a person under 18 from knowingly possessing kratom or using a fake ID to attempt to obtain a product containing kratom. Kratom comes from the leaves of a tree native to Southeast Asia and has been sold for medicinal purposes; however, teens are showing up in emergency rooms after using it to get high.

Another measure, HB 4093, clarifies state law by adding an aggravating factor to methamphetamine manufacture if it occurs within 1,000 feet of school property, rather than simply 1,000 feet from a school building.

“Skype” search warrants

In an effort to allow the state’s legal system to keep up with technology, HB 4594 allows for electronic search warrants that utilize simultaneous audio and video transmission between the person requesting the search warrant and the judge, such as “Skype.”  The Chief Judge or Presiding Judge in the issuing jurisdiction is to determine standards and best practices policies for filing and retaining the transmissions.

Trapping

Several measures affecting outdoor sports have been signed into law. House Bill 5079 is an initiative of the Illinois Trappers Association meant to assure that trappers are competent. It will require that anyone who has not held a valid trapping license within three years preceding the license application must provide evidence of competency.

The upswing in fur prices in the last few years have led to an increase in people trapping for the first time. It has been found that many of these trappers have little or no real knowledge of how to trap, resulting in an increase in non-targeted animals (such as dogs and cats) being inadvertently captured.

Waterfowl outfitters

House Bill 5080 will update waterfowl outfitter regulations to allow them to be regulated similarly to what is in place for deer and wild turkey outfitters. The legislation also includes deer and wild turkey under the outfitter permit provision and provides penalties for anyone who provides or offers, for compensation, outfitting services for deer, waterfowl, or wild turkey hunting without a permit.

Concussion awareness

School is back in session in many areas and fall sports are beginning, so it is timely that House Bill 5431 will require the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) to develop an online certification for high school coaches and athletic directors regarding concussion awareness and how to reduce repetitive sub-concussive hits and concussions.