Senate Week in Review: April 22-26, 2019

Senate Week in Review: April 22-26, 2019With the second half of the spring legislative session scheduled to begin April 30, dozens of bills have been approved by the Senate so far, including legislation to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, fund pediatric cancer awareness, and ensure Illinois schools receive property tax money committed to them.

In other action, Gov. J.B. Pritzker noted his first 100 days in office on April 23.  He faces a daunting list of things to accomplish in the five weeks remaining before the General Assembly’s scheduled adjournment on May 31.  The Governor must earn legislative approval of several proposals: his first budget, the overhaul of the Illinois income tax system from a flat tax structure to a graduated tax structure, the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, legalized sports betting, and a massive infrastructure program with a revenue source.

Also during the week, a coalition of Illinois agencies unveiled measures on April 22 – celebrated as Earth Day – that would help preserve Monarch butterflies.

Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The Senate recently passed a bill aimed at preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by putting stricter requirements in place following an investigation of a sudden and unexpected death of a child.

Senate Bill 1568 would require coroners to conduct an autopsy following the investigation as well as list any environmental factors that may have contributed to the child’s death.  The bill would also require the Department of Public Health to publish current data that it receives from coroner reports so that the public has access to reporting concerning SIDS.

Supporters of the bill say that often, even in situations where there are unsafe factors present at the scene where the infant passed, the death is often ruled as SIDS without further investigation.  In situations like this, valuable information that could help prevent infant deaths in the future isn’t being gathered.

Illinois resident Ashley Lamps inspired this legislation and now runs a foundation that advocates for SIDS awareness and the use of safe sleep practices.  To learn more, visit the Aden Lamps Foundation website.

Senate Bill 1568 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Pediatric cancer research

To increase funding for pediatric cancer research, the Senate passed legislation on April 11 that would authorize the Illinois Department of Human Services to issue a decal for pediatric cancer awareness.

Senate Bill 946 would create the decals, which would have an original issuance fee of $25; with $10 to the awareness fund and $15 to the Secretary of State Special License Plate Fund.  The renewal fee would be $25 with $23 to the fund and $2 to the Secretary of State Special License Plate Fund.

The legislation was inspired by a Jersey County family’s struggle with pediatric cancer.  Jonny Wade was diagnosed at age seven and passed away in 2015 after bravely battling the disease for nearly a year.  His family has continued to advocate for further research in Jonny’s memory.

Senate Bill 946 is currently awaiting further consideration in the House of Representatives.

Ensure schools, taxing districts receive property tax money

Legislation to ensure Illinois schools receive all of the property tax money committed to them through the tax extension process was passed by the Senate on April 12.

Senate Bill 1043 seeks to address the concern that school districts, and other taxing bodies, are losing funding due to refunds issued by county treasurer’s offices for Certificates of Errors and appeal adjustments, both of which are out of the control of the taxing district.

The reduction in a taxing district’s expected levy revenue is a result of the cancellations and abatements administered by the state and county offices.  These adjustments, made after a taxing body’s levy is approved and the tax bills are sent, are preventing taxing districts, such as schools, from receiving 100 percent of their publicly approved levy extensions.

Senate Bill 1043 is currently awaiting further consideration in the House of Representatives.

Illinois Monarch Conservation Action Plan

On April 22, a coalition of Illinois agencies revealed the Illinois Monarch Project, an Agriculture Action Plan to preserve Monarch butterflies.  They also unveiled a new pollinator habitat near the Illinois Department of Agriculture building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Monarch butterflies are important because they help pollinate plants that produce fruit and other foods.  More information about the Illinois Monarch Project is available at www.ilagformonarchs.org.