As we approach the end of 2015, I appreciate the opportunity to look back over the year and provide you with this "Year in Review" report. This report covers highlights of 2015, legislation passed during the 2015 session of the Illinois General Assembly and some of the programs and events sponsored by my office.
Inauguration of 99thGeneral Assembly and Committee Assignments
This year began with the inaugural activities for the 99th General Assembly.
As a member of the 99th General Assembly, I was appointed Chairman of the Illinois House Judiciary - Criminal Law Committee as well as a member of the following committees: Business and Occupational Licenses, Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum& Policies, Higher Education, Revenue & Finance and Transportation: Regulation & Roads.
Additionally, I was appointed as a member of the House Education Task Force; the task force is charged primarily with examining options for updating our state's education funding formula.
The following bills either sponsored or co-sponsored by Rep. Sims were signed into law:
PA 99-0003 Provides that corporate authorities of cities and park districts may enter into leases.
PA 99-0005 Makes FY16 appropriations to the State Board of Education and specified retirement systems.
PA 99-0046 Prohibits the Illinois Liquor Control Commission from enforcing any trade practice policy or other rule that was not adopted in accordance with the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act.
PA 99-0065 Extends the reporting deadline for the School Security and Standards Task Force.
PA 99-109 Provides that it is an affirmative defense to a charge of prostitution that the accused engaged in or performed prostitution as a result of being a victim of involuntary servitude or trafficking in persons as defined in the Code, or was a victim of trafficking as defined in the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000,
PA 99-134 Requires the creation of a state website for businesses considering relocating to or opening in Illinois.
PA 99-141 Requires health insurance coverage to include anesthetics and charges for people under age 19 who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder
PA 99-153 Adds data on pending denials, appeals, and redeterminations to the list of data the Departments must compile into a monthly report which shall be posted on each Department's website.
PA 99-154 Makes changes concerning: (i) the permit and exemption process for changes of ownership among related persons; (ii) an application to close a health care facility; and (iii) an application to discontinue a category of service.
PA 99-158 Creates the Equal Economic Opportunity Task Force. Sets forth the membership of the task force. The task force shall examine: (1) barriers to economic opportunity in economically depressed communities; (2) issues discouraging local investment and business development; (3) local community concerns; and (4) current economic conditions, and shall establish a comprehensive economic development policy for small, medium, and large businesses.
PA 99-182 Amends the Illinois Securities Law by creating intrastate crowdfunding exemption.
PA 99-189 Provides that a student enrolled in grade 7 or 8 may enroll in a course, where the student attends school, offered by the high school that the student would attend provided that the teacher holds a professional educator license endorsed for the grade level and content area of the course.
PA 99-199 Creates ISAC grants for people exonerated and released from prison to use at public universities for undergraduate, graduate or GED studies.
PA 99-221 In a provision concerning vacancies in the office of Representative in Congress, provides that the Governor shall issue a Writ of Election if the vacancy occurs more than 240 days (instead of 180 days) before the next general election.
PA 99-222 Mandates hospitals provide patients with an opportunity to designate a caregiver before leaving the hospital.
PA 99-228 Requires O'Hare, Midway and newly constructed airports to create breastfeeding rooms.
PA 99-234 A prosecution for armed robbery, home invasion, kidnapping, or aggravated kidnaping may be commenced within 10 years if it arises out of the same course of conduct and meets the criteria for a prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
PA 99-257 Sets forth provisions concerning a single prime project operative through December 31, 2019; provides that for building construction projects with a total construction cost valued at $5,000,000 or less, the Capital Development Board shall not use the single prime procurement delivery method for more than 50% of the total number of projects bid for each fiscal year.
PA 99-261 Requires Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to develop a curriculum for a mental illness crisis intervention training program.
PA 99-283 It is an aggravating factor in sentencing for sexual assault against a victim with an intellectual disability, and the defendant holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim.
PA 99-284 Adds the subjects of consumer debt, higher education student loans, and identity-theft security to the list of subjects that are required to be included in the financial literacy component of consumer education.
PA 99-322 Creates a Silver Alert system for missing adults with Alzheimer's, dementia or other cognitive impairments.
PA 99-331 Sets out the Consumer protections for borrowers considering reverse mortgages.
PA 99-352 This new law outlines the steps necessary regarding the investigation of officer-involved deaths that involve a law enforcement officer. The new law also authorizes the use and protocols for the use of Body Cameras. It further establishes minimum in-service training requirements, which a permanent police officer must satisfactorily complete every 3 years and complete annual updates and use of force training, which shall include scenario based training.
PA 99-358 Provides that beginning with the 2016-2017 academic year, scores of 3, 4, and 5 on the College Board Advanced Placement examinations shall be accepted for credit to satisfy degree requirements by all public institutions of higher education.
PA 99-373 Consumer reporting agencies shall implement a credit freeze without cost for active duty military personnel, rather than for active duty military personnel and veterans.
PA 99-374 Creates the Veterans' and Military Discount Program Act. Provides that the Department of Veterans' Affairs shall establish and administer a Veterans' and Military Discount Program that enables veterans and active duty military personnel to use the photo identification at participating merchants to receive discounts on goods and services.
PA 99-395 Creates the Military Prior Learning Assessment Task Force within the Board of Higher Education to study and make recommendations on how to best effectuate the recognition of military learning for academic credit.
PA 99-418 Establishes that the Equal Pay Act applies to all employers.
PA 99-425 Creates the Cook County Drug Analysis Field Test Pilot Program.
PA 99-426 Makes changes to the Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act and sets out information on the task force associated with the Campus Security Enhancement Act of 2008.
PA 99-434 Provides that of the 2 years of social studies required of high school students, at least one semester must be civics, which shall help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives.
PA 99-435 Allows various levels of local government to establish Juvenile Justice Councils.
PA 99-453 Removes exceptions to the background check requirement for circumstances dealing with elderly resident person transfers between nursing home facilities.
PA 99-456 Addresses school discipline matters, including out-of-school suspensions of longer than 3 days, expulsions, and disciplinary removals to alternative schools.
PA 99-462 Provides that each State agency and public institution of higher education that manages professional service contracts shall adopt policies and implementation procedures for increasing the use of businesses owned by minorities, females, and persons with disabilities to not less than 20% of State contracts.
PA 99-471 An administrative determination of paternity that is not based on a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity may be challenged in court on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof upon the challenging party
PA 99-494 Extends the date on which the Commission on Policing Standards and Professionalism shall submit a report of its findings and legislative recommendations to the General Assembly and Governor to March 31, 2016.
The current budget impasse has required the Illinois House to remain in continuous session throughout 2015. Despite the continuous session, my office has hosted and participated in numerous events on behalf of the outstanding people of the 34th District, including:
Welcoming President Obama to the District to create Illinois' newest National Monument at the Historic Pullman site.
Hosting Satellite Office hours throughout the District
Mother's Day Brunch
Visits with local elected officials
Various community meetings
Shred Day events
Community Open House
Senior Health Fair
Community Clean up events
Visits with Local Businesses
"Keep a Child Warm" Coat drive
Senior holiday gift giveaway
Holiday Party and Open House.
I remain humbled by the faith you continue to place in me as your State Representative, 2015 was filled with wonderful experiences as we have accomplished a great deal together, and with your help and friendship we will continue to achieve wonderful things in 2016 and beyond. I am wishing you and your family all the best for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Elgie R. Sims, Jr.
State Representative -34th District
January 1, will bring over 200 new laws impacting Illinois residents, to see an overview of new laws going into effect. For an overview of several new laws effective for 2016 addressing the quality of our schools, safety of our communities, stability of our state's economy, and health, welfare and quality of life for all Illinoisans, please see here.