Morrison Memo for June 17, 2014


On June 12, a group of legislators visited the Misericordia campus in Chicago. This 31-acre campus offers a community of care that maximizes potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities, many of whom are also physically challenged. Misericordia currently serves more than 600 children and adults from diverse racial, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. Twenty percent of the residents either come from poverty or have no families and are wards of the State. By serving society’s most vulnerable citizens, Misericordia also serves the families who want the best for them, yet cannot provide it at home.

The mission of Misericordia is “to support individuals with developmentaldisabilities in maximizing their level of independence and self-determination within an environment that fosters spirituality, dignity, respect and enhancement of quality of life. We promote development of natural family and community support, community awareness, education and advocacy.” They have been serving those in need since 1921. To learn more about Misericordia and the services provided in Illinois, please visit them on the web at www.misericordia.com.

510 bills Sent to Governor in Spring 2014 Session

In order to be presented to the Governor’s desk, majorities in both houses of the General Assembly must pass bills. In the 2014 spring session, which adjourned on May 31, 510 bills were approved by the House and Senate – 267 House bills and 243 Senate bills. Other bills on which action was not completed may be taken up again by the General Assembly when the members reconvene for their fall session in November. The Illinois General Assembly website (http://ilga.gov/) contains a complete list of all of the bills introduced over the past two years, together with a summary of the actions taken on them by the 98th General Assembly so far.

Every bill passed by both houses returns to the clerk in its house of origin, who must present it to the Governor within 30 days of passage. This delay dates back to the founding of Illinois, when bills were handwritten and had to be checked carefully for spelling errors. After a bill is sent to the Governor’s desk, the chief executive has an additional 60 calendar days to sign or veto the measure.

Governor Signs Supplemental Bill that Increases Expenditures for FY14

HB 6060, signed into law on June 9, deals only with final taxpayer money for FY14, which will come to a close on June 30, 2014. With that spending bill signed, Gov. Quinn will now address the entire “package” of FY15 appropriations legislation brokered by key Democrat legislative leaders in Springfield during the final hours of the May 2014 spring session. The FY15 appropriation bills must be approved prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, 2014. The Governor has the right to sign line-item vetoes later in June 2014 and make changes to the FY15 budget. In spite of efforts by Republicans to block such a move, the budget for next year includes a pay raise for legislators and numerous “pork” projects.

Juvenile Expungement Bill Signed into Law
SB 978 creates a pathway for automatic expungement for a wide variety of juvenile arrests. Records that will be expunged include records maintained by the Illinois State Police of incidents for which a juvenile was arrested for a crime but was never formally charged. Records covered by this bill include an arrest that occurred before a person’s 18th birthday; these records would be expunged upon the person reaching the age of 18, provided that he or she has no recent arrests or criminal charges. Sex offenses,serious violent offenses, Class X felonies, Class 1 felonies, and Class 2 felonies are excluded from this expungement. I supported this bill because I understand that teenagers often act without thinking of the long-term consequences, including difficulty in finding employment.

Several key law enforcement groups had asked the State to think carefully before taking this step. Law enforcement professionals are required, by law, to treat offenders at different levels depending on the defendant’s prior offenses. These groups wonder how they are supposed to carry out this treatment if they are faced with impediments in the way of knowing what these priors are. Unanswered questions like these were on the minds of many House Republicans who voted against the measure, which passed the House on a vote of 74-40-0. However, the controversial bill was signed into law on Monday, June 9 as Public Act 98-637.

Gov. Quinn Signs Chicago Pension Bill 

SB 1922 reduces the future pension benefits to be paid to, and increases the future pension contributions to be paid by, several significant sectors of City of Chicago workers. The bill does not cover other sectors of Chicago workers: police officers, firefighters, and teachers.

Proponents of this bill expressed the hope that this measure could head off cuts in Chicago’s debt rating. These bond-rating cuts, if continued, could threaten the city with insolvency and even bankruptcy – a trajectory parallel to the one suffered by the troubled city of Detroit, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013. Opponents agreed that Chicago could be headed towards a fiscal cliff, but they expressed the fear that the significant property taxes that could be imposed by the city as part of the SB 1922 pension package could drive productive residents out of the city and lead to the same result by a different path. The House vote on SB 1922 was 73-41-1. Signature by Gov. Quinn on Monday, June 9 made this measure Public Act 98-641. The bill was signed on the afternoon of the last possible day allowed by the state Constitution.

With the conclusion of the spring legislative session, lawmakers are back in their home districts for the summer. Please feel free to contact me by phone at (847) 202-6584 or by email at repmorrison54@gmail.com to discuss state-related matters that are important to you. I always appreciate your feedback.

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