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Session's final days more hype than history

Published: Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 9:29 p.m. CST

The final days of 2012 action put some good legislation in motion, but avoided hot button issues many folks are watching. The Jan. 3 through 8 session promises more high-profile activity, when the House needs only 60 votes to pass bills which may not generally be supported by residents of my district. This is when “lame duck” legislators not returning to service, have the opportunity to trade the power of their votes to gain future appointments.

Like most of you, I find it offensive that history consistently records how easily the public trust can coincidentally be swept aside for personal gain. This action is one of many procedural rules that need to be changed in our state to bring more accountability to legislative action.

Here’s an overview of what happened in Springfield that has the potential to affect our lives and businesses. These bills were passed by the House in the waning days of 2012, but will not become law without a gubernatorial signature.

SB 16 brings stability to the Illinois foreclosure system. It sets systematic filing fees for clearing residential files of abandoned properties facing foreclosure. The proceeds will be used for consumer education. This is a significant step toward getting our homeowner system back on track.

SB 681 was reaffirmed by the legislature. It amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act to allow residents with a valid FOID Card the ability to purchase ammunition through the mail from Illinois individuals or businesses. The governor sought to stop the legislation.

SB 1543 extends the sunset of the Wireless Emergency Telephone Safety Act from April to July 2013. The extension provides additional time to re-evaluate the entire telecommunications statutory landscape.

SB 2936 creates a pathway for nutritionists to earn a credentialed license, such as certified clinical nutritionist. This process included a year’s worth of negotiations with the Illinois Dietetic Association.

SB 3233 creates a more level playing field among all medical insurance carriers by providing that deductibles and copayments shall be the only allowable charges other than premiums. It does not limit the plan payment.

HB 4866 assures that gas stations will provide an ADA compliant motor fuel dispenser with a direct telephone number that allows a disabled operator of a motor vehicle to request refueling assistance. I cosponsored this bill.

HB 6193 implements the recommendations of the Erin’s Law Task Force to ensure age-appropriate abuse and assault awareness education in elementary schools. This legislation was initiated by Erin Merryn, an Illinois resident who was sexually abused as a young child by family members.

HB 6231 supports the efforts of the Local Government Consolidation Commission by extending their report schedule nine months, now through September 2013. The report will include legislative recommendations on how consolidating local government and services might improve efficient public service.

The future of our state

The House and Senate return to the Capitol in early January to address unfinished business. You can count on the session being volatile. Undocumented driver’s licenses and gay marriage are just a few of the ideas we may discuss and ultimately cast a vote. Each day we’re in session there will be residents speaking on behalf of an issue, whether one-on-one or exceeding the 5,000 capacity Capitol limit – all part of our amazing American process of representative government.

Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville, is the state representative for the 50th Legislative District. She can be reached at her Yorkville office at 630-553-3223 or by email at info@kayhatcher.us. Follow frequent updates on Facebook by adding State Representative Kay Hatcher as a friend.

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