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Illinois General Assembly passes hundreds of bills as session end approaches

Illinois General Assembly passes hundreds of bills as session end approaches

By SARAH MANSUR
Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD — The state Senate and House passed more than 750 bills between them last week, addressing isolated timeouts in schools, youth vaping, teaching Muslim history, the commemoration of Juneteenth and automatic voter registration in prisons, among other topics.

Friday was the deadline for the General Assembly to pass bills out of each chamber, for consideration in the other chamber. The General Assembly’s session is scheduled to end May 31.

Capitol News Illinois has summarized below a few of the notable bills that passed one chamber last week. To become law – among other pathways – the bills will still need to receive approval from the other chamber and the governor.

Passed the Senate

Senate Bill 512 creates the Youth Vaping Act, which prohibits the use of certain harmful additives in electronic cigarettes — including vitamin E acetate — that are associated with lung illness.

It also would ban the use of deceptive advertising that encourages the use of electronic cigarettes, or vaping, to quit tobacco products, unless the product has U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to market for such use.

It also amends the Prevention of Cigarette Sales to Persons under 21 Years of Age Act to include electronic cigarettes. The bill, sponsored by Lake Forest Democrat Julie Morrison, passed unanimously, 57-0.

Senate Bill 134 creates a Local Journalism Task Force to study areas underserved by local journalism in Illinois and review strategies to improve local news access and public policy solutions to develop more sustainable business models for local media outlets.

The task force would consist of members of the General Assembly, a member appointed by the governor, members from local journalism schools and members representing press groups, including the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association and the Illinois Broadcasters Association. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Steve Stadelman, a Rockford Democrat who was a television reporter and anchor before joining the General Assembly. It passed 57-0.

Senate Bill 564 amends the Illinois School Code to require that history education taught in public schools in 8th grade include the study of the contributions made by Muslims and Muslim Americans to society.

It would also establish Jan. 17 as a holiday commemorating the birthday of Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest American boxers and a convert to Islam. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Naperville Democrat Laura Ellman, passed 46-3.

Senate Bill 2129 amends the state criminal code to allow a county state’s attorney to petition the court to have a person’s prison sentence reduced “if the original sentence no longer advances the interests of justice,” according to the bill.

In its decision to resentence, the court can consider the person’s disciplinary record while in prison, and whether age, time served or diminished physical condition have reduced the person’s risk for future violence, among other factors.

It preserves the rights of crime victims, as afforded under the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act. Sponsored by Chicago Democrat Sen. Robert Peters, the bill passed narrowly by a vote of 31-17.

Passed the House

House Bill 219 requires the State Board of Education to create specific benchmarks for schools to reduce the use of timeout, isolated timeout and physical restraints, with the goal of eliminating the practices within three years.

HB 219 and similar bills to reduce and end isolated timeouts in K-12 public schools were filed in the previous General Assembly in response to an investigation by ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune. The investigation found elementary students were being detained in “isolation rooms” for minor infractions, and teachers’ use of these practices often violated the law.

The bill has received bipartisan support and passed out of the House unanimously, 113-0. Rep. Jonathan Carroll, a Northbrook Democrat who sponsored the bill, said HB 219 is the most important bill he has sponsored during his time in the General Assembly. A similar measure passed in the Senate.

House Bill 2928 creates the Relieve College Costs Pilot Program Act to establish a pilot program for a new four-year bachelor’s degree pathway called the Fundamental Issues and Texts Humanities Degree that has total tuition costs capped at $20,000.

Under the bill, a program director for the new pilot program would develop the curriculum for one high school, one community college and one university that would include foundational texts from western civilization and the Enlightenment. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Elmhurst Republican Deanne Mazzochi, passed 112-0.

House Bill 3922 would make June 19 an observed state holiday, Juneteenth National Freedom Day, to commemorate the day in 1865 when Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to free more than 250,000 enslaved black people.

A 2003 state law recognized Juneteenth National Freedom Day on the third Saturday in June but did not establish it as a state holiday. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Chicago Democrat La Shawn Ford, passed 99-0. A similar bill passed in the state Senate.

House Bill 3235 would require the Illinois Department of Corrections to provide individuals with information about obtaining a voter identification card and information about voter registration at least 45 days before being released from prison.

It would also allow the Department of Corrections to contract with the state Board of Elections to participate in the automatic voter registration program and be designated as an automatic voter registration agency. The bill, sponsored by Chicago Democrat Camille Lilly, passed by a vote of 72-42.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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