Rep. Bunting’s Springfield news update for April 26

In this issue:

  • Highway safety legislation passes House
  • Bills to help human trafficking victims advance
  • Legislation passes to prevent surprise changes to state retiree insurance
  • Illinois headlines

Highway safety legislation passes House

Last week the House passed more than 300 bills before Friday’s deadline to move legislation over to the Senate. I was glad to be able to vote in support of several good bills, including bills which will make our roadways safer.

House Bill 4848 requires that trucks carrying dirt, garbage or other similar material must have a working tailgate and some kind of cover to prevent the material from spilling out onto the roadway or onto other vehicles. I was one of the co-sponsors of this bill, and it passed the House by a vote of 103-0.

Another good piece of legislation which passed was House Bill 4255 to allow tow trucks or other emergency vehicles to use flashing green lights when stopped on a roadside. These green lights are easier to see during daytime hours. Unfortunately, this bill came about due to a fatal traffic crash on an Illinois interstate. I hope that enacting this legislation will lead to better visibility of emergency vehicles and to similar tragedies being avoided.

Similarly, along the lines of protecting emergency workers responding to roadsides, we passed House Bill 4711, which is aimed at better educating drivers about Illinois’ law requiring motorists to move over and slow down when approaching vehicles with their emergency lights activated. Illinois’ drivers license exam has a question about the law on it already. If this bill becomes law it would require the Secretary of State to provide further information about the law to test-takers who miss the question on the exam.

All these bills are now over in the Illinois Senate where they must be approved before going to the Governor for his signature.

Bills to help human trafficking victims advance

The House passed a pair of bills to help victims of human trafficking.

House Bill 5465 will help those who were victimized by human traffickers when they were children by easing the process for victims to have juvenile records expunged if they were forced to take part in the criminal activities while they were being abused. Expunging or sealing these records helps the person put their life back together and recover from their abuse.

The same day as that bill, we passed another bill to remove the statute of limitations on human trafficking crimes against persons under the age of 18. Previously, child victims of trafficking only had a certain amount of time to bring charges against their abusers. If this bill becomes law there will be no such deadline, and victims will be able to seek justice when they are ready to do so.

Both these bills are awaiting action in the Senate.

Legislation passes to prevent surprise changes to state retiree insurance

Two years ago, some retired state workers in our area were surprised to learn that changes in their health insurance plan would force them to switch health care providers. The most serious impact was among those who saw doctors affiliated with Carle Hospital in Urbana, which at the time did not accept the new company’s insurance. They have since reached an agreement.

Changes like this pose significant problems for residents of rural areas like ours, where health care choices are already limited. That’s why I was so pleased to vote for a bill sponsored by the new representative from Vermilion County, Rep. Brandun Schweizer, which protects members of the state’s Teachers Retirement System (TRS) pension plan from lapses in coverage when the state changes their benefits.

The bill, which passed unanimously, would require the Department of Central Management Services to post on its website any changes to the coverage of benefit recipient cost share for TRS benefit recipients at least 60 days prior to the effective date of those changes. It will prevent the kind of surprise which affected so many in east-central Illinois in 2022 and give people a chance to find other health care options, if necessary, before any benefits changes take place. It also gives health care providers time to negotiate contracts with any new insurance carriers, similar to what Carle was able to do with Aetna Insurance.

This bill is now pending in the Senate.

Our current bill backlog

When a vendor provides the state with goods and services, they submit the bill to the Illinois Comptroller for payment. The Comptroller processes the paperwork and pays the bill when funds are available in the state’s checking account. Currently the total amount of unpaid bills is $904,661,546. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $834 million in bills awaiting payment. This only includes bills submitted to the Comptroller for payment, not unfunded debts like the state’s pension liability, which is well over $100 billion.

Illinois headlines

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Illinois medical license system still plagued with delays despite new mandate

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Illinois study: Backyards, urban parks support bird diversity in unique ways