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It’s just a bill

Friday, Apr 12, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Chicago Reader

ShotSpotter and its lobbyists worked with members of the City Council to advance a measure that would bypass Mayor Brandon Johnson and give alders final say on the use of the controversial gunshot detection system in their wards, documents obtained through public records requests show.

A lobbyist for the company provided alders with multiple drafts of both an original and a substitute version of the order, according to emails reviewed by the Reader. The measure was first considered at an April 1 meeting of the Committee on Police and Fire, where members sent it on a voice vote to the full City Council for approval. The proposal is expected to be taken up again when the council meets next on April 17.

The city declined to release the text of the drafts shared in the emails, citing an exemption in the state’s public record statute that allows agencies to withhold preliminary versions of documents. But the emails reveal ShotSpotter’s previously unreported role in helping craft the legislation. They also shed light on the influence wielded by corporations and special interests seeking to shape public policy to their benefit. […]

Alder David Moore, the measure’s sponsor, told the Reader in a phone interview, “Everybody knows my position on ShotSpotter.” He said ShotSpotter’s lobbyist reached out to him about the order after he spoke out in support of the technology. “We started working together on it because I needed somebody who had working knowledge of it, who were the subject matter experts on it,” he said.

In the lead-up to his election, Johnson vowed to end the city’s use of ShotSpotter, citing what he called “clear evidence it is unreliable and overly susceptible to human error.” On February 13, the mayor made good on that promise. He announced Chicago would not renew its contract and would end its use on September 22. He later clarified that the city would extend the contract a final time through the fall, to be followed by a “two-month transition period” that would allow police to phase out use of the technology.

* WAND

A proposal that passed out of the Illinois Senate Thursday night could cap the monthly cost of inhalers for people with health insurance.

Illinoisans struggling with asthma and other lung diseases could pay just $25 for one prescription inhaler per month.

Senate Bill 3203 would also prohibit health insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage for prescription inhalers starting January 1, 2026.

* Tribune

Illinois lawmakers joined the licensed cannabis industry Thursday in calling for a ban on intoxicating hemp products such as Delta-8-THC, a move retailers of such substances said would put them out of business.

The Cannabis Business Association of Illinois, which represents large licensed marijuana companies, called for allowing regulated sales of non-intoxicating hemp products such as CBD, but prohibiting sales of intoxicants until a committee can recommend how to proceed.

Tiffany Ingram, executive director of the association, called synthetically derived cannabinoids, including Delta-8 and THC-O, “Frankenstein weed.” […]

Rep. La Shawn Ford has introduced an alternative bill that would allow sales of intoxicating hemp products, but require them to be tested, labeled, regulated and taxed. Just as with cannabis, he said, prohibition only creates a underground market.

* Patch

A new measure sponsored by Sen. Bill Cunningham (18th District) that would protect vehicle owners from rogue towing companies has passed the Illinois State Senate.

SB 2654 protects vehicle owners by updating towing regulations regarding devices and other property that can be retrieved without paying a fee to the towing company, and notification to vehicle owners.

“The more I have learned about the towing industry in Illinois, the more I see that we need to make changes,” Cunningham said in a news release, who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This measure will stop towing companies from holding medical devices, like hearing aids, hostage if a vehicle is stolen and later towed.” […]

Senate Bill 2654 passed the Senate on Thursday and awaits further consideration in the House.

* Capitol News Illinois

For decades, lobbyists in the Illinois Statehouse have been required to report how much they spend wining, dining and entertaining lawmakers.

Currently, though, there is no law requiring lobbyists to disclose how much they are paid by corporations, industry groups or other special interest organizations..

That would change under a bill now pending in the Illinois House. House Bill 4591 , an initiative of Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, would, for the first time in Illinois, require lobbyists to disclose how much they are paid by each of their clients. […]

[Amy Williams, an attorney in the secretary of state’s office] noted that all the provisions of the bill already exist, to one extent or another, in many other states. That includes compensation disclosure, which she said is required in 18 other states.

But that was the provision that generated the most resistance from those who work as lobbyists in the Statehouse.

* WGEM

The Illinois state Senate passed a bill Thursday changing how liability is accrued for companies that violate the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

Under the current law, companies need to get written consent from customers and employees to use biometric information like fingerprints, face scanners and retina scanners. That part of the law would not change, though the bill would allow companies to obtain an electronic signature for consent. What would change is what happens when a company violates the law.

Currently, companies can be held liable in civil court for $1,000 in damages for each violation. It means every time an employee uses their fingerprint to punch the clock or enter a restricted area, the company could be held liable if they did not get consent. If the proposal becomes law, damages would change to $1,000 per person. […]

The bill’s opponents argue it doesn’t go far enough because it does not have retroactive protections for previous violators.

* Sen. Bill Cunningham…

State Senator Bill Cunningham advanced a measure that updates the liability guidelines in the Biometric Information Privacy Act.

“This reform to BIPA will protect small businesses from undue financial burden while still providing strong protections for consumers and workers,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “As technology continues to advance, it’s importance that our laws keep up with the times.”

Cunningham’s measure would limit the number of claims accrued should an employee bring a lawsuit against a company for a violation of BIPA. If a certain biometric identifier is collected by the same employer in the same manner, only one violation would accrue. This is a change from the current interpretation of BIPA, where claims are accrued on a per-collection basis, which resulted in hundreds of claims on a repeated violation.

SB 2979 also modernizes the manner in which written consent can be granted to include the use of electronic signatures. The original BIPA legislation took effect in 2008 when electronic signatures were not widely used. Cunningham’s legislation clarifies that because using electronic signatures is a common practice to obtain consent, they can be used to comply with BIPA consent requirements. […]

Senate Bill 2979 passed the Senate on Thursday and heads to the House for further consideration.

* STL Today

Over the past year, several colleges and their students have collaborated with Illinois lawmakers to create legislation that would give college students mental wellness days every academic term.

While the idea stemmed from a former student body president at Illinois State University in Normal, current student body president Eduardo Monk picked it up and took the initiative when he stepped into the role last May. Monk said the project is an expansion of an Illinois law passed a few years ago that allows K-12 students five mental health days a year. […]

The bill would require all public colleges and universities in Illinois to implement a student mental wellness day policy that would allow students at least five mental health days per academic year. Schools would have to allow students to use at least two mental wellness days per semester, give them at least two scheduled wellness days every semester, or give them at least one scheduled wellness day and at least one wellness day to use per semester. […]

If the bill passes, colleges and universities would have to implement a policy by the 2026-27 academic year.

* Cook County Sheriff’s Office…

The Illinois Senate passed legislation [yesterday] proposed by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart that eliminates out-of-pocket expenses for first responders seeking mental health treatment.

“We ask first responders to be constantly exposed to traumatic and dangerous situations to protect us,” Sheriff Dart said. “This legislation is a solid step toward helping them. It will remove the financial barriers between them and the tools they need to manage the burden society has placed upon them.”

The need for mental health care for first responders is critical. Due to their exposure to violent and traumatic events, first responders are at an increased risk of developing mental health conditions such as PTSD, depression, and substance use disorder. The Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology reports suicide rates are 69 percent higher among police officers than the general population, while a Harvard Study has shown that first responders are at a higher
risk of developing PTSD. Studies by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 30 percent of first responders develop behavioral health conditions and 75 percent of police officers have experienced a traumatic event.

Sponsored by State Sen. Michael Hastings, SB3538, ensures first responders – including police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services personnel – are exempt from any cost sharing requirements related to mental health counseling, including insurance deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance. Unfortunately, finances are often an incredible burden for individuals seeking mental health care. The average price of psychotherapy is up to $200 per session, and insurance companies can pass along as much as 40 percent of the total amount to the insured. In a
survey conducted by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, 42 percent of respondents identified cost as significant barrier to obtaining mental health services.

“Our first responders have endured many hardships, one hardship they should not face is a barrier to mental health treatment,” said state Sen. Michael Hastings, the legislation’s Senate sponsor. “This is a landmark piece of legislation that will not only impact first responders but set an example for the rest of the country as to how to help them.”

The legislation’s support includes NAMI Chicago, National Association of Social Workers –Illinois Chapter, Mental Health America of Illinois, Illinois Psychiatric Society, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, Police Benevolent and Protective Association, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and AFSCME Council 31, among others.

The legislation, which was approved without dissent 55-0 Thursday, now moves to the state House, where it will be sponsored by Rep. Angie Guerrero-Cuellar. Sheriff Dart urged lawmakers to quickly approve the measure and send it to Gov. JB Pritzker to sign into law.

“Every day, first responders answer our calls to help during the worst events of our lives – car crashes, violent attacks, health crises, the death of our loved ones – and this bill is an investment in not only their well-being, but in the health and safety of all our communities,” Dart said. “I encourage members of the Illinois House to pass this common-sense legislation in order to ensure the health of those who keep us safe.”

* Sen. Dan McConchie…

State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) passed legislation that removes building permit fees for disabled Veterans when they need to modify their home to accommodate their disability.

“Navigating the complexities of home renovations is tough enough for disabled Veterans,” said Sen. McConchie. “This legislation ensures they don’t face additional financial strain with city permit fees.”

As an example, if someone comes back from military service disabled and needs to modify their home to accommodate their disability, they must currently pay a permit fee to their unit of local government on top of the cost they are already paying to make the required renovations.

Senate Bill 2751 would make sure that any time a disabled Veteran needs to make disability modifications to their home, the permit fees to the city will be waived.

“Our Veterans have done so much for us, and this is just one small thing we are able to do for them.” Said Sen. McConchie

This legislation has passed the Senate without opposition and will now be move to the House.

       

10 Comments
  1. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 10:50 am:

    House Bill 4591 , an initiative of Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, would, for the first time in Illinois, require lobbyists to disclose how much they are paid by each of their clients.

    This would be a great improvement for transparency - plus add to the price discovery effort for groups looking for a lobbyist at a reasonable fee.


  2. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 11:04 am:

    Re: BIPA

    –If the proposal becomes law, damages would change to $1,000 per person.–

    The length of time this pushback has been going on tells me one thing.

    Businesses groups have determined they can still make a profit when violating the law, if the amount can be capped at 1k per person.

    – though the bill would allow companies to obtain an electronic signature for consent.–

    This is also redundant nonsense. Electronic signatures are already considered the equivalent to written under 815 ILCS 333 Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. This part of the bill is meaningless and changes nothing.

    It’s… right there in the existing law clear as day.

    “(d) If a law requires a signature, an electronic signature satisfies the law.”

    This is such a terrible bill for Senate Democrats to be supporting.


  3. - Suburban Mom - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 11:13 am:

    That completely neuters BIPA at a time when other states are introducing BIPA-copycats to come to parity with Illinois.


  4. - Give Us Barabbas - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 11:30 am:

    Shotspotter: we don’t actually spot anything but an opportunity to keep our grift going by cutting in the individual aldermen for a piece of that grift to get around the council votes.

    It’s the equivalent of being told you have to keep paying for the optional Tru Coat they already put on at the factory.

    Don’t fall for it. Put that money into patrols and training.


  5. - Back to the Future - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 11:32 am:

    Time for Illinois to pass HB4591 and join 18 other states that have this kind of transparency. We need to get on a course to cleaning up lobbying in Illinois.
    I suspect that their will be a lot of opposition by special interest groups, some elected officials (including the Governor’s folks), but after all the criminal cases that have come up including the convictions of the ComEd 4 criminals it really is time to clean up the corruption.
    SOS Alexi is probably not making many friends among the insiders in Springfield, but he is doing the right thing and hopefully will survive the backlash from special interest groups.
    We need more Dems like Alexi.


  6. - loyal virus - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 11:59 am:

    Can’t see any mention of rogue towers without hearing Lincoln Park Pirates. Steve Goodman, city treasure.


  7. - Frida's boss - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 12:03 pm:

    @Backtothefutre- don’t think Alexi is doing anything more than injecting himself into as many issues as he can to get to that US Senate seat. He’s a $15 million dollar Raja problem there though.

    Let’s see if he asks for the same transparency from unions and “local advocacy” groups that receive grant money, on all their interactions with legislators and veiled threats of primaries, etc.


  8. - Steve Polite - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 12:08 pm:

    “the company could be held liable if they did not get consent.”

    The punishment shouldn’t be changed. Compliance is easy: get consent before collecting biometric information. Even that puts businesses in a power position; “If you don’t consent, you can’t work for us.” People who need the jobs will consent. $1,000 dollars per person is a minor inconvenience for large businesses and basically neuters the law.


  9. - Frida's boss - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 12:29 pm:

    I can see why data centers want the waiver. ITLA is the best at finding reasons to sue people and do massive class actions. It would seem data centers only store data given to them not compile the data on their own?


  10. - 47th Ward - Friday, Apr 12, 24 @ 2:13 pm:

    ===The bill would require all public colleges and universities in Illinois to implement a student mental wellness day policy that would allow students at least five mental health days per academic year.===

    Everyday in college is a mental health day. Wait until these poor kids enter the real world. Heaven help us.

    Does anyone else think the requested mental health days will peak during finals week?


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