News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
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For Immediate Release

Date:  February 4, 2005/tia

SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW: January 31 – February 4

SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers ushered in a busy week in Springfield with the introduction of more than 500 bills, including a comprehensive medical malpractice reform package, and ended the week by listening to the Governor’s State of the State address.

According to State Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton), Tuesday, a bipartisan group of legislators announced a medical malpractice reform package that they hope will restructure the state’s medical liability system, and, as a result, reduce the skyrocketing insurance premiums that have driven hundreds of doctors across state lines.

The legislative package introduces a balanced, three-pronged approach to addressing medical malpractice by creating provisions to implement reforms in the medical, legal and insurance systems.

The bill also places caps on the amount of non-economic damages juries may award to victims in medical malpractice suits. The legislation proposes caps of $250,000, if paid by a physician, and $500,000, if awarded against a hospital, although these numbers could fluxuate.

Several additional pieces of medical malpractice legislation were also introduced for consideration by the General Assembly. Senate Bill 151 would create a separate medical malpractice court to hear and rule on medical issues, while Senate Bill 152 would require a judge to inform all parties in a medical liability case if any involved party has contributed to the judge’s campaign fund. Finally, Senate Bill 153 would require a judicial candidate's political committee to disclose in their Campaign Contribution Disclosure Reports any contributors that had appeared in court before the judicial candidate.

The week came to a close as General Assembly members gathered to hear the Governor’s annual State of the State address.

As he spoke, the Governor reflected on a the state’s accomplishments and outlined his goals for the State of Illinois, including reforms in the state’s education and health care systems, plans for revitalization of the state’s business community, and hopes for increased job growth.

Many lawmakers were pleasantly surprised by the Governor’s speech, which offered a more positive, upbeat perspective than years past, but a majority of legislators were left without a sense of how the Governor plans to accomplish many of his promises.

Senate Republicans share many of the Governor’s goals and could be agreeable to his suggested initiatives, which include plans to promote state industry and institute worker’s compensation reform, but Caucus members were skeptical on whether he would follow-through on his initiatives. Many legislators were concerned by the lack of specifics in his proposals. Lawmakers maintain that good intentions will only go so far without any substantial, detailed plans on how these goals are to be accomplished.

Also this week, legislation was introduced that would establish a new lottery game to fund breast cancer research.

If approved, the lottery game, “Ticket for the Cure,” is expected to raise an estimated $2.75 to $3 million annually, and as much as $15 million over five years, to fund breast cancer research, raise prevention awareness, and provide screening and treatment for women diagnosed with breast cancer.

With the Illinois Department of Public Heath reporting that more than 40,000 women in the United States will die this year from breast cancer—more than 2,000 of them from Illinois—escalating research and prevention efforts is crucial.

Finally, the twenty-two standing Senate committees were finalized this week, as the Senate Democrats expanded the number of committees from 17 to 22, leading to 10 new committee leaders who collect stipends for their work. With an approximate price tag of $100,000 a year, the cost of the new committees is hardly a drop in the proverbial economic bucket.

In other legislative news, the following Senate bills were introduced this week:

Controlled substances (SB 107)

Courts (SB 151)

Campaign Contribution (SB 153)

Good Samaritan (SB 154)

Judicial Disclosure (SB 152)

Hunting (SB 123)

Medical Malpractice (SB 150)

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