News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
  315 West Wesley Street 309H State House
  Wheaton, Illinois 60187 Springfield, Illinois 62706
  630-690-4500 217/782-8022  

For Immediate Release

Date:  May 20, 2005/ls


SPRINGFIELD, IL – Opposing a proposal by the Governor to increase gasoline taxes, protecting schoolchildren, keeping farmers active and fighting identity theft were among the actions taken by the Illinois Senate during the week of May 16-20, according to State Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).

Senators worked long hours to meet the May 20 deadline for action on bills that originated in the House of Representatives, but spent a few evening hours May 18 soundly defeating the House in the annual softball game. The 15-9 victory was the first for the Senate in five years.

The Senate also took time May 20 to honor a former colleague, State Sen. Margaret Smith, 82, of Chicago, who died May 16. Smith served in the Illinois House from 1981 to 1983 before being elected to the Senate where she served until she retired in December 2002. She was well-known as an advocate for better health care for women and children.

Work continued during the week on the budget for Fiscal Year 2006, which starts July 1, 2005. Senate Republicans continue to fight for a budget that meets the needs of Illinois citizens, but protects taxpayers. They insist on fiscal responsibility and do not support any plan that raises taxes and fees to accommodate a bloated bureaucracy or allows the state to use irresponsible borrowing practices that push payment of debt onto future generations of taxpayers. They are working toward a more employer-friendly climate that will reverse Blagojevich Administration policies that have driven jobs out of Illinois.

At a State Capitol press conference May 17, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, businesses, manufacturers, farmers and labor opposed a proposal by Gov. Blagojevich to increase environmental impact fees on motor fuel manufactured at Illinois’ four refineries and exported out of state. The move could cost jobs at Illinois’ refineries and could increase the cost of motor fuel 2.2 cents per gallon. The proposal is being branded a “stealth tax increase” because the costs would ultimately be passed onto consumers.

While the tax hike has not yet been drafted into legislation, lawmakers are fearful the tax scheme could further damage the Illinois economy. Illinois once was home to 10 refineries, but because of a hostile business environment, only four refineries now remain in the state.

Protecting schoolchildren by determining if prospective school employees are registered sex offenders is the aim of legislation approved by the Senate May 19.

House Bill 3451 requires each school district or regional superintendent to check the Statewide Sex Offender Database to determine if an applicant for employment with a school district is identified in the Database as a sex offender. Current law already requires each district to screen prospective employees by conducting fingerprint-based criminal history records’ checks with the Illinois State Police.

The Senate also approved legislation to help Illinois farmers with disabilities remain active. House Bill 1575 creates a state version of the federal AgrAbility Project, which helps older farmers and those with disabling injuries remain active and productive. The original AgrAbility Project was authorized by the 1990 Farm Bill.

Also this week, the Senate approved several bills to protect consumers who fall victim to identity theft. House Bill 2696 makes it unlawful for individuals to be denied credit or public utility services, or have their credit limit reduced, solely because they are a victim of identity theft. House Bill 457 extends the statue of limitations and allows for the commencement of prosecution for ID theft or aggravated ID theft within five years after the discovery of the offense by the victim. House Bill 487 provides a civil remedy for individuals whose information on their driver’s license or state ID has been misused. House Bill 2697 provides that a person who is not party to a financial transaction may not secretly copy or record personal identifying information without consent. House Bill 2699 increases the penalties for identity theft and aggravated identity theft. House Bill 2700 allows for an ID theft trial to occur in either the county where the ID theft occurred, the county where the information was illegally used, or where the victim resides.

Also during the week, the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules met May 17 to consider suspending an emergency rule issued by the Department of Professional Regulation (DPR), which mandates that Illinois pharmacies distribute contraceptives, including the so-called “morning after” pill. A motion to suspend the rule did not pass.

Supporters of the emergency rule say the rule ensures that women have access to the health care they need. Opponents say the rule infringes upon the religious beliefs of pro-life pharmacists who view contraceptives and the “morning after” pill as potential abortifacients. The emergency rule was issued on April 1 after DPR received an order from Gov. Blagojevich, and can remain in effect for 150 days. Another hearing on the issue is expected in June.

Legislation passed by the Senate during the week of May 16-20 includes: