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:  July 29, 2005/acs

Senate Week in Review: July 25 – 29

Springfield, IL – Anyone selling a firearm at a gun show will now be required to conduct a background check on the potential buyer through the Illinois State Police, according to Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton). Senate Bill 1333 closes the so-called “gun show loophole.” The legislation – which had bipartisan support in the House and Senate – was signed into law Friday.

However, many legislators preferred the Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 57, which would require background checks, but would also mandate the destruction of all personal information obtained during the background check. While most states send their background checks directly to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Illinois is unique in that the State Police are the “Point of Contact” through which background checks are run.

According to federal statute, “Points of Contact” are not allowed to retain any personal record unless specifically authorized by state statute. Yet, the ISP has kept these records without authorization for over two years, and has been continually cited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for violating this federal statute.

In other news this week, Senator Roskam says that Illinois’ nurses and health care workers will benefit from greater workplace protections and revised nursing education and licensure requirements under six pieces of legislation signed by Governor Rod Blagojevich this week. The new laws are intended to increase access to health care and address the state’s current nursing shortage.

Intended to supplement the nursing workforce in Illinois, and address the needs of non-English speaking patients, Senate Bill 1842 will establish a nursing externship pilot program for Puerto Rican nurses. Another measure, Senate Bill 2064, waives certain testing requirements for qualified foreign nurses. Officials assert that the foreign nursing school exam has become obsolete and unnecessarily bars foreign nurses from becoming licensed in the United States.

The licensure requirements for advanced practice nurses (APN) were modified by House Bill 876, to more clearly identify the licensing requirements for APNs, while Senate Bill 1626 allows advanced practice nurses to perform school health exams. The measure is expected to lighten the workload of primary care physicians and expand the public’s access to health care.

In an effort to improve workplace safety, the new Health Care Workplace Violence Prevention Act, House Bill 399, creates a two-year pilot program that requires five Illinois mental health care facilities to establish a violence prevention plan to protect nurses and other hospital staff from workplace violence. Additional legislation, Senate Bill 201, is intended to increase patient safety and reduce the risk of fatigue-induced errors by prohibiting required overtime for nurses and hospital workers. Under the parameters of the law, those in violation will pay a monetary penalty that will go to fund scholarships under the Nursing Education Scholarship Law.

In other news, union workers’ picketing rights were extended this week when Governor Blagojevich signed legislation that allows workers involved in labor disputes to picket, post temporary signs, park vehicles, and set up tents or other temporary shelters on public rights-of-way without a permit.

The new law, House Bill 1480, was introduced to prevent cities or municipalities from suppressing a union’s right to picket during labor negotiations. The law is intended to preserve a labor group’s freedom of speech, and prevent cities—which are often employers with whom unions have labor disputes—from using public safety issues to suppress the workers’ right to picket.

In a controversial move, Illinois became the first state in the nation to prohibit the sale or rental of violent or sexually explicit video games to children. Governor Blagojevich signed the Safe Games Illinois Act into law on Monday. Under the law’s provisions, merchants will be subject to criminal charges and fines of $1,000 for allowing anyone under 18 to purchase or rent a video game that is determined to have adult-only content. The new law also requires retailers to put parental-warning labels on video games with violent or sexually explicit content.

Immediately following the Act’s approval, representatives of the computer and video game industry filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago questioning the constitutionality of the Act, and insisting that the law is in violation of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. In the past, courts have found cities and states that have attempted to enact similar legislation to be in violation of the First Amendment provisions.

Additional legislative measures signed into law during the week of July 25-29, include: