News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
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For Immediate Release

Date:  April 24, 2006/pk

Senate Week in Review: April 17-21

Springfield, IL – Democrat leadership decided to continue the Senate’s hiatus this week while they and the Governor discussed the details of a budget plan, according to State Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton). Republican lawmakers have been eliminated from the budget process, creating fear that the final Fiscal Year ’07 budget will be bloated with new spending initiatives while relying on a more than $1 billion pension fund raid. There is also concern the budget will do nothing to address the state’s nearly $2 billion backlog of unpaid bills or record-high state debt.

The Senate plans to reconvene on May 2, after Democrat leadership canceled a previously scheduled April 25 session day.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives moved several Senate measures through the legislative process. Among the highlights of Senate bills approved by the House this week, was comprehensive legislation to curtail the threat of eminent domain.

Senate Bill 3086 will reform the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes. The bill is aimed at setting stricter and more transparent guidelines on the use of eminent domain and ensuring property owners are fairly reimbursed for relocation and legal expenses. The legislation is in response to the Supreme Court’s infamous Kelo ruling, which cleared the way for legally unprecedented government seizure of private property for economic development purposes.

The Senate has yet to see the House of Representatives’ version of the bill after it was amended there. The bill will now be sent back to the Senate for review, and potentially final passage.

Other Senate legislation gaining House passage this week included Senate Bill 2726. The legislation sets guidelines for the awarding of death compensation for members of the Armed Forces killed in the line of duty. Under the bill, death benefits would be paid according to the most recent version of the military member’s Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Election and Certification (SGLI).

If no SGLI form exists, compensation would be paid in accordance with a legally binding will, and if neither exists, benefits will be paid to a spouse, children of the deceases, parents of the deceased, or siblings or children of their siblings, in that order.

Senator Roskam says these changes are in response to recent cases involving fallen service personnel whose compensation has been paid to parents or other family members who were not an active part of soldiers’ lives prior to their death.

This bill was also amended by the House, and will be sent back to the Senate for review before final passage.

In other news, several Senate measures received House committee approval this week, including Senate Bill 1144, the “Let Them Rest in Peace Act.”

The legislation prohibits loud and inflammatory protests within 200 feet of all Illinois funeral services beginning 30 minutes before a funeral, during a funeral, and 30 minutes after the funeral. It was crafted in response to a series of disruptions at military funerals in Illinois and nationwide by members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. Westboro is a fundamentalist church group who recently became known for picketing the burials of soldiers and Marines killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The legislation passed the House Judiciary 1- Civil Law Committee unanimously on April 19, and will now be sent to the full House for consideration.

Other Senate measures gaining House Committee approval this week included:

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