A renewed call for a constitutional amendment to put term limits on the ballot; a request for a new private management partner for the Illinois Lottery; and the signing of more bills into law were all part of state government activity during the week.
Governor promotes term limits
Governor Bruce Rauner traveled throughout the state during the week extolling the need for a constitutional amendment that would put term limits on the ballot in Illinois. Speaking before residents in Belleville, Governor Rauner called on Illinois lawmakers to “Come back to the fall veto session. Let’s vote on a constitutional amendment to get term limits on the ballot ….”
Currently, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is the lead sponsor of legislation that would place term limits on the ballot and let Illinois voters decide this important issue. Constitutional amendments (SJRCA 14 and SJRCA 16) introduced by Senator Radogno were scuttled in a Senate subcommittee by Democrat legislative leaders in April.
Illinois Lottery seeks new private management partner
On July 28, Governor Rauner and the Illinois Lottery announced that they are seeking a new private management partner to share the Lottery’s goals of increasing profits to the state, responsibly broadening its player base, introducing new technology and innovation, and ensuring responsiveness to public needs and concerns.
In 2010, the previous administration poorly negotiated a contract, which resulted in the private manager consistently underperforming while being allowed to circumvent FOIA laws and withhold information from the Lottery and the public. The previous administration did attempt to terminate the contract in a deal that would have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars had it been allowed to go through. The Rauner Administration fought the implementation of that prior termination agreement and renegotiated its terms to improve taxpayer protections and save $22 million in immediate savings and $28 million overall for taxpayers.
The following goals are the guiding factors in picking a new private manager:
• Eliminate conflicts of interest.
• Eliminate profiteering off of taxpayers.
• Incentivize Lottery to innovate and grow online sales.
• Eliminate risk of financial shortfalls to Common School Fund.
• Ensure greater transparency and openness.
• Prevent taxpayers from being hit by large termination fees.
• Create fair bidding process for all interested bidders.
• Expand and grow Lottery revenues and customer base.
It is anticipated securing a new private manager will take five to six months.
New laws target child abuse, pension spiking and rail crossing dangers
Dozens of new laws were signed during the week, including a measure that would increase collaboration between state government and the United States Department of Defense (DoD) on child abuse and neglect cases filed against members of the military.
Introduced at the urging of the DoD, House Bill 4425 will require the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to notify the DoD if a member of the Armed Forces is named as the alleged perpetrator in a child abuse or neglect report. If the accused is a member of the Illinois National Guard, DCFS is also required to notify the Office of the Adjutant General.
Also during the week, a new law seeks to address pension “spiking” within the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund system—or at the very least provide a more transparent process to promote public awareness of large end-of-career salary increases. House Bill 5684 requires disclosure at a public meeting of a local government body of any proposed salary increase exceeding six percent to a retiring employee’s reportable monthly income. The new reporting requirement does not include those employees subject to collective bargaining agreements.
The new law targets situations where retiring employees are given a significant end-of-career salary “boost” as a way to increase their retirement income. Proponents of the measure hoped that requiring public disclosure of significant late career income bumps would make local government entities think twice before engaging in the costly practice of pension spiking.
And, in an effort to deter motorists from crossing train tracks with an active warning device, Senate Bill 2806 will double the fine for not stopping at a railroad crossing. The first violation is increased to $500, up from the current $250; any subsequent violation would be an increase to $1,000 from $500.
In 2015, Illinois had the third-highest number of rail crossing collisions (140, behind Texas and California), the second-highest number of rail crossing fatalities (24, behind California) and the third-highest number of rail crossing injuries (79, behind Texas and North Carolina). Illinois is also home to the second-largest rail system of any state with more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 10,363 public highway-rail crossings.