Recently-signed laws create sepsis protocols that will save lives, assist veterans and their families, and allow police officers to adopt retiring K-9 police dogs.
In other state news, Governor Bruce Rauner announced the creation of a charitable foundation to provide additional financial support for Illinois’ two state fairgrounds, and the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission met for a second time.
Gabby’s Law aims to save lives of those with sepsis
The tragic death of a five-year-old girl led to a new law that requires Illinois hospitals to be better prepared to recognize and treat patients with sepsis or septic shock. Governor Rauner signed Senate Bill 2403 at a press conference August 18 at the Presence Covenant Medical Center in Urbana. Gabby Galbo of Monticello passed away in 2012 due to untreated sepsis. Since then, her parents worked to pass this legislation in honor of her memory. The new law went into effect immediately.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, sepsis is a progressive shutdown of the body's organs and systems caused by systemic inflammation following infection that enters the blood or soft tissue. More than one million cases of sepsis occur each year, killing more than 258,000.
Recognizing Illinois veterans and their families
Legislation to assist and honor Illinois veterans and their families was signed into law during the Veterans Day program Aug. 14 at the Illinois State Fair.
Every public state university will now be required to establish an admissions process in which honorably discharged veterans who were on active duty during the fall semester will be allowed to submit an application for admission to the university to enroll as a freshman student for the spring semester. House Bill 4627 was introduced in response to a request from an Illinois veteran who was unable to enroll for the spring semester because the school mandated that all entering freshman must first enroll for the fall semester. Now public universities in Illinois must accommodate those veterans and first-time college freshmen who want to begin their college career immediately.
House Bill 5938 renames and expands the eligibility pool for a program now known as the “Veterans’ Home Medical Providers Loan Repayment Program.” The eligibility pool for the program will now include physicians and certified nursing assistants, rather than just registered professional nurses. The goal of the legislation is to encourage greater numbers of more highly qualified professionals to apply for jobs at the state’s veterans’ home, which would hopefully translate into better care for Illinois’ veterans.
Also signed was legislation that will allow the family of veterans who were killed in action while on active duty to apply for a designation that would allow the placement of an honorary sign on roadways (HB 4344). The idea was brought forth by Denise Meehan, the mother of PFC Andrew Meari, who lost his life while serving in Afghanistan. Ms. Meehan said the new “Heroes Way Designation Act” is a way to ensure the names and service of Illinois’ fallen will be acknowledged and honored forever in their communities.
Another new law (HB 4389) will establish an annual Gold Star Family Day, while an additional proposal (HB 5003) mandates establishment of a veterans court program in each judicial circuit to provide veterans and service members with court programs better suited to serve their specific needs. In that same vein, SB 3401 includes veteran assistance commissions as an alternative court-ordered assessment and treatment option.
Two other new laws make changes relating to military license plates (HB 5402) to state that individuals who qualify for the military specialty plates may reclassify their standard plate registration without paying replacement fees or the registration sticker cost, and to allow the surviving spouse of a deceased military service member to retain the special license plates if he/she is a resident of Illinois and if the transfer takes place within 180 days of the death of the service member (HB 4433).
New law allows retired police dogs to be adopted by their handlers
Retiring police dogs will be able to be adopted by their handlers, thanks to a legislation signed by Governor Rauner at the State Fair on Aug. 13, which was First Responders Day. The new law takes effect January 1, 2017.
Senate Bill 3129 will allow all K-9 police dogs that are used by a county, municipal or state law enforcement agency and are deemed no longer fit for public service to be offered first to the handler on the force. If the officer does not want the dog, it will then be offered to another officer or employee of the agency, a non-profit agency, or a no-kill animal shelter that may facilitate an appropriate adoption for the dog.
Governor Rauner announces the creation of the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation
On August 16, Agricultural Day at the State Fair, Governor Rauner announced a not-for-profit Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation has been established by leaders in the agricultural community to promote, support, assist and sustain the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fairgrounds. The Foundation’s activities will emphasize capital improvements at these sites, with a focus on the restoration of buildings. Combined, the two fairgrounds have approximately 200 buildings—some as old as 124 years. Many of these buildings need paint, plumbing, roofing and structural repairs. The Foundation hopes to ease the burden put on the state to fund the nearly $180 million in maintenance costs.
The Foundation Board is comprised of nine unpaid members representing the agriculture industry. Board members will develop strategies to raise private funds, coordinate with the Department of Agriculture to plan projects and determine the fairgrounds’ needs. The Foundation will establish accounts that will be held outside the State Treasury so donors know their donations will go to the intended purpose.
School Funding Reform Commission meets for a second time
During the August 16 meeting of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, Richard Laine from the National Governors Association spoke on the relationship between school funding and workforce readiness. Laine stressed that the challenge isn’t just funding schools, but creating an educational system that prepares students to enter the workforce. He also emphasized that training the US workforce to be competitive in a global economy is becoming increasingly important. The Commission also reviewed the “evidence-based” approach to funding education.
This model draws from research and evidence-based best practices to help identify how much money per pupil is needed to educate students in Illinois according to its proficiency standards. Chaired by Secretary of Education Beth Purvis, the 25-member Commission includes five designees each from the Rauner Administration and the four legislative caucuses. The Commission’s report is to be presented to the Governor and General Assembly by February 1, 2017. Lawmakers say the goal is to have the General Assembly take action on a proposal in 2017.