The first week of the annual fall veto session ended with lawmakers quickly disposing of vetoed measures then moving on to address other issues.
No Vetoes Overridden
Only three measures vetoed by the Governor were on the agenda at the start of the week – two in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. The sponsor of the vetoed Senate measure – which affected bidding rules at the Regional Transportation Authority and its operating agencies – elected not seek a vote on the veto.
In the House, a bill that reduced the number of free admission days at state-supported museums failed to win the needed three-fifths vote to override the Governor’s veto. The third measure – which affected advisory questions that townships must place on election ballots – never received a vote.
Due to constitutional deadlines, all three proposals died at the end of the week.
Major Issues Remain
No progress was made on the state’s looming pension crisis – an issue that has stymied the Governor and legislators for years.
At the Governor’s suggestion, the negotiations on pensions were kicked over to a special joint Senate-House conference committee in June. The committee has met throughout the summer and fall, trying to develop a compromise that can win bipartisan support in the Legislature.
Medicare Advantage Hearing
The bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability took testimony on the state’s new Medicare Advantage program that will impact retirees eligible for state health insurance. The move has become controversial because a large insurer, Health Alliance, was not included among the companies approved to offer the Medicare Advantage policies to retired public employees.
Lawmakers also sought more details about a planned audit of dependent care coverage that will require participants to provide new documentation proving that those receiving coverage under state insurance programs are eligible.
Senate Approves Measures
On October 23, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1689, which was needed to implement the reduction and consolidation of the state’s various Regional Offices of Education. Already approved by the House, Senate Bill 1689 now moves to the Governor for consideration.
Other bills passed by the Senate and sent to the House include:
Ambulance Reimbursement (SB 636): Extends the time period (from 20 days to 90 days) for ambulance service providers to file a Medical Certification and Physician Order for non-emergency Ambulances (MCA form) to the Department of Healthcare and Family Services for reimbursement of services.
Natural Gas Utilities (SB 635): Prevents Illinois Corn Processing in Pekin from being regulated as a utility company. The company, which uses large amounts of natural gas in the processing of corn into ethanol, missed a deadline to file a declaration with the state that they are not a gas utility.
Puppy Lemon Law (SB 633): Clarifies Senate Bill 1639/Public Act 98-0509, also known as the Puppy Lemon Law, which requires a pet shop to inform pet owners and the Illinois Department of Agriculture of any potential diseases if there is a breakout in the pet shop. The law states that a customer may receive monetary compensation if a veterinarian finds that a dog or cat was sold having a disease. The legislation clarifies that any reimbursement of veterinary fees cannot exceed the purchase price of the dog or cat.
Prostitution Reduced Penalty (SB 1007): Clarifies Senate Bill 1872/Public Act 98-0538, which eliminated felony penalty enhancements for prostitution and allowed a county to establish a special mental health court program for defendants charged with prostitution. The legislation clarifies that all defendants admitted to the mental health court program are eligible to participate in specialized service programs.
Sunset Extension (SB 1045): Extends the state’s Making Home Affordable program for two years (from January 1, 2014, to January 1, 2016). This program was designed to aid eligible homeowners facing foreclosure by lowering their monthly mortgage payments to a more manageable level.
Youth Hunting Licensure (SB 853): Allows those younger than 16 to hunt with a youth hunting license, as long as they are accompanied by a parent, grandparent, or guardian older than 21.