Friday, March 22, 2013
Lawmakers in the Illinois Senate and House considered legislation this week that would make changes to the state’s pension laws said State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), who voted against the proposals that would reduce the constitutionally-protected benefits of Illinois’ teachers.
The Illinois Senate approved a narrowly-focused pension reform measure, advancing Senate Bill 1 that would only impact active teachers outside the city of Chicago. Retired teachers, state employees, university employees, Chicago teachers, General Assembly members and judges were not included in the bill.
A more sweeping proposal, Senate Bill 35, failed to receive sufficient support in the Senate. The bill reduced benefits that have already been earned by teachers and public employees, something that opponents view as a clear violation of the Illinois Constitution.
Although pension legislation drew significant attention this week, lawmakers spent most of their time in committees reviewing hundreds of pieces of legislation in advance of a March 22 deadline to conclude committee review of bills and send them on to the full Senate. The committee reviews are the first stage of the annual process that weeds through thousands of proposals to advance measures that will ultimately win approval from both the Senate and House and be signed into law by the Governor.
Several measures sponsored by Senator Righter were approved by Senate Committees, including Senate Bill 2188 and Senate Bill 2245. Senate Bill 2188 allows search warrants to be requested and issued using simultaneous audio and video technology, like Skype. Senator Righter said this will allow law enforcement to keep up with technological advancements in the investigation and prosecution of crimes, while still conforming to the due process requirements set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Judges would still be issuing search warrants based on live, sworn testimony, but by utilizing the technology now available that testimony could be coming from a remote location,” Righter explained. “This is a great example of how law enforcement is seeking to utilize Skype or similar online communication tools for practical purposes.”
Senate Bill 2245 sponsored by Righter requires public universities and community colleges to give veterans and service members the earliest possible enrollment opportunity that they offer to any class of students.
“Not only do service members have obligations and duties that could lead to scheduling conflicts, this is a simple—yet helpful—benefit we can extend to Illinois veterans,” Righter said.