Beginning next January, local governments will no longer be able to require police officers to meet ticket quotas, under legislation signed into law June 16.
Senate Bill 3411, was just one of several measures signed into law recently. It would prohibit counties and municipalities from requiring a law enforcement officer to issue a specific number of citations within a designated time period. The local governments would also be prohibited from using the number of tickets an officer writes as a criteria for evaluating the officer’s performance. The measure goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015.
Medicaid Reform Rolled Back
A controversial measure that rolls back many of the Medicaid cost-saving reforms that were adopted in the bipartisan Save Medicaid Access and Resources Together (SMART) Act (PA 97-689), was also approved by the Governor.
Critics contend the changes contained in Senate Bill 741 will cause the State’s Medicaid program to grow by up to $300 million annually. The legislation includes an extension of the current Hospital Assessments, a new assessment for Supportive Living Facilities (SLFs), and a nursing home patient bill of rights that critics contend is aimed more at protecting payments to nursing homes than protecting patient safety.
It offers major rate increases for hospitals and nursing homes, triples the length of time individuals have to provide required proof of eligibility for Medicaid and repeals several cost-saving benefit reforms previously adopted.
Special Olympics Funding
Legislation creating a new lottery game for Special Olympics has also been signed. Senate Bill 219 creates the “Go for the Gold” scratch-off game, with 75% of net revenues to be used to support the statewide training, competitions, and programs for future Special Olympics athletes; and 25% to Special Children's Charities to support the City of Chicago-wide training, competitions, and programs for future Special Olympics athletes.
Residents living in the small Mississippi River community of Grand Tower will be able to move ahead with repairs to a levee needed to protect the community from flood waters, thanks to Senate Bill 2721.
Sponsored by State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) and State Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), the measure allows Jackson County to spend up to $1.7 million out of a special fund to help pay for repairs to the Big Muddy Levee. County voters approved this fund in a referendum 20 years ago, but the law needed to be changed to clear the way for the funds to be used for repairs of the levee.
In the latest development in the ongoing saga of a controversial anti-violence initiative launched by Governor Quinn; a special bipartisan auditing commission is expected to decide June 23 whether or not to seek a subpoena to compel the former director of the program to testify.
The Legislative Audit Commission Subcommittee on Subpoenas is considering if they should subpoena Barbara Shaw, former director of the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority (IVPA).
The Legislative Audit Commission is currently reviewing an audit from Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland on Governor Pat Quinn’s Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI). The audit found that the NRI was "hastily implemented" by Quinn’s office just before the election in 2010. It was supposed to combat an epidemic of violence in Chicago, but the audit found the program failed to target the most violent neighborhoods, aldermen were able to influence where the grant money went, and it lacked proper oversight.
The NRI was operated by the IVPA, under Shaw’s direction, during the time period covered by the audit. Several recent media reports have quoted an attorney for Shaw in saying that she likely wouldn’t testify without a subpoena.
Funds sent to Group despite Problems
As legislators consider the subpoena, recent news reports have found that the Quinn administration provided $800,000 to a politically-connected community group despite a history of problems with state grants to the organization.
The grant funds, which were through the same controversial Neighborhood Recover Initiative, were given to The Woodlawn Organization, despite the group having previously admitted to the state that it had a history of problems administering and accounting for state funds.
A Chicago Tribune investigation found that “on the same day The Woodlawn Organization applied to Quinn’s program, it filed records of internal audits with the attorney general’s office that showed a history of missteps, including misspending other government money.”
The Tribune “documented how the longtime nonprofit got the grant despite its questionable finances, then handled the money in ways that sparked complaints from state officials, from missing bread-and-butter documents such as bank statements to spending money on fast food.”
Transportation Department Hiring Questions
The failed anti-violence initiative is not the only Quinn administration entity drawing fire. An ongoing investigation by the Better Government Association (BGA) has been examining patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The group revealed June 16, that the step-daughter of the agency’s director was among those given a job and promotion without going through the agency’s normal procedures.
The step-daughter of Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider was hired as a staff assistant using the “Rutan-exempt” process, which allows politics and other subjective factors to be used as a basis for hiring.
The exemptions are supposed to be limited only to persons in sensitive policy-making positions, but the BGA has found that IDOT, under Quinn and his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, freely assigned terms such as “policy” and “spokesperson” to job descriptions allowing the posts to be filled without regard to qualifications.
“In short, the BGA found that IDOT appeared to violate state-government personnel procedures stemming from the Supreme Court’s Rutan ruling,” the organization said.