While resolving Illinois’ ongoing budget impasse remains the central focus in the Capitol, Senator Tim Bivins has also been working to guide several important bills through the General Assembly.
“Right now, the budget is the center of the legislative universe, as it should be. The challenges ahead are tough, but not impossible if we work together,” Senator Bivins said. “The Governor says he remains optimistic that we can pass a balanced, constitutional budget, as well as fundamental reforms to boost jobs creation and economic prosperity.”
As negotiations on a budget framework package continue, Senator Bivins is sponsoring five bills and cosponsoring three legislative measures.
Several of the bills reflect concerns of local municipalities.
Senate Bill 587 amends the Hotel Operators’ Occupation Tax Act to exempt charitable organizations that rent, lease, or let rooms in a hotel located on property exempt from property taxation. The bill is currently awaiting action in the Senate Revenue Committee.
“A religious retreat location in northwest Illinois recently became subject to the Hotel Operators’ Occupation Tax Act after not being subject to the tax for many years. We are trying to restore their exempt status,” Senator Bivins said. “Christ in the Wilderness is a retreat center located near Stockton, where individuals are welcomed to spend time alone in a secluded natural environment.”
Senate Bill 588 extends a tax increment financing (TIF) district adopted on Jan. 31, 1995, by the Village of Milledgeville to 35 years. The bill is currently awaiting action in the Senate Revenue Committee.
Senate Bill 54 provides that federal money received by the State under the Recreational Trails Program will not be placed in the “Road Fund” in the State treasury and will not be considered for use in construction of highways. The bill is currently waiting to be assigned to a Senate committee.
To accommodate the size of modern semi-trucks, Senate Bill 51 increases to 65 feet (now 55 feet) the maximum length of a truck tractor in combination with a semitrailer allowed on all roadways in Illinois. The bill is currently awaiting action in the Senate Transportation Committee.
Senator Bivins has also reintroduced legislation that remedies an archaic law that currently makes automatic knives like those sold at big box and sporting goods stores, illegal because they could be regarded as “switchblades.”
“The term ‘switchblade’ makes you think of street-gang fights in movies. Technically speaking, an automatic knife is a knife with a spring-loaded blade that’s held closed by a catch. When you press a button or lever on the handle of the knife, the catch is released and the blade flies open,” Senator Bivins said. “But they are not switchblades.”
Senator Bivins said these kinds of automatic knives have been used by people in all walks of life for more than 20 years, and they are unaware the knives are considered illegal under the way the law is currently written, because the knives contain a spring in the handle.
Senate Bill 607 allows for the sale, manufacture, purchase, possession or carry of a spring-action knife by a person with a valid FOID card, or by a person or entity engaged in the business of selling or manufacturing spring-action knives. The bill is currently awaiting action in the Senate Criminal Law Committee.
Legislation cosponsored by Senator Bivins includes:
Senate Bill 64: Prohibits State and local governments from taking discriminatory action against a person who acts under a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is, or should be, recognized as between one man and one woman. The bill is currently awaiting action in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senate Resolution 3: Sets a limit of five terms (10 years) for legislators serving as Senate President and five terms (10 years) for legislators serving as Senate Minority Leader. Senate Resolution 3 was adopted January 11 with a unanimous vote of the Senate.
Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 2: Proposes to amend the Illinois Constitution to set a limit of five General Assemblies (10 years) for legislators serving as Senate President, Senate Minority Leader, House Speaker and House Minority Leader.
Constitutional amendments proposed by the General Assembly must receive 3/5th majority votes in both chambers. If passed by the General Assembly, the proposed amendment must be voted on by the electorate at least six months after such legislative approval. The bill is currently awaiting action in the Senate Executive Committee.