Governor signs Barickman-sponsored legislation to increase court efficiency

SPRINGFIELD – County governments will now have the chance to decide whether to receive and process public defender reports on quarterly instead of monthly, potentially lowering the cost and labor involved, thanks to legislation sponsored by State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and signed into law by governor Bruce Rauner.

“In heavily populated counties, monthly filings make sense, but for smaller counties it is an unnecessary and undue burden,” said Senator Barickman. “This common-sense legislation will help lower costs for taxpayers while ensuring proper oversight is maintained.”

House Bill 4603 allows county boards to decide and vote on whether they will require public defenders to file the reports monthly or quarterly. Prior state law required the reports to be filed every single month.

The legislation was filed at the request of a Livingston County Board member who determined the idea would save many counties significant taxpayer money.

“I think it’s a move in the right direction because it’s reducing the mandated burdens placed on our local officials that have little to no benefit to our citizens,” said Livingston County Board Member Carolyn Gerwin. “It will free up our public defenders’ time so they can provide more service to citizens.”

The legislation will also allow county boards to vote on several items simultaneously through the use of “consent agendas” or “omnibus votes.” City governments have had the ability for several years. The process is commonly used when several resolutions or ordinances will likely receive the same vote from members, potentially speeding up meetings for those in attendance. Items to be placed on a consent agenda are still subject to existing posting and recording requirements.

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