Senator Barickman’s Senate Week in Review: March 29

Senator Barickman offered support a constitutional amendment during the week to give Illinois residents a stronger voice in proposed tax increases, as lawmakers acted on legislation that will provide cost-savings measures, and resolve issues with out-of-date mandates.

More work lies ahead in the remaining seven weeks of the spring legislative session.

Also during the week, the Illinois Department of Public Health urged residents in and around flood zones in northern Illinois to take precautions as the clean-up begins after historic flooding forced hundreds of people from their homes.

Barickman co-sponsors legislation to protect middle class families from tax hikes

Illinois voters may have the opportunity increase the threshold for lawmakers to raise taxes, thanks to a Constitutional Amendment co-sponsored by State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).

“There’s a lot of talk this year about new taxes, raising taxes, and changing tax systems,” said Sen. Barickman. “Increasing the number of votes required to raise and implement taxes is a good way to slow down the constant cycle of new and higher taxes that continues to hurt middle class families.”

Under current law, lawmakers only need a majority vote to raise income taxes or create new taxes. SJRCA12 raises the threshold to increase taxes, or implement new ones, to a super-majority vote.

Governor Pritzker has proposed a number of a new taxes and tax increases, along with campaigning on an idea to switch to a progressive tax system. Barickman has heard concerns from many of his constituents that a progressive tax would make it too easy for the legislature to raise taxes on middle class families.

“It always seems like it’s harder to make cuts than to raise taxes,” said Barickman. “I believe this proposal would balance the scales better and make sure that cost-cutting moves are considered just as much as higher taxes.”

If SJRCA12 passes the legislature, it would be placed on the ballot for the 2020 election, so that voters would ultimately decide whether to implement the idea.

“I believe the voters of Illinois deserve the right to vote on putting this important protection into the state constitution,” said Barickman.

Pontiac Township High School Sophomore Joe Gilmour visited Sringfield on March 27 to serve as Senator Barickman’s page for the day on March 27. Joe has also taken part in Senator Barickman’s Youth Advisory Council program.

Senator Barickman kicked off the week with the national and state grain & feed associations to offer them an update on what is happening in Springfield.

Senate passes Barickman’s legislation to help schools cut costs

The state of Illinois could soon update regulations that could potentially save schools money, now that the Senate has approved legislation sponsored by Senator Barickman.

“This legislation provides a common sense solution to an issue that many school districts face,” said Sen. Barickman. “This updates the rules to decrease the burden on our schools while helping districts to comply with the intent of the rules.”

Senate Bill 117 updates rules on keeping older school records and the process for destroying old records.

Under current law, many records are required to be kept by schools for certain periods of time, often a period of 60 years. After that, they cannot be disposed of or moved to electronic copies unless the district is able to parent the parent and offer them a chance to copy the information in the record. Currently the standard is to require communication by US mail to the last known address of the parent, or to publish a notice in a newspaper.

Barickman’s legislation would allow the school district to send notice via email with receipt confirmation, and would also allow the communications to go to the student, if they are of age or the parental rights have been transferred to the student.

“The current law often means districts are stuck with the costs and other issues of keeping records beyond the time they are required to,” said Barickman. “Updating the rules will help the school districts save money and have a better chance of reaching the people they are required to notify.”

The idea for the legislation came from a school in Barickman’s district.

“This legislation will make it easier for school districts to provide timely notice to parents and students prior to the destruction of school student records, and will relieve the burden on school districts of storing a significant amount of documents beyond the statutorily required timeframe,” said Kurt Richardson, Attorney for McLean Unit District 5. “Unit 5 thanks Senator Barickman for his efforts in passing this helpful legislation.”

The legislation passed the Senate on March 27 and is now headed to the Illinois House for consideration in that chamber.

‘Zipper merge’ method to be added to state’s Rules of the Road

Legislation that makes an effort to keep traffic flowing, prevent backups and promote safety passed the Senate during the week. Senate Bill 2038 would require the Secretary of State’s Office to add information on how to properly merge into one lane of traffic to its Illinois Rules of the Road guide.

Under the legislation, the “zipper merge” method would be required to be taught to drivers. Experts believe this is the proper and most efficient way to merge multiple lanes of traffic, as drivers utilize both lanes until they reach the point that one lane narrows. Drivers then take turns merging with the other lane of traffic, creating a zipper-like effect.

Proponents note that studies prove that merging early only creates one single long line and slows traffic because it minimizes the amount of usable road. The “zipper merge” method, on the other hand, uses two lanes of roadway for as long as possible.

Senate passes legislation to help stop exploitation of seniors and the disabled

Senate lawmakers are clamping down on those who financially exploit senior citizens and citizens with disabilities.

Senate Bill 69 would provide tougher penalties for those who prey upon our most vulnerable populations, and also make it easier to identify those with a history of this criminal activity.

The bill calls for changes to the Criminal Code to help prosecute individuals who exploit seniors. The legislation expands the venue for the offense of “financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability,” to make it easier to prosecute perpetrators who live in a different state or facility than the victim.

The bill also makes “theft by deception from a person with a disability” a Class 2 felony, which could come with prison time and penalties. In addition, it prohibits sealing the records of certain offenses where someone was convicted of a financial crime against the elderly, along with eliminating the “consent” defense if the defendant knew the elderly or disabled person lacked the capacity to consent.

The legislation passed out of the Senate on March 27, and is on its way to the House.

State Issues Health and Safety Tips as Residents Return Home from Recent Floods

After historic flooding in Winnebago and Stephenson counties forced hundreds of people from their homes, the State of Illinois is urging residents in and around the flood zones to take precautions as the clean-up begins.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has expressed concern for homeowners, warning them against the potential harm floodwaters and sewer overflows can bring, including bacteria, viruses and other organisms that may cause disease. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), and IDPH can provide important guidance for residents looking to return home and begin damage assessments.

IDPH cautions that flood waters can contaminate or damage food, water and house appliances. To avoid illness, IDPH says it is important that people whose homes have been affected by flooding to make sure their water is safe to drink, throw out any food that has gone bad and properly clean items touched by flood waters.

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