Senate Week in Review: Nov. 6 – 10, 2017
Springfield, IL… On November 4, the Legislative Ethics Commission appointed a new Inspector General, and both chambers took up legislation during the week seeking to improve Statehouse sexual harassment policies.
Also during the week, a new campaign to honor Illinois veterans was launched and farmers received some assistance early in the week with a harvest emergency declaration.
Measures pass targeting sexual harassment
The Illinois General Assembly moved quickly this week to pass legislation in response to recent allegations of sexual harassment in and around the Statehouse.
Senate Bill 402 moved through the House and Senate unanimously. It prohibits sexual harassment of legislators and lobbyists, and includes penalties for violations. The measure also requires state agencies and lobbyists to adopt a sexual harassment policy, and requires all state officials, employees, and lobbyists to complete in person sexual harassment training each year.
The Senate also unanimously passed House Bill 137 in response to the scandal surrounding the three-year-long empty Legislative Inspector General position. It was only within the last several weeks that lawmakers and the public were made aware that there have been 27 unresolved complaints filed with the Legislative Inspector General’s office during the last three years. House Bill 137 also lifts a one-year statute of limitations on the complaints, allowing the new Inspector General to go back and review the allegations.
Additionally, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution 1076, creating the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention. The Task Force is charged with conducting a comprehensive review of legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment in the public and private sectors. The Task Force will later make recommendations on ways to combat sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace, educational institutions and within state and local government.
Republican lawmakers noted that while these measures are good first steps, there is still a lot of work to be done to not only address sexual harassment in the Capitol and beyond, but to advance increased transparency and the effectiveness of the state’s ethics provisions and the legislative ethics investigative process.
State declares Harvest Emergency
Gov. Bruce Rauner declared a statewide harvest emergency to help producers better manage recent harvest rain delays. The designation allows drivers of trucks carrying agricultural commodities over state highways to obtain a free permit to exceed gross vehicle weight limits by 10 percent. Local authorities may also waive the permit requirement at their discretion. The emergency declaration is in effect for 45 days beginning today, Nov. 5. According to recently-released data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, at the end of October, “Corn harvested for grain was 73 percent complete, compared to 84 for the 5-year average. Soybean harvest was 86 percent complete, compared to 87 percent last year.” More information is available at https://truckpermits.dot.illinois.gov/.
Waterloo: Hometown Award winner
The city of Waterloo and the Monroe County House of Neighborly Service were among the finalists for the 2017 Governor’s Hometown Award, announced Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.
The House of Neighborly Service was created in 2015. Its primary goal is to bring various community organizations and church groups together and more efficiently and effectively provide help to the community. The volunteer-driven organization can be contacted by calling (618) 939-8680. 14 communities were recognized as either cup finalists or project winners of the Governor’s Hometown Award this year.
Nominate an Illinois Veteran
With Veterans Day approaching, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Illinois Bicentennial Committee announced their HONOR 200 campaign. They are seeking to honor 200 veterans from across the state, whose sacrifices go above and beyond the call of duty. The HONOR 200 campaign is looking for the public’s help to nominate well-deserved veterans. Nominees will be evaluated based on their achievements, and on the extent to which their contributions have aided, benefited, and provided inspiration to their community at large.
The HONOR 200 veterans will be recognized on Dec. 3, 2018, during Illinois’ 200th Birthday Gala. Nomination forms can be completed online at www.illinois.gov/veterans. The HONOR 200 campaign was launched during a special ceremony honoring veterans at the Capitol on Thursday, Nov. 9.