One of the reasons that ISBA Presidents Cheryl Niro and Herb Franks advocated the formation of a Committee on Government Lawyers was the recognition that, traditionally, government lawyers have not joined the ISBA in numbers proportionate to their composition in the Illinois bar. Historically, government attorneys may have felt that the ISBA favored the interests of the private bar to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of the government lawyer. One of the most concrete ways that the Committee on Government Lawyers can have a measurable impact on the policies and programs of the ISBA is through the work of the Committee's Legislation Subcommittee. By demonstrating this impact through the work of the subcommittee, we hope to provide government lawyers with another reason for giving serious consideration to membership and participation in the activities of the ISBA.
The legislation subcommittee began reviewing and commenting on legislation in January 2000. To date, the subcommittee has concentrated its efforts on the following areas: administrative hearings (central hearing panel, rules of evidence, Administrative Procedure Act, Administrative Review Law, etc.); the Freedom of Information Act; the State Gift Ban Act; labor relations affecting state employees; the Open Meetings Act; pension and retirement bills for state employees; the State Records Act; the Local Records Act; and tort immunity/liability issues affecting public employees. By the end of the General Assembly's spring session, the Committee had examined fifteen bills. Of those, the Committee discussed or issued substantive comment on ten bills, and issued an official position on five pieces of legislation.
In addition to reviewing legislation, the subcommittee also has undertaken to provide a summary of those bills recently signed into law that may be of interest to the government bar.
Public Act 91-730
Amends the Open Meetings Act. Changes the current exemption for emergency security procedures to remove the requirements that the security procedures be for an emergency and that the danger be described in the motion to close the meeting. Makes the exemption applicable to threatened and reasonably potential dangers as well as actual dangers. Effective 01-01-01.
Public Act 91-733
Amends the Clerks of Courts Act. Authorizes circuit court clerks to accept payment of fines, penalties, or costs by debit card. Effective 01-01-01.
Public Act 91-791
Amends the Counties Code. Provides that the county board of a county that provides and maintains a geographic information system may provide for an additional charge of $3 for filing every instrument, paper, or notice for record. Provides that funds collected pursuant to this amendatory Act must be used to implement and maintain a geographic information system.
Further amends the Counties Code. Provides that $2 of the additional fee must be deposited into a special fund in the county treasury and used solely for the equipment, materials, and necessary expenses incurred by the county in implementing and maintaining the geographic information system. Provides that the remaining $1 must be deposited into the recorder's special fund and may be used, in the recorder's discretion, to defray the cost of implementing or maintaining the system. Effective 06-09-00.
Public Act 91-818
Amends the Illinois Notary Public Act. Provides that the Secretary of State may appoint and commission as notaries public for a one-year term as many persons who are residents of a state bordering Illinois whose place of work or business is within a county in this state as the Secretary deems necessary (now, may appoint only persons residing in a county in this state). Makes corresponding changes regarding the application for a commission as a notary public, the appointment of the applicant as a notary public, the authority of a notary public to act, and the termination of the notary public appointment. Provides that the Secretary of State may appoint and commission as notaries public persons who are residents of a state bordering Illinois only if the laws of that state authorize residents of Illinois to be appointed and commissioned as notaries public in that state. Effective 06-13-00.
Public Act 91-871
Amends the Criminal Code of 1961 and the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963. Provides that in a homicide prosecution or in a prosecution for certain sex offenses, law enforcement agencies and state's attorneys' offices shall preserve subject to a continuous chain of custody, any physical evidence secured in relation to a trial and sufficient official documentation to locate that evidence. Establishes the time period in which that evidence shall be retained. Provides that the failure to preserve the chain of custody of the evidence or to retain the evidence for the specified period is a Class 4 felony. Changes the mental state necessary for the commission of the new offense relating to chain of custody from "knowingly" to "intentionally." Effective 01-01-01.
Public Act 91-877
Creates the Public and Appellate Defender Immunity Act. Provides that no public defender, assistant public defender, appellate defender, or assistant appellate defender, acting within the scope of his or her employment or contract, nor any person or entity employing, supervising, assisting, or contracting for the services of a public defender, assistant public defender, appellate defender, or assistant appellate defender, is liable for any damages in tort, contract, or otherwise, in which the plaintiff seeks damages by reason of legal or professional malpractice, except for willful and wanton misconduct. Effective 06-30-00.
Public Act 91-879
Amends the Criminal Code of 1961. Prohibits a person who was a defendant or plaintiff in a case from paying a juror for the jury's verdict in the case after the rendering of the verdict. Prohibits a juror from receiving payment from the plaintiff or defendant. Penalty is a Class A misdemeanor. Effective 01-01-01.
Public Act 91-883
Amends the Attorney General Act, the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois, the Department of Natural Resources Act, the Department of Human Services Act, the Peace Officer Fire Investigation Act, the University of Illinois Act, the Southern Illinois University Management Act, the Chicago State University Law, the Eastern Illinois University Law, the Governors State University Law, the Illinois State University Law, the Northeastern Illinois University Law, the Northern Illinois University Law, the Western Illinois University Law, the Riverboat Gambling Act, the Illinois Vehicle Code, the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Act, and the Unified Code of Corrections. Provides that each constitutional officer, state agency, or state university must authorize a badge for each employee that exercises the powers of a peace officer that, on its face, (i) clearly states the officer, agency, or university authorizing the badge and (ii) contains a unique identifying number. Prohibits the authorization of other badges. Effective 01-01-01.
Public Act 91-885
Amends the Park District Code. Requires applicants for employment with a park district to authorize a criminal background investigation. Prohibits a park district from employing a person convicted for certain listed offenses. Makes similar changes to the Chicago Park District Act. Amends the School Code. Requires criminal background investigations of applicants to determine if the applicants have, within seven years of the application, been convicted of a felony in this state or committed or attempted any offense in another state or against federal law that would be punishable as a felony in this state. Amends the State Mandates Act to require implementation without reimbursement. Effective 07-06-00.
Public Act 91-886
Amends the Local Records Act. Removes the requirement that when a record that must be retained longer than 10 years is electronically digitized, it must also be microfilmed. Removes the requirements that such a microfilmed version must be retained as long as the original record and that the Local Records Commission must be notified of its disposal. Deletes current provisions requiring the written permission of a Local Records Commission before certain documents may be digitized, microfilmed, or disposed of. Provides that any public record may be reproduced in a microfilm or digitized form (now, in a digitized form). Allows the original of a reproduced record to be disposed of when (i) the reproduction process forms a durable medium that accurately and legibly reproduces the original in all details, that does not permit additions, deletions, or changes to the original, and, if electronic, that is stored in a trustworthy manner so that the information is accessible and useable for reference at all times while the information must be retained, (ii) the reproduction is retained for the prescribed retention period, and (iii) the Local Records Commission is notified when the original record is disposed of and when the reproduced record is disposed of. Effective 01-01-01.
Public Act 91-918
Amends the Chicago Park District Act. Provides that commissioners of the Chicago Park District are subject to the Public Officer Prohibited Activities Act. Deletes a provision that a commissioner with a pecuniary interest in the contracts or work of the park district is guilty of a petty offense. Amends the Park District Aquarium and Museum Act. Provides that aquariums and museums operated by a park district must be open to the public without charge for a period equivalent to 52 days each year (now the aquariums and museums must be open to the public without charge for at least one day each week). Further amends the Park District Aquarium and Museum Act. Provides that for a period of two years beginning on the effective date of this amendatory Act, aquariums and museums operated by a park district must be open to the public without charge for a period equivalent to 52 days each year (rather than one day each week), at least six of which must be during the period from June through August. Effective 07-07-00.