The Bar News

ISBA Statehouse review for the week of Nov. 16

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews bills in Springfield of interest to ISBA members. This week he covers: cuts to Legal Services' funding, Senate Bill 1694, House Bill 1589, House Bill 1712, House Bill 1604 and Senate Bill 1259. Information on each bill is available below the video.

Legal Services' funding drastically cut.

The funding for Legal Services Corporation was reduced by about 14.8 % for FY 12. Fiscal Year 2011 funding was at $404 million, and the House Senate conference committee voted to reduce it to $348 million for FY 12.

Congress has settled on the halfway number between the House and Senate committee recommendations despite the fact that the overall cuts in this appropriation amount to 2%. This is a huge and disproportionate cut—more than $56 million. This has to be devastating for Legal Assistance Foundation,  Prairie State Legal Services and Land of Lincoln. As a practical matter, what this means for Illinois is about a $1 million cut for LAF and another almost $1 million combined cut for Prairie State and Land of Lincoln.

Medical records of deceased family members passed.

Senate Bill 1694 (Wilhelmi, D-Joliet; Brady, R-Bloomington) creates a procedure and statutory form to allow certain family members to get the medical records of deceased family members without being forced to open an estate. A surviving spouse may make a written request for a copy of his or her deceased spouse’s records if: (1) An executor or administrator has not been appointed for the deceased’s estate; or (2) The deceased did not appoint an agent under a power of attorney for health care who was authorized to act for the deceased after death, and the deceased had not specifically objected to disclosure in writing. If there is no surviving spouse, the records may be released if requested in writing by (1) an adult son or daughter of the deceased, (2) a parent of the deceased, or (3) an adult brother or sister of the deceased. Senate Bill 1694 also amends the Illinois Power of Attorney for Health Care to allow an agent to access the principal’s medical records after the principal’s death if the principal has delegated that authority in the power of attorney. Senate Bill 1694 has been sent to the Governor.

Modification of custody or visitation orders for military deployment.

House Bill 1589 (Pritchard, R-DeKalb; Jacobs, D-Moline) does five things: (1) Expands existing law to address modification of custody or visitation caused solely by a parent being deployed for active military duty. (2) Preserves judicial discretion and supervision to ensure that any accommodation for a deployed parent is in the best interest of the child. (3) Limits modification orders for deployment to temporary status, so that when the deployment is ended the service member does not bear a clear and convincing burden of proof to restore the prior custodial order. (4) Provides for expedited custody hearings for deployed service members and authorizes participation by electronic means. (5) Authorizes “substitute visitation” while the parent is deployed if the judge determines it is in the best interest of the child. House Bill 1589 has been sent to the Governor.
Excluded powers of attorney.

House Bill 1712 (Beaubien, R-Barrington; Silverstein, D-Chicago) was amendatorily vetoed by Governor Quinn. The General Assembly chose to let this bill die but work on the issue next spring. As passed by the General Assembly, House Bill 1712 excluded from the Illinois Power of Attorney Act certain kinds of limited agencies executed by or for financial institutions primarily done for various business, commercial, and governmental purposes that don’t need to be revoked on creation of a new power of attorney.

Visitation interference.

House Bill 1604 (Howard, D-Chicago; Sullivan, D-Rushville) allows a court to order the following relief for visitation interference: (1) suspend the defendant’s driving privileges; (2) suspend the defendant’s professional license; and (3) fine the defendant for not more than $500 as a petty offense; (4) requires a finding that a party engaged in visitation abuse constitutes “a change in circumstances of the child or his custodian” under Section 610 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act. House Bill 1604 was defeated in third reading in the Senate but will be reintroduced because of a perception among legislators that visitation interference is not treated as seriously by the courts as failure to pay child support is.  

Foreclosure short sales in residential real estate.

Senate Bill 1259 (Silverstein, D-Chicago; Currie, D-Chicago) requires the mortgagee to respond to the mortgagor within 90 days if the mortgagor sends a bona fide written offer to purchase from a third party and requests in writing that the mortgagee approve the sale. A “short sale” is when the mortgaged real estate is being sold for less than the amount owed to the mortgagee on the mortgage note. Failure to accept the offer shall not impair or abrogate in any way the rights of the mortgage or affect the status of the foreclosure proceedings. The 90-day period shall not operate as a stay of the proceedings. Senate Bill 1259 has been sent to the Governor.


Posted on November 17, 2011 by Chris Bonjean
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