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Workers' compensation hearings

Posted on November 29, 2010 by James R. Covington
The Senate and House have created two special committees to study changes in the workers' compensation laws hoping to have legislation prepared in early January before the 96th General Assembly adjourns. The committees are evenly divided between the Democrats and Republicans. The Senate committee meets today at 1 p.m. in Springfield and the House Friday in Chicago at 1:30 in the Bilandic Building.

Loans to litigants

Posted on November 15, 2010 by James R. Covington
Senate Bill 3322 (Harmon, D-Oak Park; Lang, D-Chicago) creates the Non-Recourse Civil Litigation Funding Act to regulate entities that loan money to consumers in exchange for an assignment of an amount of the potential proceeds of the consumer’s legal action. Scheduled for hearing Tuesday afternoon in House Judiciary I.

Legislative alert on estate planning

Posted on September 13, 2010 by James R. Covington
If you do any estate planning or have older family members, you may want to read this post. Your world may be dramatically changed if the proposed rules implementing the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 are approved. These rules are being proposed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and drastically change Medicaid eligibility. HFS characterizes them simply as an effort to "close loopholes." Read on; you be the judge. Our Elder Law Section Council thinks that these proposed rules are unfair and unjust to seniors, people with disabilities, and their families. The Section presented testimony in opposition to these proposed rules at the hearing conducted by HFS this morning. To summarize, the Section believes that HFS' proposed rules are more restrictive and punitive than what is required by federal law. An example is the part that makes these changes retroactive -- changing the rules late in a senior's life. HFS stated that they were interested in hearing from people to better evaluate their proposed rules and plans to hold another hearing in Springfield on Sept. 28. HFS does have the legal authority to amend these rules before final submission to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The 12 legislators appointed to serve on JCAR have the final say on proposed rules.

Estate planning and Deficit Reduction Act

Posted on August 15, 2010 by James R. Covington
The State of Illinois is proposing rules to implement the federal Deficit Reduction Act. If you do any estate planning at all, you need to click on the August 13, 2010 Flinn Report here and review the Department of Health and Family Services proposed rules. HFS has scheduled a hearing in Chicago on September 13 to take testimony before the proposed rules are submitted to JCAR (Joint Committee on Administrative Rules) for JCAR's approval.

Eligibility of judges

Posted on April 26, 2010 by James R. Covington
SJRCA 120 (Harmon, D-Oak Park) requires minimum periods as a licensed attorney before he or she is eligible to serve as a circuit, appellate, or supreme court judge. Associate judges are not included in this amendment. As introduced, it required 10 years for a circuit, 12 years for an appellate, and 15 years for a supreme court judge. SJRCA 120 was amended so that circuit judges serving in subcircuits must be licensed for five years. It is on third reading in the Senate.

Abolition of the death penalty

Posted on March 1, 2010 by James R. Covington
The Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty is having a lobby day in Springfield on Thursday, March 11. They are inviting supporters to register and participate at the State House to lobby individual legislators. More information may be found hereHouse Bill 5687 (Yarbrough, D-Maywood) and Senate Bill 3569 (Delgado, D-Chicago) have been filed to do this.

Probate Act and attorney's fees

Posted on January 14, 2010 by James R. Covington
Senate Bill 2514 (Silverstein, D-Chicago) requires an attorney who withdraws from representing a representative to file a petition for fees and costs within 30 days after the withdrawal is approved by the court. Senate Bill 2514 was introduced Jan. 12. Senate Bill 2514 may be found at this link

Increased partnership tax repealed

Posted on December 17, 2009 by James R. Covington
Public Act 96-835 was signed into law yesterday and took effect the same day. It restores a tax deduction that had been repealed in this spring’s budget bill. The repeal changed tax policy effective for tax years after Dec. 31, 2009 by limiting partnerships’ deduction to “guaranteed payments” instead of “reasonable compensation” for the Personal Property Replacement Tax. That change generally limits the deduction to income partners because equity partners’ income is based on their share of the distributable income of the partnership. It may be found at this link.

Rules of Professional Conduct amended

Posted on November 23, 2009 by James R. Covington
Today the Supreme Court of Illinois amended Rule 1.15 and 3.9 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. Both changes are effective Jan. 1, 2010. Rule 1.15 is amended to change the definition of "safe harbor," which is a yield that if paid by the financial institution on IOLTA accounts is deemed as a comparable return in compliance with this Rule. It now provides that the yield may be calculated as 70% of the Federal Funds Target Rate on the first business day of the calendar month "or 1%, whichever is higher." (New text in quotation marks.) The second change deletes the recent incorporation of Rule 3.5 (ex parte prohibitions) into Rule 3.9, which regulates advocates in nonadjudicative proceedings. It clarifies that Rule 3.9 applies only when a lawyer represents a client in an official hearing or meeting of a governmental agency or legislative body to which the lawyer or the lawyer's client is presenting evidence or argument. It does not apply to representation of a client in otherwise permitted lobbying activities.

Federal legislation affecting business entities

Posted on November 15, 2009 by James R. Covington
There is federal legislation pending affecting disclosing information about state business entities such as LLCs and partnerships. S. 569 (Levin, D-MI) is entitled the "Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act of 2009." This Act is supposed to combat money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorist financing. It requires states to maintain beneficial ownership information and make it available to law enforcement. Other requirements include making lawyers "formation agents" if they are involved in forming a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, trust or other legal entity. This bill is in the Senate Homeland Security Committee where it has had two hearings. If it passes out of this Committee, it will still have to be sent to the Senate Banking Committee. Thanks to the American Bar Association Government Affairs Office for alerting us to this bill.