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July 26, 1999

Governor Signs Bills To Combat The Effect Of Domestic Violence; Strengthen DUI Prosecutions; Help Illinois Farmers

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan has signed legislation that expands Illinois' domestic violence laws by allowing judges to require people convicted of domestic battery to pay for the counseling of children who witnessed the abuse if the witnesses are the children of the abuser or the victim.

"The effects of domestic violence are far-reaching. Children are certainly not immune to these negative effects and, in fact, may experience lasting emotional scars from the physical wounds they see inflicted," Ryan said. "This bill provides and excellent mechanism to address these troubling circumstances by holding offenders liable for the full consequences of their actions."

In signing Senate Bill 80, Governor Ryan asked the General Assembly to go one step further and pass legislation soon that expands the law to require a convicted abuser to pay for the counseling of any witness of abuse under 18 years of age - not just the children of offenders or victims.

"I urge the General Assembly to pass legislation that expands this definition to include any child who witnesses the domestic battery," Ryan added. "Only with the passage of this additional legislation can this type of law be effectively utilized and its benefits fully realized."

Senate Bill 80, which takes effect January 1, 2000, was sponsored by state senators Miguel Del Valle, D-Chicago; Tony Munoz, D-Chicago; Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood; and Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills. House sponsors include state representatives Sonia Silva, D-Chicago; Judy Erwin, D-Chicago; William Delgado, D-Chicago; Wand Sharp, D-Maywood and Dan Reitz, D-Steeleville.

Ryan also signed Senate Bill 5, which amends the Crime Victims Compensation Act to add the children of a person killed or injured as a result of a violent crime - even if the child does not witness the crime -- to the list of people allowed to apply to the Court of Claims for reimbursement for psychological treatment. Previously, the law did not allow children who did not witness the crime to be eligible for compensation for psychological treatment.

"Violent crimes can have a serious effect on the entire family unit, not just the victims and witnesses," Ryan said. "This bill extends benefits to the children of serious crime victims so that all family members can receive the help they need."

Senate Bill 5, which takes effect January 1, 2000, was sponsored by state Sen. Christine Radogno, R-LaGrange and state representatives Anne Zickus, R-Palos Hills; Edgar Lopez, D-Chicago; Lauren Beth Gash, D-Highland Park; Eileen Lyons, R-Western Springs; and Sidney Mathias, R-Buffalo Grove.

Senate Bill 570, also signed by Ryan, provides for the appointment of additional assistant state's attorneys for the prosecution of alcohol-related traffic offenses. Compensation for the new assistant state's attorneys would be subsidized by appropriations to counties participating in the program. However, the Fiscal Year 2000 budget as passed by the General Assembly, does not include funding for this program.

"Punishing those who choose to drive under the influence has been, and will continue to be, a priority for this Administration," Ryan said. "However, before this program can be implemented, it is essential that those who wish to take advantage of its benefit make the program a funding priority with the General Assembly."

The bill is designed to provide state's attorneys offices with enough additional prosecutors to greatly reduce the need for "expediency" plea bargaining due to the huge DUI caseloads. Under this legislation, state's attorneys will be able to more aggressively pursue DUI's, with case merit being the deciding factor in the level of pursuit rather than caseload numbers.

Senate Bill 570 was sponsored by state senators Carl Hawkinson, R-Galesburg, and Vince Demuzio, D-Carlinville. House sponsors include state representatives Mary O'Brien, D-Coal City; Charles Hartke, D-Teutopolis; Don Moffit, R-Gilson, Susan Garrett, D-Lake Forest; and Lauren Beth Gash, D-Highland Park.

The Governor also approved Senate Bill 1189, which assists small-and-medium-sized hog farmers by statutorily establishing an interest buy-back program to subsidize interest costs on certain loans to Illinois farmers.

The legislation authorizes the Illinois Farm Development Authority (IFDA) to offer an interest buy-back option as part of its guaranteed debt restructuring program. The Authority is working with lending institutions to offer lower-than-market-rate loans in exchange for guaranteeing up to 85 percent of the loan. The interest-buy-back program is designed to assist farmers in receiving loans at about two percentage points below the market rate.

Senate Bill 11189, which takes effect immediately, was sponsored by state Sen. Judy Myers, R-Danville, and state representatives Bill Black, R-Danville; Dale Righter, R-Mattoon; Kurt Granberg, D-Carlyle; Rich Myers, R-Colchester; and Bill Mitchell, R-Decatur.

Ryan also signed House Bill 2031, legislation that creates an emission inspection program for diesel-powered trucks in Chicago, the collar counties and the Metro East area where the emissions of cars and light trucks are now tested. The law requires all diesel trucks that are two years old or older and weigh at least 16,000 pounds to undergo emissions tests during either of the truck's required semi-annual safety inspections.

House Bill 2031 was sponsored by House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago and state representatives Kurt Granberg, D-Centralia; Phil Novak, D-Kankakee; Lauren Beth Gash, D-Highland Park; and Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago. In the Senate, the bill was sponsored by state senators Christine Radogno, R-LaGrange; William Mahar, R-Orland Park; Lisa Madigan, D-Chicago; Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago and William Shaw, D-Markham.


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