Illinois General Assembly update
A look at a few important bills making their way through the Illinois legislature
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For more information on the following bills, and many more, please visit the Illinois General Assembly website at ilga.gov. There you will find details of the bills, where each is at in the procedural process, and information on which state representatives support them.
Introduced by State Senator Scott Bennett of Champaign, the bill seeks to eliminate the statute of limitations for felony child abuse and sexual assault crimes.
Many experts agree that this extension would greatly benefit victims, as many are not mentally or emotionally ready to deal with the abuse they suffered as a child until later in adulthood.
The current statute on child abuse and sexual assault crimes is 20 years after the victim turns 18. Compared to most states, this time period is gracious; the standard is usually no more than 10 years.
Murder, arson, treason, forgery, and child pornography have no statutes of limitations in the state of Illinois.
Previously, in 2013, then-Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation that removed the statute of limitations in certain cases, particularly those with corroborating physical evidence or a failure on the part of a mandatory reporter.
SB 189 passed in the state senate on March 29, and has since moved into a house rules committee.
This bill seeks to eliminate the use of what’s called the “gay panic defense.” In this situation, a defendant alleges that a same-sex sexual advance was so offensive and frightening that the defendant lashed out in a state of violent, temporary insanity. This defense can also extend to intersex and transgender individuals as well.
Gay panic defense was last used in an Illinois case when a Cook County man was acquitted of first-degree murder against his neighbor, whom he stabbed over 60 times after the man made alleged unwanted sexual advances towards him.
The bill states that a “non-violent sexual advance” or “discovery, knowledge, or perception of a person’s sex or sexual orientation” are not grounds for serious provocation in first- or second-degree murder cases.
LGBTQ organizations, namely the National LGBT Bar Association, have led a push to ban the gay panic defense. They contend that the defense not only explains, but excuses the assault of LGBTQ individuals, and implies that their lives are worth less than others.
SB 1761 has been assigned to the Criminal Law Committee in the Illinois General Assembly, and according to the General Assembly’s website, has so far only garnered the sponsorship of two democratic state senators: Senators Daniel Bliss and Cristina Castro.
In the state of Illinois, condoms are currently being taxed as a luxury item, instead of a health product. SB 2026 seeks to change this by reducing the tax rate of male and female condoms from 6.25 percent to 1 percent. This bill is an amendment to the Illinois Retailers’ Occupation Tax Act.
Questions have recently been raised around the country about the practice of taxing items such as condoms and feminine hygiene products as luxury items. Condoms substantially reduce the rate of pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted infections, when used correctly.
The use of condoms also significantly improves the health of the general population, with particular emphasis on young people and members of the LGBTQ community.
While the tax rate decrease would only translate to a roughly $0.05 reduction in cost for each condom purchased, the amendment takes a symbolic step toward removing social and financial barriers to what proponents of the bill say should be considered a health care item.
According to the Illinois General Assembly website, the bill’s reading has been postponed several times, and it currently has one sponsor.