By REBECCA ANZEL
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — Local elected officials and county board members may soon be barred from simultaneously drawing both a salary and pension benefits from the same post.
The Illinois Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to prevent representatives from double-dipping. For example, a county board member who has served long enough to earn a pension would have to wait until leaving office to begin collecting the benefit.
Sponsor Terry Link, a Democrat from Vernon Hills, said local officials in his home district of Lake County are “abusing” the opportunity. When the measure was in committee, he learned other units of local government were experiencing the same issue.
“Right now, you have a number of elected officials on the county board serving as county board members and receiving a pension plus their salary at the same time,” he said.
Link added that he is currently qualified to receive his pension from the state as a legislator, but has not chosen to do so.
“If I were to say, ‘OK, I do not want to contribute to the pension anymore but I want to collect my pension and still serve in the General Assembly,’ I think that people would be a little upset because it would basically be doubling my salary,” he said.
Republican Sen. Paul Schimpf, from Waterloo, said he understood what Link was trying to accomplish with the bill, but heard concerns from his constituents.
“This just strikes me that we’re changing the rules kind of mid-stream,” he said. “I think some of my constituents are going to feel like they’re being punished for their service.”
The legislation is Senate Bill 1236. It succeeded in the chamber by a vote of 45 to 6, and arrived in the House on Wednesday night.
In other business, the Senate approved the following bills Wednesday:
Senate Bill 1105: Renews a statute that dictates care for very ill children and young adults. The Pediatric Palliative Care Act was originally passed in 2011 and sunsetted in 2012. This legislation changes the law to apply to children 19 and younger, instead of 18, among other changes. Vote: 53-0.
Senate Bill 1114: Allows a county health department to petition a court to remove hazardous or other harmful materials from residential property that officials find are a danger to the public. The bill was an initiative of the Lake County Health Department. Vote: 57-0.
Senate Bill 1134: Mandates foreclosure notices on residences owned by someone who cannot be located must be published in a newspaper in that county or the adjoining one. The notice must also be mailed to the home in foreclosure. Vote: 56-0.
Senate Bill 1135: Increases the requirements for a psychologist applying for a prescribing license, and includes additional facilities that qualify as settings for a residency. Vote: 58-0.
Senate Bill 1167: Establishes an adult vocational community college scholarship program, which allows prospective students over the age of 30 who are unemployed but are actively seeking a job to apply for a maximum $2,000 scholarship toward a specific certification or degree program. Vote: 58-0.
Senate Bill 1213: Creates a four-member appeals panel comprised of union and management representatives for “unsatisfactory” evaluation ratings teachers may receive. Vote: 40-16.
Senate Bill 1214: Mandates the Department of Public Health to introduce and distribute educational information to phlebotomists, to ensure those in the field are up-to-date on the latest techniques for how to work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Vote: 55-1.