Stalled bills: ‘Dignity in Pay Act,’ Prisoner Review Board changes fail to move

A bill eliminating the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities failed to pass the General Assembly ahead of its May adjournment, although sponsors say they hope to pass it when lawmakers return in the fall.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established minimum wage law, but created an exemption for businesses, rehabilitation and residential care facilities to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage if they obtain a special certificate permitted in Section 14(c) of the law. The measure would have given providers more than 5 years to stop using 14(c) certificates in Illinois.

Although the bill ultimately advanced out of the House 78-30 with bipartisan support, it was never called for a vote in the Senate.

In a written statement for Capitol News Illinois, bill sponsor Sen. Cristina Castro, a Democrat from Elgin, said she is continuing conversations with House colleagues and advocates of the measure.

“Other states have recognized this and put an end to the practice,” Castro said. “It’s time we join them.”

The measure could come for a vote during the veto or lame duck session later this year.

This year’s measure would have codified a transition grant program aimed at providing financial aid to organizations shifting away from 14(c) sheltered workshops. The Illinois Department of Human Services budget included $2 million for the current fiscal year, and another $2 million was to be allocated moving forward as well.

Opponents said eliminating the certificates without enough of a ramp could force those with high support needs out of the workforce entirely.

Prisoner Review Board changes

Changes to the state’s Prisoner Review Board seemed well on the way to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk until an early-morning scramble to pass a budget-related bill on the House’s final day of session preempted a vote in that chamber.

“We as leaders and lawmakers had an obligation to take action,” bill sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat, wrote to Capitol News Illinois after the bill failed to pass. “Instead, we abandoned victims, once again.”

House Bill 681 was brought to the Statehouse following a pair of resignations from the PRB, which faced criticism after the board approved early release of Crosetti Brand — who then fatally stabbed 11-year-old Jayden Perkins while attacking his former partner and Perkins’ mother, Laterria Smith.

The measure would have subjected PRB case hearings to open meetings laws, mandated more training and created a task force to oversee the board. It also would have required the board to publish information on its website to direct survivors of violent crimes on how to submit an oral or written victim impact statement.

At a news conference the morning after session adjourned, Pritzker said he was fine with parts of the bill but still had serious pause.

“Some aspects of it, frankly, are just unacceptable,” he said. “It's not about transparency, to be honest with you. It's about what's actually possible, what's doable.”

He also was concerned about how funding was absent from the bill.

Karina’s Bill, homicide reporting

Lawmakers once again declined to pass a measure known as “Karina’s Bill,” which would change the state’s order of protection laws.

The bill is named after Karina Gonzalez, who was killed along with her daughter in Chicago in 2023. Gonzalez’s husband, Jose Alvarez, allegedly shot them while having an order of protection against him for a previous domestic violence incident.

Karina’s Bill would require law enforcement to confiscate firearms when an emergency order of protection is granted with a firearm remedy. It would also require a judge to issue a search warrant in cases where the remedy is granted, provided the judge finds there is probable cause that the individual possesses a firearm and is a threat to the victim.

The proposal would also prohibit gun owners from transferring firearms to another individual instead of surrendering them to law enforcement along with their Firearm Owner’s Identification, or FOID, card.

Eliminating the tip wage credit

House Bill 5345, a proposal to eliminate the tip wage credit at the state level, was sent back to the Rules Committee in the House — a procedural step indicating it wasn’t close to passage.

Under current law, the minimum wage is $14 per hour but a tipped employee can be paid $8.40 an hour if their tips bring them to $14. If they do not receive enough tips then their employer is required to make up the difference.

Proponents, including the One Fair Wage advocacy organization and several legislators, have said that eliminating the tip wage credit will help solve systemic issues of poverty and harassment. Opponents such as the Illinois Restaurant Association say that repealing the tip credit will force owners to raise prices, cut hours and benefits, and potentially lay off staff.

Threats to libraries

House Bill 4567, an initiative of Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, would treat threats made against libraries the same as a threat made to schools.

The measure also would have made clear that state library grants can be used for safety upgrades.

People found guilty of threatening libraries could face a disorderly conduct charge under the bill, which cleared the House 89-20 in late May. Although the Senate did not consider the measure before adjourning, it could still take up the bill when lawmakers return in the fall.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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