Illinois House Panel On Legal Issues Will Be Divided

From the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

After two years under one umbrella, the Illinois House’s lawyer-heavy Judiciary Committee will split into two panels to review criminal and civil matters separately this year.

That’s similar to the setup that was in place for the better part of the last three decades — from 1985 until an overhaul of the state’s criminal code was completed in 2012.

But a renewed focus on criminal-law changes, the intricacies of many civil-law proposals and an attempt to increase efficiency have led lawmakers to, again, divvy up the work.

The criminal law committee will be chaired by Rep. Elgie R. Sims Jr., a Chicago Democrat, while the civil law committee chair is Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat who led the singular Judiciary Committee.

Both panels this week will convene their first meetings of the year, with the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee scheduled to review bills this afternoon and the House Judiciary-Civil Committee slated to get together Thursday morning.

It was “members’ preference” to go back to the two-panel divide, said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

Additionally, there were time constraints when a bulk of legal-system proposals went through one committee of legislators.

“I don’t think any of them were saying they were being overworked. I think more of them were saying these matters require some additional time to review, and the schedule sometimes doesn’t lend itself to that,” Brown said.


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Opinions


Trial Lawyers Whip Rauner, 1260-2 — In Words, That Is

By Ed Murnane, Past President of the Illinois Civil Justice League

The Illinois Trial Lawyers Association used approximately 1,260 words Tuesday to rip Governor Bruce Rauner for opening “a new front in the 40-year war on American workers that has left the average person with less wealth, real income, and economic security, and is undermining the strength of our nation.”

That’s the trial lawyers’ language, by the way.

This horrendous conduct by the new governor of Illinois, these terrible threats to American workers (not just Illinoisans), this plundering of income, economic security and “undermining the strength of our nation” apparently is the result of two words Rauner used in his first Budget Message Wednesday: Lawsuit Reform.

The trial lawyers’ rampage was contained in a 67-line (body text only) statement that apparently was widely circulated, including to legislators and the news media shortly after the governor’s speech. John Cooney, president of ITLA, is credited as the author of the trial lawyers’ statement.

Read more of this commentary…

News Update


Lawmakers Aim To Fix Election System

From the Peoria Journal Star

State lawmakers are trying to remedy what they see as a broken election system that takes too long, is too invasive and has too much influence from corporate donors.

Both Republicans and Democrats have introduced a group of bills to change ballot procedures, primary dates and campaign finance rules. Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, introduced two of the bills, which would change the primary date for state and federal elections and allow for an open ballot.

Drury’s House Bill 193 would change the primary election date to the fourth Tuesday in June. He said he heard complaints from both constituents and lawmakers about the long political process that he sees as flawed.

“It gives time for a lot of outside interest money to come into the races and say positive things about the people they like and negative things about the people we don’t,” he said. “What we’ve found is there’s very little money being spent talking about the issues.”

Drury said he thinks the state’s municipal elections are a good model. Springfield held city primaries Tuesday and will hold a municipal election six weeks later, on April 7.

Democrats aren’t the only ones looking to change the process. Freshman Rep. Steven Andersson, R-Geneva, filed similar legislation that would move the primary to July.

Read more in our daily News Update…