Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jul 2016
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2016 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Monique Garcia


Governor Signs Legislation to Issue Citations Instead of Time in Jail

SPRINGFIELD - Getting caught with small amounts of marijuana will 
result in citations akin to a traffic ticket instead of the 
possibility of jail time under legislation Republican Gov. Bruce 
Rauner signed into law Friday.

Rauner's approval of the decriminalization measure comes after he 
used his amendatory veto powers last year to rewrite similar 
legislation he argued would have allowed people to carry too much pot 
and fine violators too little.

Supporters incorporated his proposed changes, and under the new law 
those caught with up to 10 grams of marijuana will face fines of $100 
to $200. Individual municipalities could add to the fines and 
implement other penalties, such as requiring offenders to attend drug 
treatment. Citations would be automatically expunged twice a year, on 
Jan. 1 and July 1.

Under previous Illinois law, possession of up to 10 grams of pot was 
a class B misdemeanor that could result in up to six months in jail 
and fines of up to $1,500.

The law also would loosen the state's zero-tolerance policy for 
driving under the influence. Before, a driver could be charged if any 
trace of marijuana was detected, even if it was ingested weeks before 
and the driver showed no signs of impairment.

Under the new law, drivers won't be charged with DUI unless they have 
5 nanograms or more of THC in their blood, or 10 nanograms or more of 
THC in their saliva.

The state law follows a measure enacted by Chicago in 2012 that 
allows police to issue tickets of $250 to $500 for someone caught 
with 15 grams or less of marijuana. The state law wouldn't override 
laws in cities such as Chicago that already have fines in place, but 
would create uniformity across the state for towns that don't have 
such measures on the books.

The effort marks a rare point of agreement between Rauner and 
Democrats. Both sides seek to cut the burden on the court system and 
overhaul the state's approach to criminal justice.

"We applaud Gov. Rauner and the legislature for replacing Illinois' 
needlessly draconian marijuana possession law with a much more 
sensible policy," Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the 
Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. "This commonsense 
legislation will prevent countless citizens from having their lives 
turned upside down by a marijuana possession arrest."

The legislation was one of dozens of bills Rauner acted on Friday 
afternoon, including a package of legislation to increase oversight 
of community colleges following a Chicago Tribune investigation that 
revealed questionable spending and lax oversight at the College of DuPage.

The measures would require schools to undergo special audits every 
five years to examine contracts, transparency and compensation to 
school leadership; provide for additional training for community 
college board members on ethics, financial oversight and fiduciary 
responsibilities; and limit what income can be factored into pension 
benefits for university and college presidents.

Previously, those officials have been able to get credit toward their 
pension for the cash value of perks such as bonuses or car 
allowances. Under the proposed change, pensionable income would be 
limited to salaries and not other benefits.

A law already has been enacted to limit severance packages for 
community college presidents statewide after College of DuPage 
trustees fired President Robert Breuder after the Tribune found 
Breuder and senior managers spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in 
taxpayer and donor money on food and alcohol. The Tribune also 
chronicled how noncompetitive contracts were awarded to board members 
of the college's fundraising foundation and how inflated enrollment 
figures led to the college paying money back to the state.

Rauner also approved a controversial measure that would require Roman 
Catholic hospitals to tell patients they can go elsewhere for health 
care choices that violate church teachings. The proposal would amend 
the state's Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which generally 
allows workers and institutions to deny services for religious and 
ethical reasons. While the changes apply to all hospitals in 
Illinois, it's particularly relevant for Catholic hospitals, which 
handle more than 1 in 4 admissions statewide.

"The new law carefully balances the needs of patients to get complete 
information about their medical condition with the ability of health 
care providers to refuse health care services to which they have a 
religious or conscience objection," said Lorie Chaiten, director of 
the Reproductive Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties 
Union of Illinois.

Other legislation approved by the governor would expand contraceptive 
options for women by eliminating a complicated waiver process they 
must go through to get birth control medications not offered by their 
insurance companies; replace the word "alien" with "undocumented 
immigrant" in state immigration paperwork; and require employers 
provide at least two weeks of unpaid leave to workers who have lost a child.

Rauner vetoed a proposal aimed at preventing his administration from 
cutting home care services for seniors and people with disabilities.

To determine whether someone is eligible for services, and to what 
level, an assessment is used to arrive at what is known as the 
determination of need score. The higher the score, the greater the 
need for help with day-to-day activities.

The measure Rauner rejected would have kept the minimum score at 29. 
Rauner previously proposed raising it to 37 but backed off amid 
staunch opposition from advocates who said thousands would not get 
the help they need.

Rauner said the bill would have limited the state's ability to move 
clients from institutionalized care to community-based programs. 
Advocates for the disabled say the move is just another in a series 
of cuts Rauner has proposed that target the vulnerable.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom