Morrison in the SenateA law to prevent future governors from engaging in last-minute patronage takes effect today.

State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) introduced the proposal after former Gov. Pat Quinn appointed a political operative to a $160,000-per-year state job at the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority a month after he lost his election last year.

Her plan affects any director appointed to a governor-controlled board or commission after the governor loses an election. They will be limited to 60 days in the position, allowing the newly elected governor to find the best person for the position. Morrison’s legislation extends beyond the ISFA to include similar government organizations.

“People are sick and tired of Illinois public officials abusing their positions,” Morrison said. “We shouldn’t need this law, but Gov. Quinn made it clear that we do. Fortunately, now this loophole is closed forever.”

The Illinois Sports Finance Authority – a government entity – owns U.S. Cellular Field, home of the White Sox, and provided the majority of the financing for the renovation of the Bears’ Soldier Field. It receives subsidies from the state and the city of Chicago, income from the White Sox rental agreement, and revenue from a 2 percent tax on all hotel rentals in Chicago.

The legislation was originally House Bill 4078.

Category: Latest News

New transparency law will force big political spenders to come cleanA new law sponsored by state Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) will let the people see who’s really paying for political campaigns, shining a light on those trying to buy influence at the state Capitol.

It requires political organizations that make independent expenditures – buying ads or paying for commercials on candidates’ behalf without their explicit permission – to report how much money they spend and how they spend it.

Any time a political action committee or some other person or organization spends more than $1,000 on a candidate, it will be required to report its actions to the State Board of Elections within five days. In the two months leading up to the election, they will have to report expenses within two days.

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Category: Latest News

DroneWhen the state’s Department of Natural Resources came to Senator Julie Morrison and asked her to sponsor a ban on using drones for hunting, she agreed, thinking it was a simple idea that would be supported by both hunters and environmentalists as it had been in other states.

As far as it went, that much was true: Hunters see using drones as cheating, and environmentalists like that animals get a more sporting chance to escape. What neither Morrison nor the department anticipated is that every group interested in using drones would see the legislation as the first move toward state regulation of the new technology.

“I couldn’t believe how many people were interested in this legislation,” Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat, said. “Most of them didn’t care about the hunting ban. They wanted to have a wider conversation about the role of drones in our society.”

Instead of banning drones for hunting, Morrison began working with Representative Brandon Phelps, from Harrisburg in far southern Illinois, to put together a commission to write comprehensive rules for the use of drones in Illinois.

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Category: Latest News

Morrison in a meetingA new state law should make it easier to open a business in Illinois. It requires the state to put all permit and license applications on one centralized website.

“We should be making it easier to open small businesses in Illinois,” said Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), the measure’s sponsor. “The practice of requiring entrepreneurs to navigate dozens of websites has to stop.”

Right now, business owners who need more than one license or permit normally have to visit several different state and local government websites and fill out forms. To see if they qualify for any economic development programs, they have to contact even more state agencies.

Many other states do better, putting all of these forms and information in one place.

Illinois' new business licensing website will be operated by the state’s Department of Commerce and Opportunity. The agency will update the site at least once every year. Under the current system, potential business owners are often forced to struggle with broken links and hard-to-navigate, out-of-date state websites.

Morrison’s plan was inspired in part by the state of New York’s business license website: Under New York’s system, entrepreneurs start by selecting the type of business they would like to open. They then answer a series of questions. When they finish, they are provided with links to all of the forms they need to fill out and any additional information they requested.

The law was Senate Bill 659.

The new website should be online by July 2017.

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