Hastings Senate-FloorOn Tuesday, State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D–Orland Hills) passed a measure that seeks to prohibit court supervision for drivers responsible for fatal crashes. The bill is referred to as Patricia’s Law in honor of Patricia McNamara who was killed in an automobile crash in which the driver received court supervision.

“We have to continue strengthening our laws to curb egregious overuse of court supervision,” Hastings said. “I was shocked to learn that someone who had caused a fatal accident could qualify for court supervision.”
House Bill 1010 originated from Secretary of State Jessie White’s Advisory Committee on Traffic Safety, which unanimously supported the measure last September. Under current law, drivers involved in fatal crashes may seek and obtain court supervision. During the Senate committee hearing, the parents of the late Patricia McNamara testified in support of the legislation.

House Bill 1010 passed the Senate 56-0 and now awaits approval from the governor.

Category: Press Releases

hastings-patriciaslawLosing a loved one in an automobile accident can be terribly traumatic for families. That heartache, however, can be multiplied if the driver that caused the wreck is sentenced to court supervision.

Currently, Illinois law allows a judge to sentence drivers in such wrecks to supervision, a mild form of probation. But thanks to legislation sponsored by State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Orland Hills) that just passed the Senate, judges soon will be prohibited from sentencing offenders to what one lawyer called "slap-on-the-wrist fines."

The lawyer was representing the family of a woman who was killed crossing a street in Chicago's Lakeview East neighborhood in August 2011. A cab driver was found guilty of failure to yield to a pedestrian and sentenced to court supervision and a fine of a few hundred dollars.

A similar incident a month later in McHenry County took the life of a Rockford woman. The driver in that case told police he was distracted by his cell phone and ran a stop sign and struck a car driven by Patricia McNamara, killing her.

The driver had three prior speeding tickets but negotiated a plea deal for failure to obey a stop sign. He was fined and ordered to take four hours of traffic safety as part of his court supervision, which means no conviction will appear on his driving record. Walter and Carol Speer, McNamara's parents, took issue with this during a recent committee hearing.

"My daughter's death is not a petty offense. The man admitted to all the claims against him," Carol Speer said. "Why wasn't he charged with reckless and distracted homicide? Why wasn't his driver's license revoked?

HB 1010 — dubbed Patricia's Law — will prevent a judge from ordering supervision in cases in which a moving violation was the cause of death in a car accident.

"You should not receive a 'slap on the wrist' if you kill someone while driving recklessly," Hastings said. "We have to continue cracking down on the overuse of court supervision."

HB 1010 passed the Senate on Tuesday with bipartisan support and now awaits the governor's signature.

Category: Press Releases

Hastings-031913br0212State Senator Michael Hastings (D–Orland Hills) passed a measure Tuesday aimed at lowering college tuition costs for veterans. House Bill 2353 grants Illinois residency to veterans who are entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program passed. Granting veterans residency allows them to qualify for in-state tuition, thus lowering the cost of tuition fees and rates. 

“We have a responsibility to assist our veterans in their transition to civilian life,” Hastings said. “The Post-9/11 Education Assistance Program is a great initiative that is an investment in the future of our most recent generation of veterans.”

Hastings’ bill would resolve a disparity in the Post-9/11 Education Assistance Program that inadvertently burdened a significant number of American veterans with thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket tuition and fees based on residency status.

“The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides an opportunity for our veterans to get the proper education they need to find good-paying jobs after they finish serving their country,” Hastings said. “Unfortunately, veterans are having difficulties obtaining state residency, which results in higher tuition costs and fees. This measure would reconcile that issue."

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act is a federal law passed in 2008 that provides financial assistance to veterans wanting to go to college after finishing active duty. The law applies to veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001.

House Bill 2353 passed the Senate 54-0 and now awaits approval by Governor Quinn.


Bill Summary

  • Beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year, any person utilizing benefits under the federal Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 an Illinois resident for tuition purposes
    • Will apply to persons attending public universities and community colleges

Similar federal legislation is being sponsored by United State Senator Dick Durbin (D–IL) which provides equity for tuition and fees for individuals entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs who are pursuing programs of education at institutions of higher learning, and for other purposes.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – A union-backed proposal to curb the state’s rising pension costs passed out of the Illinois Senate earlier today with bipartisan support. The measure, Senate Bill 2404, saves the state up to $46 billion over the next 30 years and guarantees 90% funding of the pension systems by 2045.

State Senator Michael Hastings (D–Orland Park) was one of 40 senators who supported the measure.

“I am tired of reading about teachers being laid off, health care facilities closing and underfunded mental health programs as a result of deep cuts in our budget because of our skyrocketing pension costs,” Hastings said. “If the courts throw out the proposal, we don’t save any money and we will see another year of major cuts to vital state services. It is imperative that we pass a constitutionally-sound measure and I think this is the plan.”

SB 2404, which has received backing from top union officials, offers employees and retirees choices, such as keeping annual 3 percent compounded cost-of-living increase on pensions in exchange for giving up access to retiree health insurance.

The measure now moves to the House for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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