Illinois Governor Vetoes Some Bad Bills, Signs Others
By David Jaroslav | August 29, 2018
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) turned the Land of Lincoln into a sanctuary state last year when he signed the state’s so-called “Trust Act,” SB 31 (2017). This year he’s rejected some calls to go even further by vetoing three bad new bills sent to him by the legislature at the end of their regular session. But he signed two more that could be just as bad.
Vetoed: Senate Bill (SB) 35 (“Immigration Safe Zones Act”)
- Requires the Illinois Attorney General to create model policies limiting assistance with immigration enforcement “to the fullest extent possible consistent with federal and State law”;
- Requires those model policies to be adopted by the following institutions – both public or private – that accept any state funds: : 1) schools; 2) medical facilities; 3) libraries; 4) facilities operated by the Illinois Secretary of State (including driver’s licensing and vehicle registration); and 5) courts;
- Requires that all applications, forms, etc., used by state agencies or public schools to apply for benefits or services eliminate questions regarding citizenship or immigration status, except those “required by statute, ordinance, federal law, or court order.”
Vetoed: Senate Bill (SB) 3103 (“Immigrant Tenant Protection Act”)
- Forbids landlords from disclosing or threatening to disclose the immigration status of tenants;
- Voids any lease provision allowing such disclosure or threats;
- Authorizes tenants to sue landlords for disclosing or threatening to disclose their immigration status, and to recover all of: 1) actual damages; 2) civil penalties of up to $2,000 per violation; 3) reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs; and 4) “other equitable relief as the court may deem appropriate and just”;
- Declares immigration status irrelevant in any landlord-tenant dispute unless “necessary in order to comply with federal law”;
- Similar to legislation passed last year in California, Assembly Bill (AB) 291 (2017).
Vetoed: Senate Bill (SB) 34 (“Voices of Immigrant Communities Empowering Survivors (VOICES) Act”)
- Requires state and local law enforcement to process applications for T and U Visas, the special visa categories for crime victims and witnesses, which is currently discretionary;
- If the visa applicant is in immigration proceedings or detained, the application must be processed within 21 days; if their children, parents, or siblings would lose eligibility for benefits, it must be processed within 5 days; otherwise, it must be processed within 90 days.
Signed: Senate Bill (SB) 3109 (“DFPR License – Immigration”)
- Requires all professional licenses issued by the Department of Professional Regulation to be granted regardless of immigration status;
- Requires the Educator Preparation and Licensure Board to grant teaching licenses/credentials regardless of immigration status;
- Requires the Board of Pharmacy to license pharmacists regardless of immigration status;
- Was amended so it no longer authorizes illegal aliens to practice law.
Signed: Senate Bill (SB) 3488 (“Anti-Registry Program Act”)
- Expands Illinois’s prohibition on information-sharing between state and local government and the federal government, beyond even what is already prohibited by the “Trust Act,” under the guise of scary rhetoric about “registries” and “lists”;
- Probably forces many private individuals and businesses to choose between contracting with state and local governments and with the federal government.
Under the Illinois Constitution, because the legislature isn’t in session, the vetoed bills will be sent to Secretary of State Jesse White, who will hold them until the legislature next convenes. Once they do, they will have 15 days to consider overriding the vetoes by a 3/5 super majority of each chamber. Democrats control the Senate by a 37-22 margin, more than 3/5, but the House by only 67-51, less than 3/5. Therefore, overrides are possible, but far from certain, as they would require all the Democrats to vote together and some Republicans to join them.
The Governor said the bills he vetoed “strained State, local and federal law enforcement agencies beyond justifiable law enforcement need” and were “sort of part of that whole sanctuary concept, and I’m against that.” He added that illegal immigration “pushes up our unemployment rate, and that holds down wages in Illinois.” Yet given those statements, it boggles the mind that he could have signed the bill making Illinois a sanctuary state last year, and the two recent bills he signed into law.
His opponents made no apparent mention of the bills he signed but predictably condemned the vetoes in heated emotional language. Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker described them as “a cowardly, political move that exploits divisions he and Donald Trump try to make in our society”, while Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), the sponsor of SB 3109, accused Rauner of “trying to score political points during a week when anti-immigrant rhetoric is high[.]”
The situation in Illinois is already bad and continues to worsen. While Gov. Rauner probably deserves some modest credit for his vetoes, on balance, the bills he’s signed both last year and now this year have done nothing but add to his state’s problems.