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ISBA’s Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reports from Springfield on new legislation, including County prisoners and childbirth (House Bill 1958), Residential mortgage originators (Public Act 97-143), Uniform Foreign Country Money Judgements Recognition Act, Adoption Act Registry, Health Care PoAs and Condominiums and associations.

ISBA’s Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reports from Springfield on new legislation, including Legal Services Funding, Illinois Radon Awareness Act, Local Government Reporting Requirements, New Jurors and Fitness Hearings. View previous editions of the Statehouse Review.
ISBA's Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reports from Springfield on seven new public acts that Gov. Quinn has signed. New laws affect worker's compensation, transfers on death, court's witness, students, juvenile justice, FOIA and insurance law.
A proposed House budget released yesterday would cut funding for legal services by 26 percent. This would roll back funding to the 1999 level. If you care about legal services and the good work they do, now is the time to call your Member of Congress and validate the importance of funding of legal services. More details about this proposal may be found here. Don't write; call. First-class mail takes too long because it is trucked somewhere and tested for chemicals. Their phone numbers may be found here.

Jim Covington

Mark D. Hassakis
By Sarah Zavala, Special to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin It's like "poof" and all of a sudden a major legislative issue can appear out of nowhere. "That's often how this stuff works," said James R. Covington III, director of legislative affairs for the Illinois State Bar Association. And this past legislative session was no exception.
The Illinois Public Defender Association has awarded Jim Covington, Illinois State Bar Association's Director of Legislative Affairs, its Award for Excellence "in recognition of and sincere appreciation for your outstanding efforts in the legislative arena in the fight to abolish the death penalty in Illinois and your tenacious and unwavering commitment to justice." On hand to present the award were (from left): Stephen Baker, Legislative liason for the Cook County Public Defender's Office, Covington and Jeff Howard, President of the Illinois Public Defender Association.
Senate Bill 1746 (Trotter, D-Chicago; Currie, D-Chicago) creates the E-Business Plan to develop and maintain an automated case and statistics management system. The E-Business Plan will include e-filing, e-guilty, e-signatures, and trial court and probation data exchanges. It will be funded by a $10 fee assessed on all civil litigants and all defendants in all criminal, traffic, and municipal ordinance cases. In House Executive Committee.
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL-13th) of west suburban Hinsdale will receive the American Bar Association’s Congressional Award on April 12 for her support of legislation to protect funds that help low-income families who need legal assistance. The legislation, H.R. 6398, requires the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to fully insure Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts. The interest generated from these accounts provides funding for civil legal services for people near or below the poverty line, including the working poor, low-income veterans and persons with disabilities. IOLTA is one of the largest funding sources for free legal services in the country, supporting legal aid offices and pro bono programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. “At some point, almost everyone needs access to sound legal advice, whether it’s to write a will, sign a contract, or navigate the justice system,” said Biggert, a former attorney who specialized in real estate, estate planning and probate law. “This is a simple way we can help ensure that low-income Americans have access to legal help when they need it most – without placing the burden on taxpayers. I appreciate the support of the ABA, and I’m pleased we were able to send this important legislation to the President’s desk.” “Protecting IOLTA is a zero-cost, common sense way to help struggling Illinois families — Rep. Biggert’s support was crucial,” said ABA President Stephen N. Zack. This bill was signed into law Dec. 29, 2010. Click here to view a photo gallery from the awards ceremony.
Illinois' eavesdropping laws are interesting to say the least. With the proliferation of cell phones and other portable electronics, every stop by a police officer now  has the potential to make a citizen subject to a Class 1 felony. House Bill 2018, which died in committee, tried to make an exception for motorists who are stopped by law enforcement as part of their official duties. But that isn't the only eavesdropping trap for the unwary citizen. A downstate auto mechanic with no prior criminal record is awaiting a May trial in Robinson, Illinois, on four Class 1 felony counts. The mechanic  allegedly violated Judge Kimbara Harrell's right to privacy as she conducted a public proceeding  (ordinance violation) against the mechanic in open court that the mechanic allegedly recorded.  (Court rules also prohibit recording; no idea why the mechanic was not cited for contempt of court. Read more about it here.) Nor is there any right for a middle-school or high school student to record any proceeding while visiting the General Assembly without violating the eavesdropping law. The General Assembly exempted itself from the Open Meetings Act in this regard. Interesting legislative determination of who is at risk under these laws and whose alleged right and expectation of privacy is to be protected.
The Department of Healthcare and Family Services has issued another set of regulations implementing the federal Deficit Reduction Act. These regs will be voted on by the Joint Committee of Administrative Rules in Springfield on April 12. These regs have a powerful impact on estate planning, older Americans, and their families. The regs and related information may be found here. Members of JCAR include these legislators.