A major community college compensation reform measure, House Bill 3593, received final approval by a vote of 73-34 from the Illinois House last week. Passed over heavy opposition from community college presidents, the bill combined several concepts for reining in abuses in community college severance packages and benefits. One of the limitations in the bill is Rep. Peter Breen’s “Breuder Rule,” which would limit all severance packages to no more than one year’s salary and benefits. The name is a reference to the disgraced president of the College of DuPage, Robert Breuder, who received an over $750,000 payout from the College’s prior Board of Trustees. The College of DuPage is located in Breen’s 48th House District.
“We need reform at every level of government in Illinois,” Breen said. “While those who benefit from sweetheart severance packages fought hard against any changes to the law, my co-sponsors and I were able to gain the necessary bipartisan support to pass the measure. When enough public pressure is brought to bear on bad practices, we can get reforms passed in Springfield. I look forward to more of these sorts of reform measures in the future.”
Rep. Breen (R-Lombard) took the House floor to advocate strongly for the bill during a contentious debate. In addition to Breen’s “Breuder Rule,” the bill also limits community college employment contracts to no more than four years and specifically requires public notice prior to the adoption of those contracts. With final passage by the House, the bill will now be sent to the desk of Governor Bruce Rauner.
Click here to view a recent ABC 7 story on Rep. Peter Breen's bill to limit law enforcement retention of public license plate reader data, HB 3289. It appears that the legislative pressure from Breen and other privacy-minded representatives has pushed some in law enforcement to self regulate. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said that they only hold this data for 30 days, and the City of Chicago said in a statement, that "license plate data is over-written and not stored unless there is a positive hit on a plate needed for investigative purposes." Breen pointed out, that "during the negotiations, law enforcement did not want to limit retention to less than 33 months and the City of Chicago wanted to keep it indefinitely. This is definitely a positive result of our legislation to limit retention of this type of data and is a small victory for those innocent civilians who do not want to be tracked by the government."
On May 25, 2015, Representative Peter Breen passed Senate Bill 90, a bill to protect disabled seniors under the care of the court system from having their estate plans changed without oversight from a judge. The bill amends the Probate Act to allow a court to appoint an attorney to assist disabled seniors under a guardianship, to help those seniors alter their wills free of undue influence.
“Unfortunately, disabled seniors have been victimized by scammers who coerced them into deathbed changes to their wills to disown their families and instead direct their assets to these scammers,” said Breen. “We’ve seen this time and time again, including in the recent situation over the last wishes of baseball great Ernie Banks. This bill will ensure that our disabled elderly residents are protected from wrongdoing in their estate plans, and to guarantee that the fruits of their lifetime of working and saving are not stolen away at the ends of their lives.”
Breen worked with probate judges from DuPage and Cook Counties on the measure, along with staff from the Illinois State Bar Association and the Cook County Public Guardian’s office. There was no opposition to the bill, and it unanimously passed in the House. The Senate will now take up the measure.
On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, Governor Rauner, the Acting State Fire Marshall Matt Perez, the Illinois General Assembly and other officials honored firefighters who died in the line of duty and 39 other firefighters for bravery and service to their communities during the 22nd annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighter Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony. Rep. Breen presented an Illinois House Certificate of Recognition to Firefighter Christopher Guare from the Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company who achieved the Medal of Honor award, the highest award given to firefighters by the State of Illinois. Guare was one of seven firefighters who were selected for their acts of outstanding heroism, by which they demonstrated selflessness and personal courage above and beyond the call of duty, under adverse conditions, with the possibility of extreme personal risk.
On Friday, April 24, Representative Peter Breen passed HB 3289, legislation to regulate government use of automated license plate readers and retention of the tracking data generated by the devices. Rep. Breen worked extensively with the ACLU of Illinois to advance the measure. Together, they recruited a broad bi-partisan coalition of legislators to support the initiative. The final version of the bill was the third amended version, reached only after spirited negotiations with interested parties.
“Automated license plate readers can serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, but because of the power of this technology to track innocent civilians, we need to put responsible limits on their use. Our right to privacy is a fundamental right, cherished by our Founders and enshrined in the Illinois Constitution. This bill is a measured way to balance fighting crime and preserving innocent folks' privacy."
This bill limits license plate recognition systems to a specific range of uses for law enforcement, toll collection, and parking enforcement purposes, along with placing a 30-month maximum on the amount of time that location tracking information may be retained. Currently, there is no limit in Illinois law on the use of license plate readers or on the retention of tracking data from the readers.
After vigorous debate, the House passed the measure by a vote of 75-24-11. The bill will now move onto the Senate.
On Friday, Representative Peter Breen passed HB 2690, a bill to allow the sale of unpasteurized milk at Illinois farms, by a unanimous vote of 109-0. Sales of unpasteurized or "raw" milk had been occurring in Illinois under a decades-old statute, but due to more recent changes in state law, raw milk sales had been inadvertently made illegal.
Because current law provides misdemeanor criminal charges for raw milk sale, Illinois residents have been forced into underground transactions to purchase the milk. This legislation would remedy the defect in current law and allow individuals to purchase and sell raw milk in the open.
“This is both a pro-business and pro-freedom initiative," said Breen. "Consumers and farmers shouldn't be considered criminals for buying and selling unpasteurized milk. Folks drink locally-produced raw milk for a variety of reasons, whether for health reasons, for the taste, or just to support small farmers. We should be promoting wholesome natural alternatives, not criminalizing and condemning them.”
This legislation was strongly supported by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, which promotes local food production throughout the state. The bill was initially vigorously opposed by some in the public health community. However, after extensive negotiations, Breen secured consent of all interested parties with his fourth amendment to the bill, which became the final version of the measure. The bill now moves to the Illinois Senate.