Friday, April 23, was the deadline for getting all House bills out of the House chamber and over to the Senate. That date serves as an unofficial end of the first half of the legislative session. Rep. Breen worked a number of House bills this term and won passage of three of them, with two focused on government reform and transparency.
When the disgraced former president of the College of DuPage was awarded a contract extension behind closed doors in 2011, the COD Board violated the Open Meetings Act. It wasn’t until 2015 that the IL Attorney General’s office confirmed that a violation had occurred and reprimanded the board. The Open Meetings Act allows citizens a brief 60 days to go to court to get relief, but unlike most other laws, the time clock here starts at the time of the actual violation, instead of after the decision is issued by the Attorney General’s office. Because of this, the citizen who filed the complaint with the Attorney General about the sweetheart contract deal at COD never had her day in court. HB 5683 will close this loophole and start the clock for a lawsuit only after the Attorney General’s office has issued its decision. "We can't afford a weak or ineffective Open Meetings Act, especially in light of the corruption we've lived through in Illinois," stated Rep. Breen. HB 5683 passed 114-0 and is now in the Senate.
During the last hour of the last day of the "first half," the final bill considered was Rep Breen's legislation to make end-of-career pension spiking in municipal government a thing of the past. HB 5684 garnered a diverse bipartisan group of cosponsors, and the measure passed 100-3. "Across the state, taxpayers are suffering because of this practice, which occurs when longtime public employees with large accrued balances of sick time and vacation time are allowed to transfer those days into pre-retirement cash payments that are made outside the usual 90-day look-back period," Breen said. HB 5684 will require local municipal boards to hold an open meeting with full disclosure to the public of exactly how a retiring employee’s salary would be affected, before any pension spiking can even be considered. "This sort of public notice and shaming in some cases will hopefully put an end this practice, saving municipalities and taxpayers substantial amounts of money."