Supreme Court Decision to Bring in $$
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair will allow Illinois to collect sales taxes from more out-of-state online retailers. Currently, about 80 percent of out-of-state retailers are already paying sales taxes here. The Wayfair decision and the language written into the Budget Implementation (BIMP) bill for FY19 will help Illinois capture the remaining 20 percent.
The language in the BIMP expands the state’s 6.25 sales tax to out-of-state retailers who do $100,000 or more worth of business annually in Illinois (or 200 or more annual transactions here). If businesses reach that threshold, they are considered to be “maintaining a place of business in this State” and required to collect and remit the taxes. COGFA estimates the tax could bring in $150 million in FY19.
CPS Scandal Sparks Response
An alarming Chicago Tribune investigation found that Chicago Public Schools improperly dealt with investigations into educators accused of sexual abuse or assault and in some cases failed to act. It also found that they conducted inept background checks, which led to the hiring of educators with red flags in their records. In addition, CPS admitted that they do not have a standard protocol for investigating reports of sexual misconduct, which resulted in the significant failures in the way individual schools and the district handled cases of sexual abuse.
The Tribune’s investigation prompted a joint committee hearing of the House and Senate Education Committees last week. Lawmakers heard hours of testimony from student victims, CPS officials, and child welfare authorities. Notably absent was CPS CEO Janice Jackson. The Illinois House and Senate will continue to hold hearings this summer to further investigate the issue and consider additional policy recommendations.
I am the co-sponsor of new legislation to protect students around the state from sexual abuse and to create statewide mandates to ensure accusations against educators are handled properly. House Bill 5914 will require school boards to report all credible cases of sexual assault or abuse by a licensed educator to the State Board of Education (ISBE), to establish a hearing procedure for student victims, and to ensure that a licensed educator under investigation by the State Superintendent of Education is reassigned to non-classroom duty. School districts may not interview a student without their parent or guardian’s permission. The bill also mandates that ISBE be aware of, and monitor, the process with regards to each individual background check conducted by school districts. It further allows a school district to divulge internal investigative findings and discipline to another school district. Modeled off a Florida law, the bill would also make it a criminal offense for an authority figure to engage in sexual conduct or sexual relations with a student, regardless of age. Under current law, it is not a criminal offense if the student in question is 17 years or older.
As reported in the Tribune: “Athletic coaches are “a particular area of concern,” for CPS. The Tribune found that of the 72 cases in which employees and volunteers were accused of sexually abusing or assaulting students in Chicago Public Schools since 2008, 11 were coaches. Even more had dual roles as teachers and coaches. Earlier this year I filed legislation to strengthen the reporting requirements in Illinois Child Abuse and Neglect Act after news investigations into national athletic programs found that individuals within those organization failed to act when faced with accusations and evidence against coaches and others in power.
House Bill 5131 increases the criminal penalty for any person who knowingly violates reporting requirements of abuse or neglect from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony. It further states that anyone who does so as part of a cover-up or to protect a person from prosecution commits a Class 3 felony. According to the Tribune, no Chicago school employees have been charged with failing to report sexual abuse allegations to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, as required by state law. We need stronger state laws and consequences for those that don’t mandatorily report.
New Medicare Cards
In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. This law requires the removal of Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019 and the issuing of new Medicare cards to replace the old ones. This new initiative is to protect against fraud and identity theft. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the Social Security Number (SSN)-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status and claim status.
This month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing out new Medicare cards to residents in Illinois. The new Medicare card will have a completely different and randomly assigned identifier, the MBI, which will be 11 characters long, containing a mix of numbers and uppercase letters. CMS is also removing the gender and signature line from the new Medicare card. The MBI is confidential like your SSN and should be protected as personal health information.
CMS has until April 2019 to mail out new cards to all 60 million national Medicaid beneficiaries. Current Medicare cards will be accepted until December 31, 2019, after which only the new MBI card will be accepted. The new card will not impact current Medicare benefits or status. Beneficiaries are asked to destroy, not throw away, their old Medicare cards once the new one is received.The Illinois Attorney General’s office is warning residents about scams contacting you by email or phone asking you to confirm your Medicare number so they can send you a new card. If you need to update your mailing address you can do so online here or by calling 1-800-772-1213.
Becoming a US Citizen is a huge honor and I know it is the culmination of a lot of hard work for immigrants and their families. I am partnering with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to help make the process easier for them. On Saturday July 14th from 10am-3pm I am hosting a citizenship workshop. Volunteers from various organizations will be on hand to help assist applicants in completing the necessary forms and documents. This event is for LEGAL immigrants only. To be eligible for citizenship you must be a legal permanent resident of the United States for at least 5 years, or if married to a U.S. citizen, for 3 years. Applicants should bring the required documents with them to the workshop: residency card, SSN, passport, and any driver’s licenses or state IDs. Applicants are also advised to bring a $725 money order made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ($640 if older than 75). If you have any questions about the event or the requirements, please call (815) 727-3683 ext. 5400.
Did You Know?
June is National Homeownership Month, a time to celebrate and promote the dream of owning a home. The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IDHA) is committed to making homeownership more affordable, accessible and sustainable in Illinois, and through our network of lending partners, more than 24,000 Illinois households have used an IHDA loan to purchase a home in the past three years. IDHA has introduced the Access Mortgage Program to ensure homeownership is within reach for even more Illinois families.
The Access Mortgage Program offers three down payment assistance options to allow first-time and repeat homebuyers to select the solution best for their situation. Available in every county of the state, the program offers competitive interest rates and up to $10,000 in down payment assistance to help borrowers purchase a new or existing home. The program is less restrictive, allows borrowers to purchase new or existing properties, and offers more options to help the buyer find the down payment boost they need.