Gov. Bruce Rauner's office announced, on Aug. 18, that Rauner had signed a number of new bills, among them one that significantly expands hate-crime protections.
HB 3711 was sponsored in the House by state Rep. Litesa Wallace ( D-Rockford ) and in the Senate by state Sen. Omar Aquino ( D-Chicago ). The bill was shepherded by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who initiated the bill after convening a February hate-crimes summit.
Provisions of the legislation include expanding hate crimes laws to include harassment using cyber-technology, and adding provisions allowing hate crimes victims to sue for civil remedies. The attorney general's office would also be allowed to pursue civil penalties. Judges could impose fines of up to $25,000 for each violation.
Rauner also signed SB 1670, sponsored in the House by state Rep. Will Guzzardi ( D-Chicago ) and in the Senate by state Sen. Scott M. Bennett ( D-Champaign ). That bill requires that the Governor's Office of Boards and Commissions database include an application data field where an applicant may optionally disclose his or her sexual orientation when applying for a board or commission. That information would then be included among the demographics that are reported to the General Assembly.
Another bill, this one vetoed by Rauner, SB 669, dictated that the position of Lake County Board Chair be determined by a public election. The current occupant of that post, Aaron Lawlor, came out publicly in Feb. 2017.
Rauner said in his veto message that, "Current law already allows for a sufficient process by which Lake County can change its selection process. This issue should be resolved at the local level instead of pursuing a change of state law that addresses a highly political local issue to create a new process for a single county."