New laws target child abuse, pension spiking and rail crossing dangers

Dozens of new laws were signed this week, including a measure that would increase collaboration between state government and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) on child abuse and neglect cases filed against members of the military.

House Bill 4425 was introduced at the urging of the DoD, and will require the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to notify the DoD if a member of the Armed Forces is named as the alleged perpetrator in a child abuse or neglect report. If the accused is a member of the Illinois National Guard, DCFS is also required to notify the Office of the Adjutant General.

Also this week, a new law seeks to address pension “spiking” within the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) system—or at the very least provide a more transparent process to promote public awareness of large end-of-career salary increases. House Bill 5684 requires disclosure at a public meeting of a local government body of any proposed salary increase exceeding six percent to a retiring employee’s reportable monthly income. The new reporting requirement does not include those employees subject to collective bargaining agreements.

The new law targets situations where retiring employees are given a significant end-of-career salary “boost” as a way to increase their retirement income. Proponents of the measure hoped that requiring public disclosure of significant late career income bumps would make local government entities think twice before engaging in the costly practice of pension spiking.

Finally, in an effort to deter motorists from crossing train tracks with an active warning device, Senate Bill 2806 will double the fine for not stopping at a railroad crossing. The first violation is increased to $500, up from the current $250; any subsequent violation would be an increase to $1,000 from $500.

In 2015, Illinois had the third-highest number of rail crossing collisions (140, behind Texas and California), the second-highest number of rail crossing fatalities (24, behind California) and the third-highest number of rail crossing injuries (79, behind Texas and North Carolina). Illinois is also home to the second-largest rail system of any state with more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 10,363 public highway-rail crossings.

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