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Bill Summaries

Alien ownership
S.B. 788, sponsored by Sen. John Maitland Jr. (R., Bloomington) and Rep. Mary Lou Kent(R., Quincy), requires foreigners to report ownership of farmland. The disclosure law should reveal how widespread foreign-owned farms are in Illinois, but a major problem will be those who invest through blind trusts. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has begun a study of foreign-owned farms, which may involve checking county deeds. The state study will include information from a similar study under way by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural and Stabilization Conservation Service. The disclosure law requires foreign buyers or sellers to report the type of interest, description, purchase or sale price and intended use of the farmland, as well as their names, addresses, citizenship and places of business. Violators would be fined as much as 25 percent of the fair market value of the land. P. A. 81-187, effective August 14, 1979.

The Illinois Farm Union had wanted to ban foreign -owned farms outright, arguing that 27 other states regulate them. But legislators refused to seriously consider five measures that would have banned foreign owners, unconvinced that the situation is widespread. (See "Buying America"by Louise S. Greenfield, Illinois Issues, March 1979, for details.)

'Blind primary'
H.B. 2618, sponsored by Rep. Edward Mc-Broom (R., Kankakee), makes Illinois the only state able to send an uncommitted delegation to a national nominating convention. The so-called blind primary" legislation, as accepted by Republicans and rejected by Democrats, means that candidates for delegate to the Republican national convention will be listed on the ballot without any reference to the presidential candi­date they support. Democrats, who didn't adopt the new system, will still have delegate candidates listed with the name of the presidential contender they prefer, or the word "uncommitted," appearing in brackets next to their names on the ballot.

The House bill initially outlawed only nick ­ names suggesting titles, degrees or professions, such as "Doc" or "Sarge" from the ballot. The blind primary provision was added as a Senate amendment by Sen. James "Pate" Philip, Repub­lican chairman in powerful DuPage County.

Democrats treated the blind primary as a taboo, dismissing it as a violation of national party rules. Republicans adopted it as predicted, within days after Gov. James R. Thompson signed the bill (P.A. 81-135).

Charity solicitation
H.B. 360, sponsored by Rep. Alfred G. Ronan (D., Chicago), allows charities like the American Legion with its Poppy Day or the Lions Club with

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its Candy Day to legally solicit on state highways under certain conditions. Soliciting on state highways running through municipalities is still subject to municipalities' approval. To qualify, charities must register with the Illinois attorney general, raise funds statewide and assume liability for damages and injuries. Only those 16 or older, wearing high visibility vests, are allowed to solicit. Gov. James R. Thompson had vetoed similar legislation in 1977 for lack of such safeguards. P.A. 81-29, effective June 21, 1979.

Drinking age
H.B. 21, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Dunn (R., DuQuoin) and Sen. Gene Johns (D., Marion); returns the minimum legal drinking age to 21 statewide. The new law prevents the state's 90 cities with home-rule power, including some college towns, from setting their own drinking ages. H.B. 21 was the first successful effort to raise the drinking age since 1973 when Illinois joined 29 other states in relaxing the law to allow 19- and 20-year olds to drink beer and wine. Since then six other states have raised the drinking age. Success in Illinois was due directly to the fact that Chicago, the state's largest home - rule city, had returned the drinking age to 21 in March.

The issue finally centered on whether the state or its home-rule cities should have the power to regulate the drinking age, not whether statistics on teen drivers and drinkers proved 19- and 20-year olds irresponsible. Gov. James R. Thompson sided with the majority of legislators who felt only a statewide law would prevent a "hodge podge" of home-rule city drinking ages which would encourage teen drinkers to drive from dry to wet towns. Thompson cited increases in highway accidents involving teen drinkers as the major reason he signed the bill. The other major argument for the bill was the recognized increase in alcoholism among teenagers.

Raising the drinking age will cost the state an average of $5.7 million to $9.9 million per year in liquor and sales tax revenue, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue. And bar owners and liquor store owners, especially in college towns, will lose an average of $800,000 to $2 million per year in business, according to the Illinois Retail Liquor Association, which was the major lobby group against raising the drinking age. Enforcement remains the issue, especially in college towns, where sophomores and juniors will be able to drink legally until January 1, 1980. And it's likely that highway accidents involving teen drinkers, if not the incidence of teen alcoholism, will remain high as 19- and 20-year olds cross statelines to Iowa and Wisconsin where the minimum age is still 18. (See Illinois Issues, June, p. 12-13.) P.A. 81-212, effective January 1, 1980.

Halloween candy
H.B. 251, sponsored by Rep. Ben Polk (R., MolinP), Rep. Timothy V. Johnson (R., Urbana) and Sen. Adeline Jay Geo-Karis(R., Zion), makes purposefully adding harmful substances or objects to food an aggravated battery offense, a Class Three felony which carries a 2-10 year prison sentence on conviction. The new law primarily is designed to protect Halloween trick or treaters from those who spike candy, poison popcorn balls or conceal razor blades in caramel apples. P. A. 81-175, effective August 13, 1979.

Real estate transfer tax
H.B. 367, sponsored by Rep. Harry "Bus" Yourell (D., Oak Lawn), splits the revenue from the real estate transfer tax between the state and the counties. The state had taxed at 50 cents per $500 assessed value, but will drop its tax to 25 cents, giving the counties a chance to pick up the othe 25 cents. P.A. 81-10, effective May 17,1979. The Illinois Association of Realtors calls it token tax relief, since homeowners will pay the same amount unless counties decide not to tax transfers. The realtors say it's the state's way of meeting the counties' demand to share the tax wealth. According to the Illinois Department of Local Governmental Affairs, only a handful of down-state counties have asked about the change.

S.B. 952, sponsored by Sen. Mark Q. Rhoads (R., Western Springs), increases maximum state scholarships to $ 1,800 per year to cover the highest rate of tuition and fees at Illinois private schools. No increase was necessary to accommodate students at public schools, where tuition is about $900 after a $48 hike per school year was approved by university governing boards this year. P.A. 81-89, effective July 12, 1979.The Illinois State Scholarship Commission awarded about $80 million in scholarships to 95,000 students in school year 1978-79. But state scholarship money will drop to about $75 million in 1979-80 and continue to shrink. A boost in a federal scholarship program should offset the loss; an extra $40 million in federal money will come to Illinois in 1979-80 for Basic Opportunity Grants.

Superintendents' salaries
H.B. 2420, sponsored by Minority Leader George Ryan (R., Kankakee) and Sen. Sam Vadalabene (D., Edwardsville), increases salaries for regional school superintendents and assistant superintendents. Salaries go from $29,000 to $31,000 for those in regions with 48,000 population or less; from $32,000 to $35,500 with less than 99,000 population; $34,000 to $39,000 with less than 999,000 population and $36,000 to $41,000 with more than 1 million population. P.A. 81-153, effective August 3, 1979.

Teachers' residency
H.B. 1679, sponsored by Rep. John F. Dunn (D., Decatur) and Vadalabene which outlaws residency requirements for teachers, formerly optional, but doesn't affect those for administrators. Residency primarily is an issue in stateline districts such as East St. Louis, where teachers live in one state, but work in another.

Teacher salaries
S.B. 501, sponsored by Sen. Vince Demuzio (D., Carlinville) and Sen. Gene Johns (D., Marion), amends the School Code to set new minimum starting salaries for elementary and secondary teachers effective this school year. Only about 3,500 of the state's 107,000 teachers will be affected, according to Larry Lawlyes of the Illinois Education Association. In about 500 of the state's 1,000 districts, starting salaries are lower than the new minimum, Lawlyes said, but some of those districts will not have any new teachers this year. He also believes the districts have enough funds to pay the higher salaries since the General Assembly "has pumped an incredible amount of money" into the schools since 1969.The IEA was successful in increasing minimum salaries in 1965,1967 and 1971, but failed to push a bill through the legislature again until this year. Even then, lawmakers did not raise the increments for experience.

Opposition came from the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Under the new minimums, starting salaries for teachers with less than a bachelor's degree go from $6,000 to $9,000; with a bachelor's from $6,800 to $10,000 and with a master's from $7,300 to $11,000. The IEA had asked for $11,000 with a bachelor's and $12,000 with a master's.

The increments remain the same. For those with less than a bachelor's, the raise is $750 after five years. The IEA wanted $250 a year for a total of $ 1,250 after five years. For those with a bachelor's, the raise is $ 1,000 after five years and $ 1,600 after eight years. The IEA wanted $400 per year, for a total of $4,000 after 10 years. For those with a master's, the raise is $ 1,250 after five years, $2,000 after eight and $2,750 after 13. The IEA wanted $500 a year, for a total of $7,500 after 15. P.A. 81-108, effective July 19, 1979.

H.B. 420, sponsored by Rep. Lawrence DiPrima(D., Chicago)and Sen. Robert W. Mitchler (R., Oswego), amends the School Code to provide scholarships for tuition and fees at public schools for dependents of prisoners of war, those missing in action or totally disabled veterans. The highest tuition and fees at public schools in the 1979-80 school year will be about $900. P.A. 81-166, effective August 12, 1979.

H.B. 1681, sponsored by Rep. Frank C. Watson (R., Greenville) and Mitchler, provides special POW license plates for cars at regular cost. P.A. 81-169, effective with the 1980 registration year.

H.B. 924 (DiPrima and Mitchler) increases from $5,000 to $10,000 the lump-sum state grant for housing modifications required by 90 percent disabled veterans. P.A. 81-168, effective August 12, 1979.

H.B. 553 (DiPrima and Mitchler) increases from $30 to $50 the state reimbursement for erecting or moving burial stones. P.A. 81-167, effective August 12, 1979.

H.B. 1963, sponsored by Rep. William F. Mahar (R., Homewood) and Mitchler, amends the Personnel Code to set December 31, 1976, as the last date for military service to qualify veterans for preference for state jobs. P.A. 81-170, effective August 12, 1979.□

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