Illinois state capitol building

© Randall Runtsch |

Illinois Senate Moves Three Bills Through to House

May 07, 2018 - 8:29 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The Illinois Senate was busy last week, passing a bevy of bills the House will have the next three weeks or so to consider.

Among them, a measure requiring schools to teach LGBT history to students. The unit would include the contributions of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. State Senator Heather Steans says this is about more than a history lesson.

“I think this bill means a great deal to a number of people. What we find is there is an enormous drop, 36 percent drop, in people feeling bullied and people getting derogatory remarks made about them when they’re included in the curriculum people of LGBTQ personalities,” she says.

It would be up to schools to decide in which grade level to introduce the material.

State Senator Bill Haine of Alton sponsored a measure to raise minimum penalties for violence, especially with a weapon, in places of worship, including churches, synagogues or mosques. He says a 2009 crime prompted the change.

“The matter came to me through an Edwardsville police officer who was a member of a Baptist church in Maryville where the pastor was murdered in front of the congregation in Sunday morning, shot to death by a deranged individual,” he says.

Two other people were stabbed in that incident. Haine's measure passed unanimously and isn't expected to face much House opposition.

Another measure aims to protect college graduates having trouble paying back their loans. Under current law, the state can revoke professional licenses for defaulting on student loans. State Senator Scott Bennett says that doesn't make sense.

“We want to encourage lenders to loan money; we want to encourage people to borrow to get an education. It’s a great investment, but there’s no question that they can’t pay back that debt if they lose their jobs. To have a teacher, an engineer, a veterinarian lose their license because they can’t pay their student debt is counterproductive,” he says.

Bennett's bill would prohibit the suspension or revocation of a professional license for this reason. It passed the Senate unanimously and already has a House sponsor.