hastings-patriciaslawLosing a loved one in an automobile accident can be terribly traumatic for families. That heartache, however, can be multiplied if the driver that caused the wreck is sentenced to court supervision.

Currently, Illinois law allows a judge to sentence drivers in such wrecks to supervision, a mild form of probation. But thanks to legislation sponsored by State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Orland Hills) that just passed the Senate, judges soon will be prohibited from sentencing offenders to what one lawyer called "slap-on-the-wrist fines."

The lawyer was representing the family of a woman who was killed crossing a street in Chicago's Lakeview East neighborhood in August 2011. A cab driver was found guilty of failure to yield to a pedestrian and sentenced to court supervision and a fine of a few hundred dollars.

A similar incident a month later in McHenry County took the life of a Rockford woman. The driver in that case told police he was distracted by his cell phone and ran a stop sign and struck a car driven by Patricia McNamara, killing her.

The driver had three prior speeding tickets but negotiated a plea deal for failure to obey a stop sign. He was fined and ordered to take four hours of traffic safety as part of his court supervision, which means no conviction will appear on his driving record. Walter and Carol Speer, McNamara's parents, took issue with this during a recent committee hearing.

"My daughter's death is not a petty offense. The man admitted to all the claims against him," Carol Speer said. "Why wasn't he charged with reckless and distracted homicide? Why wasn't his driver's license revoked?

HB 1010 — dubbed Patricia's Law — will prevent a judge from ordering supervision in cases in which a moving violation was the cause of death in a car accident.

"You should not receive a 'slap on the wrist' if you kill someone while driving recklessly," Hastings said. "We have to continue cracking down on the overuse of court supervision."

HB 1010 passed the Senate on Tuesday with bipartisan support and now awaits the governor's signature.

Category: Press Releases

Hastings-031913br0212State Senator Michael Hastings (D–Orland Hills) passed a measure Tuesday aimed at lowering college tuition costs for veterans. House Bill 2353 grants Illinois residency to veterans who are entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program passed. Granting veterans residency allows them to qualify for in-state tuition, thus lowering the cost of tuition fees and rates. 

“We have a responsibility to assist our veterans in their transition to civilian life,” Hastings said. “The Post-9/11 Education Assistance Program is a great initiative that is an investment in the future of our most recent generation of veterans.”

Hastings’ bill would resolve a disparity in the Post-9/11 Education Assistance Program that inadvertently burdened a significant number of American veterans with thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket tuition and fees based on residency status.

“The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides an opportunity for our veterans to get the proper education they need to find good-paying jobs after they finish serving their country,” Hastings said. “Unfortunately, veterans are having difficulties obtaining state residency, which results in higher tuition costs and fees. This measure would reconcile that issue."

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act is a federal law passed in 2008 that provides financial assistance to veterans wanting to go to college after finishing active duty. The law applies to veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001.

House Bill 2353 passed the Senate 54-0 and now awaits approval by Governor Quinn.


Bill Summary

  • Beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year, any person utilizing benefits under the federal Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2008 an Illinois resident for tuition purposes
    • Will apply to persons attending public universities and community colleges

Similar federal legislation is being sponsored by United State Senator Dick Durbin (D–IL) which provides equity for tuition and fees for individuals entitled to educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs who are pursuing programs of education at institutions of higher learning, and for other purposes.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – A union-backed proposal to curb the state’s rising pension costs passed out of the Illinois Senate earlier today with bipartisan support. The measure, Senate Bill 2404, saves the state up to $46 billion over the next 30 years and guarantees 90% funding of the pension systems by 2045.

State Senator Michael Hastings (D–Orland Park) was one of 40 senators who supported the measure.

“I am tired of reading about teachers being laid off, health care facilities closing and underfunded mental health programs as a result of deep cuts in our budget because of our skyrocketing pension costs,” Hastings said. “If the courts throw out the proposal, we don’t save any money and we will see another year of major cuts to vital state services. It is imperative that we pass a constitutionally-sound measure and I think this is the plan.”

SB 2404, which has received backing from top union officials, offers employees and retirees choices, such as keeping annual 3 percent compounded cost-of-living increase on pensions in exchange for giving up access to retiree health insurance.

The measure now moves to the House for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Orland Hills) joined 31 other senators in a bipartisan effort to expand gambling in the state.

“This expansion will help to ensure Illinois dollars are being spent in Illinois,” Hastings said. “A new casino in the south suburbs will generate new revenue for infrastructure projects and create hundreds of new jobs in the Southland area.”

Senate Bill 1739

Chicago Casino
• 4,000 positions: land- or water-based and at airports
• Run by a licensed operator subject to management contract

• New Executive Inspector General for Gaming
• Gaming Board oversight of Chicago casino is equal to all other gaming facilities
• Political contribution ban for gaming licensees

Slots at race tracks
• 1,200 positions in Cook County/ 900 for non-Cook
• Racinos must be licensed by Gaming Board

4 new riverboats/casinos
• Rockford
• Danville
• South suburbs: either Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Rich, Thornton or Worth Township
• Lake County: either Park City, Waukegan or North Chicago

Tax rate reduction
• Separate tax rate for slots vs. table games
• New tax rates take effect in the fiscal year following the opening of the Chicago casino, but not before July 1, 2015

Distribution of Revenues
• Upfront license fees to fund increased headcount at the Gaming Board, remainder to old bills
• Local shares to host communities
• A portion of the tax revenue will go to various funds for example a small portion will go to the State Fairgrounds Capitol Improvement fund as well as DHS will get revenues to pay for compulsive gambling treatment

The remaining tax revenues will go to the Education Assistance Fund

Category: Press Releases

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Welcome to the official website of Senator Michael E. Hastings. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Hastings directly or you may call any of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

Springfield Office:
118 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-9595

East Office:
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Matteson, IL 60443

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Frankfort, IL 60423
(815) 464-5431

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