Foreign fire insurance fee in committee this week

From Illinois News Network

State lawmakers wants to bring about more transparency for a little known pool of money used by fire departments across the state.

It’s called the Foreign Fire Insurance Fee and it’s paid by out-of-state insurance companies that provide policies for in-state properties.

Representative Rob Martwick says the fee is really a tax that ultimately turns into public money that needs to be accounted for.

“The assessment of these fees are probably attached onto many of our residents’ insurance policies, right?

“So these are public funds even if they are not assessed as a tax, per se. And they’re used for a public benefit to improve our fire departments and our municipalities in our local towns.”

Martwick has a measure that requires financial information to be posted online. The fee is collected either by the municipality or fire protection districts, but Martwick says the Illinois Municipal League, a non-governmental lobbying organization that works to improve the position of cities and villages alike also administers some of the fund.

Martwick says even though the Illinois Municipal League is a private entity that doesn’t have to respond to FOIA, they deal with what could be considered public money and there must be some transparency.

“So yeah that’s really the motivation behind this bill,” said Martwick.

“If the Municipal League can show us they are wisely spending the money that they collect and distribute that’s being done on an efficient basis then I think great and we can applaud them for their work, but we don’t know that because there’s no transparency to the process.”

Martwick says his measure is the the topic of a subject matter hearing in the Cities and Villages committee scheduled Tuesday. Calls to the Associated Firefighters of Illinois and the Illinois Municipal League were not returned.

Immigration reform focus of panel discussion

A slew of lawmakers from Illinois, including Governor Bruce Rauner, took part in a forum about immigration reform Monday in Chicago. Joining Rauner were Senator Mark Kirk, Congressmen Aaron Schock, Adam Kinzinger and Bob Dold, among others.

The theme was how immigration reform would benefit the U.S. Economy. Rauner said the issue of immigration reform should be solved with bipartisan solutions.

“That’s what we need to together, on a bipartisan basis,” said Rauner.

“We can come together, democrats and republicans, to solve our problems to make America stronger, to encourage immigration and to make the American Dream a reality for everyone.”

A flier handed out at the event in the St. Ignatius College Prep School claims immigration reform would boost Illinois’ economic output by one-point-eight-billion dollars while mass deportation would cost the state eleven-point-four-billion dollars. The flier also states that immigration reform advances U.S. competitiveness.

Right-to-Work signed into law in Wisconsin

Workers in Illinois’ neighbor to the north won’t be forced into unions under new legislation signed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

The signed measure isn’t just for public employees but is also for the private sector. Wisconsin is the twenty-fifth state to pass right-to-work, joining Michigan and Indiana, other Illinois neighbors, that now ban forced unionization.

Illinois neighbor Kentucky didn’t pass a statewide right-to-work measure, but several counties have declared themselves right-to-work zones.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has said he isn’t advocating for a statewide measure, but wants localities to decide if they want to be right-to-work zones.

Stolworthy appointed to Corrections post

Governor Bruce Rauner announced that he has selected Donald Stolworthy to lead the Illinois Department of Corrections as its new director.

Stolworthy currently works for the U.S. State Department in the Bureau of  International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

In his current role Stolworthy conducts assessments of foreign prison systems to how the U.S. can help transform them.

Donald Stolworthy graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in history.

Stolworthy began his career in corrections in 1999 as a probation and parole officer with the Alaska Department of Corrections.

He also worked as a legislative aide to a member of the Alaska House of Representatives and as the division director of the Alaska Charitable Gaming Division.

He also managed the construction of five prisons in Iraq.

Governor appointees are approved by the Senate within sixty days of being appointed.

–Contributions from TRRT Staff Reports

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