Rep. Dwight Kay said he plans to introduce a trio of legislative packages aimed at improving the business climate in Illinois.
The Republican from Glen Carbon said his legislation -- some of which has not yet been put in bill form-- will address the state’s tort, tax and workers’ compensation systems.
He said he would announce details of his proposals within the next two weeks.
And while these three measures are priorities for him, Kay said resolving the state’s fiscal situation in a way and providing proper education funding top his agenda for the spring legislative session.
When it comes to his soon-to-be-filed tort reform legislation, Kay said he can’t predict its future, but remains hopeful it will receive discussion and support.
He said his legislation will include seven or eight sub-sections that will address a variety of tort reform issues, like venue, product liability, expert witnesses and the way damages are computed.
Rep. Jill Tracy, R-Quincy, introduced a bill earlier this month dealing with venue. Like her bill, Kay said his calls for the dismissal of suits if the defendants are not Illinois residents and the cause of action didn’t occur here.
“There is no need to bring it to Madison County,” Kay said, explaining that if a lawsuit doesn’t have a connection to a county, it shouldn’t be allowed to move forward there. “There are many other very, very good jurisdictions in many states that can handle these suits.”
Although he hasn’t filed his tort reform package yet, Kay introduced a bill earlier this month that intends to prevent “double-dipping” by asbestos claimants seeking compensation from bankrupt companies and the court system.
That measure – House Bill 153 – is modeled after recently-passed legislation in Ohio, where claimants will now have to reveal all asbestos claims filed by them or for them within 30 days of the commencement of discovery in a suit.
“I feel like I am going to have some reasonable success with it,” Kay said.
HB153 and Tracy’s venue measure, HB138, have both been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, which is set to meet Feb. 6, the day of the governor's State of the State Address.
Although he acknowledges that fiscal issues will likely, and should, dominate this year’s legislative session, Kay said he hopes his colleagues will also take a look at his proposals to reform the state’s tax and workers’ comp systems.
In regards to workers’ comp, Kay said he knows “some people will say we just did that” in reference to legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law in June 2011, but “no we didn’t.”
“We didn’t address any of the salient problems the state is facing and the businesses are complaining about,” Kay said, specifically noting that the 2011 law did not include a causation provision. “If you address causation in a meaningful way, many of the problems will go away.”
Noting that there was willingness in Springfield to reform the system two years ago, Kay said he hopes legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle can again sit down this session and discuss the issue he believes is vital to keeping jobs and bringing businesses to Illinois.
Kay’s work comp-related proposals are included in House Bills 107, 108, 109, 111, 112, 113, 114 and 115. All of the measures have been assigned to the House Labor & Commerce Committee, which is slated to meet Feb. 6.
Kay said the third reform package he will introduce this session aims to reform the state’s tax policies, “which are so messed up they don’t make sense to anyone.”
“Most people don’t understand our Tax Code has not been rewritten since 1959,” he said. “We need a good hard review and we need to get it started.”
The full language of Kay's legislation can be found at ilga.gov.