Wheeler Bill to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence Signed into Law

Governor Quinn has signed legislation to protect survivors of domestic violence. “Diane’s Law,” sponsored by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), allows the courts to order risk assessment and electronic surveillance of those charged with domestic abuse in order to increase protections for victims of domestic violence.

House Bill 3744 allows the court to order individuals charged with intimate partner abuse including domestic battery, kidnapping, stalking, harassment and attempted murder to undergo a risk assessment evaluation as a condition of bail. The court may also require GPS monitoring of the defendant to help monitor and enforce restraining orders. The new law is effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Diane’s Law was written following the murder of Diane Kephart by a former boyfriend on March 15, 2013. Diane was murdered three days after renewing her protective order against an ex-boyfriend. "Hopefully this legislation will contribute towards keeping the victims of domestic violence safer in the future," stated Wheeler. "This measure will be an added tool in the hands of the justice system to protect those potentially in harm’s way."

Senator Althoff agreed with Wheeler’s sentiments and added, “In the case of Diane Kephart a protective order was not enough to prevent the tragedy that unfolded,” Althoff said. “This law goes beyond an order of protection and focuses on prevention by ensuring that a person charged with violent crimes is properly monitored by law enforcement.”

Members of the Kephart family (children Tom and Jamie shown above) joined Wheeler at the bill signing and said they were pleased to see the passage of the bill. “I think of mom every day and wonder how much different life could have been if this bill was around a year and a half ago,” Jamie Kephart said. “I pray that it helps protect victims affected by domestic violence the way it is intended to do. I am so grateful the community recognized the necessity for Diane's Law.”

At the signing, Governor Quinn said the legislation would provide an important new layer of protection for victims. “We need to help protect victims and prevent future tragedies from occurring,” Governor Quinn said. “The tragic loss of Diane Kephart’s purposeful life left us with further proof that something had to be done to strengthen protection orders. Diane’s Law will help our law enforcement authorities enforce restraining orders and increase penalties for those who commit domestic violence.”

Wheeler Bill to Assist Cooperatives Signed into Law

Legislation that will help cooperatives grow and expand in Illinois has been signed into law by Governor Quinn.

Cooperatives operate for the benefit and mutual gain of members/shareholders, who purchase shares in exchange for having a voice in how the cooperative operates. In most cases, they allow shareholders to purchase products and services as a lowest-possible cost.

The new law, signed by Quinn on August 26 as Public Act 98-1122, amends the Cooperative Act to increase the following values:

  • The number of shares for which a person may control from 5 to 10
  • The maximum price per share from $100 to $1,000
  • The maximum value of stock one stockholder may control from $500 to $10,000

According to Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake), the Chief House Sponsor of the legislation, Senate Bill 3438 updates values that had been in place since the early 1970’s. “The number and amount of shares under the Cooperative Act have not been updated since the 77th General Assembly in 1971 and 1972,” said Wheeler. “This new law allows those who wish to engage in a co-op to pool their resources for mutual gain and establish rates that are more in line with today’s economy.”

The bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, and the provisions of the new law took effect immediately upon being signed by the Governor.

Human Trafficking a Real Issue in Illinois

While slavery is illegal across the globe, a modern-day version of slavery is thriving in the United States and even in our own communities. This form of slavery manifests itself primarily through human trafficking, which is the buying, selling and smuggling of people to profit from their forced labor or sexual servitude. While every state criminalizes at least some forms of trafficking activity, legislators across the nation continue to explore new ways to combat traffickers and provide support for victims.

On August 21 of this year, the Governor signed into law an Illinois bill that takes a three-pronged approach in attacking human trafficking issues. Senate Bill 3558, signed into law as Public Act 98-1013, sets fines against pimps, traffickers, and those who buy services from the victims. The new law also expands forfeiture to those convicted of promoting this form of prostitution. Because the physical, mental and emotional toll the victims suffer is significant, the new law also allows the state’s Department of Human Services to issue grants to support specialized services to aid in the healing process for victims. We are fortunate in Illinois to also have a “Safe Harbor” law on the books, which prevents sex trafficking victims from being treated as criminals for the prostitution activities in which they were engaged.

Make no mistake; human trafficking is a lucrative business right here in northern Illinois. In this area, human traffickers are using the massage parlor industry as a cover and method for connecting sex trade customers with mostly East Asian women, both documented and undocumented, who are being forced to perform sex acts. Operators of these parlors locate in communities where zoning laws do not specifically address licensure, lighting, dress codes and hours of operation for massage parlors.

I am happy to report that a thorough and coordinated effort to rid our communities of these illegal establishments is taking place at the county and municipal levels. Under the leadership of Planning and Development Committee Chairman Joe Gottemoller, McHenry County is taking the lead in creating a very restrictive ordinance for the regulation of massage parlors located within the purview of the county. The Village of Algonquin and City of McHenry are also to be commended for the adoption of model ordinances that block virtually every loophole these criminals use. In addition, the City of Crystal Lake and the Villages of Spring Grove and Lake in the Hills are taking significant steps to close down massage parlors that are engaging in this terrible form of forced prostitution.

I will continue to work closely with county and with municipal leaders to ensure that state, county and local laws that govern land use provide maximum protections to combat sex trafficking in our communities.

Rep. Barbara Wheeler Chosen as “Guardian of Small Business” by Independent Business Owners’ Group

State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has been chosen as a recipient of the “Guardian of Small Business” award from the National Federation of Independent Businesses/Illinois (NFIB).
The award, given out every other year by the non-partisan NFIB, recognizes lawmakers from the House and Senate with a solid voting record that supports small businesses. According to NFIB/Illinois State Director Kim Clarke Maisch, the organization evaluated legislators’ voting records on nine key bills that affect small business (HB3223, HB2649, HB923, SB 1, SB3287, SB2758, HB3005, SB2776 and HB924), and lawmakers earning an 80% or higher rating received the award. Wheeler received a perfect score of 100%.
“Representative Barbara Wheeler is new to Springfield, but she has spent the entire time fighting for the job creators in the 64th District,” Maisch said. “She understands that government intrusion in the workplace works against the small, family owned businesses in her district.”
Wheeler said she was honored to be recognized for her commitment to small businesses in Illinois. “Small businesses are the backbone of the Illinois economy and small business owners are our primary job creators,” Wheeler said. “I will continue to vote against bills that hurt small business while being a vocal advocate for bills that ease regulations and create a more business-friendly environment in our state.”