Among the hundreds of measures headed to the governor's desk are bills to ban flavored cigar wraps, forbid the possession of shark fins and make it easier for child sex-trafficking victims to get justice.
In addition to pushing their favorite bills as they try to build election-year credentials, lawmakers voted to cut their own salaries and freeze those of statewide officials to save more than $300,000. That gesture might not eliminate a backlog of unpaid bills that's expected to top $8 billion this summer, but it allows lawmakers to tell voters this fall that they tried to share in the state's financial pain.
Here are some highlights from the spring session:
•Lawmakers voted to give authorities the option of modernizing emergency response systems. Residents could choose to create online safety profiles with information about their medical conditions, such as allergies or disabilities. The information would automatically be delivered to a dispatcher when a 911 call comes in. DuPage County already offers this service.
•The General Assembly approved a measure aimed at making online dating safer. Dating sites would have to disclose whether they perform background safety checks on those who sign up. If they do run security screenings, companies must say what that entails, including whether they check federal criminal databases. The sites also would have to post safety tips for daters. Many sites already post this information.
•Powerball soon could be added to the mix of online lottery games. Illinois became the first state to offer lottery tickets online when it began selling Lotto and Mega Millions tickets this year.
•The General Assembly voted to pre-empt local regulations by requiring the manufacturers of plastic carryout bags to register with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and pay fees. The sponsors said the move would cut down on plastic bag waste, but opponents complained that cities would no longer be able to have their own plastic bag recycling programs.
•Illinois could become the first state without an ocean shore to ban the possession of shark fins. Opponents questioned the necessity for a Midwestern state to tackle the sale of the pricey delicacy, but supporters said Chicago's Chinatown is a hub for the sale and consumption of shark fin. Environmentalists said the measure is necessary to protect shark populations.
•Casey Anthony's acquittal in the death of her 2-year-old daughter in Florida prompted Illinois legislators to hold parents or legal guardians responsible if they don't report to authorities when their children are missing or deceased. A caretaker could be charged if he fails to report a missing child younger than 13 years old within 24 hours. If the child is younger than 2, prosecutors could charge a guardian who waits more than one hour to contact officials.
•A measure aims to make it easier for child victims of sex trafficking to receive justice. A bill would extend the statute of limitations for these crimes to one year after the victim turns 18 or three years after the crime if the victim was 16 or 17. Now, victims have only three years in all cases to seek legal justice after a crime.
•Lawmakers voted to ban flavored cigar wraps despite concerns from opponents that the measure unfairly singled out a specific product. Supporters said candylike wraps are targeted at children. The bill was tied to a provision that lowers the amount of heroin that can send a person to prison. Current law says a person caught with less than 5 grams can get probation. The new measure says any amount more than 3 grams can put a person behind bars.
•Attorney General Lisa Madigan pushed through a bill allowing makers and sellers of synthetic drugs to be charged with Class 1 felonies.
•An Orland Park car crash that left a 17-year-old girl dead last year inspired lawmakers to pass a measure that toughens penalties for extreme speeders. Judges would be prevented from granting court supervision to those who are caught driving more than 25 mph over the speed limit on a nonrural road or more than 30 mph over the limit on a highway. Now, only drivers caught speeding more than 40 mph over the limit are ineligible for supervision.
•Lawmakers decided to reduce the number of regional school superintendents from 44 to 35. Gov. Pat Quinn had targeted the offices last year by removing their funding. The General Assembly later restored the funding using corporate tax revenues but cut the number of regional school chiefs.