1-3-12; No one was safe when the legislature was in session—lots of their skullduggery took effect yesterday

Here are a few of the new laws that just went into effect for all Illinoisans to now deal with:

·         Safe Patient Handling in Hospital and Healthcare facilities: Illinois' Public Law 97-0122 amends the Hospital Licensing Act to address safe patient handling policies, setting forth definitions and requirements with regard to strategies intended to control the risk of injury to patients and staff. What rhymes with “Patient Fork-Lift?” The new amendments, which went into effect yesterday, represent the first effort in Illinois to assure people with disabilities who need to be physically moved by hospital staff are protected. The amendments protect hospital nurses and all health care workers. Hospital patients are to now be informed of all the ways in which they may be lifted during their stay in any hospital facility. Restriction of lifting must be achieved to the extent feasible with existing equipment and aids while manual handling or movement of all or most of the patient’s body weight is to be done only during emergent, life-threatening, or otherwise exceptional circumstances. We are certain these protocols are going to limit work injuries among affected workers. Some of the other provisions include staff education and training and a procedure for a nurse to refuse to perform or be involved in handling or movement the nurse believes in good faith will expose the patient/resident, nurse or other health care worker to an unacceptable risk of injury without fear of retaliation. We recommend all hospital risk managers consider disputing unsafe lifting injuries as violations of enforced safety rules. We also feel it should be a lot easier to bring nurses and other workers back to “light duty” because all hospital work should now be “light-duty.”

·         Of the Government, by the Government and for the Government: IL HB 2590/PA 97-0380 prohibits any unit of local government or a county sheriff (formerly only the State) from contracting with a private entity to operate a correctional facility and thereby potentially save taxpayers any money. We have no idea why the IL State legislature felt compelled to hamstring local government units in managing prisons and jails but something makes us feel the hyper-aggressive Illinois state employee unions might have something to do with it. Until this law is repealed or taxpayers find out what is happening and vote to stop it, we assure our readers the Menard Correctional Center “scandal” with millions in taxpayer monies being paid as WC benefits to IL prison guards and other prison staff for “non-accident accidents” cannot be prevented by replacing uncontrollably inefficient government prison managers who also file lots of major WC claims and get six-figure settlements we all pay for.

·         Disability Definition expanded in the Illinois Human Rights Act. In HB 3010/PA 97-0410, the definition of discrimination in public accommodations now include mental, psychological, or developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder. This impact of this new law is going to have to be on a wait-and-see review. We don’t think it will be major but one never knows.

·         Jury Duty: In HB 1317/PA 97-0436, our Legislature, in its wisdom, exempted people who have a total and permanent disability award from serving on jury duty. We again consider this one of the weirder state laws in our weird state but we are fairly confident the defense industry does not want T&P claimants to be on most juries anyway.

·         Siss, Bam, Boom--Illinois Tolls for Autos have Skyrocketed: We were less-than-thrilled yesterday to note the nearest tollbooth to your editor’s house now charges a cash toll of $1.90 for cars to travel past. That is a shocking amount of money to pay for highways that initially were to charge tolls to pay off the bonds that allowed them to be built. Obviously, as the State of Illinois is hemorrhaging red ink and has very limited ways to put its hand into your pocket to seek new money, the spiraling tolls were an easy way to sock-it-to all of us. We will have to wait and see if drivers fight to find alternative routes and avoid the new government gouge on our tollways.