Closed records about child abuse to remain available - SB 3544 – The reports on child abuse and neglect that are deemed unfounded, are usually kept for 12 months after that determination. Then the reports are removed from the system. This legislation, signed in August, allows the Department of Child and Family Services to retain those reports longer if a new investigation has been opened about the same child. The bill was written after the 2007 case of a 2-year-old boy who died after being beaten by his mother’s boyfriend. A child protection investigation of other injuries had been marked unfounded three months before his death.
A 2008 Office of the Inspector General report noted that because the first report wasn’t available during the second inquiry, investigators didn’t know about the earlier abuse. The Chicago Reporter's latest investigation found that nearly 20 percent of homicides against children being investigated by DCFS occurred a year after investigators has dismissed the allegations as unfounded.
Invalidating debt issued by payday lenders without licenses - HB 3935 – People who took out high-interest loans from unlicensed payday lenders won’t be forced to pay them back. Legislation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Aug. 20 amends the Consumer Installment Loan Act. Communities of color are more likely to be targeted by unlicensed payday lenders. The lenders often, though not entirely, operate online. For now, the only way to avoid repaying a loan from an unlicensed lender is to get a cease-and-desist order from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
"This particular change is important because it provides borrowers with a means to argue that they don't have to repay loans or debt," said Tom Feltner, vice president of the Woodstock Institute. "It puts the onus on lenders to make sure that they have licenses to do business in Illinois."
Photo credit: Lucio Villa