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New laws effective January 1, 2015 affecting persons with disabilities:

Protecting the Disabled from Fraud and Abuse. Beginning January 1, it will be a Class C misdemeanor to knowingly and falsely represent oneself as the legal guardian or public guardian of a disabled individual.

Appointment of legal guardians of disabled adults. Codifies case law to make sure that the best interest and well-being of the disabled person is taken into consideration when selecting a legal guardian.  Requires the same information collected in court forms to be included in an actual report.  Information such as the name, business address, and business telephone number of all persons who performed the evaluations upon which the report is based.

Illinois Comptroller – Succession

Quinn appoints Stermer Comptroller; Rauner to appoint for full term.  The incumbent and recently-reelected Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka passed away on Wednesday, December 10.   A legal consensus calls for her office to be refilled in stages.  In the first stage, urgently required to carry on essential State cash flow business, departing Gov. Pat Quinn named longtime aide Jerry Stermer as temporary Comptroller on Friday, December 19 to serve the remaining days of Topinka’s first term.  Stermer will voluntarily step down as Comptroller on January 12, 2015.

The second stage of replacing Topinka will cover the four-year term for which she was elected in November 2014, starting on January 12, 2015 (the inauguration day for Illinois statewide elected officials).  The Constitution has given Governor-elect Bruce Rauner the right to make an appointment during this four-year period.  The newly-appointed Comptroller will have the heavy responsibility of supervising the State’s money during a time of unprecedented demands on the cash flow of the State.  Topinka revealed, before her death, that the State’s total of unpaid bills had climbed above $6 billion (Monthly Money Matters).

Well, he certainly isn't leaving quietly.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who lost his re-election bid last month, announced Thursday that he's calling the lame duck General Assembly to Springfield for a special session on Jan. 8, just a few days before a new governor and new legislature will be inaugurated.

Why on earth? Quinn wants lawmakers to pass a bill scheduling an election for comptroller in 2016, the next chance to run candidates for a statewide ballot. The unfortunate and untimely death of Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka before she was sworn in for another term has created a debate — OK, call it a scramble — over the selection of a successor.

Quinn apparently wants to deliver a kick in the pants to the man who beat him, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner. According to Attorney General Lisa Madigan's reading of the law and the Illinois Constitution, the next governor has the authority to appoint a comptroller for the full four years of the term Topinka won in the Nov. 4 election. Read the Chicago Tribune editorial in its entirety.

The deadline for submitting applications for the OSFM and IFA Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program has been extended to December 31st! It’s not too late for departments to submit applications and supplemental documents.

The Program provides zero-percent or low-interest loans of up to $350,000 to fire departments for the purchase of fire trucks and up to $100,000 for brush trucks. Please encourage those departments who are considering loan funding for a new vehicle to apply. Find out more here.

The Auditor General today released a troubling audit on the failure of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to report missing children in state custody dating back to 2011. The audit comes on the heels of an ongoing investigation into abuse and lack of supervision in DCFS residential facilities, the subject of an upcoming Illinois House hearing scheduled for January 7. The reports involve cases of physical and sexual abuse of children in state custody; including exposure to drugs, acts of violence and forced prostitution.

The audit released today was conducted in response to a legislative measure adopted in May, HR 120, directing the Office of the Auditor General to conduct a management audit of the DCFS search for missing children. The Resolution asked the audit to determine for calendar years 2011–2012: (1) the number of children reported missing; (2) whether timely reports of missing children were made to required parties; and (3) the steps followed to locate and recover missing children, including compliance with procedures. Read more.

Here are some of the new laws affecting homeowners and their property taxes:

Claiming property tax refunds in Cook County. This law provides that in Cook County only, taxpayers have 20 years to claim a property tax refund, up from the current limit of five years. It also limits refund amounts for taxes paid prior to 2009 to $2.5 million per year.

Allows for property tax bill to be sent via e-mail upon request. Permits County Treasurers to send property tax bills via e-mail if the property owner or taxpayer makes a request in writing. In addition, requires sales tax on leased vehicles to be collected on the monthly payments, as opposed to prior law which provided the tax be collected on the value of the vehicle at the inception of the lease.

Erroneous homestead property tax exemptions. Adds interest and penalties on the principal property tax amount should an erroneous exemption have been granted. The principal property tax amount is considered the amount of the property taxes on the assessed value prior to the erroneous homestead exemption.

Illinois leaders – past, present and future – gathered Wednesday morning with one common agenda: honoring the life and service of Riverside resident Judy Baar Topinka.

Sharing the podium were the likes of Gov. Pat Quinn, Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner and former Gov. James Thompson.

"She was always known for telling the truth, a truth-teller," Quinn said.

They gathered at Local 150 in Countryside to offer praise and memories about Topinka, who died Dec. 10 at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn after suffering a stroke. Read more in My Suburban Life.