SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner took action on multiple bills to help sexual assault victims seek justice.
The bills include SB 3096, the Sexual Assault Incident Procedure Act. This bill provides sexual assault victims with stricter protections during the evidence collection process and ensures transfer of evidence from the hospital to law enforcement agencies in a timely manner. It also removes barriers in the state procurement code to allow the state to hire forensic analysts more quickly. This bill directly addresses the decade-long rape kit backlog.
“As a state, we must do everything within our power to ensure victims are supported and that their aggressors are quickly brought to justice,” Rauner said. “We stand with the victims of these malicious crimes. This bill strengthens the policy behind evidence collection and gives the state tools to speed up the testing process to ensure victims have the ability to hold their aggressors accountable and get the justice they deserve.”
SB 3096 also implements training standards and guidelines for 911 operators and police to handle sexual assault cases. It also requires hospitals to provide instructions on how to help survivors give consent for their rape test kit to be tested. It also specifies that hospitals must notify law enforcement agencies that they have collected a rape test kit within a 4-hour period and the law enforcement agency must take possession of the kit within 10 days. If possession does not take place within that time period, the hospital will contact the appropriate State’s Attorney’s Office. The recommendations for this bill came from the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Working Group.
SB 2861 establishes a new Illinois Code of Military Justice that gives the Illinois National Guard state court martial authority that is similar to the federal Uniform Code of Military Justice. Unless mobilized into federal service, Illinois National Guard soldiers and airmen remain under the control of the state and the governor serves as their commander-in-chief. Discipline of National Guard service members and military justice is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the state.
“This bill allows us to pursue military justice and ensure good order and discipline within our formations when civilian authorities elect not to pursue civilian charges,” said Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes, adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard. “The need for this bill became very apparent as we battled military sexual assault.”
The new law will allow the Illinois National Guard to bring charges against the service member before a court martial. If convicted of certain offenses before a court martial, the service member could face up to 10 years in state prison.
Rauner also signed HB 4036, which extends the coverage of the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act to victims of domestic or sexual violence to smaller companies across the state. The bill grants employees working for an employer that employs at least 50 employees a right for leave of up to 12 work weeks, employees working for an employer that employs at least 15 but not more than 49 employees up to eight work weeks, and employees working for an employer that employs one but not more than 14 employees up to four work weeks of leave.