A press release from State Senator Pam Althoff:
Senate OKs law seeking to avoid hefty county legal bills
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Senate today approved a measure aimed at preventing county boards from paying State’s attorneys’ exorbitant and unexpected legal bills, according State Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry), its main Senate sponsor.
House Bill 2558, introduced by Rep. Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) in the Illinois House, seeks to help county governments avoid sky-high legal bills similar to those associated with the corruption trials of McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi, which could see taxpayers responsible for covering more than $1 million in legal fees.
The legislation requires courts to utilize special prosecutors, with a preference for special prosecutors from other governmental agencies, to conduct cases where a sitting State’s attorney is absent due to illness, active service or is unable to perform their duties for other reasons.
It also requires the special prosecutors to provide budgets for their investigations and itemized bills for fees incurred during their trials to help minimize expenses.
“Right now, county governments’ budgets are already stretched to the brink – the last thing they need are expensive court cases to come along that eat up funding desperately needed for public safety, education and core services,” Althoff said.
“This bipartisan bill is an effort to protect McHenry and other Illinois counties from facing unexpected legal bills and save taxpayers’ dollars.”
House Bill 2558 passed without opposition in the Illinois Senate, and now heads back to the Illinois House for further consideration.