Committee OKs bill expanding use of campaign funds for child, elder care

Committee OKs bill expanding use of campaign funds for child, elder care

Bill allowing brewers to sell mead also gains committee approval

Capitol News Illinois

SPRINGFIELD —  A bill that would expand the use of political campaign funds to include child care and elderly home care expenses advanced out a state Senate committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 536 would amend the state election code to allow candidates to spend political committee funds on part-time or full-time child care or dependent elder home care expenses, as long as those expenses are “necessary for fulfillment of political, governmental or public policy duties, activities or purposes,” the bill states.

The bill would also apply to candidates running for political office, as well as officeholders, campaign staff or volunteers.

Sen. Melinda Bush, a Democrat from Grayslake who sponsored SB 536, said the measure “helps us level the playing field for people that want to run for office, and maybe don't have the financial wherewithal to cover those childcare, and eldercare expenses.”

“How this started really is as the byproduct of traveling around the state,” Bush told the Senate Executive Committee, noting she talked to many women who “felt as if it was prohibited to run for office” because they were caring for children or elderly relatives and “there was no way to cover the cost of that.”

Bush said a similar measure was approved last session by the Senate but was not taken up for a vote in the state House of Representatives. Unlike the bill introduced last session, SB 536 includes covering the expenses for elder home care.

“Of course, many people do have a responsibility to take care of someone who may be a family member, and we felt we should be adding that also,” Bush said.

Bush said she agreed to put forward a Senate floor amendment that would “tighten up the language a bit so that it reflects the same as the (Federal Election Commission).”

The bill passed out of the Senate Executive committee with 14 members voting yes, and only Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, voting no.

Syverson said he wanted to see the details of the amendment before voting yes.


Mead brewers

The committee also advanced a bill that would enable breweries in the state to sell mead, an alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting honey.

Republican Sen. Jason Barickman, of Bloomington, said he sponsored Senate Bill 297 in response to one his constituents, Brian Galbreath, who owns Unpossible Mead in Dwight and is unable to grow his business without an amendment to the state Liquor Control Act.

The bill amends the Liquor Control Act to define mead, which was previously not defined under state law, as a type of honey wine, and to include mead as one of the alcoholic products that breweries can sell to customers and other distributors.

Danielle D'Alessandro, executive director at Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, said this bill would apply to the fewer than 10 existing meaderies in the state.

In her testimony before the committee, D’Alessandro said SB 297 would provide these few meaderies with the ability to sell directly to breweries and to their retail consumers, both of which are not allowed under the current law.

“It would just be a natural extension for brewers to offer that product,” she said of mead being included in the state Liquor Control Act.

The bill unanimously passed to the Senate floor.


Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.


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