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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Governor signs into law Park District child safety bill


SB3809 sponsored by Sen. Mulroe (D-10) and Rep. Senger (R-96)

Following the close of the 2012 legislative session, Governor Quinn signed into law a bill that began its three-and-a-half-year journey in November 2009 as an idea discussed in a Naperville Park District Legislative Committee meeting.

In this meeting, Naperville Park District Commissioner Ron Ory pointed out that school districts have access to lists of minors who are sex offenders, but that park districts are not able to access these lists. Ory noted that the Naperville Park District employs hundreds of youth under 18 who interact with children, yet the District is unable to screen these applicants for serious offenses.

To remedy this situation, the Legislative Committee began reaching out to legislators and researching potential legislation. Former Naperville Park District Commissioner Suzanne Hart spoke with Representative Darlene Senger (R-96), Representative Mike Connelly (R-48), and former Senator A. J. Wilhelmi (D-43), all of whom agreed to support a measure to allow park districts to have limited access to delinquency records of minors who are applying for park district employment.       Representative Connelly introduced HB5146 in February 2010; however, the bill did not pass out of committee in the spring 2010 legislative session. The Naperville Park District Legislative Committee conferred with Reps. Connelly and Senger, with the Park District’s legal counsel Derke Price, and with the Illinois Association of Park Districts’ legal counsel Jason Anselment and CEO Peter Murphy as to how to improve the bill.

In the 2011 spring legislative session, Rep. Senger introduced HB3129 and Sen. Wilhelmi sponsored a parallel bill, SB2286.  Both bills reflected a narrowed focus, allowing park districts to receive information only on adjudications for serious offenses, and not juvenile arrest records. Furthermore, the information would be strictly limited to the Park District president. Later in the session, an amendment was added to include the Chicago Park District, which has its own section of the Illinois Park Code and must be treated separately.

Although both bills passed their respective houses in 2011, neither bill was brought to the opposite house in time for a final vote. Fall veto session proved too busy for further action on either of the bills.

In January 2012 Sen. Wilhelmi planned to re-introduce the bill, but then resigned from the Senate before the end of the term. Sen. John Mulroe (D-10) picked up the bill, renamed SB3809, which passed the Senate unanimously and was shepherded through the House by Rep. Senger, with co-sponsor Rep. Connelly, where again, it passed unanimously. Governor Quinn signed the measure into law on June 22, 2012.

“The success of this legislation came about through the collective support of the other park districts and with the help of legislators on both sides of the aisle,” said Naperville Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “People came together to do the right thing. This is how government is supposed to work.”

“We are grateful to our state legislators for their support of this bill which will protect children in our programs,” said Naperville Park District Board President Kirsten Young.

The text of SB3809 and its history can be viewed on the Illinois General Assembly website at www.ilga.gov. For more information about the Naperville Park District please visit www.napervilleparks.org.

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Naperville Park District
Naperville Park Districthttp://www.napervilleparks.org/
Created in 1966, the Naperville Park District is an independent, municipal agency serving the recreation needs of its residents. An Illinois Distinguished Agency since 1994, the District is one of only 1% of park districts across the country to be nationally accredited through the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). The Naperville Park District’s mission is to provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community. The District maintains and operates more than 2,400 acres with 137 parks and provides more than 1,500 recreational, arts and environmental programs and special events annually. Included within the District’s operations are two championship golf courses, a multitude of playgrounds, trails, athletic courts and sports fields, Fort Hill Activity Center, Knoch Knolls Nature Center, two inline skating and skateboarding facilities, the Millennium Carillon, a paddle boat quarry, historic Centennial Beach, and the beautiful Riverwalk.