SPRINGFIELD — The family of an armed services member killed in the line of duty will be able to terminate a lease ahead of its scheduled expiration without penalty, under legislation now headed to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk.
The measure, House Bill 4317, was inspired by the experience Sgt. Douglas Riney's widow, Kylie, had in Texas, where they lived when the Fairview soldier was killed during a deployment in Afghanistan.
Kylie Riney's landlord added penalty fees when she had to terminate her lease to move back to Illinois with their young children.
“The goal of this legislation is to ensure what happened to the Riney family will never happen to a Gold Star family in Illinois,” state Rep. Mike Unes, R-East Peoria, said of the measure, which passed the House unanimously last month. “Even though to my knowledge this has not been an issue in our state, my bill will ensure what happened to the Riney family out of state will not happen to Gold Star families stationed in Illinois.”
The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria, in the Senate. The legislation passed there unanimously as well.
"To be frank, I was shocked to learn that this isn't already the law," he said. "Gold Star families shouldn't be tied down to leases when going through the loss of a loved one."
Legislation in Illinois already permits a service member living here to break a lease if they get orders sending them to a different location or onto duty for longer than 90 days.