Unes Legislation to Help Gold Star Families

On Wednesday, the Illinois House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved legislation to ensure families of servicemembers do not face additional burdens after losing their loved one in service to our country. The legislation (HB 4317) sponsored by State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) will allow families to terminate their lease without penalty when their loved one is killed in action.

Rep. Mike Unes learned of this issue from Kylie Riney, the widow of fallen soldier Sgt. Douglas Riney. She and her two young children needed to move back to Illinois from Texas after her husband was killed in action but the landlord required her to pay penalties for early termination of the lease.

“I don’t want to see what happened to the Riney family ever happen to a servicemember family in Illinois,” said Rep. Unes. “When the unthinkable happens and a servicemember is killed in action, their family is left with many difficult decisions, including the need or desire to move. We owe it to our nation’s heroes who pay the ultimate price to protect their families, the legislation approved today is one way we can do just that.”

Under current law, families are permitted to terminate a residential lease without penalty when a servicemember is deployed. However, it does not allow for the same option when a servicemember is killed in action, causing the family additional hardship.

Nearly 55,000 Illinois residents currently serve our country in the military, ranking Illinois 13th in the number of residents serving our nation. Not only do thousands of military members call Illinois home, so do their families. Oftentimes those families are required to move to an Illinois community to accommodate the servicemember’s assignment.

HB 4317 sponsored by Rep. Unes now awaits consideration before the House of Representatives.