Unes Legislation to Help Gold Star Families Heads to the Governor’s Desk

The Illinois Senate approved legislation sponsored by State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) today to ensure families of servicemembers do not face additional burdens after losing their loved one in service to our country. The legislation (HB 4317) 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.

“The goal of this legislation is to ensure what happened to the Riney family will never happen to a Gold Star family in Illinois,” said Rep. Unes. “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.”

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 now heads to Governor Rauner for his signature upon becoming law.