Pritzker breaks fair maps pledge, lawsuit filed.
As a candidate for governor in 2018, and again since taking office, JB Pritzker pledged to “veto any state legislative redistricting map proposal that is in any way drafted or created by legislators, political party leaders and/or their staffs or allies.” On June 4, Governor Pritzker broke his promise to Illinois voters by signing into law partisan redistricting maps drafted behind closed doors and passed by House and Senate Democrats. He did so despite the objection of more than 50 good government groups who implored for maps to wait until the release of official census counts, which are expected by August 16, 2021. In response, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the legislative maps for violating the well established “one-person, one-vote” principles under the U.S. Constitution. Read More Here.
$42.3 billion budget full of pork, pay raises and higher taxes.
Minutes before midnight on the May 31 deadline, House Democrats passed a $42.3 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2022. Their budget adds a billion dollars in pork projects for Democrat districts, includes a $1,200 pay raise for legislators, and raises taxes on Illinois businesses by more than $650 million. House Democrats filed their first budget amendment after 12:30 AM on Monday, May 31 (Memorial Day). Their final budget amendment was filed less than an hour before the midnight deadline for passage. Democrats moved to suspend the House Rule 21 notice requirement so they could vote on the final budget prior to the deadline. Legislators and the public were given no time to review the budget before final passage. Read More Here.
Speaking out against packing of Lake County Courts.
I spoke on the House floor in opposition to Senate Bill 2406 (House Floor Amendment No. 2). Much like the partisan legislative redistricting process, this was a purely partisan move by majority party Democrats to gerrymander and pack the 19th Circuit (Lake County) despite decreasing caseloads and efforts by the Lake County Board to cut court expenses. It adds four judges to the 19th Circuit and increases costs to county property taxpayers. Watch the Video Here.
Time to stop running state by Executive Order with Phase 5 full reopening.
This week, I sent a letter to Governor JB Pritzker calling on him to stop running the state by Executive Order after Illinois enters Phase 5: Illinois Restored of his COVID-19 reopening plan. After more than 14 months and 80 COVID-19 Executive Orders, if Illinois is truly open and “restored”, it’s time for the Governor to stop running the state by Executive Order. Read More Here.
House demands Pritzker administration reopen unemployment offices.
Taxpayer-funded offices, operated by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), are supposed to help unemployed Illinoisans navigate the notoriously cumbersome process of applying for unemployment benefits, including unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Visitors to the offices also get advice on how to work towards new employment, including career changes when necessary. However, since March 2020 these IDES offices have been closed to the public. House Resolution 226 calls on the Governor and the IDES to reopen local offices throughout the state for in-person services to assist Illinois residents. Read More Here.
Small steps taken on ethics reform, but more needed.
Even though voices have been crying out for reforms that would address the rampant corruption that has plagued our state, only a limited reform package was permitted to come to the floor for a vote. Senate Bill 539 is an ethics omnibus bill. It creates a revised Statement of Economic Interest, which requires increased disclosure of assets, debts, creditors and income. It prohibits in-person fundraising on any day the legislature is in session, and the day before and the day after legislative session (in-person or virtual, covering the entire state). Read More Here.
Trailer fees reduced, vehicle trade-in cap eliminated.
In a rare victory for Illinois taxpayers, the General Assembly passed legislation that will sharply reduce trailer license fees and restore the full vehicle trade-in credit. In 2019, lawmakers raised the fee for licensing a small trailer in Illinois from $18 to $118 as part of Gov. JB Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure plan. Senate Bill 58, which I co-sponsored, lowers the annual fee to a compromise $36, along with removing a $10,000 cap on sales tax credits on vehicle trade-ins. Read More Here.
Legislation passed to end student restraint and isolated “time outs.”
A November 2019 investigation, by the Chicago Tribune and by the freelance investigative service ProPublica, showed that in some cases, schools turned “time outs” into terrifying episodes of solitary confinement. In other cases, students were physically restrained by adults. After an extended discussion that included participation by many stakeholders, including teachers and parents at schools that specialize in teaching children with challenges, legislation was crafted aimed at protecting students and teachers by preventing misuse of these methods of discipline. A bipartisan agreed bill that I was happy to co-sponsor, which won unanimous support in the Illinois General Assembly, will almost completely ban the use of isolated child solitary confinement and physical restraints upon children. Read More Here.
Telehealth permanent under new law.
As approved by the General Assembly, HB 3308, another piece of legislation I was glad to sponsor, gives health insurers the tools and legal standing to negotiate future contracts with medical care providers and employers to continue the use of telehealth services that began as part of the response to COVID-19. Under these future contracts, some of the contacts between a doctor or other health care providers on the one hand, and a patient on the other, can be done over a video screen. Read More Here.
Thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. It is an honor to represent our communities. If you have any questions or concerns about anything you read, please feel free to contact me.