January sees only one-day of session.
Blaming the uptick in COVID-19 cases in January, the General Assembly reconvened for only one-day in January to start the 2022 session. The schedule had initially called for the members of both chambers to meet continuously from January through March. Instead, the House and Senate majority party leaders changed their rules to do some business remotely. Of particular significance are the current rules for House committee meetings and testimony: each House committee has been conducting meetings via video conferencing. Finally, we have returned to Springfield for in-person session this week. Read More Here.
Legislation filed to protect underage & vulnerable human trafficking victims.
In January, I filed four pieces of legislation to improve protections for victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. There is no silver bullet to stop sexual abusers and traffickers, but these new pieces of legislation specifically target the tactics and tricks they use to coerce new victims. If we can make it harder for the predators to escape justice, we make it less lucrative and ensure fewer children and vulnerable people become victims. Read More Here.
Legislation creates tax savings for families.
I also recently filed three pieces of legislation to help provide tax-saving relief for families. The bills target both the immediate need for relief as the country is experiencing record-high inflation not seen in decades by freezing the gas tax and creating longer-term tax savings that target property taxes. Read More Here.
Governor’s budget address.
What I heard from the Governor was nothing more than smoke and mirrors to distract from the real problems facing the long-term fiscal health of our state. He talked about ‘relief’ for taxpayers, but it was only a year and a half ago that he tried to bully the state into passing the largest income tax hike in state history. When voters rejected him, he went after small businesses to raise taxes, going back on his own bipartisan agreement.
What really changed? A massive federal bailout. Our state revenues are decreasing by half a billion dollars this fiscal year, while a detailed analysis shows the Governor wants $2.5 billion more in new spending. This budget is nothing more than an election-year gimmick that does nothing to address the structural issues that have held Illinois back for decades. You can’t just borrow and throw one-time federal money at the problem and call yourself a winner.
Mask mandate to end in most places, but Governor appeals to keep them in schools.
On Friday, February 4, an Illinois court issued an active temporary restraining order (TRO) against the enforcement of school mask and other mandates upon anyone who has not received individualized due process according to a provision of the Illinois Department of Public Act. The Governor immediately sought to appeal the decision.
Adding confusion to the situation, Gov. Pritzker announced on Wednesday, February 9, that the Governor’s office was partially lifting the indoor mask mandate, effective on Monday, February 28, but was retaining the school mask mandate, pending appeal. As of Thursday, February 10, only eight states – including Illinois – were continuing to try to mandate that schoolchildren wear masks.
Following his announcement on February 9, I spearheaded a letter with several colleagues calling for Pritzker to end his appeal and the chaos it is causing in the face of ever-mounting evidence showing the harmful unintended consequences this is having on the social-emotional and learning of our children. Read the Letter Here.
Call for repeal of SAFE-T Act after new law lets violent criminals evade justice.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported last week on multiple cases of violent criminals not being charged for felony murder due to the recently enacted “SAFE-T” Act rushed through the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Pritzker:
“For the second time this week, Cook County prosecutors cited changes to the state’s felony murder statute as the reason for not charging a man accused of being involved in a deadly shootout that led to a murder.
“On Wednesday, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said 22-year-old Tayvon Powe would have faced a first-degree murder charge prior to last summer when the statute’s changes went into effect.
“‘If this was prior to July of  when the change in the law that went into effect, this defendant would be facing first degree murder charges,’ Murphy told Judge Mary Marubio at Powe’s bond hearing. ‘… He is not facing those first-degree murder charges at this point.’” 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.