While many bills were approved and signed into law in 2016, several very worthwhile initiatives failed to receive fair consideration in the House or Senate. House Speaker Mike Madigan controls the Rules Committee, and he uses it to block any bill he does not wish to have considered by lawmakers. Bills that would seem like common sense to you and me were blocked this year by the Speaker.
The list below represents a sampling of the “should haves” that will not be, thanks to the far-reaching hand of the House Speaker:
HB 5744 – If the General Assembly fails to pass a balanced budget by the end of the regular session each year, lawmakers would have been required to stay in continuous session every day until a balanced budget is passed.
HB4399(co-sponsored by Rep. Bourne) would deny lawmakers their paychecks if there is no balanced budget.
HJRCA 7 / HB4386(sponsored by Rep. Bourne) – A constitutional amendment that would have created term limits for leaders of the Illinois General Assembly: Would have limited the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, Minority Leader of the House, or Minority Leader of the Senate to a total of 8 years in any office.
HB6113 – (sponsored by Rep. Bourne) Reduces the estate and inheritance taxes paid on land transfers upon death. The legislation is an effort to stop double taxation of land transfers for agricultural purposes.
HJRCA 27 – A constitutional amendment that would have created a redistricting advisory commission separate from the legislature to change the way legislative districts are drawn to create a more fair and representative map.
HB6111– (sponsored by Rep. Bourne) New license and renewal fees for concealed carry licenses would be half price for veterans.
HB 5794 – Would have created the offense of illegal electronic monitoring to protect victims of domestic violence from being stalked by their abusers by placing electronic tracking software or spyware on their electronic communication device.
HB 6198 – When applying for a property tax exemption, social security benefits would not have impacted income status and would have helped prevent senior citizens from being taxed out of their homes.
HB 4118 – Would have changed the property tax code by lowering the eligibility age from 65 to 55 to participate in the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption.
HB 4119 – Would have changed the property tax code to allow disabled Illinoisans to participate in the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption.
HB 5008 / HB 6241 – Would have helped senior citizens stay in their homes by increasing the maximum income limitation under the Senior Citizens Assessment (property tax) Freeze Homestead Exemption from $55,000 to $75,000.
HB 6582 – Electronic Voter Registration: After providing state services, agencies would have had to inform individuals of qualifications for voter registration in Illinois and could present an opportunity for voter registration.
HB 4574 – Would have created penalties for fraudulently using the benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer card (EBT) or LINK card intended for SNAP recipients.
HB 4505 – Would have prevented pension double-dipping, which occurs when a retired public employee who is receiving a state-funded pension is employed by a different public entity so they receive a pension and a salary at the same time.
HB 4639 –Would have amended the procurement code to make it easier for institutions of higher education to save money by banding together to make bulk purchases. Since Illinois has been a member of one buying pact in particular (MHEC), universities, colleges, school districts, park districts, libraries, cities, and counties have saved over $190 million on their purchases.
HB 2531 – Job Creation Finance Act, would have allowed municipalities to designate job creation areas in exchange for a sliding scale of tax incentives based on the number of jobs created and maintained.
HB 4041 – Would have allowed for the due process of a red light camera ticket by allowing a vehicle owner to contest the ticket and receive proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the violation occurred.
HB 6602 – Would have forfeited a persons’ survivor benefits for any person who is convicted of any felony relating to or arising out of or in connection with the service of the member from whom the benefit results.
HB 5021 – Would have limited the amount a person who has been convicted of assaulting a peace officer, fireman, corrections officer, or DHS employee (among others) can have their sentence reduced.
Again, this is just a small sample of the hundreds and hundreds of bills that never had a chance to be heard, discussed, nor voted upon in 2016. Lawmakers go to Springfield to represent the priorities and needs of the approximately 108,000 people in each district. When one man can derail a piece of legislation, that process of fair representation is restricted.