January Sees Only One-Day of Session
Blaming the uptick in COVID-19 cases in January, the majority in General Assembly reconvened session 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 have changed their rules to do some of our 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. I have opposed these changes to remote legislating. We should have been back in Springfield doing the work of the people.
We are finally scheduled to return to Springfield tomorrow for legislative session in-person. I hope we can begin addressing the many pressing issues facing our state. Then, Wednesday, February 2, Governor Pritzker will give his joint State of the State and Budget Address. Read More Here.
Democrats Shove Through Another Gerrymandered Judicial Redistricting Map
On the single day session was held in January, supermajority Democrats shoved a new judicial subcircuits map through the legislature in a 24-hour period, with no public comment or involvement from the judiciary. The Democrats passed their judicial redistricting map under the cover of darkness, calling the bill for a final vote late in the night. As a member of the Redistricting Committee, I was an outspoken critic of this attempt to pack Illinois courts with more Democratic judges and totally rework the judicial branch of government in Illinois.
The new map governs the regions within Illinois’ largest counties where Illinois circuit judges will sit and hear cases. Now, more than half the judges of Illinois sit in counties that are mapped into subcircuits since Pritzker has signed House Bill 3138 into law. Included in the new subcircuit bill was Madison County, a county that previously did not have subcircuits. I am glad that local leaders in Madison County stepped up to challenge the law and currently have been granted a temporary restraining order to keep the law from going into effect.
This is another blatantly political move to remake an independent branch of government. I opposed the legislation. Read More Here.
Reform Needed at DCFS
On January 4, DCFS Investigator Diedre Silas was conducting a welfare check on six children, ages 1 to 7. While performing her duties for DCFS and the people of Illinois, Silas was tragically stabbed to death. On January 6, a Cook County judge concluded that DCFS’s non-compliance with a series of court orders had reached a level so severe that he declared DCFS Director Marc Smith in contempt of court. That case specifically dealt with children languishing in psychiatric hospitals for months when they should have been placed with protective families.
Despite being the recipient of taxpayer-funded appropriations that have now topped $1 billion/year, DCFS leadership has failed to develop a system that reliably protects children and the rank-and-file case workers trying to keep them safe.
House Republicans have filed several pieces of legislation to both enhance protections for our vulnerable youth in care and increase protections for the case workers seeking to protect them. Many have been held up by Democrats unwillingness to accept drastic change is needed at DCFS, but Republicans have increased the pressure and filed new measures to reform the broken system.
HB 3933 increases penalties for those who attack DCFS workers.
HB 634 creates a pilot program to remove bureaucratic hurdles and drastically change the approach of child protective services by transferring DCFS responsibilities to a county run department.
Pritzker Fails to Sign Veteran Protection Bill
Gov. Pritzker and his administration’s tragic mismanagement of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID outbreak led to the deaths of 36 of our nation’s heroes. To add insult to injury, the Governor failed to even put his signature on legislation (HB 359) designed to bring more accountability to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Everyone in the General Assembly voted for this bill, but the Governor didn’t care to pay enough attention to sign it. The only reason it became law is because after 60 days, if the Governor doesn’t take action, it automatically becomes law. Read More Here.
Calling for Repeal of the “damaging and dangerous” SAFE-T Act
January is the one-year anniversary of Illinois Democrats passing sweeping legislation on a bare minimum party-line vote at the 11th hour to defund police, make it harder to charge violent criminals and make it easier for violent criminals to get out on electronic monitoring, among many other things. Several Democrats even joined Republicans in voting against the bill recognizing its dangers. Violent crime is up, police retirements are increasing, and our communities are less safe.
Since the law was enacted, an increase in violent crimes that include murder, expressway shootings, carjackings, assaults, armed robberies, smash & grabs and mob retail theft have proliferated. House Republicans are sponsoring legislation that would repeal the so-called “SAFE-T Act.” Read More Here.
Thank you for reading. 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.