This session of the legislature was momentous. We saw our state take a far-left turn with votes on recreational marijuana, expanding late-term abortions, a (failed) attempt to further erode our Second Amendment rights, a Constitutional referendum to eliminate our flat income tax, a $15 minimum wage and many other measures that will either transform the state or drive it further into a ditch. I give my thoughts on just a few of those votes in this newsletter.
As always, if you have any questions or comments about what’s discussed in this newsletter or need assistance navigating state government, don’t hesitate to email me or contact my office.
I take my role as your representative seriously, and regard It as an honor to work for you.
Reick Votes Against Efforts To Raise Income Taxes, Calls For Spending Restraint
On Memorial Day, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to put a question on the 2020 ballot that would remove the flat income tax guarantee from the Illinois Constitution. I, along with every other member of the House Republican Caucus, stood united in opposition to the amendment.
I voted against the amendment because Illinoisans were promised in 2011 and 2017 that the income tax increases in those years would solve the state’s financial crisis. This constitutional amendment to allow for even more income tax increases is being billed as a solution to our state’s problems, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believed that moving to a graduated tax structure will not solve our structural financial problems, will do nothing to address our biggest problems, and simply opens the door to more reckless spending down the road.
We must do a top-to-bottom review of our entire taxing structure so as to allow for predictable revenue that follows the growth in our economy. The unfunded pension debt is by far the biggest fiscal issue hanging over us, and a portion of the tax increase in this proposal does not even cover the upcoming increases in pension payments required by law.
Left unsaid in this debate was how the money we take from taxpayers is spent, which should be the beginning point of any discussion about generating revenue.
Sponsoring a Call for Independent, Private Sector Examination of State Government Spending
In light of what I just mentioned above, during the past session I proposed two pieces of legislation: HJR06 and HB275, which were modeled after President Ronald Reagan’s 1982 executive order calling for a private sector study on cost control, authorizing a private sector “deep dive” into state agency spending to identify cost savings to be gained by implementing better management and administrative practices.
Rooting out waste, fraud and abuse needs to be more than a catch-phrase in Springfield. Everyone acknowledges that inefficiencies plague our state government, and it’s time for us to actually do something about it. Our new Governor started the process for taking executive action by issuing an executive order requiring agencies to examine their spending. My legislation follows up on that action as a bipartisan attempt to help provide essential state services as efficiently as possible.
By identifying inefficiencies, redundancies and insufficient control over the operations of state agencies which result in inadequate services being provided at too high a cost, we can make adjustments and provide taxpayers with the value they deserve.
Resolution Honoring McHenry County Deputy Jacob Keltner Passes Both Houses
In memory of McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner, I authored a resolution (HJR 66) that will name the interchange currently under construction at I-90 and Route 23 in Marengo the “Deputy Jacob Keltner Memorial Interchange”.
Jacob Keltner lost his life in the line of duty on March 7 as he attempted to serve an arrest warrant in Rockford as part of the U.S. Marshals’ Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force. The following week thousands of mourners lined McHenry County roadways as an 800-car police procession led the fallen hero to a Huntley funeral home for final services.
Deputy Kelter leaves behind a wife, two young children, and a grieving but grateful community. His death brought the community together and heightened awareness of just how fortunate we all are to have brave public servants like Jacob Keltner, who put themselves in harm’s way so we can be safe.
The designation of this interchange in Deputy Keltner’s name will serve as a reminder of his valor and service and illustrates the profound appreciation for his dedication to duty and that of other first responders.
Unpaid Bill and Debt Reduction Should Be a Priority in the State Budget
At the end of May, the General Assembly approved the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget. While there are certain components of the FY20 budget that I support, such as increasing funding to local schools and making our state’s full pension payment, I voted against the spending portion of the budget because I don’t think we should be expanding programs until our backlog of unpaid bills is completely paid.
The state collected an unexpected additional $1.4 billion of revenue in April, which should have been applied to debt reduction. We have over $6 billion in unpaid bills, and every day that goes by without paying them is a breach of faith to the people we serve.
Instead, we were told that unless our appropriations committees (I sit on the K-12 appropriation committee) spent its full allocation of the extra revenue, it would be spread among the other appropriation committees and not applied to the unpaid bills. By spending this extra money on existing and new programs, we established a higher baseline for next year’s spending. This is how budgets spin out of control and why our state is in such a fiscal mess. It’s past time to rein in our spending. We need budget and spending constraints now so we can protect taxpayers and better serve the people.
I Voted “No” on $15/Hour Minimum Wage, Citing Increased Costs to Small Business
Earlier this year, the House approved a minimum wage hike (SB 1) to $15 per hour that small business owners from across the state said will negatively affect their ability to stay in business. Once fully implemented, it will also cost universities, K-12 schools, health providers and social service agencies hundreds of millions of dollars. They all depend upon the government for much of their funding, money with you pay in taxes. Every Republican lawmaker voted against the bill.
In spite of promises made by the governor’s administration that we will enjoy bipartisanship and cooperation in the 101st General Assembly, the majority party chose to fulfill a political campaign promise at the expense of job creators and taxpayers across Illinois. In a state where policy decisions move like molasses, this minimum wage bill shot like a rocket through the Senate and House, with no regard for legitimate issues brought forward at the committee level. We repeatedly asked for the process to be slowed down so that concerns could be addressed, but the governor and majority party were set on chalking up a “win”.
As a member of the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules (JCAR), I was disturbed by statements made by the bill’s proponents during debate that issues with the wording of the bill could be fixed during the rule-making process. Not only is this shortsighted policy, it is not how laws should be made. JCAR’s job is to make sure that administrative rules accurately reflect the legislative intent of bills; it’s not our job to clean up sloppy legislation.
Mandatory Fingerprinting and 400% Fee Increase for Firearm Owners Fails to Pass in the Senate
In May I voted against legislation (SB 1966) that would greatly expand regulations of firearm ownership in Illinois. The legislation passed in the House, but was not called for a vote in the Senate. Among other new regulations, the legislation mandates that new Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card applicants and renewals provide their fingerprints to the Illinois State Police (ISP). The legislation also greatly increases FOID card fees and firearm sale and transfer fees.
The legislation would require FOID cards to be renewed every 5 years from the current requirement of 10 years and increase FOID card application fees by 400%, from the current $10 every 10 years ($1 per year) to $20 every 5 years ($4 per year). The most expansive and invasive regulation in the legislation would require fingerprinting for all new and renewing FOID card applications. The Illinois State Police would be required to maintain the gun owner fingerprint database.
SB 1966 also allows ISP to charge an additional fee for background checks, which may cost over $25 per check. Background checks are required every time a firearm is transferred or sold. FOID cardholders renewing their card and new FOID card applicants must cover the cost of the mandatory fingerprinting as well, which the legislation caps at $30 per fingerprinting. With the exception of transactions between family members or law enforcement, firearm transactions must go through a gun dealer who holds a Federal Firearms License (FFL), and that dealer is authorized to charge up to $10 for each firearm transferred or sold.
Illinois already has some of the toughest firearm regulations in the nation, and this legislation makes them even more stringent. These regulations on law-abiding gun owners are punishing and an invasion of our privacy. Increasing costs and adding more bureaucracy for gun owners will not make our communities safer. They will only limit gun ownership through fees and more red tape. I will continue to advocate for policies that protect our communities, while ensuring our Constitutional rights.
Reick Opposes Legislation Authorizing Late-Term Abortions
On June 12th, the Governor signed into law legislation expanding abortion in Illinois. Along with every other Republican member of the House, I voted “No”. This legislation represents a major expansion of abortion, far beyond our state’s already permissive abortion laws.
The legislation, Senate Bill 25 (SB 25), referred to by proponents as the “Reproductive Health Act,” eliminates legal protections for the unborn currently in state statute. The legislation states, “A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this State.” The legislation also states that those who become pregnant have a “fundamental right” to an abortion. The “fundamental right” status prohibits state interference with abortion, which will likely nullify the parental notification statute for abortions performed on minors.
SB 25 removes criminal penalties against a doctor who performs an abortion when there is a reasonable possibility of survival of the child outside the womb, and provides for an overly broad and expansive definition of “fetal viability,” which will allow for late-term abortions under certain circumstances. The legislation repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, the Abortion Performance Refusal Act, and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. It also adds the undefined term “familial health” to the “life and health of the mother” exception to late-term abortions.
SB 25 also mandates certain private insurance companies to cover abortion services. Through the passage and signing into law of House Bill 40 in 2017, which I also opposed, state statute allows for the taxpayer funding of abortion.
SB 25 passed without a single Republican vote in either the Illinois House or Senate.
I enjoy spending time with District 63 students and families when they visit the State Capitol. If your family or school group will be visiting Springfield while the legislature is in session, please let my Springfield office know so that I can say hello and talk with you. I also participate in the Illinois House of Representative’s Page for a Day program. If your child would like to view the General Assembly in action from the House floor, please let my Springfield office assist with scheduling a visit.
Tell Me Your Views On State Issues!
Please take a moment to share your opinions and comments through this short survey. I will read every survey that is submitted, so I’d appreciate hearing from you. You can take the survey by visiting http://www.ilhousegop.org/reick_2019_survey