I hope this message finds you and your family well. As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your voice in Springfield and take a moment to give you a brief update about legislative news from the fall Veto Session in Springfield.
If you have any questions about any issues in the newsletter please contact my district office by phone at (815) 880-5340 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Reick, State Representative 63rd District
Police and Fire Pension Consolidation Bill Heads to the Governor’s Desk
The Governor’s bipartisan Pension Consolidation Feasibility Task Force met eight times throughout the past year and issued a report in October recommending that downstate police and fire pension assets be consolidated to achieve higher investment returns and lower management costs. The task force’s report estimates that over the next five years, consolidation could lead to an additional $820 million to $2.5 billion in investment returns alone, which could mean lower contributions funded by property taxes.
Illinois has nearly 650 separate police and fire pension funds, the second-highest number of any state in the country. These funds are held and managed separately, and they earn significantly lower investment returns than larger pension plans like the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). According to most recently available estimates, Illinois’ 649 downstate and suburban police and fire pension funds are underfunded by a whopping $11 billion.
I supported the pension consolidation plan because we must do everything in our power to chip away at pension debt in Illinois. SB 1300 was approved by the House on Wednesday, November 13, by a vote of 96-14-3 and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
Vaping Regulations Moved to Back Burner During Veto Session
There have been 42 vaping related deaths nationwide, four of them in Illinois, and many more hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that the lungs of 29 patients across 10 states contained Vitamin E acetate. While Vitamin E acetate is the foremost potential culprit, other chemicals have not been ruled out as the cause. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was also found to be present in most of the samples tested by the Food and Drug Administration to date, and most patients report a history of using THC-containing products. It’s important to note that Vitamin E acetate is often used to “cut” THC.
Although a topic of much discussion before and during veto session, no bills aimed at curbing electronic smoking devices and their flavors advanced out of the legislature. There was disagreement on exactly what kind of a ban Illinois should implement: the flavorings, THC cartridges, or e-cigarettes all together. I look forward to working with my colleagues from across the aisle and the state to address this public health crisis.
Your feedback is important to me as we move forward. Please feel welcome to e-mail me at email@example.com or call my district office at (815) 880-5340 to let me know what your views are on the issue of vaping.
Ethics Reforms Update: IL General Assembly Falls Short on Ethics Reform
In response to the federal corruption probe that has widened further since two weeks ago, I signed onto a new package of legislation introduced at the end of last week.
The ethics package includes:
- House Bill 3954, a bill which will revise statements of economic interests to include more details similar to the information required for judicial statements of economic interest. This forces full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and provides greater transparency for members of the General Assembly;
- HJRCA 36, requiring a special election to fill General Assembly vacancies through the same process as those governing party primaries. This will prevent political powerbrokers from picking their preferred candidates for vacancies;
- House Resolution 588 will allow a Chief Co-Sponsor of any bill with five co-sponsors from each party to call it or an up or down vote in a substantive committee;
- House Bill 3947 would ban members of the General Assembly, their spouses, and immediate live-in family members from performing paid lobbying work before local government units. Currently, members of the Illinois General Assembly – state representatives and state senators – are prohibited from lobbying the State of Illinois, but are not prohibited from lobbying local government units, such as a counties or municipalities;
- House Bill 3955 will create mandatory and publicly available documentation of General Assembly communications with any state agency regarding contracts.
Instead of providing true ethics reform, the Democrat majority filed legislation in the middle of the night in a last-minute attempt to provide political cover for their members. In a brazen display of arrogance, the Democrat majority filed a bill at midnight and called it ethics reform. I joined most House Republicans in reluctantly supporting these watered-down bills and stressed that much, much more work needs to be done to end the culture of corruption.
Roar for AJ: Share the Warmth Winter Drive
In an effort to help foster children in our community I am working with the City of Harvard to sponsor the Roar for AJ: Share the Warmth Winter Drive. We are collecting new and gently used winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves as well as new PJs, slipper socks, and throw blankets.
My legislative office as well as the City of Harvard are drop off locations. My office is located at 1072 Lake Avenue in Woodstock and is open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30am to 4:00pm. The City of Harvard drop off site is located at 201 W. Diggins St. and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.
The collection runs through December 2nd. I hope that you can donate to this worthwhile cause.
Illinois House of Representatives to Reconvene in January
The Illinois House of Representatives is scheduled to return to Springfield on January 28, 2020 for the start of next year’s session. The Governor will give his annual “State of the State” address on January 29. As the legislative session progresses, I will keep you updated on what new bills I intend to file and their progress through the legislature.
I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this update. Please do not hesitate to contact my district office if I, or a member of my staff, may be of assistance to you. You can reach us by phone at (815) 880-5340 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, I remain,
Very truly yours,