This Week in Springfield:
Originally the House was scheduled to be in Springfield Tuesday-Thursday this week. However, Thursday was canceled and very little time was spent on the House floor or committees.
Like many members, I have spent much of my time reading over proposed legislation and finalizing my own bill proposals. In the House, there are currently over 2250 bills that have been introduced so far. This list will continue to grow throughout the next 9 days. If there are issues that are important to you, or bills you would like me to sign on to as a co-sponsor, please let me know.
You can find a list of the current bills I have introduced here.
Committee Assignments Announced:
This week committee rosters were finalized. I will have the privilege of serving on five committees including:
- Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies
- Labor & Commerce
- Revenue & Finance
I am also taking a leadership role as the minority spokesperson on two committees:
- Adoption & Child Welfare
- Personnel & Pensions
I am looking forward to continuing my service on these important committees that oversee our tax, economic, pension, and education policy.
Most importantly though, there is serious and life saving work to be done through the Adoption & Child Welfare committee to address the shortcomings in our Child Welfare system in this state. I have already begun working with the committee chair on substantive policy proposals and potential hearing topics. Additionally, look for a weekly segment here giving an update on the state of our Child Welfare system or a deep-dive into a policy proposal.
Personnel & Pensions Committee
The Personnel & Pensions committee met yesterday. Here is an excerpt from an article covering the committee:
The Illinois House Personnel and Pensions Committee met virtually with Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System representatives Thursday to get an update on the statewide pension fund.
TRS currently has a total unfunded pension liability of $80.6 billion among two different tiers of employees. Tier 1 is for those in TRS before 2011, and Tier 2, with fewer benefits, is for those hired after 2011.
State Rep. Steven Reick, R-Woodstock, said if unfunded liabilities fall on the school districts to be paid, residents of Illinois will see an increase in their property taxes.
“If we wait until 100,000 of those 144,000 [retired teachers] are coming screaming at our doors saying, ‘hey, I want my money,'” Reick said. “If it all falls on local school districts, our property taxes are going to go straight to Mars.”
Illinois residents already pay the second highest property taxes in the U.S.”
Hot Topic of the Week:
Despite A Law Change, Concealed Carry Privileges for County and State Corrections Officers Are Still Being Denied
In 2021, I introduced House Bill 2635 in response to concerns from local corrections officers from the McHenry County jail. This policy proposal provides greater safety for the officers and their families by allowing corrections officers the same off-duty concealed carry privileges afforded to other law enforcement officers. Corrections officers locally working in our county jails along with corrections officers throughout Illinois face threats and dangerous situations routinely at work and outside of work. I introduced this bill because these officers deserve the same protections and rights as other law enforcement professionals.
As often happens in the legislative process, after working across the aisle and with advocacy groups, this bill changed hands and changed bill numbers, but we got it done. The Illinois General Assembly passed House Bill 4667, into law on April 8, 2022 with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate. The Governor signed the legislation less than a week later on April 13, 2022 and this new legislation was celebrated as a win for corrections officers and a model in finding bipartisan solutions even on tough issues like firearms.
However, now ten months later, my legislative office has received multiple calls from current and retired corrections officers who are being denied the privileges now codified in law. According to a rejection letter received by a constituent, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board is denying the request of corrections officers and, “the Board
has requested an opinion from the Attorney General’s office seeking guidance on the implications of HB 4667 and possible next steps.”
To my reading of the bill, these rejections go against the intention and the plain text of the bill that was passed with almost unanimous majorities and signed by the Governor.
Interestingly, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB) has a hypocritical history of providing this concealed carry privilege to people who do not qualify as current or former law enforcement officers. This Illinois Times article gives two examples where ILETSB provided this permit to its own Chairman who has never been a law enforcement officer, and they approved this permit for someone who gave a multi-million dollar gift for police training but did not meet the minimum qualifications.
Current and former corrections officers who should qualify for this permit under the new law have reached out to ILETSB with no resolution. My office reached out on behalf of the men and women who have been denied this permit and we in-turn have been denied answers to our questions. This is unacceptable.
It shouldn’t take an opinion from the Attorney General’s office to implement a law that clearly grants the ability for these corrections officers to apply for and receive this permit.
The Week Ahead:
- Next week, the Illinois House is scheduled for legislative session Tuesday through Thursday
- The Governor will present his joint State of the State Address and Budget Address on Wednesday, February 15th to a joint session of the House and Senate
- Next Friday, February 17th is the last day to introduce new bills in the Illinois House
- We will also celebrate President Lincoln’s Birthday on February 13th and Valentine’s Day on February 14th
- Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee will meet February 15th at 9:00 am
- Labor & Commerce Committee will meet on February 15th at 2:00 pm
- Personnel & Pensions Committee will meet on February 16th at 10:00 am
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