This week, the Illinois House and Senate met in Springfield Tuesday through Thursday with full committee schedules. I participated in committee hearings this week for the Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies Committee, the Labor & Commerce Committee, the Personnel & Pensions Committee, the Revenue & Finance Committee, and the Adoption & Child Welfare Committee. Keep reading for a wrap-up on our first in depth subject-matter hearing in the Adoption & Child Welfare Committee.
In today’s hot topic of the week, I will give a brief description of the legislation I have filed to reduce property taxes, improve our education system, and promote public safety. As I have mentioned for the past couple of weeks, 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.
Hot Topic of the Week:
Legislative Proposals to Reduce Property Taxes, Improve Public Education, and Promote Public Safety
There are many complex and important issues facing our State that require legislative solutions. Three of the most common concerns I hear from constituents are that the legislature must make reforms to reduce property taxes, improve our education system, and to promote public safety throughout the state.
Building on the work I have done for the past few legislative sessions, I have introduced a package of legislative proposals to address these important challenges. Below are brief descriptions of some of the bills I have filed.
Reduce Property Taxes:
- House Bill 1073: This bill will save seniors on their taxes. Many seniors in Illinois do not pay state income tax because we do not tax retirement income. If seniors are living in their own homes and paying property taxes, they currently do not get the benefit of the property tax credit because the credit is nonrefundable. This bill changes that to allow for the refunding of that credit if the taxpayer is 65 years or older and has a federal adjusted gross income of not more than $50,000.
- House Bill 1074: As we experience inflation, our laws need to keep up with the true cost of living people are facing. This bill increases the maximum income limitation for the senior freeze to $73,700 for all qualified property (currently, $65,000) and provides that the maximum income limitation shall be adjusted each year going forward according to the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.
- House Bill 2936: Every non-home rule unit of government in Illinois has the power to issue a modest amount of non-referendum general obligation debt. Otherwise, the intention of the current law is that these units of government should be required to go before voters to approve taking on more debt. However, local taxing districts have found a way around going before voters and are borrowing more at taxpayer expense without taxpayer approval. This bill fixes that workaround so that no revenue bonds can be issued that are payable from the proceeds of non-referendum debt.
Improve our Education System and Protect our Children:
- House Bill 1246: Parents often must jump through a lot of hoops to see what materials are being presented to their children in public schools. HB 1246 requires school boards of districts with more than 300 students to report on their district’s website a list of the learning materials and activities used for student instruction during the previous school year. It also requires that the report include any procedures that are in effect at each school for the documentation, review, or approval of the learning materials and activities used for student instruction. This bill does not require or ban any learning material, it just provides transparency for parents.
- House Bill 1247: School employees who sexually abuse children should not be able to retire and keep their pensions. This bill provides that for incoming members of the Downstate Teacher Pension System or Chicago Teacher Pension System, no one who has been determined to have sexually abused a student shall receive any pension benefits.
Promote Public Safety:
- House Bill 3616: Inspiration for bills can come from the strangest places. In this case, I thought of this bill while watching a short video clip by Bill Maher. This proposal says that taxpayers of Illinois will not subsidize through the Film Production Services Tax Credit Act of 2008 any production that includes intense or persistent depictions of firearm violence. It is not my intention to censor these productions, but if we’re going to say that firearms themselves are part of the problem, we should also admit that depictions of gun violence and their effect upon the mental health of impressionable young (usually) men is also a big part of the problem and the State of Illinois should not be subsidizing this type of activity with a tax credit.
- House Bill 3620: As I wrote to you about a few weeks ago, the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board (ILETSB) which has the responsibility of enforcing recently passed legislation to provide concealed carry permits to active and retired corrections officers is thumbing its nose at the process and slow-walking the issuance of permits for no good reason. This is not the first time I have been critical of ILETSB. This board has been the focus of patronage and corruption for quite some time. From appointing cronies of Mike Madigan to providing concealed carry permits to politically connected people who’ve never been a cop. A big part of the problem is that the Governor picks the members of the Board, making this a board prone to patronage instead of competence. HB 3620 gives the Governor the authority to appoint ex officio members to ILETSB and all other appointment authority is given to law enforcement professionals. Under this bill the Executive Director of the Board will choose members from a list of nominees selected by a majority of votes of the Presidents of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, and the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge 7. We should take the political patronage out of overseeing our law enforcement and give that oversight to the experts.
- For more information on House Republican Proposals to promote public safety, improve education, fight corruption, promote fiscal responsibility, and bring jobs and economic opportunity to Illinois, you can visit our Reimagine Illinois website. And, you can provide your thoughts on these issues through taking a survey here.
Adoption & Child Welfare Committee:
First Subject Matter Hearing Held on Staffing/Hiring Issues:
You may have noticed a theme in my weekly update. These emails will likely always include an update on the work of improving our child welfare system in Illinois. This topic has long been used as a political football – a way to point blame, smear the party in power, and score political points. That approach has gotten us nowhere and has left kids in a system that is subjecting them to harm. It is my goal to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan way to flip the priorities. We must set aside political games and put our kids and true solutions first.
It is also important to me and members of the Child Welfare committee that we get to solutions the right way. Throughout my time in Springfield, major bipartisan policy victories are typically won through working groups or task forces. These traditional processes deny the opportunity for the public to weigh in. In my role as minority spokesperson on the Child Welfare committee, I am working with the Chairwoman to set forward a process that allows the public to engage in the discussion, allows committee members to hear testimony about the current problems and possible solutions, and allows the public policy process to work the right way.
We started that process this week by bringing state agencies before our committee to focus on the issue of hiring. Our committee wanted to know what the current roadblocks are, what challenges the agencies are facing, and better understand the current system. If we are going to fix the child welfare system, hiring good people and hiring them quickly will be important.
This hearing was just the first of a series of hearings to better understand the problems holistically.
If you’d like to listen in to the next hearings, the schedule will be posted on our committee website.
The Week Ahead:
- Next week, the Illinois House is scheduled for legislative session Tuesday, March 7th through Friday, March 10th.
Stay Up To Date:
Like what you see? Please share this update with your friends and family. If someone forwarded this e-mail to you, please sign up for my newsletter or send me a message by clicking here: https://www.ilhousegop.org/contactreick. With this weekly Reick Report, I aim to give you a quick and easily digestible update on what is happening at the State Capitol, the top issues in our local area, and how you can get engaged.