Legislation sponsored by State Representative Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) and carried in the Senate by State Senator Erica Harriss (R-Glen Carbon) to help child victims of human trafficking heal and move on with their lives following their trauma unanimously passed the State Senate. Having previously passed the House unanimously, House Bill 5465 now heads to the Governor’s desk for further consideration.

We set aside the last Monday of every May to honor the men and women who lost their lives while serving is the United State military. The annual commemoration we now know as Memorial Day has its roots here in Illinois, and it came about because of Union General turned Illinois Congressman John A. Logan.

Seeing the need for continued remembrance of those who had fallen in the Civil War, Logan issued his General Order Number 11 establishing Dedication Day:

State Representative Jackie Haas's legislation headed to the Governor for his signature will expand patient centric healthcare options for Illinois residents. Senate Bill 3599 requires insurers to cover Mobile Integrated Healthcare services for eligible recipients starting January 1, 2026. An eligible recipient is a person who has received emergency hospital services three times in four consecutive months or for whom Mobile Integrated Healthcare services would prevent hospital admission or readmission.

Protecting the public from crime and keeping communities safe is among the highest priorities of Illinois State Representative Patrick Windhorst and House Republican lawmakers. Windhorst talks about the efforts of House Republicans to curb rising crime rates in Illinois on Have All Voted Who Wish.

A former prosecutor, Windhorst leads the House Republican's Truth in Public Safety working group (TIPS) which focuses on enacting solutions to combat rising crime and improve public safety in Illinois. Windhorst provides a synopsis of the legislative solutions introduced by members of the TIPS working group that includes measures to hold criminals accountable, provide mental health services, recruit and train law enforcement professionals, reduce recidivism and protect crime victims. Rep. Windhorst believes that passing the legislative package produced by the working group would improve the safety of all Illinoisans.

Illinois State Representative Bill Hauter's legislation making it easier for those with bleeding disorders to receive medical care without the delay of insurance preauthorization, awaits the Governor's signature. 

Hauter's bill puts patients first by removing the emergency room visit requirement for insurance pre-authorization ensuring patients with bleeding disorders get the prompt acute care they need.

Legislation carried in the Illinois House of Representatives by State Representative Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) and co-sponsored by fellow Peoria area State Representatives Travis Weaver (R-Edwards) and Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), as well as the delegation of legislators from the Peoria area, passed the House today and is now ready to be signed into law. The legislation, Senate Bill 2936, expands a property tax abatement process to improve investment opportunities.

Illicit fentanyl is being distributed across the country including here in Illinois. Sold on the illegal drug market, Fentanyl is often mixed with other illicit drugs to increase its potency. It is sold as powders and nasal sprays, and increasingly pressed into pills made to look like legitimate prescription opioids or rainbow colored tablets that look like candy.

The tragic reality:  A very small dose of Fentanyl can be lethal.

State Representative Brad Stephens (R-Rosemont) and Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) are one step closer to improving traffic safety around O’Hare Airport.

In response to reports of dangerous conditions around the airport, Harmon and Stephens passed legislation prohibiting drivers from stopping their vehicles on the shoulder of the road anywhere within a half-mile radius of O’Hare.

Deputy Republican Leader Norine Hammond was a guest on the Season 39 premiere of “Illinois Lawmakers.” The long-running series is now being produced by Capitol News Illinois.

Representative Hammond and host Jak Tichenor discussed concerns with the pending Illinois State Budget for Fiscal Year 2025. Hammond indicated that House Republicans have not yet been included in budget negotiations. She expressed the Caucus’ opposition to Governor JB Pritzker’s proposed tax increases on Illinois businesses, as well as the Governor’s proposal to transfer $175 million from the Road Fund for Chicago-area mass transit. 

With the State of Illinois facing an estimated $775 million budget deficit and Governor JB Pritzker calling for more than $1 billion in tax hikes on Illinois families and businesses, State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Murrayville) has filed legislation to end Illinois’ healthcare benefits program for undocumented immigrants.

Last week, Rep. Davidsmeyer introduced House Bill 5846 which would repeal the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults and Seniors (HBIA/HBIS) Programs. The State of Illinois currently provides free healthcare benefits for undocumented immigrant adults at an annual estimated cost of nearly $700 million. Over the first four fiscal years of the HBIA/HBIS programs, the State will have spent more than $2 billion in taxpayer funds on healthcare benefits for undocumented immigrants.

In this latest episode of our Have All Voted Who Wish podcast, we hear from Illinois State Representative Jed Davis

Representative Davis talks about his first term in the Illinois General Assembly and how he is laser-focused on keeping kids safe. This session he introduced a legislative package of bills crafted to provide greater protections for children. 

Rep. Jed Davis' protecting children legislative package includes the following bills:

CRIMINAL LAW

Illinois Republicans Urge Action on Bipartisan Bill to Protect Students. At a press conference this week in Springfield, Rep. Amy Elik and Sen. Terri Bryant urged the Senate to act on House Bill 4241, which unanimously passed the House last month. The bill, which protects high school students age 18 and older from sexual abuse by an educator, currently sits in Assignments in the Senate. Rep. Jackie Haas and Sen. Erica Harriss also attended the press conference and are co-sponsors of the bill.

On April 15, dozens of pro-Palestine protesters blocked Interstate 190, an expressway that leads toward O’Hare International Airport. With no regard for commuters or emergency services that may have needed to use the road, the protest completely halted all traffic on the road for more than an hour. As a result, travelers were forced to leave their vehicles and trek along the road towards the airport, many of whom missed their flights.

The disruption that took place on I-190 in April is just one of many examples of the far-left using protest tactics in Chicago to coerce appeasement in Springfield. Even after concerted efforts to bully their way into legislative change, these protesters have begun to lose ground in the Illinois General Assembly.

Earlier this spring, Illinois Governor Pritzker announced his plan to demolish and reconstruct the Logan Correctional Center. The prison is currently situated in the center of Logan County in the City of Lincoln, but it may not be rebuilt there.

On May 10, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) testified in a legislative hearing that it is considering relocating the correctional center closer to the Chicago suburbs. That move would affect the livelihood of hundreds of families and would be a blow to the economically struggling community of Lincoln.

In this recent op-ed, State Representative Charlie Meier implores the Illinois General Assembly to defeat legislation that would put workshops that employ the developmentally disabled out of business. Meier has long been a champion for the rights of the developmentally disabled.

Throughout my time in Springfield serving southern Illinois and portions of the Metro-East, I have worked hard to represent the best interests of the citizens in our state that live in the care of the state, live in Community Integrated Living Arrangements, and for those developmentally disabled individuals that perform light tasks at “14c Workshops” throughout the state.

Legislation filed by State Representative Norine Hammond to assist local road districts with funding challenges was unanimously passed by the Illinois House last month.

House Bill 5190 provides that the allocation to road districts shall be made in the same manner and be subject to the same conditions and qualifications as are provided by current law concerning the allocation to road districts of the amount allotted from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund for apportionment to counties for the use of road districts. It further provides that any funds allocated to a county that are not obligated within 48 months shall be considered lapsed funds and reappropriated in the same fund. The lapsed funds shall be used to provide additional monetary assistance to townships and road districts that have insufficient funding for the construction of bridges that are 20 feet or more in length.

BUDGET

House Republicans call for enactment of a $52.1 billion balanced State of Illinois budget for FY 2025. Under subsection (b) of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Illinois Constitution, appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.

House Bill 4662, sponsored by State Representative Amy Elik, unanimously passed the House on April 18. The bill extends the sunset of an existing program that allows retired educators to return to teaching in subject shortage areas without negatively impacting their pension or benefits. It was one of several efforts put in place to combat a growing teacher shortage in Illinois. The current program is slated to end on June 30, 2024. If the program is permitted to sunset, retired educators who had returned to the classroom to help with the shortage will have to leave their positions or risk negative pension consequences.

The Illinois House of Representatives passed legislation in April sponsored by State Representative Joe Sosnowski that would allow the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and the Service Boards (Metra, CTA, and Pace) to donate rolling stock, including locomotives and equipment, to museums in Illinois that are not-for-profit organizations. 

Under current law the RTA is not permitted to donate items before putting them up for private sale or auction.

State Representative Jackie Haas' legislation making it easier for retired law enforcement professionals to work as school safety officers cleared the House last month. 

“This bill will incentivize retired law enforcement officers to return to work as school safety officers by ensuring their pension benefits are not suspended," said Haas. 

The sight of trash blowing off waste-hauling trucks headed to landfills has become an all-too-common sight. Besides the unsightly nature of blowing trash, it has raised safety and environmental concerns for many communities, as well as caused damage to local farmers’ operations and their fields. State Representative Jeff Keicher has spent more than a year working with local officials throughout the 70th House District to increase enforcement of current law and develop new policy proposals to help stop the problem.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY/ELECTIONS

Democrats muscle through changes to Illinois election law; Republicans denounce political games. This week, Democrats passed brazen legislation to change Illinois election law to their own self-serving political advantages, stifle the ability of the Republican Party to fill office vacancies, and place meaningless non-binding questions on the ballot to drive Democrat voters to the polls.

Legislation sponsored by State Representative Charlie Meier intended to help fund emergency service districts has passed the House of Representatives with unanimous support. 

“House Bill 4179 was brought to me because of all the problems we’re starting to have in rural Illinois,” said Rep. Meier. “The federal government, when they make their payments back from Medicare and Medicaid ambulance trips, is only paying a maximum of 40% of that money. The for-profit ambulances are leaving rural southern Illinois. Our fire departments are not allowed to transport people to the hospitals from wrecks or calls that they go on. The EMTs can go there, but they can’t transport them.” 

House Bill 4255, introduced by State Representative Amy Elik, unanimously passed the House in April. The legislation will make Illinois roadways safer for motorists as they approach stopped or parked emergency vehicles that are responding to accidents or emergency scenes. The bill also helps protect tow truck operators and emergency responders who are working at emergency scenes while vehicles pass by them.

A bill sponsored by State Representative Dan Swanson to better educate drivers about the state’s “Move Over” highway safety law has passed the Illinois House.

“I’m glad the House has joined in taking this important step toward making Illinois motorists more aware of what to do when they see a vehicle stopped on the roadside,” Swanson said. “We have seen far too many crashes, injuries and even deaths that could have been prevented with a little more knowledge.”

Legislation introduced by State Representative Bradley Fritts earlier this year will benefit taxpayers in small rural towns throughout Illinois. Working with the Illinois Comptroller's office and township officials, Fritts crafted legislation that ensures accountability and reduces burdensome costs for small rural communities.  House Bill 5011 passed out of the House of Representatives with unanimous support on April 18.

State Representative Mike Coffey won House passage of his bill to include children of Operation Just Cause veterans on the list of those eligible for scholarships at the University of Illinois.

House Bill 4733 expands eligibility for honorary scholarships at the University of Illinois to the children of veterans who served at any time during the invasion of Panama between December 20, 1989, and January 31, 1990. These children would join the sons and daughters of veterans who served during conflicts dating back to World War II in having eligibility for the scholarships.

BUDGET

Moody’s adds “positive” outlook to State of Illinois credit rating of A3. This moves Illinois further away from “junk bond” territory. However, Illinois debts continue to have a lower credit rating than the debts issued by most U.S. states. Illinois taxpayers continue to be required to pay higher interest rates than most other states on the debts sold to rebuild public roads, bridges, and infrastructure. This is an increasing concern in a time of rising worldwide interest rates.

State Representative Amy Elik won unanimous support in the House of Representatives for her bipartisan legislation to protect students from abuse. 

House Bill 4241 amends the Sex Offenses Article of the Criminal Code and ensures that school employees who commit acts of sexual conduct or sexual penetration with a student, regardless of the student’s age, are held responsible.

State Representative Jackie Haas (R-Kankakee) passed legislation in the House of Representatives last week aimed at increasing the number of childcare providers in Illinois.

“The passage of House Bill 4059 is the first step in addressing the critical shortage of licensed daycare providers in the state of Illinois,” said Rep. Haas. “This bill ensures the Department of Children and Family Services continues to host at least two licensing orientation programs in each district for individuals interested in becoming daycare providers.”

House Bill 4350, also known as the Child Abuse Notice Act, sponsored by State Representative Jed Davis (R-Yorkville), passed on the House floor last week. The bill will now move to the Senate for a vote.

“The passage of the Child Abuse Notice Act is a huge step forward to save children in Illinois facing abuse and trafficking,” said Rep. Davis. “Many children in these situations are kept away from places where adults may recognize the signs of abuse. This bill will target victims in locations identified by the Illinois State Police, such as truck stops, train stations, and tattoo parlors.”

On April 15, protesters cut–off vehicle access to O’Hare Airport causing major traffic delays, forcing people to exit their vehicles and walk along the expressway, luggage in tow, trying to make their flights on time. Other travelers missed their flights altogether.

The safety issues that resulted from the protesters’ decision to shut down a ramp to O’Hare caused Rep. Dan Ugaste to consider the public safety implications of their actions. Not only did the protesters prevent people from getting to the airport and create a major traffic nightmare, but, their actions could have also delayed first responders and other medical services, like the transport of vital organs, with terrible consequences.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Rep. Patrick Sheehan wastes no time getting to work in Springfield. With just over a month left in the legislative schedule, newly minted State Representative Patrick Sheehan wasted no time getting to work on behalf of his constituents.

In a statement to the press after being sworn into office, Sheehan said he couldn’t wait to hit the ground running for suburban families. And, hit the ground running is exactly what he did.

Legislation carried by State Representative Jeff Keicher (R-Sycamore) to help child victims of human trafficking heal and move on with their lives following their trauma passed unanimously through the Illinois House of Representatives last week.

When the legislation, House Bill 5465, passed through committee recently, Keicher said, “Victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, especially children, represent our most vulnerable, and we need to do everything we can to help them through their recovery process. That’s why I’m proud to be carrying House Bill 5465. The legislation builds on a law we passed last year by creating an easier process for child victims of trafficking to have their juvenile records expunged or sealed as a result of any criminal acts they were forced to take part in while being abused.”

Earlier this Spring, State Representative Amy Grant (R-Wheaton) introduced HB 1879 in response to an incident involving a stolen prescription for a Schedule II controlled substance at a Chicagoland pharmacy.

The proposed bill aims to close a loophole reported on by CBS Chicago where a Chicago area woman’s opioid prescription was stolen. The incident involved Doris Jones, whose oxycodone prescription was wrongfully dispensed to an unidentified individual that somehow knew her personal details.

Since 1938, the United States Department of Labor has provided opportunities through Section 14(c) certificates to provide every American with a chance to work. These certificates allow employers to hire intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals at wages below the federal minimum and set up “workshops” to provide support for these workers. Despite the incredible strides our nation has made to promote inclusivity and dignity in the workplace for Americans with disabilities, new legislation in Illinois threatens to eliminate these programs entirely. As a result, many concerned legislators are speaking out.

Illinois House Democrats have introduced new legislation that would eliminate single-family zoning areas in Illinois’ largest cities.

House Bill 4795, introduced to the General Assembly by Representative Kam Buckner (D -Chicago), would establish the Single-Family Zoning Ban Act. The proposed legislation would require all townships, municipalities, and counties with populations greater than 100,000 residents to make several amendments to their zoning ordinances and zoning maps. Such amendments would require all zoning areas currently zoned for single-family homes to allow the use of “middle housing”, meaning duplexes, triplexes, and other types of multi-family homes.

With only six weeks left in the legislative schedule, newly minted State Representative Patrick Sheehan wasted no time getting to work on behalf of his constituents.

In his statement to the press last week, Sheehan said he couldn't wait to hit the ground running for suburban families. And, hit the ground running is exactly what he did.

Sheehan was sworn into office on Friday to fill the vacancy left by the retiring Representative Tim Ozinga and by Monday he was in the State Capitol voting his District's interests on the raucous floor of the Illinois House of Representatives. The whirlwind day included meeting his staff for the first time, moving into his office, hearing testimony in committee, attending a Caucus meeting, listening to floor debate and preparing to do even more on day two.

Today, most of the 120 acres that make up Northerly Island, just south of Chicago’s Loop, are underutilized and under-appreciated. However, despite its lack of use today, Northerly Island used to be home to one of the world’s most unique and beloved airports: Merrill C. Meigs Field.

In 1925, Northly Island was constructed, as first suggested by architect Daniel Burnham in his “Plan Of Chicago”. The plan outlined several proposals to bring more beauty to the city, including a man-made island connected by a land bridge that would be used as a space for a large park. However, as the aviation industry grew, some within the city, including the head of the Chicago Aero Commission, Merrill Church Meigs, suggested that the space be converted into an airport that would allow for quicker access to downtown.

The House Personnel and Pensions committee has unanimously approved State Representative Brandun Schweizer's first bill, which seeks to provide members of the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) with more peace of mind when it comes to their healthcare benefits. His legislation will protect TRS enrollees from lapses in healthcare services when the state makes changes to their insurance benefits, like it did in 2022.

In 2022, Medicare-eligible state retirees were summarily informed that Aetna insurance would be the only Medicare option available to them. Moreover the change was effective immediately. This forced many people to switch healthcare providers at a moment's notice when they learned their provider did not accept Aetna. In the rural parts of the state where there is a shortage of healthcare providers, this led to gaps in services for many enrollees while they looked for new providers that would take the insurance. It was of particular of concern to those who learned that Carle Hospital of Urbana did not accept Aetna at the time. Carle has since negotiated a contract with the insurance provider. 

The Illinois House Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved State Representative Nicole La Ha's first bill which seeks to eliminate the statute of limitations for human trafficking offenses that involve children under the age of 18 years old.  Children account for 27% of all the human trafficking victims worldwide and the trauma they endure will last a lifetime. This legislation will provide child survivors of trafficking unlimited time to come to terms with their abuse and the opportunity to pursue justice in their own time. 

CRIMINAL LAW

Cashless Bail Fails: Six months of diminished public safety. Six months after the full implementation of the cashless bail, and other provisions, of the Illinois SAFE-T Act, Illinois residents are finding themselves anything but safe.

“House Republicans warned against the passage of the SAFE-T Act because of problematic provisions in the law that make the work of law enforcement officials harder to do, and because the law will make our communities less safe.

Women have had an impact in agriculture in the U.S. for some time, whether it be on the farm, in the classroom, or in the boardroom. Many of those roles have been understated, but the important role women play in the industry cannot be ignored, especially as it continues to evolve and modernize. Moving forward, the next generation of women must be educated and ready to adapt as they face the challenges of the world’s ever-changing fuel and food needs.

The 2023-2024 FAFSA application is due June 30, 2024. FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form utilized by universities across the country to determine whether a student is eligible for financial aid and loans. This year’s FAFSA has seen several changes in an effort to simplify the process for applicants. One of those changes is known as the ‘Grandparent Loophole’, which now makes college payments made by grandparents exempt from the form.

The cost of providing services to undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers is costing Illinois taxpayers an estimated $2.84 billion since July 1, 2022. This does not include education costs or other various state and local services.

Estimated Illinois taxpayer spending on non-citizens from Fiscal Year 2023 to Fiscal Year 2025 include $820 million in support services, which is broken down to $478 million for asylum seeker assistance, $160 million for new additional state investments, and $182 million for emergency funding requests.

Six months after the full implementation of the cashless bail, and other provisions, of the Illinois SAFE-T Act, Illinois residents are finding themselves anything but safe.
“House Republicans warned against the passage of the SAFE-T Act because of problematic provisions in the law that make the work of law enforcement officials harder to do, and because the law will make our communities less safe.

After a legislative session day was abruptly canceled in the House of Representatives during a deadline week for legislation to pass out of committees, House Minority Leader Tony McCombie released the following statement:

“Republicans showed up with good bills for consideration. Bans on kangaroos and exotic cats made the cut while Republican bills to reduce taxes, hold criminals accountable, and strengthen families were blocked by Democrats. The priorities of this chamber are upside down and it’s immoral to leave early while so much work remains.”
A new law making its way through the Illinois General Assembly aimed at tipped workers would not only have a damaging effect on Illinois restaurants still rebounding from the Pandemic but it would also negatively impact restaurant employees as well. 

Rep. Mike Coffey joined the Illinois Retail Merchants Association at a press conference to express their concerns and opposition to the legislation. 

“As I’ve traveled the district, employees who have excelled at providing service to residents have asked me to stand up and fight against this bill," explained Coffey. "They are concerned their take-home pay will decrease and businesses will close their doors."

Current Illinois law allows employers to pay their tipped workers 60% of the state’s minimum wage. That amounts to $8.40 hourly, compared to the minimum wage of $14 per hour. However, if employee wages plus tips do not equal minimum wage, the employer must make up the difference. 

If enacted, House Bill 5345 would mandate all businesses who currently employ tipped workers to compensate them at $15 an hour, beginning in 2025. 

“This legislation would cause turmoil in the service industry, causing job creators to cut good-paying positions and putting these businesses at risk of closure,” Coffey said. “Ultimately, consumers who are already feeling the higher cost of living in this state will have to pay more to offset the higher labor costs.”

House Bill 5345 has so far failed to attract key support, as the witness slips filed on this bill show 564 opponents and just 37 proponents. Nevertheless the legislation passed out of committee on April 4. While the legislation is advancing through the process, strong bipartisan opposition prompted the sponsor to promise not to bring the bill to a vote in the full House without first negotiating amendments to address concerns.




GENERAL ASSEMBLY

DEMOCRATS PRIORITIZE BANNING KANGAROOS, HOP OUT OF TOWN. After a legislative session day was abruptly canceled in the House of Representatives during a deadline week for legislation to pass out of committees, House Minority Leader Tony McCombie released the following statement: 

It is happening in our communities. Often in our own backyards. Modern day slavery, also know as human trafficking, is occurring right under our noses.

Human Trafficking is a crime of exploitation. Traffickers profit at the expense of their victims by forcing them to commit illegal acts, perform free labor, and/or engage in commercial sex. Victims can be of any age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, immigration status, cultural background, religion, socio-economic class, and education attainment level.