Week in Review: Protecting students, reigniting the economy, immigration & more


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.

“We carefully crafted this legislation to anticipate any possible concerns by both the House and Senate,” said Rep. Elik. “This bipartisan bill has no vocal opposition and must move forward this session so students have the necessary protections they deserve. Today it is in the Senate’s hands to push this across the finish line and deliver that promise.”

House Bill 4241 protects students age 18 and older by creating the offense of abuse of power by an educator or authority figure. Any sexual contact by an educator or staff member with a student, even if they are 18 or older, is an abuse of authority. Criminal charges must be levied so that offenders cannot just leave a job and move on to other opportunities where they could prey on children.

HB 4241 states that abuse by an educator or authority figure involving sexual conduct is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class 4 felony for a subsequent offense or if there is more than one victim. For acts of sexual penetration, Class 3 and 4 felony charges are applicable.

“Our kids can’t afford to wait any longer for this issue to be addressed,” said Sen. Bryant. “With the passage of House Bill 4241, we can tell every individual within our state that suffered this abuse that their lawmakers heard their cries for help and acted.”

Rep. Elik also called for the passage of a bill she filed last spring, HB 1275. This bill states that no contributory fault may be attributed to a child sexual abuse victim. Rep. Elik will continue to work with fellow lawmakers to get this bill through the General Assembly.

Rep. Ugaste Delivers Remarks on RISE Working Group Bills, Economy. Reps. Dan Ugaste and Blaine Wilhour hosted a press conference this week in Springfield, with Rep. Ugaste delivering remarks on the Reigniting Illinois’ Strong Economy (RISE) Working Group’s bills and the overall state of the Illinois economy.

Our economy should be growing at a far better rate, and it can. House Republicans have offered solutions to help our state and our citizens, but Democrats continue to play politics and ignore our legislation.

Davidsmeyer Files Legislation to End Taxpayer-Funded Healthcare Benefits for Undocumented Immigrants. 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 has filed legislation to end Illinois’ healthcare benefits program for undocumented immigrants.

Earlier this 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.

“Illinois taxpayers cannot afford to pay for free healthcare benefits for illegal immigrants, especially at a time when healthcare costs for our own citizens continue to skyrocket,” Rep. Davidsmeyer said. “I have repeatedly voted against taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants. With this legislation, I am once again calling for the end of taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants.”

House Bill 5846 would completely repeal the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults and Seniors (HBIA/HBIS) Programs. By ending these budget-busting programs, the State of Illinois could save hundreds of millions of dollars that could go toward expanding access to critical state services for Illinois citizens.

Representative Davidsmeyer discussed the process by which these expansions of health benefits to undocumented immigrants were enacted into law and the absolute lack of accountability and transparency for this program.

“During the 2020 pandemic-shortened House session, Democrats slipped health benefits for undocumented immigrant seniors into the FY21 Budget Implementation (BIMP) bill. This new benefit was included in the BIMP at the last minute, without a committee hearing, public input, or debate. We had virtually no time to review the massive BIMP and budget bills that were passed at the end of that special session,” said Rep. Davidsmeyer.

“In 2021, Democrats again slipped expanded health benefits for undocumented immigrants for ages 55-64 into the FY22 BIMP bill. This was again included at the last minute, with no committee hearing and almost no time to debate the bill.

“In 2022, Democrats blew up an agreed Medicaid Omnibus bill by yet again adding a last-minute expansion of health benefits for undocumented immigrants for ages 42-54 at the end of session. Zero transparency, zero accountability, zero public input.”

Since its implementation, the HBIA/S Program has continually exceeded appropriations, even with a current moratorium on new enrollees to the program.
  • $619.2 million in State Funds for HBIA/HBIS in Fiscal Year 2023.
  • $697.1 million in State Funds projected for HBIA/HBIS in Fiscal Year 2024.
  • $629 million budgeted for HBIS/HBIS in Fiscal Year 2025.
Illinois’ unemployment rate continues to be significantly higher than the national rate. The most recent monthly unemployment rate, from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), shows Illinois had an April unemployment rate of 4.8%, 0.9% higher than the 3.9% national rate for the same month. Neighboring states also have lower unemployment than Illinois. Recent unemployment rates include 3.5% in Indiana, 2.9% in Iowa, 3.3% in Missouri, and 3.0% in Wisconsin – all rates that are much lower than the comparable 4.8% rate in Illinois.

IDES reports that Illinois continue to show job weakness in the key, high-wage super-sector of professional and business services. Over the past 12 months, Illinois has suffered a net loss of 33,100 jobs in this supersector. Combined with net 12-month losses of 6,800 jobs in Illinois financial activities, and a net loss of 5,600 jobs in Illinois information services, these job losses have almost wiped out all of the payroll gains posted during this year-long period by other sectors of the Illinois hiring economy. Reports indicate that many office jobs in professional and financial services are moving away from Chicago, a traditional headquarters for the non-New York City corporate sector, to new hubs headed by Atlanta and Dallas-Fort Worth.

IDFPR Solutions Delayed. During a subject matter hearing held at the Capitol last week to address ongoing delays within the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), the agency announced a revised deadline for implementing necessary updates.

Persistent delays, breakdowns in communication, lost applications, and general dysfunction have sparked bipartisan frustration with IDFPR, issues that were initially brought to light during a subject-matter hearing last summer. Since then, deadlines for improvement have come and gone, and the new date of June 8th was revealed last Wednesday. 

At the same time IDFPR is facing significant delays impacting countless Illinois residents, including essential workers, a different state agency continues to improve efficiency. The Secretary of State is offering “do it online” renewals for driver’s licenses, marking a stark contrast to the troubles of IDFPR, which offers online renewals for only some licenses.

“House Republicans want to get people to work, so let’s fix the simple things, address the growing procurement issues and eliminate red tape,” said House Minority Leader Tony McCombie. 

McCombie has been vocal about the issues at IDFPR and filed legislation to solve problems at the agency. The Leader introduced the License Convenience Act (House Bill 4855), to mandate the department to accept electronic payments for licenses and fees–but the bill was prevented from moving forward in the Illinois House, despite bipartisan support. 

“This is about fixing things in our state that aren’t working; this agency is not adequately serving residents and we must invoke change,” continued McCombie. 

Livelihoods on the line in Lincoln. 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.

“Logan Correctional is an instrumental part of Lincoln and its surrounding communities. It provides more than 500 direct jobs, hundreds more indirect jobs, and immeasurable local economic benefits,” read a joint statement from State Representative Bill Hauter and Senator Sally Turner and other local leaders. “We will continue to fight for each and every one of these jobs and ensure our communities get the answers they deserve from the Governor’s Administration.”

The City of Lincoln has seen more than its fair share of economic devastation in recent years. In 2019, the Ardagh Group shut down its Lincoln manufacturing plant, cutting 150 local jobs. The 157-year-old Lincoln College permanently closed its doors in 2022 following the Pandemic and a cyber strike. In October of last year, Lincoln Christian University also shut down. These closures came on the heels of the shuttering of the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce in 2017. The additional loss of jobs that would come with moving the prison out of Logan County would further devastate the community.

Hauter and other officials held a Facebook Live Townhall meeting this week to provide information about the Governor’s plans for Logan Correctional Center and hear from local residents about the impact of the possible relocation. The Governor has not held public meetings but should before making a decision that would inflict further hardship on the residents of this area.

Rep. Rosenthal Pushes Back Against Wildlife Competition Ban. On Wednesday, HB 2900 passed in the House with a roll call of 62-45. This bill prohibits hunting competitions of fur-bearing animals such as coyotes, raccoons, and squirrels. Representative Wayne Rosenthal pushed back against the sponsor of the bill and pointed out how these competitions help control the populations of these animals, especially predators, and the impact they have on our communities. The sponsor seemed to be out of touch with how this bill will impact our communities and non-profit organizations, which often utilize these competitions to raise funds. 

The sponsor said coyotes are part of the “web of life” and seemed to ignore the threat to livestock, animals, or children we understand in rural communities when these animals are overpopulated. She doesn’t seem to trust the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to manage wildlife resources in Illinois. Even though these competitions break no DNR rules or regulations, they are being attacked by Democrats. Anyone can hunt coyotes year-round in Illinois, but local competitions are somehow considered inhumane.

HB 2900 will end numerous fundraisers that contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities that help veterans, first responders, disabled youth hunters, and more. For example, the Squirrel Bowl that takes place in Carlinville, raises $200,000 annually that goes directly to veterans and schoolkids.

Racoons are very destructive in nature. They have become overpopulated, they destroy crops, and local farm bureaus have put bounties on them. HB 2900 bans racoon bounties.

Coyotes, which are overpopulated too, threaten rural families, their pets, and livestock year-round. They are at the top of the food chain with no natural enemies. Human intervention is needed to protect other wildlife and to keep these predators from becoming comfortable in neighborhoods and communities. The Illinois Farm Bureau and Beef Producers oppose HB 2900.