THE MADNESS CONTINUES
The countdown to the scheduled end of Session stands at 4 days. The Democratic party in control of the legislature has yet to produce a balanced budget plan. House Democrats rose on the floor several times this week to shout out loud how willing they are to meet and compromise with Republicans to get a deal done.
But their actions do not match their rhetoric, as excuses are being made and ridiculous lines in the sand on who gets to attend the meetings are constantly being drawn.
Instead of working to end the budget impasse, instead of working with Republicans on reforms that will grow the economy, instead of working with Republicans on reforms like term limits and redistricting, House Democrats are currently working behind the scenes on another unbalanced budget.
If you’re counting at home, that will make at least 16 unbalanced budgets in a row; a very “un-sweet 16” for the taxpayers of the State of Illinois.
Current revenue estimates show that Illinois will bring in between $30 and $32 billion in the coming fiscal year. This is not an official estimate, however. The failure of the legislature to adopt a revenue estimate means we don’t even know what amount of money we have to work with.
House Republicans have called on Democrats for months to adopt a baseline for a spending plan. I even signed on to a letter last week calling on the Attorney General to force the General Assembly to do its duty and adopt this estimate.
Our efforts have been refused and our requests have been ignored. Democrats have instead gone back to secret meetings and will likely drop a massive multi-billion dollar budget on Republican desks at the 11th hour. This is a classic Mike Madigan “take-it-or-leave-it” legislative-strong arm tactic. This brand of politically-weaponized governing is directly responsible for the gridlock and dysfunction in Springfield.
Here’s how it works:
1. Speaker Madigan and House Democrats run an unbalanced budget that Republicans have had no input on and the Governor has promised to veto.
2. House Democrats vote YES on the spending plan. Pork projects are inserted. No reforms are considered. The broken system continues.
3. House Republicans vote NO citing the need for a balanced budget and reforms to our economy and system of government.
4. House Democrats attack Republicans for voting against everything that his empty-promise-filled and phony budget would have “paid for.”
MORE MADNESS from HOUSE DEMOCRATS
Encouraging Illegal Immigration
House Democrats in the House Executive Committee passed a bill to flout Federal immigration law this week. SB 31 creates the Illinois Trust Act, which essentially tells law enforcement to ignore immigration laws.
This bill would tell law enforcement officials not to detain individuals solely on the basis of their immigration status. This is simply a way to make Illinois a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants and I’m fundamentally opposed to that. The State of Illinois may face reductions in federal funding for violating federal law.
We have a new President and new Attorney General at the Federal level who have made enforcing our nation’s existing immigration laws a top priority. The State of Illinois is in a financial disaster already. Bills like this put our state further at risk from both a security and financial standpoint.
Allowing Sex Changes on Birth Certificates
I also voted NO on HB 1754 on Thursday. The bill, sponsored by Chicago Democrat Greg Harris, would allow individuals to change the gender designation on their birth certificates to match their “gender identity.” This bill is dangerous in many ways.
Softening the standard for changing someone’s birth certificate sex designation is a very controversial concept. Gender identity theory is very new and far from universally agreed upon by medical and mental health professionals.
Current Illinois law does not allow a person to change their gender designation on their birth certificate. This bill would even allow individuals to change the sex listed on their birth certificate in cases where gender reassignment surgery has not occurred. There are far ranging unintended consequences to this legislation and it should be rejected.
Despite strong opposition from me and other House Republican members, the measure passed on a 63-43-1 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
House Democrats Block Vote on Pro-Vet, Pro-Active Duty Gun Bill
My colleague Representative David Reis (R-Ste. Marie) was joined in Springfield this week by a Carmi resident who testified before a subject matter hearing of the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee. Reis and his constituent discussed SB 1524, a bill to ease some gun regulations for veterans and active duty military members. I am a proud co-sponsor of this bill and I am a member of this Committee.
Unfortunately, Rep. Reis was not allowed to bring this important bill up for a vote. He was instead only allowed to present the bill at a “subject-matter-only” hearing. This type of hearing does not allow for legislation to be voted on.
Illinois does not offer reciprocity or recognition of concealed carry licenses with any other state. In order to carry a concealed firearm in Illinois, a non-law enforcement individual must hold an Illinois Concealed Carry License. Illinois law allows police officers that are residents of other states, and concealed carry license holders in other states, to carry concealed weapons while visiting or traveling through Illinois.
SB 1524 would honor the service and sacrifices of veterans and active duty military members and bring Illinois in line with many other states. These individuals have carried or currently carry weapons in defense of our country. These folks have also done the work to earn their concealed carry license in their state of origin. Active military personnel who are traveling through or performing official training in Illinois should not be in violation of the laws governing possession of a firearm for Illinois residents.
Because House Democrats blocked a vote on the legislation, the bill remains in Committee awaiting a full hearing.
Illinois Nurses Association Reaches Agreement on Layoffs and Subcontracting Issues
I was extremely disappointed and concerned when I learned of the planned layoffs of more than 120 Illinois correctional facility nurses. I was a chief co-sponsor of a bill that passed the House that would have rescinded the layoffs of the nurses that work in Illinois’ correctional facilities.
Shortly after that legislation passed, the Rauner Administration announced they would be willing to go back to the negotiating table and rescinded the layoffs. Those were the first steps toward reaching a deal. Many more meetings have taken place since then between the two sides and today we received word that the issue of subcontracting had been resolved and that the layoffs will be permanently avoided.
The legislative action that was taken, in combination with my colleagues in the House urging both sides to stay engaged in good faith negotiations played a major part in driving a final solution to this issue.
Some of the details of the subcontracting agreement include:
Step and COLA increases will be put on hold as INA and the Administration continue their negotiations on a master contract.
Effective July 1, overtime will only be paid after 40 hours of work, not 37.5.
The Department of Corrections will convert Graham, Dixon, Menard, Pontiac and Stateville facilities to be INA-only facilities. This will help to address the issue of differing work rules at mixed facilities for INA employees and Wexford employees.
A 12-hour work schedule pilot program to be implemented at both Vienna and East Moline Correctional Facilities.
My office in Mt. Vernon is open Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is open Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can also contact me directly through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com – Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!