In this week’s e-news I bring you news, notes and photos covering the House’s Committee deadline week, criminal justice laws shot down by Democrats, a funding dispute at Southern Illinois University, and last week’s 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics celebration in Southern Illinois. There is a lot to cover this week so let’s get started!
Democrats Kill Bills to Enhance Penalties for Violent Crimes
This week is known in Springfield as “Committee Deadline Week”. That means members of the Illinois House had until Friday to pass substantive bills out of assigned Committees and on to the House floor.
I am a member of several Committees, one of which is the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee. This Committee most often considers legislation dealing with gun regulations, policies relating to the Department of Corrections, and the establishment or enhancement of rules or penalties for persons convicted or accused of a multitude of crimes. The phrase ‘criminal justice reform’ is currently in vogue with the Democrat party, both at the national and state levels.
I am saddened to report to you that the liberal-progressive approach to dealing with criminal behaviors reared its very ugly and stubborn head multiple times this week. Let’s take a look at some of the bills dealing with crime that were shot down by the Democrats in Springfield just this week.
You may remember the story of Pamela Knight, a DCFS worker that was kicked in the head by a parent when she was trying to take a child out of an unsafe home. The father of the child had been accused of aggravated battery to a child after dragging his six year old by the feet and striking him in the face. Unfortunately, Mrs. Knight suffered a cracked skull in the attack and later died of her injuries. As you may know, DCFS investigators and child protection staff sometimes are required to remove children from dangerous and unhealthy environments.
In response to this horrific incident, my friend and colleague Rep. Tony McCombie filed legislation that would place DCFS workers in the same category as police, firefighters, correctional officers, and other human service workers in regard to instances of assault. The bill is an appropriate response to a tragic situation, and also addresses a major issue facing state employees that perform a vital and dangerous service for at-risk children.
Democrats on the Committee expressed their opposition to enhancing ANY criminal penalties. Rep. McCombie’s bill was voted down, as well as a multitude of other Republican-sponsored measures that would have changed the possibility of bail for certain violent crimes, curbed gang recruitment, protected children from sex offenders, and increased penalties for individuals dealing in sex trafficking. Because the Committee deadline has now passed, these pieces of legislation are now essentially dead.
|Rep. Bryant questions witnesses during a Committee hearing.|
Here’s the bottom line: As your State Representative, I believe it is my duty to protect the people of Illinois. One of the ways we can do that is by being tough on crime and tough on criminals.
The mentality that drove NO votes on all these important pieces of legislation is purely political, as State of Illinois Democrats continue to follow their national counterparts in a march to the far-left side of the political spectrum.
I will continue to vote to be tough on crime and will continue to keep you updated on my fight against liberal-progressive policies that make all of us less safe.
SIU Carbondale Funding Diversion Plan gets Voted Down
Last week, I joined Congressman Bost and my southern Illinois colleagues from the House and Senate to show a unified, bipartisan front expressing opposition to a proposal that would shift more than $5 million from SIU Carbondale to SIU Edwardsville. We even issued a joint press release on this issue last week that you can read by clicking here.
I share my constituents’ concerns that a major diversion of funding from SIUC to the Edwardsville campus will hurt the local and regional economy. A move like this would further downgrade the capability of the Carbondale campus to be the world class research facility and economic engine that we need in southern Illinois. The jobs that could be lost due to this funding plan will hurt the Carbondale economy and losing more programs at SIUC will only make the problem of declining enrollment even worse.
Thankfully, on Thursday, the SIU Board of Trustees voted 4-3 to STOP the transfer of funds from SIUC to SIUE. This is great news but we must stay vigilant and work to continue to promote and protect SIU Carbondale. You can read The Southern Illinoisan’s coverage of yesterday’s vote by clicking here.
Special Olympics Celebrates 50 Years with Ceremony and Games in Makanda
On Friday April 6th, I was honored to attend the kickoff of the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Celebration. The day was full of fun Special Olympic activities with lots of fun (and great food!) enjoyed by all. The opening ceremonies honored the legacy of Dr. William Freeberg. Dr. Freeberg was remembered for his efforts to develop programs for SIU like Camp Little Giant at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, and for his role in developing and founding the Special Olympics.
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 4:00 PM. 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!