The spring 2019 legislative session is now adjourned. The final week of action saw House Democrats jam through radical abortion changes, a law that allows inmates to vote from the Cook County jail, and the passage of a ballot question for the 2020 election that, if approved, would mean Illinois’ Constitution would be changed to allow for a graduated/progressive income tax system.
Since the Governor’s Inauguration in January, I have been a vocal opponent of several of his initiatives. I have publicly opposed and voted NO on the Governor’s graduated tax plan, the legalization of recreational marijuana, taxpayer funded, late-term abortions, unconstitutional gun control bills, and efforts to expand Illinois’ footprint as a ‘sanctuary state’ for illegal immigrants.
Here’s what happened on those issues, and how I voted in the final week of Session:
Recreational marijuana – Illinois General Assembly passes bill to legalize recreational marijuana. On the final day of the regular spring session, the House of Representatives passed legislation legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Illinois.
House Bill 1438 creates the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. It allows for the recreational use of cannabis by individuals over the age of 21. Illinois citizens may possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and out of state individuals may possess up to 15 grams. Medical cannabis patients may grow up to 5 plants in their residence.
It expunges arrest records for possession of cannabis up to 30 grams. For individuals who have convictions for possession of up to 30 grams, the Governor will pardon those individuals and the Attorney General will file a petition to expunge. For those individuals convicted of possession between 30-500 grams, they may file a motion to vacate or expunge their records.
HB 1438 also creates the Recovery, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) grant program, which will invest in communities hit by economic disinvestment and violence. 25% of revenue generated by the Act will go to the R3 program.
It allows for additional dispensaries (in addition to medical cannabis dispensaries) and cultivators, and adds licenses for craft growers, infusers, and transportation organizations. Local governments may reasonably zone where craft growers and dispensaries may be placed. Local governments may opt out of having cannabis-related businesses within their borders.
Taxation on cannabis: 7% on cultivators, 10-25% on purchase of cannabis, up to 3% excise tax by municipalities, up to .75% for counties, and up to 3.75% for unincorporated areas.
This legislation provides for public safety, taxpayer protections, workplace protections, and local control. It contains similar provisions to laws regulating the consumption of alcohol, like a prohibition on driving a car under the influence. It incorporates laws that will deter and punish use by minors – including a zero tolerance policy for those under 21 who drive under the influence of cannabis. Employers are given the strongest policy protections in the nation, allowing for a “drug free” workplace. Local municipalities and counties may opt out at any time and can tax cannabis up to 3.75%.
Opponents pointed out that nothing in this legislation changes the fact that cannabis is still a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance which remains illegal under federal law. They argued that the bill will not raise nearly as much revenue as proponents expect; instead, it will place additional burdens on taxpayer dollars to pay for drug treatment and the negative health effects of chronic marijuana use. Opponents believe that legalizing marijuana is a terrible way to raise money for the State and that it will cause more harm than good.
House Bill 1438 passed the Senate by a vote of 38-17-2 and on May 31, the House concurred with Senate Amendment 2 by a vote of 66-47-2. I VOTED NO
Graduated Income Tax Constitutional Amendment
On Memorial Day, the Democrat super-majority passed a graduated income tax amendment out of the Illinois House of Representatives, over strong Republican objections.
SJRCA 1 was adopted by the House on a partisan vote of 73-44, with all Republican members voting ‘No.’ As the constitutional amendment resolution was previously adopted by the Illinois Senate, it will be placed on the November 2020 general election ballot for voter approval or disapproval.
Democrats also passed Senate Bill 687, which contains their proposed graduated income tax rates. It amends the Illinois Income Tax Act to impose a graduated income tax rate structure on individuals and increase the income tax rate on corporations. I VOTED NO.
A main component of Governor Pritzker’s agenda that I have opposed is the expansion of late-term, taxpayer funded abortion. HB 1438 rewrites the Illinois book of laws to call an abortion a ‘fundamental right’.
The United States Declaration of Independence plainly states that United States citizens are entitled to certain inalienable rights that include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. An abortion snuffs out life, robs the unborn of their potential liberty, and ends any pursuit of happiness. A taxpayer funded abortion requires people like me, who voted NO on HB 1436, to have their tax dollars diverted to pay for elective (any reason), taxpayer-funded, late-term abortions.
Illinois, sadly, is now home to the most progressive/radical abortion law in the United States. I VOTED NO.
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation last week that would increase costs and red tape for law-abiding gun owners in Illinois.
Senate Bill 1966 requires mandatory fingerprinting for all FOID and Concealed Carry License applications and renewals. It requires universal background checks through federally licensed dealers for all firearm transfers, with exceptions for family members and law enforcement.
Changes to the FOID Act include the following:
Limits the FOID card length to 5 years (currently 10 years)
Doubles the FOID card fee to $20 (from $10)
Provides that a live scan fingerprint vendor may not charge more than $30 per set of fingerprints
The Illinois State Police can charge an additional fee for background checks (State and FBI background checks through live scan vendor are $28.25)
Law-abiding citizens should not have to submit to fingerprinting, doubled FOID card fees and bureaucratic red tape to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. A person who wants a FOID card to legally own a gun in Illinois may have to pay more than $100 just to exercise their Second Amendment rights. They may have to drive several hours just to find a fingerprint vendor. These limitations on the constitutional rights of our citizens will do little to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals. My fellow House Republicans and I pointed out that if SB 1966 were to become law, it would face a certain legal challenge and likely be ruled unconstitutional by the courts.
Senate Bill 1966 narrowly passed the House by a vote of 62-52-0. However, the Illinois Senate did not take action on the concurrence motions prior to adjourning the spring session. The bill remains in the Senate on the Order of Concurrence.
I proudly voted YES on a bipartisan, balanced budget after Governor Pritzker agreed to the inclusion of House Republican-backed business reforms. As the General Assembly’s May 31 scheduled adjournment approached, intense negotiations took place in a bipartisan, bicameral effort to reach a deal on a balanced budget and capital infrastructure plan.
House Republicans insisted that key business reforms be included in the budget and capital plan. These reforms will make Illinois a better place to create jobs and grow capital investment and were strongly backed by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and other business groups.
After the legislative leaders and Governor Pritzker reached an agreement on the inclusion of these reforms, the House took action on May 31 to pass a $40.6 billion balanced Fiscal Year 2020 budget.
Senate Bill 262 contains the operating budget for FY20, including a total GRF spend of $40.6 billion which matches the available revenue from FY20. It includes $1.2 billion to pay down the backlog of bills and makes the full FY20 certified contribution to the state pension systems.
The FY20 balanced budget does the following:
Puts an additional $375 million into the Evidence-Based Funding Formula ($25 million more than statutorily required)
Puts an additional $50 million towards early childhood education
Contains a 5% increase to university and community college operations
Adds an additional $50 million for MAP grants
Adds an additional $10 million towards AIM HIGH scholarships ($35 million total)
Includes additional funding for the Home Services Program, Supportive Mental Health Housing, Community Based Services for Developmentally Disabled, Developmentally Disabled/Mental Health, Addicted Treatment Related Services, and Early Intervention Program
The budget contains $29 million for census participation
Includes funding to complete two ISP cadet classes, of approximately 170 sworn officers
SB 262 passed the House by a vote of 83-35-0 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 40-19-0. It was signed into law by the Governor on June 5 as Public Act 101-0007.
I issued the following press release on the budget and the end of this year’s legislative session:
Late Friday night, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a $40 billion budget package for the FY 2020 fiscal year. State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) cast a Yes vote on the balanced budget package, citing concessions from the majority Democrat party on spending and badly needed business reforms.
“We were originally given a kind of take-it-or-leave-it 1500 page budget bill on Friday morning,” Bryant said. “House Republican leadership and our fantastic budget staff got right to work and succeeded in a tough afternoon of negotiations. Republicans demanded fair negotiations and badly needed reforms to our business environment, and we were successful in achieving those goals.”
After a week that saw House Democrats pass legislation to legalize late-term taxpayer funding for abortions, radical gun control legislation, a plan to allow criminals to vote from the Cook County jail, and a flawed piece of legislation that legalizes recreational cannabis, Bryant says she is proud to have stopped a runaway liberal progressive train.
“A long, tough afternoon of budget negotiations has resulted in significant concessions for Southern Illinois and for true reforms for businesses to locate here,” Bryant said. “Thanks to Republican leadership and our great staff, Illinois’ budget will now be bipartisan, agreed to, balanced, and a product that Illinois taxpayers and every one that depends on a functional State of Illinois can count on. This budget will pay down $1.2 billion in backlog of bills and save us millions. The pension payment, at one time was going to be skipped. This budget makes our fully required pension payment. This budget is balanced. This budget will have the State live within its means and we did it by cooperating in a bipartisan manner to get the best outcome for every Illinoisan.”
Key Business Reforms include:
Creation of the Blue Collar Jobs Act – which will attract large scale construction projects.
Creation of a Data Center Tax Incentive – which will enhance the state’s ability to locate data centers in Illinois by providing tax incentives.
Reinstatement of the Manufacturer’s Purchase Credit – to encourage further investments in manufacturing in Illinois.
Elimination of the antiquated Illinois Franchise Tax. (Saves small businesses $50 million per year).
Elimination of cap on the Retailer’s Discount.
Tabling of Senate Bill 1407 – a bill that aimed to impose wage and regulatory requirements on refineries, ethanol plants, and chemical facilities.
Senate Bill 689 contains the FY20 operating budget revenue and key business reforms. It passed the House by a vote of 107-9-0 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 49-8-1. SB 689 was signed into law as Public Act 101-0009.
Senate Bill 1814 creates the FY20 Budget Implementation Act (BIMP bill) which makes the changes in State programs that are necessary to implement the FY20 budget recommendations. SB 1814 passed the House by
a vote of 97-17-1 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 52-6-0.
It was signed into law as Public Act 101-0010.
The first capital infrastructure program in a decade passed by the General Assembly. Illinois has not had a major capital and infrastructure package since 2009. In the decade that has passed since the last capital program, Illinois’ roads, bridges and building infrastructure has continued to decay, leading to massive capital needs across the state.
Estimated deferred maintenance needs at state facilities alone total nearly $7.8 billion, and grows at an average of $500 million per year.
Deferred Maintenance needs in Higher Education total $6.7 billion and continue to grow.
K-12 Deferred Maintenance needs are close to $9.3 billion, and are currently funded mostly by local property taxpayers. Schools are still waiting on capital grants for projects submitted in 2004.
Illinois’ motor fuel tax has not been increased since 1990. Inflation, better fuel economy, fund sweeps, and additional road and bridge requirements have eroded state support to horizontal capital. Illinois roads and transit systems have $30 billion in deferred maintenance needs
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives Illinois a C- on their annual infrastructure report card, including a D for roads.
A 2017 assessment of Illinois’ transportation system finds that it is broken, in these ways:
If no significant investment is made in state transportation funding, nearly 40% of road miles and 20% of bridges will be in unacceptable condition by 2022.
An estimated 6,089 miles of state highways needed repair in 2002, that total grew to 7,458 miles by 2008 and was on pace to hit 8,687 miles by 2012. The State’s 2009 capital construction program, Illinois Jobs Now, and federal stimulus program helped slow the growth. The total backlog grew from 2,560 miles in 2012 to 3,292 miles in 2017. By 2022, the number grows by another 2,000 miles to 5,588 miles in disrepair.
There are more than 660 bridges in less than acceptable condition right now in Illinois. By 2022, over 1,000 bridges will be in less than acceptable condition.
Given the massive list of capital infrastructure needs, the Governor and General Assembly spent months negotiating a new capital and infrastructure package, named “Rebuild Illinois.” In total, the Rebuild Illinois program includes $45 billion in funding for both vertical (buildings) and horizontal (transportation) capital improvement projects.
House Bill 62 contains the capital appropriations for Rebuild Illinois. It appropriates moneys from the Capital Development Fund, the School Construction Fund, the Anti-Pollution Fund, the Transportation Bond Series A Fund, the Transportation Bond Series B Fund, the Coal Development Fund, the Transportation Bond Series D Fund, the Multi-Modal Transportation Bond Fund, and the Build Illinois Bond Fund, among other funds, for specified purposes. HB 62 passed the Senate by a vote of 53-6-0 and passed the House on Concurrence by a vote of 95-18-1.
House Bill 142 contains the bond authorization for Rebuild Illinois. It amends the General Obligation Bond Act. Increases the amount of bonded indebtedness by $20,538,914,226, from $57,717,925,743 to $78,256,839,969. Specifies the uses for which the additional moneys may be used. Expands the Funds used to determine the debt limit to include the Fund for the Advancement of Education, the Commitment to Human Services Fund, the Budget Stabilization Fund, and the State Construction Fund (currently, GRF, the Common School Fund, the General Revenue Common School Special Account Fund, and the Education Assistance Fund).
HB 142 further amends the Build Illinois Bond Act. Increases the amount of bonded indebtedness authorized by $3,238,672,100, from $6,246,009,000 to $9,484,681,100 and specifies the uses for which the additional moneys may be used. Increases the amount for grants to school districts for school improvement projects authorized in the School Construction Law by $59,403,700, from $3,050,000,000 to $3,109,403,700. Creates the Mass Transportation Bond Fund. Proceeds from the sale of bonds for rail transportation shall be deposited into the Multi-modal Transportation Bond Fund.
HB 142 passed the Senate by a vote of 53-6-0 and passed the House on Concurrence by a vote of 94-20-0.
Senate Bill 690 includes the vertical capital revenue, gaming expansion and sports betting components of Rebuild Illinois. It enacts comprehensive FY20 tax language, gaming expansion, and authorizes sports betting, including (a) language governing collections of online Illinois sales taxes, (b) a new tax on motor vehicle parking lot services, (c) language to grant an income tax credit for the construction of data centers sited in Illinois, (d) language capping the motor vehicle trade-in sales tax credit at $10,000, (e) an increase in the Illinois state cigarette tax from $1.98/pack (current law) to $2.98/pack, (f) the new Illinois Works Jobs program, (g) sports wagering, (h) slots and table games at tracks, (i) a 4,000-gaming-position Chicago casino, (j) five new riverboat licenses at Danville, Rockford, South Cook County, Walker’s Bluff, and Waukegan, (k) authorization for increased gaming positions at existing casino riverboats, (l) an authorization for riverboat casinos to move to on-land locations, and (m) video gaming expansion. SB 690 passed the House by a vote of 87-27-0 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 46-10-2.
Senate Bill 1939 includes revenue for the horizontal capital components of Rebuild Illinois. It provides for $2 billion in annual funding for transportation infrastructure across the state by making the following changes:
Motor fuel tax (MFT) increase of 19-cents per-gallon on gasoline and 24-cents per-gallon on diesel. (Rates are indexed to inflation).
Sales Tax on Motor Fuels: beginning July 1, 2021, proceeds are incrementally transferred to Road Fund over 5-year period (1% of the 6.25% in the first year, then 2% in the second year, up until 5% starting July 1, 2025). Retains 1.25% sales tax portion to local governments.
Revenues from increase to special fuels deposited into Road Fund.
Revenues from increase to gasoline deposited into new Transportation Renewal Fund.
Creates the Transportation Renewal Fund that is funded by proceeds from increase in MFT.
80% for roads and bridges; of that:
60% to State Construction Account Fund.
40% to Local Governments (identical to existing distribution to local governments).
20% for transit (90% RTA, 10% downstate).
Passenger Vehicle Registrations increased by $50, with $49 of proceeds deposited into Road Fund ($1 to State Special Services Fund) for a total registration fee of $151 per-year.
Electric Vehicle Registrations: equal to other passenger vehicles plus a $100 additional fee for a total registration fee of $251 (currently $17.50).
Truck Vehicle Registrations: Increased by $100, with $99 of proceeds deposited into Road Fund ($1 to State Special Services Fund).
Certificate of titles: Increase by $55 for standard vehicles, but reduces fee for duplicate certificates by $45; adds other fees for salvage certificates, junking certificates, and motor home certificates.
Commercial Distribution Fee: repealed on July 1, 2020.
Provides for a $50 million annual IDOT program for pedestrian and bicycle facilities and the conversion of abandoned railroad corridors to trails.
SB 1939 passed the House by a vote of 83-29-1 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 48-9-1. I voted YES.