Before I get to the news from a whirlwind week, I want to share some exciting information with you. I am honored to announce that I have been named the 2020 recipient of The Inspirational Commitment Hero Award by the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago because of legislation I passed into law on behalf of individuals living with epilepsy.
Last year, I was proud to be the Chief Sponsor of the Seizure Smart Schools Act, legislation initiated by the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago and signed into law by Governor Pritzker this past summer. I will join the Epilepsy Foundation and its partners for their Heroes Night Gala coming up next Saturday.
The law requires all Illinois public school employees to be trained in seizure recognition and requires parents or guardians of children with epilepsy to submit a seizure action plan with the school. Terri’s husband Rick has lived with a seizure disorder for most of his life.
While my husband Rick was in school he struggled with the stigma associated with seizures. Rick struggled not because of a mean spirit of those in his school, but because people were not educated as far as how to handle someone experiencing a seizure.
Thank you to the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago. I join the thousands of volunteers and partners that work tirelessly on behalf of people suffering from epilepsy and other seizure disorders. I plan to continue to represent the interests of children and adults that live with epilepsy and other seizure disorders as long as I have the opportunity to make a difference.
House Republicans Propose Reforms to DCFS – Call for immediate action.
This week I joined State Representatives Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa) and Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) for a Capitol press conference to highlight several pieces of legislation aimed at reforming the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
The AJ Freund Act (House Bill 5281) gives local law enforcement the ability to investigate any allegation of child abuse or neglect. Current law exempts most immediate family members or others living in the home of the child from being investigated by law enforcement. In addition to this legislation,
For my part, I have introduced House Bill 5417 to fix a training requirement for mandated reporters to include information on the process for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect utilizing the Department of Children and Family Services’ Online Reporting System.
My colleagues and I are working to reform DCFS to achieve better outcomes for the vulnerable children of Illinois. From improving training, to requiring further investigations in suspected cases of abuse, to the encouraging news that Governor Pritzker wants to increase head count and increase funding for DCFS, I believe that by working together, we can reform DCFS and literally save the lives of abused and neglected children. The death of one child is a tragedy, the deaths of 123 children after making contact with DCFS is an inexcusable crisis that requires our immediate attention.
Another core component to fixing the process for protecting youth in care must be reform to Illinois’ adoption process. House Bill 2335, introduced by Rep. Sosnowski, seeks to reform state law to prevent the distress caused by overturned adoption cases.
“Making Illinois a national leader on adoption issues can and should be a bipartisan priority,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “Specifically, we need to reform state law to safeguard children and adoptive parents from the emotional distress and financial expense that comes from the threat of courts seeking to overturn a final order of adoption granted by DCFS. I have filed legislation to protect adoptive families in this way.”
In addition to the legislation discussed by the members, House Bill 4832 to address unfounded cases of neglect or abuse and House Bill 4886 to create a county run DCFS pilot program has also been introduced by members of the House Republican caucus.
Former Governor Rod Blagojevich Freed from Jail
I am not going to spend much more time talking about disgraced convicted felon and impeached and removed from office former Governor Rod Blagojevich. But, this week when he was released from prison I issued the following statement:
“I do not believe Rod Blagojevich should have been let out of jail early. Illinoisans were defrauded by Governor Blagojevich and his endless attempts to use his position as Governor for personal gain. I hope the Federal justice department will continue to work to root out corruption in the State Capitol and throughout Illinois.” – Terri Bryant
Governor’s Budget Address Reaction
SPRINGFIELD – Following the Governor’s annual Budget Address to a joint Session of Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday, State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) says Governor Pritzker’s promises to increase spending rely mainly on the passage of his plan to raise income taxes.
“The Governor gave a polished, upbeat speech, like he always does,” Rep. Bryant said. “I don’t have a problem with optimism, but I believe you have to be realistic. The reality is that Illinois is still in a tough fiscal spot, despite the progress that has been made to pass balanced budgets.
“The Governor proposed $2 billion in new spending that mainly relies on the passage of the income tax increase proposal that will be on the ballot in November 2020,” Bryant said. “That issue is ultimately for the voters to decide. What is not up for debate is the fact that Illinoisans are already the highest taxed citizens in the country and families and businesses are packing up and moving to other places in record numbers.”
The Governor seemed to take credit for the fact that Illinois’ unemployment rate being the lowest in its history. Bryant says the governor failed to give proper credit for the flashy statistic.
“Illinois is only doing better because of the economy that’s been created by President Trump,” Bryant said. “Hopefully no one is fooled into believing that raising taxes and increasing government spending on new programs will be a net benefit to the overall economy. He spent a lot of time attacking President Trump on social issues, but failed to give the President proper credit for the roaring national economy.”
Bryant says she was encouraged to hear the governor offer ideas to help end the teacher shortage for public schools, reduce the cost of higher education for Illinois college students, and propose an increase in the budget for the Department of Children and Family Services in the wake of 123 children dying last year after being in contact with DCFS.
“The Governor is right that DCFS needs more resources, and I believe he wants to do what is right at DCFS. So do I,” Bryant said. “His proposal to increase funding is laudable, but I will wait to see where he intends that increase to go. Illinois needs more caseworkers, we need to train the caseworkers better, and we need to take serious steps to retain good caseworkers. These steps and the proposals that I have backed as a legislator to reform DCFS will go a long way to bringing about better results for vulnerable children. One child dying is a tragedy, 123 children dying after being in contact with DCFS is an inexcusable crisis that needs immediate attention.”
“Ultimately, the Budget Address is the Governor’s opportunity to present his wish list to the legislature,” Bryant said. “I am hopeful that as we move forward in the Session, a transparent, bipartisan process will take place that results in a responsible, balanced budget that invests in education, protects children, and honors our obligations.”
My office in Murphysboro can be reached at 618-684-1100 and my office in Mt. Vernon can be reached at 618-242-8115. You can email me at email@example.com or leave feedback on my website’s contact form at http://www.ilhousegop.org/contactbryant
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