Rep. Stephens October Legislative Update

Happy fall and Halloween month! I am writing to provide you a legislative update on what we have been working on in Springfield and in the 20th District.

As the war in Ukraine continues, 20th District residents can still help people in need during this conflict. If you would like to learn more, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Center for International Disaster Information provided information about the agency and how you can help. Find more information online here. Our hearts and prayers continue to be with the people of Ukraine, Ukrainian Americans of the 20th District, and all impacted by this terrible war.

For all who celebrate Diwali later this month, I wish you a happy Diwali!

Please feel free to reach out to my office at any time by calling (773) 444-0611 or emailing

Thank you to everybody who joined us at our Shred, Recycling, & Prescription Drug Drop Off and Flu Shot & COVID Booster Shot Events in September!

Public Safety Update

On January 1st, 2023, the State of Illinois will eliminate its cash bail system. Starting next year, Illinois’ non-detainable offenses will include: aggravated battery, aggravated DUI, aggravated fleeing, arson, burglary, drug-induced homicide, intimidation, kidnapping, robbery, 2nd-degree murder, and threatening a public official.

Additionally, this legislation makes it more difficult for prosecutors to charge a defendant with felony murder, adds further requirements for no-knock warrants, gives judges the ability to deviate from mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, makes changes to the “three strikes” law, and decreases mandatory supervised release terms, among other changes.

One of the most controversial aspects of this law was the numerous changes and additional requirements it places on Illinois’ law enforcement officers. The legislation mandates body cams be worn by all officers, creates a new felony offence of law enforcement misconduct, creates an anonymous complaint policy, and makes changes to use of force in making arrest, duty to render aid, and duty to intervene. It also makes significant changes to the law enforcement officer certification and decertification process, including the creation of a new Law Enforcement Certification Review Panel.

I voted NO on the SAFE-T Act when it was passed and am currently a co-sponsor of HR 598, a resolution calling for its repeal. This law includes provisions that will exacerbate the issue of rising crime and make Illinois communities less safe.

Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy is suing Governor Pritzker and Attorney General Raoul for the SAFE-T Act by claiming it puts victims and their families at risk. Similar lawsuits have been filed by the state’s attorneys of Jersey, Kankakee, McHenry, and Will Counties.

Additionally, retired circuit court judge Jeff Ford (Champaign County, 2005-2020) asked Illinoisans to look at the future pretrial processes that will have to be used for all cases where a defendant has been booked and not yet gone to trial. In addition to creating a pathway to release almost all these pretrial defendants back to the street, Ford pointed out the process will lead to an urgent need for increased taxes for taxpayer “funding for the extra judges, state’s attorneys and public defenders” that will be mandated by operation of the new law.

We have established a petition to get your input and make your voice heard. If you agree we need to repeal the SAFE-T Act, please sign our petition online here!

You can read the full SAFE-T Act (Public Act 101-652) online here.

For Chicago residents of the 20th District, I encourage you: If you see something, call the police! Officer deployment is done by call volume in Chicago. This is advice for Chicago and non-city residents in the 20th District to help keep our communities safe as well.

Rainbow Fentanyl: Image from the Drug Enforcement Agency

Republican Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Go After Fentanyl Dealers

Republican lawmakers who say they are fed up with Democratic efforts to lessen the penalties for drug dealers in Illinois have introduced new legislation—House Bill 5808—of which I am a proud co-sponsor. Last April, the House narrowly passed a measure that lowered the criminal penalties for what they call low-level possession of drugs like fentanyl and heroin. Misdemeanors under the bill include possession of less than five grams of cocaine, less than five pills of most scheduled III substances like Xanax and Valium, and less than 40 pills of oxycodone and similar painkillers.

You can find more information on rainbow fentanyl from the DEA online here.

With Migrants Continuing to Arrive in Chicago, Governor Pritzker Issues Emergency Disaster Proclamation

Governor Pritzker is calling out the National Guard to help deal with the busloads of migrants being sent to Chicago from Texas. The governor also issued a disaster proclamation to speed up the availability of state money and resources to deal with the crisis. The disaster proclamation, which covers all 102 counties in Illinois, mobilizes the Illinois National Guard. It directs the State Board of Education, four named State departments, and all other State agencies to coordinate with each other to respond to asylum seekers coming to Illinois. The gubernatorial proclamation designates the Illinois Department of Human Services as the lead agency to provide services—including taxpayer-funded services—to migrants seeking asylum in Illinois. The proclamation was issued on Wednesday, September 14th.

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke Retires

Last month, we had a change in leadership in the Illinois Supreme Court. Chief Justice Anne Burke will resign from the Supreme Court effective on November 30th, 2022. Appellate Justice Joy Cunningham will fill the vacated Burke seat on the Illinois Supreme Court bench, being the second African-American woman to serve on the state’s highest court. Mary Jane Theis will replace Burke as Chief Justice. Burke’s retirement came months prior to the scheduled trial of her husband, Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, on federal racketeering charges.

State Senator Indicted on Federal Corruption Charges

A sitting State Senator has been indicted on federal corruption charges, including bribery and lying to the FBI. I join my colleagues in asking: how many more indictments will it take before Democrats get serious about ending corruption in Illinois?

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin called for the resignation of State Senator Emil Jones III after an indictment was filed in federal court describing Senator Jones’ alleged actions with regards to red light cameras. He’s alleged to have taken $5,000 in return for blocking legislation that would have been unfriendly to the red light camera industry.

We must take steps to end the culture of corruption in Illinois by passing strong ethics laws. House Republicans have sponsored legislation to ban legislators from serving as lobbyists, as well as empower the Legislative Inspector General to actively root out corruption. We need robust ethics reform today to give our citizens the honest, transparent state government they deserve.

Inflation Update

August 2022 figures show the prices of items contained in the Consumer Price Index have risen 8.8% in the Chicago region over the period from August 2021. At the same time, the prices of many items within the overall index basket of goods and services are rising at a double-digit pace. Few Illinois workers have received pay increases to enable them to keep up with these inflation levels. In 2022 so far, RubyHome data analyst says Illinois single-family residential closing prices are 97.57% of the asking price. Real estate sales are down 8% from their peak in June 2022, and analysts warn of possible sharp price actions in the Chicago area.

Illinois Gaming Update

An annual report tracked a sharp increase in Illinois gaming activities. The report was published by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA). Overall Illinois gaming activities expanded sharply in FY22. This growth marked the diminishment of the COVID-19 pandemic, which at its height shut down Illinois casino gaming and Illinois video gaming parlors. State tax revenues swelled as well.

Compiling together the numbers from various tax streams, CGFA reported the State’s share of tax revenues from wagering in Illinois was up 38.2% from FY21. This growth rate is not sustainable and won’t be repeated this current fiscal year. This was a one-time spike as the pandemic diminished and public activities resumed in the wake of the virus.

The Illinois casino industry is getting a multi-year boost from a new State law enacted in 2019. This measure authorized the awarding of six new casino licenses in various locations throughout Illinois (e.g. Rockford) and legalized online and in-casino sportsbook wagering.

Illinois Flashback: History from the Prairie State

  • TBT: The most famous Halloween prank in history: On October 30, 1938, an invading army from Mars landed in the marshlands of northern New Jersey. The invaders assembled invincible war machines, and proceeded to lay waste to all the human forces which tried to stop them. They moved inexorably toward New York City, with panicked millions desperately trying to flee their deadly heat rays. A radio reporter, choking on Martian poison gas, used his last breath to warn listeners of reports of Martians landing in Chicago and St. Louis. Or so you might have been led to believe if you had your radio tuned to CBS.

Stay Updated!

Were you forwarded this message? Sign up for my e-newsletter updates by visiting my website here. You can also stay updated on what I’m working on in Springfield and in the 20th District by following me on Facebook @repstephens.