Hello and happy (almost) spring! I hope you are well. In the last month, members of the House organized themselves into committees in order to discuss legislation proposed for the 2023 spring session and more than 2,100 House bills have been filed.
With each new General Assembly, the House passes a resolution establishing the Rules by which the chamber will operate. The rules adopted by the House ensure the failed old way of doing business will remain in place for at least two more years to come. We had a unique opportunity prior to the vote to start off this new General Assembly focused on good government and transparency. Unfortunately, the people of Illinois will be the ones to suffer from the failure of these House Rules to accomplish those goals.
We are in session every week this month, so be sure to reach out to my office at any time with your thoughts on legislative issues at (773) 444-0611 or email@example.com. Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated!
As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this month, I leave you with part of the Irish blessing:
May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door.
Rep. Stephens Assigned to House Committees, Serving as Republican Spokesperson for the Cities & Villages Committee
I was appointed by House Minority Leader Tony McCombie to serve on the House Gaming, Labor & Commerce, Police & Fire, and Transportation: Rail Systems, Roads, & Bridges Committees. I’m also honored to serve as House Republican Spokesperson for the House Cities & Villages Committee. I’m looking forward to diving right into these committees and getting to work for the people of the 20th District this spring.
Stephens Responds to Governor’s FY24 Budget Address
Governor Pritzker gave his FY24 Budget Address and State of the State on February 15th. Here is my full statement in response:
“We are approaching the edge of a fiscal cliff in our state that will collapse when one-time federal funds and extra revenue from inflation dry up. Illinoisans deserve a government that spends their hard-earned money responsibly, one that makes a U-Turn before we reach the edge of this cliff. What also wasn’t mentioned in this budget address was real property tax relief, and I look forward to continue working across the aisle to provide this for the working class people of the 20th District.”
At a February press conference, House Republican Leader Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) was joined by members of her newly appointed budget team to call on Democrats to engage in a truly bipartisan budget process and bring reform to the most important legislation passed at the Capitol each year.
McCombie appointed Deputy House Minority Leader Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) as the House Republican caucus Chief Budgeteer, and she laid out some of the caucus’ primary budget reform ideas, which include:
- Adopting a revenue estimate and budget based off that revenue estimate.
- Respecting the voters’ decision to overwhelmingly reject the Graduated Income Tax Hike.
- Give taxpayers REAL tax reform – eliminate the franchise tax on employers, property tax relief for families and businesses, and reducing the harmful impacts of the estate tax on family farms.
- Returning excess income tax collections to taxpayers instead of sweeping it to be used to fund things like politician pay raises.
McCombie Unveils House Republican Legislative Priorities
House Republican Leader Tony McCombie was joined by several members of the House Republican caucus at a Capitol press conference in February to unveil their legislative priorities for the 103rd General Assembly. Leader McCombie announced the creation of five working groups to produce actionable solutions to some of Illinois’ most pressing issues:
- Sustaining & Protecting At-Risk Kids, chaired by Rep. Tom Weber from Fox Lake
- Supporting Women & Families, chaired by Assistant Republican Leader Jackie Haas from Kankakee
- Reigniting Illinois’ Strong Economy (RISE), chaired by Rep. Dan Ugaste from Geneva
- Literacy Improves Future Endeavors, chaired by Rep. Dave Severin from Benton
- Improving Public Safety, chaired by House Republican Floor Leader Patrick Windhorst from Metropolis
Firearm Update: New Illinois Gun Ban Law Faces Headwinds in Court
The new law bans or heavily regulates a long-list of assault-style weapons, firearm fittings, and extended magazines. A disparity between the levels of detail used to describe specific types of objects to be banned or regulated drew the attention of federal Judge Stephen McGlynn of the Southern District of Illinois. In an order that applied to three separate federal lawsuits filed against the law, Judge McGlynn ordered the State of Illinois—which as the party that enacted the law and is defending it in court, is the defendant of record—to provide “illustrative examples of each and every item banned” under the new law. Judge McGlynn issued his order on Monday, February 13th.
Republicans Demand Hearings on Choate Mental Health & Developmental Center
House and Senate Republicans held a Capitol news conference last Thursday to call for immediate joint House and Senate hearings to investigate disturbing reports of abuse and neglect of the residents of Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in southern Illinois. In addition to their request for public hearings, the legislators discussed their plan called “Help Protect Us and Improve Our Home.” This offers eleven changes needed to make improvements at Choate.
I joined a letter that was sent to the Chairpersons of the Committees charged with oversight of the Illinois Department of Human Services. This letter requested hearings and followed news reports that quoted Governor Pritzker threatening to close down the facility if changes and improvements aren’t made.
Governor Pritzker Elevates the Status of Illinois’ Chief Anti-Terrorism Agency
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will now be known as the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security. The reorganization means that the fight against terrorism in Illinois will now be headed by a person who will be a Deputy Director, a senior law enforcement agency. The Homeland Security Advisor will coordinate with cabinet-level public safety agencies throughout Illinois on terrorism-related strategic issues, including cybercrime and electronic sabotage. The change also elevates the current Illinois Terrorism Task Force to the level of a permanent board of advisors, the Illinois Homeland Security Advisory Council. The change will better situate IEMA to apply for and pass through federal grants to local law enforcement and the private sector aimed at the reduction and prevention of terrorism and sabotage.
Approaching End to COVID-19 Emergency
Governor Pritzker issued a declaration on January 31st anticipating the act of making official the end of the public health emergency side of the pandemic. The existing emergency orders will expire between now and May 11, 2023 and will not be renewed. The declaration means the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will no longer be able to use extraordinary power to issue decrees and guidance over Illinois public spaces and health care communities.
Illinois Flashback: History from the Prairie State
- First women in Illinois government: In 1922, just two years after women were given the right to vote, Lottie Holman O’Neill was the first woman elected to the Illinois State legislature…
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