Rep. Stephens October 2023 Legislative Update

Greetings and happy fall! This month, we are looking forward to many upcoming holidays but also our veto session starting the second to last week of October. Please feel free to reach out to my office at any time with your thoughts on legislation in the General Assembly and keep updated by following We also have lots of events coming up heading to the end of 2023, so be sure to stay updated!

Drive-Thru Flu Shots on Wednesday

Find more information on our Rosemont Drive Thru Flu Shot event THIS WEDNESDAY from 9 AM – 12 Noon at the Rosemont Theater Parking Lot online here.

October Blood Drive: Trick a Vampire, Donate Blood as a Treat for a Neighbor!

This month, I’m hosting a blood drive in Leyden Township! Join us on Thursday, October 19th from 12:30 PM – 5:30 PM at the Leyden Township Senior Center (2601 N. Mannheim Rd., Franklin Park) to give a lifesaving donation. Find more information and how you can trick a vampire this Halloween online here!

Halloween Decorating Contest

This month, I’m hosting a decorating contest for 20th District constituents who are decorating their homes for Halloween! You can compete in five different categories: Best Overall, Best Pumpkin Carvings, Best Inflatables and/or Light Display, Most Original, and Best Theme. Submissions are due on October 27th and winners will be announced on Halloween! Find more information on my website here.

Legislative Civic Honorees Middle School Essay Contest

This month, I am hosting my Legislative Civic Honoree Middle School Essay Contest! Fifth through eighth graders can submit an essay to be their grade’s inaugural Legislative Civic Honoree. They will be recognized at a later dinner with their families and their names will be read on the floor of the House of Representatives during fall veto session by Rep. Stephens. Find more information on how to submit an essay online here. Submissions are due on Friday, November 3rd.

Illinois Courts May No Longer Hold Hearings or Operate a Process that Requires Cash Bail for Criminal Defendants

Under a new law that went into effect on Monday, September 18, Illinois courts can no longer impose cash bail on defendants after a due-process hearing. The Prairie State is the only one of the 50 states where the courts no longer have pretrial powers falling into this category. The first week, many Illinois criminal defendants were being released on their own. Defendants accused of low-level misdemeanors will be cited, given a court date, and automatically released pending their court date. For persons accused of felonies, and higher-level misdemeanors, a detention hearing procedure will continue to be imposed, but most Illinois criminal defendants found the first week they could meet the new conditions for avoiding Illinois pretrial detention.

Many Illinois initial pretrial hearings conducted the first week included the presentation to the court of overlapping promises made to law enforcement and authorities by the defendant, and also by one or more persons described by the defendant as members of the defendant’s family or friendship group.  The promises were pledges that, going forward, the defendant would cooperate with the criminal process. Defendants are now encouraged to bring their friends and family members to the offices of the public defenders and state’s attorneys where they are being charged. The state’s attorneys, on their end, are strongly pressured by the new law to recognize the validity of the social networks of most defendants, and to work out voluntary deals with each social network to ensure that the defendant will continue to cooperate with the process.

The new law requires that each criminal defendant be assigned a public defender prior to their first appearance in court (rather than after the bond hearing). No additional funding has been provided by the State of Illinois to enable local officials and public defenders to keep up with the increased demands upon their time. In addition, it is feared that a subset of the criminal defendants who have received positive reinforcement of this type will respond by going back out on the street and committing one or more additional criminal offenses.

Criminal acts for which an accused defendant may be granted pretrial release on a no-cash-bail basis include acts as serious as aggravated battery to a police officer. Illinois House Republicans voted unanimously against the Pretrial Fairness Act.

PROPERTY TAX UPDATE: Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) Sets Cook County Property Tax Multiplier

The figure of 2.9237 will apply to all property tax billings in the 2022 property tax cycle. The 2022 property tax cycle will generate billings that will be mailed out in calendar year 2023. The number, set by IDOR, means that property tax bills mailed to Cook County owners will be more than 2.9 times what the billings would be if no multiplier existed. The property tax multiplier is generated by a formula set forth in the State of Illinois’ Property Tax Code. Its underlying purpose is to equalize the assessment practices across counties. It’s supposed to rebalance the books in counties with systematic underassessments.

Many Cook County property owners don’t believe they’re underassessed and Cook County property tax rates and billings are among the highest in the United States. The Cook County property tax multiplier has raised many Chicago-area public questions and expression of serious concern. Properties that are accurately assessed or over-assessed will be forced to pay the multiplier as a result of sharing their identity within the county with other properties that may be underassessed.

State Police File An “Emergency Rule” to Ban Certain Firearms, Firearm Fittings, and Ammunition Types in Illinois

The State Police was required to take action to complete the implementation of the Protect Illinois Communities Act. The law takes steps intended by the sponsors to sharply discourage or ban the sale and possession of certain cartridge belts, fittings, and weaponry. The items enumerated are assault-style weapons and their ammunition and fittings. The new Act covers certain weapons, weapon attachments, .50 caliber rifles, and .50 caliber cartridges. The terms of the rule require residents of Illinois who possess any of these items that are going to be banned going forward to submit an “endorsement affidavit” to the State Police.

The owner will be required to affirm that the banned items were legally purchased prior to the effective date of the Protect Illinois Communities Act, which was January 10, 2023. Endorsement affidavits will be accepted starting October 1, 2023, and ending December 31, 2023. The State Police says that their forward-looking ban will allow persons who submit the required paperwork to keep those items that have been grandfathered in through submission of the required paperwork. These will be registered firearms and firearm-related items, and the State Police will know where these firearms and items are.

The judges of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals are currently weighing the constitutionality of the law that this new State Police rule attempts to enforce. This federal lawsuit is an active case that has not yet been decided. 

Scott’s Law Offender Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison

On February 15, 2021, a driver was at the wheel of a vehicle that, in an incident on Interstate 55 in Will County southwest of Chicago, struck the squad car of Illinois State Police Trooper Brian Frank, even though the trooper’s car had its emergency flashing lights activated. Frank suffered severe head injuries and was airlifted to a hospital for emergency surgery. Medical care saved Trooper Frank’s life, but as of 2023 he continues to face severe challenges requiring nursing assistance on a 24/7 basis. The driver was arrested and, after lengthy pretrial proceedings, pleaded guilty this summer. He was sentenced this week to serve 15 months in State prison for violation of the law.

Small Business Spotlight: September 2023

For the month of September, we recognized Rosemont Florist as our inaugural Small Business Spotlight. I was honored to present our first 20th District Small Business Spotlight to Rosemont Florist! This is a great business that creates beautiful arrangements for all of life’s occasions. It was terrific to present this first certificate to owner Plami Todorov.

Nominate next month’s Small Business Spotlight at my website here.

Fall Colors

With the coming of autumn, Illinois will soon be starting up its fall color season and adjacent round of autumn festivals. The Illinois Tourism Board’s Enjoy Illinois website will operate its fall color map showing different sections of Illinois and the color conditions in each section. The map differentiates between Northern Illinois, Central Illinois, and Southern Illinois. Not only the dates but also the colors differ from region to region, and even from county to county. Different soil conditions encourage trees of different species, and some broadleaf trees and shrubs generate brighter colors than other. In Illinois, a shrub called the smooth sumac often produces bright red roadside leaves.

Illinois Flashback: History from the Prairie State

  • The World Comes to Illinois: London, Osaka, Paris, Rome, and Chicago. Since the first World’s Fair in 1851, every few years the world has come to one great city to experience the latest in science, culture and entertainment.