Indictment, Budget, Sex Ed & FOID Delays

The big news this week is the federal indictment of long-time Mike Madigan chief of staff Tim Mapes. 

The feds have accused Mapes of lying to a grand jury. It is clear, the feds are closing in on former House Speaker Michael Madigan. 

This investigation is far from over, but one thing is abundantly clear – there is a culture of corruption in Springfield. The investigation into former Speaker Madigan is a good first step, but we need to enact meaningful reforms if we are going to change the culture. Unfortunately, there has not been any significant reform legislation to move through the legislative process this spring. We need reform and we need it now. 

This week’s newsletter highlights the lack of budget details so far this spring; the National Sex Education Standards that could soon be taught in our classrooms; and an update on the FOID card renewal delays.  

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

Still no budget

Perhaps the most important job of being a legislator is voting on the state budget and yet there are just a few days left in the legislative session and there is no hint of what the budget will look like.

The Democrats contend there is a budget hole of around $1.3 billion, but the state has about $16 billion in unexpected cash. If you take the estimate for the FY 2021 base revenue, there will be an additional $7.2 billion, and for the FY 2022 base revenue, there will be an additional $792 million and adding the $8.1 billion coming from the federal government brings the total unexpected revenue to $16 billion.

We absolutely do not need to raise taxes this year. Our taxes are already too high. We need to look at long-term budget solutions and get our spending under control. It is not clear what the budget will look like, but you can rest assured that I will oppose any tax increase if one is introduced.

To learn more, log onto: https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/illinois-republicans-reveal-budget-windfall/article_9a21c078-bf31-11eb-bd25-1feaabb1609b.html

 

National Sex Education Standards advancing

The House is poised to vote on a bill (SB 818) that would force Illinois schools to adopt the National Sex Education Standards.

These standards are not at all age appropriate. Kids at as young as 10-years-old would be required to read books with explicit explanations of sex and accompanying photos that are not in any way age appropriate.

These standards go above and beyond science and biology. I am adamantly opposed to this legislation and will be a “NO” vote when it comes up. 

To learn more log onto: https://www.nprillinois.org/post/gop-lawmakers-say-national-sex-education-standards-are-too-explicit-illinois-schools#stream/0

 

No end in sight for FOID card delays

The issue of FOID card renewals and FOID card applications continues to be a major concern.

With only days left in the legislative session, we are running out of time to address this critical issue. I am hopeful that there will be legislation to fix this problem. I know that there are ongoing negotiations with the Illinois State Police to get a bill, and it is possible we will have a resolution before the May 31st deadline. Look for an update on this issue after session adjourns. 

To learn more, log onto: https://www.thecentersquare.com/illinois/chicagoans-fearful-of-crime-cant-get-foid-cards/article_78a95838-bf23-11eb-8a40-9b2cfe822b2c.html

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Pensions, DC Statehood & Kids 5.10.21

The General Assembly has held several meetings across the state on legislative redistricting. The public was invited to these hearings to participate in the remap process, but the real work of the legislative remap process has been done behind closed, locked doors.

There is a room on the 4th Floor of the Stratton Building in Springfield where the new districts are being drawn. Democrat legislators are being allowed to see what their new districts could potentially look like. Of course, the same courtesy is not being afforded to Republican members.

The Democrats have promised a fair and transparent remap process but unfortunately, all we are getting is business as usual. The room the Democrats are using is the same room that former House Speaker Michael Madigan and his staff used to draw the maps 10 years ago.

Few people participated in the public hearings not because they don’t care about the remap process but rather because they know the hearings were nothing more than a ruse. The real work in drawing the new legislative districts is being as it always been done – in secrecy. 

This week’s newsletter highlights the Illinois’ growing pension crisis; a resolution of support for D.C. statehood; and a letter of support for scholarships for low income kids.

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

New study shows growing pension burden is hurting local communities

Growing pension debt and the accompanying tax increases are hurting communities across Illinois according to a new a study.

Wirepoints, an independent, nonprofit company, providing original research and commentary about Illinois’ economy and government, has released a new report on the burgeoning pension crisis in Illinois communities.  According to the report 102 of Illinois’ 175 largest cities get an “F” for their local pension crisis. 

The report analyzed the negative impact of Illinois’ local pension crisis by examining the finances of 175 cities with their own independent police, firefighter, and Illinois Municipal Retirement (IMRF) pension funds and comparing the years 2003 and 2019. The analysis was based on ten equally weighted metrics, ranging from the funded ratio of each local pension system to the pension debt each household is on the hook for, to the share of city budgets consumed by pension costs. All cities were given an “A” through “F” grade based on a 100-point scale (10 points per metric), with 100 being the best score. Overall, 102 cities received “F” grades in 2019, 64 cities got a “D” grade and only nine cities received an “A,” “B,” or “C” grade. In contrast, two-thirds, or 120, of the cities analyzed received an “A,” “B,” or “C” grade in 2003.

Locally, Champaign and Paris both received a “C” grade in 2003 and a “D” grade in 2019. 

The pension problem is real, and it is right here close to home. This report is not a partisan report. The report is based on real numbers and it should serve as a wake-up call to the leaders in the House and the Senate. We must take the pension crisis seriously.

I believe the solution is a Constitutional Amendment because the courts will continue to block any kind of meaningful pension reforms until we change the Constitution. Our state and our communities will collapse financially unless we act, and the only path forward is a Constitutional Amendment.

To read the full report, log onto https://wirepoints.org/. 

 

D.C. Statehood

The House this week approved House Joint Resolution 16, which is a symbolic resolution of support for Washington D.C. to become a state.

Our founders intentionally chose not to make Washington D.C. a state so that no single state would be the seat of federal power. 

The movement to try to make Washington D.C. a state is nothing more than an attempt to give Democrats two additional United States Senators. It is an attempt to give Democrats permanent control of the U.S. Senate. 

Not surprisingly, House Joint Resolution 16 passed strictly along partisan lines. 

 

Advocates urge Governor Pritzker to leave Invest In Kids Tax credits in place

Gov. Pritzker in his budget address called for reducing the tax breaks for scholarship donations from 75 percent to 40 percent.

The Governor says this will generate $14 million in revenue for the state.

The Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program allows individuals and corporations to donate money to scholarship granting organizations to pay for kids to escape failing schools and attend private and parochial schools. The program has been a huge success and has helped some of the poorest kids in the state get the kind of education they deserve.

In a letter to parishioners Illinois' Catholic Bishops, are asking for the program to be saved. They wrote:

"Over the past three years, the Invest in Kids program has proven to be a resounding success. Unfortunately, Governor Pritzker has recommended severely cutting the Invest in Kids program. If his budget recommendation is enacted, the program will struggle to remain viable."

This is a good program and one that has helped many students throughout the state. The Governor should heed the advice of Illinois’s bishops and keep the program intact.

To learn, log onto: https://www.sj-r.com/story/news/2021/05/04/save-invest-kids-act-scholarship-tax-credit-illinois-gov-pritzker/4940147001/. 

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Tour, FOID & IDES 4.30.21

This week, a White County Judge has ruled the FOID card unconstitutional. 

In his ruling, Judge T. Scott Webb stated, “A citizen in the State of Illinois is not born with a Second Amendment right. Nor does that right insure when a citizen turns 18 or 21 years of age. It is a façade. They only gain that right if they pay a $10 fee, complete the proper application, and submit a photograph. If the right to bear arms and self-defense are truly core rights, there should be no burden on the citizenry to enjoy those rights, especially within the confines and privacy of their own homes. Accordingly, if a person does something themselves from being able to exercise that right, like being convicted of a felony or demonstrating mental illness, then and only then may the right be stripped from them.”

This decision is a monumental one as the Illinois Supreme Court will be considering this case in the near future. Only four states have FOID card requirements. Hopefully, Illinois will soon no longer be one of those four states. Stay tuned.

This week’s newsletter highlights the first stop of my upcoming listening tour, a link to a Facebook Live event with the Illinois State Rifle Association; and a measure requiring a performance audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security advances. 

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

Listening Tour

I am doing a series of listening events beginning on May 3 in Atwood. If you are around on May 3, please stop by Village Hall and say “hello.” 

When: 4:00 to 5:30pm Monday, May 3

Where: Village Board Room, Atwood Village Hall, 110 W. Central St. 

I look forward to seeing you!  

 

FOID card discussion on Facebook

This week, I sat down with Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson to discuss the latest on the FOID card renewal fiasco in Illinois and other issues. 

If you missed the even, log onto: https://fb.watch/5b5fsWI108/ and check it out. It was an informative discussion. 

 

House Committee approves performance audit of IDES

My office is inundated with phone calls from people frustrated with the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

This week, the House State Government Administration Committee unanimously approved a measure, House Joint Resolution 17, to require the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security and to issue a report.

CBS 2 in Chicago recently did a story on a man, Jeremiah Loveless, who lost everything while waiting for IDES to call him back. He just wanted to update his information so he could start receiving benefits. The call back never came, and he lost everything. 

We need to get to the bottom of what is going on at IDES and this legislation will accomplish that goal. The backlog of phone calls needed to be returned is appalling and completely unacceptable. 

House Joint Resolution 17 moves to the House floor for a vote.

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FOID, Term Limits & Rent Control 4.24.21

We are just weeks away from the last month of the legislative session. The House is passing bill after bill and we are only a fraction of the way through the list of bills that could be acted upon before adjournment. 

So far there has no been movement on getting a revenue estimate for the budgeting process. There has been no serious discussion on pension reform. Nothing is happening on lowering property taxes or implementing any kind of spending reforms to facilitate tax reductions. And there has been zero effort made to push back on the Governor’s refusal to fully reopen the state.

Instead, the House is focused on legislation to require universities and colleges to provide feminine hygiene products in restrooms on their campuses. On the list of priorities for Illinois residents, feminine hygiene products in public restrooms at universities probably does not even make the list

The Democrat majority insists they can walk and chew at the same time. While they claim they can focus on the structural problems of state government and also pass low priority bills such as the feminine hygiene products bill, the truth is they are not even talking about the real challenges facing our state let alone trying to solve them.

If we continue to ignore issues like tax reform, spending reform and pension reform, our state will go bankrupt, and it won’t matter whether or not we require universities and colleges to provide hygiene products in bathrooms because there won’t be any money to pay for the products. Period. 

This week’s newsletter highlights an upcoming Facebook Live event with the Illinois State Rifle Association; term limits for legislative leaders; and the ongoing efforts to enact rent control in Illinois.  

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

FOID card discussion on Facebook

One of the issues my office hears a great deal about is the ongoing difficulties of getting FOID cards renewed. 

On Tuesday April 27th, Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson will join me for a Facebook live event to discuss the backlog situation and what is happening to address these concerns.

I encourage anyone interested in this issue to tune into at 6 pm on Tuesday April 27th to watch this important discussion. You can reach my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/bradhalbrook102. 

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House approves term limits for legislative leaders

Last week, I wrote about a measure that would term limit legislative leaders which had passed out of committee.

This week, the House voted on the legislation and approved it on 115-0. House Bill 642 would implement term limits on leadership roles in the Illinois General Assembly. The measure would limit leadership terms to 10 consecutive years in a leadership position in the General Assembly, including speaker of the House, president of the Senate and minority leader positions in each chamber. It now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

This is good news. We certainly don’t want another politician being able to control the process for decades the way former House Speaker Michael Madigan did. We obviously need much more in the way of reform, but House Bill 642 is a start. 

 

Rent Control Measure Advances

Illinois could be one step closer to having rent control in some communities.

House Bill 116, as amended, would give municipalities the ability to vote on rent control measures through referendum. This is a departure from the original bill which would have done away with the state’s ban on local rent control altogether.

While the new version of the bill is not as egregious as the original bill, it is a backdoor way of moving Illinois in the direction of rent control. Rest assured, if House Bill 116 becomes law, the original rent control will be back next spring. The market not bureaucrats should determine the rental market. This is a bad bill that would set a dangerous precedent.

For more information, log in here. 

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FOID, Term Limits & Infertility

4.15.21

The House resumed session this week after a two-week hiatus. 

We actually met in person this week. What amazes me is how the Democrat majority continues to operate as if nothing is wrong in Illinois. We continue to advance bills that deal with some of the most insignificant priorities imaginable. It is like talking about the color scheme in the dining area of the Titanic while the ship is sinking. It is insane.

Illinois is broke. We have $144 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. There were 5,000 Illinois businesses that closed due to JB Pritzker’s lockdown of our economy and we have billions in backlogged bills.

Instead of addressing these concerns, we are having votes on bills to essentially close pet stores. I would imagine that on the list of priorities for Illinois residents – closing pet stores does not even register. But there we were voting on it this week. The Democrat leadership loves to talk about walking and chewing gum at the same time. Yes, we are capable of dealing with multiple issues at the same time, but the point is we aren’t! Nothing is being done on the important issues facing our state. This needs to change and needs to change soon.

This week’s newsletter highlights another 150-day extension for expired FOID cards, a measure term limiting legislative leaders and a bill to expand the definition of infertility in Illinois.

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

FOID card extended

Firearm owners with expired FOID cards have been given another 150-day extension due to the backlog of renewals.

The Illinois State Police has 30 days by law to respond to renewal applications but due to a backlog, the process often takes months to complete. In March alone, the State Police received 14,847 renewal applications, and approved 67,847 of the requests. The extension means that a FOID card is valid for 150 days past the expiration date. The Illinois State Police believe they are moving in the right direction in terms of ending the delays that have frustrated so many FOID card holders in Illinois. Hopefully, this situation is resolved. My office hears every day from individuals frustrated with the process. 

To learn more, log onto https://capitolnewsillinois.com/NEWS/foid-concealed-carry-permits-extended-again. 

 

Bill term limiting legislative leaders advances

If there is anything the experience of former House Speaker Mike Madigan’s 36-year run as Speaker of the House has taught us, it is the importance of term limiting leadership positions in the Legislature. 

House Bill 642 would implement term limits on leadership roles in the Illinois General Assembly. The measure would limit leadership terms to 10 consecutive years in a leadership position in the General Assembly, including speaker of the House, president of the Senate and minority leader positions in each chamber.

This is an idea that never would have gone anywhere when Speaker Madigan was in charge. Now, the Bill has passed the House Executive Committee and it passed without any objections. Obviously, we need to be doing more to root out the culture of corruption in Springfield, but House Bill 642 has strong bipartisan support and is a good start.

For more information, log onto https://capitolnewsillinois.com/NEWS/bill-placing-term-limits-on-general-assembly-leadership-passes-committee.  

 

House approves legislation expanding insurance coverage mandates for infertility

The Illinois House this week approved a measure expanding the legal definition of infertility.

Under current law, infertility is defined as “the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse, the inability to conceive after one year of attempts to produce conception, the inability to conceive after an individual is diagnosed with a condition affecting fertility, or the inability to sustain a successful pregnancy.”

House Bill 3709 changes the legal definition to include single women and LGBTQ couples. The bill also reduces the waiting period from 12 months to six months for women over 35 and anyone who cannot medically carry the pregnancy. Healthy women under 35 would still have to wait 12 months. 

Insurance companies would not be required to pay surrogate fees but would be required to pay for in vitro fertilization and other infertility treatments. 

I voted against this measure. If nontraditional couples want to reproduce, they are welcome to use medical means at their disposal to conceive but they should do so at their own expense. Adding insurance coverage mandates is going to increase everyone’s insurance coverage costs. I also voted against the bill because it will lead to even more radical ideas and proposals. Surrogate costs may not be mandated in this particular bill, but I have no doubt this is what is coming in the not-so-distant future. House Bill 3709 is just the beginning of more radical ideas being advanced in Illinois.

For more information, log onto: https://www.wcia.com/illinois-capitol-news/illinois-could-expand-infertility-care-definition-to-include-lgbtq-parents-under-new-proposal/. 

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Gun Control, Madigan Pension & Accounting 4.9.21

The progressive left is on the march to disarm honest citizens. At the national level, President Joe Biden is using executive orders to implement gun control policies that cannot get to his desk via the legislative process. 

And here in Illinois, we continue to see our rights being trampled by the radical left. Most if not all of the policies they are advocating would not do a single thing to reduce violent crime. At the same time that gun control carnival barkers are crowing about more gun laws – the very same people are also actively trying to stop the prosecution of criminals who use guns to commit crimes. 

The truth is gun control advocates do not care about gun crimes. What they do care about is silencing and punishing their political opponents. Gun control is not about anything so noble as saving human life. It is about control and silencing conservatives. The right of free assembly, the protections afforded citizens from illegal searches and sieges and the right to bear arms are all individual rights that uniquely protect us from government tyranny. It is no accident that the statists are using the pandemic as a vehicle to shutter churches and gun confiscation. The choice of David Chipman as the new director for the ATF is a sure sign that our woke overlords want to use the excuse of public safety to take possession of our firearms. 

Our 1st, 2nd and 4th Amendment rights are in peril. We need to stand up and fight for our liberties before they disappear. 

This week’s newsletter highlights more gun control bills in Springfield, the lucrative pension benefits former Speaker Mike Madigan is receiving and the budget gimmicks that are bankrupting state government.

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

More gun control legislation being considered

There is no end to the left’s incessant harassment of honest gun owners. The latest effort is Senate Bill 568, which doubles the cost of obtaining a FOID card and would reduce the expiration of the card from 10 years down to five.

Punishing honest gun owners by increasing fees is not going to do a thing to make our communities safer. Exercising our Constitutional rights should not cost citizens a dime. The radical left by insisting on increasing the cost of the FOID card is making a compelling case to end the FOID once and for all. 

For More Info, Click Here

 

Despite federal probe, former Speaker Mike Madigan collecting pension

On March 24th, former House Speaker Mike Madigan received his first pension check for $7,093.

His current annual pension of $85,117 is set to increase to $148,955 in July 2022. Madigan contributed $352,345 to his General Assembly Retirement Fund but in three years, his pension will exceed the amount he contributed. 

For decades Madigan doled out political favors to insiders, approved spending plans that have brought our state to insolvency and raised taxes. People are leaving Illinois in droves thanks to policies Madigan forced onto our state. We are left to clean up his mess while he reaps hundreds of thousands of dollars in pension funds – all while being investigated by the federal government. Is it any wonder our state is in such a mess?

More Detail Here

 

Former IL Comptroller sounds alarm about perils of accounting gimmicks

During a recent presentation to the Governmental Accounting Standards Board former Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced are bankrupting our state.

“We are a state that, if we could be bankrupt, we would be bankrupt,” Munger said.

She cited tricks such as counting borrowed funds as revenue to make the budget appear balanced. What Illinois needs is an honest budget process. We need accurate revenue estimates, and we need to limit the growth of spending. The budget gimmicks and financial games being played are hurting our state and driving us deeper into debt. We need reform and we need it now.

For More Info, Log In Here

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Good Friday, EO Challenge, Remap & Lockdowns

Today is Good Friday and the start of Easter Weekend. Last year at this time, most churches were closed and there were no in-person Easter services.

Thankfully, churches are able to have in-person Easter services this year. I know I am looking forward to the services at my church. I hope everyone has a great Easter and given the events of last year, I also hope everyone has a greater appreciation for the freedoms we have to freely assemble. I know I do. 

This week’s newsletter highlights court cases challenging the Governor’s prolonged emergency powers; Senate hearings on the legislative remapping process; and the economic impact of the lockdown of the Illinois economy. 

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

Pritzker’s emergency powers challenge

The leaders in the House and the Senate have been nothing but bystanders during the last year as Gov. JB Pritzker has issued one emergency order after another during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Sangamon County judge, though, could interrupt the Governor’s honeymoon. FoxFire restaurant in Geneva sued the Governor over his prohibition in October. The restaurant won in Kane County Circuit Court, but the case was reversed on appeal and remanded to the lower court. The Geneva case has been rolled into other similar cases currently being considered in the Sangamon County Court, which could soon rule on whether or not these cases will be dismissed. 

The Governor has had virtually unchecked power for an entire year to tell businesses when they can and can’t open and there is no end in sight for these Executive Orders. A ruling on the merits of these cases is expected in the next couple of weeks. 

To learn more click here.                    

 

Illinois Senate holds hearings on the remap process

The Illinois Senate has launched a series of hearings on the legislative the remap process. Residents are being given an opportunity to weigh in on the remap process at these hearings. 

On April 7 at 10 am, Decatur residents will have an opportunity to participate. 

I, along with many of my Republican colleagues, support Fair maps. We want to see an independent commission draw the maps and take the politics out of it but even then, the map will still favor urban districts to rural districts. The 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Reynolds vs. Sims case ruled that the electoral districts of state legislative chambers must be roughly equal in population. In a state like Illinois, this all but assures complete Democrat domination in both legislative chambers. 

It is encouraging to me that these hearings are taking place, and I urge anyone in the 102nd interested in this topic to tune into the April 7th hearing and to let your voice be heard. I will keep everyone up to date on these hearings as they happen.

 

Pandemic lockdowns have shuttered 35 percent of Illinois businesses

Nearly 500,000 Illinois residents are out of work thanks to Governor Pritzker’s lockdown of the state’s economy during the last year, and about 35 percent of small businesses have closed.

The economic toll of the pandemic lockdowns will reverberate in Illinois for many years to come. The State of Michigan is the only Midwest state with a higher percentage of small business closures than Illinois. We need to reopen Illinois and we need to do it now.  

For more information, log in here. 

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Veto, Rent Control & Income Tax Credit 3.26.21

The Legislature will soon be putting together the legislative district maps. 

This is a partisan process that allows political parties to draw district boundaries to provide an electoral advantage for one political party over another. 

Most Illinois residents would like to see an independent commission draw the district boundaries, but so far nothing has been done about it. I support the Fair Maps proposal to take the partisan politics out of the remapping process. We need fair and independent maps that are based on logical choices for district boundaries rather partisan politics. It is time for our political leaders to stop ignoring the growing calls for an independent remap process. 

This week’s newsletter highlights the Governor’s veto of a trial lawyer bill; a rent control bill that has advanced to the House floor and an effort to allow illegal immigrants to qualify for Illinois’s Earned Income Tax Credit.

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook

 

Pritzker vetoes trial lawyer stimulus bill 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has vetoed an 11th hour trial lawyer gift bill that was pushed through during the previous General Assembly.

The legislation (HB 3360) bill would have empowered plaintiffs in all personal injury and wrongful death cases to collect 9% interest per year money awarded in favorable court rulings. The clock on the interest rate would begin when the incident took place. The interest would apply to both economic damages as well as pain and suffering awards.

The 9 percent interest is higher the rates used by other states that have similar interest policies in personal injury cases. Pritzker said the rates were too high and interest should not apply to damages for pain and suffering. 

As the Governor was vetoing HB 3360, the Legislature has sent the Governor an alternative version of the bill (SB 72). The new legislation lowers the interest rate to 6 percent. I opposed SB 72, but at least the newer version of the bill is better than the previous version. Senate Bill 72 now moves to the Governor’s desk for further consideration. 

To learn more, click here.

Rent control bill advances

The House Committee on Housing this week approved legislation to allow municipalities to impose rent caps on rental properties. 

House Bill 116 repeals the state’s Rent Control Preemption Act of 1997 and allows local governments to set limits on what landlords can charge their tenants. 

Enacting rent control would set a dangerous precedent. It is not the job of government to set the price of renting a home or an apartment. The market should determine the cost of rent. If House Bill 116 becomes law, it will have a chilling effect on the availability of rental property which will hurt the very people the bill is supposedly trying to protect. It is a short-sighted bill and one I strongly oppose. 

To learn more, click here. 

 

Effort underway to allow illegal immigrants to qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit is a tax credit aimed at helping working families. 

Illinois has about 908,000 taxpayers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit. The tax credit ranges from $538 to $6,660 depending on how many children families have. Illinois also has its own version of the Earned Income Tax Credit equal to 18% of their federal credit.

But now efforts are underway in Illinois to allow illegal immigrants to qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Institute in Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that as many as 110,000 immigrant households would benefit from this effort.

There is, of course, an easy way for illegal immigrants to be able to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit – go through the proper channels to legally become a U.S. citizen. 

If we give away tax credits and provide access to other government assistance programs to illegals without an expectation for those who are here illegally to become citizens; there is no incentive for illegal immigrants to go through the process to become U.S. citizens. We need to incentivize LEGAL immigration to our country, and this is something we cannot accomplish if we continue to provide those here illegally with the same privileges afforded to United States citizens. 

Click here for more information.

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Stimulus, Health Care & Elections 3.20.21

3.20.21

Illinois is set to receive about $7.5 billion in funds from the latest Stimulus Bill. Instead of rushing to find ways to spend this money on new programs and new initiatives, the state would be better served to focus on paying back bills and getting the budget under control. 

The best way to maximize the federal money would be to implement real reforms such as pension reform and spending reform. What we should not do is spend this money on new programs that will only put us deeper in debt and make our state much worse off financially. 

Of course, we have a long history of making bad financial choices and I suspect the most likely outcome will be more bad choices. We will see, but I do not have much confidence that the Governor and the majority in the House and the Senate have any interest in making responsible budgeting decisions. 

This week’s newsletter highlights a healthcare bill the House approved; election legislation the House passed this week; and a measure allowing schools to inscribe “In God We Trust” on school buildings. 

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook

 

House approves costly health care initiative  

The Illinois House passed a massive health care bill this week that could potentially add billions in new spending. 

House Bill 158 is a 227-page bill aimed expanding medical services available to low-income residents and people of color. The legislation includes provisions to develop community health workers statewide, amend the prescription monitoring system to better combat the opioid epidemic, fund safety-net hospitals, and create a program to prevent and treat sickle cell anemia among dozens of other provisions.

The measure’s price tag could be as high as $12 billion by some estimates. I have no issue with efforts to improve healthcare options for those in need, but when the state already has a $4 billion budget hole that needs to be filled, a backlog of more than $5 billion in unpaid bills, and $144 billion in unfunded pension liability – where is the money going to come from to pay for all of the prescribed spending in HB 158?

If the Democrat majority wants to find news ways of spending money, then perhaps they should get behind long-term solutions to address pensions and other financial constraints on the state budget. 

To learn more, click here 

 

House approves measure that would make elections less safe

The Illinois House approved a measure to codify several of the emergency election provisions that were temporarily approved last year ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

House Bill 1871 would make permanent some vote-by-mail and curbside voting expansions and would allow the state to use federal funds distributed to states for election administration through the 2002 Help America Vote Act to create and maintain secure collection sites for mail ballots.

One of the problems I have with HB 1871 is that it requires the State Board of Elections to provide guidelines rather than hard and fast rules when it comes to policies to protect the ballot collection boxes. Voting by mail already carries tremendous risk of fraud and unfortunately, House Bill 1871 makes a bad situation even worse. 

To learn more about HB 1871, click here  

 

Legislation allowing schools to display the words “In God We Trust” advances

This week, the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Administration, Licensing & Charter School Committee advanced legislation allowing schools to prominently display the words, “In God We Trust” inside or outside a school building. 

Nothing in House Bill 217 is a requirement. The legislation is merely permissive.

The motto on our currency came about during the American Civil War. Citizens petitioned Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase to acknowledge the deity on American currency. A Congressional Act in 1864 allowed the new 2-cent penny to have the inscription and another act in 1865 allowed for the motto to be placed on all gold and silver coins.

At a time when our nation was greatly divided – people turned to God for hope and salvation. While we are not fighting another Civil War right now, we can all agree that our nation is a divided one. The words “In God We Trust” were important in the 1860s and I believe they are important now.

The legislation now moves to the House floor a vote. 

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$1.9T Rescue Plan, Ultrasounds & Phishing

This week Senate President Don Harmon said he is not interested in bringing back the progressive income tax amendment for another run in the 2022 election. 

That’s the good news. The bad news is efforts are underway to enact other tax increases, particularly on businesses. Illinois is one of the highest taxed states in the nation. We don’t need tax increases. We need spending reforms.

This week’s newsletter highlights a statement from the Illinois Fuel and Retail Association calling for sensible tax policies; a bill requiring ultrasounds to be offered at abortions clinics and some phishing, scam e-mails being circulated. 

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email me or call my office at 217-774-1306.

Sincerely,

Brad Halbrook

 

Time to end policies that hurt economic growth

The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association says the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which includes money for state governments, should mean the end of onerous taxes on Illinois employers.

I heartily agree. Josh Sharp, CEO of Illinois Fuel and Retail Association, issued a statement saying: “These latest actions out of Washington are good news for so many small businesses and families in Illinois and across the country who have been devastated by job loss and a lack of economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his team to move quickly to ensure these funds reach the people they were designed to help. But I also call on the Governor to use this good news for Illinois to officially end any policies that would punish the very people the federal aid is supposed to support.”

Now is not the time to raise taxes on businesses that have been hit hard by government mandated lockdowns. We need to encourage economic growth – not adopt policies that will hurt our economic recovery.

To learn more, Click Here: 

 https://www.illinoisreview.com/illinoisreview/2021/03/fuel-and-retail-association-calls-on-pritzker-to-end-any-policies-hurting-small-businesses.html

 

Bill would require abortion clinics to offer ultrasounds

Abortion clinics would be required to offer patients the opportunity to view an ultrasound under legislation pending in the House Human Services Committee. 

House Bill 683 would create the Ultrasound Opportunity Act. It would require attending physicians, referring physicians or other qualified personnel to offer any woman seeking an abortion after 8 weeks of gestation the opportunity to receive and view an active ultrasound prior to an abortion being performed. 

This bill is not a mandate that ultrasounds be provided. It merely requires one to be offered. This is a common-sense bill. Pro-choice advocates say they are all about choice. So, here is a bill that helps women make better informed choices. It is my hope that this legislation will receive strong bipartisan support. 

House Bill 683 has been introduced and awaits a hearing in the House Human Services Committee.

 

Fraud Alert: Phishing Emails

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) was made aware of new phishing attacks targeting Illinoisans. Bad actors posing as IDES representatives are sending emails to victims, designed to trick Illinoisans into disclosing their personal information. These scams falsely advertise an increase in weekly benefits. It is critical for claimants and victims of fraud to remain vigilant to detect fraudulent correspondence: 

  • Follow steps from the FTC to recognize and avoid phishing scams. The examples below include tell-tale signs of a phishing scam, such as referring to the “Division of Employment Security” as opposed to the “Department of Employment Security” and arriving from an untrustworthy email address. 
  • Strengthen and protect account information. Claimants should ensure they maintain a strong password, and never share their personal information with an untrustworthy source. 

Additional tips are available on IDES’s fraud webpage:  

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