A bipartisan effort in the Illinois Senate to pass a balanced budget and structural reforms was disrupted during the week when four bills were called for a vote without the entire budget framework being ready.
In other action, the Senate voted on individuals nominated by the Governor to serve on state boards and commissions.
Legislative activity during the spring session is also beginning to pick up with more than 1,000 Senate bills introduced during the week.
State budget update
The Senate voted February 8 on four of the measures that make up the budget framework being negotiated by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago). Senate Republicans held firm in our call for the budget package to be voted on in its entirety, not as individual pieces of legislation. We either voted “present” or “no” on the four bills. However, I believe that was a mistake. The four bills introduced were reasonable bills with substantial support on both sides of the aisle. I believe we Republicans should have voted “yes” on the bills that we believe are good and “no” on the bills we believe are bad. Had we done that, we would have gotten four of the twelve bills out of the way, allowing us to focus on the other eight more controversial bills.
Progress has been made, but much more work needs to be done on spending cuts and structural reforms before the entire budget package can be passed in the Senate. We need spending cuts, and more work on structural reforms like workers’ compensation reform that will help make Illinois competitive again, and education funding, which must be done correctly. Real term limits would help a lot. Redistricting reform is not even included.
‘Advice and Consent’
Under the Illinois Constitution, one of the Senate’s duties is to give “advice and consent” to gubernatorial appointments. During the week, the Senate approved 19 individuals nominated by Governor Bruce Rauner to serve on a variety of state boards and commissions.
Newly filed bills
Among the many bills filed during the week is a bill I am sponsoring to increase speed limits.
Senate Bill 2036 increases the maximum speed limit on all interstates west of, and including, I-355 and south of, and including, I-80 to 75 miles per hour (currently 70 mph). This legislation leaves the current statutes regarding interstate speed limits for the Chicagoland area in place. This legislation also increases the maximum speed limit for all other highways, roads, and streets to 60 mph (currently 55 mph). The current 65 mph speed limit for IDOT designated roads that have at least four lanes of traffic, and have a separation between the roadways moving in opposite directions remains.
Other notable bills filed by Senate Republican lawmakers during the week include:
• Senate Bill 869 – Requires a State and FBI fingerprint-based criminal history record check as a condition of eligibility to participate in Illinois’ child-care assistance program.
• Senate Bill 874 – Bans controversial automated “red light” traffic cameras from DuPage County.
• Senate Bill 930 – Extends the life of Eastern Illinois University’s “Panther Promise” tuition discount program, from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2026.
• Senate Bill 1301 – Recognizes concealed firearm permits from other states, provided the permits have similar licensing and education requirements.
• Senate Bill 1356 – Allows local communities to adopt stricter laws on video gaming.
• Senate Bill 1380 – The “Blue Lives Matter” legislation adds law enforcement, fire fighters, corrections officers and EMTs to the state’s protected class of citizens under the Illinois Hate Crimes Act.
• Senate Bill 1409 – Provides new legal tools for authorities to prosecute cases involving the financial exploitation and identity theft involving elderly persons and persons with disabilities.
• Senate Bill 1708 – Requires applicants for initial eligibility for public aid benefits to pass a drug screening.
• Senate Bill 1862 – Gives municipalities the authority to exempt themselves from one unfunded government mandate per year if compliance with the unfunded mandate creates an undue financial burden.