This year I returned to Springfield to represent Illinois’ 97th District to continue fighting to create job growth, advocating for efficient government, and opposing tax increases. As the first year of the 101st General Assembly has come to a close, I have included in this letter a review of the most significant issues that were debated.
Votes I took this year reflect my support of over-burdened taxpayers and business owners who have been bogged down for years by onerous regulations and mandates.
Many of these issues included in this newsletter are complex, and I encourage your feedback on them. Hearing from constituents is an important piece of the legislative process and helps me best represent our community.
Advocating for Business Reforms
This spring I supported reforms that will help our economy, bring jobs to our state, and encourage business growth. These efforts are significant strides that will help move our state forward, starting with our economy.
- The Blue Collar Jobs Act: to attract large scale construction projects
- Data Center Tax Incentive: to bring data centers to Illinois
- The Reinstatement of the Manufacturer’s Purchase Credit: to encourage investments in manufacturing
- Elimination of the Franchise Tax: to reduce taxes on businesses
- Elimination of the cap on the Retailer’s Discount: to increase tax savings
Expanding the Batinick Buyout Plan
I voted in favor of the Budget Implementation Plan (BIMP), which included a pension reform effort that I originally introduced 4 years ago. The concept has been dubbed by others as the Batinick Buyout. Last year, the idea finally became law. Initial results were positive so the program was expanded and extended 3 years. This is a viable solution to solving our pension problem, by giving employees more options with their pension plans at retirement. This extension will offer retirees more flexibility with their pensions and is a small step to helping reform our pension system, one of our state’s biggest roadblocks to financial security. When fully implemented the program is expected to save the state over $400M per year.
Standing up for Taxpayers
Illinois is one of the highest taxed states in the nation. That fact, combined with the multitude of tax increases proposed in the General Assembly this year was truly troubling. I refused to support tax increases this year that would put an undue burden on Illinois residents and cause even more people to leave our state. In doing so, I stood up for our hardworking taxpayers.
- The graduated income tax proposal will officially be on the ballot for voters to decide during the November 2020 election if they want to change the state’s tax structure. I did not vote in favor of this proposal when it was debated in the House of Representatives. While it will remove the flat tax guarantee from the Illinois Constitution, it does not secure the new rates. That means that while higher income earners are proposed to be taxed at a higher level, that might not be the case in the future. Instead, by changing our constitution, this gives the majority party more authority to continue to change those rates and raise higher taxes on the middle class. This ‘bait and switch’ proposal is dangerous for taxpayers and is something that I refused to support.
- I opposed the doubling of our motor fuel tax. Under the Capital Plan this tax was increased to help fund the improvement of our state’s declining infrastructure. While the money from this tax will go to fix roads and bridges across the state, I could not justify raising yet another tax on hardworking residents, especially when we could afford to cut spending in other areas to make government run more efficiently and cost effectively.
- I supported HB2695 to prohibit a legislator pay increase. Unfortunately, the Democrats failed to call this legislation for a vote and because of that, a pay increase is automatically accounted for in the state budget.
This year there were various pieces of legislation that would help improve and protect the lives of women in our state. I proudly supported the following initiatives:
- SB1507: created civil remedies for “revenge porn.”
- HB2135: to protect all victims of sexual assault by removing the statute of limitations on criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated criminal sexual abuse regardless of the age of the victim.
- “Stephanie’s Law” to close sex offender loopholes in current Illinois statutes. This would require that offenders convicted of battery be added to the registry of sex offenders if the crime is found to be sexually motivated, and committed by someone over 21 assaulting somebody under 17. The loophole that currently exists does not include a provision for a sexually motivated battery within the misdemeanor battery statute.
- SB75: to enforce stronger safety and security measures for hotel employees, I sponsored legislation to ensure employees would have safety devices available to them, like panic buttons, to combat sexual harassment.
- HB2382: to ensure the State Police’s Division of Forensic Services laboratory has the necessary funding to test rape kits as well as other types of forensic evidence. By making these appropriations permanent, this would stop things like rape kits from being used as a political football during budget standoffs.
- I voted against the Reproductive
Health Act. There were several
provisions in the act that are very harmful to women including:
- Legalizing sex-selection abortions.
- Removing the requirement that a coroner investigate the death of a woman who dies during an abortion.
- Eliminating criminal penalties for doctors who perform illegal abortions.
- Allowing non-doctors to perform abortions.
- Decreasing safety by dramatically deregulating abortion clinics.
- Adding language that will likely nullify our parental notice law. Underage women, some as young as 13, will be able to get an abortion without parental notice. Often, pregnant minors seeking an abortion are the victims of a crime. Nullifying parental notice laws removes an important protection minors need.
- Legalizing partial-birth abortions.
- Legalizing third term abortions.
Saving Our Environment
Every day we are ingesting tiny, microscopic pieces of plastic. These microplastics have been found in our food, water, and even in the air we breathe. Because the full impact of microplastics isn’t known, I sponsored a bill this year, SB1392, to find opportunities for Illinois to institute regulatory and legislative protections that will benefit the health of Illinois residents and our environment. This study will be done using private funds, and will be no cost to taxpayers.