Legislative News from Rep. Mark Batinick

Rep. Batinick to Host Free Online College Financial Aid/FAFSA Seminar on Oct. 13

This is the time of year when high school seniors are making post-graduation decisions, and for those who are college-bound, submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important first step in determining college aid and other financial assistance. On Tuesday, October 13, I am collaborating with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) to offer a free college financial aid and FAFSA workshop for families. Whereas we typically do this annual event in person each fall, due to COVID-19 this year’s event will be held on Webex. We’re offering an English presentation and a Spanish presentation for families. The virtual meetings will take place from 6:30 – 8:30 PM.

The workshop presenters will discuss the types of financial aid that are available and will conduct a line-by-line explanation that details every step of filling out the FAFSA. Additional experts will be available in the Webex chat boxes to answer questions as they arise during the presentation.

Students and families need to register for this free event, and upon registration, the login details for their chosen Webex meeting will be sent via email.

Click here to register for the FAFSA workshop in English.

Click here to register for the FAFSA workshop in Spanish.

If you have questions about the workshops, please contact my office at (815) 254-0000 or Batinick@ilhousegop.org.

State Police Launch CheckPoint Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking System

I’m pleased to announce that the Illinois State Police have launched a new statewide sexual assault tracking system that will bring victims of rape some valuable peace of mind. The “CheckPoint” system is based on legislation I was proud to sponsor and support. The launching of this system is the culmination of years of work from many stakeholders. Legislation from 2017 (HB 528) created the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, and the panel studied and presented recommendations for the best way to implement an electronic evidence tracking system. The group’s recommendations were then brought forward in legislation (SB 1411) that was approved in 2019.

The system provides survivors of sexual assault with the ability to monitor the status of their case evidence throughout the process, from collection at the hospital, through law enforcement pick-up and submission to the forensic lab, and ultimately to the State’s Attorney’s office where final results are received. To ensure privacy, the system will use unique case numbers and passwords to limit access to survivors and law enforcement.

Implementation of this tracking system is a great step toward addressing issues with rape kits. There is still room for improvement, specifically with addressing the backlog of rape kits, but the new online tracking system provides a new layer of transparency and accountability for those seeking justice after being victimized.

Batinick Champions Legislation to Help Families with Remote Learning Costs

On August 15, the Illinois Department of Public Health released updated COVID-19 guidelines for schools that were much stricter than the original June rules that schools used to craft initial in-person learning plans for schools this fall. Upon reviewing the updated regulations, most school districts decided to move the fall semester to a fully remote learning schedule just weeks before school began. This, in turn, left parents and families scrambling to make arrangements for digital, off-site learning. As families continue to navigate at-home learning, I am proud to sponsor legislation to assist families with unanticipated costs incurred due to remote learning for children.

HB 5834 creates an income tax credit for parents and legal guardians of school-age students for educational expenses that result from remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible expenses include additional computers, printers, internet routers, tutors, learning facilitators and certain childcare expenses. Additional tax credits would be extended to teachers with children, since these teachers report to their schools while children are required to engage in online learning off-site. I’ll be pushing for the bill’s passage during the upcoming fall veto session in November.

Batinick Recognized for Support of IL Farmers, Manufacturing

The best way to improve Illinois’ financial standing is to support those who provide jobs in our communities and drive our state’s economy. Job growth is the easiest way to provide overall tax relief to Illinois’ citizens. I’m proud to announce that I recently received two awards that were based on votes I took in Springfield on behalf of two of our state’s largest industries- agriculture and manufacturing.

On September 18, I was named a “Champion of Manufacturing” by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) for votes taken that affected the manufacturing sector in 2019-2020. Members of the General Assembly were scored on their votes on 34 different bills that were brought forward during the 101st General Assembly, and those receiving a score of 80% or higher received the award.

The IMA is a not-for-profit trade association for Illinois manufacturers. Founded in 1893, the IMA’s mission is to strengthen the economic, social, environmental and governmental conditions for manufacturing and allied enterprises in the state of Illinois, resulting in an enlarged business base and increased employment. Click here to view the full scorecard and a list of bills that were judged.

The following week, on September 23, I was named a “Friend of Agriculture” by the Activator Program of the Illinois Farm Bureau. I received a 100% score for votes taken in 2019-2020 that affect the agriculture industry in Illinois. One of every four Illinoisans is employed in the agriculture industry, so efforts that support agriculture are very important. As a legislator, I am committed to helping those in the agriculture industry with their goal of improving food production practices and ensuring a plentiful and safe food supply.

The award was based on each legislator’s voting record in the 101st General Assembly on issues facing the farming community. There were 11 bills considered under this year’s voting criteria, including legislation on the minimum wage, the gas tax, the graduated income tax, and legislation affecting ethanol plants and the department of labor.

I’m shown in this photo with Activator Program Trustee John Andermann, and Will County Farm Bureau members Mark Schneidewind and Victoria Wax. In existence for 101 years, the Will County Farm Bureau is one of the oldest bureaus of its kind in the United States. 

Special Investigating Committee Continues Probe into Conduct of House Speaker Mike Madigan

On July 17, the US Attorney’s Office of Northern Illinois announced the signing of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) between Commonwealth Edison and the US Attorney. The document outlined a series of agreed facts that detail a nine-year bribery scheme during where ComEd spent over $1.3 million in an elaborate scheme to provide jobs, payments and a seat on the ComEd board to friends and allies of Mike Madigan in exchange for favorable votes on controversial energy legislation. In the DPA, ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine for its role in the scandal.

Soon after the bombshell announcement, a Special Investigating Committee (SIC) was formed per House Rules to look into the conduct of Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. The committee includes three Republicans and three Democrats, and the photo to the left shows Republican members Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) and Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst). The committee has now met twice.

The group’s charge is to determine whether Mike Madigan engaged in conduct unbecoming of a lawmaker, which constituted a breach in the public trust. After the committee’s first meeting, letters were sent to individuals named in the DPA, asking them to voluntarily come forward to provide testimony. While ComEd came forward voluntarily to provide testimony, Mike Madigan and other key individuals named in the DPA declined to voluntarily appear before the SIC.

During the second meeting, Republicans on the committee attempted to use the committee’s subpoena authority to require the others named in the DPA to appear and testify.  Even though the statutes provide clear subpoena power to the group, SIC Chairman Chris Welch (D-Hillside) called the motion to issue subpoenas “out of order” and refused to allow a committee vote. On Tuesday, Chairman Welch announced the committee would not meet again until after the November 3 election.

Drivers’ License Deadlines Further Extended; No Extension for Vehicle License Plates

Due to challenges Illinois drivers are having with renewing expired driver’s licenses, the Secretary of State has announced a further extension to the renewal deadline. Expired driver’s licenses and non-driver personal ID cards will now remain valid  until February 1, 2021.

The small decal stickers that Illinois drivers attach to their motor vehicle license plates to show that the car has been licensed are separate from drivers’ licenses. These car license plates and decal stickers were only extended until November 1, 2020. Since most of these transaction are already done online or by mail, COVID-19 is not changing the way these stickers are purchased and delivered.

Secretary of State and IL Treasurer Announce Extended Waiver of E-Check Payment Processor Fee

The Illinois Secretary of State and IL Treasurer have partnered with National Cash Register (NCR) to remove the e-check payment processing fee through the remainder of 2020. Since the payment processor fees were first waived on May 5, the number of transactions conducted online and paid with e-checks have nearly tripled compared to the same period in 2019. The e-check payment processor fee will be waived for the following online services:

  • renewing a vehicle registration
  • obtaining a duplicate driver’s license or ID card
  • renewing a driver’s license with the Safe Driver Renewal program. 

Visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com for more information.

Early Voting Underway Across Illinois

Locally, early voting is now available at the County Clerk’s offices in Will and Kendall Counties. Through Oct. 19, early voting is limited to the two clerk’s offices, but on Oct. 19 early voting will be expanded to several other locations. Information about early voting can be found at the following links:

Will County Voting Information

Kendall County Voting Information