Many controversial issues remain unresolved

Despite the May 31 adjournment of the regularly scheduled spring legislative session rapidly approaching, a great deal of work remains on controversial legislation and the resolution of many major issues is unclear.

With just five days remaining until the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn the spring legislative session, several controversial issues remain unresolved – and many of them have provisions that I will not be able to support.

Among the issues that still require action are a controversial overhaul of the Illinois income tax system from a flat tax rate to a graduated tax rate, legalization of recreational cannabis, sports betting, or a much needed capital improvement plan.  Additionally, lawmakers must approve a budget for Fiscal Year 2020 in the remaining days.

Throughout the coming days, Senate Republicans will continue to meet on these issues and hope to resolve them in the best interests of the state and their constituents.

Wall of Remembrance display opens in Capitol

The Wall of Remembrance display was officially opened by Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady at a ceremony May 23 in the Rotunda of the Capitol.  The Wall of Remembrance features a moving display of photos and stories of men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  Visitors also have the opportunity to share their own stories and memories of loved ones and friends who have fallen in the line of duty, or to simply express gratitude by filling out notes to post on the Wall.

Addressing attendees at the ceremony was Jim Frazier, a former Marine, contract Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator for the Department of the Army and Gold Star Dad, who stressed the importance of celebrating the memory of those who have served.  His son Jacob Frazier, a Staff Sergeant with the Illinois National Guard, was killed in an ambush in south central Afghanistan in 2003.

“There’s an old saying, ‘A person dies twice, once when life leaves their body, and again when their name is spoken for the last time.’ Remember them, speak their names,” Jim Frazier said.

The Wall of Remembrance display is open to the public from May 23 to July 4, during normal business hours in the Capitol.

Helping service members and spouses

Members of the Armed Services and their spouses who are stationed in Illinois may soon have an easier time finding work in their field, under legislation passed by the Senate unanimously.

House Bill 1652 creates an expedited professional license application process for service members and their spouses.  The applicant must be licensed in another state, stationed in Illinois, and otherwise eligible for licensure in this state.  The legislation will also require the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to designate a staff member to serve as a military liaison to review and report on the process of the expedited licensure program.

House Bill 1652 is now headed back to the House of Representatives for a concurrence vote.

Public safety bills move

Those who do not properly stop for school buses on the roadway will be fined twice as much if Governor J.B. Pritzker signs House Bill 1873.

House Bill 1873 seeks to crack down on those who ignore the stop arm on school buses by increasing the fine from $150 to $300 for the first offense, and from $500 to $1,000 for the second or subsequent offense.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, on average, 33 school-age children are killed every year nationwide in school-bus related crashes, many of which are caused by a passing vehicle in violation of the school bus warning systems.

House Bill 1873 passed the Senate unanimously with a vote of 53-0 and now heads to the Governor for his consideration.

Another public safety measure, House Bill 2383, which would crack down on drivers who violate right-of-way rules and injure pedestrians in crosswalks, passed the Senate during the week.  House Bill 2383 would require a one-year suspension of an individual’s driver’s license if they commit a right-of-way violation at a crosswalk or a crosswalk in a school zone that results in bodily harm or death.  The legislation was filed in response to the death of an Iroquois resident who was killed in a traffic crash when a semi-trailer truck failed to obey a posted stop sign.

House Bill 2383 passed the Senate unanimously on May 21 and is now headed back to the House of Representatives for a concurrence vote.

Protecting pets at kennels

Legislation aimed at better protecting pets housed at kennels is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

House Bill 3390 requires pet boarding facilities that do not have 24/7 staffing to be equipped with a fire sprinkler system or a fire alarm monitoring system that triggers notification to local emergency responders.  Current law requires owners to have these systems installed when they build a new facility; however, there’s nothing in current statute that forces owners to install these systems if they open their business in an already existing structure.

House Bill 3390 was filed in response to a recent fire at a West Chicago kennel that killed several animals.