Senate Week in Review: March 14-18, 2022

SPRINGFIELD – As the spring legislative session winds down, plenty of work remains to move the state in a more positive direction. State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) says many key issues have yet to be addressed by the Majority Party even though Senate Republicans have introduced several legislative packages to address the important concerns of constituents.

During the week, Gov. JB Pritzker tried to provide cover for himself for the ongoing issues within his hand-picked Prisoner Review Board, which has come under scrutiny over the last year. Pritzker withdrew a controversial nominee from the Board and penned a public letter to the Senate requesting his remaining appointees be considered for confirmation.

In other news, the Secretary of State announced another extension for motorists to renew driver’s licenses.

Three weeks left of spring session 

With three weeks left of the spring legislative session, little to no action has been taken on key issues that continuously impact our state. Over the course of this session, Senate Republicans have filed legislative packages on bills focused on a variety of constituent concerns.

Those packages address:

Ethics Reform – A legislative package seeking to tackle the state’s public corruption problem by expanding the authority of a statewide grand jury’s ability to investigate and indict offenses involving the corruption of a public official, among several other reforms. To learn more about the Senate Republicans Ethics Reform Package, click here.

Crime – A legislative package that includes a “Fund the Police Act,” which would provide funds to assist law enforcement, provide additional training, and purchase much-needed equipment, including body cameras. To learn more about Senate Republicans Crime Package, click here.

Taxes/Inflation – A legislative package that addresses the high cost of living that is impacting families across the state. Here in Illinois, the state’s high tax burden puts Illinoisans at more of a disadvantage. Senate Republicans seek to provide long-lasting tax relief that would address growing concerns of inflation and skyrocketing consumer prices by making food, gas, medicine, and property taxes more affordable. To learn more about Senate Republicans Tax Relief Plan, click here.

Legislators are scheduled to adjourn April 8, ahead of this year’s June primary election. With three weeks left to go, Stewart says he would like to see meaningful discussions take place on these major issues.

Senate Republicans tout traction to PRB appointment process

Following year-long Republican pleas for the Senate to take up Gov. Pritzker’s unconfirmed Prisoner Review Board appointees and questions surrounding some of the Board’s recent decisions to release violent criminals from prison, the Governor decided he needed to create some cover for himself as pressure over the process began to mount.

This week, Pritzker withdrew his nomination of Max Cerda, a convicted double murderer who voted in favor of releasing Ronnie Carrasquillo, a cop killer. Cerda served a prison sentence with Carrasquillo in the 1990s but failed to recuse himself from voting on his potential release. The withdraw came just hours after Senate Republicans questioned Cerda’s potential conflict of interest during a Senate Appropriations hearing on Tuesday.

Also this week, the Governor penned a public letter to the Chair of the Senate Executive Appointments Committee, requesting that they consider his remaining pending appointees.

Senate Republicans have repeatedly inquired about the confirmation of unconfirmed nominations but have received no information as to why they have failed to consider these appointments. At one point, 10 members of the 14 members on the board had not been confirmed or brought before a hearing. Currently, only nine board members remain—six of whom have so far escaped the constitutionally-required confirmation process.

The Illinois Constitution requires that appointees be confirmed by the Illinois Senate within 60 session days. Rather than the Senate taking a vote on these individuals, the Governor has often pulled their appointment just to turn around and reappoint them to reset the 60-day clock—intentionally skirting the process outlined in the Constitution.

Following the Governor’s letter, the six unconfirmed appointees were posted to the Senate Executive Appointments Committee scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on March 22.

Another extension of DMV services

Illinois drivers who need to renew driver’s licenses, ID cards, and learner’s permits will now have four extra months to do so.

Secretary of State Jesse White recently announced the extension from March 31, 2022, until July 31, 2022.

As a result of the extension, expired driver’s licenses, ID cards, and learner’s permits will remain valid until July 2022.

The extension comes on the heels of COVID-19 backlogs and inclement weather.

For more information on when to visit a facility or how to conduct business online, click here.

 

Brian Stewart

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