Latest News

The Illinois House of Representatives unanimously approved two bills sponsored by State Rep. John Anthony (R-Joliet) on Monday. 

Senate Bill 2947 – Creates uniform sentence minimums and maximums for crimes committed against emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, no matter who they are employed by, and clarifies that the definition of “emergency medical services personnel” includes all levels of emergency medical technicians, drivers, and pilots.

Senate Bill 3129 – Ensures that a police dog can be adopted to a loving home when they retire from service. Specifically, the bill stipulates the dog may be offered by the county, municipality, or State law enforcement agency to the officer or employee who had custody and control of the animal during its service. If the officer or employee does not wish to keep the dog, it may be offered to another officer or employee in the agency, or to a non-profit organization or a no-kill animal shelter that may facilitate an appropriate adoption of the dog.

Both bills now go to the Governor's desk for signature to become law.
Budget
·         Leaders meet to discuss budget negotiations, but many obstacles remain.  The four legislative leaders met with Governor Rauner for only the second time this year on Tuesday, May 17.  The leaders agreed to deputize lawmaker working groups, including key members of the House Republican Caucus, to discuss specific issues relevant to an agreement.  The Illinois budget process has been stalled by an impasse that has now gone on for nearly 11 months.  Illinois began operating without a constitutional balanced budget to control spending on July 1, 2015, and is now the only state not to have a budget for the current fiscal year.


Many issues stand in the way of a durable agreement to craft a constitutional balanced budget for Illinois in FY17.  After the meeting, Leader Durkin urged the negotiators to achieve agreements on questions that involve the status of collective bargaining labor-management relations within local governments, public-sector pension reforms, and workmen’s compensation reforms.  Many House Republicans believe that lack of progress on these issues has become a very serious threat to future job creation and future tax revenues in Illinois.  Current statistics show that Illinois’ economy is generating few if any new private-sector jobs.  Our state’s unemployment rate, as of April 2016, has grown 0.7% over the level six months earlier in October 2015, and our state’s most recent 6.6% jobless rate is now 160 basis points higher than the 5.0% unemployment rate for the U.S. economy as a whole.
·     
Budget – Possible Compromise
·         House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Governor Bruce Rauner hint at possible budget compromise.  Illinois is the only one of the 50 states that has not enacted a balanced budget to control its spending in FY16.  Not surprisingly, Illinois also has the lowest credit rating among the 50 states.  On Monday, May 9, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin expressed optimism that current talks going on between partisan budget experts could generate movement towards a solution. 

At an educational event in west suburban LaGrange that he attended with Governor Rauner, Durkin discussed the need to reach budget action in order to improve prospects for sufficient school funding for Illinois public schools.  While Illinois’ General Assembly enacted full funding for Illinois school districts in FY16, this money was not part of a constitutional balanced budget and does not extend into FY17.  The next fiscal year will begin on July 1, 2016, adding to pressure on state negotiators to talk seriously on urgent issues of fiscal reform, budget reform, and Illinois job creation.  
Rep. John Anthony (R-Joliet) passed three bills out of committee on Tuesday, May 10:

Senate Bill 2947 – Creates uniform sentence minimums and maximums for crimes committed against emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, no matter who they are employed by, and clarifies that the definition of “emergency medical services personnel” includes all levels of emergency medical technicians, drivers, and pilots.
Senate Bill 3129 – Provides that a police dog, which is deemed no longer fit for public service, may be offered by the county, municipality, or State law enforcement agency to the officer or employee who had custody and control of the animal during its service. If the officer or employee does not wish to keep the dog, it may be offered to another officer or employee in the agency, or to a non-profit organization or a no-kill animal shelter that may facilitate an appropriate adoption of the dog.
Senate Bill 2294 – Allows for the lawful manufacture, selling, purchase, possession, or carrying of a switchblade knife (distinguished by a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife). Rep. Anthony’s bill would allow both civilians and law enforcement personnel to carry switchblade knives for protection, which is currently prohibited under Illinois law.
Budget – “Lockbox” Amendment
·         Transportation “lockbox” constitutional amendment approved by General Assembly, will appear on ballotHJRCA 36 is a response to the lack of an overall State balanced budget and the movement of money from specifically transportation-related taxes and fees to other spending programs.  If approved by the voters in November, this amendment will put all revenues from transportation taxes and fees into a “lockbox” that can only be used for transportation purposes.

Under HJRCA 36, the money generated by these taxes and fees could only be spent for road construction and repair, enforcing traffic laws, and paying off transit-related debt.  Cash flows that would be affected by this amendment include the state tax imposed on motor fuel of 19 cents per gallon of gasohol and 21.5 cents per gallon of diesel fuel.  Sales taxes also imposed on motor fuel are not defined as specifically transportation-related taxes and fees, and would not be affected by this amendment. 
Budget – Higher education

·        Governor signs bill, pushed by House Republicans, to provide stopgap funding for higher education.  The bill was SB 2059 as amended in the House.  On Monday, April 25, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law, making it possible for the Comptroller’s office to begin transferring “lifeline” funding to Illinois’ nine universities, 12 campuses, 39 community college districts and approximately 120,000 Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) Grant recipients.

The money provided by SB 2059 is “lifeline” funding intended to help keep operations going and enable students to remain active in classroom learning.  Full funding awaits continued work by the General Assembly to enact constitutional balanced budgets for FY16 and FY17.  Illinois higher education has not received operational funding from the State since July 1, 2016, when FY16 began.