Update from the Capitol 1/23/2017
Monday, January 23, 2017 - Posted 1:37:59 PM by Rep. Tom Bennett
As always, you can contact me via webform at www.repbennett.com, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106 (Watseka).|
Budget Work Continues
In the coming weeks, our top priority must continue to be getting a responsible budget in place as soon as possible.Upon the expiration of the "stopgap" FY17 budget on January 1 authorized State spending stopped on many vital social programs our families and communities depend upon, and for our colleges and universities.
Efforts to reauthorize these programs for the second half of FY17 are continuing to be discussed along with the need for real budget reform and true reforms to the Illinois political process. Reform proposals under discussion include a hard freeze on property tax extensions, term limits for elected Illinois officials, workers' compensation, and other issues. Senate leaders said that they are working to finalize a comprehensive budget plan by February 1. Some of the components they're considering include changes to Illinois individual income tax rates, pension reform, a major expansion in Illinois casino gambling, and other significant changes to Illinois laws.I'll keep you updated as the discussions progress.
New House Rules Must Stop the Speaker's Consolidation of Power
Each member of the Illinois House is elected to represent approximately the same number of constituents. That's because our system of government is based on equal representation. Sadly, that has ceased to be the case here in Illinois. Ongoing manipulation of the rules by which the House operates has stripped rights from individual members and consolidated power in the hands of one: Michael Madigan from Chicago.
A prime example of how Speaker Madigan has crafted rules to giving him complete control over the chamber is the mandate that every bill to be considered must first be approved by his House Rules Committee staffed by three of his top deputies. This ensures no idea moves forward without his personal approval. He also strictly controls all committee Chairmen, schedules, and the daily roster for session which specifies which bills can be considered each day.
As we prepare to vote on new rules for the 100th General Assembly, my House Republican colleagues and I are working to include revisions that will restore fair representation. Our proposed revisions include guaranteeing consideration of bills and resolutions supported by at least 71 members of the House, and providing a public review period for budget bills and year-round review of the budget and state spending. If enacted, our reforms will go a long way to once again giving you, the constituents we represent, a seat at the table.
Bicentennial Commission Gets Down to Work
Next year, the State of Illinois and our state constitution will officially turn 200 years old, and plans are in the works for 200th birthday celebrations and commemorations statewide!Last September the Governor signed Executive Order 2016-11 creating the new Illinois Bicentennial Commission and the Governor's Office of the Illinois Bicentennial to lead the planning for the celebrations. This past week the Commission held its first meeting and unveiled the official Bicentennial logo at the Old State Capitol. The navy and gold design with 21 gold stars represents Illinois' entry as the 21st state in the union. The colors are a nod to the State of Illinois' official seal.
For more information visit the Illinois Bicentennial Celebration website: www.illinois200.com
Did You Know?
Did you know that you can watch the Illinois House action from the floor and the House committee rooms without traveling to Springfield?On days when the House is in session the Illinois General Assembly Website ( http://www.ilga.gov/ ) streams live video and audio of the action on the House floor and in committees. You can also go to the website any day to track the progress of legislation you're interested in, review bills that I am sponsoring and contact information for me and my staff, and to access a variety of other information including the Illinois Constitution. The website is another great resource to help you stay well informed on what's happening in Springfield.