As always, you can contact me via webform at repbennett.com, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106 (Watseka). Thank you for the honor of serving as our district's representative in Springfield.
House reaches committee deadline day
This week was the deadline for House bills to make their way out of committees and onto the House floor for continued debate. Any bill not out of committee by the deadline is considered dead for the year and will have to start from scratch next year.
Although I am home recovering from a serious car accident, I am working on legislation to help our district and Illinois. I am grateful and thankful for the support from our doctors, many friends, constituents, colleagues and neighbors as we work through the healing process. I am honored and grateful to my colleagues who have assisted me in carrying bills through committee.
I told you previously about House Bill 2583 which allows water conservancy districts to change their name and expand geographically by voter referendum. Another bill which passed committee this week; with help from my friend Rep. Charlie Meier; was House Bill 344, which allows residents of state-operated development centers to have electronic monitoring in their rooms. If an issue or a dispute should arise, the monitoring would be helpful in establishing the truth of the matter.
The annual Illinois Gun Owners' Lobby Day was held at the Capitol on Wednesday. Thousands of Illinoisans came to Springfield to rally for our Second Amendment rights. As a proud supporter of the Second Amendment, I was glad to see such a large crowd in attendance as they stood up for the rights of law-abiding gun-owners.
The House passed dozens of bills this week, including a controversial mandate for sex education for developmentally-disabled persons living in residential institutions.
Unfortunately, some good bills I am sponsoring which focus on improving the business environment and the family farm did not make it out of committee. These included bills to create a tax credit to businesses for offering internships, bills dealing with needed workers compensation reform and standardizing the estate tax exclusion amount with federal law in order to help local family farms. I plan to bring these bills back again when the House begins its next session in January.
Flood Alliance meets with Corps of Engineers
The East Central Illinois and West Central Indiana Flood Alliance Flood Fight met with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Rock Island District last Friday in Pontiac. The Corps of Engineers has responsibility for all the inland waterways of the United States and plays an important role in flood prevention and management. We learned how the USACE can help villages and towns within our district during a flood disaster. We were also able to see various flood retention devices and discuss a mobile data collection system that would help inform USACE immediately of the district's needs in a flooding disaster situation.
The goal was to bring people together to learn how to address flooding. My thanks go to everyone who attended and for being concerned about flood-related issues. Special thanks go to Army Corps of Engineers, Chuck Schopp and his team for helping with all of the logistics and to our Angel Crawford and David Littlefield for all their efforts.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,785,317,015 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $7.9 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be approximately $130 billion.
Major sports wagering proposals introduced
Last year the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling which opened the door for states to begin legalizing and regulating sports betting. Illinois is one of the states considering legislation to create a legal framework for sports betting.
House Bill 3308 creates the Sports Wagering Act, which would put in place the regulations for wagering on sports games and contests. Some amendments have been introduced to the legislation which outline how sports betting would be legalized, regulated and taxed in Illinois. Proponents point to the possible tax revenue for the state, while opponents have raised concerns about compulsive gambling and corruption.
Nevada and New Jersey have already legalized sports betting, with other states looking at the possibility. Illinois will continue to work on this proposal through the spring.
Did You Know?
A bill must be read by the House Clerk three times on three separate days before it can be voted on the Illinois House. The usual practice is to have "First Reading" as soon as the bill is introduced, "Second Reading" when it comes back to the floor from committee, and "Third Reading" on the day it is ready to be voted upon. The bill can be amended in the middle of this process, however, which sometimes leaves members with very little time to read and analyze changes before a vote.