News from State Representative Dan Ugaste: October 4, 2022


Another lawsuit filed to strike down SAFE-T Act.  Another state’s attorney has expressed concerns over dangerous provisions in the Democrats’ SAFE-T Act and challenged the constitutionality of the law.

Vermilion County’s State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy is suing Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Attorney General, Kwame Raoul, for the SAFE-T Act by claiming it puts victims and their families at risk.

Lacy predicts it would be hard to keep someone in jail who has been accused of a violent crime when the victim was injured a few days before the detention hearing.

“For [victims] to be forced in front of a judge and their accuser within hours after being beaten is really unimaginable in my eyes,” Lacy shared.

People accused of violent crimes such as aggravated domestic battery can be detained, but state attorneys must provide a suspect’s criminal record and prove they’re a flight risk. […]

Lacy said the SAFE-T Act violates residents’ Constitutional Right (Article I, Section 8. 1(a)(9)) to be protected by allowing accused suspects of violent crimes to be released.

“You cannot change the constitution by statutory authority,” Lacy said. “You have to get a constitutional amendment in order to let the people, ‘we the people’, decide whether or not we amend our constitution.”

The controversial new law was approved by a lame-duck vote of Illinois Democrats in the early morning hours of the final day of the 101st General Assembly. A court will now decide whether the bill is constitutional and was enacted in a constitutional manner. Similar lawsuits have been filed by the state’s attorneys of Jersey County, Kankakee County, McHenry County, and Will County.

In addition to state’s attorneys and sheriffs, at least one retired circuit judge has spoken harsh criticisms against the approach of the new law. Jeff Ford, who served on the Champaign County circuit court for fifteen years (2005-2020) until his retirement, asked Illinoisans to look at the future pretrial processes that will have to be used for all cases where a defendant has been booked and has not yet gone to trial. In addition to creating a pathway to release almost all of these pretrial defendants back to the street, retired Judge Ford pointed out that the process will lead to an urgent need for increased taxes for taxpayer “funding for the extra judges, state’s attorneys and public defenders” that will be mandated by operation of the new law.  

The Democrats’ SAFE-T Act includes provisions that will exacerbate the issue of rising crime and make Illinois communities less safe. House Republicans are leading the charge to repeal the SAFE-T Act. Please sign our petition to help us repeal this dangerous law.


Leader Durkin calls for resignation of state senator indicted on corruption and bribery charges.  The not-guilty plea by state senator Emil Jones III came after an indictment was filed in federal court describing Sen. Jones’s alleged actions with regard to Illinois ‘red light cameras.’  The street-mounted cameras, which are used for traffic enforcement, are a feature of everyday driving in many parts of Illinois.  As a sitting senator, Jones is alleged to have taken a payment of $5,000 in return for blocking legislation that would have been unfriendly to the red-light-camera industry.     

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement Wednesday that Jones III “should absolutely resign. How is the public supposed to trust its government when the Democrats who control the laws repeatedly break them?”


Soaring mortgage, other interest rates are response to surging inflation.  August 2022 figures show that prices of items contained in the widely-followed Consumer Price Index (CPI) have risen 8.8% in the Chicago region over the 12-month period from August 2021. At the same time, the prices of many items, led by energy and groceries, within the overall index basket of goods and services are rising at a double-digit pace. Few Illinois workers have received pay increases that enable them to keep up with current inflation levels.

Inflation is also driving up Illinois and global interest rates. As of Tuesday, September 2022, the aggregation website Bankrate was reporting a median rate of 6.70% for a 30-year fixed interest mortgage. Rising mortgage rates fall hardest on first-time home buyers. Changes in mortgage rates are making it more difficult for many middle-class households to buy a home in Illinois.

A recent nationwide analysis of real estate listings and closing prices has identified 10 top states where closing prices are falling short of the asking price. Illinois is no. 9 on the list of 10 states, indicating cooling price points and the dampening of what had a sharp spike upward in home prices and values.

Experts pointed out the likelihood of a period of consolidation following the upward home-price-spike of 2021, in which many properties were sold immediately upon listing. In a sellers’ market, multiple buyers converge upon a single seller and the winning buyer often has to pay a premium. In 2022 so far, according to data analyst RubyHome, Illinois single-family residential closing prices are 97.57% of the asking price, indicating a significant number of discounted transactions. Real estate sales are down 8% from their peak in June 2022, and analysts warn of possible sharp price actions in the Chicago area.  


Employer taxes used to repay portion of Illinois’ $1.8 billion Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund debt.  The debt reflects money paid out by the Illinois unemployment insurance system during the spike of layoffs that accompanied the 2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. Pritzker’s shutdown orders. Hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents were laid off from their positions and filed for unemployment. Although Illinois’ Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund had a rainy-day cushion of more than one billion dollars at the time the pandemic hit, this was an insufficient sum of money to handle all of the claims that poured in. Illinois was forced to borrow almost $5 billion from the federal government to make unemployment insurance payments as mandated by federal law. We now know that many of these payments were made to identity thieves who submitted fraudulent claims online.

Even after recovering from pandemic-level unemployment, some of this debt still remains. As of the beginning of September 2022, the Illinois unemployment insurance system continued to owe more than $1.8 billion to the federal government. Many Illinoisans now have jobs, though, and their employers are paying unemployment taxes as required by law. On Tuesday, September 27, the State transferred $450 million in surplus unemployment tax revenue to a fund that will be used to partly repay the federal debt; despite the fact that the State could have paid it off completely, without touching the surplus in this fund, by using surplus revenue it has in its General Fund from Fiscal Year ‘22. Unfortunately, approximately $1.35 billion or 75% of the debt still remains after this move.   


Approach of delayed REAL ID deadline of May 3, 2023.  For more than five years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been warning Americans that in order to enjoy the unencumbered right to use their drivers’ licenses as security identification cards, the drivers’ licenses have to be issued up to “REAL ID” standards. These standards, enforced by Homeland Security, are meant to prevent the use of counterfeit documents to get a driver’s license. The Office of the Secretary of State’s REAL ID checklist includes the current, non-expired documents that an Illinois resident needs to get a driver’s license that has the REAL ID white star-within-a-gold-circle logo. Primary required documents include proof of identity, proof of U.S. residency status, and a valid document containing the applicant’s Social Security number. For required secondary documentation, including previous ID cards and a valid statement from a financial institution or an employer, various paper-trail items are acceptable. Applicants should read the IL-SOS checklist for details.   

The federal REAL ID mandate, which will apply to all persons seeking to enter the secure areas of an airport, federal building, or military base, will go into effect on May 3, 2023. This effective date has been delayed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Illinois residents renew their drivers’ licenses in coming months, they will face the choice of whether to go through the REAL-ID process. Under current law, most American citizens with non-REAL-ID compliant ID cards will not be able to proceed to a boarding gate and fly on a commercial plane after May 2, 2023. There will be an exception from this ban in favor of U.S. citizens with valid, current passports, as any holder of a valid U.S. passport will have already gone through a separate identity check. 


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