103rd GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Illinois House convenes for inauguration, with House Republicans electing new Leader Tony McCombie. The inauguration of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 103rd General Assembly took place Wednesday at the University of Illinois Springfield. The Illinois House Republican Caucus formally elected Rep. Tony McCombie as the new House Republican Leader.
“It is a sincere and heartfelt honor to be given the responsibility to restore balance to our system of checks and balances in Illinois,” said Leader McCombie.
McCombie is the first woman to serve as House Republican Leader in Illinois. McCombie has focused her work in Springfield on job creation, property tax relief, and improved government accountability.
“During the recent lame-duck session, House Republicans stood against pay hikes for politicians, fought vast overspending, and worked passionately against restrictions on the Constitutional rights and freedoms of law-abiding Illinoisans. I am extraordinarily proud to lead this caucus,” McCombie continued.
McCombie takes the helm, assembles leadership team. House Republican Leader Tony McCombie hit the ground running by announcing her new leadership team Thursday. She has assembled an accomplished group of lawmakers from across the state who will help guide the Republican caucus through the 103rd General Assembly.
McCombie and her team will focus their efforts on restoring checks and balances in state government and protecting the rights and freedoms of Illinois residents. Members of the House Republican Leadership Team include:
Norine Hammond (Macomb) – Deputy Republican Leader
Leader Norine Hammond has spent her time in the General Assembly focused on improving fiscal accountability. She is a supporter of veterans, higher education and ensuring state agencies deliver high quality services to the people of Illinois.
Ryan Spain (Peoria) – Deputy Republican Leader
Leader Ryan Spain believes Illinoisans deserve strong ethical leadership and led the charge to expel the indicted Michael Madigan from his long-time role as House Speaker. He fought against gerrymandering during the legislative map-making process.
John Cabello (Machesney Park) – Assistant House Republican Leader
Leader John Cabello has served nearly three decades as a police officer and is currently on the roster of the Rockford Police Department. He rejoined the Illinois House of Representatives last week after having previously served from 2012-2021.
C.D. Davidsmeyer (Jacksonville) – Assistant House Republican Leader
A supporter of mom-and-pop business owners, Leader C.D. Davidsmeyer works to make sure Illinois laws and regulations don’t force the state’s small businesses to close their doors.
Jackie Haas (Kankakee) – Assistant House Republican Leader
With more than 30 years of experience working as a social worker in underserved communities, Leader Jackie Haas is a strong proponent of improving public health and safety, as well as addressing the state’s larger systemic fiscal issues.
Mike Marron (Fithian) – Assistant House Republican Leader
Leader Mike Marron is a small business owner and operates a family farm with his father in rural Vermilion County. His experience as a business owner and farmer provides him with keen insight into the issues facing rural Illinois.
Charlie Meier (Okawville) – Assistant House Republican Leader
During his time in office, Leader Charlie Meier has been vocal in his support for the agricultural community that fuels Illinois’ economy and the well-being of individuals with disabilities.
Brad Stephens (Rosemont) – Assistant House Republican Leader
Leader Brad Stephens brings his experience as CEO of Rosemont, one of the most successful municipalities in the nation, to the statehouse.
Jeff Keicher (Sycamore) – Conference Chair
Leader Jeff Keicher’s positive energy is contagious and appreciated by his colleagues. As a leader in both the public and private sectors, Jeff seeks first to listen and understand a problem before offering solutions, earning him a reputation as a bipartisan problem-solver.
Patrick Windhorst (Metropolis) – Floor Leader
Leader Patrick Windhorst has been a leading voice in the legislature opposing unconstitutional measures like ending cash bail and restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Lame-duck General Assembly enacts pay hike for legislators, top Pritzker admin officials. Approved by the Illinois House on Friday night, January 6, after the sun had set, the measure was promptly signed into law by Gov. Pritzker. Democrats in the General Assembly voted themselves a pay raise of almost 17%. The measure granted similar hikes to top officials in the Pritzker administration, including Illinois Cabinet-level officials who head major State agencies.
Illinois House Republicans voted against the legislative pay raises contained in Senate Bill 1720. The base pay rate for members of the Illinois House will increase to $85,000/year for members of the 103rd General Assembly, starting immediately. In addition to this base pay, Illinois House members are eligible for additional stipends and compensation for their travel expenses, housing when in Springfield or otherwise traveling on State business, and service on House committees and in legislative leadership. The pay hike measure was not revealed to the public or publicly debated before it was presented and passed. Gov. Pritzker promptly signed the pay hike bill into law; it was on his desk and signed before most Illinois residents knew about the controversial measure.
“Closing fund” bill approved by both chambers. Sought by the Pritzker administration and by facets of the business community, the measure will create an unencumbered fund that can be used in the closing stage of negotiations between the State of Illinois and business firms that are considering Illinois as a spot for major job-creating investment. Proponents say that the measure is an essential element in the fight to get additional electric-vehicle jobs in Illinois.
Creation of the Illinois closing fund, a key piece of the new Invest in Illinois Act, followed creation of similar funds in Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, and other states. The state government of Michigan has already begun to use its closing fund to draw investment in electric vehicle assembly and battery manufacturing to its state. The closing fund could also be used for other strategic initiatives and investments. The Invest in Illinois Act was approved in the Illinois House on Tuesday, January 10, by a vote of 86-23-0. Republicans objected to a provision granting the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate exclusive participation in the closing fund agreement process, while excluding the Republican Minority Leaders from the process. Furthermore, I spoke out about the need for more structural reforms which could prevent the need for such a fund to bring businesses to the State. The measure was sent to the Governor’s desk for expected final signature into law.
Fiscal Year 2023 Supplemental Budget approved. House Bill 969, approved on the final day of the lame-duck session, contains the FY23 Supplemental Budget and appropriates approximately $510 million in GRF.
The FY23 Supplemental Budget appropriates $500 million in GRF to DCEO for the Invest in Illinois Program. It specifies which entities shall receive $45 million in previously appropriated GRF funding for violence prevention, community development and operational expenses. To deal with a flood of undocumented immigrants/asylum seekers, it appropriates $115 million in GRF (rather than $25 million) to DHS for grants to Illinois Welcoming Centers and $20 million in GRF to the City of Chicago for costs associated with asylum seekers. The FY23 Supplemental appropriates an additional $3.12 billion ($196 million in GRF) for healthcare and MCO costs intended to maximize federal Medicaid matching funds.
A bill was also passed to pay back the remaining debt in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, as well as provide a loan to the fund to create a cushion for future claims, a measure for which I worked very hard along with Representative Marron and members of the business community to make happen.
Democrats pass a constitutionally questionable gun ban bill during lame-duck session. Governor JB Pritzker and his allies in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly rammed a constitutionally questionable gun ban bill through during the final days of the 2023 lame-duck session.
House Bill 5471 (P.A. 102-1116) implements a so-called “assault weapon” ban, which begins immediately except for those who complete an endorsement affidavit (aka gun registry) no later than October 1, 2023 or those who fall under the list of exemptions. Endorsement affidavits must include serial numbers of weapons.
This legislation bans the manufacture, possession, delivery, sale and purchase of what they have termed “assault weapons,” 50 caliber rifles, and .50 caliber cartridges. It further bans the manufacture, delivery, or sale of “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” meaning a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition for long guns and more than 15 rounds of ammunition for handguns. It bans rapid-fire devices. And it amends the Firearms Restraining Order Act to change the duration of a plenary order from six months to up to one year.
Gun rights advocates indicated that they will file suit against implementation of Illinois’ new gun ban law, as it is blatantly unconstitutional and infringes on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.
Abolition of cash bail, a key element of the Democrats’ SAFE-T Act, declared unconstitutional. The decision by a circuit court, grounded in the Illinois Constitution of 1970, led directly to a move by the Illinois Supreme Court to stay implementation of the controversial and far-reaching change to Illinois’ Criminal Code. While the initial circuit court decision only would have applied the 65 counties where law enforcement had filed suit against the law. The Supreme Court’s stay covers all jurisdictions statewide, headed by Chicago-based Cook County, where the circuit court decision would not have reached. The stay order was issued on Saturday, December 31, just before the law had been scheduled to go into effect.
Based on this stay, Illinois courts statewide will continue, for now, to have the right to set cash bail from defendants as a condition of pretrial release. Law enforcement professionals have repeatedly testified that cash bail is an essential public safety tool. The text of the Constitution of 1970 recognized this fact and included language (section 9 of Article I: Illinois Constitution – Article I (ilga.gov)) that assumed that bail would be one of the tools in the toolbox available to the court when a pretrial process is underway. In its decision on the SAFE-T Act, the circuit court found that by enacting this Act with the language signed by Gov. Pritzker, the legislature and the governor had unconstitutionally combined to interfere with the right of the Illinois Courts, a separate branch of the political system, to use the tools in its toolbox.
Cook County expects record number of opioid deaths in 2022. The Office of the Cook County Medical Examiner oversees death certificates in Illinois’ largest-population county. After examination and lab work was completed for calendar year 2021, the Office reported that 1,936 Cook County deaths – more than five deaths per day – had been caused by opioid toxicity. This was a record high number. Opioid toxicity is the set of things that happen to a body when it takes in too much fentanyl or other opioid chemicals. These deadly chemicals cause death by several different pathways, including respiratory depression/respiratory failure. All of these pathways are classified as opioid toxicity.
Lab work continues on Cook County cases that arose in 2022. Based on current trend lines, the Examiner’s Office is likely to count approximately 2,050 Cook County opioid-toxicity deaths in calendar year 2022. 1,599 of these deaths have already been counted and confirmed, and evidence is moving forward to classify between 400 and 500 additional deaths due to this cause. Any number within this range would push the 2022 opioid toxicity death count above the 2021 record.
Reports on opioid toxicity repeatedly focus on fentanyl, a drug that has proven to be far more dangerous than heroin and other opioid controlled substances. Nearly 85% of the opioid toxicity fatalities logged in 2021 were linked to fentanyl, and the preliminary numbers for calendar year 2022 indicate that this percentage is up to 91%. The Cook County fentanyl-opioid toxicity report was published on Tuesday, January 3.
Kiplinger’s ranks Illinois as least tax-friendly state. Kiplinger’s has ranked Illinois worst among the ten “least tax-friendly states for middle-class families.” The low Illinois ranking was based on our State’s income tax rates, sales tax rates, property tax burdens, and motor fuel tax charges. All four of these major tax burdens are higher in Illinois than in most American states.
Like most other surveys, Kiplinger’s found Illinois’ property tax bills to be the second highest in the U.S., behind New Jersey. If a hypothetical Illinois family bought a family home with a fair market value of $300,000, then after assessments and exemptions the home would have to pay an annual property tax bill of $6,219. For many Illinoisans, these property tax bills are bundled together with monthly mortgage payments to create a crushing burden on working families.
Illinois sales tax rates, counting the local sales taxes charged by counties, many municipalities, and at least two public transit taxing bodies, were #8 nationwide. Illinois’ 4.95% income tax charged upon personal income tied for eighth-highest among the 50 states. By contrast many other large U.S. states, headed by Florida and Texas, charge no state income tax at all. Illinois’ motor fuel tax rates are higher than the rates charged in neighboring states, leading to a familiar sight of streams of cars heading across state lines every day to buy motor fuel. Neighboring Missouri, by contrast, has one of the lowest motor fuel tax rates in the nation.
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