The General Assembly ended the 2021 legislative session without many accolades according to State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville). The legislature ended another annual session without a balanced budget, gave lawmakers a pay raise, delayed Illinois’ primary date to June 2022, and accomplished little to help promote jobs and economic opportunity in the State of Illinois. However, according to Rep. Meier, “a few small victories this session include the reduction of the trailer tax from $118 to $36, a resolution to improve the quality of care in long-term care facilities, and by parliamentary procedure, we prevented mandatory collection of fingerprints from 2.2 million law-abiding gun owners.”
“This is one of the most partisan budgets I have witnessed in the legislature. This budget includes $1 billion is capital projects for Democrat districts only, including a pay raise for lawmakers. I will donate this pay raise to local non-profits as I have done previously. Year after year the Democrat-controlled General Assembly adopts a state budget that is unsustainable. Illinois is fortunate to have revenue growth, however, the politicians in charge continue to spend every penny without paying past debt. As we continue to move forward and reopen following the start of the pandemic last year, the State of Illinois must restore fiscal responsibility to the state budget before it’s too late.”
Despite Illinois’ estimated revenue through July next year to be $41.1 billion, the state budget approved on May 31st by legislative Democrats overspends by $1 billion.
Trailer Tax Reduction
Provides that, beginning on January 1, 2022, the term “selling price” no longer includes the value of traded-in motor vehicles. Provides a flat weight trailer tax of $36 for utility trailers. Decreases the flat weight tax for Class TA trailers from $118 to $36. Rep. Meier supported the legislation (SB 58) which now heads to the Governor’s desk for approval upon becoming law.
It takes 60 votes to pass a bill in the House of Representatives, House Bill 1091 (HB 1091) passed by a slim margin with a vote of 60 voting in favor and 50 voting in opposition. HB 1091 if enacted would have required fingerprinting for all FOID and CCL applications and renewals unless the person has previously provided fingerprints. The bill would also have raised FOID card fees and limit FOID licenses to 5 years (from 10). As of Sunday, a motion to reconsider the vote was filed, delaying the bill from being voted on by the State Senate. Rep. Meier voted against the legislation that would require 2.2 million law-abiding gun owners to submit fingerprints when applying or renewing their license. Negotiations are ongoing to reduce the delay in the processing of FOID and CCL applications and renewals.
“I strongly believe that mandatory fingerprinting is not the intent of our Constitutional Right to Bear Arms,” said Rep. Meier. “Instead of increasing fees for applications and renewals of law-abiding citizens, the State of Illinois needs to eliminate the FOID card. Criminals aren’t following the law, the criminals committing gun crimes are not the individuals applying for a FOID card or CCL license.”
Data Center Jobs
Legislation to create more regulation of Illinois data centers sent to the Governor. Rep. Meier has worked for several years to help bring more data center jobs to the Metro East. Unfortunately, an amendment to Senate Bill 2182 will create more hurdles for data centers to open in Illinois.
“Data Centers are very expensive to keep running,” said Rep. Meier. “Technology changes so fast, as soon as they’re done. It’s time for updates. And you don’t have to be in a huge metro area to attract a data center because along our railroads, and along our interstates throughout all of Illinois. We’ve only had the Data Center Investment Act for a couple of years. I live in the metro east. I get to see what’s going on in the St. Louis region. And if you come in around Chesterfield, and you look, that state of Missouri and St. Louis area is going after the data centers that we’re competing for right now. They’re coming up with a bill just like ours, but without the hurdles placed in SB 2182. If this bill becomes law, workers from Illinois will have to drive to Missouri again, to get a job instead of staying in Illinois. This bill will cost us jobs and businesses in something that we’re finally number one or number two in the country.
Meier urges long-term care facilities to adhere to federal and state laws, rules, and regulations with the passage of House Resolution 298. The resolution which passed on Sunday was brought forth after a year of dealing with COVID-19.
“Over the last year and a half, we’ve had 10,300 long-term care facility deaths 78,400 residents have been confirmed with COVID,” said Meier. “The total separation and lack of physical contact on nursing residents have led to the feeling of loneliness, abandonment, despair, and fear. And these feelings are only pushing the pandemics death toll, higher isolation and loneliness are associated with a 50% increased risk of developing dementia, a 32% increased risk of stroke, a 29% increased risk of coronary heart disease, and the nearly fourfold increased risk of death among heart failure patients. The updated visitation guidance by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services dated March 10, 2021, and April 27, 2021, emphasize that these facilities must allow end of life and compassionate care visits regardless of the community positivity rates, an outbreak or vaccination status, and any nursing home must facilitate in person visitations consistent with the applicable law, CMS regulations.”
In less than 24 hours the General Assembly passed partisan gerrymandered maps. Redistricting only happens once every 10 years. Rep. Meier said “Governor Pritzker should keep his campaign pledge to the people of Illinois, veto this partisan map, and end gerrymandering in our state.”
“I’m not surprised at all that the Democrats that control Illinois government would retreat behind closed doors to draw maps to favor themselves,” Meier said. “That’s the Madigan way. The maps proposed by the Democrats will impact Illinoisans for the next ten years. The process has been completely non-transparent.”
Meier is calling on Governor J.B. Pritzker to honor his campaign pledge to veto any map drawn by politicians.
“JB Pritzker should keep his promise and VETO this partisan drawn, Democratic-leaning map that was drawn BY the politicians FOR the politicians,” Meier said.
Senate Bill 825 (SB 825) made at least 24 changes to Illinois’ Election Code. For the first time in Illinois history, the 2022 General Primary will be held on June 28th instead of March 15th. The bill also extends the county deadline for redistricting to December 31, 2021 from July 1st and allows counties to use reasonable data including the most recent American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data, currently, counties are required to use census data. Furthermore, including but not limited to, SB 825 allows jails outside of Cook County to set up polling places in their facilities. Setting up polling places in jails across the state is why Rep. Meier voted against this legislation.