Session Update for the Week

Session Update for the week:

It is always one of the best days in the legislature, and this year Ag Day was on Wednesday. Being the minority spokesperson on the Agriculture Committee in the House, it was my privilege to welcome several ag groups to the Capitol. It was wonderful to see hundreds of FFA jackets and future leaders.

I was able to welcome members of the Illinois Beef Association to my office along with many FFA members who made sure to stop by for a bottle of Ski. We went through four cases of Ski and had a great day celebrating Illinois agriculture at the State Capitol.

This Week in Springfield:

Legislative Update:

The Illinois House met this week from Tuesday through Thursday in Springfield. Last week marked the deadline for passing bills out of the House, so this week’s business was primarily focused on committee work and reviewing bills that are coming to the House from the Senate.

Looking at the schedule, we have only five weeks of legislative session in Springfield remaining on the calendar, we must turn our focus to the budgeting process. The Appropriations Committees for each portion of the state budget have begun meeting to hear testimony from state agencies requesting funds as well as outside organizations who have previously received state funding or are asking to in the future. I serve on the Appropriations Committee for Health & Human Services. My priority is that we make sure state funds are being used in the best way to serve the most people in Illinois. In the next couple of weeks, I will give you more information about the state budget process, my priorities in the state budget, and where the budgeting process stands.

This week was also the deadline in the Illinois Senate for bills to be passed and sent to the House. That means that in the coming weeks, we will be considering and voting on bills that started in the Senate. As always, if there are any issues, or specifically Senate Bills that are important to you, please let me know.

Hot Topic of the Week:

403 Bills Passed the House Last Week – Here’s Some You Need to Know

Last Friday was the deadline for passing bills from the House and on to the Senate. In total, 403 bills passed and surprisingly, a few bills came up for a vote and failed. I wrote to you last week about some of the bills that I sponsored that I was able to pass. This week I’ll highlight some other bills that passed. Among those hundreds of bills that passed, there were some great policies that passed and some highly controversial bills that I wanted to highlight for you below:

The Good:

House Bill 1740 – I sponsored this bill and was able to pass it last Friday. This bill allows the board of trustees of an emergency services district to recruit, employ, or contract with ambulance, rescue squad, or both ambulance and rescue squad personnel. And, it allows those trustees of a district to fix, charge, and collect fees not exceeding the reasonable cost of the service for ambulance services from residents they serve outside of their district. We know that in our rural areas, ambulance services are so important and this bill allows our local districts to continue these services.

House Bill 2995 – I co-sponsored this bill that provides that foster parents will receive their payments more quickly. We need foster parents in our state and often these family pay a lot of money out of their own pocket to care for these children. This bill requires the state to send foster families the payments they are owed more quickly. Hopefully this change in law will alleviate some of these costs on families and will help us get more foster families in Illinois.

House Bill 3202 – I served as a co-sponsor for this bill as well. This policy requires health insurance to cover home saliva cancer screenings once every two years for high risk patients. Catching cancer early is so important. This bill will allow more people to get the early testing that they need.

House Bill 1032 – This is a bill that I co-sponsored that I previously wrote to you about. This bill provides more accountability for Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs)

House Bill 2474 – This bill passed unanimously and it increases the authorized maximum capacity for group daycare homes. Across the state, we have a shortage of daycare openings for families. Expanding the maximum capacity in a smart and safe way is a good policy to provide families across Illinois more childcare access.

House Bill 2188 – This legislation passed with broad bipartisan support. It requires the Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to investigate medicaid fraud and gives the Attorney General the authority to issue subpoenas. Having more tools in state government to go after fraud is smart policy.

House Bill 3203 – This bill aims to prevent fentanyl exposure by allowing pharmacists or retailers to sell fentanyl test strips over-the-counter to the public to test for the presence of fentanyl. It also allows a county health department to distribute fentanyl test strips at the county health department facility for no fee. These test strips were previously considered drug paraphernalia, but it is important in our current environment that people are able to test substances to make sure they are safe.

House Bill 3442 – This allows, in some situations, that school districts may hire substitute teachers for longer than 30 days for each vacant position. With the current teacher shortage, it is important that students have consistency and schools have flexibility to make sure classrooms are covered. This doesn’t fix the teacher shortage or the substitute teacher shortage, but it is a common sense policy to give schools more tools.

The Controversial:

House Bill 2477 – This bill was modeled after a good bill out of Utah that requires the father of an unborn child to cover 50% of pregnancy costs. I would have supported that bill. However, included in this bill, which is different from the law in Utah, is that the father of the unborn baby must pay for 50% of an abortion, even if he objects to the abortion and would willingly take sole custody of the child and be responsible for raising the child. This is an example of what could have been really good policy being derailed. I voted no.

House Bill 2376 – This bill essentially bans retail establishments from selling or distributing foam disposable food service containers. In a time post-covid when we know how local businesses relied on takeout business to stay afloat, banning restaurants or other retailers from using foam food service containers is not good policy. This will increase local business costs by requiring them to purchase other food containers that are more expensive. There was bipartisan opposition to this bill. I voted no.

House Bill 2789 – This bill cuts off state grants to local libraries if the library attempts to “ban, remove, or otherwise restrict access to books or other materials.” I support having open access to books and other materials at libraries, but I also respect the locally elected library board’s ability to curate their library for their members. Local libraries should be able to restrict certain sections that may be inappropriate for children. This bill is clearly a reaction to national political issues, and rather than being drafted to support free access to library materials, it is overly restrictive for locally elected library boards. I voted no.

The Failed:

House Bill 3572 – This bill failed with broad bipartisan opposition. This legislation would have required that all gas stoves sold in Illinois would have a warning label on the dangers of gas stoves.

House Bill 3412 – This bill also failed, which would prohibit a school from referring a student to a school public resource officer or other agency if the student’s actions can be dealt with in another way. Schools are already asked to do too much, and asking them to do local policing of students’ behavior goes too far. We all want students to be disciplined in a way that is developmentally appropriate and in alignment with their behavior, but schools should not be restricted from referring students to a school resource officer.

House Bill 2910 – This bill got the fewest votes of any bill I have seen in the legislature, receiving only 6 yes votes of the required 60 votes to pass. This bill would have made it a petty offense to drive with an animal in the driver’s lap. While it is not the safest way to drive, making it a crime to have an animal on your lap while driving is not the most pressing issue the state faces.

Promoting Soil Health

Last week I told you about the “Soil Your Undies Challenge” highlighted in this article. This week I have a video to share with you!

This Week on the Farm:

We’ve got some new calves playing around at the farm and enjoying this warming weather!

The Week Ahead:

  • For the next two weeks, the Illinois House is not scheduled for legislative session in Springfield. However, there may be committee hearings added to the schedule throughout the next two weeks.
  • I try to make it to as many local events as I can. If you have an event coming up in your community that you’d like for me to attend, please let my office in Highland know: 618-651-0405.

Stay Up To Date:

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