Capitol Update 5-10-16

We’re in the final month of our scheduled spring session so that means it’s “crunch time” for passing legislation and getting important issues resolved. But on Thursday we paused to remember and honor Illinois law enforcement officers who have given their lives to protect our families and communities. We held our 31st annual remembrance ceremony at the Police Memorial at the Capitol, attended by members of law enforcement and their families from across the state. I was honored to be in attendance.  This week firefighters from all over the state came to Springfield to remember those who passed away in the line of duty.

Today we’re back in session. Discussions are continuing behind the scenes on key budget issues. This week, I’m hoping to move forward two issues very important to our district – legislation to reopen the State Museum, and a resolution calling for s study of where state jobs are located and why with the aim of returning as many state jobs as possible to the Springfield area. You can click the 'Bring State Jobs Back to Springfield'  button in the right margin of this site for much more information about the resolution.

Transportation “lockbox” constitutional amendment approved for the fall ballot

 HJRCA 36 is a response to the lack of an overall state balanced budget and the movement of money from taxes and fees levied specifically to support transportation to fund other programs.  If approved by the voters in November, this amendment will put all revenues from transportation taxes and fees into a “lockbox” that can only be used for transportation purposes including road construction and enforcing traffic laws.

The transportation “lockbox” amendment was the only constitutional amendment approved by both houses of the General Assembly in time to be submitted to the voters on the November 2016 general election ballot. Other proposed amendments, such as measures to abolish the office of Lieutenant Governor, to legalize a graduated individual income tax rate, or to change the way districts for members of the Illinois General Assembly are drawn on maps, failed to get the required three-fifths approval of both legislative houses by the constitutional deadline.

Circulators of petitions for the Illinois Independent Map Amendment have stated that they have gathered more than the 290, 216 signatures needed to place their amendment on the Illinois ballot in November.  The amendment, if adopted, will create an independent commission to draw future district maps for Illinois legislators.  The next mapmaking cycle will follow release of the numbers generated by the 2020 census.

Auditor General needs to immediately answer lingering questions about campaign expenses

I joined a group of Illinois lawmakers publicly requesting that Auditor General Frank Mautino work expeditiously to answer serious questions about campaign expenditures and reporting procedures dating back to his time in the Illinois House of Representatives. More than three months later, with no answers forthcoming, legislators in both the House and Senate sent the Auditor General a strong message last week that the foot dragging needs to stop.

22 members of the House and Senate Thursday released a series of letters sent to Mautino beginning in February calling for him to answer the lingering questions. On Thursday we sent a final request respectfully demanding that answers on behalf of Illinois taxpayers. You can read the final letter here.

New Student Advisory Group

I was excited to join my student advisory group for meetings and conversation last week in my office. I am honored to have one high school student from each of the schools in the 99th district represented in the advisory group.
L to R: : Ka’ Dia Dhatnbia (Calvary Academy), Elaina Martinez (Glenwood High School), Jimmy Riemer (Springfield High School), Will Raftis (Pleasant Plains), Rep. Jimenez,  Steven Cowles (Lutheran High School),  Zach Hoyle (Sacred Heart Griffin), Luke Humphrey (Auburn High School), Riley Anders (New Berlin), and Hannah Gudgel (Pawnee High School).
 Girl Power at the Capitol

Thousands of Girl Scouts converged on the Capitol in Springfield Friday for Girl Scout Day at the Capitol 2016. The Scouts and their leaders marched from the Convention Center to the Capitol, and I was grateful to be among those asked to speak to them about being a leader. I told them that you don’t need to be elected to be a leader, you just need to look for ways to make a positive difference in your community, and in that they are all well on their way!