This past week in Springfield, lawmakers spent most of their time participating in committee hearings on House and Senate bills. When we return to action on Tuesday, March 15, there will only be three weeks of the regularly scheduled Spring 2022 Session left. The April 8, 2022 adjournment date is the earliest in recent history, and much work remains to be done. I will be demanding the passage of a balanced budget with no new tax increases, legislation to address rising crime, and relief for middle class families facing outrageous and unprecedented inflation. Check out this week’s Windhorst Weekly for a wrap up of news and notes from Illinois politics last week. Thank you for reading!
Majority Rule and Rising Crime Rates
Illinois State Representative Deanne Mazzochi has accused the Democrat majority of not just being soft on crime, but creating state and local policies that allow crime to thrive.
Carjacking, burglaries, and retail thefts are on the rise in her district. Murders, robberies and gang violence are threatening other Chicagoland communities. And Democrats in Illinois won’t tackle the problem. They are comfortable sitting back while Illinois families endure violence in their neighborhoods with little recourse because Democratic lawmakers have refused to make laws to protect them.
According to Mazzochi, the Democrats in control of the committee tasked with hearing crime prevention legislation have focused on bills dealing with the rights of prisoners, criminal record expungement, and expanded parole, while ignoring a great number of bills targeted at combating crime.
Representative Dave Severin, the ranking Republican on the committee hearing criminal justice bills, agrees with Mazzochi’s assessment. He believes the prohibition of new public safety laws coupled with the recent passage of the Safe-T Act is fueling the violence and increased crime rates across the state. Many of the provisions in the Safe-T Act hamper the ability of law enforcement to do their jobs and at the same time it had made it easier for criminals to avoid prosecution, keeping them on the streets doing harm.
State Representative Patrick Windhorst, an experienced prosecutor, says law enforcement officials in his district have been vocal about their concerns, especially about ending cash bail that is part of the Safe-T Act. Windhorst filed legislation to repeal the Safe-T Act citing the need to curb rising crime rates, but his legislation was not permitted a public hearing by the Democrat majority.
For all but two of the last 37 years, Democrats have held the majority position and thus control the Illinois House of Representatives. They decide what bills are sent to committee and whether or not those bills actually receive a public hearing.
In recent years, the new Democrat leadership has found it necessary to flex their muscle in the General Assembly by refusing to let bills combating crime see the light of day. Their reason? Because they can. Time and time again they have cited “majority rule” as the rationale for blocking bills that would keep Illinoisans safe.
Just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. Public hearings equal transparency and accountability. So when Democrats prevent legislation from receiving a public hearing they are purposely keeping Illinoisans in the dark. Legislation should go through rigorous debate with input from experts, proponents and opponents. Only after that should the majority play its upper hand, voting to pass or kill a bill. Keeping legislation from public debate is tyranny, not leadership.
The Democrat majority has gone too far and Illinois residents are paying for it.
SPEAKER MADIGAN ARRAIGNED in COURT
Former Speaker Michael J. Madigan was arraigned by a Federal court this week. The longtime head of the Democratic Party of Illinois was arraigned on a 22-count federal felony indictment. Madigan did not have to step foot in a courtroom for his first appearance however, and his “not guilty” plea was entered by his attorney. True to form, Madigan let others do the talking for him. The indictment leveled charges of racketeering and wire fraud against the former Speaker of the Illinois House. The charges are related to an alleged pattern in which former Speaker Michael J. Madigan is said to have weaponized his legislative leadership and political party leadership in the interests of his law firm and close associates.
Madigan’s arraignment was a procedure that officially acquainted him and his lawyers of the charges against him, and granted him standing as the defendant before a court of law. The former Speaker will now be granted time to study the charges against him, and to select a strategy for his criminal defense.
Reporters ask about former Speaker Madigan’s campaign money. The indicted former political party boss has a campaign fund of almost $10 million, much of which he can spend for his criminal defense. Millions of additional dollars were raised by Speaker Madigan and given to other Illinois politicians, many of whom are still in office. Reporters are asking questions about who received Madigan money, how much, what times the moneys changed hands, and what sorts of “key votes” on Illinois’ policy and future were taking place at the time these dollars where changing hands.
DISASTER PREPARATION – SPRING FLOODING
With snowmelt and heavy March rains comes the likelihood of flooding for many Illinois homes and farms, especially those located on clay soil or in bottomlands and floodplains. In the first week of March 2022, authorities had already published flood warnings for stretches of the Big Muddy River, Illinois River, Kaskaskia River, Ohio River, and the Wabash River. As March continues, these flood warnings will multiply as many Illinois rivers and streams lap at, or overflow, their banks.
Floods not only slow down spring farm work and close rural roads; they also damage property. The Illinois Emergency Management Authority (IEMA) maintains a webpage with useful public information about statewide flooding incidents. The webpage not only distinguishes between different levels of statements and warnings, but also contains information on how Illinoisans can act before, during, and after a flood to maintain safety and limit property damage. It is important to keep in mind that local water waste disposal infrastructure may be compromised in flooding incidents, so overflow waters should be treated as potentially hazardous.
ENERGY & the HIGH PRICE OF OIL AND GAS
Rep. Swanson Legislation Calls on President to Increase U.S. Oil & Gas Production as ‘Urgent National Priority.’
State Representative Dan Swanson filed legislation this week to declare U.S. oil and natural gas energy independence an urgent national priority. House Resolution 719 calls upon the federal government and President Joe Biden to reverse current anti-production policies and to take all possible steps to maximize immediate U.S. oil and gas production, including from U.S. federal lands and waters.
“This is not a partisan political issue but is actually a national security concern for our country and a real concern for all of the families and seniors on fixed incomes who are struggling every day with rising gas prices,” commented Rep. Dan Swanson. “Whether you’re a farmer planting crops, a trucker hauling our goods, or a business owner providing services, we need to act on this energy independence problem immediately and it should be a priority for the federal government.”
Rep. Swanson’s resolution points out that motor fuel is a commodity for which demand is inelastic, because its consumption is closely tied to promises made by ordinary American families; parents have promised their employers they will drive to work, and they have promised their children they will drive them to school and soccer practice.
The home production of oil and natural gas is closely tied to federal policies and much of the U.S. oil and gas that is yet to be pumped comes from federal lands and waters in the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, the Gulf of Mexico, coastal California, and Alaska. HR 719 points out that the price of motor fuel, at the pumps where Americans buy it, is approaching the record-high price set in 2008.
In this time of grave national uncertainty and economic and military threats, it is urgent that we achieve true energy independence in the United States of America. To achieve true energy independence, we need to maximize the production of American energy, including energy from U.S. federal lands, as well as reducing barriers to the construction of infrastructure to pump, deliver, and refine energy.
Spring forward on Sunday – Daylight Savings Time
Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 13. Don’t forget to spring ahead one hour Saturday night.
Illinois will observe daylight time, with clocks one hour ahead of standard time, until the first Sunday in November (November 6). All 102 counties in Illinois observe Central Standard Time and Central Daylight Time. This marks a major difference from the neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan, in which different counties within the state are in different time zones.
Rep. Windhorst Releases 2022 Legislative Survey
This week, many of you will be receiving a legislative survey from my office. I am interested in gathering the opinion of the people I represent on a multitude of issues. If you wish to take the survey online to speed up the process of getting your opinions in to me, you can visit: www.ILHouseGOP.org/Windhorst_2022_survey
My office in Harrisburg can be reached at 618-294-8703 or you can reach me by email at Windhorst@ILHouseGOP.org. Check out RepWindhorst.com for more information or send me a message at RepWindhorst.com/contact.