Rep. Windhorst Offers Session Review and End of Session Preview

At the end of last week, the Illinois House of Representatives worked through what is known as the “Third Reading deadline.” The deadline represents the final day a House Bill which can be debated on the House floor and passed over to the Senate.

Failure of a bill to advance by the Third Reading deadline does not, however, necessarily mean that an issue is dead. Many bills have come over from the Senate to the House, and some of these bills represent issues and language similar to bills held up in the House.

As of Friday’s Third Reading deadline, a total of 324 House bills had been passed. Of that total, 291 were Democrat-sponsored bills and a mere 33 were Republican-sponsored bills (10.2%). 

As the House Republican Floor Leader, I am responsible for directing House Floor debate and questioning from the Republican side of the aisle. There are more than 4 million Illinoisans who are represented by House Republicans. Those Illinoisans deserve to have their voice heard and their priorities and values represented in the legislature, regardless of the party of their elected State Representative.

Rep. Windhorst huddles with Deputy Minority Leader Norine Hammond on the Illinois House Floor during Third Reading Deadline Week

Instead of allowing hearings and votes on multiple Republican bills that address important concerns, Democrats spent time on legislation such as HB 4446, a bill to ban ownership of kangaroos, servals, and a variety of other exotic feline wildlife. The bill passed along party lines, with Republicans arguing against the bill for being a waste of time and unnecessary government overreach.

HB 5433 is another example. The bill creates a “Prairie Lawns Program” under the Department of Natural Resources. The bill would provide grant funding to individual homeowners to plant native plants in residential lawns to attract and preserve pollinating insects like bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, and flies. As the House Republican Floor Leader, I study each bill that passes, and I have a strong grasp of the important issues facing our state. A “Prairie Lawns Program” that pays people money to plant native grasses in their yards to attract bugs doesn’t belong at the top of Illinois’ legislative ‘To-Do” list.

There were a few legislative victories during last week’s action. House Bill 4241, sponsored by Republican State Representative Amy Elik ensures that school employees who commit acts of sexual conduct or sexual penetration with a student, regardless of the student’s age, are held criminally liable. The legislation protects students who are between 18 and 23 years of age against acts of sexual conduct or sexual abuse by an educator or school staff member and establishes tough penalties for anyone who violates a student in this way.

It is important to note that I serve as the Ranking Republican member of the Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee and the House Restorative Justice Committee. In recent weeks, I have been encouraged by the willingness shown by the committee’s chairman to hear ideas from Republicans and work in a much more collaborative manner on matters addressing public safety. I sincerely hope Republicans continue to be brought to the table to address the many concerns facing our law enforcement community and citizens since the implementation of the controversial SAFE-T Act.

For my part, I was able to pass a couple of bills that I believe are important. First, my legislation to transfer ownership of the armory building in West Frankfort from the state and the Department of Military Affairs to the city (HB 1672). The legislation passed unanimously and is pending action in the Senate.

HB 5128 will allow county sheriffs to serve on 911 boards. County Sheriffs are well-qualified and valuable members of the law enforcement community. It makes good sense to allow them to serve on 911 boards, and if we can clear up confusion in the law, that is all the better. We need strong, qualified appointees serving on our 911 boards. I am grateful to have received unanimous support for both of these bills.

Lawmakers are not in Springfield this week. The House and Senate will return next week to begin taking up measures that have passed over from the other chamber. The House is currently scheduled to be in session for 20 of the first 24 days in May, with a continuous schedule of days running from May 13 – May 24.

Some of the most important issues to be dealt with by the General Assembly this year have not yet come up for debate at all. I expect, as in years past, Democrats to move large bills are expected to move in large omnibus bills that will pop out at the end of session in May. Adjournment has been set for Friday, May 24.

One of those large bills will be the state’s FY 25 budget. The budget is always a contentious issue and has grown more so in recent years as Democrats have refused to work with Republicans in crafting the annual spending plan. Recent forecasts by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) show significant and growing State deficit spending.

CGFA also issued a warning saying in part that Illinois must watch its spending because tax revenue projections are “murky” and reiterated the need for the state to show fiscal discipline. Unfortunately, during the Third Reading Deadline week, we saw multiple bills that were “subject to appropriation.”

That means new programs and new spending. Too often, there was no clear answer on exactly how much the new programs would eventually cost if they were funded by the budget. I will continue to urge my colleagues to show restraint and practice sound fiscal discipline. That is what the taxpayer deserves.

I am proud to represent the people of the 117th district in Springfield. If I may ever be of service to you, please feel free to contact my office by calling (618) 294-8703 or email me at I will continue to keep you up to date on important information as news breaks throughout the rest of Session. You can follow along at or visit my website at for press releases and links to important information.