Illinois Lawmakers | S38 E06: Into the Home Stretch | Season 38 | Episode 6

(energetic music) – Illinois lawmakers are entering the home stretch as they race toward adjournment on May 19th.

On this edition of Illinois Lawmakers, we’re joined by Rich Miller of

Good to have you back on the program, sir.

– It’s always a pleasure, Jak.

– A lot of bills flying back and forth across the Rotunda this week at the Capitol.

A number of them on the abortion issue, a number of gun issues as well.

What tops your list of significant news this week?

– Well, yesterday, well, a bill popped this week that would allow citizens, the attorney general and state’s attorneys to sue the gun industry for various reasons.

Whether it be deceptive practices or whether it be enticing young people to buy guns or whether it be running advertising, encouraging an insurrection or what have you.

There’s quite a bit more to that bill than that, but it opens the doors based on a, I believe it was a Connecticut law that was passed earlier.

California has a somewhat similar law, I guess.

So, that popped up yesterday and passed.

– There’s a- – On partisan lines, but the Democrats.

– Which is pretty much what you would expect.

– Yeah.

– There was a lot of confusion this week too about the state’s automatic weapons ban that was passed earlier.

It was put on pause by one federal judge.

Another federal judge lifted the ban or put the ban back in place, I should say.

– The appellate court overruled the local judge, federal judge in this case.

And some people were encouraged to do it.

Other people just used that six day window to buy guns that would’ve been prohibited.

And now they’re in kind of a limbo situation because they have to file an affidavit by January 1st saying that they bought these weapons before the ban.

But the affidavit is written in statute, so they’re gonna have to change the statute so that people who bought these guns during a six week or six day period don’t end up getting themselves in trouble.

I think there was, actually, somebody just mentioned on my website that there was an amendment introduced in the Senate today, so we may see that move forward.

– So that’ll come as a trailer- – Yeah, I think there was a lot of fear.

I don’t think there was any willingness on the part of anyone in power necessarily to lock people up by enticing them to lie on an affidavit.

And the simple fact is that the law was stayed, the law didn’t exist for almost a week.

And so they have to rewrite this language to make sure nobody goes to jail.

– One of the bills that passed last night was Senate Bill 1909, passed out of the House after leaving the Senate that deals with crisis pregnancy centers.

So you covered that on your blog today.

– Yeah, there were a lot of moving speeches really on both sides, but particularly on the Democratic side.

Our freshman Democrat from the Quad Cities, Greg Johnson, talked about how his mother had died because she couldn’t get pregnant again.

She accidentally got pregnant again.

She went to New York to have an abortion.

And this was in the early seventies and was told, “You’re too late.

You can’t.”

And then she went home to die.

There were quite a number of speeches on this, but I think the Republicans are saying, “Well, this is free speech.”

And the Democrats are basically saying, “Look, this applies consumer protection laws to these places that set themselves up to look like abortion clinics.”

And therefore, if you lie, then you should be punished.

– We will bring that topic up a little bit later in this edition of the program.

Rich Miller, thank you so much for your time on Illinois Lawmakers.

– Thanks for having me again, Jak.

– Budget negotiations top the agenda for our next guest on the Illinois Lawmakers, Chicago Democratic Senator Celina Villanueva.

She is chair of the Senate Revenue Committee and one of the budgeteers, the budget writers, for the Illinois State Budget.

Good to have you on the program, Senator.

– Thank you so much for having me.

– Lots of news in recent weeks.

The government’s forecasting agency of the legislature, CGFA, has come out with their new budget estimates for this year and next fiscal year, as well as the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

And we’re starting to see a bit of a slowdown in the economy after this massive budget surpluses earlier in recent months.

Where does that put you and the other budget writers as you sit down and try to drop a balanced budget for the state?

– I think it was always a reality for us in understanding what was to come this year and what’s to come next year.

I think that’s part of being a state legislator is, you have to think about, again, the bigger implications of what that means and how a lot of the policy that we work on also has a direct tie in terms of the revenues of the state of Illinois.

So I think the biggest responsibility we have is to make sure that people are thriving in the state of Illinois and helping those that are barely surviving to survive.

And that’s a major reality when we talk about the revenues, because again, we wanna make sure that people have what they need in order to live, in order to breathe, in order to be able to be happy.

And again, it takes a lot.

So at the end of the day, a lot of what we’re doing is taking all of those things in consideration in terms of, again, the budget that we’re creating, what and how that money is being distributed into different programming, but then also the impacts of revenue and what are the changes that we can make, the legislative changes that we can make in order to make sure that we are getting the revenue into the state of Illinois that we need in order to help then people through the budget with the support services and different programmings throughout the state of Illinois throughout the budget.

– One of the things that was talked about a little bit earlier back in February when we saw what some of the surpluses were at that point, there were actually some talk of offering tax cuts this year, some form of tax relief.

But given the figures we’re seeing, that doesn’t look like it’s on the table anymore.

– Again, I think we did a couple of forms of tax relief last year for residents of the state of Illinois because, again, we did have a surplus last year.

But again, things changed.

I think there’s been a long conversation that’s happening, again, throughout the media of, again, the impacts of inflation of what’s going on with our economy throughout the entire country.

It’s just not an issue in the state of Illinois.

I think what’s important for us is to, again, buckle down, make sure that we are supporting the programs that are, again, gonna help maintain revenues, maintain people in their lives and help to support them, obviously, when they’re going through difficult times.

But also, again, try to avoid placing an unfair amount of burden on other taxpayers in these times right now.

Again, at the end of the day, we want people to stay in the state of Illinois because they know the quality and the value that they get for the dollars that they spend here, but also, again, for being residents of the state of Illinois.

And so again, it’s this constant dance between where do we put the money and the revenue that we have?

How do we, if we, you know, not that we have a hole, but how do we make sure that we have the revenue coming in so that we can cover all of the programs and all of the budget that we have set forward.

And again, it’s a constant negotiation.

It’s like running a household.

At the end of the day, you’re constantly having to figure out, “Okay, maybe this month I gotta spend a little bit more in this area because we have some other things coming up and we gotta spend some more on groceries.

Next year or next month, I gotta spend a little bit more on electricity because I know it’s gonna get hotter and we’re gonna turn on the AC and so we’re gonna be spending a little bit more on electricity.”

So I think it’s really kind of, again, this back and forth in terms of the budget.

It’s never really done until the governor really signs the budget.

And even then, there’s continuous conversations that are happening throughout the course of the year to say, “Okay, how do we set ourselves up for success next year?

How do we ensure that if we need to change course or if something else needs to happen or we get another surplus during the summer, which we didn’t anticipate.”

Because again, while projections might be one thing, sometimes projections aren’t a hundred percent accurate, how do we make sure that that’s also going back to support the residents of the state of Illinois?

– What you’re saying is, basically, it’s a moving target as you view all of the various factors that go into this.

Well, thank you for the insider’s viewpoint on this.

We certainly appreciate it, Senator Villanueva.

I’d love to have you back on the program soon.

– Absolutely, and thank you for having me.

– Joining me now on Illinois Lawmakers is Assistant House Republican Leader, C.D.

Davidsmeyer of Jacksonville.

He represents the 100th district in the Illinois House from West Central Illinois.

Good to have you back on the program.

– Good to be back with you.

– I was just talking to one of the Senate Democrats budgeteers a little earlier this morning on Lawmakers about the budget talks.

What’s the GOP leadership in the House hearing about what may emerge from those discussions?

– You know, we’ve been trying to be part of the discussion.

Up to this point, we’ve had some working groups for our appropriations committees, which generally tend to not be part of the overall discussion once the actual budget comes into play.

So, we’ve certainly been more than willing to be a willing member sitting at the table to work on a budget for the state.

We’re seeing for the end of this year as we come into the final months of fiscal year ’23, we’re seeing decreased revenue for the state of Illinois, which will certainly put a little bit of extra burden on next year’s budget if they have to try to figure out how to backfill some of this year’s budget.

So, we’re certainly willing to find some solutions and be active members, but we will certainly wanna have some reforms and some guarantees that things will be better for the future.

– Well, along those lines, when you talk to people on the street in your district, what are their expectations for the kind of budget that they want to see for the state starting on July one?

– I think my constituents, what they wanna see is they wanna see investments.

They wanna see things that find solutions.

When we look at, whether it be infrastructure, water mains in their local town or things that will be around for a while; roads, bridges, things of that sort.

They also wanna see investments in education.

That’s certainly an investment in the future of the state of Illinois when we have an educated population.

They wanna make sure, when we look at programs such as Medicaid or other programs that are similar to that, our goal is to help people when they need help and provide opportunity for them to get off of those programs.

Whereas when I’m sitting in discussions for the budget for Human Services-Appropriations, a committee that I serve on, I think the other side says, “How many people have we added?”

And they judge success based on how many people are added to Medicaid as opposed to how many people have been able to get up and on with their lives to move forward and actually be better off in the future.

So, we’re looking at investments.

– I wanna shift the focus over to ethics reform in the wake of the Commonwealth Edison Four’s convictions last week on federal charges.

Republicans have had for the last couple of years, a series of ideas that they’ve wanted to see enacted.

Democrats have done their version.

There’s been some bipartisan work on that.

But there are things that you wanna see like ending the revolving door for lawmakers to resign before the end of their term and then boom, they’re lobbyist, things like that.

– Yeah, yeah, I think there needs to be a gap between somebody serving here and then maybe being rewarded a week later to become a lobbyist.

Also, I think we need to give the Legislative Inspector General the opportunity to actually have some teeth and to go after people.

Right now, I think the legislative ethics commission, it takes a vote from their fellow politicians to allow the Legislative Inspector General to go after somebody.

We need a truly independent Legislative Inspector General.

We’ve got a new Legislative Inspector General that has officially been sworn in.

And so I think we’ve got a good person in that position and they will ethically pursue any claims.

– About a half minute to go, but there’s also a renewed call for the Attorney General to have the power to convene statewide grand juries to investigate corruption.

– Yeah, and I’m a little hesitant on that one just because I think that the Attorney General’s office over the past few years has seemed to be a much more political, I know it’s politically elected, but it’s been a little bit more political when they choose what things to take up and what not to take up.

They haven’t been extremely active on the public corruption side.

I know that I’ve shared some information with them and they said, “Well, maybe you should contact somebody else.”

So, I hope that they will want to get into this sphere.

Many of their staff members wanna get into this sphere and make sure that they can ensure the public trust.

– Representative Davidsmeyer, thank you so much for your time on Illinois Lawmakers.

We appreciate it.

– Thank you so much.

– We’re talking on Illinois Lawmakers this week with lawmakers and specific bills that they’ve been working on in this session of the Illinois General Assembly.

Democratic State Representative Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn joins us now.

You are the House sponsor of Senate Bill 1909 that passed the Illinois House last night.

What is the purpose of the bill?

– The bill is a consumer protection to women who are consumers of healthcare.

– And the bill deals specifically with crisis pregnancy centers in the state.

Why is that an issue for the legislature to weigh in on?

– So we have had many examples from women across the state who have been lured into these facilities under the guise of free testing, free services.

And in addition to not receiving a full range of healthcare options, they have been deceived and defrauded when they’ve been in these centers.

– What does the bill actually do in terms of preventing that kind of thing from happening?

Are there penalties?

What’s the broad scope of it?

– Sure.

So this bill is an initiative of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

And what the bill does is it provides consumer protection under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act.

And so the Attorney General’s Office has the opportunity to investigate such claims on a case by case basis to determine if fraud or deception was used in any of these limited services centers.

Yes, there are fines involved, an individual facility can be fined, but those determinations are made on a case-by-case basis.

– What’s the range of penalties?

– Currently, they are monetary penalties up to, I believe it’s $50,000.

– In listening to some of the reaction overnight to the bill’s passage, some crisis pregnancy centers say that they’re being wrongly labeled by this, that they say that they offer a wide range of options, including pregnancy, adoption, and up to and including abortion.

– There may be centers out there that do perform and veil themselves with those types of services.

So if they are not deceiving, defrauding, essentially lying to individuals who come into their centers, then they have nothing to worry about that there should be no claim against them.

– There’s been a lot of controversy on this after the bill was initially introduced.

The Thomas More Society says the bill’s a radical attempt to silence and chill the free speech of pro-life advocates in Illinois.

How do you respond to that?

– Well, that’s simply not true.

There’s nothing in the bill that limits speech.

There’s nothing in the bill that requires speech at one of these limited services centers.

But it does hold them accountable for any deceptive and fraudulent practices that they may have in providing information to consumers.

– The More Society says this is flagrantly unconstitutional as a free speech issue, and they will file a constitutional challenge to that.

Do you think it’ll stand up in court?

– Absolutely.

This bill is based on, I believe, a bill from Connecticut law in Connecticut.

There is no doubt that this bill will withstand constitutional muster.

– There were some other issues that passed overnight in the Illinois House.

The House passed Senate Bill 1344, which requires insurance carriers to cover medication, abortion, hormone therapy for persons wanting gender affirming care among others.

Can you tell me a bit more about that?

– So that was a trailer bill to, we referred to pop up, that was voted on during veto session.

It’s important sometimes with big bells, as we know, we may miss something and we know that we have to come back and tweak it and fix it a little bit.

And that was a trailer bill to pop up.

– There was another one that passed last night requiring universities to provide the emergency birth control in vending machines on the campus.

– Yes, Representative Hernandez, or leader Hernandez, actually has passed it in the House previously, and we started in the Senate and it passed the House last night.

It is an outstanding bill that, once again, provides protections for women in the state of Illinois, students at our universities.

They have these in other states.

This is not some groundbreaking anew.

Again, here in Illinois, we wanna make sure that women have every opportunity to protect themselves.

– Representative Terra Costa Howard, thank you so much for your time.

We appreciate it.

– Thank you.

– Up next on Illinois Lawmakers, Assistant Senate Republican Leader Terri Bryant of Murphysboro.

Good to have you back on the program, leader.

– Thanks, it’s been a little while since I’ve been on so it’s good to be here today.

– Well, we managed to fix that.

(chuckles) One of the things I’d like to do from time to time on the program is talk with lawmakers about some of the issues that are going on back in their districts and how they’re working to address them.

One that I know that’s very important to you as a hunter is the future of the World Shooting and Recreational Complex near Sparta.

What’s going on there?

– So, we have a bill that actually has been moving.

The bill that we’re working on right now came over from the House.

It was identical to my Senate bill.

It’s a House bill that was sponsored by Representative Friess.

So he and I have been working on that together.

Initially, we wanted to have the authority for IDNR to enter into conversations to sell the shooting complex to a private entity with the understanding that it would still be for the shooting sports.

I think in our conversations, especially with Senate President Harmon and with the governor’s office as well as IDNR, it’s pretty much been, I guess, resolved that it is a true asset to the state.

And we don’t necessarily want to relinquish ownership of the shooting complex.

But there is a really cool thing called a P3, a public-private partnership.

And so the amendments to the bill include the ability to enter into a conversation with a public-private partnership.

And so we’re moving on that.

We had a little tweaking that we had to do.

I think the amendment in regard to some labor issues will go through Senate committee today.

So I’ll be presenting that in Senate committee today and, hopefully, get that moved right along and into the floor for a floor vote in the Senate.

– So there was some concern on the part of AFSCME members, the State Workers Union, that they would still have members employed there, whatever the future of the complex would be.

– Yeah, so we were not able to get all of AFSCME’s concerns addressed.

However, for anyone that works there at the facility, it is managed right now by a superintendent that also does Pyramid State Park and has lots of other duties in another state park besides the shooting complex.

I’m confident that we will be able to make sure that if the P3 does in fact go through, that we would be able to find jobs close for everyone.

So I think AFSCME’s concerns were that one of their members might have to drive an hour or two away just to keep their job with IDNR and with the state in general.

So we’ll work through those issues.

This bill does not say that we have to do a P3, but it does give the authority to IDNR to enter into those conversations and- – And for those folks, I’m sorry.

And for those folks who aren’t familiar with this facility, this is one of the premier shooting complexes in the entire United States.

– Well, it’s actually premier to the entire world, Jak.

I mean, honestly, people come from all over the world for the Grand American.

And then they also go out, you can go out on a daily basis and take advantage of all of the facilities there.

There’s a thousand plus sites for campers.

And to be really honest with you, as the casino opens, the Walker’s Bluff Casino, I think we’re gonna have folks who are gonna travel to the casino.

They’ll travel to Marion for the outdoor motor and power sports facility that’s gonna be at the old Illinois Center Mall.

They’ll come over to the shooting complex, they’ll take advantage of the Shawnee National Forest.

They’ll go to Giant City State Lodge.

(phone ringing) Hopefully, they’ll go to Pyramid State Park.

We just have Rend Lake, Crab Orchard Lake, Kincaid Lake, so many great areas that they can come to for a destination site.

And the world shooting complex is a huge part of that.

So really just wanna make it as healthy as we can.

Throughout the history of the shooting complex, we’ve had a lot of bumps that we’ve hit.

Going all the way back to Rod Blagojevich as governor.

We had some issues there with nepotism in hiring with Pat Quinn’s administration.

We had some issues under Bruce Rauner.

We had the budget impasse, so the money didn’t go to the shooting complex the way it should have.

And then of course, under Governor Pritzker, we had issues that had to do with COVID.

And as I said, I’m super happy that IDNR, the governor’s office, and in my case, President Harmon, have been willing to work towards out-of-the box solutions to make sure that that’s a healthy facility going forward.

– Sounds like a good bipartisan solution to this situation.

Senator, thank you so much for your time.

We appreciate it.

– Yep, my pleasure.

(energetic music) (energetic music continues)


via Illinois Lawmakers | WTVP

May 12, 2023 at 10:22AM

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