Yesterday, Representative Peter Breen presented his first resolution in committee. The resolution recognizes and shows support for the future National Desert Storm War Memorial in Washington, D.C., and designates a special Operation Desert Shield, and Desert Storm Day in the State of Illinois. The resolution was initiated by Steve Fixler of the DuPage Veteran’s Assistance Commission, and is supported by the VFW.

The resolution received the unanimous approval of the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, and all of the members asked to be added as co-sponsors of the measure. This was the first time Representative Breen presented legislation to a committee, and he looks forward to many more opportunities in the future.

Today, Rep. Peter Breen filed HB3089, a bill to amend the Illinois Citizen Participation Act, to ensure that Act better protects individuals from meritless lawsuits filed against them, in response to their legitimate First Amendment-protected activity. Breen, a constitutional attorney, filed the amendment in response to a number of recent court decisions that have both weakened the Act and confused the issue of when the Act will properly apply to protect members of the public from suit.

"Recent court decisions have prevented the Citizen Participation Act from achieving its original end: to protect folks from being sued just because they decided to speak their minds on a government issue," said Breen. "This amendment will clarify and strengthen the protection offered by the Act, ensuring that private citizens are protected from these meritless lawsuits, while still allowing those who are legitimately harmed to seek relief in court."
The Citizen Participation Act was passed unanimously through the General Assembly in 2007. During subsequent litigation, the different districts of the Illinois Appellate Court took different views of the Act's applicability, with the Illinois Supreme Court narrowing the applicability of the Act in Sandholm v. Kuecker, 2012 IL 111443. Appellate Court decisions since Sandholm have been mixed, with some further weakening the Act, leaving attorneys and citizens unsure of when and how the Citizen Participation Act will apply in a particular case.

At the DuPage Water Commission headquarters, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Executive Order 15-15, which establishes the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandate Task Force, which will be headed by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti. In his speech prior to signing the order, Gov. Rauner specifically highlighted Chairman Dan Cronin's efforts to protect taxpayers by streamlining and consolidating government functions in DuPage County.

Representative Peter Breen and other local leaders showed their support for Governor Rauner at the signing.  Read more here.

Today, Representative Peter Breen filed six bills on a variety of subjects, his first bills filed as a state legislator. Breen's initial bills focus on protecting individual rights, promoting small business, limiting abusive lawsuit threats, promoting open government, and removing state mandates from non-home rule communities. The bills are as follows:

Eavesdropping Act: HB 2688 amends the controversial Eavesdropping Act amendment adopted during the lame duck legislative session last year. Breen's amendment would protect the right of undercover journalists, government watchdogs, and others to audio tape a conversation that they are a part of, occurring in a place open to the public. Breen would also greatly reduce the penalty for taping improperly, from a felony to a misdemeanor. Breen stated, "citizens and journalists should not be turned into criminals for recording conversations in public places. Whether it's a journalist documenting illegal or unethical behavior or a worker documenting sexual harassment by her boss, folks should not be turned into felons for recording conversations that they're a part of, in places open to the public."

Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products Act: HB 2690 allows for the sale and distribution of raw milk, without fear of legal liability, as long as rules set forth by the Department of Public Health are followed. According to Breen, “this legislation will benefit both consumers and small family farmers. Many of my neighbors enjoy drinking raw milk, but they must go to great lengths to purchase it, even sometimes going directly to the farmer. There's no reason to forbid people from purchasing raw milk at their neighborhood market, as long as proper public health regulations are followed. Our ancestors drank raw milk for thousands of years, and modern technology has greatly improved farmers' ability to safely produce this product."

Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act: HB 2689 requires internet filters on public library computers to prevent the viewing of hard-core pornography on those computers. Breen emphatically stated that, “I’ve heard from many moms over the years that adult men are regularly viewing hard-core pornography on public library computers, in full view of children and others. This is an abuse of taxpayer resources and creates a hostile environment for public library employees and patrons. No child should have to walk past obscene and abusive material in order to take advantage of the educational opportunities available at their public library.”

Open Meetings Act: HB 2687 expands the current power of members of the public to record a government meeting to also allow taping before and after the meeting. Breen noted that, “there should be no protection for public officials who behave unethically or illegally ‘out in the hallway’ and ‘off-camera’ before or after a public meeting. The purpose of the Open Meetings Act is to allow the public to see and understand the workings of their government, and this bill will bring greater transparency to the legislative process.”

Consumer Fraud & Deceptive Business Practices Act: HB 2691 prohibits the practice of “copyright trolling.” Out-of-state corporations claiming to have copyrights to widely available images on the internet are regularly threatening Illinois individuals and small nonprofits with lawsuits, merely for posting these images on their websites. These large out-of-state interests demand thousand-dollar “settlements” to avoid legal action, but without providing any proof that they hold copyrights in the images – or that the images are worth more than a few dollars, much less thousands of dollars. Breen noted, “individuals and small nonprofits are being shaken down for thousands of dollars by foreign interests for alleged copyright infringement, but these interests refuse to even prove that they own the images involved. Folks shouldn’t have to fear financial ruin just for posting on their websites pictures that they believe in the public domain.”

Equal Powers for Non-Home Rule Communities Act: HB 2686 allows non-home rule communities, like Lombard and Lisle, the same powers as home rule communities, except for the powers to tax, impose fees, or to incur debt. Breen stated, “the General Assembly places restrictions on non-home rule communities, like the villages of Lombard and Lisle, that do not bind home-rule communities. Residents of my district in Lombard and Lisle have the same right to safe housing regulations and public safety regulations as state law allows folks in Glen Ellyn and Wheaton to have. This bill is a common-sense way to give our municipal governments maximum flexibility to set the right policies for their local residents.”

These legislative initiatives will work to better the state, starting with the individual and positively affecting communities as a whole. Rep. Breen is eager to move forward with these bills and is looking ahead to making an impact in the 99th General Assembly.

We've watched over the past year as the College of DuPage Board of Trustees has taken a beating in the press for scandal after scandal, and the public outcry has now reached a fever pitch, in response to the massive golden parachute just awarded to its president, Robert Breuder. You see, at his retirement next year, Breuder will be paid three-quarters of a million dollars - taxpayer dollars - to not work.

This is the same community college president who spent taxpayer funds for his private hunt club membership, a wine cellar, and satellite phones for himself and his companions on an African safari.

You can't make this stuff up. But we can fight to stop it.

Last week, over five hundred people attended a meeting of the COD Board, telling those board members to reject this sweetheart deal. Representative Breen was proud to represent the residents of the 48th District in addressing the Board. Lots of news outlets covered the event on TV and in print, including this great article in the Chicago Tribune.

On Monday, Representative Breen stood alongside other state representatives at a press conference, and presented legislative ideas to put a stop to the shenanigans plaguing our community colleges.

One of the terms of the severance package was to put Robert Breuder's name on a building. However, the way Breen sees it, we shouldn't be naming a building after this guy: we should name a reform law after him.

So, Representative Breen named his proposal the "Breuder Rule."

It would ban altogether any future excessive severance agreements, defined as more than one year's salary and benefits. As for current severance agreements, which are protected by the U.S. Constitution's Contracts Clause, we can't ban them, but we can make sure that homeowners and students don't have to pay for these abuses. So, the "Breuder Rule" would forbid a community college board from raising property taxes or tuition for the same number of years as the number of years of salary paid out under a severance agreement.

In the case of COD, the "Breuder Rule" would mean no property tax increases or tuition increases for the next three years. Those board members can find another source of cash for their abusive payout, instead of hammering tapped-out residents and hard-working students. To save Illinois, we're going to need reform measures like these at every level, to try to restore the proper balance between the government and the people. At heart, this means putting the people back in charge of their government.