Legislative Update: October 2, 2015

Representative Breen Calls for Amnesty for Late Vehicle Registration Renewals During Budget Impasse
As Illinois enters its fourth month without an approved and sustainable budget, the effects of the impasse are now reaching Illinoisans who own vehicles. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that his office will immediately suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. Those who want to continue receiving a reminder must now sign up to receive electronic notices through this link.

I am in the process of filing legislation that would prohibit the Secretary of State’s office from issuing late fees when motorists have not been notified by email or U.S. Mail that their registration renewal is due. Folks should not be forced to pay late fees or tickets if they are late renewing their registration during this unprecedented budget impasse.

When making the announcement, Secretary White noted that the renewal reminder mailings cost the state approximately $450,000 per month. According to White, unless a budget is approved, his postage account will be completely depleted in a few months, which would prevent the mailing of vehicle registration renewal stickers, titles, and license plates to vehicle owners.

In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to sign up for the email notifications right away. You will need to locate and have handy your annual vehicle registration document, which contains your "Registration ID" and "PIN," usually located in the top right corner of the registration document. If you receive an email reminder, that will also include the PIN number for on-line renewal of vehicle registration stickers. Click here to view an FAQ about to this issue.

Representative Breen Hosts Celebration for Summer Reading Program Participants
This week, we celebrated with more than 65 children and parents for their successful completion of my first annual summer reading program. We gathered at Sacred Heart Parish Center in Lombard and enjoyed dinner, deserts, and prizes, all supplied by generous local businesses. After dinner, I even got to read to the children and talk with them about their favorite books. Each child received an Illinois House certificate of recognition, along with an insulated lunch bag filled with coupons for local businesses and restaurants. Reading is an essential part of everyday life, and reading over the summer is especially important to help children grow in their love of this vital skill and rewarding pastime. A total of 67 children participated in the reading program this year, and I hope to see an even greater level of involvement next summer.

Representative Breen Reflects on Papal Visit
This past week, Pope Francis captured the attention of our nation. His visit brought tears to the eyes of otherwise-cynical TV commentators. The Speaker of the U.S. House, John Boehner, even decided to step down in the wake of the first-ever address by the Roman Pontiff to Congress. We haven’t seen a papal reception like this since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.

In the wall-to-wall TV coverage of Pope Francis, the reporters discussed his speeches in detail, which covered a range of subjects, from the environment to religious liberty, from immigration to the protection of life. But the Pope didn’t lay out a political program – what he shared with our nation is a set of guiding principles. While we are deluged every day by various “programs,” “solutions,” and “four-point plans,” we don’t hear a lot of talk about principles in our political discussions. Not so with the Pope.

If you look past the political commentators, you see that the real focus of the Pope’s message was on the virtues of faith, hope and love. In his final homily at Sunday Mass in Philadelphia, Pope Francis summed it up in his words on the family. What touched me was when he talked about the little ways we show love in our family. He spoke of how these gestures of love begin in the family and radiate out into the world and those we encounter:

“How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children? We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It is the Spirit who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family. Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions.”

These words can be applied to many different scenarios and issues – to what happens in your home and mine. How do we treat each other? Are we truly doing unto others as we would have them do unto us? The Golden Rule is simple, but certainly not easy to follow!

Despite the media reports, Pope Francis is not preaching a different Gospel than that preached by Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul II. For instance, Pope John Paul II regularly spoke of “solidarity” and the common bonds of fraternity and responsibility between all peoples.

Looking specifically at Pope Francis’ words, I ask myself how the Illinois General Assembly is doing. What kind of state are we leaving for our children? On the one hand, are we truly caring for the most vulnerable when our funding for the developmentally disabled is the worst in the country? Yet we rack up debt because we refuse measures like pension reform – and refuse to even discuss how to pay for government pensions. Is it right to put off paying for these obligations and instead force our children and grandchildren to pay for them?

The principles that Pope Francis has shared are timeless, and if we can agree on the principles, they can guide our consideration of specific policies to improve our common life together. We can look critically at how our government should spend the taxpayer dollars entrusted to it. We can carefully review our laws and legal structures to cut waste and abuse. We can ask whether government policies promote or hurt the family. Then together, we can truly make our state a bit more faithful, a bit more hopeful, and a bit more loving.