Legislative Update: November 23, 2016

Our first week of veto session was cut short by one day last week when House Speaker Mike Madigan decided to cancel a scheduled session day we had on our calendars for Thursday, November 17. While we did take action on some Senate bills, resolutions, and vetoed items on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was disappointed by the Speaker’s decision to send us home while we still have no budget. We will return to Springfield the next week on Tuesday, November 29 to complete our veto session work.

Breen Investigating Oakbrook Mall Red Light Camera Approval; May File Legislative Fix
Like many of you, I was shocked to learn that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently issued a permit for the installation of red light cameras near Oakbrook Mall at the intersection of IL Route 83 and 22nd Street. I have been a long-time opponent of these cameras, which have become much more about revenue than about motor vehicle safety. I am working with other lawmakers and with local officials to determine if the General Assembly can, and should, intervene.

In March, IDOT denied the camera request, but officials said at the time that additional information could be submitted for consideration. Subsequently, a May letter stated the location would be approved pending the proper permit from IDOT. IDOT issued the permit on October 28 and the Village of Oakbrook Terrace, which controls the intersection, now has 180 days to complete the red light camera installation. Officials from neighboring Oak Brook, which have opposed the installation of the camera from the beginning, claim they were not notified of the new approval, and learned of the issuance of the permit from IDOT and not from the Village of Oakbrook Terrace. As lawmakers look further into this issue, I will keep you updated.

Legislative Survey Results Show Clear Preference for Term Limits, Controlled Spending and Balanced Budgets
I want to thank everyone who took the time to complete my 2016 Legislative Survey. The survey was included in the Legislative Report that was mailed to District 48 households over the summer, and it was also available through my legislative web site. Several hundred surveys were completed and the results are as follows:

Do you think legislators and/or statewide office holders should be subject to term limits?
Do you agree that structural reforms must be implemented before taxpayers are asked to provide additional revenue to support State services?
Would you support an across-the-board equal percentage decrease in funding for all line items to help balance the budget?
In general, there are three methods that can be used alone or in combination to balance the Illinois State budget (reform how services are provided, cut services, and raise taxes). What is your first choice of action that you believe should be used to balance the Illinois budget?
Those who completed a survey were also invited to include additional comments. As I reviewed the surveys (yes, I read every one of them), it was not surprising to read that many of you want bipartisanship in Springfield and simply want lawmakers to do their job. I share your frustration and believe an agreed budget is possible if rank and file lawmakers put partisanship aside and work together. I am very willing to do this, and I have spoken to many colleagues from the other side of the aisle who also want to solve the budget crisis once and for all. Unfortunately, Speaker Madigan is not interested in implementing even the simplest of reforms that would put our State on a path toward fiscal health, and raising taxes without controlling or reforming irresponsible spending practices is not an option for Republicans.

Still Time to Participate in “Support Our Troops” Drive
This month, Senator Chris Nybo and I are partnering with the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for our second annual “Support Our Troops” collection drive. Items collected throughout the month of November will be delivered to military personnel serving overseas near or before Christmas.

The legislative office I share with Senator Nybo at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 105A in Lombard is a drop-off location for items to be donated. Donations will be accepted through November 30th during normal business hours of 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

We would also like to send care packages specifically to local soldiers from the area (IL Senate District 24 or IL House District 48). Friends and family with loved ones from the area who are currently serving in the military are encouraged to contact my office at (630) 403-8135 with their names and addresses.

Recommended items to be included in the care packages include: 
  • Books, magazines, crossword and word search puzzles, coloring books, colored pencils, dominoes, checkers or chess games
  • iTunes Gift Cards, headphones/ear buds, DVD movies or television shows, small video games, international calling cards 
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Kleenex, lotion, toothpaste/toothbrush, shampoo, soap, female hygiene items, shaving cream, razors 
  • Beef jerky, powdered drink mix, coffee, granola or protein bars, trail mix, dry snacks, mixed nuts 
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, air fresheners 
  • Footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and frisbees 
Because the items will be mailed, aerosol cans/containers, food items that could melt or spoil and fragile items cannot be accepted.

Happy Thanksgiving!
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I would like to thank the residents of the 48th Legislative House District for allowing me to serve in the General Assembly. It is the honor of a lifetime, and a privilege to help shape policy to improve the lives of Illinoisans. I hope you all are able to spend time with friends, family and other loved ones during this long Thanksgiving weekend. 

Next week lawmakers will return to Springfield for the conclusion of veto session, and then we will return to finish out 2016 in our home districts and prepare for the inauguration of the new, 100th Illinois General Assembly on January 11, 2017.