State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) was shocked to learn recently that it is not against the law to share or sell video that depicts a child committing suicide. The DuPage County lawmaker took steps to criminalize that practice today with the filing of HB 825 in Springfield.

“Just a few weeks ago, a 12-year-old from Georgia livestreamed her own suicide on social media and the video was widely shared by people in the days following the incident,” said Breen. “A few days prior to that, a 14-year old from Florida also livestreamed her suicide from the bathroom of her home and that video went viral. But our brave law enforcement officers have no tools to stop people who further victimize these children by distributing their suicide videos. We have to do everything we can to keep kids from taking their own lives, and the viral nature of these videos only promotes others to consider suicide.”

Specifically, HB 825 amends the criminal code to create the offense of Criminal Distribution of a Suicide Depiction. The bill targets suicides committed by those under the age of 18 and those with intellectual disabilities, protecting those in society who are most vulnerable. Cognizant of constitutional concerns, Breen drew specifically upon statutes banning the distribution of child pornography in drafting this bill.

According to Breen’s legislation, an individual is guilty of the crime if he or she knowingly publishes, sells, delivers, or makes an offer to sell or deliver, a video or audio depiction of a child or disabled person committing suicide. A first offence would be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, and those who engage in a second or subsequent offense would be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

“This is one of those areas where we would have hoped that human decency and a sense for what is right and wrong would prevail,” Breen said. “But unfortunately, with the rapidly-increasing use of the Internet for live-streaming of videos, we have to legislate in order to curb this alarming practice.”
Today in Springfield, Governor Bruce Rauner presented his third annual State of the State Address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. Following the Governor’s 35-minute speech, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) issued the following statement:

“Change and the need for bipartisanship were the themes of the day and I wholeheartedly agree. While there is no denying that movement toward a balanced budget needs to be priority #1, we have seen some solid accomplishments in the areas of education funding, ethics reform, and transparency. We need to build on those successes and come together to find bipartisan agreement on the budget.”

“Governor Rauner struck a tone of optimism in his speech today and I hope all legislators, regardless of party affiliation, can view today’s speech as a stepping stone toward renewed bipartisanship and cooperation. I am committed to working in a bipartisan manner and hope my colleagues from across the aisle are willing to do the same.”
On Tuesday in Springfield, House Democrats used their majority status to push through a set of egregious House Rules that strengthen the power of House Speaker Mike Madigan and weaken the voices of Illinois citizens across the state. In response to the House approval of the rules that will govern the movement of legislation during the 100th General Assembly, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) has issued the following statement:

“Oppressive rules like the ones Democrats approved today in Springfield are a slap in the face of democracy. We are each elected to represent the priorities of the citizens who elected us, and when one man can decide if our legislation will be heard or buried, our system of representative government is compromised.”

“Individual Democrats have commented over time that the House Rules need to be changed, but sadly, when the vote was called, all but one of them fell in line and voted the way they were told to vote. We had a real opportunity today to return representative government to the people of Illinois, but instead the majority party pushed through outrageous rules that will prevent good initiatives from being heard.”
In response to a recent Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) decision to allow the Village of Oakbrook Terrace to place a red light camera at the entrance of Oak Brook Center Mall at 22nd Street and Route 83, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) filed legislation today that would reverse the decision and prohibit a red light camera at that intersection. House Bill 506 is chief co-sponsored by Representatives Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale), Deb Conroy (D-Villa Park), and David Olsen (R-Downers Grove).

“Red light cameras make intersections more dangerous, and our local residents oppose these devices, which tag unsuspecting motorists with traffic tickets that no police officer on scene would give,” said Breen, a long-time opponent to the cameras. “These cameras are a hidden tax on drivers, to boost government profits at the expense of hardworking Illinoisans. It’s especially unfair that Oakbrook Terrace did this to the detriment of its neighbor, Oak Brook, but the placement of a camera outside Oak Brook Mall will keep shoppers out of the entire area, devastating commerce not just at the mall but at surrounding shopping centers. We don’t need our merchants in DuPage County boycotted, just like happened several years ago in Schaumburg, when that village placed a camera outside Woodfield Mall.”

The intersection is surrounded on three sides by the Village of Oak Brook, which includes Oak Brook Mall within its village borders. Oak Brook has registered its strong disapproval to the move with both the Village of Oakbrook Terrace and IDOT. As approved, the red light camera would affect motorists traveling southbound on Route 83 and eastbound on 22nd Street.

“I applaud Representative Breen and his colleagues for filing legislation that would remedy what we perceive as an inappropriate use of power by IDOT and our neighbors in Oakbrook Terrace,” said Oak Brook Village President Gopal Lalmalani. “It is an issue of fairness, and I am pleased to see both Republicans and Democrats as leading sponsors of the bill.”

In March of 2016, IDOT sent a notice that the red light camera request had been denied, including because sufficient safety concerns had not been established at the intersection, but stated that additional data could be submitted to allow for additional consideration. In May, IDOT reversed the decision and approved the intersection for camera placement, after reviewing a November 2015 video of the intersection that detailed a single 24-hour period.

The IDOT permit was issued on October 28, and states that installation must take place within 180 days. With the clock ticking, Breen said he will push for his legislation to move swiftly through the legislative process so the red light camera is not installed.
"Michael J. Madigan" ... "Michael J. Madigan" ... "Michael J. Madigan." 

It’s one of the most nerve-wracking moments of Inauguration Day: you’re sworn in with 117 other Representatives and, immediately thereafter—on a stage in front of thousands of people—you have to speak aloud your choice for Speaker of the House.

Despite some uncertainty about whether the Democrats would stand behind him, we heard “Michael J. Madigan” 66 times, from 66 of the 67 Democrats in the Illinois House, with 1 voting “Present.”

And so, as the historic 100th General Assembly convenes, it will mean the 17th term as Speaker for Michael J. Madigan. By the end of this term, Speaker Madigan will have ruled the Illinois House for 34 years, making him the longest-serving state house speaker in American history. Illinois turns 200 years old in 2018, and at our bicentennial, Michael Madigan will have presided over the Illinois House for roughly 1 out of every 6 years of our state’s existence.

On the Republican side of the aisle, we’ve gained 4 new seats, emerging from the super-minority for the first time since 2012. We will have a very different leadership team, with numerous members who are newer and younger than before. The Republicans are for the most part united, hopeful, and optimistic that the upcoming term will be more productive and successful than the last one. We’re looking forward to the important debates to come during these crucial next two years.

However, Michael J. Madigan is still in firm control of the Illinois House Rules, the committees, and the agenda, so any optimism on our side is tempered with a healthy dose of skepticism. In the Illinois Senate, it was recently revealed that the leader of the Democrats, John Cullerton, has been quietly and directly negotiating with the leader of the Republicans, Christine Radogno, in hopes of working out a compromise to break the state’s budget impasse. Not so in Madigan’s House!

Against this backdrop, I occasionally wonder what Abraham Lincoln, who served in the Illinois House, would think of what has become of his House, and of his home State. What would Mr. Lincoln say if he were to stride onto the House floor next week? (I can’t imagine he would be happy!)

I’m often asked what it’s like being in Springfield. On the one hand, serving in the Illinois House is an incredible honor and privilege. There’s nothing like it. On the other hand, that same service can be just as frustrating as you would imagine it would be: we’re facing a terrible crisis of confidence, an unbalanced budget, and mounting debts, with many refusing to even acknowledge the problems.

Going into my second term as your state representative, I know we can rise to the challenge. These past two years, I saw moments of bipartisan compromise on smaller issues, and I know we can get there on the larger issues. Thank you for giving me the continued opportunity to work for you to turn our state around, and to return Illinois to its rightful place as one of the strongest, safest, and most prosperous states in the Union.
Through unanimous votes in the House and Senate today, lawmakers approved a bill that clarifies elements of the Employee Sick Leave Act which was approved and signed into law earlier this year.

Chief House Sponsor Peter Breen (R-Lombard) said the bill helps ensure that the original intent of the Employee Sick Leave Act is followed. “This bill includes clean-up language that will allow the Employee Sick Act to reach its intended scope and be completely effective,” said Breen. “Specifically, the language makes it clear that both paid and unpaid leave are covered through the Act and adds stepchildren as qualifying family members. It also helps prevent potential law suits by exempting employees under the Railway Labor Act, collective bargaining agreements, and other entities, so the bill is in full compliance with state and federal laws.”

The original Illinois Employee Sick Leave Act, signed into law as Public Act 99-0841, required Illinois employers who provide personal sick leave benefits to their employees to allow them to take such leave for absences due to the illness, injury or medical needs of the employee’s child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother or father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or stepparent. Through the Act, leave must be granted on terms identical to those employees could utilize for his or her own illness or injury.

The cleanup bill, SB 2799, now awaits the signature of the Governor.
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the Illinois House successfully moved legislation on Monday that will allow four referendums approved by voters in November to stand, in spite of efforts by a group of citizens to have them nullified due to posting technicalities.

On November 8, voters in the Bloomingdale Park District, Lombard Library District, Hinsdale Elementary School District 181 and Salt Creek Elementary School District 48 each approved tax increase proposals that appeared on their respective ballots. In each instance, the required posting of the question appeared three days earlier than the election code’s mandated posting window of no more than 30 days and not less than 10 days prior to an election.

State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard), a Chief Co-Sponsor of the legislative fix, represents voters who supported a referendum for the Helen M. Plum Memorial Public Library in Lombard.

“Voter intent must be honored,” Breen said.” I don’t like additional taxes any more than anyone else, but the voters have spoken. We must respect their voices and allow the bonds to be issued.”

The approved referendum in Lombard authorized the library district to borrow $22.3 million to replace the existing library at 110 W. Maple Street through bonds that will be repaid over 20 years.

“This legislative remedy is very narrow in scope and addresses this very specific issue,” Breen said. “Clearly, adequate notice about these referendum questions was provided to voters. The people gave their permission for these projects to proceed, and we all need to respect their wishes.”

SB 3319 was approved in the House by a 100-9-1 vote. The measure will be heard in the Senate today, and if approved, it will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
Rep. Peter Breen Appointed Assistant House Republican Leader
On December 29, two retiring members of the House Republican Caucus officially stepped down from their seats. Both were members of the House Republican Leadership Team. State Representatives Ed Sullivan from the 51st District and Adam Brown from the 102nd District were both extremely respected members of our caucus and they will be missed. I wish them both the very best in the next chapters of their lives.

On Tuesday, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin announced my appointment as an Assistant House Republican Leader. I am filling the vacancy created by Sullivan, who was a fourteen-year veteran of the House.

In his announcement, Leader Durkin said, “Peter Breen has earned the respect of Representatives from both political parties, and he has shown great leadership within the caucus to advance our pro-jobs and balanced budget agenda. He is an excellent advocate on the House floor. We look forward to his joining the leadership team, as we execute the priorities of our caucus.”

It is an honor to be joining a leadership team that is focused on a reform and recovery agenda. I appreciate the trust placed in me by Leader Durkin and look forward to working with the other members of the leadership team to implement our caucus priorities and goals.

New General Assembly to Face Immense Issues in 2017-2018
Next week, the members of the 100th General Assembly will be sworn in. Immense issues will face the legislators over the next two years.

The stopgap budget bill from last summer, which provided temporary spending authority for the state government, ended on December 31. Illinois has now passed New Jersey for the title of the highest property tax state in the country. And the state’s pension debt is over $130 billion, which means every household in Illinois would need to make an immediate cash payment of over $25,000, just to bring the pension system to solvency, and that’s solely for work performed in the past by government employees.

When you add up all these problems, it was no surprise to read the recent report that Illinois suffered a net loss of over 110,000 residents to other states last year—more people than make up an entire state representative district.

But during these next two years, Illinois will celebrate its 200th birthday, on December 3, 2018. We will commemorate the great Illinoisans of the past, whose spirit and strength tamed this vast expanse of wild prairie land. We will recall the inventive and hard-working souls who brought forth and built a world-class city, cultivated safe and friendly suburban communities, and established every manner of agriculture, trade, and manufacture across our state.

There’s a lesson in leadership called the “Stockdale Paradox,” named after Admiral James Stockdale, who was held captive and tortured for years as a P.O.W. during the Vietnam War. Stockdale’s method was to hold onto two principles simultaneously: 1) absolute faith that you will prevail in the end, no matter what happens, and 2) a clear-eyed confrontation of the facts of your current reality, no matter how difficult.

Adm. Stockdale credited his survival during the war to his “paradox.” Since then, the Stockdale Paradox has since been used in a variety of business, nonprofit, and government settings—any environment where difficult, seemingly impossible, situations are found.

It is hard to hold onto absolute faith that there can and will be reform and recovery for the Illinois economy and government. Many have instead lost hope in the promise of Illinois. The tax and debt numbers look too large to solve. The special interests seem too entrenched to allow for significant reform.

But without hope, the project of Illinois is lost. And looking back over the past 200 years, this state has suffered terrible lows and enjoyed marvelous highs—there is certainly cause for hope in that history!

And there’s no room for sugar-coating our present reality, either. But some refuse to see things as they are. They reject that there is any price to pay for our present course of overspending, over-regulation, and corruption. This may seem hard to believe, but I could put you in front of numerous legislators who believe everything in state government and economy is just fine.

As we enter this new year, let’s resolve to take a fresh look at the issues facing our state. Let’s take a deep, hard, clear look at the problems, but without falling into despair. And let’s maintain hope and faith that we will solve those problems. Then maybe, just maybe, when our Illinois Bicentennial rolls around in two years, we’ll be able to celebrate, not just our storied past, but our bright future.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has appointed State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) as an Assistant House Republican Leader. Breen, a constitutional rights attorney, will fill the vacancy created by the retirement this past week of Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. (R-Mundelein), a fourteen-year veteran of the House.

“Peter Breen has earned the respect of Representatives from both political parties, and he has shown great leadership within the caucus to advance our pro-jobs and balanced budget agenda,” said Durkin. “He is an excellent advocate on the House floor. We look forward to his joining the leadership team, as we execute the priorities of our caucus.”

Breen was elected to the General Assembly in November of 2014, after serving as a Village Trustee and Acting Village President for the Village of Lombard. During his first term as a legislator, he passed numerous substantive bills, 11 of which were signed into law, including a measure that curbed pension spiking by municipal employees who used legal loopholes to increase pensionable income at the end of their careers. He also penned a new law that extends the timeframe during which people can file suit to address violations of the Open Meetings Act.

“It is an honor to be joining a leadership team that is focused on a reform and recovery agenda,” said Breen. “I appreciate the trust placed in me by Leader Durkin and look forward to working with the other members of the leadership team to implement our caucus priorities and goals.”

Legislators are scheduled to be in Springfield on January 9th and 10th for a “lame duck” session prior to the swearing in of the new 100th General Assembly on Wednesday, January 11.