Legislative Update: April 10, 2017

The General Assembly has begun its annual Easter Break. When we return to Springfield on Monday, April 24, legislators from the House and Senate have just five days to pass their bills and send them to the other chamber. Any bill that has not cleared its chamber of origin by Friday, April 28 will be essentially dead. In May, we will take action on Senate Bills that successfully passed in that chamber and Senators will take action on legislation sent to them from the House. At this point of the spring session, I have passed four bills out of the House and have six additional bills that could be heard during the final week of April.

Democrats Ignore Republican Plea for Compromise Budget; Push through New Stop Gap Measure
It is disappointing, but not surprising, that Democrats once again rammed another stopgap spending plan through the House – it’s precisely why Democrats have been unwilling to negotiate with House Republicans on a full, balanced budget. I was very outspoken during the floor debate on HB 109. You may watch a video of my floor comments here

The funding that Democrats are proposing isn’t even close to what vital programs need. For example, their spending plan includes only 36% of the funding for domestic violence shelters, only 36% for infant mortality programs and only 38% for the senior meals program. To make matters worse, their plan would spend $1.5 million on a program in Chicago that has already been disbanded and more than $500,000 on two programs that are currently ineligible to receive funds due to noncompliance issues with reporting of how state funds were previously spent.

Instead of stopgaps and governing through piecemeal bills—requiring our nonprofits to regularly come on bended knee to beg for money every few months from Mike Madigan and his ruling Democrats—we have to properly fund programs serving the most vulnerable in our society. That can only be done through a balanced budget. Republicans have said over and over again that we are ready and willing to work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to find an agreement on a budget that balances and respects the priorities of both Republicans and Democrats. But so far Democrats have refused to even begin those discussions.

My hope is that House Democrats will return to Springfield ready to work with us on a balanced budget. Only through a balanced budget can we bring certainty to our state and fix the problems that we all know must be addressed to put Illinois back on the right track.

Breen Visits with Trinity Lutheran School Students on Constitution Test Day
I recently had an opportunity to talk with a group of very bright 7th and 8th grade students from Trinity Lutheran School in Lombard on the day they took their Illinois Constitution test. We discussed the importance of becoming an educated and involved citizen and about the role of an Illinois lawmaker. The students had some very good questions and it was a pleasure to visit their classroom on the day they culminated their studies into the Illinois Constitution.

Breen Receives Wide Bipartisan House Support on Bill to Set Effective Speed Limits on Illinois Tollways to 70 m.p.h.
On Wednesday, I received wide bipartisan support on a bill that would set the effective speed limit for automobiles on Illinois Tollways to a consistent speed of 70 miles per hour. For I-294, which is due for full reconstruction, the speed limit would remain at 60 m.p.h. until after that work is complete.

The General Assembly in 2014 took action to raise the maximum potential speed limit on most interstates to 70 m.p.h. However, the administrative officials charged with implementation of the 2014 laws decided not raise the effective limits on many parts of the tollway system, instead maintaining 55-65 speed limits. While maintaining the ability of the Tollway Authority to adjust speed limits, HB 2938 also adds a requirement of General Assembly approval for any reduction in speed limits, along with ensuring that truck speed limits do not fall more than 10 miles per hour below car speed limits. The House vote on HB 2938 was 109-5. If approved in the Senate and signed by the Governor, the provisions of the bill would take effect 12 months after the bill’s effective date. Click here to watch a video of the bill presentation.

House Approves Breen Bill to Allow Townships to Deliver Wood Chips to Residents
On Wednesday I also passed a bill that would allow townships to deliver surplus wood chips generated through routine tree maintenance to residents. HB 2423 adds flexibility to the process for distribution of the waste materials generated by outdoor township maintenance. The bill also includes requirements for notice to the public before distribution and provisions for either random drawing or first-come-first-served processes to determine which residents may receive the wood chips. This bill will save money for our township highway departments. In York Township, for example, it actually costs more for the township to deliver the wood chips to landfills than it costs to deliver the materials to taxpaying residents who want to use them.

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