On spring session’s final day, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) moved two more bills through the House of Representatives and to the Governor’s desk, increasing his total number of successful bills in 2017 to ten House and Senate Bills.

SB 1321 clarifies the definition of “child” in the state statutes to aid with the protection of children against sex offenses involving grooming and traveling to meet a child. “This is an initiative of DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin, and it closes a loophole that was discovered through his office’s case work,” said Breen. “Laws, especially when they serve to protect children, need to be clear and unambiguous.”

The House approval of SB 1321 was 110-0-1.

SB 1422 ensures that challenges to extensions of the statute of limitations laws are raised and ruled upon prior to full criminal jury trial, just like challenges to venue and other challenges to a charging document. “This is good criminal justice reform legislation requiring that certain statute of limitations challenges occur much earlier in the process,” said Breen. “This is also an initiative of DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin, which will save time and money by settling this important issue before a case goes to a full jury trial.”

SB 1422 was approved in a 96-6 vote. Both bills will be sent to the Governor and are expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks.
With a goal of ensuring rapid responses to confidential data security breaches at state agencies, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) has passed legislation that would shorten the time frame by which breaches must be reported to authorities.

SB 707 helps protect Illinoisans by requiring that any breach in security that compromises the personal information of 250 or more people must be reported within 72 hours to the Department of Innovation and Technology and the Attorney General for investigation. “Cybersecurity breaches can have disastrous consequences for those who are affected, and as lawmakers we need to be doing everything we can to protect the people of Illinois from this crime,” said Breen. “It is bipartisan legislation and I was pleased to receive unanimous support in the House on this vital bill.”

According to Breen, governmental agencies are attacked on a regular basis in efforts to gain access to citizen data for commercial and criminal ends. “Our agencies collect sensitive data on a daily basis and are a prime target for hackers,” Breen said.

The bill also received unanimous support in the Senate, where State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Frankfort) served as the bill sponsor. The bill will now return to the Senate for concurrence before going to Governor Bruce Rauner for his signature.
With the budget deadline just days away, on Monday House Democrats approved legislation that had nothing at all do with the advancement of a balanced budget, but would weaken Governor Bruce Rauner’s ability save taxpayers money through utilizing managed care systems for some recipients of Medicaid.

During the House debate on SB 1446, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) called the passage of the bill “petty partisan politics”. He reminded bill sponsor Greg Harris (D-Chicago) that since 1999, when the General Assembly approved a purchase of care option for certain Medicaid recipients, coordination of care has improved and costs for care have decreased. He also questioned the sponsor’s motive, saying, “It makes no sense for it (managed care) to be fine under Governor Quinn or Governor Blagojevich, and all of a sudden its no good because its Governor Rauner.” You can watch Breen’s full floor debate on SB 1446 here.
Today in Springfield, the Illinois House approved SB 910, which would require “race-based” districting for county board districts. The House Democrat sponsor held up the State of Illinois' 2010 mapmaking process as a model for the bill. That 2010 process resulted in one of the most gerrymandered and partisan legislative maps in American history. During the floor debate, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) argued strongly against race-based mapping at the county level. He further urged that county boards should reject the type of gerrymandering performed by Illinois Democrats in 2010. You may watch Breen’s full floor debate here.
Recently, some of the schools in our area put messages on their marquees to “Pass Illinois Budget.” I’m not sure whether the message was aimed at the public, in hopes they will call their legislators, or aimed at legislators themselves driving by. Either way, I saw it and certainly agree.

In fact, everyone you ask will agree that Illinois needs a budget now. I’ve been telling everyone who will listen how we’re overspending by at least half a billion dollars a month, just from court orders and consent decrees—spending ordered by judges and agreed to by the Attorney General. This has to stop.

It’s like someone who lives paycheck-to-paycheck making $32,000 per year, running up $500 per month in excess credit card spending. That person may be able to get away with overspending for a few months, but after two years, they’re facing $12,000 in credit card debt, with no clear way to pay it off. If you add six zeros to the numbers, that represents your state government. (How the judges could order this overspending, and the Attorney General agree to it, is a subject for another day.)

Despite this, the parties in Springfield are deeply divided on the budget, with the key questions being 1) whether spending should be reduced, 2) whether taxes should be increased, and 3) whether reforms should be made to reduce the cost of government and improve the business climate.

On spending, the Democrats want to spend $41 billion in the next fiscal year. Folks on the Republican side are divided on spending, with some wanting to spend at the current amount of estimated revenue ($31.5 billion or so) and others willing to go up to $36 billion.

On income taxes, the parties have been less specific. There’s a rule of thumb that every increase in the personal income tax of .25% yields about $1 billion in revenue. That means spending $41 billion would require an extra 2.5% over the current 3.75% rate, yielding a state personal income tax rate of 6.25%. Practically, that translates to each Illinois worker giving an extra week and a third of their labor, every year, to pay for increased state government spending. A $36 billion budget level would require an extra 1.25%, yielding a 5% rate, or roughly three more days of labor per worker every year. There are also proposals for small increases in the sales tax, too.

On reforms, there are proposals that could significantly reduce costs for state and local governments and improve our business climate. But, the most significant reforms have been scuttled by the Democrat majorities in the House and Senate, due to vigorous opposition by the public employee unions and other interest groups. Even so, one bright spot that has gained traction is the Republican proposal for a property tax freeze, at least for the next few years. Other less controversial reforms are still being negotiated.

Wallethub.com recently published a study of the states, based on their tax burdens on middle class families, defined as those earning a median income, owning a median home, and spending at the median amount. That study found that Illinois is worst in the country in state and local tax burden on middle class families. Illinois was in the middle of the state rankings for income tax (30th) and sales tax (27th), but our 50th-worst ranking for property taxes dragged our overall rate down to the bottom. Now, if you substitute the proposed 5% income tax rate for our current 3.75% rate, that 30th place income tax ranking falls to 46th, putting us in competition for the worst income taxes in the country—and dragging down our combined tax rate even further.

The genius of the American system is that each of the 50 states is an independent “laboratory of democracy.” Each state competes with all the others for residents and businesses, along with the resources and vitality that they bring. After three straight years of losing residents to other states, we have to “Pass Illinois Budget” right now—a realistic, affordable, and balanced budget that will bring people and jobs back to our state.

Breen Opposes Bill with Negative Consequences to Police, Fire, and Basic Services
On Thursday I spoke out against legislation that would have dire consequences for police, fire, and other basic services in cases of municipal bankruptcy. SB 41 creates a scheme to allow local municipalities to overspend, by mortgaging their expected payments from the State of Illinois. Bonds issued under this scheme would be given protected “statutory lien” status in bankruptcy. That means payments from the State of Illinois for vital public services like police and fire will instead be diverted to pay off bonds—this means massive property tax increases just to maintain basic municipal services. Another consequence is that, in bankruptcy, police and fire pension funds will behind these bonds, which means our first responders, including those disabled in the line of duty, could get pennies on the dollar on their pensions, with the funds instead going to big bond houses.

You can click here to watch my floor debate with the bill sponsor, House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago).

Soon enough, we will be dealing with the difficult issue of municipalities going bankrupt in Illinois, and this bill is a pre-emptive strike by big bond houses from New York and elsewhere to ensure they get to the front of the line when determining what debts get paid. Despite my argument against the bill, it passed by a narrow margin, and it now returns to the Senate for their concurrence with the changes made in the House.

Breen Bills Making their Way to Governor’s Desk
Several of my bills are making their way through the Illinois Senate, and I am also having success moving Senate Bills for which I serve as the Chief House Sponsor. While many have cleared the committee level and await final floor action, as of Friday, May 26, I have seven bills that have been approved in both chambers of the General Assembly and are on their way to Governor Rauner for his signature. These bills include:
  • HB 2386: Allows craft brewing companies in Illinois to utilize new 360-lid technology.
  • HB 2423: Allow townships to save money by permitting the delivery of surplus wood chips generated through routine tree maintenance to residents.
  • HB 3084: Closes loophole to ensure those who cause death while driving drunk are punished as harshly as others who committed vehicular homicide if they are subsequently caught for driving on a suspended license.
  • HB 3514: would amend state law to end the practice of charging “expedited service fees” of $25, $50, or more on every electronic filing with the Secretary of State’s office.
  • SB 587: Reverses new Dep’t of Revenue ruling treating small religious retreat houses as “hotels,” charging them thousands of dollars under the Hotel Operators' Occupation Tax.
  • SB 1420: Exempts not-for profit recycling organizations from tedious paperwork and costly fees associated with operating collection centers for residential drop-off of used cooking oil and grease.
  • SB 2066: Requires reporting about the cost of state mandates on local governments. The bill applies to items listed in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DECO) catalog of state mandates.
In addition to the above bills that await final action by the Governor, I successfully moved the following Senate Bills out of a substantive House Committee and they should be given full consideration in the House in the coming days:
  • SB 707: Helps protect citizens by requiring that any data security breach of the state government impacting more than 250 Illinoisans be reported within 72 hours to the Department of Innovation and Technology and the Attorney General for investigation.
  • SB 1321: Ensures that definition of “child” is clear to avoid vagueness challenges to our criminal statutes protecting children against sex offenses of grooming and traveling to meet a child.
  • SB 1422: Ensures that challenges to extensions of the statute of limitations are raised and ruled upon prior to full criminal jury trial, just like challenges to venue and other challenges to a charging document.
The House of Representatives returns to session this afternoon to continue work on the budget, with just 4 days left until our adjournment date of May 31.

Breen Launches Third Annual Summer Reading Program
With summer vacation from school just a few short weeks away, this summer I will once again be hosting my summer reading program for children in grades Pre-K-5 who live in the 48th Legislative House District. Through my Summer Reading Safari program, those who achieve the summer reading goal of reading eight or more books will be invited to attend a fall reading celebration party where they will receive a certificate in recognition of their accomplishment and other treats. Some local and private schools will send the program brochure home in backpacks while others will post program information on their web sites. Brochures are also available at my office at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 101-A, in Lombard, and at the following libraries:
  • Downers Grove: 1050 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove
  • Glen Ellyn: 400 Duane Street, Glen Ellyn
  • Wheaton: 225 N. Cross Street, Wheaton
  • Lombard’s Helen Plum Memorial Library: 110 W. Maple Street, Lombard
  • Lisle: 777 Front Street, Lisle
  • Oak Brook: 600 Oak Brook Road, Oak Brook
  • Villa Park: 305 S. Ardmore Avenue, Villa Park
As schools across DuPage County finish the 2016-2017 school year, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) invites students in pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade from throughout the 48th House District to participate in his Third Annual Summer Reading Program.

“Summer Reading Safari” is the theme of this year’s program, and according to Breen, those who achieve the summer reading goal of reading eight or more books will be invited to attend a fall reading celebration party. “Reading over the summer is vitally important, because it keeps minds sharp and takes kids on amazing adventures, right in the comfort of their own homes,” said Breen.

District 48 encompasses all or part of the following municipalities: Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Lisle, Downers Grove, Oakbrook Terrace, Oakbrook, and Villa Park. Program brochures will come home in backpacks for some students and a PDF of the brochure will be posted to the digital backpack sections of web sites for other schools. Additional brochures are available at Breen’s office at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 101-A, in Lombard, and at the following libraries:
  • Downers Grove: 1050 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove 
  • Glen Ellyn: 400 Duane Street, Glen Ellyn 
  • Lisle: 777 Front Street, Lisle 
  • Lombard’s Helen Plum Memorial Library: 110 W. Maple Street, Lombard 
  • Oak Brook: 600 Oak Brook Road, Oak Brook 
  • Villa Park: 305 S. Ardmore Avenue, Villa Park 
  • Wheaton: 225 N. Cross Street, Wheaton 
“This program grows in popularity every year and I am hoping to have even larger participation in my reading program this summer,” said Breen. For more information about this program, please call the Breen office at (630) 403-8135, or visit reppeterbreen.org and click the Summer Reading Safari icon.
State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) has received wide bipartisan House support on legislation to improve transparency about the cost of unfunded mandates on local governments. The bill applies to items listed in the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DECO) catalog of state mandates.

"Unfunded mandates drive up the cost of government and it is the taxpayer who usually ends up footing the bill," said Breen. "SB 2066 will shine a bright light on how state governments’ unfunded mandates are increasing costs. Hopefully, if lawmakers can see how these costs add up over time, they will work to reduce these unfunded mandates in the future."

“Unfunded mandate” is defined as any State-initiated statutory or executive action that requires a local unit of government to establish, expand, or modify its activities in in such a way as to necessitate additional expenditures. The bill would require that the DCEO catalog of state mandates include an estimate of the total statewide cost associated with each mandate. It is an initiative of the Lt. Governor’s office.

“In 2015, the Lt. Governor’s Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force looked into the alarming costs that local units of government are forced to absorb through unfunded mandates,” Breen said. “It was the Lt. Governor’s conclusion, and I agree, that legislators need to be made aware of and understand the costs they are passing down to communities and ultimately to taxpayers.”

With House approval of SB 2066 on Tuesday, the bill now moves to the Governor’s desk.
Today, the Illinois House unanimously approved a bill by State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) to ease regulatory burdens and costs on local nonprofits that recycle used cooking oils and grease. SB 1420 would amend the “Dead Animal Disposal Act” to exempt not-for-profit recycling organizations from tedious paperwork and costly fees associated with operating collection centers for residential drop-off of used oil and grease.

“Cooking oils can cause sink backups and major clogs further down pipelines, but proper disposal of these oils has been an issue for many communities,” said Breen. “Local residents have joined together to form not-for-profit organizations to provide this needed service, and we should do everything possible to ease regulatory and cost burdens hampering their good work. SB 1420 will achieve this aim, providing benefits to the environment and business by preventing harm to our local sanitary system and generating additional material for biofuels.”

According to Kay McKeen, Executive Director of DuPage County’s School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE), restaurants have methods for disposing of their used oils and grease, but residents tend to pour oil and grease down the kitchen drain, throw it away in the trash, or even pour it into local sewers. She noted that DuPage County currently has eight permanent locations for residential drop off of used oils and grease, but there is a definite need for additional disposal sites. “We are fortunate in DuPage County to have eight locations for oil and grease collection, but the fees and paperwork are a real deterrent for the expansion of this service,” she said. “We are so pleased that Representative Breen is carrying this legislation in the House, because it really is a win-win for everyone. Homeowners can properly dispose of their grease and oil which will prevent sinks from backing up, communities will see a reduction in blockages that require major repair work, the water supply will be cleaner, and the discarded products can be used to create biofuels.”

The House vote on SB 1420 was 109-0, and the bill will now be sent to the Governor.
Property tax bills have landed in mailboxes. Every year, without fail, the taxes increase. Yes, sometimes, you’ll see a freeze in the levy of one unit of government or another, but the total always goes up.

When you compare the median property tax burden in Lombard versus median household income, property taxes come to between 8%-10% of the average household’s take home pay. And of course, the concept of “take home pay” only applies if you have a job: for folks who are retired or unemployed, there’s no comparison. The property tax burden is just massive.

For nearly all of us who live in the suburbs of Chicago, property taxes are the highest state taxes we pay. And we’re not a small group: roughly 5.5 million of us live in the suburbs—over 40% of the entire population of Illinois.

In Springfield, few want to grapple with the heavy burden of property taxes. People prefer debating the state income tax rate: whether it should stay at the current 3.75% or move closer to 5%. But while they’re arguing over quarter-points in the income tax rate, to support ever-expanding state spending, folks are being taxed out of their homes.

Recently, I was talking with a legislator whose district borders Wisconsin. That district has suffered dearly from the suburban property tax crisis. In fact, that legislator’s own sister, child, and neighbors, all longtime Illinoisans, have just closed sales on homes in Wisconsin. While each person had a different list of reasons to leave, the number one reason on every list was property taxes. There are similar stories in our area and across Chicagoland.

But there is some measure of hope. The governor has demanded a property tax freeze as part of recent negotiations, and it appears that, if a real vote were allowed, a majority of legislators would support a freeze. We think the votes are there, because over the past couple years, Speaker Mike Madigan has scheduled almost 20 separate House votes on bills to freeze property taxes. While most of these votes were successful, not one of the bills was actually intended to be considered by the Senate, much less reach the governor’s desk. These were “show votes,” meant to provide political cover for vulnerable representatives, all while property taxes continue to rise unabated back in their districts.

While a freeze will save homeowners from increases in the short-term, the only way to get property taxes down in the long term is significant reform to the way we deliver services locally. For instance, there are over 150 unfunded mandates from Springfield that drive up costs in our local school districts—and every mandate requires additional administrators to oversee compliance, both in our local districts and inside the state government. In fact, some of these mandates only apply to our school districts and not to the Chicago Public Schools, but there’s still heavy resistance to giving our districts the same flexibility under state law.

There are just three weeks to go until the May 31 end of this year’s legislative session. I’ll keep working for three things: 1) a realistic balanced budget, 2) pro-business and pro-job reforms, and 3) tax relief. The alternative—more deficit spending, more families and businesses leaving, and ever higher taxes—is unthinkable.

House Begins Taking Action on Senate Bills
This last week, members of the House of Representatives began reviewing the 225 Senate Bills that were properly approved in that chamber and have now moved over to the House for consideration. Similarly, members of the Senate are now beginning to deliberate on House Bills that were approved prior to our April 28 deadline. Because the first step for all bills is a thorough vetting before a substantive committee, last week we spent most of our time hearing bills at the committee level.

In all, I successfully sent six of my own House Bills to the Senate for consideration. In addition to those bills, I will now be serving as the Chief House Sponsor of nine Senate Bills. They include:
  • SB 587: Exempts religious organizations from paying a hotel operators’ occupation tax.
  • SB 1249: Amends the Uniform Penalty and Interest Act to decrease the failure to pay a penalty from 20% to 15%. Also provides the penalty will be abated in certain situations.
  • SB 1321: Changes the name of the offense of traveling to meet a minor to traveling to meet a child to conform with the definition of "child" in related sex offenses.
  • SB 1409: Expands venue for the offense of financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability and provides that theft by deception from a person with a disability is a Class 2 felony. It also prohibits sealing of offenses where someone is convicted of certain financial crimes against the elderly and eliminates the “consent” defense if the defendant knew the elderly or disabled person lacked the capacity to consent.
  • SB 1420: Provides that a collection center that collects cooking grease or cooking oil and is exempt from paying federal income taxes is also exempt from paying registration and licensure fees. 
  • SB 1422: Requires courts to regard questions regarding the applicability of an exception to the statute of limitations in the same manner they consider questions regarding proper venue or any other challenges to a charging document.
  • SB 1605: Helps prevent zoning petitioners from withholding evidence during a zoning hearing.
  • SB 1887: Amends the Property Tax Code to provide that taxpayers who become residents of a Supportive Living Facility after being awarded a certain homestead exemption, can still receive the exemption in certain instances.
  • SB 2066: Provides that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's catalog of state mandates shall also include a statewide cost of compliance estimate.
Breen Visits with Local Boy Scout Troop
I recently met with Scouts from Lombard’s Troop #51, and we had a nice conversation about the Constitution and the duties of American citizenship. It was a pleasure to help these young men work toward the completion of badge requirements.



Breen Launches Third Annual Summer Reading Program
With summer vacation from school just a few short weeks away, this summer I will once again be hosting my summer reading program for children in grades Pre-K-5 who live in the 48th Legislative House District. Through my Summer Reading Safari program, those who achieve the summer reading goal of reading eight or more books will be invited to attend a fall reading celebration party where they will receive a certificate in recognition of their accomplishment and other treats. Some local and private schools will send the program brochure home in backpacks while others will post program information on their web sites. Brochures are also available at my office at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 101-A, in Lombard, and at the following libraries:
  • Downers Grove: 1050 Curtiss Street, Downers Grove
  • Glen Ellyn: 400 Duane Street, Glen Ellyn
  • Wheaton: 225 N. Cross Street, Wheaton
  • Lombard’s Helen Plum Memorial Library: 110 W. Maple Street, Lombard
  • Lisle: 777 Front Street, Lisle
  • Oak Brook: 600 Oak Brook Road, Oak Brook
  • Villa Park: 305 S. Ardmore Avenue, Villa Park
For more information or to register your child/children in this program, please call my office at (630) 403-8135, or visit reppeterbreen.org and click the Summer Reading Safari icon.
With just four weeks remaining until the General Assembly’s scheduled May 31 adjournment, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) is hoping to jump-start the budget adoption process by offering lawmakers three revenue estimates that could be used as the starting point for the creation of a full, balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2018.

This week Breen signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor for House Joint Resolutions 49, 50 and 51, which provide realistic revenue estimates for the upcoming fiscal year which begins on July 1. HJR 49 uses the non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) FY2018 revenue estimate of $31.147 billion, HJR 50 uses the FY2018 estimate published by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) of $31.476 billion, and HJR 51 utilizes an average of the COGFA and GOMB revenue estimates, or $31.312 billion, as the starting point for the creation of the FY2018 budget.

“Our top priority right now needs to be the approval of a balanced budget, and that process begins with the adoption of a revenue estimate,” said Breen. “Until two years ago, this body was able to work in a bipartisan fashion to create a revenue number that served as the starting point of budget creation. It’s required in the Illinois Constitution, and is a step we must take without delay.”

Breen pointed to Article VIII, Section 2 of the Illinois Constitution, which states: Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year. “Our Constitution is clear on this mandate- we must produce a number that estimates how much money we can spend. It is step one of the budget process. Our K-12 education system, our colleges and universities and agencies that provide services for our most vulnerable citizens are relying on us to get this done.”

While the three resolutions were initially filed two weeks ago, they are still being held in Speaker Mike Madigan’s House Rules Committee and have not been assigned to a substantive committee for a hearing.
I hear from a lot of folks who fear for the future of our state. They read the daily reports of woe about state government, and wonder if there will be a place in Illinois for them and their children and grandchildren.

Last week, the Pew Charitable Trusts reported that, when you take the entire pension debt of all 50 state governments, Illinois’ $130 billion debt is roughly 10% of the nation’s total. And that number doesn’t include the roughly $50 billion we owe for retiree health benefits, and the tens of billions more owed to local pension plans. Even using the most rosy future investment return estimates, every household in Illinois owes about $50,000 to the state government, just to make our pension funds solvent today.

Since the 50 states directly compete with each other—and folks can move between them at will—there is a steep price to pay for falling behind your neighbor states. We saw that price paid with the report a few weeks ago that DuPage County lost over 9,000 residents last year, and our entire state lost over 35,000 residents. That makes three straight years we’ve lost more residents than any other state in the country. Many of those leaving cite Illinois’ highest-in-the-nation property taxes, which are roughly double the median among the 50 states, along with the various other problems with Illinois government.

Realistic appropriations bills haven’t been allowed to move forward in the General Assembly, and we’ve been without a budget for almost two years. Since I was sworn in as a representative in 2015, I still haven’t had the opportunity to vote on a balanced budget. I’ve written in this space about one key reason why: the state government continues to operate 90% of its programs (at 100% funding!), because the Attorney General agreed to let judges do the spending for us, by entering consent decrees and court orders against the state. These decrees and orders force us to spend billions more than we take in.

Against that backdrop, what can we do?

First off, we have to remember that Illinois has massive natural advantages. We have Chicago, a world class city. We have a well-educated, creative, and industrious workforce. We have great transportation hubs, rich farmland, and strong manufacturing capabilities. Together, these can be a strong foundation for future growth. However, if we abuse these advantages, we can lose them, and yield them to other states that are working harder to develop their own competing strengths.

Second, we have to make sure our neighbors and friends understand the gravity of our situation. We’re in a deep hole. I’ve been using some pretty strong language to describe the situation, in hopes of painting a picture for folks that can’t be ignored. But there are still a substantial number of legislators in Springfield who believe that the problems aren’t that bad—they literally refuse to believe the statistics that people are leaving. We have to make these legislators understand that folks will flee a state with excessively high taxes and bloated and corrupt government.

Third, we have to follow the advice of President Teddy Roosevelt, who urged, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” He wasn’t a person to wallow in self-pity and despair, and neither should we. Each of us is a free citizen in the greatest nation in the history of humankind.

We each have a voice and a mission, a unique role to play in this world. We each have the power to take action to confront the problems that face us. We can inspire others to do the same. We each have the ability to work to lift Illinois up, and stop our state’s continued drifting down. If we work on this project together, then we cannot help but improve from where we are, and eventually return Illinois to its rightful place as one of the best states in the Union to live, work, and raise a family.

House Democrats Vote for Taxpayer-Funded Abortion
Despite our state being functionally insolvent and having no budget, Illinois Democrats want to transfer tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry. In a party line vote on Tuesday, House Democrats used their majority to push through HB 40, a measure that would allow taxpayer funds to be used to pay for abortions for Illinoisans who rely on Medicaid and for employees on the State insurance plan. Today, state funds may only be used for abortions in cases where the mother’s health is in jeopardy or in cases of rape or incest.

I led the House Republican opposition to the bill, and pointed out that reliable data suggests that taxpayers would pay for over 30,000 abortions if this bill is signed into law, at an impact of $60 million to our Medicaid system. According to the Workers’ Action Guide published by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Medicaid provides medical coverage for pregnant women who make less than 213% of the federal poverty level. The latest numbers from the Guttmacher Institute, released in May 2016, indicate that 75% of women who receive abortions have income under 200% of the federal poverty level. Based upon this information, and published documentation from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services about the cost and frequency of abortion procedures, the $60 million price tag would decimate our Medicaid budget. Governor Bruce Rauner has pledged to veto the bill if it is approved in the Senate and reaches his desk.

You may watch my floor comments on HB 40 here.

Breen Passes Bill to Make Electronic Filing Free, Saving IL Businesses and Non-Profits Millions in Fees
During a week that was consumed by Democrat-led spending initiatives, on Friday I passed legislation that is estimated to save Illinois small businesses and not-for-profits millions of dollars in electronic filing fees. HB 3514 would amend state law to end the practice of charging “expedited service fees” of $25, $50, or more on every electronic filing with the Secretary of State’s office.

Our current law treats every e-filing with the Secretary of State’s office as an expensive ‘expedited service,’ regardless of whether the filing requires expedited handling. By making e-filing free, we will save our small businesses and non-profits millions of dollars and encourage greater use of electronic filing over filing by paper mail. Electronic filing reduces errors, saves paper, and saves money. As such, those who conduct business in this state should be encouraged to e-file. They certainly should not be charged extra fees to electronically file, over and above what they would be charged if they filed in person at the Secretary of State’s office. The House vote on my HB 3514 was unanimous.

Breen Bill that Addresses Penalties for Aggravated DUIs Receives Unanimous House Approval
Last week I received unanimous House approval on legislation that ensures consistency in sentencing when an individual is found guilty of driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license, if driving privileges were suspended or revoked for committing aggravated Driving Under the Influence (DUI) resulting in a death or for committing reckless homicide.

Believe it or not, today there are cases where an individual caught driving on a suspended license when the license was suspended due to an aggravated DUI (killing someone while driving drunk) are receiving lesser sentences than those who are driving on a suspended license due to a reckless homicide (careless driving that results in a death). It’s an issue of equity and fairness. Those who ignore a license suspension or revocation after killing someone while driving drunk should, at a minimum, face the same penalty as an individual in a similar situation who committed reckless homicide.

I’m proud of the wide, bipartisan sponsorship of HB 3084, which brings into accord our statutes in cases where someone is caught driving on a suspended license that was the result of causing a death. It’s common sense legislation that cleans up our statutes. DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin brought the need for the bill to my attention and it was my pleasure to work with him on it. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration, where Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) will carry the bill on my behalf.

Rep. Peter Breen Files Legislation to Protect Airline Passengers from Involuntary Removal from Airplanes
When passengers take their seat on an airplane, they are entrusting our nation’s commercial airlines to deliver them safely to their destination. In response to the recent incident at O’Hare International Airport when a ticketed and seated passenger was forcibly removed from an overbooked flight, I filed legislation that would prohibit that type of scenario from ever playing out again on an airplane parked at an Illinois airport.

HB 4034, filed April 14 Springfield, would create the Airline Passenger Protection Act. The Act would prohibit the involuntary removal by force of any properly ticketed and seated airline passenger unless the passenger disturbs the peace, is perceived as a danger to him/herself or others, or in the case of a public emergency. The bill also prohibits the filing of criminal charges against a passenger who refuses to yield a properly ticketed seat. HB 4034 also includes a provision that would allow those who file suit against an airline for being forcibly removed from a flight without cause to be entitled to attorney’s fees and costs from the airline if the passenger prevails in the suit.

Fake Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill Does Nothing to Fix Failing Workers’ Compensation System
Despite the fact that Illinois currently has over 300 entities already providing workers’ compensation policies in our state, House Democrats pushed through a terrible bill on Thursday that would put the State of Illinois in the workers’ compensation insurance businesses. HB 2622 would also put the taxpayers of Illinois on the hook for a $10 million loan for the creation of the new workers’ compensation insurance company.

The bill sponsor presented no business plan and no information for how they would seek paying clients, yet we were asked to blindly support the measure. Our state’s inability to work within a balanced budget is well documented. There is absolutely nothing that would indicate that this $10 million investment would deliver the returns promised by the sponsor. In my opinion, it was simply another ‘gotcha’ vote orchestrated by House Democrats who wanted to return to their legislative districts this week and say they voted for workers’ compensation reform.

HB 2622 is a fake reform measure that will look good in political mailings and newsletters, but will do nothing at all to reduce workers’ compensation costs in Illinois.

We need real workers’ compensation reform in our state to curb fraud and abuse of the system. Illinois employers pay $2.23 per $100 of payroll, making us the most expensive state in the Midwest for worker’s compensation costs. If we want to stop businesses from leaving our state, we need to provide them with real relief—not fake, irresponsible, do-nothing laws that ignore the true problems with the current system.