Legislative Update: April 30, 2018

Rep. Breen Moves Three Bills to Senate Prior to House Bill Deadline
This past Friday was the deadline for passing House Bills, and in the flurry of activity, I was successful in passing the following out of the House: 

HB 4711: Cleans up the Counties Code and Municipal Code to ensure that neighbors bringing lawsuits against a zoning or building code violator sue the correct parties, keeping local tax dollars from being used for unnecessary county or municipal lawyer costs and fees.

HB 5054: Requires a consistent speed limit of 70 m.p.h. for cars on all Illinois tollways, with the exception of I-294, which is due for reconstruction. The bill would also require permission by the General Assembly’s Joint Commission on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to post limits below 70 m.p.h. on those tollways.

HB 2040: Allows Soaring Eagle Academy in Lombard to use its multi-purpose bus to transport K-12 students to curriculum-related, vocational and recreational activities; current law only allowed the transport of students in grades 9-12.

I will also be serving as the Chief House Sponsor for a number of Senate Bills that will be considered in the House in the coming weeks.

Breen Helps Craft Bipartisan Legislation to Remove Firearms from Individuals Deemed an Immediate Threat
We are all outraged over the senseless violence occurring in our schools and other public spaces. Too often we learn after-the-fact that the offenders showed signs of severe mental instability and expressed a desire to cause harm. This year I was the leading Republican negotiator for legislation filed on Thursday that would allow family members or law enforcement personnel to seek an emergency “firearms restraining order” to remove firearms from individuals posing an immediate and present danger to themselves or others. This is one of those rare places for common ground for those on both sides of the firearms issue, and I am proud to now be a Chief Co-Sponsor of this important legislation. 

HB 2354 is carefully crafted to provide Illinoisans with a means to prevent a dangerous person’s access to firearms, while still respecting folks’ Second Amendment rights. If approved and signed into law, family members or law enforcement can petition the court for an emergency firearms restraining order at an initial hearing that would have to take place as soon as possible after the filing of the petition and during a timeframe not to exceed 14 days. Those who petition for the emergency order must show that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing harm to themselves or others. If probable cause is established through a court hearing, the judge will enter an order that will allow the Illinois State Police (ISP) to suspend or revoke the Firearms Owner Identification card of the respondent and, if necessary, issuing a search warrant to remove any firearms from the person’s residence.

The respondent must then be given a full hearing within 14 days, where it must be proven by a strict clear and convincing evidence standard that the person is dangerous. If so, the emergency order is extended to a six-month order, which may be renewed on continued proof of danger. But if the allegations are not proven at the full hearing, the record of the case is expunged, so as not to do any harm to an innocent respondent. Penalties for perjury would also apply to those who would falsely swear out a petition for a firearms restraining order.

This bill fills a gap in our current law to ensure that firearms are kept out of the hands of those who would do grave harm, and its specific provisions are carefully balanced to protect civil liberties and prevent misuse of this new firearms restraining order process. Compromise bills like this are possible in Illinois when state lawmakers focus on policy over politics.

Breen Leads Opposition to Tax Plans that would Hike Income Taxes for Most Residents of 48th District
I recently joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and other House members in filing HR 975, a measure that opposes a proposed “graduated” income tax on Illinois residents. I am the leading Chief Co-Sponsor of the resolution.
Illinois taxpayers in general and specifically here in DuPage County are already significantly overburdened by the combined weight of every taxing body at the state and local level. I'm constantly encountering people who tell me they plan to leave this state as soon as the opportunity allows. Taking hard earned money from our residents has a negative effect on the incentive to grow companies and even enhance or choose a career in this state. Our residents don't require more fiscal discipline, our government does. 

A recent WalletHub study indicates that Illinois already has the worst state and local tax burden in the nation, yet leading Democrat proposals would raise income taxes on DuPage County residents to 6%, 7%, 8%, or more, with no end in sight. The politicians who have overspent our money, overtaxed our residents, and overregulated our businesses will take more and more from us until we’ve got nothing left. Instead of this proposed ‘graduated’ income tax and other tax increases, we need to reduce the tax burden on our residents, at every level. There are currently two graduated income tax proposals pending in the Senate and one proposal pending in the House.

Breen Files Constitutional Amendment to Ensure Fair Maps for House and Senate Districts
Gerrymandered legislative maps allow politicians to unnaturally divide communities in favor of partisan interests rather than keeping towns and counties together and being as compact as possible. The photo to the left shows Iowa maps as compared to Illinois maps. Iowa does not allow politics to influence map-making. There is significant bipartisan support for a fair maps system. In fact, a Paul Simon Institute poll indicates that 72% of Illinoisans oppose the current method by which legislative districts and maps are drawn in Illinois. 

I recently filed HJRCA 46, a Constitutional Amendment that takes politics out of Illinois’ legislative map-drawing process and instead ensure a transparent, objective, and fair process for adopting legislative maps. My proposal, drafted in cooperation with Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago), would invite everyone in Illinois to submit proposed maps, which would be ranked by how few towns and counties are split to form districts, and then by compactness of districts drawn. The House and Senate would then have the option of adopting one of the top three fairest maps, or else allowing the top-ranked map to go into law. If the General Assembly does not put fair maps on the ballot in 2018, my fair maps amendment is drafted to meet the legal requirements for a potential citizen-led ballot initiative in 2020.

HJRCA 46 would amend the Legislative Article of the Illinois Constitution to make the Legislative Redistricting Commission the primary driver of the mapping process, instead of the General Assembly. The commission would provide tools to the public to draw and submit maps and then apply the objective scoring rubric to submitted maps, presenting the top three to the General Assembly. HJRCA 46 retains and repurposes the current constitutional participants in the mapping process—the commission, General Assembly, and Secretary of State—in order to conform with Illinois court decisions about citizen-led fair map initiatives. The amendment also adds one member to the Illinois House, from 118 to 119, both to give the body an odd number of legislators and to meet the Illinois court requirement that any citizen-led amendment must include a “structural” change.

While there are other Illinois fair maps proposals, this proposal is the only one with specific, objective standards written into it, to guarantee the mapping process stays entirely transparent and fair. If approved, the Constitutional Amendment would apply to redistricting beginning in 2021 for the election that is held in 2022.

In addition to HJRCA 46, I also signed on as a co-sponsor of HR 995, which expresses support for independent redistricting reform and advocates for a non-partisan map-making process by the upcoming redistricting cycle.

Breen Questions Jail Voting Bill as Democrats Ignore Republican Victims’ Rights Bills
Last week the House considered legislation that would require election authorities to provide ballots for those incarcerated in county jails. I questioned the sincerity of Democrats on criminal justice, since they’ve refused to consider any Republican bills protecting victims of crime, instead solely allowing consideration of their own bills, which focus on the rights of criminals. You can click here to view my full floor comments on HB 4469

Republican bills that were summarily dismissed, without due consideration, included HB 4586, which would have added protections to DCFS and Adult Protective Serve employees, bringing their protections to the same level as those provided to police, fire and other emergency responders who protect our most vulnerable. That bill was filed after a DCFS worker was brutally beaten to death while performing the duties of her job last fall.

Breen Welcomes FFA Students from Across Illinois to the Capitol for Agriculture Day
Earlier this month it was my pleasure to welcome Future Farmers of America (FFA) students from across Illinois to the Capitol to celebrate Agriculture Day. Agriculture is Illinois’ leading industry, and we are a leading producer of everything from soybeans and corn to pigs and hogs. The state’s climate and soil also enable farmers to grow and raise many other agricultural commodities, including cattle, wheat, oats, sorghum, hay, sheep, poultry, fruits and vegetables. Data from the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA-NASS) states that as of February 2017, Illinois had 72,200 farms covering nearly 27 million acres - about 75 percent of the state's total land area. Marketing of Illinois' agricultural commodities generates more than $19 billion annually. 

Breen Joins Governor for Signing of Bill that will Bring 5G Wireless Technology, Jobs and Economic Growth to Illinois
On April 12, I joined Governor Bruce Rauner for the signing of SB 1451. This new law will standardize and streamline regulation of small wireless cell facilities, paving the way for 5G wireless and other technology in Illinois. Video of the event is posted here.

This legislation ensures that consumers in Illinois stay on the forefront of wireless technology. Illinoisans will now have greater access to 5G technology, allowing for more data to be transferred faster than ever before. Besides faster internet and devices, it has been forecasted that 5G and smart cities investments will create nearly 100,000 jobs and bring in nearly $9 billion in investment to Illinois over the next seven years. Small cells are lower-profile wireless signal alternatives to traditional cell towers that can be attached to existing structures. Their deployment will help lay the foundation required to support the technologies of the future, such as the next generation wireless systems known as 5G. The technology will also help provide Illinoisans with faster download speeds, improved call quality and support Telemedicine, connected cars, distance learning, smart homes, smart farms and Smart Cities, creating a more connected network across the state. 

It is important to note that this bill still ensures local governments retain their role and authority in the permitting process of telecommunications equipment by allowing them to exercise their zoning, land use, planning, and permitting authorities within their territorial boundaries, including with respect to wireless support structures and utility poles.

Breen Delivers State Proclamation to Lombard’s Soaring Eagle Academy
In addition to the work I have done to expand Soaring Eagle Academy’s ability to transport K-12 students to activities on their multi-purpose bus, earlier this month on April 16 I had an opportunity to visit with the staff and students at the Lombard school. I worked with Governor Bruce Rauner’s office to create an official State Proclamation recognizing the month of April as Autism Awareness Month in Illinois, and I was pleased to present the proclamation to the folks at Soaring Eagle Academy in appreciation for their work. You can read the proclamation here.

Soaring Eagle Academy is a safe and nurturing environment where each student and family, teacher and therapist, and other professionals from the community have the opportunity to work together to honor the abilities of every child. Together, they respect, embrace and empower students as they guide, learn and teach. Students are cared for physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally while engaged in meaningful learning.
The mission of Soaring Eagle Academy is to provide an academic and social learning environment for students with special needs that supports their individual strengths and learning styles and integrates learning and interaction within Developmental Language Models and Developmental Individual-Difference Relationship-based approach principles. You can learn more about Soaring Eagle Academy here

Chicago-Area Homeowners Pay Higher Property Taxes than 93% of U.S.
Homeowners in the Chicago area are paying higher property tax bills, on average, than 93% of the country, according to a new report. The average 2017 tax bill on a single-family home in DuPage County was higher than nearly 98% of the 1/414 U.S. counties covered by the report, released earlier this month by Attom Data Solutions. In nearby Lake County, tax bills were higher than nearly 99 percent. Kane and McHenry County tax bills came in 96% higher, Cook County bills were 94% higher, and Will County bills were 93% higher.

The report covers only counties with 10,000 or more single-family homes. The report includes a county-by-county map of the average property tax bill for single-family homes. Read more in Crain's.

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