Legislative Update: October 25, 2018

Breen Addresses Huge Spike in "Failure to Appear in the Court" Cases in DuPage County
The safety of your family is very important to me, so when I learned that DuPage recently experienced a significant spike in instances where accused people who are out on bail have failed to appear in court, I went to work with DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin and State Senator Michael Connelly to remedy the problem. Hunting down and bringing bail jumpers to justice uses precious police and prosecutorial resources—and our communities are less safe with these individuals at large.

This week Senator Connelly and I filed identical bills in the House and Senate that seek to amend the Bail Reform Act to help ensure that those charged with crimes actually appear in court when required to do so. The new Bail Reform Act that took effect in Illinois on January 1 of this year was part of a national movement to improve the pre-trial justice system in this country. While that Act includes some beneficial provisions, one specific change has disincentivized defendants from appearing in court. Under these new bail guidelines, they would rather take their chances and flee justice than appear on court-mandated dates to face their charges. This is unacceptable.

Failure to Appear in Court instances in DuPage County for more serious Category A offenses, which include murder, home invasion, and aggravated violent felonies, jumped by 83% during the first seven months of 2018 as compared to the same timeframe in 2017. Category B offenses jumped 71% during that same time. The current law stipulates that failure to appear offenses are imposed at one Class lower than the original crime for which a defendant is charged, and often judges are not sentencing offenders to jail time for skipping bail.

Poposed changes to the Bail Reform Act through my HB 5980 include:
  • Individuals who are out on bail and fail to appear in court would be charged with a “failure to appear” offense of the same Class (instead of the next lower Class) of the original crime with which he/she has been charged 
  • “Failure to Appear” offenders would not be eligible for probation for bail jumping 
State Sells $250 Million in Build Illinois Bonds
Proceeds from the largely tax-free debt offering will be used to finance capital infrastructure investments. No new taxes will be required to pay off the bonds, which will mature in equal stages from 2019 until 2043. The Build Illinois Bond Act sets aside a slice of revenues from existing sales taxes to service the bonds. Prior to using money from its sales taxes for day-to-day operating purposes, the State has pledged to its bondholders that it will use a portion of this sales tax money for long-term capital investment.

Many investors see Illinois sales tax revenues as a relatively secure revenue source, and despite the State’s overall fiscal challenges the bonds were rated several significant notches above the “junk bond” level. S&P Global Ratings rated the new issue at AA-, and Fitch Ratings rated the issue at A-. The bonds were sold to Wall Street investors on Tuesday, October 16. Money from the debt issuance will be used for long-term investments such as roads, bridges, and educational infrastructure.

Senator Nybo and Representative Breen Team Up for 4th Annual “Support Our Troops” Drive
This year State Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) and I are once again partnering with the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for our fourth annual “Support Our Troops” collection drive. Items collected through the end of November will be delivered to military personnel serving overseas near or before Christmas. Our shared legislative office at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 105A in Lombard will serve as the drop-off location for items to be donated to U.S. troops. Donations will be accepted through November 30 during normal business hours of 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Senator Nybo and I 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 or ear buds, DVD movies or television shows, small video games, international calling cards 
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Kleenex, lotion, toothpaste and toothbrushes, 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, the collection drive will not accept aerosol cans and containers, food items that could melt or spoil, and fragile items.

Illinois Unemployment Rate Matches Record Low, Tied for 32nd Nationally
The recent 4.1% unemployment figure reported by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) matches the lowest number ever posted for this figure, a widely-cited index of economic health and activity in Illinois. The national average unemployment is now 3.7%, with Illinois ranking 32nd, behind Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Indiana. Preliminary data, which is subject to revision as more numbers come in, indicates that nonfarm payroll total employment increased in the Land of Lincoln by 2,800 jobs from August to September 2018. The same figure, when counted on a year-to-year basis (September 2017 to September 2018) showed a net gain of more than 50,000 nonfarm payroll jobs.

September 2018 job creation was stronger in education, construction, and manufacturing. The Illinois manufacturing economy created an estimated 2,300 net new jobs in September 2018 alone, and created 14,600 new factory jobs over the past 12 months. It should be noted, however, that the Illinois manufacturing sector is not as dominant as it was in February 1999, the last time our State’s unemployment rate was 4.1%. Illinois’ overall job universe has adjusted over the past two decades. In line with overall worldwide trends towards automation, many Illinois jobs have moved from factories to offices and service-related employment opportunities.

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