March 14, 2017
After Gov. Rauner stifled the grand bargain, the Senate called on more than a dozen Rauner administration agency heads to testify about possible budget cuts to reduce the $5 billion gap in the governor’s budget.
The cabinet directors were repeatedly unable, unwilling or unprepared to offer any savings or program cuts. Out of 15 agency directors that testified, none of them could identify a single dollar to cut.
This is especially concerning considering that the governor has asked the General Assembly to give him the power to cut whatever he wants in order to balance spending for three years in a row. The fact that the governor's handpicked agency heads failed to find any cuts suggests that the governor might be ill-prepared to do that.
By continuing to push his partisan priorities, the governor is hurting taxpayers, businesses and families. Every day that we don’t resolve this budget crisis, $11 million is added to the state’s debt and our backlog of bills grows.
Though the governor presented a budget that is now $5 billion out of balance, I remain determined to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find compromise and fill the budget gap the governor created.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or online with any questions or concerns.
Sincerely,Senator Heather Steans7th District – Illinois
Get more involved in state government
Keeping track of what’s happening in Springfield can be difficult. Let me help make it easier to follow by sending you a list of noteworthy legislation that will be heard in committees during session weeks.
If you are interested in receiving this kind of update, please sign up here.
Upcoming events in the district
There are several upcoming events in the district, including an information session on lead exposure this Saturday, March 18. Additionally, see below for more information about how you can pick up a free tree from a water reclamation plant and the details of our next know your rights event.
5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640
773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)
623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706
March 7, 2017
Thank you for seeking to take on a more active role in state government and for signing up for this new email list. If someone forwarded this message to you and you’d like to sign up for this list, click here.
I have included a list of noteworthy pieces of legislation that have been posted to committee this week below along with the committee schedule. This list includes legislation introduced by both democrats and republicans. I support some of the pieces of legislation below and do not support other pieces. I have included both so that you can stay informed and decide which pieces you’d like to support or oppose.
If you would like to see all of the bills that are posted to a committee, click here and select the committee you’d like to review. The list can be found under “bills” on the committee page.
To listen to a hearing live, click here and select the room the committee you’re interested in is meeting. The committee schedule is subject to change, and some committees may be cancelled throughout the week. Additionally, committees may be delayed if previous events in the day run longer than initially scheduled. The Senate Democrats tweet committees, including when they begin and end. Follow them at @ILSenDems.
For directions on how to submit a witness slip to show your support or opposition to a particular bill, click here.
If you are interested in tracking legislation beyond its hearing in a committee, you can sign up for a free bill tracking tool on www.ilga.gov. You can build queries based on which committees the legislation moves through and follow it as it is debated, voted on and passed to the other chamber. To sign up, click the “My Legislation” tab on www.ilga.gov.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions or feedback on how to improve this email update. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or online with any questions or concerns.
Legislation to watch in committee this week
• Tuition reimbursement – SB 1897 establishes a tuition reimbursement grant for full-time in-state undergraduate students attending a state university. (McGuire)
• Drug testing for SNAP benefits – SB 79 requires drug testing for to receive SNAP benefits and state medical assistance. (McCarter)
• Disabled services – SB 84 provides home-based and long-term community-based services to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are eligible for Medicaid assistance. (Steans)
• Officer-involved shootings – SB 58 requires police officers involved in shootings to submit to drug and alcohol testing within one hour to ensure they were not impaired while discharging a firearm. (Hunter)
• Attorneys at bail hearings – SB 1690 allows attorneys to be present at bail hearings and requires the court to appoint an attorney if a person cannot afford it. (Raoul)
• Sexual orientation as a criminal defense – SB 1761 bars sexual orientation or gender identity from being considered mitigating factors or serious provocation in murder cases. (Biss)
• Emissions testing – SB 836 requires emissions test stations within 5 miles of residents subject to testing instead rather than 12 miles required under current state law. (Mulroe)
• Dark money in politics – SB 2089 requires politically active non-profit organizations like the NRA and unions to register as political committees and report their donors. (Harmon)
• U.S.-Mexican wall contractors – SB 2091 prohibits state agencies from contracting with businesses that contract with the federal government to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. (Sandoval)
• Paid sick time – SB 1296 requires employers to provide paid sick time to full- and part-time employees. (Hutchinson)
• Minimum wage – SB 1738 increases the minimum wage to $15 by 2021. (Lightford)
• Equal pay – SB 981 strengthens the Illinois Equal Pay Act and prohibits employers from asking job applicants what their previous salary was in an effort to reduce the gender wage gap. (Biss)
• Right to work – SB 1905 prohibits local governments from enacting right-to-work ordinances. (Silverstein)
• Clean coal – SB 1840 establishes a clean coal technology grant program. (Manar)
• Protecting bees – SB 673 bans the use of neonicotinoid insecticides on public lands and residential settings. (Harmon)
• Plastic bag ban – SB 1597 bars the use of non-compostable plastic bags in Illinois. (Link)
Committee schedule, Tuesday, March 7
(All committees are in the Capitol unless otherwise stated)
• Senate Education Committee subject matter hearing on Federal Every Student Succeeds Act 10:30 a.m., Room 212
• Senate Education Committee subject matter hearing on testimony from ISBE on the governor's FY18 proposed budget1 p.m., Room 212
• Senate Public Health Committee subject matter hearing on testimony from the Department of Public Health on the governor's FY18 proposed budget1 p.m., Room 400
• Senate Veterans Affairs Committee1 p.m., Room 409
• Senate Higher Education Committee2:30 p.m., Room 212
• Senate Judiciary Committee2:30 p.m., Room 400
• Senate Human Services Committee subject matter haring on testimony from the Department of Human services, Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, and Department on Aging on the governor's FY18 proposed budget 2:30 p.m., Room 409
• Senate Transportation Committee4:30 p.m., Room 212
• Senate Criminal Law Committee 4:30 p.m., Room 400
Committee Schedule, Wednesday, March 8
• Senate Appropriations I Committee subject matter hearing on the Governor's Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Public Health on fiscal year 2017 liabilities8:30 a.m., Room 400
• Senate Gaming Committee9 a.m., Room 212
• Senate Local Government Committee subject matter hearing on testimony from mayors on the effects of the budget impasse for municipal governments9 a.m., Room 409
• Senate Executive Committee1 p.m., Room 212
• Senate Licensed Activities Committee1 p.m., Room 400
• Senate State Government Committee1 p.m., Room 409
• Senate Labor Committee subject matter hearing on testimony from the Department of Labor on the governor's FY18 proposed budget3 p.m., Room 212
• Senate Government Reform Committee3 p.m., Room 400
• Senate Revenue Committee4:15 p.m., Room 212
• Senate Insurance Committee4:15 p.m., Room 400
• Joint Senate Appropriations I, Appropriations II and Revenue Committee Hearing Subject Matter On: COGFA's 2018 Economic Forecast and Revenue Estimate and FY 2017 Revenue Outlook Update 5:15 p.m., Room 212
Committee Schedule, Thursday, March 9
• Senate Agriculture Committee8:30 a.m., Room 409
• Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee9 a.m., Room 400
• Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee10:45 a.m., Room 212
• Senate Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee 10:45 a.m., Room 400
• Senate Environment and Conservation Committee10:45 a.m., Room 409
• Senate Criminal Law Committee subject matter hearing on testimony from the Department of Corrections and the Department of State Police on the governor's FY18 proposed budget12 p.m., Room 400
March 3, 2017
Gov. Bruce Rauner sank to a new low this week, and he took the state’s latest hope for a budget deal with him.
For unclear reasons, the governor chose to interfere in Senate negotiations on the much-anticipated grand bargain, a package of bipartisan measures designed to cut costs, reform state government and generate revenue. Some of the proposals reflected Democratic priorities, others reflected Republican priorities. And some contained proposals that directly reflected priorities set forth in the governor’s agenda, such as workers compensation reform, pension reform and a property tax freeze.
Even the governor’s own budget proposal – unbalanced by at least $4.6 billion – was counting on the all-or-nothing comprehensive Senate deal. For weeks, the governor publicly encouraged the Senate to continue negotiating the grand bargain and vowed he would not interfere with our efforts.
But on Wednesday, as senators prepared to take votes on some of the more difficult issues in the package, the governor apparently no longer could sit idly by, choosing instead to intimidate Republicans into withdrawing their support for the deal.
His interference effectively killed a bipartisan compromise that had been in the works for months and could have helped resolve the state’s crippling two-year budget stalemate.
In my work as a state lawmaker, I rarely have felt as frustrated as I felt Wednesday when the rug was pulled out from under me and everyone else who had worked so hard on this deal and had negotiated in good faith.
Gov. Rauner refuses to present a balanced budget – even though the Illinois Constitution requires him to do so – and he killed the Senate’s effort to achieve one. That doesn’t sound like a governor whose number one priority is to end the budget stalemate.
In spite of those challenges, my colleagues and I in the Senate are committed to ending the budget stalemate. Expect to see this issue receive even more attention in the coming weeks. I’ll keep you posted.
Sincerely,Senator Heather Steans7th District – Illinois
Fighting for direct support personnel
My legislation to increase wages for direct support personnel made it out of committee this week.
Senate Bill 955 would raise hourly starting wages to $15 from $9.30 for front-line workers paid by the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Direct support professionals have mentally, physically and emotionally taxing jobs and provide a great service to our communities. Many of them have struggled financially because they have not been paid a living wage for far too long. The starting wage has not been raised in nearly a decade.
Illinois direct support personnel receive some of the lowest wages in the nation for this type of work. Low starting wages has made attracting and retaining qualified staff challenging, leading to high vacancy rates and challenges providing quality care.
Keeping track of what’s happening in Springfield can be difficult. Let me help make it easier to follow by sending you a list of noteworthy legislation that will be heard in committees that week.
If you are interested in receiving this kind of update, please sign up here.
Indivisible Elected Official Panel and Workshop
Indivisible Illinois will meet Monday, March 6 at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:45 p.m.) at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster Street, Evanston, IL 60201, for an update on federal and state issues and an activist workshop.
I will speak alongside Congresswoman Jan Schakowksy, Congressman Mike Quigley, State Senator Daniel Biss and State Representative Kelly Cassidy.
Indivisible Illinois empowers local progressive groups by uniting and amplifying voices through networks, resources, and public platforms in pursuit of liberty and justice for all. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP here by Saturday, March 4.
Know Your Rights
Please join me Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m. for an information session about the rights of individuals when confronted by immigration authorities. I will be joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Alderman Joe Moore, State Representative Kelly Cassidy and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.
The presentation will be conducted by the National Immigrant Justice Center, the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Centro Romero, the Syrian Community Network and Northside Community Resources.
The event will be in the Gale School Auditorium, 1631 W. Jonquil. It is free and open to the public. Simultaneous interpretation in Spanish and Arabic will be provided.
February 27, 2017
Following the presidential election, I have heard from many of you that you’d like to get more involved in state government and the legislative process. I am excited that so many of you are interested in local government and have reached out to me for more information.
Based on these inquiries, I’ve decided to create an update that I will send out prior to most weeks that the Senate is in session. These updates will provide information on noteworthy legislation that will be heard in committee that week and let you know when and where the hearings will take place. If you are interested in receiving this kind of update, please sign up here.
I have also included information on how to fill out and submit a witness slip below. Witness slips are a way to voice your support or opposition for a particular piece of legislation. Before legislation is heard in committee, citizens can submit witness slips to register their opinions.
Again, click here to sign up to receive more frequent updates on important Senate legislation that will be heard in committee.
How to submit a witness slip
1. The first step is to identify which legislation you are interested in supporting or opposing, then finding out which committee will hear it. You can do that by going to www.ilga.gov and searching for the Senate or House bill.
2. Once you have determined which committee will consider the legislation, go back to the homepage of www.ilga.gov and click “GA Dashboard” under “Reports and Inquiry” in the middle column.
3. Click on House or Senate in the left-hand sidebar, depending on which type of legislation it is, and then click “Committee Hearings” in the dropdown menu.
4. If you wish to submit a witness slip for legislation that will be heard in committee that week, click the “Week” tab. If it will be heard later in the month, click the “Month” tab.
5. A list of all committees occurring that week or month will appear. Find the committee for the legislation that interests you. In the far right column, click the icon that looks like a piece of paper with the corner turned up.
6. You will be taken to a page that shows all legislation that will be heard in that committee. To submit your own witness slip, click “Create Witness Slip” in the right column of the legislation that interests you.
7. You will be asked to enter your information, the names of the groups or firms you represent and your position (support or oppose) on the legislation.
8. The last question asks what type of testimony you’d like to submit. The most common is “Record of Appearance Only,” which means you would like to register your support or opposition. During the hearing, the chairman or chairwoman will read how many people support and oppose a piece of legislation. If you are interested in presenting oral testimony in person at the committee hearing, click oral. If you are unable to attend the hearing but would like to submit a written statement, click “Written Statement Filed.” It is your responsibility to get a copy of your written statement to the chairman or chairwoman of that committee.
9. Once you have completed the required information, click “Create (Slip)” at the bottom of the page.
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