In This Issue:
Black History Month Panel Video
Dear Friends, Like many of you, I’ve spent much of the last week reeling from the events in Ukraine. The idea that in this modern 21st century, Russia could invade a sovereign, democratic country is almost unthinkable. News reports from the region of Ukrainians’ bravery and sacrifice are inspiring, but they come with their own heartbreak imagining the lives lost because of a tyrant. As the week’s events unfolded, I was largely on the Springfield House floor, and I was heartened by the bipartisan show of resolve to provide our state’s full support for Ukraine and its people. It was and continues to be a sobering time, but I hope that, like me, it’s given you a chance to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in this country. No matter our differences in views or opinions, I know we’re ultimately united by a desire to improve and move our community and our state forward. To that end, I’ve shared, below, some of the ways my colleagues and I are trying to address the needs and priorities of our community via the state budget and new legislation, as well as locally through district events. Please never hesitate to contact me with your concerns, questions, or ideas. Sincerely, Janet
Budget Highlights As a member of the House Appropriations-General Services Committee, I’ve spent much of the past few weeks in hearings combing through budget items for the coming year, as well as reviewing Governor Pritzker’s overall proposed fiscal year 2023 budget. Negotiations continue on how we will allocate funds. Overall, I like the proposed budget’s balance between providing much needed relief to Illinois families while also showing fiscal discipline. For instance, rather than focusing on new programs, we’re paying our bills and retiring debt incurred over decades of mismanagement. I created the graphic below to highlight some of the most notable areas of the FY22 and FY23 state budget, which I hope will be helpful to you.
The past few weeks have been particularly busy on the legislative front, and that will continue to be the case as we come up on this Friday’s deadline to move all House bills out of the House and into the Senate. Below are updates on the bills that I’m currently carrying through the House, and I continue to work with our community to identify bills to co-sponsor and support.
HB5472 provides relief to schools for substitute teacher shortages that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. This bill increases the number of days that retired teachers may come back to the classrooms to 140 days from 120 days and passed unanimously through the Personnel and Pensions Committee.
HB1167 provides paycheck protection to school personnel when schools are unexpectedly closed as well as administrative days to teachers and school staff in lieu of sick days for Covid-related leave. HB1167 passed multiple rounds through the House Executive Committee, with the latest amendments making clarifications to ensure that the legislation would not result in cost increases.
HB4261 designates dolostone as the Illinois state rock, and I’ve been working on this legislation with students at Naperville 203’s Maplebrook Elementary and Pleasantdale School District 107, who asked me to sponsor this initiative. The bill unanimously passed through the State Government Administration Committee last week, and it was especially gratifying to watch our students and teachers testify to the committee on behalf of this bill.
HB4276 was brought to me by constituents and seeks to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs in certain circumstances when there are no immediate hazards present. While there is much data showing how this has led to decreases in cyclist injuries and accidents in other states that have enacted similar measures, those results can be relatively unintuitive to understand. The bill did not make it out of the Transportation Committee, but I will continue to work with advocates to educate lawmakers on the issue.
HB4646 ensures that elected worker representatives on the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund can attend trustee meetings, and it mirrors current law for the Teachers Retirement System. The bill passed the House floor last week and is now in the Senate chamber.
Black History Month Panel
Earlier this month, Senator Laura Ellman and I hosted Regina Brent, Founder and President of Unity Partnership, to discuss how her group’s collaboration between community organizations and law enforcement seeks to foster safer communities for all. You can watch the discussion on Facebook Live (no Facebook account needed to view).
We’re hosting a number of events through the month of March, and I hope ot see you at one or all of them!
Women’s History Veterans’ Honor Flight Panel. March is Women’s History Month, and I’m joining Senator Laura Ellman in hosting members of Illinois’ first all-women veteran honor flight to Washington D.C. to talk about their experience in making this historic flight a reality.
Virtual Food Drive with Loaves & Fishes. Join us in helping Loaves & Fishes continue in their mission to end hunger and transform lives. The need for food pantry and other wraparound services has only increased in the past two years, and this online drive is a convenient way to make an impact on our local community.
March Coffee & Conversation. I host a Coffee & Conversation on the last Saturday morning of each month to update residents on Springfield and local district happenings. It’s an opportunity for casual conversation where you can listen, ask questions, and share your feedback.