Legislative Liaison Director: Sonja Faulkner League of Women Voters Glen Ellyn
Latest Report: April 2019
LWVGE LEGISLATIVE LIAISON
STATE OF ILLINOIS
Starting April 22, NAMI-Dupage will have a new Executive Director Geri Kerger.
"Kerger has more than 16 years of experience in non-profit development, served as the Director of Women’s Services for the YWCA in Glen Ellyn, and as a member of the DuPage County Mental Health Advisory Board. Kerger received a BA in Sociology, Master’s in Guidance and Counseling, and her Juris Doctor. As an attorney, she taught at several local colleges including College of DuPage and National Louis University."
LWVIL LEGISLATIVE INTERVIEWS
On March 18th, Rita Doyle, Alison Hayes, Lois Walter, and I met with State Representative Terra Costa Howard, D48, at her office in Lombard. The meeting was scheduled as part of LWVIL ‘s Legislative Interview initiative. As reported in last month’s Board report, the Primary Focus of this interview was Fiscal Policy.
Representative Costa Howard urges all constituents to contact her office regarding issues and legislation. Her votes will be based on what she views as best for D48, in large part, based on what she hears from her constituents.
To contact Representative Costa Howard call or, preferably, email her office:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
LEGISLATIVE INTERVIEW: STATE REPRESENTATIVE TERRA COSTA HOWARD
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF GLEN ELLYN
MARCH 18, 2019
Members of our League met with State Representative Terra Costa Howard, D48, at her office in Lombard on March 18th.
On our arrival, Representative Costa Howard clarified that the office is not “her” office but the office of those she represents. The walls of the office are reflective of that message. Artwork by students from a middle school in District 48 is displayed. She intends to continue to have artwork displayed on an ongoing basis. Student artists, their families and the public are invited to the office to enjoy the student gallery. This outreach to local schools will provide students with an opportunity to personally meet their state representative, and will be an introduction to representative government.
Throughout our discussion with Representative Costa Howard, she emphasized that she will represent our district; that is, her vote will reflect what she feels is in the best interest of D48, based in large part on what she hears from constituents. She strongly encouraged members of our League and all constituents to call or, preferably, email her with their views on issues and legislation.
Per the instructions for the ‘Legislative Interviews’ this year, the Primary Focus of our discussion with Representative Costa Howard was Fiscal Policy. She requested at the outset of our discussion that we discuss these issues in more general terms than is outlined in the ‘Interview Questions’.
LEGISLATIVE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Specifically, what revenue sources will you vote yes on?
-Sales Tax on Services:
Representative Costa Howard stated that no action will be taken legislatively on this issue during this legislative session. She did say that she would consider voting in favor of taxing some ‘luxury services, such as services at a salon’.
Financial Transaction Tax:
If a financial transaction tax were to be considered, Representative Costa Howard stated that she would have a ‘conflict of interest’ due to the nature of her family business.
She did express some concern as to the impact of this tax on businesses, suggesting that such a tax might result in some businesses looking to relocate out-of-state.
-Graduated Rate Income Tax (GRIT):
Representative Costa Howard did not address the issue of how she would vote on GRIT.
Her initial response was concern about the impact on some of her constituents, i.e., those living in more affluent communities. When asked about those living in communities where the median income is lower, she indicated that when she canvassed as a candidate, people in communities throughout the District expressed deep concerns about ‘high taxes’ and the prospect of rising taxes.
We discussed the fact that many people do not understand GRIT; and that, because of attack ads, etc., many people fear any “new taxes”. We talked about the importance of educating voters about GRIT. Representative Costa Howard said that she would be happy to participate in organizing a forum. She suggested a ‘nonpartisan’ forum, explaining that inclusion of those who favor GRIT, as well as those who are opposed, might attract a broad audience.
Representative Costa Howard confirmed that GRIT will be considered in May. Given the time frame, organizing a forum might be challenging, unless we work with other organizations that are presently sponsoring forums.
Two pieces of legislation will be considered this spring: pension rates, as proposed by Governor Pritzker; and, a Constitutional Amendment to change the form of taxation in IL from a “flat rate” to a graduated tax rate. Representative Costa Howard stated that neither bill would receive any Republican support.
She also mentioned that there is no property tax relief proposed in the legislation.
Amortizing of Pension Debt:
Representative Costa Howard would vote “no” on legislation to amortize pension debt.
Representative Costa Howard favors medical marijuana, viewing it, in part, as an alternative to prescribing opioids. She did not indicate how she would vote on recreational marijuana.
She said she definitely opposes legalizing ‘homegrown marijuana”, and feels marijuana generally needs to be carefully regulated. She mentioned possible economic benefits if CBD production & uses were approved and expanded.
Our discussion of marijuana focused on the question of legalization, rather than on the marijuana tax.
OTHER LEGISLATIVE ACTION/ISSUES
Representative Costa Howard mentioned that she had voted in favor of legislation that was passed recently by the House, requiring inclusion of LGBTQ history as part of mandatory school curriculum.
We also discussed recently approved legislation increasing the state’s Minimum Wage. Representative Costa Howard voted against approval of this legislation. She said that her vote was based on the large number of constituents who called and asked her to vote ‘no’. Conversely, she received very few calls from those who favored the bill. She spoke with small business owners, including owners of local retail shops, who felt the increase would negatively impact them. In addition, she was concerned about the impact on the budgets of schools, park districts, municipalities and libraries.
We have also reached out to State Senator Suzy Glowiak, D24, and State Representative Deb Conroy, D46, who represents voters living in a small area in north Glen Ellyn, in hopes of scheduling meetings with them.
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF GLEN ELLYN
Sonja Faulkner, Legislative Liaison
Governor J.B. Pritzker has proposed that the State of Illinois move from a flat-rate income tax, as presently provided for in the IL state constitution, to a graduated (“fair”) income tax rate. He has proposed a tax structure that would provide small decreases in tax rates for those earning less than $100,000, and increased rates for those earning higher incomes, particularly the wealthiest 3%.
To effect this change, 3/5s of each chamber of the General Assembly would need to approve the constitutional change. Following that action, the proposed amendment would appear on the 2020 statewide election ballot and would need to be approved by 60% of the voters.
The current tax rate is 4.95 %, regardless of income.
Under Governor Pritzker’s proposed plan, the tax rates would be:
$0- 10,000: 4.75%
$10,000- 100,000: 4.9%
$100,000- 250,000: 4.95%
$250,000- 500,000: 7.75%
$500,000- 1 million: 7.85%
The proposed plan also includes an increase in property tax credit for homeowners.
Retirees would not be affected, as IL is one of a few states that do not tax retirement income.
Facts to Consider:
*All but 6 of the 41 states with broad-based income taxes have graduated tax rates.
*Iowa’s top tax rate is 8.53% (kicks in at $73,710).
*Wisconsin’s top rate is 7.65% on those with income over $252,150 (individual)
*Minnesota’s top rate is 9.85%
*California, Hawaii, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Washington D.C. all have tax rates higher than the top rates proposed under IL plan.
*Top marginal federal income tax rates, historically:
Fell to pre-1932 rate in 1982
The LWV supports a constitutional amendment that would replace the present flat-rate income tax with a graduated income tax rate. The League views the graduated income tax rate, that is, taxing those who are the wealthiest at a higher tax rate than those with more modest incomes, as more equitable.
PROPOSED LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS SEXUAL ABUSE IN SCHOOLS:
State Senator Tom Cullerton (represents Glen Ellyn residents living in north Glen Ellyn) and Representative David McSweeney have drafted legislation to address the issue of sexual abuse of children by teachers and other school employees.
Their proposed legislation provides for:
*Swiftly revoking the licenses of educators found to have abused children.
*Making discipline more transparent to the public.
*Increasing public access to disciplinary records of school employees in cases of sexual assault by amending the State Personnel Review Act, the Criminal Code and the Freedom of Information Act.
*Making it a crime for school employees to have sexual contact with a student regardless of age. (Current law: sexual contact is legal if student is over 17 and no force is involved.)
Additionally, legislation has been reintroduced that would significantly limit the ability of teachers accused of sexual assault to collect government pensions.
STATE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE:
The General Assembly has approved, and the Governor has signed, legislation that increases the minimum wage from its present rate of $8.25/hr. to $15/hr. by 2025.
Increases will be as follows:
$9.25/hr. on 1-1-20; $10/hr. on 7-1-20; then will increase by $1/hr. on January 1 of each year until 2025.
State Representative Terra Costa Howard voted against the measure. Explaining her vote, as reported in the Daily Herald, she said that the vote was ‘one of her hardest decisions’. Her concerns related to the effect on the budgets of schools, park districts, municipalities and libraries. She also stated that she received many calls from constituents asking her to oppose the bill.
Bills to control the increasing costs of prescription drugs have been proposed:
· HB 3493: Regulating some drug prices similar to the way the state regulates utility rates.
· HB 2880: Taxing drug price increases that exceed the rate of inflation.
· HB156: Requiring more disclosure re: drug prices including how much is spent on marketing.
· HB 1414: State becoming a licensed wholesaler of cheaper drugs from Canada.
LWVIL supports SJRCA4 (Senate bill) & HJRCA15 (House bill)-
constitutional amendment to change the present approach to drawing legislative districts.
*Remove politicians/sitting legislators from drawing their own maps.
*Establish an independent redistricting commission to draw maps.
*Create a commission to be comprised of citizens who demographically, politically and geographically represent the state.
*Require releasing all communications by the commission, as well as the
data used to create the proposed maps.
*Provide for public comment (including, minimum of 30 public hearings) and allow the public to submit its own maps.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
The House has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, making it easier to take guns away from violent offenders even if they are not a spouse or domestic partner. This legislation, which is opposed by the NRA, extends protection to include those convicted of stalking and current and former boyfriends.
Women in the United States die from gun violence at far higher rates that those living in other high-income countries.
GE STATE LEGISLATORS:
State Senator District 23: Thomas Cullerton (Dem., reelected)
State Senator District 24: Suzy Glowiak (Dem., defeated Chris Nybo)
State Representative District 46: Deborah Conroy (Dem., reelected)
State Representative District 48: Terra Costa Howard (Dem., defeated Peter Breen)
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR STATE LEGISLATORS: LOCAL OFFICES
State Senator Thomas Cullerton, District 23:
338 South Ardmore Ave., Villa Park 60181
State Senator Suzy Glowiak, District 24:
Office Space and local contact Information TBA soon.
217-782-8148 (Washington D.C. office)
State Representative Deborah Conroy, District 46:
28 S. Villa Ave., Villa Park 60181
State Representative Terra Costa Howard, District 48
913 S. Main St., Lombard 60148
MEMBER OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH STATE LEGISLATORS:
Every spring, local Leagues are asked by the LWVIL to meet with
their state legislators. The purposes of these meetings are:
1) To develop or reinforce a positive relationship with our legislators, and
2) To determine each legislator’s opinion on topics representing League positions, which may or may not have ‘legislative consequences’ for the spring session. These are considered to be fact-finding meetings.
If you have an interest in participating in one of these meetings, please email, Sonja Faulkner, LWVGE Legislative Liaison, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAROLE REVIEW LEGISLATION SIGNED BY GOVERNOR
Governor Pritzker has signed legislation that allows young adults to petition the Illinois Prisoner Review Board for parole after serving 10 years of their prison term. Those seeking a review must have committed their crimes before they were 21 years old and been sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
People who are convicted of committing first-degree murder or aggravated criminal sexual assault would be eligible for review after serving 20 years. Those convicted of predatory criminal assault of a child or those sentenced to life in prison would not be eligible.
This legislation had bipartisan support from legislators. Research that shows that young people’s brains are not fully developed, impacting their ability to make decisions as an adult would.
PROPOSED CRIMINAL JUSTICE LEGISLATION
LWVIL urges members to contact our state senators, asking them to vote in favor of SB2090 which requires county jails and prisons to ensure that pre-trial detainees are able to cast ballots, and provides that those who are released receive voter registration information and information about voting rights. Approximately, 20,000 people are detained in jail pre-trial each year.
LWV also urges League members to contact our state representatives, asking them to support three immigration bills:
HB 1637 Keep Illinois Families Together (KIFTA): Restricts ICE activity in schools, health care facilities, govt. buildings & places of employment; restricts the collection of immigrant status information by government agencies; limits collaboration between state and/or local governments and federal immigration authorities.
See LWVIL’s “TIME for ACTION!” email dated April 4 for information regarding
HB 1637, as well as:
HB 2691 Retention of Illinois Students and Equity Act (RISE) and
HB 2040 Private Detention Facility Moratorium Act.
LWVIL urges League members to contact our state senators, asking them to support SB1594 which would repeal the Parental Notification of Abortion Act which requires a healthcare provider to notify an adult family member at least 48 hours prior to performing an abortion for a patient under 18.
Reasons that young women do not want a parent to be notified include physical or emotional abuse, loss of financial support or shelter, being forced to have a child against her will.
This position is consistent with the LWVUS position protecting the constitutional right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices.
REDISTRICTING: FAIR MAPS
Redistricting has broad bipartisan public support as evidenced by the effort in 2016 to get a constitutional amendment to change the manner in which legislative districts are drawn in Illinois on the ballot. The League of Women Voters was one of many organizations that supported this effort. And, over 600,000 people signed petitions in support of this amendment. Presently, a bill has been introduced in the state senate, SJRCA4. The bill has 30 co-sponsors from both parties. However, the Daily Herald reports that Senate President John Cullerton has not allowed this legislation to move out of the Assignment Committee.
NEW STATE LAWS, EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1
More than 250 new state laws took effective January 1.
Of these, several relate to addressing the issue of GUN VIOLENCE.
Among these laws are:
(1) a required 72-hour cooling-off period for those who wish to buy firearms, expanding a requirement that formerly applied only to the purchase of handguns;
(2) a mandate that schools conduct an active shooter drill that is observed by law enforcement within 90 days of the start of school;
(3) the Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act that allows family members, acquaintances and law enforcement to petition a court to allow authorities to temporarily remove firearms and FOID card from an individual who poses an immediate and present danger to one’s self or to someone else.
New laws relating to SEXUAL HARASSMENT are:
(1) the creation of a new General Assembly office to oversee and handle sexual harassment complaints in Springfield;
(2) a requirement that companies who do business with the state, or that receive certain tax breaks, must provide copies of their anti-harassment policies;
(3) anti-harassment training must be part of continuing education required to renew professional licenses.
A law specific to the DUPAGE COUNTY ELECTION COMMISSION:
Legislation passed and signed by Governor Rauner gives DuPage County the authority to dissolve the independent Election Commission, effective January 1.
It was anticipated that the County Board would take action to complete the dissolution and merge the election commission with the county clerk’s office in January. However, it was recently reported that County Board Chairman Dan Cronin has had initial conversations with newly elected DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek who may favor delaying the merger until after the General Consolidated Election in April.
Also effective January 1 is a change in the State Election Code: gender neutral “chair” will replace “chairman”.
2019 LEGISLATIVE CALENDARS
FEBRUARY 5, 6, 7, 19, 20 & 21
February 15: Deadline for Substantive Senate Bills;
February 20: GOVERNOR’S BUDGET ADDRESS
MARCH 5,6,7,12,13,14, 19,20, 21, 22, 26,27,28
March 22: Deadline for Substantive Senate Bills to be Out of Committee
APRIL 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 30
April 12: Deadline for Third Reading of Substantive Senate Bills
MAY 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
May 31 ADJOURNMENT
101st GENERAL ASSEMBLY- ILLINOIS HOUSE CALENDAR 2019
Dates House is scheduled to be in SESSION:
FEBRUARY 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 13,14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
February 15: Deadline for Introduction of House Bills
MARCH 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14,19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28
March 29: Deadline (Committee) for Substantive House Bills
APRIL 2, 3, 4, 9,10, 11, 12, 30
April 12: Deadline for Third Reading of House Bills
MAY 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
May 24: Deadline for 3rd Reading of Senate Bills
May 31: ADJOURNMENT
HB1: A broad coalition of organizations, including The League of Women Voters, has worked with legislators to draft legislation to reform voting rights and strengthen our democracy. HB1 is anticipated to be one of the first pieces of legislation introduced in the House. Comprehensive reforms would include restoring the Voting Rights Act, improving Automatic Voter Registration, creating a public financing system through small donor matching funds, overturning Citizen United, and ending gerrymandering. LWV worked to include Same Day Voter Registration, which would address issues including errors in the registration process and inaccuracies in voter rolls, and would reduce the number of provisional ballots and increase voter participation.
LWV urges all League members to call their Representative, asking for their support of HB1.
Call our recently elected Congressional Representative Sean Casten, 202-225-4561.
· Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has announced that legislation will be introduced in the House to expand background checks for sales and transfers of firearms.
· The Trump administration has banned the use of bump-stocks, attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns. Gun owners have until the end of March to turn in or destroy these devices.