Rep. Amy Grant Seeks Petition Signatures to Urge In-Person Full Session Calendar for 2021
When the 102nd General Assembly is seated on Jan. 13, 2021, legislative leaders should keep lawmakers in Springfield for the start of an in-person, normal session year. To that end, I’m hoping you’ll sign a petition that urges Governor Pritzker and majority party leaders to set a full session calendar and bring us back to work. There is no good reason why the General Assembly cannot meet for face-to-face session days in 2021. We held session in May with safety precautions in place, and not one legislator or staff member contracted COVID-19. I have faith in the Springfield staff and know they can create a safe environment for us again in January. If Congress and other state legislatures can meet safely, why can’t we?”
In May, Senators met at the Illinois Capitol and State Representatives met at the Bank of Springfield Center a few blocks away. Lawmakers were required to take a COVID-19 test before traveling to Springfield, and masks were required while on the session floor and in meetings. Desks were more than the recommended six feet apart, and hand sanitizer was available throughout the buildings and on legislators’ desks.
We have to get back to work. You did not elect me to be a sideline legislator. You elected me to serve as your voice, and since March of 2020 our voices have been silenced as the Governor has continued rule via executive order, completely shutting out the legislative branch.
There are many critical issues that must be addressed in early 2021, including next steps in the COVID-19 response, creating a pathway for all children to be back in school, addressing the budget shortfall, and looking into the many failings of the Pritzker administration during the health pandemic. We need hearings and audits into the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) failings and the complete breakdown of COVID-19 protocols that resulted in over 30 deaths at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, and discussions about election integrity/cleaning up the voter rolls, unreasonable delays in the State Police’s FOID card and Concealed Carry Licensing system for lawful gun owners, and many other issues. We must have a layer of accountability, or we will continue to see an erosion of our rights and a further deterioration of service delivery by state agencies and departments.
Click here to sign the petition.
First Batch of COVID-19 Vaccines to be Delivered to Illinois Within Days
The initial 109,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 could arrive in Illinois as soon as Saturday. Frontline healthcare workers and individuals living in long-term care settings in the 50 Illinois counties with the highest per capita death rates from the virus will be prioritized with this first shipment. DuPage County is included in this list of 50 counties. Subsequent shipments of COVID-19 vaccines will also be channeled to those groups until the vaccine becomes more readily available. Once the vaccine is widely available, vaccination clinics- including drive through clinics- will be staged across the state. The news of the vaccine roll-out comes as Illinois begins to see some positive trends after a recent surge of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. As of today, our region 8 is showing a positivity rate of 13.2%, hospital bed availability of 16.5% and ICU bed availability of 18.6%.
Grant Joins House Republicans in Demanding Madigan either Testify or Resign
Last week, on the same day that Madigan insider Mike McClain was arraigned in federal court on charges related to Commonwealth Edison’s admitted bribery and influence peddling scheme, I joined several House Republicans in calling for Speaker Michael J. Madigan’s resignation from the Illinois House of Representatives.
Speaker Madigan has been identified as “Public Official A” in ComEd’s Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the federal government, in which ComEd admitted to a bribery and influence-peddling scheme with the Speaker in exchange for favorable legislative action on behalf of the utility giant. ComEd has already agreed to pay $200 million as part of the Deferred Prosecution Agreement resulting from the scandal. Several of the perpetrators have already pleaded guilty, and at least one is described as cooperating with federal prosecutors.
Here is the statement I issued shortly after the most recent arraignment:
“We now have five individuals who have been indicted on charges related to the Commonwealth Edison bribery scheme involving Michael Madigan, and that list is sure to grow as the U.S. Attorney’s office continues with its investigation into political corruption in Illinois. As ‘Public Official A’ in the government’s sprawling case, Speaker Madigan is clearly at the epicenter of the U.S government’s corruption probe. It’s past time for Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan to resign; not just from the Speakership, but also from the House of Representatives.
“As support within his caucus continues to dwindle, Speaker Madigan needs to accept the fact that Democrats have lost faith in his ability to lead. With this week’s announcement that a high-ranking member of the Madigan leadership team will not be supporting him as Speaker for the 102nd General Assembly, it’s time for him to face the inevitable. His days as Speaker are up. Even Democrats have grown tired of his lack of ethics.”
Report Shows 1/3 of Illinois Small Businesses Have Gone Out of Business due to COVID-19 Restrictions
A recent report on TrackTheRecovery.org using data compiled by Harvard and Brown Universities and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation showed that as of November 16, 2020, 35.4% of all Illinois small businesses have closed their doors permanently.
The number is staggering. Illinois’ number of 35.4% is higher than the national average of 28.9%. Small business revenues are also way down this year, with Illinois’ revenues from small business posting a 39.2% decrease since January.
National Federation of Independent Business Illinois State Director Mark Grant said the grim numbers for Illinois have a lot to do with the fact that Illinois was already a difficult state to run a businesses because of high property taxes and exorbitant workers’ compensation costs. He said remaining businesses are fearful about how long the Governor’s executive orders limiting business operations will go on, and worry that lost state revenues will be recovered off the backs of small business owners and taxes on services.
Illinois House Republicans Demand Hearings on LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID-19 Outbreak
As of this writing, 32 veterans living in the LaSalle Veterans’ Home in downstate LaSalle, Illinois have died from COVID-19, and more than 200 veterans and staff members have tested positive for the virus. Last week a group of House Republicans held a press conference and demanded hearings of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to learn how and why mandated coronavirus protocols were not followed.
I was shocked to learn the Pritzker administration waited until 12 days after the outbreak to do a site visit to begin an internal investigation. That’s 12 days that the virus continued to spread unchecked. It’s unacceptable and it makes me angry.
This week the Department of Veterans’ Affairs fired LaSalle Facility Administrator Angela Mehlbrech, and the director of nursing at the Home was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. It’s a good start, but more must be done to ensure this does not happen again at LaSalle or any other state-run veterans’ home. Our veterans are heroes who deserve our very best.
House Republicans to Pritzker: Stop Pointing Fingers and Start Providing Solutions for Massive Failure and Continuous Fraud at IDES
With identity fraud tied to unemployment claims in Illinois at an all-time high, last Friday three House Republicans held a press conference and said Governor Pritzker needs to stop pointing fingers and start proposing solutions.
Since March, more than 212,000 fraudulent claims have been filed with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). Most fraudulent activity involves unemployment benefit debit cards with money on them that are being received by Illinoisans who did not file for benefits, or business owners who cannot obtain Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) funds because their identities were stolen and money due to them was channeled to a cyber-hacker.
Governor Pritzker continues to blame the federal government for his department’s failings, but it’s time for him to take responsibility for the fact that his IDES has failed at every turn during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than continuing to play the blame game, the Governor needs to fix this failed system once and for all and share with the General Assembly his plan to protect the identities of Illinoisans at risk of having their personal information compromised.
While the Attorney General’s Office recommends that all people use strong account passwords, monitor their credit reports, register for fraud alerts by text or email, and pay close attention to all financial accounts, that’s not nearly enough, and that state government needs to do more to protect people from fraud. It’s just one more reason why lawmakers need to be back in Springfield.
Speaker Madigan Campaigns to Keep His Role as Speaker; Says He will Raise Taxes if Pritzker Wants
Illinois election results were just certified and Speaker of the House Mike Madigan is already talking about how he will ignore the will of Illinois voters and raise income taxes next year. Madigan’s statement was made over the weekend when the Speaker made his pitch to retain the Speakership to members of the influential House Black Caucus. After the meeting it was widely reported that Madigan told the group his leadership was needed to deliver a new tax increase and new legislative maps that favor and protect Democrats.
As you recall, the Pritzker-Madigan graduated income tax ballot question failed by a large margin on November 3. The Speakership is up in the air, as 19 House Democrats have publicly stated they will not support Mike Madigan as Speaker of the House in the 102nd General Assembly. Madigan will not receive a single vote from a Republican, and I believe all House Democrats, including Democrats in DuPage County, should go on record now and state whether they will back Madigan for another term or if they will join the growing chorus for his ouster. Now that we know the Madigan 2021 agenda, it can be presumed that any Democrat who votes for Mike Madigan is supportive of gerrymandered maps and a tax increase that disregards the will of Illinoisans who said “no new taxes” at the polls on Nov. 3.
If you agree that we must say NO to income tax increases, please click here to sign a petition.
IDOT Seeking Feedback through Traveler Opinion Survey
Illinois is home to one of the largest transportation systems in the nation. It includes roads, railways, transit, aviation facilities, waterways, bicycle lanes, pedestrian accommodations, logistical ports, and other intermodal facilities. The condition of the state’s transportation infrastructure is critical to moving people and goods. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is responsible for maintaining federal and state highways in Illinois, outside of the tollway system. This means the activities of IDOT affect nearly everyone in Illinois and are a key driver of the state’s economy and overall quality of life.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is seeking public opinions on the state’s transportation system through a new opinion survey. The survey is available at this link through December 31. You must be 18 or older to participate.
Jesse White Extends Closure of Driver Services Facilities until Jan. 5, 2021
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that that Driver Services facilities statewide will remain closed for in-person transactions until Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, and that expirations for driver’s licenses and ID cards have been extended until June 1, 2021. While face-to-face services are suspended, some online services have been expanded:
• Renewing a license plate sticker
• Renewing a valid driver’s license for qualifying drivers
• Renewing a valid ID card for those age 22-64 (seniors 65 and older have free, non-expiring IDs)
• Obtaining a driver record abstract
• Filing Business Services documents, such as incorporations and annual reports
Visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com to learn more.