Rep. Luft’s Capitol Report for April 1

The closing days of session are on the horizon, as we are scheduled to complete our work and adjourn on April 8. The session calendar has been shortened this year because of some major renovations to the Capitol building which are already getting underway. This has left us with a much shorter timeframe for considering legislation in the spring session, with major issues like rising crime and the budget still unresolved. Here is a recap of where we stand just one week away from the adjournment deadline.

Action still needed on inflation, gas prices

Illinoisans from all walks of life are feeling the pain from rising gas prices and the inflation that has driven up costs at the grocery store. Much of this problem is due to bad federal policies. We are much less energy independent than we were just a couple of years ago and are now more vulnerable to price swings due to troubles on the other side of the world. Still, there are a few things we can do in Springfield to ease some of the burden and help get prices under control.

A couple of weeks ago I joined three of my Republican colleagues in calling for action on legislation to put a limit on the state sales tax on gasoline. In addition to the state gas tax, Illinois levies an additional sales tax on each gallon of gas that is sold. Every time the price of gas goes up so does the amount of sales tax charged on a gallon. At a press conference I recently participated in, my colleagues from towns near Illinois’ borders talked about how much cheaper gas is in neighboring states.

Our bill would put a limit on the amount that the sales tax can go up. It is one small way we could provide some immediate relief to Illinoisans struggling to keep up with the rising prices. But so far the Democrat majority has refused to even give our bill a committee hearing.

Still waiting for a crime bill

With crime rising throughout Illinois, we heard promises at the start of the spring session about a comprehensive crime bill to meet the challenge. Republicans have been eager to help – filing numerous pieces of legislation to fight back against the rise in violent crimes. Thus far Democrats have blocked our bills and failed to put forward one of their own. This is something we need to address before session ends.

Democrats prioritize pork projects over paying unemployment insurance debt

I voted No on a bill to pay back only about half of the debt we owe the federal government for money that Washington D.C. loaned Illinois during the pandemic. Illinois borrowed about $4.5 billion to pay the unemployment claims of those who lost their jobs during Governor Pritzker’s shutdowns in 2020-2021. Many states got similar loans to meet the crisis, but most of them used federal coronavirus relief funds to pay back what they owed. Illinois did not.

Illinois Democrats instead used the federal money for a long list of pork projects in their districts. Now, with a deadline approaching, they are scrambling to pay back what we owe. We have more than enough in leftover federal relief funds to pay the debt. But instead of cancelling some of their pork spending and paying the debt in full, Democrats rushed through a bill which would only pay back a little more than half of what we owe.

The remaining debt will have to be paid back some other way, most likely with either a tax increase on jobs or a cut in unemployment benefits. Neither of these are acceptable to me.

We should get rid of the pork spending and pay our debts. Raising taxes or cutting the benefits of those forced out of their jobs should not even be considered.

Many bills unresolved as end of session approaches

As we go into the last week of session many bills have not yet been acted upon. Several bills I am sponsoring or co-sponsoring are awaiting hearings and votes. The Democrat majority has refused to allow many of these bills to be discussed in the House, even though they cover issues which are very important to the people of Illinois. Here are a few of the bills I am sponsoring or co-sponsoring that need to be called for a vote before we adjourn.

House Bill 4191 – Fund The Police Act

House Bill 4239 – Re-instates the religious exemption for COVID-19 vaccines

House Bill 4275 – Creates the offense of “organized retail theft” as a way to counter the organized mobs which have conducted “smash-and-grab” robberies

House Bill 4401 and House Bill 4529 – Limits the Governor’s emergency powers to a single disaster proclamation which cannot be extended beyond 30 days without a vote of the General Assembly

House Bill 4530 – Repeals the FOID Card Act

House Bill 4532 – Requires parents to be notified if their minor child is seeking to obtain an abortion

House Bill 5103 and House Bill 5104 – Legislation to better protect our elections from fraud

Keep in touch!

If you have any thoughts, questions, or ideas about legislation do not hesitate to reach out to me. My office can assist you if you need help with a state agency or a state program.

Please contact my office at (309) 620-9191, or stop by and say hello at 2964 Court Street in Pekin. You can find news and information from state government or share your thoughts with me by visiting my website at RepLuft.com.