Rep. Luft’s Capitol Report for May 25

Thank you for reading my latest Capitol Report newsletter. It was an interesting spring session and as we move into the summer months the news from state government just keeps coming. In the past few weeks I was proud to introduce legislation to support our police, but saddened to read reports from state auditors about the failures of the Pritzker administration to protect vulnerable children and residents of a state veterans’ home. I’m glad to be able to tell you about a plan we are working on to turn things around. It’s called Reimagine Illinois.

Read on to find out more.

Luft legislation would prohibit bail for those charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer

Judges would be allowed to deny bail to defendants charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer under new legislation which I filed earlier this month.

Attacks on police officers must stop. This legislation will send a strong message that if you harm a police officer you will not be back out on the street any time soon.

The legislation adds “aggravated battery to a peace officer” to the list of offenses for which a judge may turn down a request for bail at the defendant’s bail hearing. Current law already specifies that a judge may deny bail if “the defendant poses a real and present threat to the physical safety of any person or persons,” but does not specifically give aggravated battery of a peace officer as a reason for the denial. My legislation would give judges the ability to do so.

“No one who commits this kind of crime against a law enforcement officer should be granted bail and allowed to walk right back out the door,” said Donald “Ike” Hackett, President of the Spoon River Valley FOP Lodge. “I appreciate Rep. Luft bringing this issue to the forefront.”

The legislation is House Bill 5754.

Audit outlines failures in state response to deadly COVID outbreak at LaSalle Veterans Home

I was deeply disturbed to read the findings of an audit of the state’s botched response to a COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home in the fall of 2020. Poor communication and poor planning led to the deaths of 36 veterans who were in the state’s care. The audit found failures by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Public Health and by the Governor’s office which should have been coordinating the efforts of these state agencies.

When I think about the heroes living in our state’s veterans’ homes, I can’t help but think of my own family and the kind of care I would want to see them get in their final years. I think about how angry I’d be if the Governor promised to take care of them, only to see his administration fatally mismanage a predictable outbreak during a known pandemic.

The people who died at the LaSalle Veterans Home bravely sacrificed in the service of our nation. We will never be able to fully repay them for what they have done, but it is our duty to try to ensure that in their final years they are cared for. The Governor can try to spin this any way he wants, but ultimately he owns this failure.

To the family of those who have lost their lives, I am sincerely sorry that you have had to go through this. We must commit ourselves to making the necessary changes to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

DCFS director held in contempt for 11th time – audit finds agency failing Illinois children

Just a few days after issuing its report into the LaSalle outbreak, the Auditor General’s office released the findings of another investigation, this one into the mismanagement of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Director Marc Smith has been held in contempt of court eleven times in the past few months over failures to properly protect children. Now the Auditor General is reporting that DCFS is failing Illinois children and is not in compliance with the law.

The audit found that DCFS is not keeping track of key information, not confirming that children in their custody receive mandated medical care, and doing a poor job of ensuring the safety of homes before returning children to them after they were initially removed. During the time period covered by the audit, 102 children in contact with DCFS lost their lives.

DCFS employees are working hard every day to ensure the safety of vulnerable children. But they are undermined by the mismanagement of the agency, in spite of additional funding and years of promises to improve. Governor Pritzker and Director Smith have much to answer for.

Read our plan to Reimagine Illinois

Imagine an Illinois with safe streets, a corruption-free government, sensible fiscal management and expanding job opportunities. After hearing so many stories about rising crime, indicted politicians, unbalanced budgets and sluggish job growth it can seem hard to visualize. But I believe it’s possible, and I am working with my House Republican colleagues to support a package of legislation to achieve those goals.

Visit our website at ReimagineIllinois.com to see our plan for improving public safety, rooting out corruption, balancing our budget and creating more and better jobs in every part of the state. Years of bad policies may have created difficult circumstances in Illinois, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still fix things. Take a look at our plan and then please join us as we reimagine all that Illinois can be.

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.