Rep. Luft’s Capitol Report for June 14

Thank you for reading my latest Capitol Report. Recently, I was honored to have a bill that I sponsored this spring get signed into law, one which will help our veterans to be better served by state programs. We’ve unfortunately seen gas prices continue to rise, taking the price of just about everything else upward with them, while the state’s leaders continue to refuse to act on our bill to help. On top of all this, crime remains a serious problem in Illinois, but the Pritzker administration continues to move in the wrong direction. Read on for more news about the happenings of state government.

Luft bill to increase accountability of state veterans programs is signed into law

I was proud to have my bill to improve the accountability of the state’s veterans programs, HB 4998, signed into law just before Memorial Day.

This legislation directs the Department of Human Services to review and collect data on the number of veterans receiving services or benefits under its programs for emergency food and housing. The Department would then report its findings to the General Assembly each year so that we can better understand how many veterans are being helped by these programs. If we need to adjust or improve the programs, we will then have the information we need to do so.

My bill passed the House and Senate unanimously this spring. I appreciate all the legislators who came together to make this happen, and I look forward to seeing the results that this will bring for Illinois veterans.

Pritzker’s Prisoner Review Board votes to release two murderers, proving the case for reform

At the start of this year, I spoke out against a decision by the Pritzker administration to grant a pardon to a convicted arsonist who was then able to get hired as a fire chief. It was another example of a pattern of the Pritzker administration prioritizing criminals over law-abiding Illinoisans. I am sorry to report that the Governor and his appointees still are not listening.

The Illinois Prisoner Review Board (PRB) is made up of members appointed by the Governor to consider applications for parole of inmates in the Illinois prison system. Under the Pritzker administration, about one out of three parole applications are being approved, much more than under previous governors. This number now includes two murderers who were approved for parole a couple of weeks ago.

One of these was Richard West, who was convicted of murdering his father with a shotgun. The PRB has previously turned down his applications for parole, possibly because he continued to commit violent crimes while in prison – weapons, assault, and even taking four corrections officers hostage. The board has now granted his request for parole.

House Republicans have introduced bills to reform this process by putting victims and law-abiding citizens ahead of gang members and cold-blooded killers. It is time for reform before any more dangerous criminals are released.

Democrats continue to hold gas price-reducing bill in committee

All spring I have been sounding the alarm about the effect of high gas prices on Illinoisans. We are all seeing the way that skyrocketing gas prices are driving up the cost of everything, whether it is the cost of groceries at the store or the cost of driving the kids to ball practice. Illinois is now among the states with average gas prices above $5 per gallon.

The solution to this problem is for our country to return to policies that will make us as energy independent as we were just a couple of years ago. (Here is a link to a resolution I co-sponsored calling for us to do exactly that). At the state level, we can act to bring down the price of gas during these difficult times.

I am one of the sponsors of a bill, House Bill 5723, which would put a cap on the amount of sales tax the state of Illinois can charge on gas. The state sales tax is calculated as a percentage of the cost of a gallon of gas. So if the price of gas goes up, the sales tax goes right on up with it, driving costs even higher. Our bill would lower the state sales tax on a gallon of gas down to 18 cents and cap it there so that it could not rise higher. When prices go back down, the sales tax would then drop along with them, but it could never again rise above 18 cents.

Unfortunately, our bill, which was introduced back in March, is still being blocked by Democrats who refuse to even give it a committee hearing, let alone a vote. We need to act on this issue now before prices get any higher and Illinoisans get hit even harder.

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.