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Senate Week in Review: April 3-7, 2017

SPRINGFIELD – This week, Senate Republicans continued to highlight their vision for a full-year, balanced budget with commonsense reforms that will put Illinois’ fiscal house in order and create a foundation for future budgeting.  This forward-looking approach stands in stark contrast to House Democrats who, devoid of any new ideas and solutions, ran another stopgap budget containing no reforms to change the system.

Commonsense reforms

Senate and House Republican lawmakers came together this week to reiterate their call for a long-term budget solution for the people of Illinois. The legislators noted that a real budget plan incorporating commonsense reforms will improve Illinois’ economy and provide financial stability.  Those commonsense reforms include a property tax freeze, spending reform and caps, job creation, term limits, fair maps and pension reform.

Senate Republicans also noted that there are proposals currently in the Senate that provide new ideas and solutions that would address the state’s budget impasse.  These proposals demonstrate the importance of new thinking and new approaches to the way state government operates, and further show that the old way of governing is no longer viable, nor feasible. 

The forward-looking approach offered by Republican legislators to solving the state’s budget impasse stood in stark contrast to the House Democrats, who returned to their old playbook by putting forth another stopgap budget.  Another stopgap budget doesn’t provide any real structural changes to end the current fiscal mess, and it demonstrates an unwillingness to come together, in a bipartisan manner, and work toward a long-term solution.  It’s also worth noting that when the General Assembly passed a stopgap budget last summer, it was done in a bipartisan manner and with the understanding that a full-year budget would be developed.   


Senate cracks down on repeat gun offenders

The Senate approved a measure this week that imposes tougher sentences on repeat gun offenders.  Senate Bill 1722 would allow judges to enact longer prison terms for gun crimes committed by those individuals who have a gun violation on their record. 

Supporting this measure is Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson who said “the sentencing guidelines are ‘a pivotal step’ in going after repeat gun offenders in a city where 91 percent of the more than 760 homicide victims in 2016 were killed with a gun.”

Senate Bill 1722 received bipartisan support in the Senate, as well as the support of Gov. Bruce Rauner. The recommendations of the Governor’s Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform formed the basis for much of the legislation. The bipartisan Commission conducted a thorough review of the state’s criminal justice and sentencing structure, looking for ways to improve public safety, while also reducing the state’s reliance on incarceration and driving down recidivism rates.

However, some lawmakers were reluctant to support the proposal, citing concerns over penalty reductions included in the legislation. 

Keep your eyes on the road

Technology allows us to make phone calls, dictate texts or emails and update social media while driving – all actions that are proven to increase crash risk.  To highlight this risk, the National Safety Council has declared April as “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.” 

The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. One of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.

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