Update from the Capitol 4-22-15

We’re in the final six weeks of our scheduled spring legislative session and we have a lot of work left to do. In the coming weeks decisions will be made that impact our schools, our tax bills, and state services available to our families. I will be keeping you updated weekly. I have also scheduled a series of Town Hall Meetings throughout the district to make sure our voices are heard as the debates move forward in Springfield. The schedule is below, and I hope to see you there!


Bills are Moving
The two weeks in mid to late April are the weeks set aside for floor action and final passage of House bills out of the House of Representatives.  That means for the next few weeks we’re spending less time in committees and more time working on the House floor.

For me and other House members serving their first full terms, this is a time of intense participation in the lawmaking process as final questions are asked and answered, a bill is debated on the floor, and the final roll call taken that decides whether the bill will survive and be sent to the state Senate for further action.   I was fortunate to get a bit of an early start on the final passage process, as I was able to pass two bills out of the House before our two week Easter recess; House Bill 1498 that permits closed session meetings for school boards to discuss security concerns and plans, and House Bill 1407 which ensures new parents leave the hospital with proper information about preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In all, 444 bills had been advanced from House committees and placed on the chamber’s calendar for possible final action.  You can watch the action live without having to travel to Springfield!  The Illinois House streams live audio and video feeds of floor action to the general public at http://www.ilga.gov/house/audvidInternal.asp .

New State School Superintendent Appointed 
Illinois has a new State Superintendent of Education. The State Board of Education this past week appointed Dr. Tony Smith to the position that supervises public schools and publicly-supported charter schools throughout Illinois.  Dr. Tony Smith has experience in educational management in both the public and the private sector.  He is a past superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District, operating public schools in one of the largest cities in California. In his career as an executive educator, has often specialized in issues of math and science achievement.

Departing State Superintendent Dr. Christopher Koch last week was thanked for his 21 years of educational leadership in Illinois, particularly his advocacy for students affected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Remembering Abraham Lincoln on the 150th Anniversary of his DeathBennett_with_Lincoln.jpg
President Abraham Lincoln’s death at the hands of assassin John Wilkes Booth on April 15, 1865  took place less than one week after the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army. The assassination marked the end of the Civil War and the start of a period of national mourning and reconciliation.

The Illinois House has a unique perspective on Abraham Lincoln, and he has a special place in the hearts of all who serve there. The Illinois House was Lincoln’s first political home and elected position.  The future President served central Illinois in the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th General Assemblies, starting in 1835 and ending in 1842.  These were key years in the history of Lincoln’s home town of Springfield, as the aggressive advocacy of Lincoln and his colleagues was decisive in the selection of the Sangamon River community to be Illinois’ permanent state capital.  The “Old State Capital,” which still stands in Springfield’s central city, was built in response to Lincoln’s urgings.

Last week I along with my fellow House Republicans paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln’s memory and legacy with a memorial ceremony at his statue on the steps of the Capitol.  This was part of overall preparations for the 150th anniversary of the return of Lincoln’s body to Springfield and reenactment of his funeral which will take place on May 2 and 3, 2015.  1,100 reenactors, and thousands of visitors from all over the United States, are expected to join in the observance.  

Local Town Hall Meetings Scheduled
I’ve scheduled Town Hall meetings throughout the district to make sure comments and concerns from all corners are heard, and that we’re all involved in the important discussions going on at the Capitol.  Please join me!

Livingston County Town Hall meeting:
Monday, April 27, 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Livingston County Courthouse, 112 West Madison Street, Pontiac

Ford County Town Hall meeting:
Thursday, April 30, 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Ford County Courthouse, 201 West State Street, Paxton

Vermilion County Town Hall meeting:
Monday, May 4, 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Hoopeston City Hall, 301 West Main Street, Hoopeston