Week-in-review: February 4 – 8

Just weeks into the start of spring Legislative Session, the Senate voted on a Democrat initiative to incrementally increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour – a plan that could have huge repercussions for employers across the board, including public universities, school districts, and not-for-profit organizations.

In anticipation of the upcoming U.S. Census and the redrawing of Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps, the Senate Republican Caucus hosted a press conference at the State Capitol this week to voice their support for a fair maps amendment on the next statewide ballot—and urged voters to join them in demanding a more transparent, fair and nonpartisan redistricting process.

During the week, Senate Republicans also introduced key initiatives to target the issue of campaign fund corruption between lobbyists and legislators.  

Minimum wage hike passes Senate hindering Illinois businesses

The Senate convened Feb. 7 and passed a Democrat plan to incrementally raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years. Senate Republicans were united in opposition to the measure that could have far-reaching implications for employers across the board, including an increase in annual costs for state agencies, local school districts, human service providers and hospitals.

“With approximately 99 percent of our nation’s businesses being considered a small employer, this is a wage increase that will cost jobs, drive out employers and harm consumers. This big of an increase is wishful thinking that overlooks the unintended consequences that will be felt by taxpayers, students and businesses across the state,” said Sen. Syverson (R-Rockford). “When considering the long-term impact of this legislation, we’re headed down a path that increases unemployment figures, eliminates critical entry level positions and makes it even harder to do business in Illinois. From colleges to healthcare providers, the impact of this bill will be far-reaching. Rather than ramming through shortsighted legislation, we should take our time, consider the full impact of this minimum wage increase and allow for legitimate feedback from our districts.”

The incremental increase will have far-reaching implications for employers across the board, including an increase in annual costs for state agencies, local school districts, human service providers and hospitals. 

According to the Pritzker Administration, a 15 dollar minimum wage increase will add over 1 billion dollars to the annual state payroll. Meanwhile, the nursing home industry will see a massive cost-impact as high as 1.5 billion dollars. The results of this increase will also impact property taxpayers and result in a large numbers of layoffs. Costs to local school districts are estimated to be in the millions, which could result in property tax increases. Rockford Park District is also estimating a $1 million impact and is anticipating an adverse effect on their summer help programs.  

Senate Bill 1 goes next to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Republicans make push for fair maps amendment on ballot

With the U.S. Census and the redrawing of Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps fast approaching, the Senate Republican Caucus gathered for a press conference on Feb. 6 to voice their support for a fair maps amendment on the upcoming statewide ballot.

The ballot initiative, which has garnered bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle, would grant the control of the redistricting process to a nonpartisan, independent committee to draw the districts, rather than entrenched politicians.

State Sen. Syverson (R-Rockfrod) has stepped forward in support of a fair, nonpartisan and transparent redistricting process in Illinois.  

“I’m joining with my Senate colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to sponsor a bipartisan plan to take redistricting away from politicians and give the power back to the people,” said Sen. Syverson. “For too long we’ve allowed for district lines to be dictated by party interest. It is now time to empower our voters and allow our constituents to have a voice in the process.”

Every 10 years, following the decennial U.S. Census, Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps are redrawn. Illinois currently has a winner-take-all system for the redistricting process, where the politicians who are in control right now have the power to draw the maps for the next 10 years. This gives them the ability to shift legislative district lines to create an advantage for the members of their party, which is often referred to as “gerrymandering.” This system is what creates strangely-shaped districts and uncompetitive elections.

Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 (SJR-CA 4) gives voters the opportunity to amend the Constitution to create a new, non-partisan system for drawing maps. It would establish an independent redistricting commission, increase transparency in the process and provide for public hearings to allow Illinois residents to weigh in.

Join the Senate Republican Caucus in demanding fair legislative maps in Illinois. Sign this petition to urge political leaders to add a fair maps amendment to the ballot.

Good government legislation to prevent campaign fund corruption between lobbyists and legislators

In an effort to target campaign fund corruption between lobbyists and state legislators, new legislation filed in the Senate aims to prohibit lobbyists with political campaign accounts from donating to members from that account. 

Under current law, there are no regulations to prevent newly registered lobbyists who have access to a campaign account from donating campaign funds to members of the Illinois General Assembly. Senate Bill 128 would specify that donations to members from campaign accounts are strictly prohibited, and will remain forbidden for two years after the individual’s lobbyist registration expires.

The legislation is a preventive and precautionary measure to prevent retired legislators-turned-lobbyists—and new lobbyists involved with a Political Action Committee (PAC)—from misusing campaign funds to benefit their lobbying career, as well as help stop the corrupt flow of campaign money in the State Capitol.

The concerning oversight in the lobbying ethics policy was brought about by members of the public who inquired about former legislators’ use of campaign funds.

Senate Bill 128 is currently awaiting a Senate Committee assignment.

Want to stay up to date with your Senator?

Sign up for the District E-Newsletter below: