Senate Week in Review: Jan. 3-7, 2022

SPRINGFIELD – Following Democrats’ successful attempts last year to gerrymander Illinois’ legislative maps, the Illinois Supreme Court map, and the Congressional map, State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley) says action Jan. 5 to ram through a partisan gerrymandering of judicial sub-districts is yet another power grab by Democrat lawmakers – this time for control of the state’s judicial system.

Partisan games have also played a role in leaving Illinois without an ethics watchdog for the Legislature, as outgoing Legislative Inspector General Carol Pope’s last day was Jan. 6.

In other action, Republicans are renewing their calls to pass legislation to increase penalties for individuals who assault Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) employees, following the recent tragic death of DCFS caseworker Deidre Silas.

Democrat gerrymandering continues with Illinois’ court system

Legislative Democrats continued their power grab during the week by ramming through a partisan gerrymandering of judicial sub-districts, an action by the legislative branch of government that forces unwanted changes on a separate and co-equal branch of government.

On Jan. 5, Senate Democrats passed House Bill 3138, which creates several new judicial sub-circuit courts, using a sham redistricting process to rush through new maps that will help secure their power.

Nothing in Illinois law mandated or suggested the Legislature’s need to add new judicial sub-districts, which makes it clear that this was simply an attempt to gain more Democrat judges throughout the state.

Syverson says the most troubling aspect of the vote was how Democrat lawmakers continued their disturbing habit of rushing legislation through the system without sufficient public hearings or public input.

Partisan games leave Legislature without ethics watchdog

Six months of partisan games by legislative Democrats have stalled the process of selecting a new Legislative Inspector General (LIG) and left Illinois without a much-needed ethics watchdog for state lawmakers.

Jan. 6 was the last day that outgoing LIG Carol Pope was in office to perform her official duties. Until filled, the Office and its staff will be empty, leaving complaints of wrongdoing unanswered and uninvestigated.

Pope announced on July 14, 2021, that she would resign that post on Dec. 15, 2021, calling the LIG Office a “paper tiger” after a bill passed earlier in 2021 did not create meaningful ethics reform in Illinois. After an impasse within the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) to fill the vacant LIG position, Pope agreed to stay on through Jan. 6, 2022.

The LEC has been working for months to find a new LIG. There is a process in place for this task, but Democrat members have used tactics to push for a candidate not recommended by the LEC’s independent Search Committee, in an effort to hand-pick their own ethics watchdog.

Syverson says is it important to further empower the LIG to root out corruption in the General Assembly. He supports legislation (Senate Bill 3030) being introduced to make important changes in the way the LEC processes ethics complaints against state lawmakers.

Senate Bill 3030 will:

  • Require LEC meetings to be open to the public, and have the meetings publicly posted;
  • No longer allow elected officials to serve as members of the LEC; and
  • Provide the LIG with subpoena power to investigate ethics complaints against members of the Illinois General Assembly.

 

Senate Republicans renew calls to provide justice to DCFS workers

Following the tragic death of DCFS caseworker Deidre Silas, Senate Republicans are renewing their calls to pass legislation that strengthens penalties for individuals who assault DCFS employees. Legislation to increase penalties was first introduced back in 2018, but was never called for a hearing in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

This week, Gov. Pritzker announced his support for similar legislation. Syverson says that while he appreciates the Governor’s newfound commitment to providing justice for those who serve to protect the most vulnerable, he wishes it would have come years sooner.

The four-year push by Republican lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives began when DCFS child welfare employee worker Pam Knight from Dixon died Feb. 8, 2018, as a result of injuries from being assaulted on the job.

Like paramedics and other first responders, DCFS workers often face uncertain situations. The risks are many, as there is often anger directed at them for doing their jobs. Many DCFS workers have reported increased violence and potentially dangerous situations, even when individuals come to their offices.

According to recent Springfield media reports, Silas, a DCFS child protection specialist, was stabbed to death while performing a home visit in the Sangamon County community of Thayer on Jan. 4. Senate Republicans say the case is very similar to the case of Knight, who was severely beaten Sept. 29, 2017, while picking up a child in the Carroll County community of Milledgeville. Knight died Feb. 8, 2018, as a result of her injuries.

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