Senate Week in Review: Feb. 10 – 14, 2020

McHenry, IL. – Members of the Senate Republican Caucus continue to call for independence in the legislative map-drawing process. Also this week, I joined State Representative Steve Reick calling for a restructuring of how the state combats child abuse. 

In other news, a dozen historic sites in Illinois have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, including one from Lake County, and Parkland Middle School in McHenry is being recognized for their outstanding STEM program.

“Fair Maps” to fight corruption and promote Democracy
A bipartisan group of senators announced Feb. 13 the filing of a new state constitutional amendment, which asks voters to consider changing the process of drawing political maps from the control of sitting lawmakers to an independent commission. Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 18 (SJRCA18) includes the following provisions:

  • Establishes an independent, 17-member commission appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court, who is charged with drawing the Congressional and General Assembly maps.
  • Seven commission members will be nominated from each political party and three commission members will not be affiliated with either political party.
  • Allows the public to provide comment and submit maps during the map drawing process for consideration by the Commission.

Senate Republican lawmakers said passing this proposal is the first step in rooting out government corruption and would send a strong message to Illinoisans that the status quo in Springfield is no longer acceptable. In order for SJRCA 18 to be placed on the ballot this General Election, both the Senate and House must adopt the proposal no later than May 3, 2020.

Protecting vulnerable children
On Feb. 14, I joined with State Representative Steve Reick announcing legislation creating a McHenry County Children and Family Services Agency to assume the duties of the local office of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Illinois must do a better job to protect vulnerable children such as A.J. Freund. His tragic death calls out for reform. 

At a press conference announcing the measure, Rep. Reick said his experience on a bipartisan legislative working group looking at DCFS convinced him this reform was needed.

“During that time one thing has become abundantly clear: DCFS is an agency in need of systemic change,” said Reick (R-Woodstock). “The tragic death of A.J. Freund has shined a bright light on the problems which exist in the agency as a whole and the McHenry County office in particular. The goal of this legislation is to create a framework to make this new county agency a model for the rest of the state.

Rep. Reick is correct. Greater local control/authority over DCFS offices will increase cooperation and collaboration between DCFS, States Attorney, law enforcement and service providers to meet the goal of protecting our children.

The legislation, House Bill 4886, was inspired by a letter sent to Rep. Reick by McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally in October, wherein he stated:

“[T]he primary responsibility for protecting children in a community should belong to the community, not the State.  Moreover… the agents designated to protect children in a community should be primarily accountable to the community, not the State. As such, I would strongly urge you to consider legislation that would provide a significant measure of control over DCFS operations within a county to county government.”

Illinois sites added to National Register of Historic Places
A dozen sites in Illinois, including an historic home in our area, have been added to the National Register of Historic Places of 2019 based on recommendations from the State Historic Preservation Office. 

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of properties that merit special attention and preservation. The 2019 additions include, the Louis Fredrick House in Barrington Hills, Lake County. The 2,550-square-foot mid-century home was built in 1957 and designed by the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. 

Every Illinois county has at least one property or historic district listed in the National Register. To be eligible, properties must be more than 50 years old. The complete 2019 Illinois list can be viewed here. (https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/news/Pages/Illinois-Sites-Added-to-National-Register-of-Historic-Places-2019.aspx). 

Local Events
Parkland Middle School is #1
Parkland Middle School’s STEM program finished Number One at the Future of Education Technology Conference!

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Congratulations to Parkland teachers, students and parents for this great achievement. I visited the school and met with faculty and students Feb. 12, and presented them with a Senate Certificate of Recognition. 

We should all be proud of this nationally recognized, best in the country-ranked middle school STEM program. 

Keep In Touch/Stay Informed
There are several ways to keep in touch with me. You can call my district or Capitol offices: 815/455-6330 or 217/782-8000 and you can email me from my legislative website at
www.senatorwilcox.com. Click on the Contact tab at the top of the homepage. 

While you’re visiting the legislative website, you can find news from the Capitol, sign up for my free newsletter, read our Founding Documents, connect to state government agencies and resources and find college scholarship information.

There’s also an extensive list of sites veterans can use to connect to employment, education, service records and more.

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