Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Back For More – Legislators Return for Session
Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Tuesday to take action on items that did not clear the Senate and House prior to our June 1 adjournment. The scheduled two-day session – June 15 for the Senate and June 16 for the House of Representatives – will likely include a vote on a controversial energy bill that is still being drafted. Proponents of the legislation say it will help lead Illinois toward a carbon-free future while keeping the state’s nuclear power plants online. Opponents worry it may prematurely kill large numbers of coal-industry related jobs.

A negotiated energy bill almost came up for a vote during the final days of the Spring Session with a verbal agreement between Exelon and the Governor’s office. However, due to disagreements among stakeholders and other aspects of the legislation, negotiations stalled before lawmakers left Springfield.

Wilcox Summer Community Events Calendar Coming Together
My staff and I are putting the finishing touches on a comprehensive calendar of summer community outreach events. Please visit my website (SenatorWilcox.com) as event dates approach for more details, but mark your calendars now for these upcoming events:

  • June 17: Coffee & Conversation at Flatlander Market, 125 S. State Street, Marengo, 8:00-9:00 AM
  • June 18: Conversations Untapped at Rush Creek Distillery,1501 W. Diggins Street, Harvard, 5:30-6:30 PM
  • June 29: End of Session Town Hall with Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie and Sen. Donald DeWitte, Crystal Lake City Hall, 100 W. Woodstock Street, Crystal Lake, 6:30-8:00 PM
  • July 12: Blood Drive co-hosted with the McHenry Outdoor Theater, 1510 N. Chapel Hill Road, McHenry, 4:00-7:30 PM

Additional events will be added in the coming weeks.

Broken Promises
Governor JB Pritzker broke his campaign promise to Illinoisans on June 4 when he signed two partisan, gerrymandered legislative maps into law that were drawn by Democrats behind closed doors.

Democratic lawmakers had rushed the map-making process forward despite the fact that federal U.S. Census data was not available yet. Majority party map-makers instead relied on outdated and less accurate American Community Survey (ACS) data. Numerous advocacy groups testified in redistricting hearings, pleading with Democrats to wait for the release of actual Census data later in the summer, but their requests were ignored.

As a candidate for Governor, Pritzker had repeatedly expressed his support for redistricting reform, going so far as to explicitly promise to veto any map drawn by politicians.

At a June 1 press conference, just a few days after the passage of the Democrats’ maps, the Governor told reporters that he had not reviewed the maps but would be reviewing them soon. Three short days later, the Governor failed to live up to his campaign promise and signed both partisan maps into law.

In addition, the Governor also signed a similarly gerrymandered Supreme Court map. Despite the fact that the Supreme Court districts hadn’t been changed in 60 years, Democrats had decided to redraw them this year. The Supreme Court remap effort follows a fall election in which a sitting Democratic Supreme Court Justice lost his retention vote, threatening the Democrats’ majority on the high court.

Suits Filed Challenging New Legislative Maps
Illinois Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) and Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) filed a lawsuit last week in federal court to challenge the legislative maps drawn and passed by Illinois Democrats in the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker. The following day a second suit was filed to block the new maps. In action filed in U.S. District Court and on behalf of several plaintiffs, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund challenged the maps, claiming they improperly rely on ACS data rather than U.S. Census figures.

The Leaders’ lawsuit argues that the use of American Community Survey (ACS) estimates violates the federal law, including well-established “one-person, one-vote” principles under the U.S. Constitution. More than 50 good government and community advocacy organizations and leaders implored the General Assembly to wait for the release of official census counts, which are expected by August 16, 2021. The use of ACS estimates will undercount minority, rural and growing communities and will result in a population disparity between districts that exceeds what federal law allows. Even the U.S. Census Bureau has said that ACS estimates are not appropriate for drawing legislative boundaries.

The lawsuit requests that the court declare the Democrats’ plan to be unconstitutional, invalid, and void ab initio. A copy of the Republican Leaders’ filing can be found here.

Phase 5: Illinois Set To Fully Reopen
Illinoisans have officially returned to near-normalcy after more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions. This change is just in time for kids to get out of school and for summer plans and trips to be scheduled.

Phase 5 will do the following:

  • All sectors of the economy reopen with businesses, schools, and recreation resuming to normal operations with new safety guidance and procedures
  • Large events, conventions, and festivals can resume

Moving to Phase 5 requires that testing, treatment, and tracing are widely available throughout the state, and that positivity rates and certain other COVID-19 metrics are below certain levels.

Recently, the Illinois State Board of Education voted for students to return to in-person learning this fall.

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