Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Wilcox launches second annual ‘Valentines for Seniors’ card drive
On Jan. 10, I launched my second annual “Valentines for Seniors” card drive. This popular outreach event helps ensure seniors across the 32nd District know they are an important and valued part of our communities. Last year I collected and distributed close to 2,500 cards. My goal this year is to distribute at least 4,000 cards. I hope I can count on your help.

I am asking students from public and private schools, church groups, Scouting organizations and other groups to create homemade cards that will be delivered to assisted living centers, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities across this region. Senate Republicans across the state are holding similar card drives to celebrate our seniors.

Cards, poems, and other well-wishes will be collected between now and Feb. 7 at my legislative office, located at 5400 West Elm Street, Suite 103, McHenry, IL  60050. Cards can be placed in the Valentine’s box located right outside the office door between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. M-F. Cards can also be mailed.

In 2021, Senate Republicans collected and delivered more than 45,000 Valentines through the statewide “Valentines for Seniors” program. I hope you’ll join me in helping to make this Valentine’s Day extra special for area seniors.

 

Partisan games leave Legislature without ethics watchdog
At a time when a lack of ethics continues to grab headlines in Illinois, the state is currently without a Legislative Inspector General (LIG). Carol Pope’s last day as the state’s top legislative ethics watchdog was Jan. 6.

Pope announced her intention to resign effective Dec. 15, 2021 on July 14, which gave the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) six months to name a new top legislative watchdog. After an initial impasse within the LEC to fill the position, Pope agreed to stay on until Jan. 6. Political gamesmanship continued, and the post now sits vacant. Until filled, the Office and its staff will be empty, leaving complaints of wrongdoing unanswered and uninvestigated.

Last year, an independent, bipartisan committee brought forward a unanimous choice for Pope’s replacement, but Democrats who serve on the LEC refused to accept that individual. Instead, they pushed for a candidate that was not recommended by the LEC’s independent search committee so they could hand-pick their own ethics watchdog.

It is important to further empower the LIG to root out corruption in the General Assembly, and today I signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation (Senate Bill 3030), which makes 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.

 

Democrat gerrymandering continues with Illinois’ court system
When legislators were in Springfield on Jan. 5, Democrats rammed 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. 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. Governor Pritzker signed the new judicial map into law less than 48 hours later.

During the bill debate, the Senate President suggested that all chief judges were aware and informed about the process. I’m not sure that was the case because I have heard from chief judges who said they had no idea the new map was event being created.

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

 

Senate Republicans renew calls to provide justice to DCFS workers
Following the tragic death of Illinois Department of Childhood and Family Services (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, which, as of this writing, is not listed on the ilga.gov web site. While I appreciate the Governor’s newfound commitment to providing justice for those who serve to protect the most vulnerable amongst us, I wish 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 sustained when she was 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 Milledgeville. Knight died Feb. 8, 2018, as a result of her injuries.

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