Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

JCAR suspends rules for Pritzker’s mask mandate in schools, Appellate Court dismisses case
During the Governor’s attempt last week to go above a court ruling that left COVID-related decisions up to Illinois schools, a bipartisan group of legislators struck down his effort to reinstate his statewide mandates through a new Illinois Department of Public Health rule.

On Feb. 15, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) met to take up the newly-filed rule, which they voted 9-0-2 to suspend. The JCAR vote led to the decision by the 4th District Appellate Court to dismiss the Governor’s appeal given the fact that there is no rule currently in effect. The 9-0-2 vote is significant, because even Democrats that are typically loyal to JB Pritzker did not stand with him on this issue.

The Governor has since indicated his intent to take the case to the Illinois Supreme Court, which is a clear indication of his desire to maintain his power over schools. The legal battle over masks in schools comes as the Governor has already announced he plans to lift the indoor mask mandate starting Feb. 28, except for in schools and a select few other spaces.

 

Senator Wilcox to host FREE online clinic on lowering utility and phone bills
If you’re like me, you think your utility bills are way too high. I want invite you to an online event I am hosting with the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) on Tuesday, February 22, from 5:30-7:30 PM.

At this FREE event, participants will learn how to spot unnecessary charges on gas, electric, and landline/cell phone bills, and will learn about energy efficiency programs and rebates that can help lower utility bills. Participants will also learn how to decode confusing gas and electric bills, how to spot errors on bills and avoid scams.

An exciting component of this event is one-on-one counseling with CUB experts. Each participant will register for a specific time when they can speak individually with a CUB counselor about their specific bills. This is a great way to ensure you’re not paying one cent more than you have to for utility and phone service.

Registration is required for this online event, and the zoom link will be sent to participants prior to the start of the event. Your registration will include two parts: 1) letting me know you are participating so we can send you the zoom link, and 2) registering for your individual CUB counseling session. Please note that participants will want to have their most recent utility bills in front of them during their individual counseling session.

Click here to reserve your spot and to sign up for your individual session. If you have questions about this event, please contact Keith at Kwoodruff@sgop.ilga.gov.

 

Democrats handpick their ethics watchdog bypassing independent search process
Illinois Democrats rammed through their pick for the next Legislative Inspector General (LIG) last week despite calls by Republicans to go through the unbiased citizen search committee process laid out in state statute.

Retired federal Judge Michael P. McCuskey was appointed to the post, but bypassed the thorough vetting process that the independent search committee provides. In fact, McCuskey himself indicated that he should be going through the same process that the law sets forth and that all other candidates who applied for the position went through.

McCuskey has an impressive career as a jurist, but noted that going around the law to appoint him gives the people of Illinois even more reason to not trust their state government. He’s right about that.

In way of background, the LIG position was left vacant after former LIG Carol Pope announced her retirement, citing frustration with the General Assembly’s inability to pass meaningful ethics reforms. Her retirement triggered the search process for her replacement, which under statute requires a citizen search committee appointed by the four legislative leaders to put forward a candidate recommendation to the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) for review. The Search Committee chose to present a few qualified candidates for consideration; however, Democrat members of the LEC were not satisfied with the recommendation and sought out their own candidate so they could control the appointment.

 

Bipartisan legislation filed to allow DCFS workers to carry mace
Following another murder of a DCFS employee, a bipartisan panel of legislators from both the Senate and the House have filed new legislation designed to help these employees protect themselves. I am a proud co-sponsor of this legislation.

Senate Bill 4165 and House Bill 5688 both would allow DCFS employees to carry mace or pepper spray for defensive purposes while investigating child abuse and neglect. The employees would be required to complete a short training program from the Illinois State Police on the proper use of pepper spray.

The legislation is in response to the murders of two DCFS investigators. Deidre Silas was stabbed to death in January at a home in Thayer during the course of an investigation. In February 2018, Pamela Knight died in the hospital from injuries sustained during a brutal attack that occurred while she was trying to take a child into protective custody.

Lawmakers unveiled their bills at a press conference at the Illinois State Capitol on Feb. 15. They were joined by other lawmakers from across the state, along with former DCFS employees who spoke in support of the legislation.

 

Senators distribute ‘Valentines for Seniors’ Cards
I cannot adequately express my gratitude over the success of this year’s “Valentines for Seniors” Card Drive.

I asked constituents from public and private schools, church groups, scouting organizations and other groups to create homemade cards to be delivered to nursing homes, assisted living centers, and long-term care facilities across the 32nd District.

Due to the generous spirit of those living in the 32nd District, my staff and I delivered well over 2,000 cards. Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s card drive. The smiles you helped deliver were priceless!

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