Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

New “Stop the SAFE-T Act” Website Launched

As state’s attorneys from across Illinois continue to file lawsuits trying to block the implementation of the SAFE-T Act, confusion has only increased as to what the new law will do, and how it will affect public safety.

In an attempt to provide people with answers, a new website: www.StopTheSafe-TAct.com has been launched. This site offers insights into some of the concerning language of the Act and what it will do, recent news surrounding the Act, links to follow the lawsuits that have been filed against the Act, testimonials from prosecutors across Illinois, and the chance for people add their names to a petition calling for a repeal of the controversial Act. There are also quick links for sharing the site on Facebook and Twitter.

The SAFE-T Act was signed into law in early 2021, with some of the most controversial aspects of the Act set to take effect on January 1, 2023, including the end of cash bail, which will pave the way for offenders who commit serious crimes to be able to walk free until their trial. 

Public pressure and fears about the potential for releasing violent criminals back onto the streets has prompted proponents of the SAFE-T Act to admit that there are issues with their new law. While some of them have discussed the possibility of a new trailer bill being unveiled during the fall veto session, no such bill has yet been read into the record.

Following repeated questions from reporters, Governor Pritzker has finally admitted that he also believes that the SAFE-T Act’s language may need to be altered, but he has still refused to say what changes he thinks should be made.

In my opinion, at that at this point, the best and safest course of action would be to repeal the Act entirely and start over with an open process that includes all sides of the discussion.

If you would like to learn more about the SAFE-T Act, Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie and I will be hosting a town hall meeting this week on Thursday, October 20 to inform constituents about the Act. Expert speakers at this public event include McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black. The forum will take place at the Heartland Realtor Organization Building, 405 E. Congress Parkway, in Crystal Lake.

Space is limited and RSVPs are strongly recommended. Click here to reserve your spot. For additional information or for help registering, please call my office at (815) 455-6330.

Wilcox Office to Serve as Toys For Tots Collection Site

It’s hard to believe, but it’s time to start thinking about Christmas and the holiday season. Every year the U.S. Marine Corps sponsors a Toys For Tots campaign. Toys for children of all ages are collected and distributed to families in need. It is a very worthwhile program that I am proud to support.

My McHenry legislative office has been designated as an official drop-off point for this year’s Toys For Tots program. I welcome all donations of toys, books, and games. Please note that donations should be NEW and UNWRAPPED. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

During the 2021 campaign in McHenry County, 28,510 toys were collected, and 7,616 children were supported. During the same timeframe in Lake County, 63,172 toys were collected, and 27,524 children were supported.

It’s hard to believe, but it’s time to start thinking about Christmas and the holiday season. Every year the U.S. Marine Corps sponsors a Toys For Tots campaign. Toys for children of all ages are collected and distributed to families in need. It is a very worthwhile program that I am proud to support.

My McHenry legislative office has been designated as an official drop-off point for this year’s Toys For Tots program. I welcome all donations of toys, books, and games. Please note that donations should be NEW and UNWRAPPED. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

During the 2021 campaign in McHenry County, 28,510 toys were collected, and 7,616 children were supported. During the same timeframe in Lake County, 63,172 toys were collected, and 27,524 children were supported.

Another Company Admits Guilt in Madigan Bribery Probe

The pay-to-play environment that plagues Springfield has led to another company now facing federal charges after it admitted to attempting to illegally influence former House Speaker Michael Madigan.

AT&T joins ComEd as companies that have been recently charged with such crimes. AT&T has agreed to pay a $23 million fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. Federal prosecutors also unveiled a superseding indictment against Madigan and his ally Michael McClain related to AT&T.

The allegations are based on legislation AT&T was pushing to end landline telephone service in Illinois. The company was accused of funneling money to Madigan associates to try to influence the outcome of the legislation. Paul La Schiazza, the former president of AT&T Illinois, was also charged.

In 2020, federal prosecutors reached a similar agreement with ComEd, with the utility giant agreeing to pay $200 million. In that case, ComEd admitted that it had “arranged jobs, vendor subcontracts, and monetary payments associated with those jobs and subcontracts, for various associates” of Speaker Madigan.

Wilcox Joins McConchie at Conversations Untapped Event in Cary

On Thursday it was my pleasure to join Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie at a Conversations Untapped event that was held at Spirit Water Brewery, Distillery, and Taproom in Cary. About 30 residents came out to enjoy some craft beer or other refreshment and have casual conversations about issues of importance that affect state government and all Illinoisans. Thanks to all who came out!

Make Sure Your Tax Rebates have Arrived before it’s Too Late

Have you received your “Illinois Family Relief Plan” tax rebates? If not, and if you think you’re eligible, you may need to take quick action. TODAY, Oct. 17, is the deadline for making sure your rebate is in the works.

The rebates are part of a one-time program passed earlier in the year that offers income tax and property rebates to eligible Illinois residents. To receive both of the tax credits, individuals would have had to file an Illinois 1040 for the 2021 tax year, along with a Schedule ICR. If they didn’t file either the 1040 or the ICR, then they have to file a Property Tax Rebate Form (IL-1040-PTR) by October 17th to receive the property tax rebate.

The administration of the program has created confusion, because while rebates started going out the week of September 12th, some of them won’t be issued until after the October 17th deadline. Additionally, some of the payments are being mailed out as checks, while others are being made via electronic bank deposit.

I recommend that you check to see if you have received your rebates, and if not, visit the following link to check the status of the payments: : https://mytax.illinois.gov/?link=REBINQ

More information on the rebate program is available here: https://www2.illinois.gov/rev/programs/Rebates/ and information on filing a PTR can be found here: https://www2.illinois.gov/rev/forms/incometax/Documents/currentyear/individual/IL-1040-PTR-Instr.pdf  

Additional Allegations of Abuse at Choate Center Uncovered

More allegations of abuse have been brought to light in the ongoing scandal surrounding Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center in southern Illinois.

A recent investigative story in Capitol News Illinois and Lee Enterprises Midwest on ProPublica has uncovered a recording of a 911 call from 2020, in which a struggle was recorded alongside a voice asking to be let go and another threatening to break the first person’s other finger. Further investigation showed that from 2015 – 2021, approximately 1,180 allegations of abuse or neglect have been reported.

Facilities for people with mental and developmental disabilities have long been plagued by tales of alleged abuse, however, Choate has stood out in the news for the high number of allegations as well as the culture of cover-ups that has been noted in dozens of instances where employees have been caught lying to investigators. Of the 184 records of cases when the Office of the Inspector General found substantiated proof of problems and wrongdoing, 29 cited employees failing to follow policy as the reason, 11 failed to report the allegation in a timely manner, 9 found that employees actively lied to investigators, and in more than 1/3rd of the cases the only resolution was to “retrain” employees.

You can read the full story here: https://www.propublica.org/article/illinois-choate-mental-health-abuse-911-staff  

Craig Wilcox

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