Over 100 Residents Attend SAFE-T Act Town Hall in Crystal Lake
A crowd of over 100 gathered in Crystal Lake on Thursday at a SAFE-T Act Town Hall I co-hosted with Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie. Attendees learned and were able to ask questions about the soon-to-be enacted SAFE-T Act, which will significantly change pre-trial detention standards for the accused, and place several new restrictions on how police officers may apprehend and arrest alleged criminals.
Guest speakers at the 1 ½-hour event included McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black. Sen. McConchie and I explained how majority party lawmakers used loopholes to sidestep proper vetting and transparency processes in getting the bill passed, and our experts provided detail into how provisions of the new law will affect law enforcement’s and the judicial system’s ability to keep communities safe and keep dangerous criminals behind bars as they await trial.
All four of us said we were not opposed to criminal justice system reforms and agreed there were some good elements of the SAFE-T Act that should be preserved, like the use of body cameras and strengthened detention standards for those accused of domestic violence. But we also said the contradictory language in the law and lenient detention standards for individuals accused of a variety of serious crimes is justification for a repeal or significant changes to the Act. One key takeaway from the event is that the vague and contradictory language in the SAFE-T Act leaves a great deal to interpretation, so I think we’re going to see the Act administered differently depending on what county a defendant lives in. Good policy is clear and concise. The SAFE-T Act doesn’t come close to hitting that mark.
Several in the audience asked about use of force by police. They questioned new apprehension standards that limit a police officer’s ability to remove a trespasser from a person’s private property. Both Black and Kenneally agreed that the way the SAFE-T Act is written, an individual who is not an immediate, identifiable threat to a given person cannot be arrested, and can only receive a citation for trespassing. According to current language in the Act, a trespasser who is not deemed as a danger cannot be forcibly removed.
In response to an audience question about current detainees being released on January 1 when the new pre-trial detention standards take hold, Kenneally said that is an area of the Act that is vague and is being interpreted differently, and if the Act is applied retroactively, there are about 30 souls in the McHenry County jail that would be released.
In response to a similar question about current cash bail and whether it disproportionately keeps lower-income people in jail while people of means are released for the same offenses, Kenneally said in McHenry County, an individual’s ability to pay a bond is considered, and that the decision on whether to release a defendant rather than hold them is based on risk to the greatest extend possible. He said part of his job is to uphold the Constitutional rights of the defendant and to maximize a defendant’s liberties. Kenneally said that in McHenry County, 97% of the defendants are released pre-trial.
The meeting was live-streamed on the Senate Republicans’ Facebook page, and remains posted on the site. It can be accessed on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ILSenateGOP.
Senate Republicans to showcase veterans at Illinois Capitol
For the past several years, Illinois Senate Republicans have been hosting an annual Veterans Day display to pay tribute to our state and nation’s veterans. This year’s “Honoring All Who Served” Veterans Day Display will be available for visitors to view from November 10 through November 28 in the State Capitol Rotunda.
To showcase the legacy of our nation’s brave men and women, I am encouraging residents throughout the 32nd District to submit a photograph and written story of any veteran, so it can be displayed.
Families who would like to participate in this year’s display should submit a photo and written story (max: 250 words) with the following information: name, military branch (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, Navy) and conflict served (Afghanistan, Iraq, September 11, Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI, Peacetime, other). Military photos are preferred but not necessary. If possible, please email submissions to email@example.com by November 10, 2022. Submissions will be accepted through November 28, and the display will be updated daily to include new entries. Submissions can also be mailed to Veterans Day Wall, 108 Statehouse, Springfield, IL 62706. For questions, please call (217) 782-0956.
New Inflation report shows 40-year high core price increase
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI) report for September, the overall index rose 8.2 percent over the past year. This CPI price increase was mostly driven by the cost of food, shelter, and medical care. Additionally, the report revealed that the core price index, which includes all items except food and energy, rose by 6.6 percent, marking the highest yearly increase in the past 40 years.
Meanwhile, energy prices have soared 19.8 percent over the previous 12 months, which doesn’t include the recent jump in gas prices, and the food-at-home index rose a staggering 13 percent over the past year. These high prices are putting considerable strain on American consumers with one survey finding that nearly six in 10 Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.
Given the new inflationary report and the latest rebound in high gas prices, I am once again calling for the General Assembly to pass legislation that provides real and long-term relief for financially strained Illinoisans by capping the state’s sales tax on motor fuel at 18 cents per gallon and permanently eliminating the state’s sales tax on groceries and medicine.
Wilcox renews calls to empower Illinois voters
In the wake of yet another company facing federal charges after admitting it illegally attempted to influence former House Speaker Michael Madigan, I am renewing my calls to implement the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus’ Voter Empowerment Project.
The Voter Empowerment Project is a series of constitutional amendments that would allow Illinois residents to hold corrupt politicians accountable and take back control from the current pay-to-play environment that has plagued the state for far too long.
The package of legislation contains four state constitutional amendments tailored to increase the voice of voters, including allowing them to repeal laws and recall elected officials.
In addition to the Voter Empowerment Project, I also believe that the Illinois Senate should adopt Senate Resolution 759, which would change Senate Rules that currently consolidate power over the legislative process to a few individuals. The changes to the Senate Rules would include:
- requiring all bills to be assigned to a committee,
- setting firm guidelines for the assignment of bills,
- making it easier to discharge bills from a committee,
- establishing a mechanism to force a committee hearing,
- allowing members to file a minority report on any bill the member voted against during a committee hearing,
- creating a mechanism to establish an investigative committee independent of Senate leadership,
- requiring longer posting notices for bill amendments to allow the public adequate time to review the changes, and
- requiring a daily final action calendar to allow the public to anticipate what will be heard daily.
Passage of the Voter Empowerment Project and Senate Resolution 759 are critical to undo years of public corruption created by elected officials who conduct business solely for their personal benefit and ignore the will of the Illinoisans they are supposed to represent.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Each October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month ever since 1989. Since that first year, the month of October has served as a time to recognize domestic violence survivors and their supporters.
Over the past 30-plus years, a lot of progress has been made to support victims and survivors of domestic violence; however, there is still more work to be done as one in three women, and one in seven men are still victims of domestic violence throughout the world according to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV).
Click here to learn more details on ongoing campaigns, events and volunteer opportunities organized by the ICADV, and click here for more information about domestic violence victim services provided by the state.
Student Loan Forgiveness Application Opens Despite Court-Ordered Block on Program
On October 17, the application process for the federal student debt cancellation program officially opened, but due to a federal court order, debt discharges are temporarily blocked while the lawsuits against the program go through the legal process.
However, the online application is still open, and submissions are being reviewed. People who choose to submit their application now will not have to reapply if the court order blocking the processing debt discharges is removed.
The application takes about five minutes to complete with the necessary information. To apply, people who believe they qualify should go to studentaid.gov and click “Start Application.” Next, they should enter the required information into the web form, which includes name, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth and email address.
Then it will ask you to review the eligibility rules and confirm that you qualify by clicking a confirmation box. After that, just click submit.