While many bills were approved and signed into law in 2016, several very worthwhile initiatives failed to receive fair consideration in the House or Senate. House Speaker Mike Madigan controls the Rules Committee, and he uses it to block any bill he does not wish to have considered by lawmakers. Bills that would seem like common sense to you and me were blocked this year by the Speaker. The list below represents a sampling of the “should haves” that will not be, thanks to far-reaching hand of the House Speaker:

HB 5744 – If the General Assembly fails to pass a balanced budget by the end of the regular session each year, lawmakers would have been required to stay in continuous session every day until a balanced budget is passed.

HJRCA 7 – A constitutional amendment that would have created term limits for leaders of the Illinois General Assembly: Would have limited the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, Minority Leader of the House, or Minority Leader of the Senate to a total of 8 years in any one office and 12 years combined in 2 or more offices.

HJRCA 27 – A constitutional amendment that would have created a redistricting advisory commission separate from the legislature to change the way legislative districts are drawn to create a more fair and representative map.

HB 5794 – Would have created the offense of illegal electronic monitoring to protect victims of domestic violence from being stalked by their abusers by placing electronic tracking software or spyware on their electronic communication device.

HB 6198 – When applying for a property tax exemption, social security benefits would not have impacted income status and would have helped prevent senior citizens from being taxed out of their homes.

HB 4118 – Would have changed the property tax code by lowering the eligibility age from 65 to 55 to participate in the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption.

HB 4119 – Would have changed the property tax code to allow disabled Illinoisans to participate in the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption.

HB 5008 / HB 6241 – Would have helped senior citizens stay in their homes by increasing the maximum income limitation under the Senior Citizens Assessment (property tax) Freeze Homestead Exemption from $55,000 to $75,000.

HB 6582 – Electronic Voter Registration: After providing state services, agencies would have had to inform individuals of qualifications for voter registration in Illinois and could present an opportunity for voter registration.

HB 4574 –Would have created penalties for fraudulently using the benefits on an Electronic Benefit Transfer card (EBT) or LINK card intended for SNAP recipients.

HB 4505 – Would have prevented pension double-dipping, which occurs when a retired public employee who is receiving a state funded pension is employed by a different public entity so they receive a pension and a salary at the same time.

HB 4639 –Would have amended the procurement code to make it easier for institutions of higher education to save money by banding together to make bulk purchases. Since Illinois has been a member of one buying pact in particular (MHEC), universities, colleges, school districts, park districts, libraries, cities and counties have saved over $190 million on their purchases.

HB 2531 – Job Creation Finance Act, would have allowed municipalities to designate job creation areas in exchange for a sliding scale of tax incentives based on the number of jobs created and maintained.

HB 1558 – As a result of the tornado in Gifford, for commercial/industrial property that has been rebuilt following a tornado disaster, this bill would have provided for a partial reduction in Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) if the square footage of the rebuilt structure is at least 10% larger than the original structure.

HB 4041 – Would have allowed for due process of a red light camera ticket by allowing a vehicle owner to contest the ticket and receive proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the violation occurred.

HB 6602 – Would have forfeited a persons’ survivor benefits for any person who is convicted of any felony relating to or arising out of or in connection with the service of the member from whom the benefit results.

HB 5021 – Would have limited the amount a person who has been convicted of assaulting a peace officer, fireman, corrections officer, or DHS employee (among others) can have their sentence reduced.

HB 4215 – Would have created the Illinois College Procurement Reform Act to allow public universities to procure funding to meet their needs that is not dependent on the current restrictions of the Illinois Procurement Code for state agencies.

HB 4569 – Would have ensured that disabled adults have the right to communicate and interact with other people unless their guardian can show the court good cause to prevent another person from interacting with the disabled person.

Again, this is just a small sample of the hundreds and hundreds of bills that never had a chance to be heard, discussed, nor voted upon in 2016. Lawmakers go to Springfield to represent the priorities and needs of the approximately 108,000 people in each district. When one man can derail a piece of legislation, that process of fair representation is restricted.

I am putting the final touches on my 2017 legislative agenda and will be announcing those bills in the coming weeks. Since taking my oath of office in early August, I have worked hard to cultivate relationships on both sides of the aisle with hopes that all of my legislation will receive wide, bipartisan support. As the new 100th General Assembly is sworn in on January 11, I will also be supporting efforts to eliminate the rule that allows the Speaker of the House to control the movement of bills for all 118 State Representatives.

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year, and please know that I am eager to return to Springfield where I can work on behalf of the people of Illinois’ 81st District. If my office may be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at (630) 737-0504 or through the contact form found at www.repolsen.com.

David S. Olsen