SPRINGFIELD – Senate Democrats once again turned away from common-sense, good government reform by voting down a much-needed lawsuit reform bill, according to State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). He added that Democrat leadership continues to refuse to let other popular reform ideas even get a hearing, including term limits and fair-map proposals.
“We all know Illinois is broken. It’s becoming more and more clear that some of us actually want to change things while others will do anything to maintain the status quo,” said Sen. Barickman, who co-sponsored the lawsuit reform bill, along with several other reform measures.
Senate Bill 884 aims to stop frivolous lawsuits that have killed jobs and pushed businesses out of Illinois. The bill is the result of bipartisan working groups organized by Governor Bruce Rauner. The measure would limit the practice of venue shopping (where plaintiffs file lawsuits in courts based on where they are most likely to win, regardless of where injuries actually occurred) by creating a stepped process where locations are prioritized based on the parties and location of injuries. The legislation would also limit the ability of trial lawyers to only target wealthy businesses and individuals who may have had a much smaller liability than others not named in a lawsuit.
During the hearing, several Senators noted that additional reform measures had been blocked from even being heard in committee, but were repeatedly cut off by the committee’s Democratic chairman. These bills include term limits for lawmakers, which public polling continually shows strong support for. Another measure would end political gerrymandering by creating a fair, nonpartisan redistricting process where legislative districts are drawn to best represent residents instead of the current hyper-partisan process which draws maps for political gain.
“This is pure political theatre and nothing more,” said Senator Barickman. “Democrat leaders don’t have the guts to vote down proposals that the residents of this state clearly want. They control the process and they continue to use that for political gain instead of good governance.”
Meanwhile, Democrat leaders continued to ram through a budget that even they admit would spend three to four billion dollars more than the state is expected to take in.
“We have an opportunity to work together to move our state forward,” said Sen. Barickman. “The citizens of Illinois voted for reform and balanced budgets in November when they picked a new Governor. The message is clear. But Democrats apparently still haven’t heard it.”