With your help we can put power back in the hands of the people
State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) is asking people to help show support for a fair maps effort that would give the voters the power to decide the issue during the next election.
“People should be picking their representatives instead of politicians picking their voters,” said Sen. Barickman. “We have the opportunity to make that happen, by letting the voters decide during the next election.”
The current system for redistricting allows the politicians who are in power right now to control the legislative maps and their boundaries for the next ten years. This system has led to confusing districts that make little sense, drawn more for political gain, which is often referred to as “gerrymandering.”
Senator Barickman has signed on as a co-sponsor of SJRCA 4, which would allow voters in the next statewide election to decide whether to adopt a new, fairer, non-partisan system of redistricting. But the legislation still has to pass the General Assembly before the question can be placed on the ballot. He’s urging people to show their support for the idea by signing a petition online at SenatorBarickman.com.
“We need your help to show that the people of Illinois deserve to have the power to make the call on this issue,” said Barickman.
Senate passes rushed, job-killing minimum wage hike
The Illinois Senate jammed through a partisan minimum wage hike despite the need for further negotiations and regional protections.
“This isn’t about whether or not the minimum wage should be increased, it’s about how much, how fast, and what we can do to minimize the loss of jobs, especially downstate,” said Barickman. “Unfortunately this legislation doesn’t really do much of anything on any of those fronts.”
The legislation, introduced hours before the vote was taken, would raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $15 dollars per hour. The change is expected to take a massive toll on businesses, non-profits, and government agencies as well. Estimates placed the cost of the increase at over $1 billion for direct state employees. Universities would face tens of millions in new costs with the potential for thousands of student employee layoffs. According to several schools, the hike will likely result in layoffs for teachers’ aids and other positions that will negatively affect in-classroom learning and/or create pressure to raise property taxes. In addition, a number of social service providers have said they may be forced to lay off staff or cut services.
The legislation featured no regional adjustments to assuage those concerns, despite the wide disparity between costs across Illinois. Barickman noted that while new Governor Pritzker had promised to move forward in a moderate, bipartisan fashion, this legislation was the first big issue on his agenda, and the resulting legislation was a partisan, one-sided approach. The bill passed the Senate on a party-line vote, 39-18, with no Republicans voting in favor, and no Democrats voting against. It is now headed to the Illinois House.
“I hope that this isn’t an example of how negotiations are going to proceed this spring, because the people of Illinois don’t need any more partisan showdowns,” said Barickman. “I’m also hopeful that this process results in a different, more moderate product once the negotiations begin in the House.”
Barickman advances legislation to help schools cut costs
The Illinois Senate Education committee has advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Barickman that will update rules regarding school record solution, potentially saving schools money.
“This bill came from an idea brought to me by one of our local schools,” said Sen. Barickman. “This is a common sense change to outdated rules that are costing our schools money.”
Under current law, many records are required to be kept by schools for certain periods of time, often a period of 60 years. After that, they cannot be disposed of or moved to electronic copies unless the district is able to parent the parent and offer them a chance to copy the information in the record. Currently the standard is to require communication by US mail to the last known address of the parent, or to publish a notice in a newspaper.
Senate Bill 117 would allow the school district to send notice via email with receipt confirmation, and would also allow the communications to go to the student, if they are are of age or the parental rights have been transferred to the student.
“The issue is that under the current standard, schools can be stuck dealing with keeping large quantities of records, as well as the costs of keeping them,” said Barickman. “Updating the rules will help the school districts save money and have a better chance of reaching the people they are required to notify.”
Senate Bill 117 passed the Education Committee unanimously and now heads to the Senate for a vote in the full chamber.
Good government legislation to prevent campaign fund corruption between lobbyists and legislators
In an effort to target campaign fund corruption between lobbyists and state legislators, new legislation filed in the Senate aims to prohibit lobbyists with political campaign accounts from donating to members from that account.
Under current law, there are no regulations to prevent newly registered lobbyists who have access to a campaign account from donating campaign funds to members of the Illinois General Assembly. Senate Bill 128 would specify that donations to members from campaign accounts are strictly prohibited, and will remain forbidden for two years after the individual's lobbyist registration expires.
The legislation is a preventive and precautionary measure to prevent retired legislators-turned-lobbyists—and new lobbyists involved with a Political Action Committee (PAC)—from misusing campaign funds to benefit their lobbying career, as well as help stop the corrupt flow of campaign money in the State Capitol.
The concerning oversight in the lobbying ethics policy was brought about by members of the public who inquired about former legislators’ use of campaign funds.
Senate Bill 128 is currently awaiting a Senate Committee assignment.
Legislation to dissolve drainage districts reveals potential to reduce property taxes
Legislation to allow the dissolution of unnecessary drainage districts passed out of the Senate’s Local Government Committee this week, which presents a proactive and valuable opportunity to reduce the property tax burden in Illinois.
Senate Bill 90 particularly targets suburban regions of Illinois that used to be farmland, and are now residential areas and paying taxes to both the municipality and the drainage district. These circumstances are costly and duplicative for the taxpayer, as the municipality is already taking on the drainage responsibilities for those areas, rendering the drainage district unnecessary.
By allowing municipalities to dissolve drainage districts, taxpayers should see significant property tax relief and a more streamlined government.
Senate Bill 90 will now move to the Senate for consideration.