The much-anticipated lame duck House session offered the possibility of numerous landmark votes. Few were delivered. Depending on where you stand on any particular issue, that might be a good thing. Pensions, marriage parity and gun restrictions all were noted in the media as possible targets. None saw action.
The highest-profile pension legislation was hobbled with 14 amendments. The last amendment cut the legislature out of the process entirely, creating a Pension Review Commission to set pension funding and compensation, and giving the governor the ultimate authority in case of a commission tie vote. Speaker Mike Madigan adjourned the House with no pension vote taken. When the House clock stops at the end of session, everything at any level of approval stops as well. An entirely new bill must be filed for the 98th General Assembly (2013-14).
The one piece of legislation that did receive considerable attention was Senate Bill 957, the immigrant license bill. SB 957 allows undocumented immigrants to test to receive a driver’s license, with the goal of lessening uninsured driving. Fox Valley legislators were split on the issue, with a final 65-46 vote approving the measure.
Law enforcement voiced significant concerns that neither an applicant fingerprint nor identification number would be required to secure the license. I listened to their concerns and did not support the bill.
The new General
The 98th General Assembly will be much different than the previous one. There are 37 new senators and representatives. Both the House and Senate have Democratic, veto-proof majorities. This means that any bill, from either house, can become law without a single Republican vote.
Those distinctive plates
License plates for representatives cost each of us $198 and numbers are determined by seniority, not district number. My first-term plate was 113. My second-term plate was 90. This term’s plate is 63. Fifty men and women elected before me have left the House in just four years.
The spring schedule
The next couple of weeks will be hectic. All bills for the legislature to review must be filed by Feb. 1. Of the 6,000 or so bills that are filed, only a few hundred actually get a committee review. Even fewer work their way through both the House and Senate to receive a governor’s signature. I’ll share my legislative initiatives with the Metro West Council of Government at its meeting on Jan. 29 before returning to Springfield on Jan. 30. Many of my bills are a direct result of hearing your ideas on how to make Illinois a better place to live and work.
Reporting for duty
Your local Veterans Assistance Commission (VAC) provides my office with a yearly report of their successes. Their advocacy helps veterans and veterans’ widows who have little means to provide for themselves. This might include shelter, utility or food assistance or transportation to receive medical care. They also network with other agencies to secure employment for unemployed or under-employed veterans. The average income of veterans receiving transportation is about $900 a month.
This year, Kane County helped secure more than $2 million in new and retroactive benefit awards, and Kendall County secured an additional $700,000 just in back pay. Through their modest assistance budgets, both organizations improve veterans’ quality of life and help generate millions of additional dollars of spendable income into the Fox Valley. It’s a net gain for everyone.To find out more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
While you’re accustomed to seeing RSVP at the bottom of an invitation, RSVP in the not-for-profit world has another definition – the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. This national service program provides older Americans with the opportunity to use their life experiences to help the community. In the Fox Valley Senior Services Associates oversees the program. Volunteers 55 and better give their time to many organizations, and may receive gas money and other benefits for their good works. Those good works might include providing transportation, nutrition help or well-being visits, to name a few.
Last year, more than 700 active volunteers logged more than 87,000 (no, that’s not a typo) hours in just a few counties. Want to learn more? In Kane County, contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org, and in Kendall County, contact Kathy at Kbjerrum@seniorservicesassoc.org. Volunteers always find they receive more than they give.
Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville, is the state representative for the 50th Legislative District. She can be reached at her Yorkville office at 630-553-3223 or by email at email@example.com. Follow frequent updates on Facebook by adding State Representative Kay Hatcher as a friend.