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Welcome to the 101st General Assembly
On Wednesday I was sworn in along with 116 of my colleague to serve as State Representative for the 37th District (click here for a map of the district). It is my honor to serve you. 30 percent of the lawmakers who took the oath are different from the person who sat in the same seat two years ago. The past two years have seen a slew of resignations and retirements from House and Senate members, a number of whom have notably gone on to join lobbying firms (I will be filing a bill shortly to address this ethically dubious ‘revolving door’).

Today it is Governor-Elect Pritzker and Lt. Governor-Elect Julianna Stratton’s turn to take the oath of office.

Springfield, IL… Today Illinois House Democrats voted to reaffirm Speaker Michael Madigan as the longest serving legislative leader in Illinois history and in the United States. In response, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) has announced her intention to again file legislation that bars members of the General Assembly from concurrently serving as the chairperson for a statewide political party. 

“This is simply too much power in the hands of one individual,” Rep. McDermed said. “During his decades in office, Speaker Madigan has used Machiavellian means to consolidate power over his party and over the legislative process. Speaker Madigan now presides over a supermajority of legislators, can dictate the House rules as he sees fit, and use his party’s purse strings to silence any dissent. Can Illinois truly be said to be a representative democracy if one man, elected by only 21,000 Illinoisans, wields such unchallenged power?”

The legislation, first filed in the 100th General Assembly as House Bill 4097, seeks to separate political party interests and state interests. As Speaker of the House, Madigan controls the legislative process and sets the rules that ultimately dictate how a bill will become a law. In addition to this substantial power, Madigan has served as the Illinois Democratic Party’s Chair since 1998. He is the only statehouse chamber leader, House Speaker or Senate President, in the United States to also hold the position as the head of his or her state’s political party. State party chairmen dictate the message and strategy of their party. Perhaps most importantly, they also organize party members and control millions of dollars in campaign funds. According to Illinois Sunshine, the Democratic Party of Illinois has $10.8 million on hand and Speaker Madigan is the chairman of two additional campaign funds that together total $29.1 million.

“The role of a State Representative, especially a House Speaker, is to represent the best interests of the state, not engage in politics,” Rep. McDermed continued. “State party chairmen are focused on the next election and for those two roles to go hand in hand, it naturally invites conflicts of interest and possible corruption. Wherever possible we need to separate politics from governance. Illinois is not known for its political ethics. This unnecessary and improper consolidation of power is just one example of 'insider baseball' that needs to end.”

The bill, once filed, will be sent to the Rules Committee where it will likely be purposely disregarded as the committee is presided over by Speaker Madigan’s closest allies. 

When the new year begins on January 1, 2019 a number of new laws that were passed in the General Assembly this past year will take effect. These include bills for small technical corrections as well as legislation that will have a significant impact statewide. Below are just a few of the new laws that will be on the books:

Cancer patient fertility preservation 
(Public Act 100-1102, House Bill 2617)
This Act requires Illinois insurance providers to cover fertility preservation for cancer patients or any other patient who undergoes a necessary medical treatment that directly or indirectly causes iatrogenic infertility.

Emergency Opioid and Addiction Treatment Access Act 
(Public Act 100-1023, Senate Bill 682)
This new act will serve as a key component to address Illinois’ opioid crisis by providing people in need immediate access to outpatient treatment. Currently, individuals experiencing an opioid overdose or reaction must wait for their treatment to be approved by their insurance plan before entering a facility. The legislation removes prior authorization barriers so people do not have to wait for treatment. In the event the insurance company denies treatment, the law requires the insurance plan to cover outpatient treatment for 72 hours while the patient challenges the denial.

Increased inmate access to visitors
(Public Act 100-677, House Bill 4741)
Under this new law, each committed person will be entitled to seven visits per month. Every committed person may submit to the DOC a list of at least 30 persons who are authorized to visit.

Firearm Restraining Order Act
(Public Act 100-607, House Bill 2354)
The Firearm Restraining Order Act allows for family member or law enforcement to petition the court for an order prohibiting possession of firearms by an individual if they poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to themselves or other by possessing a firearm. The order may be issued on an emergency ex parte basis or for 6-months. The Court is required to make specific findings before issuing the order.

253 bills in total will take effect. You can read the rest of the bills here

The Illinois 100th General Assembly will meet briefly on January 7th and 8th before the 101st General Assembly is sworn in on January 9th. The swearing in will be presided over by Governor Rauner, as Governor-Elect Pritzker does not take office until January 14th

HAPPY 200TH BIRTHDAY ILLINOIS!200 years ago on this day in 1818, Illinois entered the Union as the 21st state. At the time, Illinois’ population was mostly concentrated in the southern part of the state (the capital was in Kaskaskia) and only about 35,000. Today Illinois is a sprawling, diverse state with nearly 13 million residents. Over the past two hundred years Illinois has had a rich history of presidents, skyscrapers, world renowned events like the World’s Fair, and world renowned companies like McDonalds. Here’s to many more years of a thriving Illinois that continues to impact the world.

Governor Rauner and Governor-Elect Pritzker are scheduled to make a joint appearance at the State’s birthday party tonight at Navy Pier.

From the Chicago Tribune:
"The Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, established by law in 2017, finished a proposal this summer to establish a statewide electronic tracking system modeled after similar programs in other states. By better understanding where evidence is, officials hope to give survivors the comfort and confidence that their cases are being taken seriously. Meanwhile, officials say a tracking system could show when and where kits are stalled, and bolster a case for more forensic scientists or other solutions to shorten long turnaround times.
The proposal is the latest in a series of efforts in Illinois to address a decades-long backlog of rape kits by streamlining the processing of evidence.
Illinois state Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, is working on legislation she hopes to introduce early next year that would mandate a tracking protocol.
“This way, we always know where the kits are and who has them and what their process is,” said McDermed, who is on the commission. “How do you make sure that you keep on track? You have a way to measure.”