Springfield, IL. – “Fast and Furious” might be a label you could apply to the final week of the 2019 spring session. After five months of work the Legislature tackled a number of hot and controversial issues, including abortion, marijuana legalization, higher taxes, gaming and a new state budget. While the debate during the final days was partisan and intense at times, the Senate took the time – at the beginning of the week – to recognize our fallen heroes during a Monday, May 27 Memorial Day ceremony.
Remembering Our Heroes
Members of the Illinois Senate who served in the U.S. Military gave their remembrances of fellow servicemen and women, and talked (photo right) about the true meaning of Memorial Day. It was a privilege to add my voice to those of my colleagues on this special day:
“Our fallen heroes represent the character of a nation as diverse as they come. It matters not where our veterans came from, but it matters now - and forever - how we honor them; for their deaths have left heartache that will never quite heal, but their love leaves memories that shall never fade. It is our duty, our burden, our responsibility and our solemn vow that never shall their deeds, their sacrifices, their families, or their country ever be forgotten,” said Sen. Wilcox.
Before I made the trip to Springfield for the final week of session, I participated in a Memorial Day ceremony conducted by American Legion, William J Metzen Post 0265 in Harvard (photo left).
It is said that a soldier dies twice. Once when his life is lost and again when his name is no longer spoken. Memorial Day keeps these brave men and women a part of our lives, and living in our memories.
Radical Abortion Law Passed
The Illinois Senate voted 34 to 20 on May 31 to end all restrictions on abortion in Illinois.
“I voted against this radical expansion of legal abortion. Under Senate Bill 25, late-term abortions, for any reason, would be legal and Illinois’ partial birth abortion ban would be repealed. It would require private insurance companies to cover abortion, and could require doctors, nurses and hospitals to perform abortions without any consideration for their personal beliefs or constitutional rights. SB 25 strips all independent rights from the unborn child, and since it eliminates any restrictions or regulations on abortion, Illinois’ Parental Notification Act could be in jeopardy – leaving parents without the right to know if their minor daughter is getting an abortion.
The Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Life is listed before liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Life is given preeminence in the Declaration. If you’re not entitled to Life itself, then our remaining unalienable – or fundamental – Rights have no meaning.”
Senate Bill 25, having already been approved by the House on May 28, now heads to the Governor who is expected to sign it into law.
Marijuana Legalization Passes
During the last week of session, both the Senate and House voted to legalize recreational marijuana. While I expressed public support for legalization before I was sworn into office and during this spring session, ultimately I voted ‘no’ on House Bill 1438.
I could have supported legalization had it seriously addressed concerns about responsibility and accountability. Unfortunately, the primary intent of the legislation seemed to be more about generating tax revenue for special issues.
There were days, during the negotiation, when I was excited about changes being made to the proposal, but on other days less-than-desirable changes were included – such as extreme expungement of criminal records linked to marijuana, which were unacceptable.
While there is acknowledgment that our current prohibition regarding marijuana does not work, the legislation failed to provide adequate funding for law enforcement, education and prevention. In the future, Illinois lawmakers will be discussing shortfalls in funding of very critical budget components dealing with the negative social issues that we’ve seen increase in other states that legalized marijuana.
The final version was an improvement over alternatives, but it did not resolve concerns allowing me to feel the issue had been properly legislated. Legalization requires a balanced approach. Illinois will be better served by getting back to discussing marijuana for personal use or medical purposes as a freedom to choose, while also acknowledging and then addressing the implications to society regarding its use.
House Bill 1438 now goes to the Governor, who is expected to sign the legislation into law.
New State Budget/Progressive Policies
The new state budget is much like state budgets of the recent past. Higher spending and plenty of taxes. The largest-ever budget of $40.3 billion ($40,300,000,000) was passed largely by the supermajority Democrat Party. The budget was more than 1,500 pages and we were given very little time to really know all the details in it.
One things for certain, you’ll pay higher taxes including a doubling of the gasoline tax, and a $50 increase in vehicle registrations to fund public infrastructure projects. What we really need to focus on is our financial infrastructure, which won’t be fixed if we keep over-taxing and over-spending. To borrow a quote, no country or state has ever taxed its way to prosperity. It was the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who explained this truism this way: “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity, is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”
Simply put, taxation is not a viable plan when spending and government growth continues unabated. We can’t create a better future for Illinois if we’re exacerbating a tax climate that makes people want to leave.
Illinois has had two major income tax increases in the past eight years, and we are in worse fiscal shape today than we were in 2010 before the first (2011) income tax hike was imposed. During that time, Illinois became one of the leading states for out-migration.
In addition to the fiscal failures, we are witnessing a further move to the progressive left on social issues too. Progressive legislative assaults included a referendum to restructure the state income tax system from a fair flat rate, in which everyone pays the same rate, to a graduated income tax plan that charges higher rates for some and lower rates for others – being sold as a tax only on the rich plan – an embarrassing attempt to prey on the envy of others. Other legislation passed this spring mandates the teaching of LGBTQ history in school, threatens the future of charter schools, prevents private employers from asking about a job seeker’s wage history and allows criminals in jail to vote in local elections.
During the summer months, my office will remain active. We have local events planned and I hope to meet you when I’m out and about.
- Town Hall meeting on June 11 from 7:00 to 8:30p.m. at the Crystal Lake City Hall with Senators Dan McConchie and Don DeWitte. Come meet with us. We’ll talk about the spring session and answer your questions.
- Join me for “Conversations Untapped” on Friday, June 21 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at Buddyz Pizzeria, 1138 N Green Street in McHenry. It’s an informal forum and opportunity to offer your thoughts, ideas and concerns on issues that matter to you. No reservation is needed.
- U.S. Flag retirement ceremony on Saturday, June 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the McHenry VFW Post #4600, 3002 W IL Route 120, in McHenry. The U.S. Flag is a symbol of our liberty. It represents the sacrifices of American Patriots throughout our history, and it’s a banner of hope all over the world. This initiative is driven by a desire for all flags being flown in our community to represent a true emblem of our country, and provide assistance to assure the proper traditions and ceremony are honored when one is not.
If you are unable to attend the ceremony, you may drop your flag off at the following locations by Thursday, June 20:
* McHenry VFW Post 4600 - 3002 West IL Route 120 – McHenry
* McHenry City Hall - 333 S. Green Street – McHenry
* Senator Wilcox’s Office - 5400 W. Elm Street, Suite 103 - McHenry
Keep In Touch/Stay Informed
Stay in touch. You can call my district or Capitol offices: 815/455-6330 or 217/782-8000 and you can email me at email@example.com. Coming soon, I will launch a legislative Facebook page, where I will post pictures and comments, to keep in touch.
Also, check out my legislative website, www.senatorwilcox.com. You can find legislative news, sign up for my free newsletter, read our Founding Documents, and connect to state government agencies and resources. There’s also an extensive list of sites veterans can use to connect to employment, education, service records and more.