The McDermed Dispatch for December 3rd


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 McDonald’s. 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.

A Quick Note About My Office
I appreciate hearing from my constituents and will always take the time to listen to how you feel on issues. However, my office often gets calls and emails from constituents who have comments on federal policy or who have mistaken my office for their congressperson.

I want to clarify that as a State Representative, I only have an impact on issues that we as a state can regulate like state taxes, state roads, education, maintaining law and order, etc. My role as your state representative is limited and I do not have an impact federal issues like Obamacare, the current immigration debate, or any other pending federal legislation.  

This website gives you a comprehensive list of who represents you at every level of government:

Veto Session
The House and Senate overrode 30 of the Governor’s vetoes including the VOICES Act and legislation impacting the treatment of Lyme Disease. Other legislation remains dead, but might be resurrected next year under a new governor including a bill to raise the smoking age to 21, which failed on an override motion, or the bill to raise the minimum on teacher salaries, which was not brought for a vote. Legislation does not carry over between terms so with the onset of the 101st General Assembly in January, all legislation must start anew. 

State Negligence Lawsuit Payout Raised
After a contentious debate, the General Assembly voted to override the veto of the bill to raise the cap awarded in negligence lawsuits against the state from the current $100,000 cap. The Governor used his amendatory veto to increase the cap to $300,000, instead of $2 million as written in the bill.

Illinois’ $100,000 cap on Court of Claims judgments had been in place since 1972 and was the lowest in America, tied with five other states. The impetus for the bill was the tragic legionella outbreak at the Quincy Veteran’s home that led to the deaths of more than a dozen veterans. Several families of those veterans are suing the state. However, the bill would apply to all civil litigation cases brought against the state.

The debate was contentious primarily because a Representative stood up on the House floor and wished she could serve a “broth of legionella” to another Representative’s family members, who spoke against the bill on concerns about the cost to the state. Apologies were exchanged in private and on the House floor later in the week. I spoke on the House floor about this pattern of personal attacks and decline in decorum during debate that I have noticed in my years in office. You can watch my remarks here

Car Sharing Regulations
A somewhat controversial bill vetoed by the governor failed on an override attempt. The bill would have strengthened regulations on peer to peer car sharing, a fast-growing industry. In the case of what is called “car sharing,” the motor vehicle is not really “shared.” It is rented by the owner to a user, with the owner of an intellectual-property phone app serving as the car finder and go-between. The app operator locates the car, tells the prospective driver where to find it, bills the driver, and takes a profit percentage.

The bill was controversial because it’s critics, car-sharing businesses, claimed they were never brought in to discussions on the legislation and it was instead primarily written by Enterprise, a main competitor to the up and coming car-sharing industry. The veto override passed in the Senate but was not voted on in the House because it lacked the votes. Discussions between stakeholders have resumed and a new, slightly different version of the legislation is expected in the 101st General Assembly.  

Wreaths Across America
On the 3rd Saturday in December every year volunteers for Wreaths Across America strive to cover all Veterans grave markers with a Christmas wreath. By coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and other veterans cemeteries around the country Wreaths Across America strives to remember our fallen heroes, honor those who serve and teach our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms.

You can sign up to volunteer or donate here.