Committees Get Underway
Much of the session work of last week was spent in organizing the 39 standing committees of the Illinois House of Representatives. These are the panels that will hear most of the legislation introduced in the House through January 2021.
Committees and subcommittees are authorized to hold hearings on the bills and resolutions presented to them. Subject-matter hearings are hearings in which the members of the panel hear evidence about a pending measure while considering their final action. Voting hearings are hearings in which the members of the panel hear evidence and testimony and then vote on the pending measure at once. In addition to standing committees, House leadership may set up one or more special committees to hold hearings and gather information on specific issues of urgent public interest.
Committees are scheduled and hearings on subjects are held at the discretion of the committee chair, who is the ranking member of the majority party as appointed by the House Speaker. All bills filed are submitted to the Rules Committee, a small committee comprising of just 5 members (3D, 2R). In order for a bill to advance to a specific committee, it must first be approved by the Rules Committee. A process that stifles legislation and ideas from a rank and file members.
I was named the Republican Spokesperson (ranking minority member) on the Transportation: Regulation, Roads & Bridges and the Judiciary- Civil Law House Committees. In addition, I will serve on the Judiciary-Criminal Law and the Revenue & Finance Committees.
Tackling the Growing Problem of Medical ID Theft
When your medical identity is stolen it can be used to steal expensive medical services, prescription drugs, to procure medical devices or equipment, to falsify insurance claims, or to acquire government benefits like Medicare and Medicaid. Not only can thieves rack up medical bills, but it is also possible that their own medical treatment, history, and diagnoses can get mixed up with your own electronic health records impacting your own care and treatment.
Current consumer protections aren’t specifically designed for medical identity theft, leaving victims on the hook for fraudulent medical expenses. My bill, HB1656 seeks to rectify that by adding medical and health insurance information to the definitions of identity theft in the Illinois Criminal Code, which will make it a prosecutable crime. This will also help protect victims of medical identity theft from being sued by medical providers and ordered to pay for services they never received. You can read more about my bill here.
I have filed a resolution seeking to put the full weight of the Illinois House behind a national effort to encourage telephone providers to implement new protocols that will crack down on illegal robocalls and filter out spoofed calls.
Scam callers are becoming more sophisticated, using spoofing technology to mimic local area codes in order to fool the call recipient. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been working on new phone verification methods including the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) and Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (SHAKEN). Right now implementing these caller authentication services is voluntary and until the FCC requires it of telephone providers we need to push them to step up and act. You can read more about the resolution here.
2019 Legislative Survey
I am working on setting my legislative priorities and it is important for me to hear from the residents who will be impacted by the decisions I make in Springfield. With that in mind, I have put out a new survey to engage with constituents on issues that are expected to come up.
Many residents in the district will soon see a 12 question survey appear in their mailbox. Residents are asked to fill it out and return it in the mail to 11032 W Lincoln Hwy, Frankfort, IL 60423. If you do not wish to mail it, there is also a dropbox outside my office. The survey is available online as well at my website. As always, you can continually reach out to my office share their input on any and all legislative issues, but I highly encourage everyone to take a moment to fill out this brief survey. Thank you in advance for your input.
Local Park Grant Awarded
Grants were recently announced through the State’s Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The program will provide more than $28 million to support 87 projects, while two projects will be funded through in the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The OSLAD program began in 1987 and has invested $419.4 million in 1,765 local park projects. The program receives dedicated funding from a percentage of the state’s Real Estate Transfer Tax.
Locally, the New Lenox Park District received $400,000 for Leigh Creek. This is part of a cooperative partnership with Lincoln Way Special Recreation Association to develop more accessible fields.
A Note on Recent Incidents
Recently, graffiti swastikas were painted on a few traffic signs in Mokena. I strongly condemn the vandalizing of public property with symbols of hate. In the House, I have co-sponsored numerous resolutions condemning white supremacy and hate groups. The 37th District is home to so many good people of all colors and creeds. Unfortunately, we are not immune to bad actors and hateful acts. They do not represent us or our community. I will continue to stand against hate and division as I am sure the vast majority of our residents do.