The McDermed Dispatch for April 1st

Rest assured, despite the date, there are no jokes in today’s Dispatch.
Committee Deadline, Bills Pass
Bills not out of House committee by last Friday were automatically referred back to the House Rules Committee. Many bills sent to the House Rules Committee are dead for the Spring 2019 session. In a few cases, a bill can be brought back to life by being redrafted as an amendment to another bill.

Hours of floor debate last week saw a number of bills pass the House, including:

HB3153 requires DCFS to place a locked suggestion box in each group home, shelter, and transitional living arrangement that accepts youth in care for placement by the Department.
HB816 to update the websites of State agencies. 
HB2276 would ban a person from smoking in a motor vehicle that contains a person under 18 years old, regardless of whether the vehicle is in motion, at rest, or has its windows down. A violation would result in a $100 fine.
HB3053 creates the School District Efficiency Commission. There are currently 852 school districts in Illinois, nearly 25 percent of which serve just one school, and over one-third of all school districts have fewer than 600 students. This makes them a key target for the consolidation effort of Illinois’ nearly 7,000 units of local government as a way to curb rising property taxes. Since the issue will impact our children’s education, it deserves real study and consideration before the effort moves forward.

ISP to Create Evidence Tracking System
The Illinois State Police recently announced that the Division of Forensic Services will implement an online sexual assault tracking system by the end of the year. This is great news and something I have been working towards for years. Legislation I passed in 2017 created the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission. The group brought together relevant stakeholders in the criminal, judicial, and scientific communities to create and develop guidelines for an evidence tracking system. The commission submitted its final report last summer and this session I filed House Bill 1440 to ensure compliance with the commission’s recommended changes to law and policy that will help implement such a system. HB 1440 is necessary to establish a uniform statewide tracking system and mandate participation and compliance by all stakeholders in the system. The bill just passed its House Committee and is on its way to a vote in the full House. I will continue to advocate for this issue. We need to tackle the evidence backlog and we need to provide clarity, transparency, and accountability to victims.

Self Defense Class
On Tuesday April 9th, One Light Self Defense will be back in the district for a women’s self defense course on how to avoid becoming a victim of violence and the skills that can be used in the event of an attack. This is the 4th year I am partnering with this fantastic nonprofit and every year attendees give such positive feedback about the class. I highly recommend women and girls over 12 attend this workshop, as it is full of useful information and important defensive techniques.

The three-hour class will run from 6-9 pm at Parker Road Bible Church, 18512 Parker Rd in Mokena. Space is limited, call my office at (815) 277-2079 to RSVP. 

New State IDs
Secretary of State Jesse White’s office began issuing cards that comply with the federal Real ID Act in January, and they will be available at all 138 driver services facilities statewide starting today. Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005 in response to a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission that the federal government set standards for identification cards aimed at making them more secure. The majority of US States are now in compliance with the law.

Residents who opt for the new federally compliant card will be required to come to a driver services facility and provide documents proving their identity, Social Security number and written signature, and two documents showing proof of Illinois residency. The new cards, which will be marked with a gold star in the top right corner, will cost $30 for a driver’s license and $20 for a state ID. New IDs can’t be renewed by mail.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, Illinois residents will no longer be able to use their current state-issued cards to board domestic flights or enter federal facilities. Learn more about this transition here

IGOLD, Others Visit Springfield
Thousands of law-abiding gun owners came down to Springfield last week to advocate for their rights on Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day (IGOLD). I spoke at the rally; you can watch my comments here.

Also last week, the bishops of Illinois’ six Catholic dioceses gathered in Springfield to speak against proposed legislation that would define abortion as a fundamental right and do away with a law requiring that the parents of minors seeking abortions be notified. In addition, legislation being considered would remove protections for doctors and other health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions because it violates their consciences and would require that private health insurance in Illinois fully cover the costs of abortions.

New DCFS Director
Governor Pritzker has named a new Department of Children and Family Services Director. This will be the 15th leader of DCFS in 16 years. Former DCFS director Jess McDonald called it “the single most challenging and difficult job in state government.” Pritzker appointed Marc Smith, an executive at Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness with previous experience as a DCFS social worker. Pritzker also announced he’s asked the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall “to conduct an independent and comprehensive review” of the unit, which is facing scrutiny after the recent, tragic deaths of two toddlers whose families were investigated by DCFS.