Demmer’s Dispatch: June 10, 2019

Members of the Illinois General Assembly just completed the spring legislative session. House Republicans, working from a position of super-minority, stood together on a host of legislation this year- both good and bad. We were united in our opposition to the graduated income tax proposal, which would raise taxes by $3.4 billion for families and businesses, and we stood firm in our opposition to an 82% increase in the state’s minimum wage. We also stood together as we fought FOID card legislation that would have subjected every law-abiding gun owner to a new set of over-burdensome and expensive regulations, including fingerprinting.

As a caucus, we showed incredible strength this year as an extreme agenda brought forward by our new Governor JB Pritzker and backed by super-majority Democrats in the House and Senate rolled through the General Assembly. But because we stood together and did not waiver on our priorities, we were able to negotiate pro-business reforms that Republicans have been championing for years. As a super-minority caucus, we are delivering business tax credits, phasing out the corporate franchise tax, and putting incentives in place to attract construction and permanent jobs. We also blocked a terrible anti-business bill that would have imposed wage and regulatory requirements on refineries, ethanol plants and chemical facilities. These and other successful Republican initiatives will allow us to say for the first time in a long time that “Illinois is open for business.”

Lawmakers are now back in their home districts tending to local constituent needs. We will return to Springfield in mid-October for the fall veto session.

Bipartisan, Balanced Budget Passed after Inclusion of House Republican-Backed Business Reforms
As the General Assembly’s May 31 scheduled adjournment approached, intense negotiations took place in a bipartisan, bicameral effort to reach a deal on a balanced budget and capital infrastructure plan.

House Republicans insisted that key business reforms be included in the budget and capital plan. These reforms will make Illinois a better place to create jobs and grow capital investment and were strongly backed by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and other business groups.

After the legislative leaders and Governor Pritzker reached an agreement on the inclusion of these reforms, the House took action on May 31 to pass a $40.6 billion balanced Fiscal Year 2020 budget. The operating budget was one piece of a package of legislation that was carefully negotiated. Prior to the vote on most of the bills, I spoke on the House floor and explained the importance of lawmakers considering the legislation as a package rather than as a series of stand-alone bills. Click here to watch my floor comments.

SB 262 contains the operating budget for FY20, including a total General Revenue Fund (GRF) spend of $40.6 billion which matches the available revenue from FY20. It includes $1.2 billion to pay down the backlog of bills and makes the full FY20 certified contribution to the state pension systems.

The FY20 balanced budget does the following:

  • Puts an additional $375 million into the Evidence-Based Funding Formula ($25 million more than statutorily required)
  • Puts an additional $50 million towards early childhood education
  • Contains a 5% increase to university and community college operations
  • Adds an additional $50 million for MAP grants
  • Adds an additional $10 million towards AIM HIGH scholarships ($35 million total)
  • Includes additional funding for the Home Services Program, Supportive Mental Health Housing, Community Based Services for Developmentally Disabled, Developmentally Disabled/Mental Health, Addicted Treatment Related Services, and Early Intervention Program
  • The budget contains $29 million for census participation
  • Includes funding to complete two ISP cadet classes, of approximately 170 sworn officers

SB 262 passed the House by a vote of 83-35-0 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 40-19-0. It was signed into law by the Governor on June 5 as Public Act 101-0007.

 Key Business Reforms include:

  • Creation of the Blue Collar Jobs Act – which will attract large scale construction projects.
  • Creation of a Data Center Tax Incentive – which will enhance the state’s ability to locate data centers in Illinois by providing tax incentives.
  • Reinstatement of the Manufacturer’s Purchase Credit – to encourage further investments in manufacturing in Illinois.
  • Elimination of the antiquated Illinois Franchise Tax.
  • Elimination of the cap on the Retailer’s Discount.
  • Tabling of Senate Bill 1407 – a bill that aimed to impose wage and regulatory requirements on refineries, ethanol plants, and chemical facilities.

SB 689 contains the FY20 operating budget revenue and key business reforms. It passed the House by a vote of 107-9-0 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 49-8-1. SB 689 was signed into law as Public Act 101-0009.

SB 1814 creates the FY20 Budget Implementation Act (BIMP bill) which makes the changes in State programs that are necessary to implement the FY20 budget recommendations. SB 1814 passed the House by a vote of 97-17-1 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 52-6-0. It was signed into law as Public Act 101-0010.

First Capital Infrastructure Program in a Decade Passed by the General Assembly

Illinois has not had a major capital and infrastructure package since 2009. In the decade that has passed since the last capital program, Illinois’ roads, bridges and building infrastructure has continued to decay, leading to massive capital needs across the state.

Infrastructure is the backbone of rural economies. The 90th District is quite large, as it spans about 75 miles east-to-west and about 50 miles north-to-south. When I think about the rural economy in the 90th District, I think about the things we grow, the things we manufacture and the products we make, and I recognize the importance of being able to transport those goods not just across Illinois or the United States, but across the world.

No one denies the importance of a good transportation network, but voting in favor of the revenue to fund these infrastructure improvement projects is difficult. During the floor debate on the capital bill, I spoke about the importance of taking the tough vote to fund road, bridge and public building projects. Click here to watch that floor speech.

HB 62 contains the capital appropriations for Rebuild Illinois. It appropriates money from the Capital Development Fund, the School Construction Fund, the Anti-Pollution Fund, the Transportation Bond Series A Fund, the Transportation Bond Series B Fund, the Coal Development Fund, the Transportation Bond Series D Fund, the Multi-Modal Transportation Bond Fund, and the Build Illinois Bond Fund, among other funds, for specified purposes. HB 62 passed the Senate by a vote of 53-6-0 and passed the House on Concurrence by a vote of 95-18-1.

HB 142 contains the bond authorization for Rebuild Illinois. It amends the General Obligation Bond Act. It increases the amount of bonded indebtedness by $20,538,914,226, from $57,717,925,743 to $78,256,839,969. It specifies the uses for which the additional moneys may be used. It expands the Funds used to determine the debt limit to include the Fund for the Advancement of Education, the Commitment to Human Services Fund, the Budget Stabilization Fund, and the State Construction Fund (currently, GRF, the Common School Fund, the General Revenue Common School Special Account Fund, and the Education Assistance Fund).

HB 142 further amends the Build Illinois Bond Act. It increases the amount of bonded indebtedness authorized by $3,238,672,100, from $6,246,009,000 to $9,484,681,100 and specifies the uses for which the additional money may be used.  It increases the amount for grants to school districts for school improvement projects authorized in the School Construction Law by $59,403,700, from $3,050,000,000 to $3,109,403,700, and creates the Mass Transportation Bond Fund. Proceeds from the sale of bonds for rail transportation shall be deposited into the Multi-modal Transportation Bond Fund.  

HB 142 passed the Senate by a vote of 53-6-0 and passed the House on Concurrence by a vote of 94-20-0. 

SB 690 includes the vertical capital revenue, gaming expansion and sports betting components of Rebuild Illinois. It enacts comprehensive FY20 tax language, gaming expansion, and authorizes sports betting, including (a) language governing collections of online Illinois sales taxes, (b) a new tax on motor vehicle parking lot services, (c) language to grant an income tax credit for the construction of data centers sited in Illinois, (d) language capping the motor vehicle trade-in sales tax credit at $10,000, (e) an increase in the Illinois state cigarette tax from $1.98/pack (current law) to $2.98/pack, (f) the new Illinois Works Jobs program, (g) sports wagering, (h) slots and table games at tracks, (i) a 4,000-gaming-position Chicago casino, (j) five new riverboat licenses at Danville, Rockford, South Cook County, Walker’s Bluff, and Waukegan, (k) authorization for increased gaming positions at existing casino riverboats, (l) an authorization for riverboat casinos to move to on-land locations, and (m) video gaming expansion.  SB 690passed the House by a vote of 87-27-0 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 46-10-2.

SB 1939 includes revenue for the horizontal capital components of Rebuild Illinois. It provides for $2 billion in annual funding for transportation infrastructure across the state by making the following changes:

  • Motor fuel tax (MFT) increase of 19-cents per-gallon on gasoline and 24-cents per-gallon on diesel. (Rates are indexed to inflation).
  • Sales Tax on Motor Fuels: beginning July 1, 2021, proceeds are incrementally transferred to Road Fund over 5-year period (1% of the 6.25% in the first year, then 2% in the second year, up until 5% starting July 1, 2025). Retains 1.25% sales tax portion to local governments.
    • Revenues from increase to special fuels deposited into Road Fund.
    • Revenues from increase to gasoline deposited into new Transportation Renewal Fund.
  • Creates the Transportation Renewal Fund that is funded by proceeds from increase in MFT.
  • 80% for roads and bridges; of that:
    • 60% to State Construction Account Fund.
    • 40% to Local Governments (identical to existing distribution to local governments).
  • 20% for transit (90% RTA, 10% downstate).
  • Passenger Vehicle Registrations increased by $50, with $49 of proceeds deposited into Road Fund ($1 to State Special Services Fund) for a total registration fee of $151 per-year.
  • Electric Vehicle Registrations: equal to other passenger vehicles plus a $100 additional fee for a total registration fee of $251 (currently $17.50).
  • Truck Vehicle Registrations: Increased by $100, with $99 of proceeds deposited into Road Fund ($1 to State Special Services Fund).
  • Certificate of titles: Increase by $55 for standard vehicles, but reduces fee for duplicate certificates by $45; adds other fees for salvage certificates, junking certificates, and motor home certificates.
  • Commercial Distribution Fee: repealed on July 1, 2020.
  • Provides that Cook County may impose a local motor fuel tax up to 3-cents per-gallon by local ordinance.
  • Adds Lake and Will County to the list of counties that may impose a local motor fuel tax. The local motor fuel tax may be up to 8 cents.
  • Provides for a $50 million annual IDOT program for pedestrian and bicycle facilities and the conversion of abandoned railroad corridors to trails.

SB 1939 passed the House by a vote of 83-29-1 and passed the Senate on Concurrence by a vote of 48-9-1.

House Democrats Advance Legislation which Infringes upon Second Amendment Gun Rights

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed legislation in May that would increase costs and red tape for law-abiding gun owners in Illinois.

SB 1966 would require mandatory fingerprinting for all FOID and Concealed Carry License applications and renewals. It would require universal background checks through federally licensed dealers for all firearm transfers, with exceptions for family members and law enforcement. Changes to the FOID Act would include the following:

  • Limits the FOID card length to 5 years (currently 10 years)
  • Doubles the FOID card fee to $20 (from $10)
  • Provides that a live scan fingerprint vendor may not charge more than $30 per set of fingerprints
  • The Illinois State Police can charge an additional fee for background checks (State and FBI background checks through live scan vendor are $28.25)

Law-abiding citizens should not have to submit to fingerprinting, doubled FOID card fees and bureaucratic red tape to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. A person who wants a FOID card to legally own a gun in Illinois may have to pay more than $100 just to exercise their Second Amendment rights. They may have to drive several hours just to find a fingerprint vendor. These limitations on the constitutional rights of our citizens will do little to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals. Many House Republicans pointed out that if SB 1966 were to become law, it would face a certain legal challenge and likely be ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

Senate Bill 1966 narrowly passed the House by a vote of 62-52-0. However, the Illinois Senate did not take action on the concurrence motions prior to adjourning the spring session. The bill remains in the Senate on the Order of Concurrence.

Illinois General Assembly Passes Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana
On the final day of the regular spring session, the House of Representatives passed legislation legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Illinois. HB 1438 creates the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. It allows for the recreational use of cannabis by individuals over the age of 21. Illinois citizens may possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and out of state individuals may possess up to 15 grams. Medical cannabis patients may grow up to 5 plants in their residence. I voted against the bill because I believe there are too many unanswered questions about the long-term effects of cannabis use. Marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the federal level, and  I also have concerns about there being no method to test for field sobriety for impaired drivers under the influence.

It expunges arrest records for possession of cannabis up to 30 grams. For individuals who have convictions for possession of up to 30 grams, the Governor will pardon those individuals and the Attorney General will file a petition to expunge. For those individuals convicted of possession between 30-500 grams, they may file a motion to vacate or expunge their records.

Taxation on cannabis is as follows: 7% on cultivators, 10-25% on purchase of cannabis, up to 3% excise tax by municipalities, up to .75% for counties, and up to 3.75% for unincorporated areas.

House Bill 1438 passed the Senate by a vote of 38-17-2 and on May 31, the House concurred with Senate Amendment 2 by a vote of 66-47-2.

Rep. Tom Demmer Sets Mobile Office Hours in Rochelle

This week I’m continuing my mobile office hours tour with an event planned on Tuesday, June 11 at the Hub City Senior Center in Rochelle. The event is open to all residents of the Rochelle area.

On Tuesday, June 11, residents of the 90th Legislative House District are invited to meet with a member of my legislative staff between 10:00 AM and 11:00 at the Hub City Senior Center, located at 401 Cherry Avenue in Rochelle.

I attend these events as my schedule allows, but a member of my staff is always available to talk with residents about the services available through my office and to assist with issues involving state agencies.

No appointment is needed. Future mobile office hours dates and locations will be posted on my web site at tomdemmer.org.

Demmer Presents City of Dixon with Honorary Resolution

Last week it was my privilege to present members of the Dixon City Council with an honorary House Resolution recognizing the 100th Anniversary of the Dixon Memorial Arch. The arch, also known as the “Victory Arch,” was built in May of 1919 to honor returning Lee County servicemen, and while it was originally constructed as a temporary structure made of wood, the arch was reinforced and transformed into a permanent structure in 1924. It was rebuilt several times throughout the years, and was ultimately torn down and reconstructed as the fiberglass arch we enjoy today. This current structure, which accommodates the four-lane road that runs underneath it, was dedicated during Dixon’s Veterans Day celebration in 1985. The arch greets all visitors to Dixon and welcomes travelers to the downtown area. It is a mainstay of the city, and it was a pleasure to pay tribute to such an important part of Dixon’s history. Click here to read the resolution.