|Important legislative update from State Representative Jeff Keicher|
I would like to take a moment to give you an important legislative update and to let you know about upcoming local events.
I am traveling across the district summer on a listening tour to get your feedback from the outcome of the spring legislative session and to talk about how we can move Illinois forward in a positive direction. I value your input and want to hear your concerns. Your voice matters to me. Democracy is not a spectator sport. We all share the goal of making Illinois a better place to live, work, worship, start a business, raise a family and earn a first-class college education at places like Northern Illinois University & Kishwaukee College. We may differ on the best path to achieve these goals, but we won’t make progress unless we’re actively engaged in talking and listening to one another on our ideas.
I look forward to continuing that dialogue with you in the months ahead as we move through the summer and look toward the start of the General Assembly’s Fall Veto Session in October.
You can scroll below for a recap of the following topics:
• Supporting Women
• Opposition to salary hike for legislators
• Java with Jeff in DeKalb
• Senior Fair in DeKalb on July 25
• Community Corners with Keicher: Opportunity House
• Governor Pritzker signs law legalizing recreational use of marijuana in Illinois
• Texting While Driving Law
Please do not hesitate to contact my district office in Sycamore if I or a member of our staff may be of assistance to you. You can reach us by phone at (815) 748-3494 or via e-mail at Keicher@ilhousegop.org.
State Representative, 70th District
Supporting Women This year there were various pieces of legislation that would help improve and protect the lives of women and men in our state brought forward by women sharing difficult stories to their legislators, highlighting gaps in protection. I proudly supported the following initiatives:
SB1507: created civil remedies for “revenge porn.
HB2135: to protect all victims of sexual assault by removing the statute of limitations on criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated criminal sexual abuse regardless of the age of the victim. “Stephanie’s Law” to close sex offender loopholes in current Illinois statutes. This would require that offenders convicted of battery be added to the registry of sex offenders if the crime is found to be sexually motivated and committed by someone over 21 assaulting somebody under 17. The loophole that currently exists does not include a provision for a sexually motivated battery within the misdemeanor battery statute.
SB75: to enforce stronger safety and security measures for hotel employees, I sponsored legislation to ensure employees would have safety devices available to them, like panic buttons, to combat sexual harassment.
HB2382: to ensure the State Police’s Division of Forensic Services laboratory has the necessary funding to test rape kits as well as other types of forensic evidence. By making these appropriations permanent, this would stop things like rape kits from being used as a political football during budget standoffs.
Opposition to salary hike for legislators
Every year, the salary of state legislators automatically increases unless we adopt legislation specifically preventing it. It is unfair to taxpayers that the automatic COLA for Illinois legislators was omitted in the 2020 budget.
On the final day of session, Speaker Madigan refused to allow a vote on a bill rejecting the COLA for legislators (HB 837). Meanwhile, 43 of the 44 House Republicans joined me in cosponsoring a separate bill brought by Representative Windhorst, HB 2965, to deny an increase in pay and per diem to legislators.
I requested that the legislature be called back into special session in June to approve either of these bills prior to July 1. Since our request was ignored, I now call upon Governor JB Pritzker to issue an amendatory veto of the budget implementation act for the specific purpose to deny the pay raise to Illinois House and Senate members. He has indicated he will not.
Join Me for Coffee in DeKalb
Local residents with questions or concerns on issues impacting the State of Illinois are invited to attend my upcoming “Java with Jeff” Summer Listening Tour in DeKalb from 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 20 at the Lincoln Inn, located at 240 E. Lincoln Hwy. Complimentary coffee will be provided.
I have been meeting with local residents to provide a recap of the spring legislative session and listen to their questions and concerns face-to-face. DeKalb will be the next stop on my summer listening tour. I want to give everyone in our district an opportunity to meet with me and make their voice heard. Together we can create a dialogue on how to make Illinois a better place to live, work, raise a family, and get a first-class college education.
Thank you to everyone who came out for my recent coffees in Burlington and Big Rock. I’ll be visiting Genoa on August 2 and Hinckley on August 23. Stay tuned for details.
Constituents who are unable to attend a “Java With Jeff” but still wish to give me your feedback can do so online by visiting repkeicher.com and clicking “Contact” on the homepage menu, or by calling the District Office in Sycamore at (815) 748-3494 to schedule an appointment.
Senior Fair in DeKalb on July 25
State Senator Dave Syverson and I are hosting a free Health Fair for local seniors and their caregivers in partnership with the DeKalb County Family Service Agency and Voluntary Action Center from 9:00 a.m. – Noon on Thursday, July 25 at DeKalb High School, located at 501 W. Dresser Road in DeKalb.
The event brings together over 60 vendors representing various state and local agencies, businesses and area health service organizations that offer programs and resources for seniors. Information shared covers a wide range of topics including health care, recreation, nutrition, caregiver needs, nursing home and long-term care, supportive living and much more.
Free blood pressure, hearing and memory testing are among the complimentary health screenings offered at the Senior Fair. There will also be a special presentation on veteran’s benefits from the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Helping local seniors maintain a healthy and active lifestyle by accessing the tremendous array of local resources available to them is the goal of our fair. I encourage everyone to stop by and take advantage of the many outstanding local programs and services available to seniors right here in our community.
Light refreshments will be provided courtesy of the Voluntary Action Center. Additionally, all attendees will be entered into a drawing for special door prizes to be awarded just prior to the end of the event.
For any questions, please call my office at (815) 748-3494.
Community Corners with Keicher: Opportunity House
Each week I am visiting a local non-profit or small business in the 70th District to give you a firsthand glimpse at the people and organizations making a difference in our community. Our first visit was at Opportunity House in Sycamore, a non-profit community sponsored rehabilitation center serving adults with developmental disabilities in DeKalb County.
Please click HERE to watch the video of our visit to Opportunity House and learn more about this wonderful organization.
Gov. Pritzker signs law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Illinois
On June 25, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 1438 into law, which will legalize the adult use of cannabis in Illinois beginning January 1, 2020. This was a bill that was debated a long time, not taken lightly and is not perfect. While I voted against it because of the gaps, it is now the law and my office has been sharing with government units and individuals the answers to most of their questions regarding this rollout. There’s still several rules being written by various agencies and certainly more to come.
Here’s some highlights.
House Bill 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.
It impacts the arrest records for those convicted of 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. For those individuals convicted of possession between 30-500 grams, they may file a motion to vacate their conviction through a process being worked out that involves law enforcement and the individual.
HB 1438 also creates the Recovery, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) grant program, which will invest in communities hit by economic disinvestment and violence. 25% of revenue generated by the Act will go to the R3 program.
It allows for additional dispensaries (in addition to medical cannabis dispensaries) and cultivators, and adds licenses for craft growers, infusers, and transportation organizations. Local governments may reasonably zone where craft growers and dispensaries may be placed. Local governments may opt out of having cannabis-related businesses within their borders.
Taxation on cannabis:
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.
As more and more states move toward legalizing the use of recreational cannabis, proponents argued that HB 1438 is a reasonable answer to the question how we tax and regulate this emerging industry. While many are uncomfortable with the concept of legalizing cannabis, the fact is that this is the direction the nation is moving.
This legislation provides for elements of public safety, taxpayer protections, workplace protections, and local control. It contains similar provisions to laws regulating the consumption of alcohol, like a prohibition on driving a car under the influence. It incorporates laws that will deter and punish use by minors – including a zero-tolerance policy for those under 21 who drive under the influence of cannabis. Employers are given the strongest policy protections in the nation, allowing for a “drug free” workplace. Local municipalities and counties may opt out at any time and can tax cannabis up to 3.75%.
Opponents pointed out that nothing in this legislation changes the fact that cannabis is still a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance which remains illegal under Federal law. They argued that the bill will not raise nearly as much revenue as proponents expect; instead, it will place additional burdens on taxpayers to pay for drug treatment and the negative health and societal effects of chronic marijuana use. Opponents believe that legalizing marijuana is a terrible way to raise money for the State and that it will cause more harm than good.
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.
Texting-while-driving law strengthened in Illinois
The new law, which went into effect on July 1, focuses on first-time offenders who are cited for driving while operating a handheld mobile device, such as a smart phone. Under the law prior to 2019, this offense could be fined ($75, plus court costs and fees) but was not classified as a moving violation. Starting July 1, the first-time offense of driving while having a phone in one’s hand will be a moving violation that will appear on the motorists’ driving record. The fine will remain $75 for now, but court costs and fees add substantially to this sum. Furthermore, the fine increases upon the second and subsequent offense.
The offense is not committed when drivers use a phone that is wired into the car’s sound system in a hands-free manner. The moving-violation language was contained in HB 4846, enacted in 2018 and signed by former Gov. Rauner. HB 4846 was approved by the Illinois House by a vote of 96-15-0.
A word about communication
In my newsletters I’ve attempted to communicate as much high-level information as I can and explain the dynamics why certain decisions were made, what the additional information is that perhaps didn’t make the news and give you a glimpse behind the sound bite. I’ve also tried to highlight the community groups and not-for-profits that make our area vibrant, to give them the attention they deserve for the work they do. While I’ve made myself available on most all media platforms and welcome dialogue on topics that are important to you and the 70th District, I find many are still unaware of the information I’ve been sharing and have found value in the additional information when we are able to interact. This has been a bit frustrating as I’ve heard from so many of you that truly appreciate the level of information and background I share in my newsletter. So, I’d like to encourage each of you reading this newsletter to share it with others in the 70th District or to encourage them to sign up to receive it at repkeicher.com.
Thank you for entrusting me with representing you in the Illinois General Assembly. It is an honor to be of service. I’d encourage you to reflect each day that no matter our circumstances, there’s never been a better time to be alive in human history. There’s amazing things occurring each day and we are blessed to be here to be a witness.
State Representative Jeff Keicher