I hope you and your family had a blessed Thanksgiving!
Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, a social media holiday designed to kick off the charitable season. This unofficial holiday is appropriately celebrated the Tuesday after the blessings of Thanksgiving and the shopping “holidays” of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.
Over the weekend my family and I donated toys to the New Hope Food Pantry in Norwood Park.
I encourage you to do something this holiday season for those less fortunate. Everyone can give something, whether it is a gift, money, or just your time and effort. Click here to find local organizations and non-profits in your community.
The House recently debated and failed to pass, a hotly contested piece of legislation. Senate Bill 1905 would have prohibited local governments from enacting “Right to Work” zones in their communities. It would prohibit local communities from allowing individual workers a choice in whether or not they want to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
I respect the great work unions do for our middle class and our communities. I do not support turning Illinois into a right to work state nor do I believe that Illinois is in danger of becoming one.
However, the bill went much further than I was comfortable with. One of the components of the bill would have made violations of the Act a criminal misdemeanor. This could have resulted in the jailing of local elected officials, which is an obvious overstep.
This legislation also had other problems. The vaguely worded legislation could have opened up a Pandora’s box. The private right of action outlined by the bill would have allowed any citizen, not a prosecutor or the Attorney General’s office, to sue their local elected officials over any such ordinances. This could have opened the issue up to anyone with a grudge to be awarded monetary damages.
Finally, this issue is currently being litigated in federal court. I believe we should let the matter settle in the federal courts before we create legislation that may be struck down or rendered unnecessary and redundant. The decision made by the courts will provide us with concrete guidance on the legality of the issue and show us a clearer path forward.
This bill was an unfortunate attempt to wrest local control away from community members like yourselves and centralize even more power in Springfield. Ultimately I believe in local control, and for the many reasons outlined above, I could not vote for SB 1905 to become law.
In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault revelations, Springfield was been rocked with revelations of its own. Several weeks ago, The Hill ran an article calling out rampant sexual harassment in state capitols which prominently featured a Springfield lobbyist. Days later, a letter signed by many women working in Springfield, including several colleagues on the House floor, was released to the public. It detailed the culture of sexual harassment in Illinois politics. I have been deeply concerned and outraged by what I have heard in recent weeks.
Fortunately, this issue has quickly united legislators and spurred action. While in Springfield for veto session, the Illinois House took many steps to address the issue head-on. We passed comprehensive legislation updating the Illinois Ethics Act to strengthen the law to specifically address sexual harassment and create better avenues for complaints to be filed and action to be taken against perpetrators.
We also unanimously passed House Resolution 687, which created the House Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment. I was honored to be appointed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin to serve on this task force. We will conduct a comprehensive review of the legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment, in both the public and private sectors. I look forward to working with this task force on the concrete steps we can take to create a better environment for my female colleagues. They should be able to do their jobs without fear or unease.
Springfield still has a long way to go to address the harmful culture pervasive in our government and politics, but I am happy to see that this issue is being taken seriously by both sides of the aisle. We in Springfield must do better if we are to lead this state by example.
I recently hosted the quarterly meeting of my Women’s Circle. This is an advisory group I get together to give updates on legislation in Springfield specifically impacting women and families. I also get insight on the issues that matter to the communities in the 20th district. Thank you to everyone that attended.