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Dear Friend,

This week I had the privilege and honor to once again be sworn-in as your State Representative! I have included below some photos from the swearing-in ceremony and a link to a press release announcing my inauguration for a third-term in the Illinois House.

Last week marked the end of the 99th General Assembly. Before adjournment, many important measures were brought to the House for consideration. Votes were taken on a property tax freeze bill, a bipartisan criminal justice reform package, new requirements for testing drinking water for lead, and another attempt by House Democrats to pass an unbalanced, non-negotiated budget. I have put together a comprehensive wrap-up of last week's legislative action below:

You can read my 99th General Assembly Wrap-up by clicking here!

100th General Assembly and Inauguration
The Inauguration of the 100th General Assembly 
A general tone of optimism and calls for bipartisan cooperation to solve the state's two-year budget impasse marked the beginning of the 100th General Assembly. I swore an oath, along with 117 of my colleagues, to protect and defend the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Illinois.

You can read the press release I issued on Inauguration here: "Bryant Sworn-in to 3rd Term in Illinois House"

As they say, 'hope springs eternal', so with the swearing-in of this new General Assembly, my hopes are high that we’ll pass a balanced budget along with pro-growth reforms.

We know that trying to tax-and-spend our way back to prosperity hasn't worked, so I was encouraged this week by statements made by Democrat leaders in Springfield that seem to indicate support for reforms to grow the economy.
We must have stability and we have to act fast to save our state from descending further into the financial abyss.

Resolutions and Page for a Day!
If someone you know is celebrating a big accomplishment, a milestone birthday or anniversary, or if you are aware of a club, group, or sports team that deserves special recognition, please reach out to my office to explore the possibility of passing a congratulatory Resolution.

Also, I will once again be hosting students in Springfield during the upcoming Session to serve as a "Page for a Day". Students will learn the ropes of working on the House floor, have their name announced during Session,and have their picture made as a token to remember their special day. To explore this opportunity, please contact my office at (618) 242-8115 or send me a message via my Contact Form

STAY CONNECTED!
My office in Mt. Vernon is staffed Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is staffed Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can email me directly at bryant@ilhousegop.org or send me a message through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com

Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!

Murphysboro....This week marked the end of the 99th General Assembly. On Monday and Tuesday, the House convened to take up several unresolved legislative measures prior to final adjournment. Here’s a quick roundup of the action:

House Demorats once again push unbalanced budget bill with no reforms or input from Republicans: 
SB 2051 - House Democrats once again pushed an 11th hour non-negotiated spending they claimed would have provided emergency funding for social and human service programs for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017. A stopgap budget that passed in the summer of 2016 expired on December 31st, leaving Illinois with no spending authority to fund critical public safety, human service, and higher education budget items.

SB 2051 did contain many important items that must be funded. Unfortunately, the process that brought the bill to the House floor for a vote was a sad repetition of the "take-it-or-leave-it" budget-making approach by House Democrats that marked the dysfunction of the 99th General Assembly.

We have divided government in Illinois. The most recent election resulted in a net-gain of 4 seats for Republicans in the House, breaking the Democrats' super-majority. It is necessary that all sides have input on how your tax dollars are spent. Ignoring Republican legislators and the advice and priorities of the Governor will only deepen the partisan divide and perpetuate the gridlock in Springfield.

I have been clear during my time in office that Illinois must have a full, truly balanced budget that focuses on growing state revenues through economic expansion. We need more good paying jobs in Illinois. The 'tax, spend, and repeat' policies of the last 15 years have resulted in Illinois' near financial insolvency. The state owes more than $100 billion in pension liabilities $10 billion in unpaid bills, and we lead the nation in population loss. SB 2051 was a spending plan, not a budget. Despite these objections and with no way to pay for it the bill passed the House but was not called for a vote in the Senate.

Criminal justice reform: SB 2872 - This bill became known in Springfield as a sweeping criminal justice reform bill. I was proud to support the measure for several reasons. SB 2872 will bring trauma recovery centers to under served communities, allow more judicial discretion to utilize probation in lieu of prison for certain non-violent felonies and expand the use of "good-time" to help increase participation in rehabilitative programs that help reduce recidivism and decrease the prison population.

Testing Drinking Water for Lead in Schools SB 550, a bill to require testing for lead in the water supplies in schools passed the House and Senate this week. I voted YES on this measure. According the Illinois Municipal League, "the obligation to arrange and fund water testing for school facilities is placed on schools. Schools are also required to share lead test results with the parents or guardians of their students. Schools constructed prior to January 1, 1987 must complete testing by December 31, 2017. Schools constructed between January 2, 1987 and January 1, 2000 must complete testing by December 31, 2018. Day care facilities are also responsible for their own testing."

The bill requires that water customers be notified within 14 days of water main or service line maintenance or replacement. Illinois has one of the largest concentrations of lead service lines in the country. Water quality is a critically important issue in Illinois, but the financial condition of the state is so bad that, often times, water-infrastructure investments have been put on hold or canceled altogether.

SB 550 seeks to get ahead of potential lead-poisoning issues to help avoid a situation similar to that which was discovered in Flint, Michigan, where improperly treated water caused lead levels to rise to dangerous levels. This is an important public safety measure and contains protections for schools to help offset the cost of the mandate.


Property Tax Freeze Legislation - HB 6630

On the final day of the 99th General Assembly, Speaker Madigan finally allowed a House Republican measure to freeze property taxes for a vote in the House. I supported this property tax freeze legislation. The bill sets a tax cap of zero percent on all taxing bodies in the state, including home-rule units,and would require passage of voter referendums before any increase in property taxes could be granted.

Illinois has the highest property taxes in America. A property-tax freeze that allows local citizens to control whether or not property taxes go up sends a positive signal that we're serious about creating jobs and keeping families and businesses from leaving the state. The bill was passed too late in the session to allow for a concurring Senate vote so the measure died when the 99th General Assembly adjourned. But, the passage of a property tax freeze based on local control in the last session is a good sign of things to come in the newly-seated 100th General Assembly.
Springfield….State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) was sworn in to office for a third-term as 115th District State Representative during an Inauguration ceremony held in Springfield on Wednesday. Bryant, who first replaced Congressman Mike Bost in 2015, says she is humbled and honored by the opportunity to once again serve the citizens of southern Illinois at the Capitol.

“I want to thank my husband Rick, and my entire family for their love and support and for being here today,” Bryant said. “It is an honor and the privilege of a lifetime to serve the people of the 115th district in Springfield. I am proud to have the opportunity to continue to represent their best interests.”

Bryant was sworn-in along with 117 of her colleagues as the 100th General Assembly begins its work. Representative Bryant did not mince words when speaking about the enormous challenges that lie ahead.

“Illinois is in deep financial trouble, but everyone knows that. The question is, “How do we grow out of this mess?” Bryant said. “We have the work force, the transportation infrastructure, a world-class university at SIU in Carbondale, and bountiful natural resources that we can marshal to help grow good paying jobs. What’s been missing is the political will to get the job done.”

A deep partisan divide in Springfield caused much of the dysfunction in Springfield during the 99th General Assembly, but Bryant spoke
with optimism following developments this week that point to a changing attitude among top Democrats regarding much needed economic reforms.

“Democrat leadership has indicated this week that they are willing to work across the aisle on economic reforms that are desperately needed,” Bryant said. “Hope springs eternal, so with the swearing-in of this new General Assembly, my hopes are high that we’ll pass a balanced budget along with pro-growth reforms. We know that taxing and spending our way out of debt doesn’t work, so I’m happy to hear of any movement toward policies that can result in widespread economic growth.”

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Dear Friend,

This week's edition takes a quick look back at news and notes you might have missed during the busy holiday season. I will also be previewing upcoming action in Springfield as the 100th General Assembly will be sworn in next Wednesday, January 11th, on the campus of the University of Illinois at Springfield. I'll have pictures and updates from the first week of the new session in next week's edition. You can take a look at the upcoming Session calendar by clicking here. You can also keep up on Committee assignments and legislation as it moves by visiting www.ilga.gov

New Year New Laws
As a refresher, I wanted to once again share a link with you to information on new laws that took effect as of January 1, 2017. Please visit the IL House GOP Caucus Blog New Laws for 2017 to read more.  In all, 191 new laws took effect as of the 1st of the year. 

Molly's Law Signing Named one of the Southern Illinoisan's 2016 Highlights
One law in particular that I wanted to highlight is Molly's Law. The Governor signed Molly's Law in Carbondale back in July and just this week the signing of Molly's Law was named to The Southern Illinoisan's list of top moments of 2016.   
Dear Friend,

As 2016 draws to an end, we look forward to a new year destined to shape of the political course of our country and our state. I want to invite you to please follow all the upcoming legislative action at my website www.RepBryant.com and be sure to leave me feedback on the site's Contact Form

My New Year's Resolution is to continue bringing you updates on the happenings in Springfield and to continue representing the people of Southern Illinois to the best of my ability. There are some important dates coming up in January, including inauguration and the beginning of the 100th Illinois General Assembly.

Inauguration January 11, 2017
On January 11, 2017 the 100th General Assembly of the State of Illinois will take the oath of office. A swearing in ceremony will take place on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield. I will post photos and share information on the election of House leaders and much more. I look forward to raising my right hand and swearing to defend the Constitution of Illinois and the Constitution of the United States. It is my honor and privilege to serve as your State Representative.

New Laws 2017
On January 1, 2017, a significant number of new laws will take effect. For those wishing to catch up on the coming changes, the Illinois House Republican Caucus Blog has detailed explanations on 26 new laws that reflect significant changes.

A Look Ahead - Stopgap Budget Expires Dec. 31
Our State's fiscal condition is at an all time low, and the stopgap budget passed in June runs out as the New Year begins. Funding for Pre-K through 12th grade education will continue through the end of the fiscal year, but many critical services will be facing the prospect of no funding. The budget crisis in Illinois needs to come to a resolution immediately. I will continue to push both sides of the aisle to come together to pass a balanced budget to ensure critical state services continue uninterrupted.

STAY CONNECTED!
My office in Mt. Vernon is staffed Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is staffed Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 to 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can email me directly at bryant@ilhousegop.org or send me a message through the contact form on my website at www.repbryant.com

Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!
Dear Friend,

It's Christmas again in Southern Illinois! This is truly one of my favorite times of the year. This Christmas season, I have been blessed to enjoy many of the fun events that Christmastime in Southern Illinois has to offer.

It is the honor of my lifetime to Represent the people of Southern Illinois in Springfield. I also find great joy in watching my children raise my grandchildren right here at home. I am truly blessed to know all of you and I want to extend my warmest wishes to you for very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dear Friend,

In this week's edition, I want to share some information with you that relates to my travels to Chicago this week to attend a joint committee hearing of the House and Senate's Human Services Committees. I am not a member of the Human Services committee, but specifically asked to be allowed to temporarily join the committee as a substitute because the issue being discussed is near and dear to Southern Illinois.

As many of you may know, during Pat Quinn's administration, Illinois radically changed the course of our mental health policy to move away from using state run mental health facilities like the Warren G. Murray Center in Centralia in favor of a "group home" or CILA mentality. CILA stands for Community Integrated Living Arrangement.

Rep. Bryant questions witnesses testifying before a joint committee
of the Illinois House and Senate's Human Services Committee during
a meeting in Chicago on Wednesday.
CILA's do have a place in the overall strategy to care for our most vulnerable citizens. It is incumbent upon all of us to make sure that the private contracting entities responsible for managing these types of housing arrangements are living up to their responsibility to provide top notch care for individuals with developmental disabilities in clean, safe environments.


Unfortunately, a lack of proper oversight and a lack of resources has led to some disturbing revelations made recently a series of articles written by the Chicago Tribune. The Tribune's investigation identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and at least 42 deaths linked to abuse and neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years.

A significant development occurred on Tuesday when a Cook County judge ordered Disability Services, a company that runs group homes in Illinois, to turn over 18 of its residents to the state due to the possibility of "irreparable harm" being done to the residents of their CILAs. You can read more about that decision by clicking here.

When Pat Quinn tried to close the state run Murray Center in Southern Illinois, many families were put in an immediate crisis situation. Despite having lived their entire lives at Murray Center, residents and their families faced the possibility of being moved into a CILA, causing interruption to life long-routines and the potential of being moved as far away as Chicago.

It is my long-held belief that Illinois needs to have places like the Murray Center available for families to bring their loved ones to get around the clock, specialized care and supervision that they need and deserve. We also must have a place for individuals that are mentally disturbed and unable to feed or care for themselves in any way. Our society should be judged on how we care for our most vulnerable citizens.

During the hearing on Thursday, one of the CILA's administrators stated that he believed that Illinois should close 6 of its 7 state run mental health institutions. I found this to be completely unacceptable, especially when considering the revelations of 1311 cases of harm and 42 deaths in CILA's over the last seven years. You can read the Chicago Tribune's series called "Suffering in Secret" by clicking here.

In the coming weeks and months, I will continue to call on the Illinois Department of Human Services to do all that it can to implement a comprehensive strategy that protects places like Choate Mental Health Center in Anna and the Murray Center in Centralia so vulnerable citizens in Southern Illinois will have safe, reliable facilities to turn to.

I will keep you updated on further committee meetings on this topic.

STAY CONNECTED!
My office in Mt. Vernon is staffed Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is staffed Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 to 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can email me directly at bryant@ilhousegop.org or send me a message through the contact form on my website at www.repbryant.com

Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!