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Springfield….State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) voted against an attempt to stop an outright attack on Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus by House Speaker Michael Madigan’s top lieutenants on Thursday. Bryant says Rep. Jay Hoffman of Collinsville marshaled the leverage afforded to the Democrat majority to rush a proposal to the House’s Higher Education Committee that would split the Edwardsville and Carbondale campuses into two separate universities.

“I firmly believe that Southern Illinois University will be healthier and more attractive as a cohesive unit, and I believe splitting the system apart will weaken it,” Bryant said. “SIU Carbondale is a nationally accredited research University. The loss of that accreditation would be devastating, leaving the University of Illinois as the only accredited higher education research facility in Illinois. SIU Carbondale is also in a period of transformation and reorganization and this is another in a long line of recent attacks on Southern Illinois’ flagship university.”

Bryant and other Republican members of the House Higher Education committee expressed concerns with a number of facets in the amendments to the bill, and pushed back against claims that SIU Edwardsville has had an explosion in enrollment growth over the last 7 years.

“SIU Edwardsville’s enrollment has actually gone down slightly over the period of the last 7 years,” Bryant said. “So, if the argument is that SIU Edwardsville is growing so fast that it needs more money, then let’s study that. The numbers do not seem to bear that out, but I believe a third party should provide an independent analysis of the effect that a move like this would have on not only the Carbondale campus, but on the entire region’s economy.”

HB 1292 passed the Committee and the bill was sent to the full House by a partisan roll call margin of 12 to 7, with all Republican State Representatives voting no. 

“Today’s hearing, and last week’s joint press statement have made very clear that a bipartisan group of legislators from Southern Illinois oppose the plan to split SIU into two different universities,” Bryant said. “ I want to thank my southern Illinois colleagues for standing up for SIU Carbondale and I pledge that I will continue to fight against this effort.”

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration, where it’s sponsor has promised to continue discussions with the House’s Higher Ed Committee if any changes are made to the bill.

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Springfield…State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) received unanimous support from the Illinois House of Representatives this week for legislation she is sponsoring that would provide individuals released from Illinois Department of Human Services facilities with valid State of Illinois identification.

Bryant says the measure, HB 4998, is necessary to support a ‘continuum of care’ for people dealing with mental health issues.

“Improving mental health care outcomes is a major issue facing our country and our state,” Bryant said. “HB 4998 will improve outcomes for mental health care patients in Illinois. When a person has completed treatment and has been cleared to leave a state supported facility, either fully released or under supervision, I believe they should be provided with a proper identification if they do not have one. It helps people get off to a better start.”

Bryant says she is encouraged at the prospects that the bill can pass the Senate because it passed unanimously through Committee and the House in the last week.

“There is significant momentum behind the movement to improve overall outcomes for mental health care patients, that leave the state’s care," Bryant said. "Individuals that complete treatment at State run mental health facilities often need a hand up when they are ready to return to society,” Bryant said. “A valid ID can help someone find housing, transportation, and work. Maybe it is a small step, but I feel it is an important one.”

After passing the House by a vote of 111-0, HB 4998 moves to the Illinois Senate for consideration.

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Springfield…In November of 2015, State Representative Terri Bryant joined correctional officers from the Illinois Department of Corrections for a press conference to announce that she had introduced legislation to reopen and repurpose the shuttered Murphysboro correctional facility. Two years and five months later, 20 inmates have been transferred in to the newly reopened Murphysboro Reentry Center.

“This is a big win for Southern Illinois and for the safety of the staff and inmates at Correctional centers across Illinois,” Bryant said. “It has taken a lot of effort, pushing and prodding, and a lot of cooperation between state agencies and all the players involved to get this done. I am proud to be a Murphysboro resident, and I am proud to have fought to reopen this facility to help with prison overcrowding and to help reduce recidivism in our prisons. The facility is expected to support 100 permanent good-paying jobs for residents living in the region.”

Bryant says the re-entry program will be open to minimum security offenders who are 40 years old or younger, and with one to three years left in their sentence.

“If we put someone back on the street again with no skills, no money, no support system, they are likely to reoffend and return to prison," Bryant said. "We cannot afford to support this revolving door any longer. We can’t just keep cycling people through the correctional system. It simply costs too much money. The goal of the re-entry program is to ensure that each inmate that leaves the facility has necessary life skills they will need to get a job and be a productive member of society when they return to the outside.”

The Murphysboro facility is one of three Life-Skills Re-entry Centers slated to open in Illinois, as part of Governor Rauner’s plan to safely reduce the prison population and restructure the state’s criminal justice system. The first Life-Skills Re-entry Center opened in Kewanee, Illinois in February of 2017. The Department is working to launch another Life Skills Reentry Center for females at Logan Correctional Center. Offenders who have one to four years left on their sentence qualify for placement at the Life Skills Re-entry Centers.

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Dear Friend,
In this week's e-news I bring you news, notes and photos covering the House’s Committee deadline week, criminal justice laws shot down by Democrats, a funding dispute at Southern Illinois University, and last week's 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympics celebration in Southern Illinois. There is a lot to cover this week so let's get started!

Democrats Kill Bills to Enhance Penalties for Violent Crimes
This week is known in Springfield as "Committee Deadline Week". That means members of the Illinois House had until Friday to pass substantive bills out of assigned Committees and on to the House floor.

I am a member of several Committees, one of which is the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee. This Committee most often considers legislation dealing with gun regulations, policies relating to the Department of Corrections, and the establishment or enhancement of rules or penalties for persons convicted or accused of a multitude of crimes. The phrase 'criminal justice reform' is currently in vogue with the Democrat party, both at the national and state levels.

I am saddened to report to you that the liberal-progressive approach to dealing with criminal behaviors reared its very ugly and stubborn head multiple times this week. Let's take a look at some of the bills dealing with crime that were shot down by the Democrats in Springfield just this week.

You may remember the story of Pamela Knight, a DCFS worker that was kicked in the head by a parent when she was trying to take a child out of an unsafe home. The father of the child had been accused of aggravated battery to a child after dragging his six year old by the feet and striking him in the face. Unfortunately, Mrs. Knight suffered a cracked skull in the attack and later died of her injuries. As you may know, DCFS investigators and child protection staff sometimes are required to remove children from dangerous and unhealthy environments.

In response to this horrific incident, my friend and colleague Rep. Tony McCombie filed legislation that would place DCFS workers in the same category as police, firefighters, correctional officers, and other human service workers in regard to instances of assault. The bill is an appropriate response to a tragic situation, and also addresses a major issue facing state employees that perform a vital and dangerous service for at-risk children.

Democrats on the Committee expressed their opposition to enhancing ANY criminal penalties. Rep. McCombie's bill was voted down, as well as a multitude of other Republican-sponsored measures that would have changed the possibility of bail for certain violent crimes, curbed gang recruitment, protected children from sex offenders, and increased penalties for individuals dealing in sex trafficking. Because the Committee deadline has now passed, these pieces of legislation are now essentially dead.

Rep. Bryant questions witnesses during a Committee hearing.
Here's the bottom line: As your State Representative, I believe it is my duty to protect the people of Illinois. One of the ways we can do that is by being tough on crime and tough on criminals.

The mentality that drove NO votes on all these important pieces of legislation is purely political, as State of Illinois Democrats continue to follow their national counterparts in a march to the far-left side of the political spectrum.

 I will continue to vote to be tough on crime and will continue to keep you updated on my fight against liberal-progressive policies that make all of us less safe.

SIU Carbondale Funding Diversion Plan gets Voted Down

Last week, I joined Congressman Bost and my southern Illinois colleagues from the House and Senate to show a unified, bipartisan front expressing opposition to a proposal that would shift more than $5 million from SIU Carbondale to SIU Edwardsville.  We even issued a joint press release on this issue last week that you can read by clicking here.

I share my constituents’ concerns that a major diversion of funding from SIUC to the Edwardsville campus will hurt the local and regional economy. A move like this would further downgrade the capability of the Carbondale campus to be the world class research facility and economic engine that we need in southern Illinois. The jobs that could be lost due to this funding plan will hurt the Carbondale economy and losing more programs at SIUC will only make the problem of declining enrollment even worse. 

Thankfully, on Thursday, the SIU Board of Trustees voted 4-3 to STOP the transfer of funds from SIUC to SIUE. This is great news but we must stay vigilant and work to continue to promote and protect SIU Carbondale. You can read The Southern Illinoisan's coverage of yesterday's vote by clicking here.

Special Olympics Celebrates 50 Years with Ceremony and Games in Makanda

On Friday April 6th, I was honored to attend the kickoff of the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary Celebration. The day was full of fun Special Olympic activities with lots of fun (and great food!) enjoyed by all. The opening ceremonies honored the legacy of Dr. William Freeberg. Dr. Freeberg was remembered for his efforts to develop programs for SIU like Camp Little Giant at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, and for his role in developing and founding the Special Olympics.





You can read more about Southern Illinois' special connection to the Special Olympics and the 50th Anniversary celebration by clicking here. 


Stay Connected!
My office in Mt. Vernon is open Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is open Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. You can also contact me directly 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!

CARBONDALE – United States Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) along with Illinois State Senator Paul Schimpf (IL-58), State Senator Dale Fowler (IL-59),  Representative Terri Bryant (IL-115), Representative Dave Severin (IL-117),  and Representative Natalie Phelps-Finnie (IL-118) urged caution regarding a recent proposal to swiftly move more than $5 million in funds from Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale (SIUC) campus and divert the money to the University’s Edwardsville campus.

“The Carbondale campus is currently working through the first steps of a reorganization that has not really been given a chance to start working,”
said Bost. “I’m concerned there is a push to make a quick decision to divert funds from Carbondale to Edwardsville by a Board of Trustees that currently has a vacant seat. We’re talking about moving a lot of money out of Carbondale’s economy. I think we should slow down, study this, and at the very least have a fully-slated Board of Trustees before making such a vitally important decision.”

“Although I support evaluating and potentially updating the funding ratio between the two universities, any such change should only occur after a careful study, conducted in a process that has the support of the full board of trustees,”
Schimpf said. “The current proposal is scheduled to go before an incomplete Board of Trustees, without the benefit of outside, impartial study, at a time when SIUC is in the midst of a reorganization. I urge the University President and the Chair of the Board of Trustees to rethink their decision to press ahead with this vote.”

“I do not oppose coming together to take a closer look at where funds are currently being allocated and exploring the possibility and consequences of adjusting the funding ratio between SIUC and SIUE. However, I will not support pushing through a funding shift that would have lasting negative consequences on SIUC’s future, the community and the region as a whole,” said Sen. Fowler (R-Harrisburg). “This is a decision that will require careful consideration and demands input from the SIUC community, weighing the impact such a cost shift would have on staffing, future enrollment and the surrounding economy. 


I encourage the Board to postpone their vote, ensure the community has a voice in this decision and move forward in a cooperative and thoughtful manner.”

“I share my constituents’ concerns that a major diversion of funding from SIUC to the Edwardsville campus will hurt the local and regional economy,”
Bryant said. “This move would further downgrade the capabilities of the University to be the world class research facility and economic engine that we need in southern Illinois. The jobs that could be lost due to this funding plan will hurt the Carbondale economy and losing more programs at SIUC will only make the problem of dropping enrollment worse.”

“I have been concerned at the speed with which major step was proposed and brought forward for consideration,” Severin said. “We are urging that the full Board of Trustees be seated before taking any action on any reallocation plans. I am calling on the Board to slow down and study this from every angle. SIU Carbondale is an economic driver for the region and we need to protect it and continue to work to grow enrollment.”

“Southern Illinois University - Carbondale has been the cornerstone of education and research as well as the economic engine for Southern Illinois for many years. Shifting money to the Edwardsville campus is not the best way forward for the SIU system.  Southern Illinoisans cherish the Carbondale campus as a part of their lives and as part of the town’s iconic history, and our entire economy is heavily dependent upon its success. We need to find a better way to increase funding and reestablish SIU-C as the educational beacon that attracts our own students, as well as those from across the United States,” said  Rep. Natalie Phelps Finnie, D-Elizabethtown.

Each of the legislators is encouraging their constituents to contact them to share their own opinions on this critical issue for southern Illinois.

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Contact:
United States Representative Mike Bost | 202-225-5661
State Senator Paul Schimpf | 217-737-2782 
State Senator Dale Fowler | 618-294-8951
State Representative Terri Bryant | 618-242-8115
State Representative Dave Severin| 618-440-5090
State Representative Natalie Phelps-Finnie | 618-253-4189
The Illinois Bicentennial Commission today released its first video commercial promoting the state’s 200th birthday. The :30 second spot is the center point of a statewide multimedia campaign named after the theme of the yearlong celebration: BORN, BUILT & GROWN in Illinois.

The campaign, which will run from now until the 200th birthday party on December 3, 2018, will showcase Illinois’ influence on the worlds of music, sports, agriculture, literature, commerce, history, technology and innovation, transportation, art and architecture, among others.

The content for the effort is pre-produced and being distributed statewide for carriage on television, radio, digital and social media. The messages can be run as public service announcements by media outlets or packaged by outlets for sponsorship by local advertisers. The Illinois Broadcasters Association is the distributor.

"We're delighted with this creativity and the opportunity it now provides our association's members in seeking local sponsorships," remarked Dennis Lyle, president and CEO, Illinois Broadcasters Association.

The content was produced by Chicago-based AnswersMedia and paid for with private funds.

The Bicentennial program incorporates material supplied by Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and MuseumIllinois Association of MuseumsIllinois Department of Agriculture, and the Illinois State Museum.

To view the commercial, click here.