Dear Friend,

So far this week, the House has held three Special Sessions in accordance with Governor Rauner's proclamation calling the General Assembly back to Springfield to finally pass a balanced budget.

In typical fashion, the obstruction of Mike Madigan and House Democrats continues. House Republican leaders and the Governor have put a plan on the table that balances the budget and provides important economic and political reforms. The General Assembly should be given the opportunity to debate and vote on this package. Instead of writing about the 'action' we've seen this week, I'm going to refer you to the videos listed below for the updates.

Video 1 - Day 2 of Special Session.


Video 2 - Day 3 of Special Session.


Spoiler alert! Nothing has been done. The Speaker controls which bills are called for votes in Committees and in front of the full House. This week Speaker Madigan did not allow votes on bills that would address the following critical issues:

- Budget
- Education funding
- Property taxes
- Workers' compensation reform
- Term limits

Media Appearances
On the first day of the Special Session, I joined Tom Miller on WJPF Radio and Will Stephens on WXAN for interviews to preview what I thought was coming up this week.  Please click the links below to listen.

June 21  - Terri Bryant on the Morning Newswatch with Tom Miller on WJPF Radio

June 21 - Terri Bryant on the Will Stephens Show on WXAN 

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 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. 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!
Dear Friend,

In this week's edition I offer my reaction to Governor Rauner's Special Session Proclamation. This week House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and many of my colleagues in the House held a press conference to announce their support for a balanced budget and a packet of reforms to make Illinois a better place to create jobs. I am anxious to return to Springfield to get to work on these critical issues.

This week I also joined the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for a press conference to announce a new direction for Rend Lake Resort. There are photos and news links so you can learn more on that topic as well.

I have also included two opinion pieces I've drafted regarding two major issues. The first is regarding my NO vote on SB 1 (the school funding formula change legislation), and the second regards the Department on Aging's Community Reinvestment Program (CRP).

I am the minority Spokesperson for the House's Committee on Aging. I wrote the op-ed piece on the CRP in response to some unfair criticisms leveled by the Aging Committee's chairwoman Anna Moeller of Elgin. Rep. Moeller's piece ran in several outlets statewide and I felt a fact-based response to her heavily rhetorical and critical op-ed was necessary.

Thank you for your continued readership. At this pivotal point in our state's history, the participation of the citizens in petitioning their government and demanding action on a balanced budget is critical.

GOVERNOR CALLS SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS TO ADDRESS BUDGET IMPASSE

When the House adjourned on May 31, Speaker Madigan claimed we would be in ‘continuous’ session. However, aside from a couple of budget hearings in Chicago, the House has not met at all since that time. That is hardly ‘continuous’ session.

I applaud the Governor for taking the necessary step to call the legislature back into Session. I have maintained for two years now that we should be meeting every single day until a balanced budget is achieved. The Governor's proclamation demands the legislature stay in session until June 30, which is the end of this fiscal year.

Additionally, House Democrats and Speaker Madigan would do well to begin the hard work of compromise on issues relating to important economic reforms. Illinois needs the stability of a balanced budget and a more attractive jobs climate to ensure its long term financial viability. Time is running out to get this done. Speaker Madigan needs to compromise for the benefit of the citizens of Illinois.

Department of Natural Resources Working to Reopen Rend Lake Resort 

I was happy to stand with my colleagues from the House and Senate at a Wednesday press conference at Rend Lake Resort. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has announced a new request for proposal (RFP) to find new leadership at Rend Lake's lodge and conference center.

Rep. Bryant addresses the media and assembled crowd alongside Senator Dale Fowler and
 State Rep. John Cavaletto

Rend Lake Resort and Conference Center is a valued tourist attraction in Southern Illinois.  This announcement marks a new beginning. I want to encourage folks to invest their time and money in to making these amazing attractions an economic engine for the region once again. 

You can learn more by following the news links below:

WSIL TV
The Southern Illinoisan
Mt. Vernon Register-News 

Op Ed Pieces on Two Major Issues

As I mentioned above, I have included links this week to two opinion pieces I drafted in response to two major issues. Please click the links below to read more about the reason for my opposition to Senate Bill 1 and why I believe the Department on Aging is doing the right thing in implementing the Community Reinvestment Program to assist Senior Citizens in attaining a greater quality of life.]

SB 1 - Understanding the bill and why I voted NO!

Why Illinois Needs the Community Reinvestment Program

Solar Eclipse Update
The total solar eclipse will be seen in Illinois on August 21, 2017.  The “path of totality,” the ribbon of the Earth’s surface in which the sun will be completely blocked by the Moon, will pass over much of far southern Illinois.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to visit Illinois’ southern tip, which is expected to enjoy an especially long path of totality.  The area around Carbondale and Makanda, Illinois, will fall dark for more than 2 minutes and 40 seconds.  While the Land of Lincoln has seen eclipses before, including a dramatic annular eclipse in May 1994, this will be the first daylight moment in 148 years in which a section of Illinois will fall completely dark.

The eclipse will move from west to east as the earth spins on its axis.  Illinois county seats well within the line of totality will include Chester, Murphysboro, Vienna, and Golconda.  Another total solar eclipse will cross far southern Illinois in 2024.  

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 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. 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!


Recently, House Aging Committee Chairwoman Anna Moeller (D-Elgin) penned an op-ed criticizing the Illinois Department on Aging for its decision to implement the Community Reinvestment Program in place of the existing Community Care Program. As the Minority Spokesperson for the Committee on Aging, I felt that Rep. Moeller's criticisms were unfair and deserved a response.

While it’s true that our state’s budget situation in recent years has contributed to funding challenges for the Community Care Program, providers have also been faced with rapidly increasing numbers of older adults and limited resources with which to serve them. Many throughout the provider network understand that the State cannot sit by and do nothing to address the growing senior population and the corresponding increase in demand for services.

In response to shifting demographics, the Illinois Department on Aging has come up with a way to address the projected growth in our aging community that will allow the State of Illinois to continue to serve this population, regardless of their Medicaid eligibility status.

CRP would put Illinois in line with national trends and maintain a service package for people not eligible for Medicaid.  Currently, Illinois spends 3.7 times the national average on home and community based services for non-Medicaid eligible individuals.  CRP maintains funding at two times the national average.

Implementing the Community Reinvestment Program will provide a savings to the state of $120 million; the $120 million in savings realized through CRP comes from the flexibility of services that the Department of Aging is able to provide. These savings enable funding to be stretched to cover clients with greater needs or even new clients.

The Department on Aging has shown a commitment to fulfilling its mission to support seniors to live independently in their own homes and communities. As with CCP, seniors transitioning to CRP will be provided with a broad array of community services and support as their plan-of-care is determined.
It is vitally important to understand that clients remain the final decision makers regarding their care plans and are not unwillingly bound to a plan of care.

All seniors in CRP will continue to receive services based on their level of unmet needs. The Community Reinvestment Program is designed to be a highly individualized and person-centered program. Everyone’s needs are different and every senior in the program will receive the services they require to stay in their homes longer. If seniors that have higher incomes would like to purchase additional services, they will be provided the opportunity to do that through the same provider network and at the same cost the state pays.

California’s answer to a massive budget deficit was to serve Medicaid only; Illinois has decided to continue serving Medicaid clients, but we must do so in a way that is responsible and will allow us to maintain services and increase our ability to serve new clients.

The Department on Aging has continually engaged with the provider network throughout this process and solicited input to minimize the impact of such a significant undertaking. Homemakers remain an integral part of the services provided to clients of the Department on Aging and are among the core services offered under CCP and CRP.

However, there are some services that homemakers simply cannot provide such as home modifications (e.g., grab bars), assistive technology (e.g., walking canes, tub transfer benches) and medication management – all services offered through the Community Reinvestment Program.

The Community Reinvestment Program uses the same, established Aging network and the same care coordinators that are currently in place to work with seniors and providers to develop their plan of care. CRP was designed with the flexibility to address the specific needs of Illinoisans using the existing provider network structure.

After administering a successful demonstration program which established a framework for providing a larger menu of services with minimal bureaucracy, the Department was able to blend the successful models used by other states and the documented successes of the Flexible Senior Services Demonstration program and the Nursing Home Deflection Pilot program to create the Community Reinvestment Program.

Providing our seniors more flexible options for the services they need is not only beneficial to them, but it’s also essential for the sustainability of all of Illinois' social services programs. Finding new, innovative and cost-efficient ways to serve clients and increase the menu of options they can choose from to address their unmet needs is long overdue and is a necessary step to provide the best possible service to Senior citizens who need help.

Understanding SB 1 and Why I Voted NO

As Session wound to a close on Wednesday May 31, Chicago Democrat State Rep. Will Davis brought Senate Bill 1 up for debate. SB 1 is a bill that would dramatically alter Illinois’ public school funding formula. It is a huge piece of legislation that has been in the works for months.

Last year, Governor Rauner commissioned a bipartisan group charged with finding a fair and equitable comprehensive solution to the state’s school funding formula. The Commission met many times over the course of six months, taking hours of testimony from experts, school administrators, and other interested groups on what they thought needed to change.
                       
Again, the goal of the Commission was to come to a comprehensive, bipartisan, ‘agreed-to’ piece of legislation that both Republicans and Democrats could support. The negotiations were going well and SB 1 was looking as if it would find bipartisan support across the Senate and House. But, that was before Senate Democrats started freezing out their colleagues on the Republican side and added dubious and expensive new items to the bill.

The insertion of language that allows for a massive bailout of the city of Chicago’s public schools is perhaps the most egregious example of what I mean. The bill that eventually passed the Senate takes $250 million off the top of the education budget to pay for Chicago Public Schools pension obligations. The bailout language was a poison pill and Senate Republicans refused to go along. Still, the bill made its way to the House.

It is a shame that the Democrat leadership walked away from negotiations in order to run legislation with the single largest bailout of Chicago Public Schools in Illinois history. Since it has been 20 years since the last reform to the school funding formula, House and Senate Republicans have demanded that downstate schools be treated fairly and equitably in any final solution. We may only get one chance to get this type of reform and I want to get it right.

77% of Illinois’ school children attend public schools outside the city of Chicago. However, in SB 1, only 30% of the new funding would make its way to those students. The rest goes to the city of Chicago’s schools.

Let me be clear, I am not opposed to Chicago schools receiving state funding. The kids in the city of Chicago deserve adequate funding for a good education. However, the management at CPS has made a disaster of the school system’s finances. They have skipped making some or all of 11 pension payments in the last 25 years. I will not support the taxpayers of southern Illinois having their taxes continue to go up and up and up in order to subsidize Chicago schools.  

Perhaps the most important reason I voted NO on SB 1 is because it does not include appropriations or define any methods of paying for the spending that’s promised in the legislation. Schools across the state have already been short-changed; they are currently owed $1.1 billion in missed payments from just this fiscal year alone. More empty promises will only increase the uncertainty already facing school boards and administrations.

Before negotiations were halted by majority Democrats, legislators were very close to a bipartisan agreement. But I could not abide the Chicago bailout and the pie-crust-promises in the bill – easily made, and easily broken.  Southern Illinois Republican legislators stand ready to get back to the negotiating table to find a true fix to the school funding formula. It’s time to get the job done for all Illinois students.


State Representative Terri Bryant - 115th District
Dear Friends,

I want to start this week's edition on a positive personal note. I am happy to announce that this weekend, my family will be celebrating the wedding of my youngest child, Tyler, to his best friend, and my new daughter-in-law, Elaina.
Congratulations Tyler and Elaina!

I am so proud of Tyler, and my heart is just soaring as we welcome a new member of our family (and as Rick and I truly become 'empty-nesters.'  Thankfully, the newlyweds won't be going far. I am happy to report that Tyler and Elaina have decided to start their life together right here in Southern Illinois.  God is so, so good!

I remark on Tyler and Elaina’s decision to live and work here because at this point in Illinois’ history, it is rare that a young couple is deciding to stay, rather than leave for a better-run state.

Folks, Illinois is worth saving, but the road back to prosperity and stability is going to be long and difficult. Our state is in the throws of a budget impasse that’s headed into its 3rd year. This is unacceptable.

Those groups and individuals currently being negatively impacted by this impasse include, but are not limited to: children with special needs, veterans with disabilities, public schools, public universities, victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, hospitals, doctors, dentists, home health care workers, senior citizens who rely on meals on wheels, children and families that rely on daycare, 911 emergency centers, and many, many more.

For the last two years, and since returning home from Springfield this week following our scheduled adjournment, I have heard many people say, “Why don’t you just pass a budget already?!”

 I agree with these people. I want a budget.

I want a full-year, balanced budget.

The people of Illinois deserve the stability that a balanced budget would bring.

But, we have to remember why the State of Illinois is in the shape that it is: gross mismanagement and the 32 years of Mike Madigan being the Speaker of the Illinois House and the head of the Democrat party that enjoys huge majorities in the House and Senate.

There is a process by which a budget could and should come to the House for a vote. Appropriations committees are supposed to meet with affected parties during committee meetings in Springfield or Chicago to establish budgets for those groups and individuals that I mentioned above. Appropriations bills establish the amount of money that should get spent on any one of those items. However, this process has not been followed during my entire time in Springfield.

For the last two years, a back room deal has been cut by just the Democrats and Madigan drops a massive, unbalanced budget on Republican desks at the 11th hour, hardly allowing time for staff or the legislators to review what’s in the bill. We vote NO because the bill is out of balance and we don’t really even know whats in it.

Then Madigan turns around and spends millions of dollars attacking Republicans for voting against the items contained in the Democrats-only budget. But, this take-it-or-leave-it approach is now met with the resistance offered by Governor Rauner’s veto pen. Any deal must include input and approval from the Governor. That is the way a divided, representative Government works. But, Madigan doesn’t play well in the sandbox with others. And it isn’t just this Governor.

Going all the way back to the days of Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn, long, grueling summer over time sessions were the norm. These overtime sessions cost taxpayers millions of extra dollars – all because Mike Madigan can’t get along with ANY Governor – be they Republican or Democrat.

Now fast-forward to the recently passed adjournment day: Wednesday, May 31st.

Instead of working with House Republicans and the Governor to pass a balanced budget, the House Democrats, led by Speaker Madigan skipped town without changing a thing. A budget bill wasn’t even put on the board for a vote in the House. The negligence didn't stop there.

On the workers’ compensation reform bill, the House Democrats fudged the numbers, ignored good advice from the business community and went it alone to accept a watered down bill from the Senate.

On the school funding reform, the House Democrats fudged the numbers, lied to school administrators, promised money that isn’t coming, and passed a change to the school funding formula that offers no funding source or appropriation to actually get the money out the door.

The people of Illinois deserve much better than they are getting from Mike Madigan and the House Democrats.

Understanding SB 1 - School Funding Reform - Why I voted NO!
On the final scheduled day of regular legislative session, I voted no on a measure that would dramatically change Illinois’ public school funding formula.

Bryant says the bill unfairly bails out Chicago Public School pensions, while offering empty promises to the rest of the school districts in the state.

Although it is possible that some schools in southern Illinois would gain financially from a new funding formula, the language contained in SB 1 does not include appropriations or define any methods of paying for the spending. Without money, SB 1 is unworkable and disingenuous.

Following months of testimony and meetings before the Governor’s established School Funding Reform Commission, House Democrats brought the bill to the floor on the last day of Session.

This bill would dedicate $250 million dollars for Chicago school pensions every year, forever. With our budget in shambles and no way identified to pay for this new formula I simply can't support a Chicago bailout and I won’t support this bill being rushed through the process without an appropriation or funding mechanism.

I am also disappointed that Democrats shared inaccurate information with school administrators prior to the vote, leading many to believe that more money was coming their way.

I think it is a shame that our education officials were given false information regarding the amount of money that would go to school districts across the state if the new formula bill passed. In its current form, SB 1 is based on $350 million that is not included in the legislation. No one knows where the money will come from and the sponsor couldn’t answer that question.

Republicans also noted during debate that the money for Chicago pension payments is being inserted into the bill because Chicago skipped payments for 11 years even though they have been given a $250 million block grant that no other school district in the state received and then they didn't use the money to make the pension payments.

The bill passed with the bare minimum number of votes and still requires concurrence from the Senate for passage to the Governor.

Stay Connected! Send me your ideas to fix Illinois' budget mess!
As we head into yet another overtime session, I want to hear from you. I've told Speaker Madigan and Governor Rauner that I want a balanced budget. I want reforms to the economy to help our state grow jobs and compete with our neighbors. Now it is your turn! How would you solve the budget crisis?

You can send your ideas to me here: State Representative Terri Bryant Contact Form

Also, 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 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. 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!
Springfield….State Rep Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) issued the following statement on the final day of the scheduled spring legislative Session.

“Instead of working with House Republicans and the Governor to pass a balanced budget, the House Democrats, led by Speaker Madigan skipped town without changing a thing,” Bryant said. “A budget bill wasn’t even put on the board for a vote in the House.”

Prior to the 2014 election, Democrats in Illinois enjoyed absolute control of state government for 12 years. During that time House Democrats passed unbalanced budget after unbalanced budget. In fact, the State of Illinois has not had a balanced budget for 15 years.

“Speaker Madigan and the Democrat majority have increased spending, raised taxes, skipped pension payments and used gimmicks and one-time revenues to pass unbalanced budgets,” Bryant said.

“On the workers’ compensation reform bill, the House Democrats fudged the numbers, ignored good advice from the business community and went it alone to accept a watered down bill from the Senate.

On the school funding reform, the House Democrats fudged the numbers, lied to school administrators, promised money that isn’t coming, and passed a change to the school funding formula that offers no funding source or appropriation to actually get the money out the door.

The people of Illinois deserve much better than they got from the House Democrats today.”
House members were advised that Session will continue into June, where any substantive legislation will require a super majority of 71 votes to pass.

####


Springfield….On the final scheduled day of regular legislative session, Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphsyboro) voted no on a measure that would dramatically change Illinois’ public school funding formula.

Bryant says the bill unfairly bails out Chicago Public School pensions, while offering empty promises to the rest of the school districts in the state.

“Although it is possible that some schools in my district would gain financially from a new funding formula, the language contained in SB 1 does not include appropriations or define any methods of paying for the spending,” Bryant said. “Without money, SB 1 is unworkable and disingenuous.”
Following months of testimony and meetings before the Governor’s established School Funding Reform Commission, House Democrats brought the bill to the floor on the last day of Session.

“This was a rushed process right at the end,” Bryant said. “This bill would dedicate $250 million dollars for Chicago school pensions every year, forever. With our budget in shambles and no way identified to pay for this new formula I simply can't support a Chicago bailout and I won’t support this bill being rushed through the process without an appropriation or funding mechanism."

Bryant says she is disappointed that Democrats shared inaccurate information with school administrators prior to the vote, leading many to believe that more money was coming their way.

“I think it is a shame that our education officials were given false information regarding the amount of money that would go to school districts across the state if the new formula bill passed,” Bryant said. “In its current form, SB 1 is based on $350 million that is not included in the legislation. No one knows where the money will come from and the sponsor couldn’t answer that question.”

Bryant also noted that the money for Chicago pension payments is being inserted into the bill because Chicago skipped payments for 11 years even though they have been given a $250 million block grant that no other school district in the state received and then they didn't use the money to make the pension payments.

The bill passed with the bare minimum number of votes and still requires concurrence from the Senate for passage to the Governor.

                                                                  ####
Springfield….State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) issued the following the unanimous passage of HB 3259 in the Illinois House on Monday evening:
“When the legislature passed the stopgap budget last June, funding for rape crisis centers in Illinois was inadvertently left out. By working together with my colleagues, we reached an agreement to correct this error.
Upon the Governor’s signature, HB 3259 will ensure that the Carbondale Women’s Center will receive necessary funding in order to provide critical services for victims of sexual assault and other violent domestic crimes and abuses.
The unanimous passage of this legislation was a result of bipartisan cooperation. If we can continue this spirit of bipartisan input and cooperation we will be able to move forward to offer the citizens of Illinois a truly balanced, full-year budget.”

###
Dear Friends,

THE MADNESS CONTINUES
The countdown to the scheduled end of Session stands at 4 days. The Democratic party in control of the legislature has yet to produce a balanced budget plan. House Democrats rose on the floor several times this week to shout out loud how willing they are to meet and compromise with Republicans to get a deal done.

But their actions do not match their rhetoric, as excuses are being made and ridiculous lines in the sand on who gets to attend the meetings are constantly being drawn.

Instead of working to end the budget impasse, instead of working with Republicans on reforms that will grow the economy, instead of working with Republicans on reforms like term limits and redistricting, House Democrats are currently working behind the scenes on another unbalanced budget.

If you're counting at home, that will make at least 16 unbalanced budgets in a row; a very "un-sweet 16" for the taxpayers of the State of Illinois.

Current revenue estimates show that Illinois will bring in between $30 and $32 billion in the coming fiscal year. This is not an official estimate, however.  The failure of the legislature to adopt a revenue estimate means we don't even know what amount of money we have to work with.

House Republicans have called on Democrats for months to adopt a baseline for a spending plan. I even signed on to a letter last week calling on the Attorney General to force the General Assembly to do its duty and adopt this estimate.

Our efforts have been refused and our requests have been ignored. Democrats have instead gone back to secret meetings and will likely drop a massive multi-billion dollar budget on Republican desks at the 11th hour. This is a classic Mike Madigan "take-it-or-leave-it" legislative-strong arm tactic. This brand of politically-weaponized governing is directly responsible for the gridlock and dysfunction in Springfield.

Here's how it works: 
1. Speaker Madigan and House Democrats run an unbalanced budget that Republicans have had no input on and the Governor has promised to veto.

2. House Democrats vote YES on the spending plan. Pork projects are inserted. No reforms are considered. The broken system continues.

3. House Republicans vote NO citing the need for a balanced budget and reforms to our economy and system of government.

4. House Democrats attack Republicans for voting against everything that his empty-promise-filled and phony budget would have "paid for.”

MORE MADNESS from HOUSE DEMOCRATS

Encouraging Illegal Immigration
House Democrats in the House Executive Committee passed a bill to flout Federal immigration law this week. SB 31 creates the Illinois Trust Act, which essentially tells law enforcement to ignore immigration laws.

This bill would tell law enforcement officials not to detain individuals solely on the basis of their immigration status. This is simply a way to make Illinois a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants and I’m fundamentally opposed to that. The State of Illinois may face reductions in federal funding for violating federal law.

We have a new President and new Attorney General at the Federal level who have made enforcing our nation's existing immigration laws a top priority. The State of Illinois is in a financial disaster already. Bills like this put our state further at risk from both a security and financial standpoint.

Allowing Sex Changes on Birth Certificates
I also voted NO on HB 1754 on Thursday. The bill, sponsored by Chicago Democrat Greg Harris, would allow individuals to change the gender designation on their birth certificates to match their “gender identity.” This bill is dangerous in many ways.

Softening the standard for changing someone’s birth certificate sex designation is a very controversial concept. Gender identity theory is very new and far from universally agreed upon by medical and mental health professionals.

Current Illinois law does not allow a person to change their gender designation on their birth certificate. This bill would even allow individuals to change the sex listed on their birth certificate in cases where gender reassignment surgery has not occurred. There are far ranging unintended consequences to this legislation and it should be rejected.

Despite strong opposition from me and other House Republican members, the measure passed on a  63-43-1 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

House Democrats Block Vote on Pro-Vet, Pro-Active Duty Gun Bill
My colleague Representative David Reis (R-Ste. Marie) was joined in Springfield this week by a Carmi resident who testified before a subject matter hearing of the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee.  Reis and his constituent discussed SB 1524, a bill to ease some gun regulations for veterans and active duty military members. I am a proud co-sponsor of this bill and I am a member of this Committee.

Unfortunately, Rep. Reis was not allowed to bring this important bill up for a vote. He was instead only allowed to present the bill at a "subject-matter-only" hearing. This type of hearing does not allow for legislation to be voted on.

Illinois does not offer reciprocity or recognition of concealed carry licenses with any other state. In order to carry a concealed firearm in Illinois, a non-law enforcement individual must hold an Illinois Concealed Carry License. Illinois law allows police officers that are residents of other states, and concealed carry license holders in other states, to carry concealed weapons while visiting or traveling through Illinois.

SB 1524 would  honor the service and sacrifices of veterans and active duty military members and bring Illinois in line with many other states. These individuals have carried or currently carry weapons in defense of our country. These folks have also done the work to earn their concealed carry license in their state of origin. Active military personnel who are traveling through or performing official training in Illinois should not be in violation of the laws governing possession of a firearm for Illinois residents.

Because House Democrats blocked a vote on the legislation, the bill remains in Committee awaiting a full hearing.

Illinois Nurses Association Reaches Agreement on Layoffs and Subcontracting Issues
I was extremely disappointed and concerned when I learned of the planned layoffs of more than 120 Illinois correctional facility nurses. I was a chief co-sponsor of a bill that passed the House that would have rescinded the layoffs of the nurses that work in Illinois’ correctional facilities.

Shortly after that legislation passed, the Rauner Administration announced they would be willing to go back to the negotiating table and rescinded the layoffs. Those were the first steps toward reaching a deal. Many more meetings have taken place since then between the two sides and today we received word that the issue of subcontracting had been resolved and that the layoffs will be permanently avoided.

The legislative action that was taken, in combination with my colleagues in the House urging both sides to stay engaged in good faith negotiations played a major part in driving a final solution to this issue.

Some of the details of the subcontracting agreement include:

Step and COLA increases will be put on hold as INA and the Administration continue their negotiations on a master contract.

Effective July 1, overtime will only be paid after 40 hours of work, not 37.5.

The Department of Corrections will convert Graham, Dixon, Menard, Pontiac and Stateville facilities to be INA-only facilities. This will help to address the issue of differing work rules at mixed facilities for INA employees and Wexford employees.

A 12-hour work schedule pilot program to be implemented at both Vienna and East Moline Correctional Facilities.

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 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. 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!

Springfield….State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) issued the following statement on Tuesday regarding ongoing negotiations with the Illinois Nurses Association:
“I was extremely disappointed and concerned when I learned of the planned layoffs of more than 120 Illinois correctional facility nurses. I was a chief co-sponsor of a bill that passed the House that would have rescinded the layoffs of the nurses that work in Illinois’ correctional facilities.

Shortly after that legislation passed, the Rauner Administration announced they would be willing to go back to the negotiating table and rescind the layoffs. Those were the first steps toward reaching a deal.

Many more meetings have taken place since then between the two sides.

I was pleased to learn on Tuesday that the Administration and the Illinois Nurses Association have now come to a contract agreement. I believe that the legislative action that was taken, in combination with my colleagues in the House urging both sides to come back together, played a major part in driving a final solution to this issue.”

Some of the details of the agreement include:

Step and COLA increases will be put on hold as INA and the Administration continue their negotiations on a master contract.

Effective July 1, overtime will only be paid after 40 hours of work, not 37.5.

The Department of Corrections will convert Graham, Dixon, Menard, Pontiac and Stateville facilities to be INA-only facilities. This will help to address the issue of differing work rules at mixed facilities for INA employees and Wexford employees.

A 12-hour work schedule pilot program to be implemented at both Vienna and East Moline Correctional Facilities.

###

Dear Friend,

As we draw closer to the May 31st scheduled deadline for this year's session, time is running out on schools, universities and vendors of all kinds that rely on the State for funding. The failure of the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget for going on three years now is abhorrent.

The fact is that we can't fix this problem if we aren't in Springfield working. Unbelievably, the House was only in session for a total of 5 hours and 54 minutes the last two weeks.

The point we are at is completely inexcusable and ridiculous. I agree with many of you that have reached out to my office to say that we are simply not getting the job done. The people of our state deserve so much better than they are getting from their government at this time.

One way we can move the state in a positive direction is to establish a baseline from which we can build a spending plan. You have to do it in your house, I have to do it in mine, and it makes common sense that the General Assembly do the same. It also happens to be the law.

House Republicans Ask Attorney General to Force General Assembly to Establish a Revenue Estimate
One major component of passing a balanced budget is the Constitutionally required responsibility of the General Assembly to adopt an estimate of the revenue it projects to bring in for the upcoming fiscal year.

For months, my House Republican colleagues and I have publicly repeated our demand that the House Democrat leaders bring forth a bill that would establish this revenue estimate. So far, our demands have not been met. This is an abdication and outright neglect of the General Assembly's statutorily and Constitutionally defined duties.

To that end, I joined my colleagues this week in signing on to a letter written by my colleague Keith Wheeler to Attorney General Lisa Madigan requesting that she use the powers of her office to force the Illinois General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate prior to the filing and passage of any spending bills. This request was made in order to prevent further damage to the state’s finances and the many social service providers who serve the most vulnerable individuals and families across Illinois.

Despite having no revenue estimate in place, House Democrats have passed bills that would result in $295 million in NEW spending.

The letter cites several prior court rulings and instances which set precedent for the Attorney General to intervene to ensure the Illinois Constitution is upheld. Both the Constitution and state law require the General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate on which to base a balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The legislature has not done this in either of the past two years and has failed to do so for the coming fiscal year. Time is quickly slipping away to resolve this crisis. Action is required now!

Opposing ANOTHER Onerous Gun Control Bill
This week a suburban-Chicago Democrat State Representative brought forward SB 1657 to the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee. As a member of this Committee, I am often presented with bills that I fundamentally oppose. This week was no different.

My office has received an overwhelming number of phone calls and emails opposing Senate Bill 1657 and urging me to oppose it as well. The bill would create more regulations on firearm dealerships by requiring them to file for a license with the State of Illinois (in addition to Federal licensing requirements) in order to sell firearms.

I am proud to report to you that I voted NO on this bill! Firearm dealers have become an easy target for government regulation as parts of the state have seen increases in gun violence. However, we know that the guns used in the daily carnage in Chicago do not come from reputable firearm dealers, but are instead bought illegally or even stolen.

As a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and as a member of the NRA, I will continue to fight against this bill. The right to bear arms is a cornerstone of a free America, and SB 1657 is just another way Chicago Democrat gun grabbers are attempting to restrict that right. If this bill comes up for a vote in the House, you can count on my NO vote.


You can hear me question the bill's sponsor and offer my critique of this legislation during the Committee hearing by clicking on the YouTube video link above.

SB 308 - House Defeats Bill to Allow Undocumented Immigrants to Obtain Professional Licenses

On Friday,  House Republicans helped defeat legislation that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain professional licenses from the State of Illinois. The bill specifies that no person shall be prohibited from receiving a license solely because he or she is not a citizen of the United States.

The reason for the change, according to the sponsor was to put Illinois in line with former President Obama’s DACA, or more familiarly, ‘the dreamers” program. DACA was basically President Obama’s administration ignoring existing immigration law.

Under federal law, professional licenses cannot be extended to aliens not lawfully present unless states affirmatively opt out of the federal restrictions by enacting legislation providing for eligibility. This bill would essentially have been the ‘opt out’ that would make clear that Deferred Action for Childhnood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for professional licensure in Illinois.

I voted NO on this bill because I believe firmly in legal immigration. It is fundamentally unfair to those individuals that are following our immigration laws, waiting for long periods of time and spending large sums of money  to legally come to live in this country to be skipped over for individuals that are not following the law. The House Republicans arguments against the bill prevailed and the bill was defeated.

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 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. 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!

Springfield....After receiving an overwhelming number of phone calls and emails opposing Senate Bill 1657, Rep. Terri Bryant announced this week that she  voted NO on the bill in committee.

The bill would create another layer of bureaucracy on smaller firearm dealerships by requiring them to file for licenses with the State of Illinois in order to sell firearms.

"I believe it is anti-business and anti-Constitution," Bryant said. "I am proud to report to you that I voted NO on this bill when it was presented to the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee this week. As a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and as a member of the NRA, I will continue to fight against this bill. The right to bear arms is a cornerstone of a free America, and SB 1657 is just another way Chicago Democrat gun grabbers are attempting to restrict that right."

The bill passed the House Judiciary Criminal Committee by a vote of 7-6 and now moves to the House for consideration.

You can hear my testimony in opposition to the bill by clicking on the YouTube link at the top of this post.

Dear Friend,

This week I joined 30 other members of the Illinois House, both Democrats and Republicans, in sending a statement encouraging continued progress on the so-called “Grand Bargain” that is being negotiated in the Senate.

Here is our statement:

"The finances of the state of Illinois are in crisis, and we must do better. The time for resolution is now. We are a bipartisan group of House members committed to seeing that happen. There have been many ideas submitted both inside and outside the Statehouse. The key question for any of them is “do they have the votes to pass?” The Senate offers one set of ideas in the form of a grand bargain negotiated by both Democrats and Republicans in that chamber.

 We believe a solution that can pass the House and Senate and be signed by the Governor needs to include a package of bills that fundamentally addresses the needs of the state, and most importantly provides a normal, full-year budget for our state agencies, schools, and social service providers. Let’s be clear; we aren’t looking at a simple all or nothing vote on a package sent from the Senate. We understand that a package sent from the Senate will not be complete or perfect, and it will change.

Our legislative process allows hearings and amendments from both chambers, and we think that’s the best way to negotiate a deal that serves our constituents and the state as a whole. We want to do what we were elected to do; govern the state.

To do that we need to pass a budget. We understand a package from the Senate will be complex. Some parts may make members uncomfortable, and that’s not unusual in a negotiated deal. We ask the Senators from both parties to pass the best negotiated package they can, and then we will take up their work in the House. We publicly support the hard work of the Senate and wish to continue their efforts." - End of statement.

This week in competing press conferences given by Senate President Cullerton and Minority Leader Radogno, we learned that sticking points to passing a comprehensive package through the Senate to the House include proposed changes to Illinois’ worker’s compensation system and a timeline for a proposed property tax freeze. Other items that are being negotiated include increases in revenues and cuts to state spending.

Illinois’ financial crisis is already here. We’re indebted to our pension systems by more than $130 billion. We’re short revenues for proposed spending plans by anywhere from $5 billion to $7 billion depending on who you ask. The State’s university system is crumbling and under constant stress, having recently experienced devastating credit downgrades. Illinois’ K-12 public education system is facing the prospect of no budget for the upcoming fiscal year if we don’t act. We cannot stand for this anymore.

What’s most troubling to me is that there is a flippant attitude by some Democrats in the House regarding the need to be in Springfield to get our work done. This week, we were originally scheduled to be in Session from Tuesday through Friday. Following two days of little to no action on substantive legislation, on Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Session for Friday had been canceled. Unbelievably, thunderous cheers could be heard coming from the Democrat side of the aisle at the news.

Illinois has been without a full budget for more than 2 years. The House has taken 3 full weeks of vacations since Session began in January. There are now only 20 calendar days left until the scheduled adjournment on May 31.

Canceling session on Friday is a further indication to me that Democrat leadership in the House is not interested in passing a budget. Considering everything I wrote in the previous paragraphs, I have no other choice but to believe this budget crisis is being used as a political tool for Democrats to use to harm Republicans. Playing these political games when the very future of our state is at stake is a slap in the face to the citizens of Illinois. This madness must end.

Illinois Nurses Association Negotiations Update
I was extremely disappointed and concerned when I learned of the planned layoffs of more than 120 Illinois correctional facility nurses. I was a proud chief co-sponsor of a bill that passed the House that would have rescinded the layoffs of the nurses that work in Illinois’ correctional facilities. As a retired, 20-year veteran of the Illinois Department of Corrections, I understand the difficult environment that these hard-working nurses face every day.

After the bill passed, the administration agreed to rescind the layoffs and have returned to the negotiating table. My understanding is that the administration signaled their willingness to meet in a letter to the INA on April 14. However, this week I learned that the two sides have only met twice since April 14 and are not scheduled to meet again until May 17, despite the Administration’s offer to meet every day.

I simply want to use this space to urge the rank and file nurses to ask their negotiators to return to the table as soon and as often as possible and reciprocate the Governor’s willingness to find a permanent solution to this issue. I believe that good faith negotiations can and will lead to a permanent resolution to this contract dispute.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Tomorrow we will celebrate Mother’s Day. I just wanted to take a moment to say Happy Mother’s Day to my own mom as well as to my daughter Tara, who is the wonderful mother to my four grandchildren. I also want to say Thank You to all the hard-working, constantly-caring, and unconditional-love-providing Moms out there. Thank you! We appreciate you!
























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 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. 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!

Dear Friend,

This week I have been busy touring flood zones and flood damage in Jackson County caused by recent rainfall. I have been so inspired by the resolve shown by the residents of Grand Tower, Wolf Lake and Murphysboro, who came together to fill and place sandbags to help strengthen levees along the Big Muddy and Mississippi Rivers and to protect property from potential flooding. Getting out there and seeing some of the same slides that I saw two and three years ago, and knowing the angst and the worry that the people who live there have to experience is indeed frustrating.

Surveying levee damage on the Big Muddy River Levee
To learn more about the potential for serious flooding in Grand Tower and the need for levee repairs, please follow this link to the WSIL News 3 story. I pledge to continue to draw attention to this critical issue with my fellow legislators and with our Congressional delegation. The time has long since past for these critical repairs to be made. Our citizens deserve it.

Celebrating International Firefighters Day
Yesterday marked International Firefighters Day. I am so thankful for the brave men and women of our fire service, who are willing to run in to the places where others are running out. They serve selflessly to protect us and we all owe them our gratitude.

I want to send a special Thank You to my son Tyler, who is a firefighter serving the Murphysboro-Pomona-Somerset Fire Department. Tyler and his fiance Elaina will be getting married in June.

Love you and am so proud of you son!

National Day of Prayer Keynote Speaker
It was truly an honor and privilege to be asked to offer the keynote speech at this year's National Day of Prayer event in Murphysboro held on Thursday, May 4 at the Davis-McCann Center in Murphysboro. Thank you to all those in attendance and to the folks who helped organize and put on a truly moving and terrific event.



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 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. 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!

Dear Friend,

This week's E News focuses on two major issues that came about this week. Thank you for your continued input on the issues facing the State of Illinois. Also, this week my long time friend and legislative aid Beckie Johnson has decided to retire and enjoy time with her grandchildren in Florida. I am so happy for Beckie and I want to publicly thank her for her friendship and hard work for the people of Illinois. Beckie has been a dedicated public servant having worked for Senator John O. Jones for many years. Beckie will truly be missesd. All the best to her!

HB 40 - I Voted NO on Taxpayer Funded Abortion
I spoke forcefully against a bill that would vastly expand access to elective, taxpayer-funded abortions during a more than hour-long debate on HB 40 on Tuesday. I also voted no on the measure,

This bill goes to the core of my faith. I believe a life begins at conception and no one has a right to take that life. The sponsors of this bill routinely introduce legislation and support bills to use Medicaid dollars to help the most vulnerable among us. The same value set that drives those votes does not square with using Medicaid dollars to terminate the lives of the weakest, most helpless, and vulnerable of those among us, the unborn.

During questioning, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) admitted that the bill will expand the use of Medicaid to pay for elective abortions. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) has estimated that the bill could result in an extra $60 million of Medicaid spending to cover abortions per year.

The bill’s sponsor also admitted that the bill allows women to choose abortions for any reason, during any stage of pregnancy. In, just my lifetime, we have moved from allowing 1st trimester, to 2nd, then 3rd trimester and now partial birth abortion. HB 40 provides taxpayer funded abortion on demand and I cannot in good conscience support this attempt to expand the taxpayer’s financial burden to fund these barbaric practices.

On Tuesday, hundreds of women descended on Springfield to march in support of equal pay for women, expanded abortion access, and a host of other issues. I find it bewildering that on ‘Women’s Day’ in Springfield, Chicago Democrats advanced a bill to vastly expand abortion access. Their failure to recognize the unfulfilled potential of the millions of female lives that have been aborted in the decades that have passed since Roe vs. Wade is a truly perverted twist on the issue of equal opportunity for women.

Governor Rescinds Layoffs of Department of Corrections Nurses
State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) issued the following statement on Thursday in response to news that Governor Rauner has rescinded previously planned layoffs and will return to the negotiations with the Illinois Nurses Association.

I was extremely disappointed and concerned when I learned of the planned layoffs of more than 120 Illinois correctional facility nurses. I was a proud chief co-sponsor of a bill that passed the House that would have rescinded the layoffs of the nurses that work in Illinois’ correctional facilities.

As a retired, 20-year veteran of the Illinois Department of Corrections, I understand the difficult environment that these hard-working nurses face every day. I was pleased to learn on Thursday that the Administration has in fact rescinded the layoffs and expressed their willingness to return to the negotiating table.

I believe that the layoffs and subcontracting can be permanently solved if both sides negotiate seriously and in good faith. I urge both sides to stay at the table as long as it takes to come to a reasonable and fair agreement.

Page for a Day
It was my honor to host Woodlawn 7th grader Angelina Bruggen as my Page for a Day on Thursday. Thank you for visiting us in Springfield!


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 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. 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!

Springfield….Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) spoke forcefully against a bill that would vastly expand access to elective, taxpayer-funded abortions during a more than hour-long debate on HB 40 on Tuesday. Bryant, who ultimately voted no on the measure, cited both her faith and the potential cost to the State of Illinois as her reasons for opposing the bill.

“This bill goes to the core of my faith,” Bryant said. “I believe a life begins at conception and no one has a right to take that life. The sponsors of this bill routinely introduce legislation and support bills to use Medicaid dollars to help the most vulnerable among us. The same value set that drives those votes does not square with using Medicaid dollars to terminate the lives of the weakest, most helpless, and vulnerable of those among us, the unborn.”

During questioning, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) admitted that the bill will expand the use of Medicaid to pay for elective abortions. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) has estimated that the bill could result in an extra $60 million of Medicaid spending to cover abortions per year.

“The bill’s sponsor admitted that the bill allows women to choose abortions for any reason, during any stage of pregnancy,” Bryant said. “During my lifetime we have moved from allowing 1st trimester, to 2nd, then the 3rd trimester and now we allow partial birth abortion. HB 40 provides taxpayer funded abortion on demand and I cannot in good conscience support this attempt to expand the taxpayer’s financial burden to fund this barbaric practice.”

On Tuesday, hundreds of women descended on Springfield to march in support of equal pay for women, expanded abortion access, and a host of other issues. Bryant says she was stunned by the lack of self-awareness shown by the supporters of HB 40 and the women rallying at the Capitol today.

“I find it bewildering that on ‘Women’s Day’ here in Springfield, the Democrats from Chicago pushed a bill to vastly expand abortion access,” Bryant said. “Their failure to recognize the unfulfilled potential of the millions of female lives that have been aborted in the decades that have passed since Roe vs. Wade is a truly perverted twist on the issue equal opportunity for women.”

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 Dear Friend, 

This week the action in the Illinois House was dominated by an attempt by Speaker Madigan and House Democrats to pass a so-called "lifeline" budget for human services and higher education.

I voted NO on this empty-promise filled spending plan. I am happy to explain why:

1. The Governor indicated he would veto the bill if it reached his desk. The bill did not pass with enough votes to override a Governor's veto. Passing a spending bill knowing it will never become law is an empty promise.

2. The bill did not include a full year of funding. The amount of money appropriated to the Southern Illinois University system would amount to a 60% CUT, as it is likely that the money provided in HB 109 would be all the funding SIU would see in Fiscal Year 2018.

3. The Democrats' spending plan contained more than $10 million in pork barrel projects for Chicago
legislators. Some of the money was earmarked for programs that either no longer exist or are ineligible to receive funding. Here are two egregious examples:

- $1.5 million for a Chicago Area Health and Medical Careers Program. This program has been disbanded. No employees work there and the program doesn't exist any more. 

- $265,000 each for an African American Family Commission and a Latino Family Commission. Neither entity is currently eligible to receive funds previously appropriated for FY17 due to noncompliance issues with reporting of how funds were previously spent.

At this point, you are right to ask yourself, "If Democrats were serious about funding higher education and human services, why would they include millions of dollars in spending for programs that either no longer exist or are ineligible to receive funding?"

The answer is because this wasn't a serious attempt to fund higher education and human services.

This bill was about political theater. HB 109 was advanced so Speaker Madigan's political organization can can paint Republicans as cruel and uncaring in upcoming political advertisements.

But, what's truly cruel is for Democrats to make this type of empty promise to victims of domestic violence, persons with disabilities, and University staff, students, and administration and pretend that their vote means funding would actually make it to these folks that need it.

I have repeatedly said that I am ready and willing to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to find agreement on a budget that balances and fixes the long term issues facing our state while respecting the priorities of both Republicans and Democrats. The gotcha votes and the one-sided attempts at passing budgets must come to an end.

4. Voting to support the so-called "lifeline budget" would have stopped the movement of a real, fully-funded budget in the Senate. Last week, State Senator Bill Brady introduced fully-funded full-year budget with reforms, cuts, and revenue. The bill is currently being negotiated by Democrats and Republicans alike. I want to restate that point: The budget bill currently before the Senate is being worked on in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion.

The House adjourned on Friday for the next two weeks and the Senate is already adjourned until April 25th. The areas of disagreement in Senator Brady's fully-funded, full-year budget are being hammered out over the next two weeks in advance of the House and Senate's return to Springfield.

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 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!




Dear Friend, 

This week, SIU President Randy Dunn detailed proposed cuts to the budget for the Southern Illinois University system. The SIU Carbondale campus is situated within the 115th district, and is a major research and economic engine for Southern Illinois. 

Like you, I am troubled at the numbers outlined in President Dunn’s proposal. The budget impasse is having a severe impact on higher education as a whole in the State of Illinois. I have been meeting with President Dunn and Chancellor Colwell on a regular basis, both in Springfield and at various events in the district to identify the needs of the university system.

When this session began, I requested to be made a member of the House Higher Education Committee. That request was granted and I am now a standing member of the Committee. I am using my time on the Higher Ed committee to work to ensure healthy growth and proper maintenance of all three of SIU's campuses and to increase awareness among my colleagues of the dire situation facing the University.

More must be done to protect Southern Illinois’ flagship university. Every week, I am continuing to work to bring my colleagues together to fashion a balanced budget that will grow our economy and create jobs.

SIU President Dunn and FFA Students Meet at the Capitol
Speaking of President Dunn, a group of Future Farmers of America students from Mt. Vernon High School met with Mr. Dunn and myself in the Capitol rotunda this week. The students were accompanied by former Ag Teacher of the Year, Mr. John Kabat, Sponsor of the Mt. Vernon High School FFA. Thanks to President Dunn and Mr. Kabat for joining us for pictures!


Special Olympics of Southern Illinois Visits Springfield
I had a terrific time meeting with Special Olympians visiting Springfield this week. Thank you for visiting your Capitol!

Poshard Foundation Recognizes April as Child Abuse Prevention Month
As you may know, April is recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Earlier this morning, I was proud to join Glenn and Jo Poshard at John A Logan College on Friday for a special event to help raise awareness. I want to thank Jo and Glenn Poshard and all that contribute to the Poshard Foundation to help combat the scourge of child abuse in our communities.

To learn how you can help the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children, please click here.


House Gives Unanimous Support to DuQuoin State Fair Funding Bill
On Thursday evening, I was proud to earn unanimous support for a bipartisan measure intended to help protect funding for maintenance and activities at the DuQuoin State Fair. HB 3274 requires any income derived from the sale of advertising at the DuQuoin State Fair to be deposited into the Illinois State Fair Fund rather than the Agricultural Premium Fund as is the current practice.

The change in law will help protect scarce financial resources at a time when the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds is in need of significant repairs and upgrades.

Thousands of families visit the DuQuoin State Fair every year, and it is a source of pride for me, the city of DuQuoin, and Southern Illinoisans in general. My bill will ensure that any advertising dollars spent at the DuQuoin State Fair come back to Southern Illinois to help fix up the fairgrounds and keep the fair safe for generations to come.

This bill accompanies Republican efforts last year to provide further funding avenues for the State’s two fairgrounds. In 2016, I  sponsored legislation to establish a foundation to allow private fundraising to aid in repairs to the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. HB 4990 was bottled up in Speaker Madigan’s Rules Committee and never allowed a hearing.

Enhanced DUI Penalty Bill Passes House
Also this week, I successfully passed legislation to allow enhanced penalties for impaired drivers involved in vehicle-property collisions through the Illinois House. The need for this change in the law comes from a case in Mt. Vernon where several families’ apartments were destroyed and much of what they owned was destroyed in a fire caused by a drunken driving accident.  

HB 2606 would allow prosecutors to charge offenders with aggravated DUI when catastrophic damage to property occurs as a result of a collision between a vehicle and a business or residential property The minimum threshold for damages under the bill would be $50,000. The bill is now waiting consideration in the Senate.

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 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!
Related image
DuQuoin State Fair
Springfield....On Thursday evening, State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) earned unanimous support for a bipartisan measure intended to help protect funding for maintenance and activities at the DuQuoin State Fair.

HB 3274 requires any income derived from the sale of advertising at the DuQuoin State Fair to be deposited into the Illinois State Fair Fund rather than the Agricultural Premium Fund as is the current practice.

Representative Bryant says the change in law will help protect scarce financial resources at a time when the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds is in need of significant repairs and upgrades.

"Thousands of families visit the DuQuoin State Fair every year, and it is a source of pride for me, the city of DuQuoin, and Southern Illinoisans in general," Bryant said. "My bill will ensure that any advertising dollars spent at the DuQuoin State Fair come back to Southern Illinois to help fix up the fairgrounds and keep the fair safe for generations to come."

Bryant's bill accompanies Republican efforts last year to provide further funding avenues for the State’s two fairgrounds. In 2016, Representative Bryant sponsored legislation to establish a foundation to allow private fundraising to aid in repairs to the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. HB 4990 was bottled up in Speaker Madigan’s Rules Committee and never allowed a hearing.
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Springfield….On Wednesday, State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) successfully passed legislation to allow enhanced penalties for impaired drivers involved in vehicle-property collisions through the Illinois House.

“The need for this change in the law comes from a case in Mt. Vernon where several families’ apartments were destroyed and much of what they owned was destroyed in a fire caused by a drunken driving accident,” Bryant said. “HB 2606 would allow prosecutors to charge offenders with aggravated DUI when catastrophic damage to property occurs as a result of a collision between a vehicle and a business or residential property.”

Bryant says the minimum threshold for damages under the bill would be $50,000. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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Dear Friend,

As this year's legislative session nears the midway point, legislators have been busily passing bills through Committee and from the House to the Senate. This week's e-newsletter provides a legislative update and photos from my travels to two important events that I was fortunate to attend at the end of February. Lots going on in the 115th district. Thank you for reading!

Stopping Legislative Pay Raises
This year I am proud to be a sponsor of HB 643, a bill written to stop legislators and other politicians from receiving pay increases. As hard as it might be to believe, the legislature is forced every year to pass a bill that stops automatic cost of living adjustments and increases to mileage, meal, and lodging reimbursements for legislators.

The State of Illinois has been without a budget for more than 2 years. Human service providers and many other vendors that provide critical services to the State are currently waiting months on end to receive only a small portion of what they are owed. Considering Illinois' disastrous financial situation, stopping pay raises for politicians is as close to a no-brainer as it gets.

Enhanced DUI Penalty Bill Clears Committee 
On Wednesday, I successfully passed legislation dealing with enhanced penalties for impaired drivers through the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee.

This legislation was brought to me by a county prosecutor who noticed a flaw in the law. In the summer of 2014, more than 200 Mt. Vernon residents were displaced and lost much of what they owned when a drunk driver caused major damage to their apartment complex. HB 2606 would allow prosecutors to charge offenders with aggravated DUI when major damage to property occurs as a result of the actions of an impaired driver. The minimum threshold for damages under the bill would be $5,000. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

65th Annual All Ag Banquet at Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Agricultural Sciences hosted its 65th Annual All-Ag Banquet on Feb. 24. The event celebrates the achievements and accomplishments of faculty and students of the College of Ag Sciences. I am pictured below with SIU President Randy Dunn, State Rep. Dave Severin, and State Senator Dale Fowler.
Illinois Masonic Children's Home in Murphysboro to Stay Open under New Ownership
The Illinois Masonic Children's Home in Murphysboro provides a free home for children whose families are in crisis. In October, the Illinois Masonic Grand Lodge, which once owned and supported the home, announced it would be closing the home at the end of the school year.

However, the United Methodist Children's Home has announced that is has found another agency to take over the facility and keep it open.United Methodist Children's Home will take over operations April 1 to allow the 15 kids who live at the home to stay there. I was proud to attend the press conference in Murphysboro with United Methodist Children's Home CEO John Shadowens and State Senator Dale Fowler.
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 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!

Springfield….State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) gained unanimous support for HB 771 in the Illinois House today. Bryant says in the face of budget cuts, and a shortage of volunteers to join fire departments across the state, HB 771 will provide needed assistance.

"In Illinois, 70 percent of all firefighters are volunteers," Bryant said. "HB 771 allows a volunteer firefighter to purchase one set of tires for their vehicle every three years at a reduced price per the fire district's joint purchasing agreement. The goal is to provide a little bit of help to the folks that volunteer to fight fires and  keep us safe. I want to thank my colleagues for their unanimous support for this legislation."

HB 771 now moves to the Illinois Senate for consideration.

Dear Friend,

A blur of activity marked this Valentine's week in Springfield. The Governor gave his 3rd budget address, a judge denied Lisa Madigan's attempts to stop paying state employees, and I am announcing the release of my 2017 Legislative Survey! Your opinion counts, so keep reading to find out how you can tell me more about the issues most important to you.

I passed a bill to help volunteer firefighters out of Committee this week. Also, a controversial abortion bill is starting to move in the General Assembly. I will have a legislative wrap-up, my reaction to the stories mentioned above, and more, all in this week's edition of Bryant E News.

Budget Address Reaction
Addressing a joint committee of the legislature for the 2nd time in a month, Governor Rauner delivered his 3rd "Budget Address" on Wednesday. The Governor called on the General Assembly to move in a new direction. The Governor acknowledged that the General Assembly has failed to pass balanced budgets in the last decade, but, his overall message was less about the past and more about his vision for better funded schools and strong economic growth in the future.

The Governor was realistic about the financial picture we are facing, but, he also pointed out that Illinois has a lot of unfulfilled potential. I totally agree. That’s why we have to have economic reforms as part of any balanced budget solution. Those reforms will help grow jobs and ease the burden on working families. There is a lot of hope that a "Grand Bargain" can be negotiated to finally balance the budget and help our economy grow.

Judge Denies AG Madigan's Bid to Stop Paying State Workers
As you may have heard, a St. Clair County judge denied Attorney General Lisa Madigan's motion to stop paying state employees on Thursday afternoon. I want to offer my thanks and gratitude for this decision, but state employees should be aware that AG Madigan has pledged to appeal the judge's ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court.

As I’ve said from the beginning, there was no rhyme or reason to AG Madigan’s timing on this motion.  The judge was right to deny this attempt to stop employee paychecks and force a government shut-down. Furthermore, I would discourage any further attempts by the Attorney General to spend tax payer dollars fighting a losing and dangerous legal battle.


I am supporting a bipartisan effort to take state employees off of the political chessboard and it is my hope that negotiations on that legislation will continue to move forward, even in light of this decision. We have to take the necessary steps to protect the working men and women that provide critical public services.

Legislative Issues Update
Volunteer Firefighters Tire Purchase Bill Passes Committee
This year I am carrying HB 771, a bill that will allow volunteer firefighters to use district funds to buy one set of tires every three years for the vehicle they use to respond to emergencies. The bill provides that any expenditure must be approved by the Fire Chief. This is a great bill to show our appreciate to the brave men and women that join volunteer fire departments across Illinois.

I am proud to report that the bill passed the Fire & Emergency Services Committee 5-0 this week.

Opposing HB 40 - A bill to allow taxpayer funding of abortions
One of the main priorities I have as your State Representative is to protect the sanctity of human life in any way that I can. HB 40 is a bill being sponsored by a pro-choice legislator from Chicago to expand the Medicaid and the State Employee Insurance Acts to cover all abortions for those receiving this assistance. The bill would enshrine into law the use of taxpayer dollars being spent to perform abortions. The bill would also eliminate Illinois' “trigger law,” that says if Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion would become illegal in Illinois. As a staunch pro-life supporter, I am in wholehearted opposition to this bill.  I will continue to fight the effort to pass this bill and I will fight to protect the rights of the unborn.

2017 Legislative Survey Available Online!
Once again, I am sponsoring a survey at my website to gather your opinions on the pressing issues of the day.

You can find my 2017 Legislative Survey Online by Clicking Here!

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 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!