Dear Friend,

This week has been jam packed with news coming from Springfield.  First, I voted NO on Mike Madigan’s onerous and oppressive House Rules, the Governor delivered his 3rd State of the State Address, and Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a motion in court to halt state employee paychecks.

I also have photos and stories from my travels during the last couple of weeks to share. As always, thanks for reading!

I voted NO on Madigan’s House Rules
This week I voted NO on House Speaker Michael Madigan’s proposed Rules of the House. I have many issues with the iron grip on power exercised by the Speaker every year. Speaker Madigan’s attitude on budget issues is that he has the monopoly on good ideas. But, fixing the financial disaster facing the state will take teamwork and bipartisan problem solving.

Before a bill gets assigned for a Committee hearing in the House, it must first pass the Rules Committee, which is a 5 member panel consisting of three of Speaker Madigan’s top deputies in the House.

There is also insufficient public notice of when the Rules Committee is going to meet and the public does not receive adequate notice of the business that is to come before the Rules committee. If a bill doesn’t make it out of Madigan’s Rules Committee, it dies. Madigan’s House Rules establish order and set procedures in the House; but, they also ensure one-man, one-party rule over the legislative process, and that’s just wrong. Far too much power is concentrated in the Speaker’s hands under the new House Rules.

Governor Strikes Optimistic Tone in State of the State Address
For the 3rd time, Governor Rauner addressed a joint committee of the House and Senate to deliver his “State of the State” address.  I thought the speech was a positive way to start the business of the newly-seated 100th General Assembly.
Taking questions from media after the Governor's speech.

The Governor pointed to areas where we’ve made progress during his first term. For example, the state has invested $700 million more in public education, and $100 million more in early childhood programs. The number one task facing the new General Assembly will be to pass a balanced budget; but it was clear to me that more investment in education will be a major priority of the Governor going forward, and, I fully support that.

I was pleased to hear the Governor reiterate his support for facilities and programs that help reduce violence against Correctional employees, decrease the rate of recidivism, and alleviate prison overcrowding. One of my major priorities is to reopen the shuttered Murphysboro boot camp, so I was thrilled to hear the Governor specifically mention re-purposing the facility to turn it into a life-skills, educational, and vocational training facility. The goal will be to alleviate overcrowding and reduce recidivism, which are major problems in the Department of Corrections today.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan Wants to Stop State Employee Paychecks – I Say NO WAY!
Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a motion in St. Clair County Court to stop state employees from receiving paychecks until the state passes a budget. This move is blatantly political and very dangerous.

This interference by yet another Constitutional officer in the budget process may sabotage ongoing budget negotiations. The Senate went home this week following Committee hearings on a possible budget deal to hear from their constituents. I am very disappointed in the timing of this action.  Pieces are starting to move to get to a compromise and a balanced budget. So, the Attorney General's attempt to stop state employee paychecks is as dangerous as it is puzzling.

I support state employees receiving their paychecks on time and in full. We need to take steps to ratchet down the crisis we're facing. This step by the Attorney General is unnecessary and provocative.

Traveling the 115th District: 
Special Olympics Indoor Softball Tournament
Great fun at the girls indoor softball tournament in DuQuoin, Illinois. The tournament benefits Special Olympics. Sheridan Coleman of Carbondale was one of the Special Olympians serving as an honorary team member.
Washington County Farm Bureau Dinner
Great time last week with Senator Luechtefeld and Representative Charlie Meier at the Washington County Farm Bureau's Annual meeting held at St. Anthony in Lively Grove on January 18, 2017. 






Rep. Meier, Rep. Bryant, and retired Senator Dave Luechtefeld

Touring Pepsi in Marion with Senator Schimpf
Took the opportunity to to visit one of our region's biggest employers this week alongside our new State Senator
Paul Schimpf. Thank you to Pepsi Mid-America in Marion and Mt. Vernon!
Stay Connected! New Mt. Vernon Office Location!
My new office in Mt. Vernon has a new location! Our new address is 2929 Broadway, Suite 3. The office 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) issued a strong reaction to the news that Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a motion in St. Clair County Court to stop state employees from receiving paychecks until the state passes a budget. Bryant calls the move blatantly political, dangerous, and confusing.

"This interference by yet another Constitutional officer in the budget process is blatantly political and seeks to unnecessarily blow-up ongoing negotiations," Bryant said. "The Senate went home this week following committee hearings on a possible budget deal to hear from their constituents. Pieces are starting to move to get to a compromise and a balanced budget. So, the timing of the Attorney General's attempt to stop state employee paychecks is as dangerous as it is puzzling."

Asked to elaborate, Bryant pointed to previous positions that Attorney General Madigan has taken on the issue in the past.

"I'm for state employees receiving their paychecks on time and in full," Bryant said. "At one time, so was Lisa MadiganWe need to take steps to ratchet down the crisis we're facing. This step by the Attorney General is unnecessary and provocative."

####

Springfield….Following Governor Rauner’s 3rd State of the State address on Wednesday, Representative Terri Bryant says she appreciated the Governor’s optimistic tone. The 115th district State Representative says she thinks the speech was a positive and effective way to start the business of the newly-seated 100th General Assembly.

“Today we heard the Governor point to areas where we’ve made progress during his first term,” Bryant said. “The state has invested $700 million more in public education, and $100 million more in early childhood programs. The number one task facing the new General Assembly will be to pass a balanced budget; but it was clear to me that more investment in education will be a major priority of the Governor going forward, and, I fully support that.”

Rep. Bryant takes questions following the speech.
The 99th General Assembly passed several measures designed to reform the State’s criminal justice system. Bryant says she was pleased to hear the Governor reiterate his support for facilities and programs that help reduce violence against Correctional employees, decrease the rate of recidivism, and alleviate prison overcrowding.

“One of my major priorities is to reopen the shuttered Murphysboro boot camp,” Bryant said. “I was thrilled to hear the Governor specifically mention Murphysboro. I fully support educational, vocational, and life-skills training programs for incarcerated individuals. We have got to be tough on crime, but we’ve also got to be smart on crime. Repurposing Murphysboro into a life-skills facility will ease the overcrowding and recidivism that are so prevalent in our Department of Corrections today.”

Bryant also indicated her support for a renewed push for Constitutional Amendments to establish term limits for politicians and reform the process for drawing legislative district maps.

“Part of the problem we have in Illinois is that our political system is set up to protect incumbents, insiders, and special interests,” Bryant said. “I support term limits to stop politicians from making a career out of public service. I also support changing our map making process to reflect ideal aim of our Republic. The people should choose their Representatives. Politicians should not get to choose their voters. These changes to our political system would be a signal to the rest of the country that Illinois is serious about changing the way we do business.”

Rauner’s speech was delivered on Wednesday before a joint committee of the Illinois House and Senate.


####
Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Property Tax Freeze Legislation - HB 6630

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

####


Dear Friend,

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

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

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