On Wednesday the Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation co-sponsored by Illinois State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) to ban the use of red light cameras from being utilized to enforce traffic violations.
“Red light cameras have been abused by the City of Chicago,” said Rep. Kay. “The issue with red light cameras seems to be about revenue and not public safety. Quite often motorists receive traffic tickets imposed by a red light camera without even breaking any traffic laws. To make matters worse, if you are innocent, it can be quite a hassle to receive due process by proving your innocence. Traffic violations should be left to our law enforcement – not cameras."
House Bill 173 would ban red light cameras from being utilized as a tool to send traffic violations to motorists in nine Illinois counties. If signed into law, the bill provides that after January 1, 2017, non-home rule units within the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair, and Will are prohibited from enacting or enforcing existing automated red light camera systems. The bill exempts home-rule communities throughout Illinois.
HB 173 passed with 79 voting in favor, 26 voting against, and 4 voting present, the bill now awaits approval in the Illinois Senate.
Many new laws passed by State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) and the Illinois General Assembly will take effect on January 1, 2015.
“I believe it is important to keep the constituents of the 112th District informed of upcoming changes in our laws,” said Rep. Dwight Kay. “A wide variety of legislation was presented to the General Assembly over this last year but there is still much work to be done. I look forward to working with our new Governor in 2015 to bring much needed reforms to Illinois.”
Some of the more notable bills effective January 1 are a ban on police ticket quotas, stricter penalties for methamphetamine production near schools, “sign and drive” in Illinois, and gold star specialty license plates for the sons and daughters of Gold Star recipients.
Ban Police Ticket Quotas
Police Departments throughout the state will no longer be able to issue ticket quotas for their officers come January 1st. “Many people throughout Illinois feel that ticket quotas place unnecessary pressure on officers and forces them to write citations they would not regularly issue,” said Rep. Kay. “This law will help to eliminate these types of situations and help keep departments focused on keeping the public safe and not about bringing in extra revenue.”
Rep. Kay co-sponsored P.A. 098-650 (Senate Bill 3411) which prohibits state and local police departments from having any type of quota regarding tickets. This law would still permit officers to be evaluated on many other key attributes such as the number of traffic stops, completed arrests and crime prevention measures.
Stricter Penalties for Methamphetamine Production Near Schools
Another important law taking effect in January is P.A 098-0980 (House Bill 4093). This law, co-sponsored by Rep. Kay, increases the penalties for anyone who manufacturers methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school. Previously, an individual who produced meth within 1,000 feet of a school could not be found guilty of aggravated participation in methamphetamine manufacturing. With this new law any such offense would be a Class X felony with penalties ranging from 6-60 years in prison.
“One of my top priorities as State Representative is keeping our young people safe,” said Rep. Dwight Kay. “Any individual found guilty of producing methamphetamine near a school should face the consequences for potentially endangering the lives of children.”
“Sign and Drive” Traffic Tickets in Illinois
A new bill prohibiting police confiscation of driver’s licenses for certain traffic tickets will take effect on January 1, 2015. P.A. 098-870 (Senate Bill 2583) will allow Illinois drivers to simply sign the traffic citation for tickets not requiring a court appearance in lieu of relinquishing their license. Signing the citation will not be an admission of guilt.
“Identification is an integral part of our society in today’s world and many people use their driver’s licenses as their main form of identification daily,” said Rep. Kay. “With that being the case it is sensible to allow motorists to keep their drivers licenses for minor traffic offenses.”
Gold Star Specialty License Plates
Sons and daughters of Gold Star recipients will now be able to obtain honorary license plates to remember their loved ones. P.A. 098-869 (House Bill 5475) will finally permit sons and daughters of Gold Star recipients to receive the license plates from the Secretary of State. Prior to this legislation these plates were only available to widows/widowers, siblings and parents of those who gave their life while serving in the US Armed Forces.
“I am quite pleased that the General Assembly was able to come together to allow the sons and daughters of Gold Star recipients to receive honorary license plates,” said Rep. Kay. “This is truly a fitting tribute to the men and women who have fallen protecting our great nation. They will always be remembered.”
For more information about the new laws which will take effect in 2015, please visit www.ilga.gov or http://www.ilga.gov/reports/static/Public%20Acts%20by%20Effective%20Date.pdf to view all new laws effective throughout 2015.
Following a Belleville News-Democrat investigation into Venice School Superintendent Cullen Cullen’s spending habits that uncovered over $5,000 spent on fast food and nearly $18,000 on lavish hotels since September 6, 2013 using taxpayer funds, a further investigation uncovered even more wasteful spending in the years since Cullen took over as the school’s superintendent.
From June 26, 2009 to August 29, 2014, Cullen used the school’s taxpayer-funded credit card to spend $23,532.89 on food purchases, including many fast food lunches. For the same period, Cullen also used the school’s credit card to spend $55,345.56 on lavish hotel stays in downtown Chicago. Most of this happened while the Venice School District was under financial oversight due to the school’s spending problems and performance.
“It’s a shame to uncover more wasteful and abusive spending under Cullen’s watch at the Venice School District, especially since the school was under financial oversight for most of the time period,” State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) said. “With a salary of nearly $110,000 a year, one would think Cullen could afford to buy his own fast food lunches without having the taxpayers foot the bill.”
From 2003-2012, Venice Community School District #3 was under financial oversight by the Illinois State Board of Education. The oversight panel was tasked with developing an emergency assistance and recovery plan for the troubled school system. Fast forward to 2014, the school district is still the second worst performing school in Illinois even though the school spends $17,000 per student all while Superintendent Cullen repeatedly abuses school district funds to pay for his fast food meals and lavish hotel stays.
Rep. Kay added, “I believe all the taxpayer money spent on fast food and lavish hotels would have been better spent in the classroom helping the student’s achieve the educational success they deserve. I once again call on Cullen to refund the school district for his fast food lunches and to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on himself. If Cullen really cared about saving his school district money, he should have thought twice about buying fast food and should have drove to Chicago instead of flying and he should have chose cheaper hotel accommodations.”
To view Cullen’s Credit Card Purchases since 2009 click on either of the three links:
This week, Illinois State Representatives Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) and David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) introduced a Resolution opposing an educational pension cost shift that would force local school districts, community colleges, and public universities to pay the cost of pension benefits earned by their employees.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, 67 percent of school districts in Illinois are operating without the funding they need, while already covering a large share of the pension costs.
“Metro East school districts, SIUE, and home owners simply cannot afford this added expense,” Rep. Kay said. “The State made a promise to pay our hard-working teachers and faculty members the pension benefits they earned and it must be committed to fulfilling this promise rather than shifting the blame and costs to our already-maxed out schools and colleges. Shifting the pension debt to our schools would result in higher property taxes.”
Over the last several months, there have been multiple proposals that would shift pension costs from the State of Illinois to local schools, colleges, and universities in order to fix Illinois’ pension system. A pension cost shift would result in higher property taxes and higher tuition rates. Under this proposal, schools and colleges would have to pick up an estimated $10.2 billion in pension benefits over a 10-year period.
Rep. Kay continued, “With our schools already underfunded, and burdened with many unfunded mandates, this additional expense would result in further cuts to classroom budgets which would be harmful to our students. Schools would be unable to afford the necessary textbooks, supplies, and technology that are essential in making sure our kids receive the best education possible.”
Not only would the pension cost shift hurt local school districts, but it would also be detrimental to Illinois’ public universities, including SIUE. The cost shift would likely lead to a 2 percent hike in tuition at all Illinois universities, according to representatives at Northern Illinois University.
“Higher education in Illinois is already unaffordable for many families,” Rep. Kay added. “Metro East families deserve to send their kids to college, but with these added costs to universities resulting in an increase in tuition, many families would be unable to do so.”
Rep. Kay concluded, “I oppose the pension cost shift proposal because it would be impossible for our schools, community colleges, and universities to take on the full pension costs while also ensuring the best educational opportunities for our students. The State must fulfill the promises it has made.”
The Resolution is House Resolution 1267.
Possible Waste and Fraud in Affordable Care Act Advertising and Promotion
The process used to put the federal Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” into operation in 2013 left many controversies in its wake. One especially questioned move was the use by the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of taxpayer dollars to advertise and sell the program in order to encourage uninsured American residents to sign up. Reports of HHS waste and overspending were widely circulated, and the Department’s then-Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, left the agency in June 2014.
Today, the Illinois House of Representatives debated and voted on the House Democrats’ proposed budget. State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) voted against the state budget citing the fact that it was an increase in spending and would result in the January 2011 “temporary” income tax increase becoming permanent.
On March 6, 2014, the General Assembly approved House Joint Resolution 80 which estimated Illinois would have a revenue level of $34.5 billion. Today, the Democrats’ budget set spending at roughly $37.3 billion, almost $3 billion more than the state is expected to bring in. The only way to match the proposed spending with revenue numbers is to extend the income tax increase of 2011.
“I couldn’t support the Democrats’ budget because they broke their promise that the income tax increase was a temporary solution to pay off old bills,” Rep. Kay said. “Not only will the tax hike become permanent, but Illinois is still left with billions in unpaid bills that were supposed to be paid off with the increase. Instead of allowing families and businesses to keep more of their hard-earned money come January, the Democrats’ decided to spend more in order to tax more.”
Since the tax hike in 2011, Illinois’ economy has continued to suffer thanks in large part to the tax and spend policy of our Democratic leaders in Chicago. Illinois has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation, has seen 5 downgrades in our credit rating, and is among the top states in terms of people fleeing the state for better jobs and lower taxes.
“It is time that our leaders realize that we need to refocus our energy on reviving Illinois’ economy and that an increase in taxes is not going to do that,” Rep. Kay added. “This budget is the worst thing that could happen to our economy, especially at a time when we rank at the bottom in most economic categories in the country.”