Package of government reform bills filed
With the start of the new General Assembly, House Republicans have introduced a package of bills and constitutional amendments intended to fix our broken state government system. The proposed reforms are called the Get Government Back on Track package.

The lead sponsor of the bills is Rep. Tom Demmer of Dixon. The reform package has six key parts. First, House Bill 787 would create a bipartisan Joint Committee of the General Assembly on Rules and Operations – a panel of legislators which would review and recommend procedures, rules and structures of the General Assembly to make it run more efficiently and fairly. House Bill 789 establishes a Board of Repealers which would review Illinois’ laws and look for ways to get rid of laws that have become outdated or which conflict with other laws. Instead of just adding more and more laws to the books, this would give us a way to get rid of those we no longer need.

Governor delivers Budget Address
Governor Rauner went before a joint session of the legislature on Wednesday to deliver his annual budget address. He touched on a number of issues, but emphasized the overall theme that we need to find the political will to bring people together and finally work our way out of this crisis.
Legislation filed to continue paying state workers
I have joined several of my colleagues in sponsoring House Bill 1787, legislation which makes state workers’ salary payments a continuing appropriation. This would guarantee payment of state employees during a budget stalemate. The issue of state employee paychecks has become especially urgent since Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a motion in court to stop paychecks for state employees at the end of this month.

If enacted, the bill would be effective immediately. I co-sponsored similar legislation in the previous General Assembly, but it was not allowed a committee hearing. I hope the House will take up this legislation without delay.

House adopts Madigan’s rules
In a vote that very closely followed party lines, rules governing the 100th General Assembly were adopted by the House last week. The approved rules were written by the office of Speaker Michael Madigan. House Republicans expressed strong disappointment that the party in power in the House had refused to look at bipartisan proposals to guarantee an equal voice for all residents of Illinois. The rules give Speaker Madigan unprecedented power over the legislative agenda of the House. With that power and those rules, the Speaker is able to determine which bills are voted on and which are not. This impacts the bills, the votes, the policies and the direction that our conversation takes.