Week in Review: February 5, 2021


House Republicans urge Gov. Pritzker to veto flawed criminal justice bill.  Illinois House Republicans held a press conference Wednesday to urge Gov. JB Pritzker to veto a sweeping criminal justice bill passed by bare Democrat majorities in the waning hours of the lame duck session of the 101st General Assembly.

The abolishment of cash bail was part of the omnibus criminal-law bill that was passed in the final hours of the lame-duck 101st General Assembly. While the new bonding system enacted within the 764-page bill is very complex and its full ramifications are not yet fully understood, the expectation of the sponsors was that the great majority of defendants who have been arrested – including persons arrested for violent criminal offenses – will be released to back into the community while awaiting trial. House Republicans strongly opposed this change, as it will allow dangerous criminals back into our communities.

“We have significant concerns that criminals who commit acts of violence and other dangerous crimes such as robbery, burglary, and arson will be right back on the streets within days able to victimize more people. This is not acceptable,” said Rep. Patrick Windhorst, who previously served for fourteen years as a State’s Attorney.

House Bill 3653, the Legislative Black Caucus’ omnibus criminal justice bill, contained many controversial provisions that make extensive changes to Illinois ‘criminal justice laws. The legislation abolishes cash bail, makes it more difficult for prosecutors to charge a defendant with felony murder, adds further requirements for no-knock warrants, gives judges the ability to deviate from mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, makes changes to the “three strikes” law, and decreases mandatory supervised release terms, among other changes.

One of the most controversial aspects of HB 3653 was the numerous changes and additional requirements it places on Illinois’ law enforcement officers. The legislation mandates body cams be worn by all officers, creates a new felony offence of law enforcement misconduct, creates an anonymous complaint policy, and makes changes to use of force in making arrest, duty to render aid and duty to intervene. The bill makes significant changes to the law enforcement officer certification and decertification process, including the creation of a new Law Enforcement Certification Review Panel.

Law enforcement officials and public safety agencies across Illinois believe HB3653 will threaten the safety of Illinois families. This flawed bill will make it more difficult for law enforcement to keep communities safe and gives more rights to criminals than to their victims. 

“Today the process failed the people of Illinois,” McCombie said. “We represent you, and we had questions: questions for victims of crimes, questions for law enforcement and questions for our communities. But the other side shut down any debate by calling the previous question, called for a vote and pushed through their bill on ‘accountability and transparency.’

We urge the governor to veto HB 3653 and bring all stakeholders together to craft real criminal justice reform and police accountability legislation that will truly make our communities safer.

Sign the petition to urge Governor Pritzker to veto HB 3653



House Republican Leader Jim Durkin appoints leadership team for 102nd General Assembly.  On Monday, Leader Durkin announced the appointment of his leadership team for the 102 General Assembly.

House Minority Leader Jim Durkin also re-appointed State Representative Tony McCombie to the Illinois State Legislative Audit Commission.

“Since serving on this Commission since 2019, I have enjoyed the opportunity to bring accountability to our State’s spending and process and identify areas where we can save our taxpayers’ money,” said McCombie “With many parts of the state budget seeing increased pandemic related spending, it is vitally important that we ensure spending and process follow State statutes and that the taxes we pay are effectively being utilized.”

Illinois House session days canceled.  The Illinois House of Representatives had been scheduled to be in session for nine days in February 2021. With the COVID-19 pandemic still an ongoing threat to public health, however, all but one day has now been canceled. The Illinois House expects to work for one day on Wednesday, February 10 to adopt new House Rules for the 102nd General Assembly. 

The House typically adopts procedural rules that will enable the Speaker of the House to control bill action in the chamber. In addition to giving new Speaker Chris Welch a set of tools to use his House majority powers to control bill action, the rules may also change the way the House does business. Under the old House rules, committees had to meet and hear testimony in person. The new rules are expected to allow committees to meet remotely and conduct business via video link. 

After February 10, the next scheduled meeting of the full House is currently scheduled for Tuesday, March 2.

“There’s no reason for us not to go back to work, it’s been long overdue,” said state Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna. “In my opinion government is certainly essential.”

“People that are working for [Illinois Department of Employment Security, the state’s unemployment agency], [Illinois Department of Public Health], for us in Springfield, they need to be in their seats, in their buildings, and doing the work of the people and so do we,” McCombie said.



Illinois population decline estimated in advance of census count.  The U.S. Census performs an annual state-by-state population estimate that is tied to the fiscal year.  The numbers are preliminary and will be corrected by the hard count performed by many Americans in the formal 10-year census just completed. 

The annual Census estimate saw 79,000 fewer people living in Illinois in mid-2020 than had been living here one year earlier in mid-2019.  This was not a counted number, but an estimate based upon the other variables tracked by the Census Bureau.  Previous estimates, in 2019 and previous years, had also seen declines in Illinois population, and it is possible that when the actual counted numbers for 2020 are released, the population of Illinois will have slid by hundreds of thousands from the numbers counted in Illinois in census year 2010.  After Census numbers are released, the State of Illinois will have to redraw the maps used to elect State House members, state Senators, and members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois.  House Republicans strongly support a nonpartisan “Fair Map” procedure to prevent politicians from drawing the new maps for their own benefit. 


Immunizations continue, with vaccine in short supply.  Limited supplies and heavy demand have made it difficult for many people to get an appointment for the coronavirus vaccine.  In some regions of Illinois, the local health department is urging persons aged 85 and older, and their caregivers, to take the lead in making the vaccination appointment.

This differs substantially from previous advice that all senior citizens aged 65 and up would get the chance to be vaccinated soon.  As is now well known, one of the main sticking points in the vaccination rollout is the recommendation from vaccine producers that all recipients must get two shots to complete the procedure.  Public health providers are warning that persons aged 65 and older, but younger than 85, are eligible for the vaccine but may not be able to make an immediate appointment to get one.  Available vaccines must be rationed so that persons aged 85 and older will be able to get their second dose within their windows of time.  There is currently major demand for vaccines from congregate-care centers, including nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, across Illinois.  

McCombie has questioned IDPH on the number of vaccines, the readiness of retail pharmacies and mobile vaccination roll out.  She was informed that much of the vaccination rollout is dependent on supply of the vaccine from the federal government. IDPH is only given about 48 hour notice from the federal government on vaccination amounts available each week. They receive notification from the federal government on Tuesdays exactly how many doses we will have available to order on Thursday. When additionally asked if Illinois was receiving the number of vaccines requested from the Federal government. The department stated that they have been receiving the number of vaccines that the federal government has apportioned as available each week, and that number has varied. They are expecting this number to stabilize and are working with our federal partners to better predict long term allocations.

Though registration is through individual providers, the state is working to aggregate the locations and links to signing up for vaccination registration. That is here: https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/vaccination-location

Some additional articles this week included: https://www.theillinoize.com/articles/politicians-walgreens-spar-over-covid#new_tab and https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-coronavirus-illinois-dentists-20210130-u2qbjygbbjdm5cqcdikv2xn33m-story.html#new_tab

Scam Warning/IDES:

There have been reports of Illinoisans receiving unsolicited text messages from identity thieves claiming to be IDES in order to steal personal information from residents. If you receive one of these messages, do not click on any links or share information with the number. Remember, IDES will NOT request personal information via text message.

Report Fraud to: https://www2.illinois.gov/…/Report-Identity-Theft.aspx


Truncated high school sports schedule announced for remainder of 2020-21 school year.  After months of not being able to participate in high school sports, students will soon be able to begin competing again. Earlier this week, the IHSA announced the sports schedule for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. For a full list, click on the link below.

“It has been my position that schools and clubs can safely play as it is good for stability, physical and emotional well being,” said Rep. McCombie.  “Parents should have the right to mitigate their children’s own risk,” she continued.

IHDA releases funding to help strengthen neighborhoods

The IHDA recently announced that $8 million in funding has been made available for the state’s Abandoned Residential Property Municipality Relief Program (APP). The program is meant to help stimulate community redevelopment by eliminating blighted and abandoned residential properties.

The APP was first created in 2010 under the Save Our Neighborhoods Act. Funding for the program was expanded by subsequent legislation in June 2013. The current $8 million is part of the program’s fifth round of funding since its inception.

The APP application process is open to municipalities, counties and land banks until Feb. 16. Find information about IDHA’s revitalization and repair programs at https://www.ihda.org/my-community/revitalization-programs/

The Illinois Council on Women and Girls invites young women ages 14 through 18 to apply to join the Council’s new Girls Committee. The Council advises the Governor and General Assembly on policy issues impacting women and girls in Illinois. Applications are due by February 16, 2021



The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), has launched a new initiative to help Illinois families access and afford home energy assistance and other essential services during COVID-19. Building on the State’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program, the State’s Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21) budget authorizes an expansion of the LIHEAP and CSBG programs for eligible Illinoisans seeking emergency assistance to cover costs of utility bills, rent, temporary shelter, food, and other household necessities.



FREE COVID Testing in Savanna.  Wednesday, February 10, 2021 from 8:00am-4:00pm at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 318 Chicago Ave., Savanna.

Hosting a blood drive w/ Senator Neil Anderson on April 19th in Savanna (details to follow).

Contact our office to schedule a zoom or an in person visit.