McCombie Questions Democrats’ Penalty Enhancements

Despite efforts to help protect Department of Children and Family Service workers, State Representative Tony McCombie’s bill has been prevented from moving forward.  McCombie has been working since 2017 to get her legislation passed; HB1460 would increase penalties on those who attack caseworkers for DCFS.

Instead, the Democrat majority has prioritized adopting penalty enhancements for their own pieces of legislation, like the bill passed just last week to enhance penalties for anyone who allows someone to pet their bear or monkey.  

In her floor remarks during the debate of that bill, McCombie questioned why that measure is taking precedent over more serious matters like protecting caseworkers—who have and will continue to meet violence in their work. McCombie’s bill was filed in direct response to Pam Knight and Deirdre Silas, two DCFS caseworkers who were killed on the job while doing home visits. According to a recent news story, Silas’ murder marked the 21st time since 2017 that DCFS caseworkers experienced threats or acts of violence during home visits. 

“This is ridiculous. What are we doing?” said McCombie during the floor debate. “Let’s have respect for the dead. Deidra Silas and Pam Knight deserve it. Our DCFS workers deserve it. If we are going to pass penalty enhancements, then let’s by god pass them. Let’s pass them when they make sense.”  

Under the Democrat majority’s control in the House, 94 different penalty enhancements have been enacted over the last three General Assemblies. Yet, McCombie’s measure—the Knight-Silas Act—something that would help protect workers at DCFS still awaits further consideration.