Weekly News From Leader Tony McCombie


McCombie Calls for Reform Amid Ethics Awareness Month.  With the two-year anniversary of former Speaker Mike Madigan’s indictment coinciding with National Ethics Awareness Month, I am using the opportunity to advance ethics reform in the Illinois House this spring.

I have continued to advocate for reform as federal indictments have rocked the state, and the majority party has refused to step up to tighten existing loopholes in current law or strengthen existing statutes. To address some of those shortcomings and restore faith in government, I filed a measure, HB4119, to prohibit elected officials from using political campaign donations to pay for criminal defense. 

Madigan, the longest-serving state House speaker in modern U.S. history, was indicted on federal racketeering and bribery charges in March 2022. He was set to stand trial in federal court in April 2024, but the trial has been pushed back to October 8, 2024. To date, he has used millions in campaign funds to pay for his legal defense.

The silence from Democrat lawmakers, many of whom supported Speaker Madigan, is deafening. This seems like a commonsense approach to ensure campaign financing is used as intended. This is about accountability, and we must hold elected officials to a higher standard.

House Republicans have fought an uphill battle in the legislature for greater ethics reform. My bill is just one measure out of a dozen that Republican lawmakers will continue their advocacy for this year in the Illinois House.

This is ethics awareness month and in Illinois, we need to be more aware of the ways we can and should improve our ethics laws.

HB4119 is scheduled for an Ethics and Elections Committee hearing in the Illinois House next week.


Rep. Meier, GOP Legislators Continue to Protect Jobs for Workers with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.  At a press conference held in the State Capitol building on Wednesday, State Representative Charlie Meier led the charge in opposing legislation pending in the House of Representatives (HB 793) that would have a negative impact on 14c workshops and put as much as 3,591 workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities out of work across the state of Illinois if the bill were to become law.

“We need to create opportunities before we close the others,” said Rep. Charlie Meier. “These clients need the dignity of having a job as this legislation could result in over 3,500 jobs lost for folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities, that’s about three-fourths of these jobs currently filled. We must work on this bill, we need to make some changes, we want to keep everybody with their job, and maintain the chance of having a job.”

House Bill 793 would require 14c workshops to pay individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities minimum wage. As written, this bill provides no financial assistance and would leave service providers scrambling to find a way to pick up the extra costs. Illinois needs to support workers, but this approach is a flawed strategy that will have consequences for employees and providers.

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities currently work under a 14c certificate. This certificate allows them to earn subminimum wage. This approach does two things: Provides job opportunities and allows service providers to offer efficient services to disabled individuals.


House Republicans Fighting to Protect Human Trafficking Victims. State Representatives Nicole La Ha, Jeff Keicher, Jennifer Sanalitro, and Brad Stephens held a Capitol press conference this week to introduce the “Protect Victims of Human Trafficking Legislative Package,” aimed at addressing the critical shortcomings in Illinois’ efforts to combat human trafficking and provide essential protections for victims.

As Minority Leader, I have emphasized the IL House Republicans’ commitment to prioritizing the protection of human trafficking victims during the Spring 2024 Session. There is a clear need for robust legislative measures to combat this effectively.

In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 243 human trafficking cases in Illinois, with 355 victims reported. Human trafficking transcends demographics, affecting individuals of all ages, races, and genders. Victims are often ensnared through coercion, manipulation, false promises, or violence, highlighting the insidious nature of the crime.

The package aims to bolster victim protections, hold perpetrators accountable, and close legal loopholes contributing to the prevalence of human trafficking in Illinois communities.

“Illinois is failing to protect women and children in our state from human trafficking predators,” said Rep. La Ha. “We must address systemic failures and root causes that have allowed human trafficking to thrive in communities across Illinois. By strengthening victim protections, holding perpetrators accountable, and closing legal loopholes, we are sending a clear message: Illinois will not tolerate the exploitation and victimization of its residents.”

I echoed Representative La Ha’s sentiments, highlighting the urgent need to rectify systemic failures and address root causes fueling human trafficking in the state. Through these legislative initiatives, our unwavering commitment to combating human trafficking and safeguarding the well-being of vulnerable individuals in the state remains clear. 

Rep Jeff Keicher noted, that Illinois is currently failing in several areas to address human trafficking and sexual exploitation. According to Illinois’ Report Card on Child & Youth Sex Trafficking, as compiled by Share Hope International, an organization that tracks and promotes legislative action to address child sex trafficking, Illinois receives an F for our current laws to address this horrific problem.

Rep. Nicole La Ha has introduced the following bills as part of this legislative package:

HB 5134 seeks to amend the Sex Offender Registration Act to include trafficking in persons, involuntary servitude, and involuntary sexual servitude of a minor in the definition of “sex offense,” enhancing monitoring and protection measures.

HB 5466 proposes the removal of an affirmative defense for patronizing a minor engaged in prostitution, crucial for holding perpetrators accountable and safeguarding vulnerable minors.

HB 5467 addresses the statute of limitations for prosecuting trafficking offenses involving minors, ensuring that justice can be pursued at any time if the victim was under 18 at the time of the offense.

Representatives Keicher, Sanalitro, and Stephens have also contributed essential bills to the legislative package:

HB 5465: This bill allows minors in juvenile court to petition for immediate sealing or expungement of their records if their involvement in a crime was a result of human trafficking (Rep. Keicher).

HB 5468: This bill creates an affirmative defense for victims of human trafficking who commit an offense as a result of being trafficked. It requires the victim to prove by clear and convincing evidence that they are victims of human trafficking (Rep. Sanalitro).

HB 5469: This bill creates the Human Trafficking Order of Protection Act to allow victims of human trafficking to obtain orders of protection against their traffickers (Rep. Sanalitro).

HB 5470: This bill adds “patronize” to involuntary sexual servitude of a minor in order to ensure buyers are held accountable as sex trafficking offenders (Rep. Stephens).

The legislators also noted during the press conference how important it is to raise awareness by requesting that members of the media and public utilize the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 888-373-7888, to report any suspected trafficking taking place in their communities.


New CGFA report on State revenue trends.  Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) trends turned upward again in February 2024, but all of the revenue increase was accounted for by two individual line items. Net year-over-year increases of $123 million in personal income tax payments, and equivalent year-over-year corporate income tax payments of $24 million more than the previous year, accounted for all of the February 2024 non-transfers-in state tax revenue gain of $129 million for the month of February.  The monthly revenue report, published by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) this week, reinforces a picture of the State’s current budget picture being almost completely dependent on Illinois’ sluggish ability to generate new jobs and payroll growth.

Economic indicators further show that the current growth in Illinois pay and personal income tax payments, including withholding payments, is closely tied to Illinois inflation rather than to the creation of new jobs. A separate CGFA table indicates that Illinois employment, and the size of Illinois’ civilian labor force, is currently flat on a month-over-month basis. The Illinois economy is not creating net new jobs. Illinois employers maintained 6,155,700 nonfarm payroll jobs in February 2024, a net change of 0.0% from the previous month. 


Illinois’ unemployment rate stabilizes at 4.7%.  The January 2004 unemployment rate was released this week by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). It reflects a decline of 0.1%, which is not statistically significant, from the 4.8% statewide jobless rate tallied for December 2023. Illinois had 6,600 fewer nonfarm payroll jobs in January 2024 than had been totaled up twelve months earlier, with declines concentrated in professional and business services (down 40,000 jobs) and in information (down 8,100 jobs). Sharp increases were reported in educational and health services (up 22,300 jobs) and in government (up 22,200 jobs). 

Illinois’ 4.7% January 2024 unemployment rate was significantly higher than the rate for the United States as a whole, which was 3.7% for the same month. It was also higher than the rates posted by the neighboring states of Indiana (3.5%), Iowa (3.0%), Kentucky (4.3%), Missouri (3.3%), and Wisconsin (3.4%).

Rivian to launch second-generation R2 electric SUV production in Normal, as plans for Georgia plant are delayed.  Rivian revealed its much anticipated downsized R2 electric SUV Thursday, with a few big surprises.

In order to get the R2 to market more quickly, Rivian will begin building its second-generation EVs at its plant in Normal, where the inaugural full-sized R1 line has been in production since 2021. Meanwhile, plans to construct a $5 billion Georgia plant to build the R2 are “delayed,” a company spokesperson said Thursday.

The accelerated target for the R2 rolling off the Normal line will be the first half of 2026, Rivian CEO and founder R.J. Scaringe announced during the live online unveil.

The news about Rivian launching its second-generation R2 electric SUV production in Normal, Illinois, indeed represents a positive development for Central Illinois. This decision comes as plans for a Georgia plant are delayed, showcasing the company’s commitment to its existing facilities and the local workforce.

The potential economic benefits and job opportunities this move could bring to the region, especially in light of the current slowdown in the electric vehicle (EV) industry is positive. Rivian’s decision to expand production in Illinois underscores its confidence in the local community and the state’s conducive business environment.


House Republicans Honor Women Leaders from Across Illinois. The House Republican caucus hosted 55 women leaders from across the state last week to recognize their leadership in making a difference in their communities throughout Illinois.

House Republican legislators from throughout Illinois invited guests from their districts to participate in the Emerging Women Leaders Recognition Event, linking together the broad expanse of industries and diverse individual experiences found within the State of Illinois.

This was our third annual event and included brunch featuring a keynote address by Springfield Mayor Misty Buscher; a Listening Session; a dedicated panel called “Own Your Power,” featuring Professor Linda Renee Baker with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Kara Demirjian Hus, Vice President for T.C.C.I. Manufacturing, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lisa Holder White, and Susan Hayes Gordon, Senior Vice President and Chief External Affairs Officers for the Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Several additional panels were offered on various topics in law enforcement, economics, and more. Tours of the Capitol were also available with the Architect of the Capitol Andrea Aggertt.

It is an honor to host this event that draws incredible leaders from every corner of our state. These women are making a great impact in their own communities, and to bring that power into one room makes for a truly phenomenal event. I would like to thank each of them for sharing their stories with us and for their dedication to make our state better for future generations to come.

The event brought an amazing group of women to our Capitol, which also coincides with Women’s History Month. We have so many leaders throughout our state, this group is something to really be proud of and inspired by—and I am lucky for my time with them.


I am looking to honor local businesses throughout the 89th Legislative District. Last month I chose Saporito’s in Lena based on a constituent nomination, and I am asking YOU to nominate another business you think I should recognize.

Each month I will choose a business to highlight, visit, and present them with a special certificate of recognition from the Illinois House of Representatives. This program will help promote the great business community in northwest Illinois and encourage area residents to shop locally.

We have so much to offer in this corner of Illinois and I am curious to find out which businesses are favorites amongst area residents. To do that, I have created an online form where residents can nominate a business of their choosing to be recognized.

Residents can access the form here: https://repmccombie.com/local-business-highlight-submission-form/.


Last week I had great visitors in the Capitol! It is a great reminder of all the great organizations and advocacy we have throughout Illinois. As always, contact my office should you need any assistance with state issues or agencies–or if you are planning a trip to our state Capitol!