Legislative Update: April 23, 2019

Environmental Town Hall a Success; Open Topics Town Hall Set for April 24
Thank you to everyone who came out last Saturday morning for my Environmental Town Hall Meeting at North Central College. About 90 people were in attendance as we discussed issues related to water and air quality, steps that have been taken to reduce Illinois’ carbon footprint, and what we can do to increase our state’s clean energy usage.

My next town hall meeting is scheduled for this week. I hope you’ll join me on Wednesday, April 24 when I host an Open Topics Town Hall Meeting at the Naperville Municipal Building in the City Council Chambers. The meeting will begin at 7:00 PM and will include a short Springfield update followed by a question and answer session with audience members. Topics to be discussed include the graduated income tax proposal, the legalization of recreational marijuana, a capital bill, a gaming and/or sports betting bill and the budget. I invite all residents who live in the 41st District to bring their questions, suggestions and concerns to this public meeting. The municipal building is located at 400 South Eagle Street in Naperville.

Rep. Wehrli Speaks at Naperville Chamber Ambassadors Meeting
On April 17, I had an opportunity to speak with the Naperville Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Committee. I provided a Springfield update, and spoke about some of my own legislative initiatives. I also touched on items that will be coming up for votes during the month of May, which is shaping up to be a really busy month in the legislature. As a long-time member of the Naperville Chamber, it was an honor to speak with this engaged group of community leaders. The Ambassadors are the face of the Chamber, and they go above and beyond with their support of local businesses and in welcoming new members to the Chamber.

Legislation to Double Fines for Passing a Stopped School Bus Passes in House
A bill which would double the fines for passing a stopped school bus which is picking up or dropping off children has passed the Illinois House. The legislation, which I voted to support, would increase first-offense fines from $150 to $300, and second offense fines would jump from $500 to $1,000.

Under Illinois law, a driver traveling in either direction must stop when coming up on a school bus which is stopped to load or unload students. This law applies on all roadways, parking lots and school property. The only exception is in the case of a vehicle on the opposite side of a divided, four-lane highway. If the bus has its stop arm extended and its red lights flashing, all drivers coming upon it must stop and remain stopped until the signals cease and the bus starts moving or the driver signals them to proceed. A driver can already have his or her license suspended for passing a stopped school bus, and the Illinois Secretary of State automatically issues three-month suspensions for anyone convicted of the offense. HB 1873 will now be considered in the Senate.

New Powers in ‘Texting-While Driving’ Cases
Texting-while-driving has continued to be a serious problem on Illinois roadways, and is a significant cause of accidents. HB 2386, which gives new powers to a court hearing a texting-while-driving case that resulted in a serious injury has passed the House and moved to the Senate. I voted in favor of this bill.

A court will now be required to give an offender a fine of at least $1,000 if the driver is convicted of causing a serious injury because of texting-while-driving. In some cases, the fine is currently as low as $75. The Secretary of State will also be empowered to suspend or even revoke driving privileges for the offender. The suspension could be as long as 12 months. It is hoped that by toughening these penalties the state can do more to educate drivers about the serious consequences of texting-while-driving.

Local Female Leaders Recognized in Springfield

Recently, I welcomed Whitney Robbins of Naperville to Springfield for a brunch that honored the contributions of emerging female leaders from throughout Illinois. Whitney was among a group of nearly 60 Illinois women who were recognized for their commitment to their communities and for work they do to improve Illinois.

During the brunch, honorees were encouraged to share their thoughts and concerns about issues that are important to them. Following the brunch and conversation, the group watched House session from the gallery, where they were further recognized by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. It was my pleasure to bring Whitney to Springfield so the work she is doing locally could be publicly acknowledged. Dedicated public servants like Whitney Robbins are making a real difference in their communities.

Wehrli Holds Second Quarter Meeting with Developmentally Disabled Task Force
Last week my Developmentally Disabled Task Force met for its second quarterly meeting of the year. In addition to other topics, we discussed HB 2148, a bill that would create the Community Disability Living Wage Act. I am the leading Republican on this bill and the primary Chief Co-Sponsor. Despite the critical and life-changing work direct support persons (DSPs) provide to individuals with disabilities, current wages paid to these professionals place them below the poverty line. This has created a staffing crisis and results in high turnover within the workforce. Specifically, HB 2148 provides that DSPs would earn a base wage of not less than $5.25 per hour above the minimum wage. Today these individuals make wages that are among the lowest in the country. We need to change that.

We also discussed some of the creative ways that families are transitioning their children with disabilities into adulthood, and the steps they take to integrate their loved ones into the community as contributing adults. Often times families create small businesses where their adult disabled children can utilize a skill or interest to raise some money to help build self-esteem and offset costs associated with their care and treatment. One such example is “Peter’s Kitchen,” where the child of one of the task force members sells cookies, muffins and other baked goods through his own micro-business. In fact, the family is currently promoting a June 1 Cookie Sale through PetersKitchen2019.eventbrite.com.

Rep. Wehrli Featured on Chicago Tonight Lawmaker Panel

On April 15, I joined State Representative Kathleen Willis (D-Northlake) and State Senators Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles) and Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester) for a Springfield update and discussion of the issues that will be debated in Springfield during the month of May. We had a nice conversation about the atmosphere under the Capitol Dome as we prepare to tackle some of Illinois’ most pressing issues of 2019.

Click here to watch the interview.Prescription Drug Take Back Day Set for April 27
National Drug Take Back Day addresses a growing public safety and health issue that results from individuals taking drugs not prescribed to them. It also addresses water quality issues that result from pharmaceuticals entering local water sources. Please do your part to help prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths and to promote a safe water supply by cleaning out your cabinets and dropping off your unused or expired prescriptions to a drop-off point near you. Please use this link to find a convenient drop-off location.