Legislative News from Rep. Grant Wehrli

Rep. Wehrli Hosts Successful Child ID Event

On August 20, I hosted a successful Child ID event at my Naperville office. Families scheduled appointments between 2:00 and 6:00 PM, and we helped provide parents/guardians with a useful information sheet that included a photo of the child, a full set of fingerprints, and space to be filled out for personal, medical and dental information. The information was sent home with families and the police did not keep a copy. My deepest thanks go out to the Naperville Police Department for partnering with me on this event and assisting with fingerprinting. My thanks also go out to the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI), for the donation of drug disposal bags for the event. Each family left the event with their child ID(s) and a few of the prescription drug disposal bags. Every appointment slot was filled for this wonderful event, and we did a fine job of ensuring social distancing by only allowing one family at a time in the office and by requiring the wearing of masks.

Wehrli Urges Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform to Reconvene Immediately

This year I am serving on the bipartisan and bicameral Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform. The last time we met was March 5. Even though most panels, boards and commissions have resumed meeting via online platforms or in person with safety precautions in place, the Joint Commission on Ethics has been dormant for almost six months now. Last week I joined the Republican House and Senate members who serve on the commission for a press conference, where we asked that the group reconvene and complete their bipartisan work. Click here to view my comments from the press conference.

On July 23, we four Republicans sent a letter to the co-chairs of the commission asking that the panel reconvene and finish their work, which includes agreeing on policy recommendations and approving a final report. As of this writing on August 31, no meeting has been set.

Shortly after our press conference, the Democratic co-chairs announced that a final report would be issued in the coming weeks. Again, as of today, I have not been notified of a meeting where we will discuss what legislative solutions to bring forward and to finalize our report. It would be disingenuous for the Democrats on that panel to exclude Republicans from providing input with regard to policy recommendations and the group’s final report. It’s incredibly disappointing that on an issue as important as ethics reform, that members of the majority party are still playing political games. It only strengthens the importance of a full, special session on ethics reform.

There’s Still Time to Participate in 2020 Census

As you probably know, the 2020 census is currently taking place. If you haven’t completed your census form yet, there’s still a small window of time. The census deadline has been extended to September 30, 2020. You can submit your census information by mail, by phone, or by computer. If you want our federal tax dollars returned this area in the highest amounts possible, it is imperative that you complete your census.

An accurate census count is very important in determining federal funds, grants and other financial support that comes to states, counties and communities. When you fill out the census, you are making sure your community gets its fair share of more than $675 billion per year in federal funds. These census-driven funds go to schools, hospitals, roads, and other important programs that help our communities thrive.

When companies are deciding where to build stores, offices and factories, they look at census data. When everyone participates in the census, developers have a full and accurate picture of a community and that can translate to new jobs and greater economic opportunity. At the federal level, population figures from the census help determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets.

Revised Mask Mandate Takes Effect

The governor recently announced revised guidelines for restaurants and bar establishments statewide to operate safely and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These latest guidelines require patrons to wear a mask during any interaction with wait staff, food service workers and other employees at bars and restaurants. According to the new mandate, face coverings must be worn over the nose and mouth when patrons are approached and served by staff, including but not limited to when employees take patrons orders, deliver food and beverages, and service tables.

University of Illinois Develops Faster, Safer Saliva Test for Coronavirus

University of Illinois researchers have developed “Shield T3,” a new coronavirus test procedure that provides quick, accurate results.  A team of chemists and engineers developed a saliva-based test strip procedure that enables a single lab to test 10,000 individual samples per day, with minimal risk to lab personnel. The success of the U of I saliva test was confirmed when the procedure received emergency full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month.

House GOP Questions Pritzker Move to Vacate Patronage Ban amid Madigan/ComEd Scandal

In a recent court filing, Governor Pritzker is seeking to vacate a set of court decrees that seek to prevent politically motivated hiring, as well as politically motivated firings or other punishments against public employees, known as the Shakman decrees. Against the backdrop of one of the largest patronage scandals in the history of the state involving House Speaker Michael Madigan and ComEd, I joined a group of House Republicans for a press conference questioning Pritzker’s move.

The Shakman decrees consist of three federal court orders issued as a result of a class-action lawsuit filed by Michael Shakman against the Democratic Organization of Cook County. The decrees, issued in 1972, 1979 and 1983, prohibit politically motivated firings, demotions, transfers or other punishments of government employees. It is also unlawful to take any political factor into account when hiring public employees, except for positions such as policymaking. These decrees are binding on more than 40 offices statewide, including the Governor’s office. 

Despite the Governor’s push to vacate the decrees, the court-appointed monitor for the state’s hiring practices, Noelle Brennan, reported earlier this year that Pritzker’s administration still has not completed a comprehensive employment plan to address the issues protected by the decrees. In fact, she said the administration began restricting communication between her staff and state agencies.

Click here to view my comments at the press conference.

Wehrli Publishes Op-Ed Seeking a New Speaker of the House

Earlier this month I published a guest editorial about the political courage needed to oust our current Speaker of the House, and steps we need to take to address ethics reform once and for all. Click here to read the opinion piece.

Drivers’ License Expirations Extended by Full Year for Seniors 75 and Over

The expiration date for valid driver’s licenses held by Illinois drivers who are 75 years of age or older has been extended for a period of one year past the licenses’ current 2020 expiration date. As a result, drivers age 75 and older with a 2020 driver’s license expiration date do not need to visit a facility to renew their driver’s license until shortly before their birthday in 2021. There are approximately 147,000 drivers age 75 and over with expired or expiring driver’s licenses in 2020. Letters are being sent to drivers that qualify for this extension.

All other expiration dates for driver’s licenses/ID cards and license plate stickers have been extended until Nov. 1, 2020. As a result, expired documents will remain valid until Nov. 1 so customers under age 75 do not need to rush into Driver Services facilities, especially during hot weather. The public is urged to consider using online services when possible instead of visiting a facility due to heavy customer volume. Customers who can conduct business online may go to www.cyberdriveillinois.com to take advantage of online services – such as renewing license plate stickers – from the comfort of their own home. People who conduct online transactions will avoid waiting in line at a facility.