Legislative News from Rep. Grant Wehrli

Despite Pritzker Mandate, if it Relates to Ethics, It’s on Hold in Illinois

During his January State of the State Address this year, Governor JB Pritzker said the General Assembly must take “urgent action to restore the public’s trust in our government.” It’s time for Governor Pritzker to show leadership in this area, and demand action now.

This week 15 different boards, commissions and committees meeting to discuss important state business. But do you know who’s not meeting? The Joint Commission on Ethics & Lobbying Reform and the Special Investigating Committee (SIC) into the ethical conduct of Michael J. Madigan. Whether it relates to the broad issue of ethics under the Springfield dome or the specific conduct of the Speaker of the House, Illinoisans can no longer deny the Democrats’ motives. Simply put, those who control the legislature do not want to address or reform ethics. They’re not interested in strengthening ethics laws or in holding legislators accountable.

As a member of both of these panels, I have asked the leaders of the SIC and the Joint Commission repeatedly to resume meetings so we can complete our important work. Those requests are either ignored, rejected, or met with political arrogance and mud-slinging.

During the current 101st General Assembly, House Republicans filed dozens of ethics reform bills. Many of them I authored myself. Rather than bringing any of these substantive measures forward, Democrats instead decided that a task force was the way to go. They promised the task force would study ethics and lobbying laws and bring forward strong policy recommendations. That didn’t happen, because the commission never finished it’s work. The commission never met to finalize policy recommendations or to approve the final report that was supposed to be sent to the General Assembly more than six months ago.

The Joint Commission on Ethics, which last met on March 5, has now gone seven months without meeting. Our last communication from the Democratic Chair was on August 24, when he responded to a Republican press conference where we demanded the commission reconvene. Chairman Greg Harris accused Republicans of playing political games and announced that a report would be coming in a few weeks. That was seven weeks ago, and I’m still waiting for a meeting to be scheduled so we can complete our work and agree on policy recommendations. Illinoisans who want clean, transparent government should be livid. I know I am.

This week, a group of non-partisan organizations that promote good government in Illinois issued a statement that urges the Joint Commission to complete its work and expresses disappointment about the “opaque process.” The following groups signed the statement: the Better Government Association, Change Illinois, Common Cause Illinois and Reform for Illinois. Click here to read their statement. The Better Government Association recently published a blueprint for ethics reform in Illinois, and I support the suggestions. You can read their recommended reforms here.

SAFE Task Force Issues Final Report on Protecting Students from Sexual Abuse in School Settings

Last year I was a proud co-sponsor of SB 456, which created Illinois’ Make Sexual Abuse Fully Extinct (Make S.A.F.E.) Task Force. This bill was approved and signed into law in August of 2019 as Public Act 101-0531. Those chosen to serve on the task force were charged with studying issues concerning the sexual abuse of students in school-related settings. The panel reviewed best practices for preventing the sexual abuse of students in a school-related setting or by school-related perpetrators, including school district employees or other students, how to best address that abuse, and the proper support for students who have suffered from that abuse. The review also examined the best practices at all schools maintaining prekindergarten through grade 12, regardless of whether the school is a public school, nonpublic school, or charter school.

I’m pleased to announce that this important task force has issued its final report. The report includes 21 different policy recommendations to better protect our children from predators while at school. To view a copy of the Make S.A.F.E. Task Force report and the 21 recommendations, click here. The recommended policy changes begin on page 18.

Breast Cancer Screening Legislation Supported by Wehrli Signed into Law

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Illinois, and I wanted to share great news about a new law that hit the books this year. SB 162, which I was proud to support, expands health insurance coverage for mammograms and other breast cancer screenings. It expands private insurance and Medicaid to cover screenings and other preventative measures that aid with early detection. Mammograms, ultrasounds and MRIs are now covered when deemed medically necessary by a physician, advanced practice nurse or physician assistant.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, upwards of ten thousand women in Illinois are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and the risk of getting breast cancer has increased for black women and Asian and Pacific Islander women over the last decade. With the new law increasing access to preventative care, early detection and treatment can help save lives.

Webinars Scheduled to Support Advancement of Women-Owned Businesses

October is also National Women’s Small Business Month, and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is hosting a series of webinars to support the advancement of women-owned businesses. The discussions scheduled by DCEO and a host of industry partners, including Groupon, will offer support and insights for small businesses to grow, position themselves, and seek out resources that will help them overcome the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • October 22 at 2 pm – Women Get Involved in Manufacturing
    This webinar focuses on ways to uplift women in manufacturing roles through the insights of industry leaders. The talk will focus on helping students with a closer look at what it takes to enter the industry. Panelists include: Erin Hallstrom, Influential Women in Manufacturing, Annie Mouhaupt, Owner of Moho and Melissa Lederer, Owner of MHUB, and more.

  • Various Dates – All in for Women: BIG Webinars
    The DCEO Office of Minority Economic Empowerment (OMEE) will host a seminar on the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) Program. In this webinar, women owned businesses will learn about eligibility, program details, and the application process. Technical assistance support will also be provided for the last 30 minutes of every session. Workshops on BIG will take place on the following dates:

Tuesday. October 20, 2020 2:00 p.m. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2:00 p.m.

Community Access Naperville to Host Supply Drive on October 24

Community Access Naperville (CAN) is hosting a supply drive on Saturday, October 24 from 10:00 AM until noon at First Congregational Church, 25 E. Benton Avenue in Naperville. Items collected will be donated to local organizations that provide assistance to those in need. Specific items volunteers are hoping to collect include: tooth brushes, travel sized toothpaste, soap/body wash, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, and paper towels, paper plates and tissues. Donations should be brought to the parking lot behind the church.

Will County Center for Economic Development to Offer Free Webinar

The Will County Center for Economic Development (CED), the IL Department of Central Management Services (CMS) and the IL Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) are offering a free Business Enterprise Program (BEP) certification workshop. The webinar will be held on Thursday, October 29, from 2:00 – 3:00 PM. The program will cover eligibility requirements, procurement opportunities, the Small Business Set Aside Program, Small Business Development Centers, and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.

BEP program certification participants must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 51% owned and controlled by persons who are minority, women, or designated as disabled
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien
  • Annual gross sales of less than $75 million

For more information or to register for the webinar, click here.