SAFE-T Act update: ‘No cash bail’ set to take effect September 18
Since the final day of the 2021 lame-duck session, the SAFE-T Act has been highly criticized among the public, law enforcement, and state’s attorneys. Now, two and half years later and after multiple court battles, the “no cash bail” provisions found within the law are set to take effect statewide Sept. 18.
Among other things, the SAFE T Act creates a standard that all defendants in a criminal process are presumed eligible for pretrial release and that States Attorneys must petition the court to even start the process of trying to hold a defendant behind bars pending trial.
I opposed the SAFE-T Act when it passed the General Assembly because the law places restrictions on how law enforcement officials can apprehend suspected criminals and fails to address the financial impacts that the elimination of bail will have on counties and victim services. The law also fails to provide judges enough discretion to be able to hold certain offenders in jail pre-trial, leading to a heightened risk to public safety.
The issue of the elimination of cash bail was discussed at length at the Tele-Town Hall I co-hosted last week with Winnebago Sheriff Gary Caruana.
Thousands join Tele-Town Hall to discuss SAFE-T Act, gun legislation, and more
I want to thank the thousands of District 45 residents who joined the Tele-Town Hall meeting I co-hosted last week with Winnebago Sheriff Gary Caruana. Together, we answered questions from live callers on a variety of subjects. I am especially thankful to the Sheriff, who brought his expertise on law enforcement and how the SAFE-T Act and recent gun laws will affect his department and public safety.
This was my 4th annual Tele-Town Hall meeting. I enjoy these meetings because they offer people an opportunity to learn about issues affecting Illinois, and they can ask questions and speak directly with their elected officials. With a multitude of serious issues facing our state, there was no shortage of topics to discuss.
The dial-out for the Tele-Town Hall went to over 40,000 households in the 45th District, and in addition to those who received the call, 294 people used a dial-in number to join the call themselves.
Scholarships for low-income students in jeopardy as program is set to expire
Since its inception in 2018, the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Fund has provided 40,000 scholarships to K-12 students. Now, unless the Legislature intervenes during the upcoming fall Veto Session, the program will expire at the end of the year. As lawmakers, we cannot allow this to happen.
I have been a vocal supporter of the Invest in Kids Scholarship Fund because it helps underserved students improve their chances of academic success by offering private school monetary scholarships for them to attend a different school. Invest in Kids offers a 75% state income tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute to the Fund. Scholarships are provided to families that meet certain academic and income requirements.
The looming fate of the program comes as just last week, news reports have called attention to hypocritical comments made by the head of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), who has been a staunch opponent of Invest in Kids. In a report by WBEZ, the CTU President confirmed that one of her children attends a private high school despite her many comments criticizing these private schools.
Chesney to host Pet Adoption Event in Freeport on December 2
In addition to those who participated in the Tele-Town Hall last week, I also want to thank those who dropped off unused or expired medications at the Drug Drop-Off event I hosted over the weekend in Lena. We had a steady stream of cars as people safely disposed of over-the-counter and prescription human and pet medications. We collected 82 pounds of drugs which will be safely destroyed by the Stephenson County Sheriff’s Office.
My staff and I are putting the finishing touches on a Pet Adoption event that will be held on Saturday, December 2 at the Friends Forever Humane Society in Freeport. Between noon and 3:00 PM, visitors will be able to interact with pets that are up for adoption and enjoy half-price adoptions for cats.
I am a strong advocate for the humane treatment of animals. After sponsoring the original Illinois Law that bans pet store sales of puppy mill pets, this year I co-sponsored a second new law that prohibits testing facilities from engaging in toxicological experiments involving dogs and cats. Additionally, I continue to champion other bills that tighten the law banning the sale of puppy mill animals and that ensure our four-legged friends are treated properly.
HFS halts co-pay requirement on state-funded undocumented immigrant healthcare program
On September 5, the Governor’s Administration sent a notice to hospitals regarding the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults and Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors Programs, informing them not to collect co-pays from patients enrolled in the program. The program provides top-notch healthcare to illegal immigrants ages 42 and older in Illinois.
Back in June, Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) filed emergency administrative rules to set maximum co-pay amounts for certain services in an attempt to rein in state costs of the ballooning program, which was expected to cost $1.1 billion this fiscal year. Previously, illegal immigrants in the program were allowed free services without co-pays. However, even though the emergency rules went into effect immediately, HFS is now informing providers that the cost-sharing portion of the rules were never meant to be implemented immediately and is on hold until further notice.
A total of $550 million was allocated to the program in this fiscal year’s budget, despite projections showing costs over $1 billion. To attempt to lower these costs, the Pritzker Administration filed a variety of new rules but has failed to provide an updated financial outlook of the program.
Given the recent pushback by many in the Governor’s own party over his “cost-saving measures” and the lack of transparency, I am not confident that the program will stay within the $550 million allocated to the program. In fact, I believe it is likely just a matter of time before the Governor and the Majority Party come back to the Legislature asking for more money.