Representative Dan Swanson’s May 24 Capitol News Update


  • End of session quickly approaching
  • Highway projects coming to 71st District
  • Legislation would end taxpayer-funded health care for undocumented immigrants
  • Speaking up for local historic sites

End of session quickly approaching

Tonight we are in the midst of what was supposed to be the final evening of this year’s session in Springfield. Session days have now been added for the weekend. Many bills are still on the calendar, and there is a lot of work to be done in the next few hours. With so many issues still up in the air – sometimes changing by the minute – I want to give you a quick update on where some of these issues currently stand. Check back next week for more information on these closing hours of session, including the status of next year’s state budget.

Highway projects coming to 71st District

The Illinois Department of Transportation has announced a number of projects in our district. Some of these are new projects, others are already in the works and nearing completion. All of them represent improvements in our highway infrastructure and will lead to better roads and safer drives. The projects will bring good-paying construction jobs to our area and provide better infrastructure for getting locally-produced products to markets.

They will also mean more work zones, so please slow down and pay extra attention when you see road construction signs and equipment.

In total, IDOT has announced 70 projects in our district over the next five years, with a total investment of over $283 million. The projects include work on Interstates, state highways and local roads in each county of the district.

Click here to review the entire list of projects.

Legislation would end taxpayer-funded health care for undocumented immigrants

The state is facing a deficit estimated at $775 million, and Governor Pritzker wants to raise taxes by $1 billion to add more spending. Meanwhile, the state is spending nearly $700 million per year on free health care benefits for undocumented immigrants.

Two programs, the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults (HBIA) and Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors (HBIS) have been on the books for four years, seeming to gradually expand each year – usually with very little transparency or discussion. In total, these two programs have spent over $2 billion in taxpayer funds.

This month I joined more than 30 other representatives in co-sponsoring House Bill 5846, which would end these programs. Illinois simply cannot afford to pay for these programs while health care costs for Illinoisans continue to go through the roof. Repealing these two programs would save the state hundreds of millions of dollars that then be used to expand access to state services for Illinois citizens.

Our bill has been referred to the House Rules Committee and has not yet been allowed to have a hearing.

Speaking up for local historic sites

The House recently passed a bill, SB 2976, to create a State Historic Preservation Board to advise the Department of Natural Resources on ways to assist, protect, conserve and manage Illinois’ recognized State Historic Sites. Rep. Travis Weaver and I both used the occasion to call for the state to commit funding to better maintain historic sites in northwestern Illinois. The Carl Sandburg Birthplace historic site is located in the 71st District, and before redistricting I represented the area around the Bishop Hill Historic Site, which is now represented by Rep. Weaver.

Bishop Hill was listed this spring on Landmarks Illinois’ list of the Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. The preservation group said the site was “threatened since the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has not been provided with sufficient funding to properly maintain the site.” Meanwhile, the Carl Sandburg Birthplace in Galesburg is in great disrepair.

I’ve had both Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan and the Lieutenant Governor out to look at the sites, but we sure need some funding for them. I hope that when this legislation becomes law that this board will have the authority to help guide funding to the needed sites.

We are seeking to ensure that historic sites be ranked in such a way that those sites ranked near the top would get priority for state funding. The bill passed, with both of us voting in favor. It is now headed to the Governor for his signature.

Protecting students from sexual assault

Earlier this spring I voted to pass House Bill 4241, a bill which would better protect Illinois students from sexual assaults by creating the offense of abuse of power by an educator or authority figure. Should this bill become law, any sexual contact by an educator or school staff member with a student, even if that student is over 18, would be an abuse of authority. It would allow prosecutors to bring criminal charges so that an offender could not just move on to another job and another opportunity to prey on students.

The bill unanimously passed the House, but has been stuck in the Senate for almost a month. The House and Senate sponsors of the bill recently conducted a press conference to call on the Senate leadership to move the bill forward and add this important protection to state law.

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