Dear friend,

 

Yesterday, I joined 15 other members of the Illinois General Assembly to call for ethics reform measures in light of the numerous, ongoing federal investigations involving bribery, influence peddling and insider trading impacting state government officials and lobbyists.

 

Illinois is facing monumental challenges – from the coronavirus and its economic impact, to the history of racial inequalities in our society, to the impact the state’s huge revenue loss will have on vulnerable residents. Our government will not be able to effectively meet all of these challenges without the confidence and trust of the people we represent. Unfortunately, trust in Springfield has been shaken given the charges and resignations involving a number of our colleagues.

 

To restore the public’s faith in state government, we are announcing nine specific ethics reform measures that we believe could receive bipartisan support in the upcoming veto session. These proposals would dramatically increase transparency and take meaningful strides toward restoring public trust in state government at a time when government action has never been more crucial to overcome the hardships and dangers we’re facing as a state and as a society. These nine measures seek to address three broad areas.

 

Lobbying Reform

 

  1. Prohibit legislator-lobbyists. We would prohibit any sitting legislator from simultaneously lobbying other units of government, including city, county or federal entities. This ban should apply to lobbying elected officials; performing legal or regulatory work should still be allowed.
  2. Stop the legislator-lobbyist revolving door. We would establish at least a one-year prohibition on legislators and senior management within each caucus (those who file statements of economic interest) leaving their offices and immediately going to work as lobbyists.
  3. Better define who is a lobbyist. We urge the Joint Commission to consider changing the current definition of what constitutes a lobbyist to cover additional individuals or consulting firms. Consultants and lawyers should not be able to use loopholes to perform lobbying and skirt registration as a lobbyist.

 

Legislative Reform

 

  1. Ensure better disclosure of outside income. We would expand current requirements for legislators to disclose the sources and amounts of their outside income and increase penalties for those who refuse to comply in full. This must be done in a way that protects confidentiality rules of professional conduct, and avoids disproportionately impacting legislators and candidates who are not independently wealthy.
  2. Initiate an official censure. We would establish a process to officially censure a legislator who has violated ethics laws, similar to that which is practiced in the United States Congress.
  3. Strengthen the Legislative Inspector General. We encourage changes to the Legislative Inspector General’s Office to increase its independence, such as allowing the LIG to self-initiate investigations and making it an independent agency for the purposes of budgets and hiring.
  4. End exemption from Human Rights Act. We would remove the current exemption of legislators’ direct employees from the state’s Human Rights Act, so those employees receive the same protections afforded to other employees.

Leadership Reform

  1. Establish term limits for legislative leaders. We would establish term limits for the period that legislators can serve in leadership positions, including the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House and the President and Minority Leader of the Senate.
  2. Establish a process for removal of legislative leaders and committee chairs. We urge creation of a policy calling for the temporary removal of a legislative leader or committee chair during any criminal investigation relevant to job duties involving that member or an actual charge/indictment. The individual can be reinstated upon completion of said investigation or upon their acquittal.

 

These nine steps without a doubt will bring a greater level of transparency to the business that is done in Springfield, and it is important that legislators work together to get them passed. Enacting meaningful ethics reform has been elusive and, given the magnitude of the ongoing investigations, it is imperative that we act in the upcoming veto session.

 

Mechanisms exist to begin making these changes. The Illinois House and Senate last year voted to empanel a Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, to whom we are submitting these nine proposals for ethics reform. The Commission was charged with holding hearings and issuing a report and recommendations by March 31, 2020. Although hearings began early this year, the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the commission’s work and final report. We understand the Commission is continuing its work and appreciate their consideration of these proposals.

 

For our full statement on our proposals, you can view an explainer at my website, [here]. I will keep you up to date on any developments as they occur. Springfield must work for the citizens of Illinois. It is past time for a change.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

Dear friend,

 

I’m proud to partner with 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, State Representative Kelly Cassidy, and Care for Real to host a school supply drive for the 48th Ward this Tuesday, Aug. 4.

 

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., we will be collecting supplies in the parking lot of St. Ita Catholic Church at 5500 N. Broadway. This drive is for one day only, with low-contact social distancing guidelines for your safety.

 

Donated supplies will go directly to Care for Real, whose team will sort and pack them into kits for distribution to local families. I encourage you to help out local families as they prepare for the new school year.

 

Suggested items for donation include:

- Pencils and pens

- Pencil sharpeners

- Erasers

- Spiral and composition notebooks

- Crayons, markers, scissors, glue, and other arts & crafts supplies

- Pocket folders

- Calculators

- Headphones with microphones

- Hand sanitizer

- Washable, reusable masks

- Backpacks

 

I hope you’ll donate and help a family start the school year! You can follow this event on Facebook here.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

flyer

Dear friends,

 

On Wednesday, the governor offered up a new plan to help address future COVID-19 outbreaks. This plan does three things:

  • Establishes concrete, measurable criteria to determine when extra steps are needed to control outbreaks.
  • Breaks Illinois down from four regions to 11, allowing more targeted responses.
  • Establishes a clear plan for addressing outbreaks that is less restrictive than immediately returning to an earlier phase of our reopening schedule.

I want to thank you for continuing to provide feedback to me and other elected officials. We have all been conveying your questions and concerns to the governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health, and this new, more targeted strategy is largely due to the people of Illinois’ willingness to work together to address this crisis.

 

I also want to urge you to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and follow other guidelines from health experts. Taking these safety precautions will help ensure no region needs to move backward and our local small businesses continue to recover.

 

To read more about the plan, click here.

 

Please continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and follow other guidelines from health experts. These safety precautions will help keep our neighbors safe, and ensure no region needs to move backward and that our local small businesses continue to recover.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

Dear friend,

 

As we prepare to receive our 2019 property tax bills from Cook County, there are a few things to remember. It’s likely many homeowners will be looking at an increase over their 2018 bill. I’ve outlined a few important things to remember as you prepare to settle your property tax bill in anticipation of the Aug. 3 deadline.

 

While the due date for tax bills is Aug. 3, homeowners can settle their tax bills as late as Oct. 1 without incurring penalties. Be aware, however, that failing to pay by Oct. 1 could result in your property being subject to a tax sale. You should be receiving your 2019 final installment tax bill in the mail this week. Remember that Cook County collects your 2019 taxes a year later in 2020.

 

At this time, you can't appeal your assessment, but you can review the bill for correctness and then pay the amount owed. If you believe you may not have received all the proper exemptions to which you are entitled, the first thing you should do is check to the exemptions at the bottom left part of the second installment tax bill.

 

The key exemptions are:

  • Homeowner. You own the property and live there;
  • Senior Homeowner. You own the property, live there and one of the owners is 65 years or older; and
  • Senior Freeze. You own the property, live there, one of the owners was born in 1954 or before, your 2018 household income was $65,000 or less, and you have filed a verified Senior Freeze application.

 

If any of these exemptions are missing or if you see another error on your tax bill, do one of the following before paying the bill:

  • You can call the office of your county commissioner. 13th District Commissioner Larry Suffredin can be reached at 847-864-1209 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss how to correct the bill. 10th District Commissioner Bridget Gainer can be reached at 312-603-4210 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • If you live in New Trier Township, contact New Trier Township Assessor Jan Churchwell (847-446-8202 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • If you live in Niles Township, contact Niles Township Assessor Scott Bagnall (847-673-9300 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

 

Once you are satisfied that your exemptions are correct, you can safely pay your bill to the Cook County Treasurer in one of the following ways:

  • Mail a check using the envelope provided
  • Pay online at cookcountytreasurer.com
  • Pay at any Chase Bank location

 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions about your property tax bill. You can contact my office via email here.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

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