State senator previews legislative agenda
The Illinois General Assembly convened its 101st session this week in Springfield – and State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, is beginning his third year representing the 58th District.
Part of Union County is in the Southern Illinois legislative district served by Schimpf.
With this new start, Schimpf has previewed his legislative goals and priorities for 2019.
Schimpf said his agenda will focus on two types of legislation: state government reforms and advocacy for his constituents.
For his reform goals, Schimpf plans to take aim at government accountability.
“With these proposals, I think we can make state government more transparent, and more effective overall,” Schimpf said during a recent visit to Anna.
Included in his reform agenda, Schimpf is proposing legislation that would amend the state constitution to create a single six-year term for governors.
Schimpf believes that this will allow the chief executive time to work while reducing the influence of politics and the next election.
He also wants to modify the procedural rules in the Illinois Senate to allow each senator a minimum of five bills that are guaranteed a committee hearing.
This would ensure that critical legislative proposals will receive a vote and allow a broader range of proposals from members of the Senate, he said.
Schimpf also wants to eliminate the possibility of a budget impasse by automatically freezing existing discretional spending levels if a new budget is not passed by May 31.
Schimpf admits that some of these proposals will take a lot of time and effort to come to fruition, and is adoption a long-term approach to accomplishing his goals.
“I’m more looking at planting a seed and trying to get some traction,” Schimpf said.
“I don’t think these will become law this year. In fact some of them can’t because they are proposed constitutional amendments. And the constitutional amendment process has to get three-fifths of the votes in both houses and then go to the voters.”
Schimpf also has plans to champion bills that are focused on issues affecting the citizens of his district.
One of these proposals would allow the State of Illinois to recognize the licenses of realtors and nurses who are spouses of active-duty military personnel stationed in Illinois.
“If someone is sent to Illinois on military orders, this will allow their spouse or family to continue their professional careers here, that will make them more inclined to stay in Illinois,” Schimpf said.
Schimpf said that a similar bill for teachers’ licenses was passed last year. Schimpf has many military personnel and their families as constituents, with Scott Air Force Base near Belleville located in the 58th District.
Schimpf also plans to continue support for the Southwest Illinois Connector project, a proposed four-lane highway that will connect Carbondale to the St. Louis Metro East area.
In the previous General Assembly, Schimpf helped create a task force which is spearheading the project, and the senator wants to propose legislation to extend the group’s deadline.
A big part of Schimpf’s 2019 agenda involves increasing protections for first responders and corrections officers.
To do this, Schimpf is proposing reinstating the death penalty as an option for inmates who kill corrections officers, as well as including first responders as a protected class under Illinois hate crimes laws.
“A hate crime is defined as a victim is targeted because of their membership in a class in society to try to intimidate other members of that class,” Schimpf said. “I think that if we have hate crime legislation in Illinois, we should protect our first responders as well.”
Despite what is seen as an increasingly divided political system, Schimpf believes that his proposals can gain support from both sides of the political spectrum.
“I believe these ideas can attract bipartisan support, and I look forward to making the case for them to my fellow General Assembly members,” he said.
“These certainly won’t be the only bills I file this spring, but they represent a strong starting point for restoring trust in government, encouraging regional economic growth and protecting the people of Southern Illinois.”