Rep. Hauter’s End of Session update

It was a busy and exciting spring session in the Capitol, and now that we have adjourned for the summer, I wanted to recap of some of the news from the House of Representatives this year. There were some positive developments, and, unfortunately, many very negatives ones.

Due to large influxes of money from the federal government’s COVID relief, the state’s fiscal condition is slowly improving, but that money is gone and state leaders continue to make poor decisions that will have negative long-term consequences. A group of people connected to the powerful former House speaker were found guilty at a corruption trial, but the legislature failed to act on ethics reforms. The legislature also failed to extend the Invest in Kids scholarship program, a tremendous program which I wholeheartedly support. We will fight again for that program in the fall Veto Session. And the majority party continued its “full speed ahead” drive toward making Illinois the most pro-abortion state in the country, in spite of widespread public opinion that is more moderate on abortion than our current policies.

You will find details about all of this and more in this spring session update.

Thank you for the honor of serving as your state representative and giving voice to your views and values in Springfield. Please feel free to contact me via email or at my Morton or Lincoln offices if there is ever any way in which I can be of service to you in dealing with state government.

Hauter bills pass, headed to the Governor

I was honored to have some bills I sponsored pass both the House and the Senate this spring.

The first, House Bill 3109, will help address the shortage of physicians in Illinois and remove some of the stigma attached to those who seek mental health treatment. The legislation ensures that questions concerning the mental health of health care professionals when licensing are current and compliant. It passed the House by a vote of 105-0.

Senate Bill 1376 was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Sally Turner and is intended to help veterans and their families find housing. It will require housing agencies to consider the military status of any member of a family while determining the family’s eligibility for services for homeless veterans and their families. I was the sponsor in the House where it passed 104-0.

A third bill which passed was House Bill 3516, which I was the chief co-sponsor along with a large bipartisan group. This legislation will increase marrow and organ donation from living donors by allowing those donors to take paid time off. This bill passed the House 108-0.

All three bills are now awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law.

Protecting Illinoisans from deadly fentanyl
In recent years Illinois has not been immune from the fentanyl crisis striking our nation. This deadly drug is showing up in all parts of the state, and I have experienced the fentanyl epidemic first-hand while working in the Emergency Department.

I was proud to stand with our House Republican Leader at a press conference in March at which we outlined our package of bills to protect Illinoisans from the scourge of fentanyl. I was able to use my expertise as an Emergency Physician who has dealt with many overdose patients to speak on House Bill 3203 which would allow pharmacists and retail stores to sell potentially life-saving fentanyl testing strips over the counter.

This legislation will help save lives. I was glad to see it pass both houses unanimously. I also worked hard to make narcan, an opioid antidote, more widely available.

Standing up for the unborn
I am a pro-life physician. Polls have shown a majority of Illinoisans are pro-choice. But even among those who support abortion rights, few favor unrestricted abortion. Last summer, 78% of Illinoisans polled replied that they are either pro-life or pro-choice with at least some restrictions! But our state’s leaders have moved away from “safe, legal and rare” to an agenda which unrelentingly expands abortion while disregarding medical safeguards.

The House started off this year by passing a bill to remove many of the remaining basic safety standards governing abortion clinics and those who are legally allowed to perform abortions. Some abortions can now be provided by unaccountable non-physician technicians who are often unable or unqualified to handle serious medical complications. It will put more women’s lives at risk. They say “safe, legal and rare” but they are systemically removing any guardrails to keep it safe. I spoke out against this on the House floor.

Near the end of session, the House took another step by passing a bill targeting pregnancy centers which do not provide abortions. These centers offer important services to expectant mothers: everything from counseling and licensed medical care to ultrasounds and parenting classes. The legislation is what I call “animus without evidence” and is so vague that all the proponents can say is that violations will be determined by the Attorney General on a case-by-case basis. Pregnancy care centers accused of “deceptive practices” will have no way of knowing if they have done anything wrong until a complaint is filed against them.

These bills take choices away from pregnant women. I fought these bills in committee and on the House floor, but the pro-abortion forces are in control in the House. I will continue to stand up for the innocent unborn. We can and must find common ground between those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice with restrictions. I was proud to have my opinion commentary on this bill featured in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Legislature passes $50 billion budget loaded with wasteful spending

The spring session was extended by a week in order for a 3,425-page, $50 billion+ budget to be produced from behind closed doors and quickly passed. It locks in more long-term spending without a funding source, making tax increases more likely in the future. Add a possible recession into the mix and you have a recipe for fiscal catastrophe.

The federal pandemic funds which have filled holes in previous budgets are no longer coming in. Tax revenue has gone down this year as the economy slowed. Yet Democrats somehow still managed to spend more money with this budget.

One of the most notable examples of new spending is the $550 million expansion of a program to provide health care benefits for undocumented immigrants (though it is estimated that the actual cost of this expansion will be $1.1 billion). This money could have been much better prioritized on Illinois citizens.

It is outrageous that while revenue is crashing, the party that loves spending other people’s money is now lavishing Illinois tax dollars on non-Illinoisans. The Governor constantly touts that Illinois has had seven credit upgrades under his leadership. He has taken our credit rating from last place in the nation to…still last place!

This year Illinois will sunset the sales tax holidays for groceries and for school supplies and clothing. Illinoisans, still struggling with inflation, will pay more for groceries and school supplies so that politicians can fund more wasteful spending.

To add insult to injury, the budget included an outrageous SECOND pay raise for legislators this year.

I voted No.

Opposing McLean County property tax increase
I spoke out against legislation that would extend an airport property tax levy currently in place only for Bloomington and Normal to all of McLean County including farm ground. The bill, SB 684, expands the taxing power of the Central Illinois Regional Airport Authority to include every part of McLean County without the voters of McLean County having a say. I joined with three other House members who represent McLean County in trying to stop this bill, but it passed on a party-line vote. The sponsor of the bill does not represent any part of McLean County.

Click here to see my comments on the bill during debate.

COVID emergency declaration finally ends
On May 11 the last of the COVID emergency declarations finally expired.

As a physician, I ran for state representative in large part because of the overreaching and divisive state COVID-19 response. Governor Pritzker sidelined local governments and the legislature, and exercised raw power to rule unilaterally throughout the pandemic. For over three years, the Governor refused to follow the example of reasonable and thoughtful states which had much better responses and didn’t lock down their state’s businesses, schools and churches. The Governor was consistently wrong throughout this pandemic and he was wrong again at the end: he took way too long to give up emergency powers.

Coffee and Conversation in Morton on June 26
I will be hosting a Coffee and Conversation event in Morton on Monday June 26. Stop by Four 30 Scones at 528 S. Main Street in Morton between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. to discuss news from state government, share your comments and questions, or just to say hello. I look forward to seeing you there! I’ll buy the coffee and scones.

I want to hear from you
What do you think about the results of the spring session? Do you have any questions or concerns? Or are you having difficulty with a state agency? Do you want to hear how I voted on a particular bill? I want to hear from you.

Please feel free to visit my website, or contact me or my office if I can be of any assistance to you in any matter pertaining to state government.
Bill Hauter
William E Hauter, M.D.
State Representative, District 87