Friday, April 23, was the deadline for getting all House bills out of the House chamber and over to the Senate. That date serves as an unofficial end of the first half of the legislative session. Rep. Breen worked a number of House bills this term and won passage of three of them, with two focused on government reform and transparency.
When the disgraced former president of the College of DuPage was awarded a contract extension behind closed doors in 2011, the COD Board violated the Open Meetings Act. It wasn’t until 2015 that the IL Attorney General’s office confirmed that a violation had occurred and reprimanded the board. The Open Meetings Act allows citizens a brief 60 days to go to court to get relief, but unlike most other laws, the time clock here starts at the time of the actual violation, instead of after the decision is issued by the Attorney General’s office. Because of this, the citizen who filed the complaint with the Attorney General about the sweetheart contract deal at COD never had her day in court. HB 5683 will close this loophole and start the clock for a lawsuit only after the Attorney General’s office has issued its decision. "We can't afford a weak or ineffective Open Meetings Act, especially in light of the corruption we've lived through in Illinois," stated Rep. Breen. HB 5683 passed 114-0 and is now in the Senate.
During the last hour of the last day of the "first half," the final bill considered was Rep Breen's legislation to make end-of-career pension spiking in municipal government a thing of the past. HB 5684 garnered a diverse bipartisan group of cosponsors, and the measure passed 100-3. "Across the state, taxpayers are suffering because of this practice, which occurs when longtime public employees with large accrued balances of sick time and vacation time are allowed to transfer those days into pre-retirement cash payments that are made outside the usual 90-day look-back period," Breen said. HB 5684 will require local municipal boards to hold an open meeting with full disclosure to the public of exactly how a retiring employee’s salary would be affected, before any pension spiking can even be considered. "This sort of public notice and shaming in some cases will hopefully put an end this practice, saving municipalities and taxpayers substantial amounts of money."
On Tuesday, February 16, 2016, Rep. Peter Breen vigorously questioned the sponsor of Illinois House Bill 580, Rep. Chris Welch. The bill is commonly known as the AFSCME no-strike bill, and it is almost identical to last year's Senate Bill 1229, which was vetoed by Governor Rauner. If this bill were to become law, it would take the governor out the contract negotiation process and replace him with unelected arbitrators. Click on the youtube video to watch the floor debate.
At an Illinois House Labor and Commerce Committee hearing on Thursday, February 11, 2016, Rep. Peter Breen vigorously questioned Michael Newman, Deputy Director of AFSCME Council 31, about HB 580 - also known as the AFSCME no strike bill. He expressed concern that the bill could potentially have a negative impact on taxpayers and the budget.
“Illinois taxpayers are represented in contract negotiations by their elected representatives. HB 580 would reverse the will of the people and strip from our democratically elected Governor the ability to work for a union agreement that meets the needs of all Illinoisans,” said Breen, who sits on the Labor & Commerce Committee.
With all the problems in Illinois, we need more principled people to run for public office at every level. That’s why I am pleased to endorse Tim Elliott for DuPage County Board District 4. I'd ask you to take a yard sign for him if you live in District 4. Request a yard sign at www.timelliottforcountyboard4.com. A map of District 4 can be found at www.dupageco.org/CountyBoard/Dist4Map/.
I see Tim as a person who will make us proud on the DuPage County Board. Tim's proven himself accountable to the residents of his community, and he has demonstrated the highest standard of ethics in his public service and in his professional work. When the reformers at College of DuPage needed an attorney they could trust, they turned to Tim. He is pro-life, and he is committed to stand up for the vulnerable and helpless in our human family. Tim is even an Eagle Scout!
Again, to request a yard sign for Tim or to learn more about him, go to www.timelliottforcountyboard4.com or call his campaign office at 630-510-4910. If you live in District 4, I'd appreciate your support for Tim Elliott.
As the effects of Illinois’ budget impasse begin to impact vehicle owners, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) filed legislation today to protect them from late fees that could result from the Secretary of State’s recent decision to suspend the mailing of reminders for vehicle registration renewals. Current Illinois law does not allow the Secretary of State to legally waive these late fees.
“The suspension of this important service is the latest fallout from the lack of an approved Fiscal Year 2016 budget in Illinois,” said Breen. “Secretary of State Jesse White has made a decision that will allow the functions of his office to continue for a few more months, and I respect his decision. However, motorists rely on those notices and should not be penalized for the legislature’s inability to get a budget approved.”
HB4306 would amend the Illinois Vehicle Code by prohibiting the Secretary of State from imposing a delinquent registration renewal fee when the registered owner of the vehicle has not been provided with either a postage mail or an emailed notice of the date the registration expires. The bill also provides that reminder notices will state that a $20 delinquent fee may be imposed if a vehicle owner does not renew the registration within one month of the expiration.
When making the announcement about suspending the mailings, Secretary White encouraged vehicle owners to utilize a website link to sign up for an email reminder that a vehicle registration is about to expire. “While I believe many people will take advantage of the email notification alternative, I worry about seniors and others who do not have routine access to computers and email,” said Breen. “People who don’t use email are going to fall through the cracks and face unfair fees through no fault of their own. HB4306 would provide protective measures during this unprecedented time in Illinois history.” Breen is hoping his bill will be debated and voted upon during the upcoming veto session.
To sign up for email reminders, go to www.cyberdriveillinois.com. For those without email or internet access, you can renew either in person at your local Secretary of State office or through the mail. For both options, you need to identify your pin number, which is on your registration card. If mailing, you will need to include your license plate type and number and your renewal check or money order, and mail to Secretary of State, Vehicle Services Department, 501 S. 2nd St, Room 011, Springfield, IL. 62756. The cost of the fee is the same as last year.
On Friday, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 1421, which could have resulted in fee increases for drinking water customers in DuPage County to pay for wastewater improvements downstate. The bill would have allowed private utility companies to charge drinking water customers for wastewater improvements, no matter where located and even if the customers receive wastewater services from their local municipalities and not from those private utility companies.
The bill easily passed the Illinois Senate on April 23 by a vote of 40-4-2, but Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) led a floor fight against the bill in the House, almost killing it. The bill eventually passed the House 63-50-2 on May 28, receiving just 3 more than the minimum 60-vote margin needed for passage. Breen then publicly requested that the governor veto the measure.
“Folks shouldn’t have to pay for services and improvements that don’t benefit them,” said Breen, whose 48th District includes Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Lombard, and Lisle, towns with numerous residents served by private utility Illinois American Water. “People don’t have a choice of drinking water and wastewater providers. Because of the monopoly those providers enjoy, the government carefully regulates the types of fees they can charge. This bill would have weakened these careful regulations. Governor Rauner’s veto is a victory for homeowners across the state.”
In his veto message, Governor Rauner noted that, "Whenever we permit utilities to pass on their costs to consumers, we should ensure that costs are passed to consumers who use and benefit from the particular services to the extent possible. Unfortunately, because not all consumers receive both their water and wastewater services from the same utility, Senate Bill 1421 would permit a public utility to pass on wastewater costs to consumers who do not receive wastewater services. This type of subsidy is not appropriate or necessary."
The bill now returns to the Illinois Senate, where it originated. In order to override the veto, 36 votes would be necessary in the Senate and 71 votes in the House. Breen is optimistic that the proponents of the measure will be unable to obtain the additional 8 House votes needed to reach the 71-vote margin needed for override. The sponsors of the bill are Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria) and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria).
Click here to read the Illinois Review article on the latest news regarding Rep. Breen's bill to protect disabled seniors from scammers who try to change their wills for personal gain.
A major community college compensation reform measure, House Bill 3593, received final approval by a vote of 73-34 from the Illinois House last week. Passed over heavy opposition from community college presidents, the bill combined several concepts for reining in abuses in community college severance packages and benefits. One of the limitations in the bill is Rep. Peter Breen’s “Breuder Rule,” which would limit all severance packages to no more than one year’s salary and benefits. The name is a reference to the disgraced president of the College of DuPage, Robert Breuder, who received an over $750,000 payout from the College’s prior Board of Trustees. The College of DuPage is located in Breen’s 48th House District.
“We need reform at every level of government in Illinois,” Breen said. “While those who benefit from sweetheart severance packages fought hard against any changes to the law, my co-sponsors and I were able to gain the necessary bipartisan support to pass the measure. When enough public pressure is brought to bear on bad practices, we can get reforms passed in Springfield. I look forward to more of these sorts of reform measures in the future.”
Rep. Breen (R-Lombard) took the House floor to advocate strongly for the bill during a contentious debate. In addition to Breen’s “Breuder Rule,” the bill also limits community college employment contracts to no more than four years and specifically requires public notice prior to the adoption of those contracts. With final passage by the House, the bill will now be sent to the desk of Governor Bruce Rauner.