Week-in-Review: Jan. 25-29

This week, newly-compiled and shocking numbers related to the state’s vaccination rollout warrant the need for a clear explanation from the Pritzker Administration.

Meanwhile, I joined with my Republican colleagues to continue our calls to action against controversial criminal justice reform legislation that could pose a risk to community safety, by hosting a series of Zoom video conference calls with local law enforcement.

Additionally, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) has announced that $8 million is now available for the fifth round of funding of the Abandoned Residential Property Municipality Relief Program.

Illinois Lags Behind Nation in Vaccination Rollout, Ranked 47th 

In the year since the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in Illinois, the residents of our state’s long-term care facilities have been hard-hit by the virus, resulting in thousands of deaths and forced isolation from families and friends.

These facility residents, along with every Illinoisan, received a glimmer of hope for the possible return to normalcy as the first vaccines were given out on Dec. 15. However, a month later, it seems the state has failed these residents.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, of the 537,050 doses of vaccines available and allotted to the state’s long-term care facilities, only approximately 20 percent of them have been administered to its residents—a population that makes up nearly half of COVID-related deaths.

Additionally, according to the latest data from the New York Times, Illinois ranks 47th in overall vaccine distribution, with just 4.8 percent of Illinoisans receiving at least one shot. The state is last compared to its sister states of Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and California.

These staggering numbers are unacceptable. Which is why I joined with my Senate Republican colleagues to issue a letter demanding answer from the Pritzker Administration. 

After months of passing the buck, pointing fingers and failing to lead, the Governor needs to explain why Illinoisans are once again not being prioritized under his Administration. Illinois has fallen to a dismal ranking of 47th in overall vaccine distribution, leaving vulnerable, isolated residents unprotected and in the dark as to why their state government is not stepping up to ensure they have vaccine access. It’s deplorable.

Governor Pritzker decided to continue this go-it-alone approach and now he alone must answer for this failure.

Senator Plummer Hosts Law Enforcement Zoom  

Throughout the week, I held a Zoom video conference for local law enforcement officers who live and work throughout the 54th Senate District. I was joined on the Zoom call with my colleagues Senator Fowler and Senator Bryant to discuss the impact that House Bill 3653 will have on the law enforcement profession.

Law enforcement officers were given the opportunity to discuss their ongoing concerns about provisions in the legislation, including unfunded mandates, creation of a task force to study the feasibility of removing qualified immunity, changes to “use of force” language, and anonymous complaints.

The process by which this legislation was passed is an affront to the system of democratic government. In the dead of night, just hours before the inauguration of a new General Assembly, a nearly 800-page amendment was revealed. Senators were given one hour to review it and allowed only two speakers in debate before a vote was taken. This is no way to conduct legislative business.

This bill, if signed into law, will drastically change Illinois’ criminal justice system and change how law enforcement are able to perform their duties. Legislative reforms of this magnitude require in-depth discussion from all stakeholders. Instead, lawmakers witnessed a non-transparent, one-sided effort to pass this bill.

While this legislation has passed both chambers, our fight against it isn’t over. Please continue to voice your opposition by contacting the Governor’s office and tell him not to sign this ill-advised legislation. Contact information for Governor Pritzker’s office is available here.

Senate Republicans hope to use the upcoming spring session to renegotiate criminal justice reform and come up with a bipartisan proposal that can be properly vetted by all the citizens and stakeholders.

IHDA Releases Funding to Help Strengthen Neighborhoods 

The IHDA recently announced that $8 million in funding has been made available for the state’s Abandoned Residential Property Municipality Relief Program (APP). The program is meant to help stimulate community redevelopment by eliminating blighted and abandoned residential properties.

The APP was first created in 2010 under the Save Our Neighborhoods Act. Funding for the program was expanded by subsequent legislation in June 2013. The current $8 million is part of the program’s fifth round of funding since its conception.

The APP application process is open to municipalities, counties and land banks and will remain open until Feb. 16. For more information about IDHA’s revitalization and repair programs or to apply for the APP, click here.

Jason Plummer

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