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Today in Springfield, members of the House of Representatives approved HB 1785, a measure that would allow individuals to change the sex listed on their birth certificate in cases where gender reassignment surgery has not occurred. In response to the 63-43-1 vote, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) has issues the following statement:

“Softening the standard for changing one's birth certificate sex designation is a very controversial concept. Gender identity theory is very recent and far from universally agreed upon by medical and mental health professionals. I do not believe legislators have a clear understanding of the far-reaching negative consequences that are likely to result from this bill.”

“I believe the bill is not well-thought out, and if signed into law it would have significant unintended consequences--for the individuals (including children) who are seeking the change and society as a whole."

"Birth certificates are historical documents that certify an objective fact about humans that was identified at their births and never changes. Neither birth certificates nor doctors designate or assign 'gender markers.' They identify sexes."
Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) recently visited with two 8th Grade students from Walter R. Sundling Junior High School in Palatine, who were at the Capitol showcasing a project for Tech Day 2017. The students' display focused on how Community Consolidated School District 15 utilizes a "Four C's" model to integrate technology into modern learning for students.

You can watch a video about their project here.
Yesterday, the Illinois Senate passed HB 40, a bill which will fund abortions with taxpayer funds for any reason, through all nine months of pregnancy. When this bill was presented in the House of Representatives on April 25, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) spoke in strong opposition. Because this bill is now on its way to Governor Bruce Rauner for final action, he is encouraging all Illinoisans who feel public taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortion services beyond what we already cover (life and health of the mother, rape, and incest), to contact the Governor's office at this link and encourage him to stay true to his promise to veto this costly and controversial bill.

You can watch Rep. Morrison's comments in strong opposition to HB 40 during his April 25 testimony here.
This week in Springfield members of the majority party pushed through a bill that would allow taxpayer funds to be used to pay for abortions for Medicaid recipients and for state workers on state-funded insurance plans. In response to the narrow 62-55 approval of the bill, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) has issued the following statement:

“My colleagues in the General Assembly already know that I am a pro-life Republican. But HB 40 is not about the legality of abortion. It’s about who’s going to pay for it and it’s about expanding abortion services to allow even more elective abortions during healthy pregnancies.”

“Proponents of HB 40 claim we should be listening to women. Perhaps the most important woman we can listen to on this issue is Jane Roe herself, whose real name is Norma McCorvey. While anonymous at the time of the court proceedings, she became the face of Roe vs. Wade in the 1980s, but by the mid-1990s, her views on abortion changed substantially. She ended up not having an abortion, and testified before the U.S. Congress’ Judiciary Committee in 2005 that she was glad her daughter was born and is alive today.”

“The bill sponsor is trying to paint HB 40 as a protective measure for women if Roe vs. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court. The premise is deceptive because the overturning of Roe vs. Wade is simply not based in reality. Even if it were, individual states would then have to take subsequent legislative action to make abortions illegal.”
Illinois lawmakers spent the last two weeks in their home districts tending to local constituent needs, and during this time I had the pleasure of meeting and talking on the phone with many of my constituents about issues of importance. Members of the General Assembly return to Springfield today to complete the final six weeks of the spring legislative session. This week, State Representatives will finish the process of considering House Bills that have been properly approved at the House Committee level. House Bills that fail to receive approval from the full House by the April 28 deadline will be essentially dead for this year. The Senate follows an identical deadline calendar, so this week our colleagues across the hall will be taking similar action on Senate bills. In May, members of the House will take action on Senate Bills while Senators take action on House Bills. The final month of session is typically a very busy time in Springfield, but I do welcome your comments on legislation. You can always voice your opinions through email at Morrison@ilhousegop.org, or by phone at (217) 782-8026 (Springfield) or (847) 202-6584 (Palatine). I value your input, so please do not hesitate to weigh in on legislation that is important to you.

Over 100 Residents Attend Local Town Hall Meeting
I want to thank the more than 100 citizens who joined Senator Tom Rooney (R-Rolling Meadows) and me for our Town Hall meeting on Thursday in Palatine. We gave a 30-minute presentation outlining Illinois’ biggest challenges, and then opened the floor for a 60-minute question and answer session. Attendees brought bipartisan points of view to the discussion, which at times crossed between state and federal concerns. 

People had really detailed questions on a myriad of issues, but one key takeaway for me was the overall level of frustration and disappointment by constituents who want state lawmakers to pass a balanced budget. One of the main difficulties is that constituents enjoy and expect a certain level of services from their state and local government based on the significant taxes they already pay today, when most are not grasping the simple truth that the level of taxes collected at present does not cover current costs. Each month, the state’s deficit grows substantially larger. In short, current levels of spending (for K-12 education, higher education, social services, public safety, transportation, etc.) cannot be maintained through current tax rates. The question becomes, how do we decrease spending on services and/or programs to avoid steadily increasing taxes? Another way to accomplish this without simply cutting current services involves streamlining government by encouraging consolidation and collaboration, by providing relief on unfunded mandates, and by passing reforms that the private sector wants that would also benefit the public sector--such as worker’s compensation reform. We need worker’s compensation insurance reform because it would help the private sector, and also benefit the taxpayers who are covering public employees.

Morrison Attends Multi- Chamber Luncheon in Elk Grove Village
On April 19 I had an opportunity to meet with northwest suburban business leaders and other professionals at a multi-chamber luncheon held at Belvedere Banquets in Elk Grove Village. Governor Bruce Rauner spoke to the group about his plans to strengthen the Illinois economy and grow jobs, and we also heard from representatives of the region’s Small Business Advocacy Council. The Small Business Advocacy Council was established in 2010 as a 501 (c)(6) not-for-profit organization, and they currently represent over 1,000 businesses in the Chicagoland area. It is a non-partisan, member-driven organization that promotes the success of small business through political advocacy, support services and educational programs.

Citizens Volunteer for Forest Preserve Clean Up Day
On April 15 I joined members of the local Sierra Club and other community volunteers for the annual cleanup day at the Deer Grove Forest Preserve. It was a perfect day for buckthorn removal. In total, several hundred people, including adults, children, scouting troops and church groups came out on that lovely Saturday to help with the cleanup event. 

Morrison Tours Palatine Animal Hospital
Earlier this month I had a very nice visit and tour of the Loving Care Animal Hospital in Palatine. Dr. Joanne Carlson, President-Elect of the Illinois State Veterinary Association, showed me their beautiful clinic, replete with cutting edge technologies, including a laser surgical tool and an X-ray machine that gives instant feedback, and newly-remodeled interior. The knowledgeable staff offers wellness exams, vaccines, and also provides advanced diagnostics and surgical procedures. They see all kinds of pets, from cats and dogs, to rabbits and small mammals, to reptiles and birds.
The General Assembly has begun its annual Easter Break. When we return to Springfield on Monday, April 24, legislators from the House and Senate have just five days to pass their bills and send them to the other chamber. Any bill that has not cleared its chamber of origin by Friday, April 28 will be essentially dead. In May, we will take action on Senate Bills that successfully passed in that chamber and Senators will take action on legislation sent to them from the House.

It is my greatest hope that in May we will also come to bipartisan agreement on a balanced budget. With session adjournment for summer scheduled for May 31, we still have time to pass a budget. I stand ready to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this most important task. Adopting a balanced budget prior to May 31 is my first priority.

Morrison to Host Joint Town Hall Meeting on April 20
On Thursday, April 20 I will be joining Senator Tom Rooney for a joint Town Hall Meeting that will be held at the Palatine Village Hall, 200 East Wood Street, in Palatine. We will provide a brief update at 7:00 PM and will then take questions from the audience. I hope you’ll bring your questions to this important event!

Local Constituents Travel to Springfield for Lobbying Events
It is always nice to visit with local constituents who visit Springfield. Earlier this month I was glad to see students from Harper College who visited Springfield office as part of a student lobby day. We discussed the budget impasse, its impacts on higher education, and the overall Illinois economy.

Last week the first floor of the Capitol was lined with booths staffed by representatives from hospitals and healthcare facilities from across the state who were in Springfield for the Illinois Health & Hospitals Association lobby day. I was pleased to have an opportunity to visit with representatives from facilities located in and around the 54th District. I’m shown in this photo with representatives from Northwest Community Healthcare in Arlington Heights (John Cosentino on the right and Dr. Sapandesai on the left). 

Morrison Bill to Ease Transportation Plan Reporting Requirements Receives Unanimous House Support
Today, IDOT requires municipalities with more than 5,000 residents to do a 20-year transportation study on their major thoroughfares. In my conversations with public officials from my district, they feel the current law is not practical. I have been told by many that they only do the plans because they are required by law. They believe, and I agree, that it would be much more practical to require more of a five-year study.

Recently I was able to pass legislation that provides municipalities with relief from this 20-year plan requirement. HB 2363 seeks to eliminate the current burdensome mandate that requires municipalities to develop and keep up-to-date 20-year long-range highway transportation plans. The language included in the bill would significantly reduce the number of years that must be included in municipal transportation plans. HB 2363 received unanimous support in the House and has moved over to the Senate for consideration.

Nursing Association Representatives Travel to Capitol for Lobby Day
In Springfield, our evenings are typically filled with opportunities to meet with representatives from state organizations and agencies and discuss their needs and priorities. Earlier this month I stopped by the Illinois Nurses Association reception and was happy to run into a local constituent, Bridget Cahill. We had a very nice conversation about the current challenges in Springfield and how the General Assembly can best assist Illinois nurses.

Democrats Ignore Republican Plea for Compromise Budget; Push Through New Stop Gap Measure
In spite of unanimous opposition from House Republicans, last week members of the majority party pushed through a new $800 million stop gap measure to channel funds to social service agencies and institutions of higher learning.

Obviously I believe these agencies and institutions deserve to receive their funding, but this stop gap measure only sends very limited funding to specific programs and does not bring us any closer toward a full compromise budget that would end the uncertainty and suffering for these groups. For example, the spending plan includes only 36% of the funding for domestic violence shelters, only 36% for infant mortality programs, and only 38% for the senior meals program. It completely left out funding for other important components of the budget. To make matters worse, the plan was also filled with errors. It would spend $1.5 million on a program in Chicago that is no longer in existence, and more than $500,000 on two programs that are currently ineligible to receive funds due to noncompliance issues with reporting of how state funds were previously spent. In spite of the funding level discrepancies and the multitude of errors in the bill, HB 109 passed in a party-line vote of 64-45-1. It cannot be acted upon until the Senate returns at the end of April, so again, this is taking pressure off of lawmakers to pass a complete budget and giving a false sense of hope to these funding recipients.

We need a budget that provides state agencies and institutions with predictability that extends beyond more than just a few months. During the last few weeks, two different full budget proposals have been filed in the Illinois Senate, yet rather than work toward bipartisan agreement on one of those plans, the House floor action last Thursday suggested the majority party leadership has little interest in working together in a bipartisan fashion to reach an agreement on a full budget. It was incredibly disappointing.

Happy Easter!
Lastly, during this special time of year, I hope you are enjoying time with family, friends and loved ones as we celebrate this Easter and Passover season. Enjoy the nice weather and have a very Happy Easter!
A bill sponsored by State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) that provides municipalities with greater flexibility in their transportation plan reporting requirements sailed through the Illinois House in a unanimous vote on Wednesday.

HB 2363 seeks to eliminate a current burdensome mandate that requires municipalities to develop and keep up-to-date 20-year long-range highway transportation plans. The language included in HB 2363 would significantly reduce the number of years that must be included in municipal transportation plans.

“Currently IDOT requires municipalities with more than 5,000 residents to do a 20-year transportation study on their major thoroughfares, and in my conversations with public officials back home, they feel the current law is not practical. I have been told by officials from several municipalities that they only do the plans because they are required by law,” said Morrison. “It would be much more practical to require more of a five-year study. Most of the municipalities are already keeping five-year transportation plans up-to-date, and I believe that the data included in these five-year transportation plans is more than adequate for purposes of planning for the utilization of motor fuel tax dollars.”

According to Morrison, the need for the bill was brought to him by officials from the Village of Palatine. “In this era where we continually ask our local units of government to do more with less, I am pleased to help advance legislation that actually eases reporting mandates,” Morrison said.

HB 2363 now moves to the Illinois Senate for consideration.