Senate Week in Review: May 2-6, 2022

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Auditor General released a scathing report during the week about the Pritzker Administration’s handling of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, which resulted in the death of 36 residents.

Also this week, history was made when a draft United States Supreme Court decision was leaked to the public for the first time, resulting in public outcry and a call for an investigation.

In other news, the Illinois Commerce Commission shared tips to avoid being scammed by movers, and firefighters prepare to head to Springfield next week to honor their fallen comrades.

Scathing report on LaSalle Veterans’ Home outbreak

On May 5, the Office of the Auditor General publicly released its report about the COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, just over a year after the Illinois House of Representatives adopted a resolution directing the Office to conduct a performance audit of the state’s response.

The findings of the report were both shocking and condemning, as it contradicted findings made in a report released last year by the Governor’s appointed Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Inspector General, as well as testimony by members of the Pritzker Administration during legislative public hearings.

The Auditor’s report revealed that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Pritzker Administration officials “did not identify and respond to the seriousness of the outbreak,” despite knowing about the increase in positive cases at the Veterans’ Home. It also shows that it took the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Chief of Staff to specifically request assistance from IDPH for the Department to act, which did not occur until nearly two weeks after the start of the outbreak.

Furthermore, when the IDVA Chief of Staff inquired about a site visit, acquiring additional rapid tests and antibody treatments, IDPH officials did not offer any advice or assistance in slowing the spread, did not offer to provide additional rapid tests, and were not helpful in providing antibody treatments.

The Auditor General’s report also indicated that the DHS Inspector General’s report, ordered and limited in investigative scope by the Governor, was incorrect when it found that the outbreak wasn’t being meaningfully tracked by IDVA, as IDPH and the First Assistant Deputy Governor for Health and Human Services were provided daily detailed information, which was in fact being used in the IDPH Director’s daily briefings at the time.

State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) says that this report justifies Republican lawmakers’ skepticism when the Governor chose to use one of his appointees to investigate and why it was important to have the independent Auditor General review the state’s response. Tracy also says that the General Assembly must hold legislative hearings to demand answers from the Pritzker Administration.

The Illinois Auditor General’s full report can be viewed here.

U.S. Supreme Court draft decision leaked

For the first time in modern history, a draft decision of the United States Supreme Court has been publicly leaked. The leaked draft was of the Court’s highly anticipated and controversial decision on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which could have a long-lasting effect on abortion laws throughout the country.

Following the unprecedented leak, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts called for the marshal of the court to launch an immediate investigation into the source of the leak.

Tracy says it is also important to note that it isn’t uncommon for draft decisions and votes to change throughout the Supreme Court’s decision-making process, and the final decision isn’t expected for at least another two months.

However, if this draft ends up being the final decision, it would overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey by returning “the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” In simple terms, this means each state legislature would be responsible for determining abortion laws for its own state.

This decision would have little to no impact on Illinois as the state has some of the most progressive abortion laws in the entire nation. This fact has not stopped some Illinois lawmakers from suggesting the state pass even more abortion laws, including proposals that have historically been publicly unpopular.

Avoid being scammed by movers

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has released a few tips to help Illinoisans avoid being scammed by dishonest or rogue movers.

These tips include:

  • Get recommendations from friends, relatives, and coworkers.
  • Do not choose a moving company that only advertises a phone number.
  • Ask the mover to visit your home and to provide a written estimate. If you can, show them the contents of every room, closet, attic, cellar, and garage you want moved, and talk about what they can expect at the new home. A written quote is not a binding quote, but it will give you a reasonable expectation of what you will be required to pay on moving day.
  • Discuss your options for loss and damage protection. Get it in writing.
  • Call the ICC at 217-782-6448 to verify rates on file.
  • On moving day, be prepared to pay 110 percent of the written estimate. The mover cannot hold your goods if you pay the amount on the written estimate, plus 10 percent if the estimate was too low. You have 30 days to pay the balance due. Paying with a credit card offers more protection.
  • If a mover offers “freebies” (cartons, tape, etc.), ask questions to avoid surprises later.
  • A legitimate, licensed moving company will not demand cash up front before loading your possessions and tipping is not required. If the crew demands a tip, call the company immediately.
  • Start your search at least six weeks in advance of your move.

Consumers can also check to see if a household goods mover is properly licensed to operate in Illinois as well as the number of complaints filed against each company on the ICC website here. Consumers wishing to file a complaint against a household goods mover may do so here.

Fallen Firefighters to be honored at Capitol

The 29th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighter Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony is scheduled for May 10 in Springfield.

The Fallen Firefighter Memorial service will be held at the Firefighter Memorial on the grounds of the Illinois State Capitol to honor Illinois firefighters lost in the line of duty. Following the ceremony at the Capitol, the Medal of Honor Ceremony will take place at the Bank of Springfield Center.

These events follow this week’s Illinois Police Officers Memorial, which was held May 5 at the Illinois State Library because of inclement weather. Both memorial ceremonies bring scores of officers and firefighters from across the state to honor and remember their fallen brothers and sisters.

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