Senate Week in Review September 12-16, 2022

Springfield, IL… Just in time for the fall election, Illinois taxpayers will receive tax rebates from the state from now and throughout the next couple of months—a move many are calling an election-year gimmick by Governor JB Pritzker. 

Meanwhile, opposition to the SAFE-T Act continues to grow, as more and more state’s attorneys and elected officials go on record with their concerns to the new law just months ahead of many of its provisions taking effect. 

Additionally, Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke announces her retirement, and energy consumers are urged to beware of new scams by imposters posing as energy company employees. 


Politically-motivated tax rebate payments on the way 

Most Illinois taxpayers will soon receive checks in the mail or direct-deposited from the State of Illinois as part of the “Illinois Family Relief Plan” approved by the General Assembly during the abbreviated spring session. Governor Pritzker, who claims the rebate checks are not-politically motivated, announced this week that money will arrive in the mail or in accounts over the next eight weeks. With rebates starting on Monday, September 12, delivery is scheduled to be complete by Monday, November 7, the day before the 2023 General Election. Senator Jil Tracy believes this is no coincidence. 

Income tax rebate checks will be sent to those who were Illinois residents in 2021 with an adjusted gross income under $200,000 for individual filers, and under $400,000 for joint filers. Single filers will receive $50 and joint filers will receive $100, and those with dependents can receive a maximum of $300, based on $100 per dependent. 

Property tax rebates will be sent to Illinoisans who paid state property taxes in 2021 for their 2020 residency. Those who earned less than $250,000 as an individual and under $500,000 as a joint filer will be eligible for the rebate, which will be equal to the amount of the property tax credit filers claimed on their 2021 tax form, to a maximum rebate of $300. 

Illinoisans who received an income tax refund based on their 2021 filing will receive their rebate the same way they received their refund, and those who did not receive a refund should receive a check mailed to the address listed on the tax return. 

During the spring session, Senate Republicans pushed for more permanent tax relief, but those efforts were blocked by the Majority Party. Senator Tracy voted in favor of the Democrats’ temporary relief but called it an “election year gimmick” that ignores Illinoisans’ need for real, permanent tax relief. Senator Tracy further says that having checks arrive during early voting and right up to Election Day is a clear attempt by the Pritzker Administration to ingratiate Democrats with voters. 


Opposition to SAFE-T Act continue across Illinois 

As the January 1, 2023, implementation date for many of the provisions within the SAFE-T Act approaches, more and more state’s attorneys are voicing their concerns about serious flaws in the Act that will make it incredibly difficult for many violent offenders to be held in pre-trial detention. 

The SAFE-T Act was approved in the middle of the night during a Lame Duck session of the General Assembly, with zero Republicans voting in favor of the bill. During the bill debate, Senate Republicans warned that the provisions of the Act would make communities less safe. With the implementation date less than four months away, Senate Republicans are renewing their call for removal of the most dangerous portions of the bill, which tie the hands of judges and severely limit their ability to hold many individuals accused of violent crimes in pre-trial detention. 

Senator Tracy is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 4158, which would repeal changes to the Bail Reform Act contained in the SAFE-T Act. Democrats refused to consider the bill, and never assigned it for a hearing.

The Senate Republicans’ public safety bill package can be found at https://www.ilsenategop.org/publicsafety


Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke announces retirement 

Illinois’ highest ranking Supreme Court Justice has announced she will retire from the bench on November 30. 

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke has served on the Supreme Court for 16 years, and First District Appellate Justice Joy Cunningham has been chosen to fill the vacancy on the Court. Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis has been chosen to succeed Burke as the Supreme Court’s next Chief Justice. She will be sworn in as Chief Justice in November. 

Chief Justice Anne Burke’s retirement takes place approximately one full year before her husband, Chicago Alderman Ed Burke of the 14th Ward, goes on trial for federal racketeering, bribery, and extortion charges. 


Energy providers warn of door-to-door scams 

Illinois energy providers are warning customers to beware of a new door-to-door scam that involves imposters claiming to work for their energy provider, who want to steal personal information, financial information, or even people’s belongings. 

The Better Business Bureau has received complaints from consumers who claim scammers approached their home or business posing as an energy company or tree service company. The scammer then attempts to lure the resident or business owner outside to discuss work the imposter claims needs to be done. While the individual is outside, an accomplice will enter the home or business and steal valuables and documents that contain personal or financial information. Others have gone to homes and asked for a recent utility bill with a goal of stealing personal information or switching the owner’s energy supplier without permission. Still others are calling consumers and trying to get personal or financial information over the phone. 

Energy providers will never call or come to a home or business and demand immediate payment with a prepaid cash card, cryptocurrency, or through a third-party payment app, and will never ask a consumer to divulge personal or financial information. 

The Better Business Bureau encourages anyone who is the target of a scam to report it to the BBB Scamtracker (https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker) and to contact their utility provider immediately. 


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