Springfield Update: March 2019

Hello from the 17th District!

Since being elected in November, it has been a whirl-wind of activity here in the district and at the State Capitol. I would like to thank you all for affording me this opportunity to be your voice in Springfield and I look forward to the work ahead as we begin negotiations on the state budget and other policies that impact our community.

Before the holidays, I was busy identifying my district office location. I am excited to be sharing space with my extraordinary mentor, Senator Laura Fine and newly elected Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton at 1812 Waukegan Road in Glenview. For constituent services issues you can contact my office at 847/486-8810 or info@gonggershowitz.com.

In early January, I was officially sworn in as Representative of the 17th District and in February I received my House Committee assignments. Throughout this time, I have also been busy meeting with constituents and advocacy organizations as I set my legislative agenda for the 2019 Spring Legislative Session. To date, I have introduced a small package of bills as the House and Senate chambers combined have introduced more than 5,000 new bills for consideration this year. In the coming months, I will update you on each of these initiatives and other major policy, and budget discussions taking place at the State House.


Gong-Gershowitz Advances First Bill Out of Committee

On February 14th, I advanced my first bill, House Bill (HB) 836 out of committee, which amends current law to provide a clearly defined path to designating a short-term guardian to protect children in the event that a parent or guardian is detained, deported or otherwise separated from their children by immigration officials. Current Illinois law does not adequately provide a pathway for immigrant parents to do so without expending financial resources that are out of reach by many families.

HB 836 was approved unanimously by the members of the House – Adoption & Child Welfare Committee, 12-0, and the legislation is now before the full House chamber for consideration on 2nd Reading.


State Approves Minimum Wage Increase

Also, on February 14th, our chamber advanced Senate Bill (SB) 1, legislation that would gradually increase the state’s minimum wage over the next five years to $15 an hour, while providing new tax credits for small and medium-sized businesses. Once fully implemented, the measure is anticipated to generate $19 million in new economic activity annually and to provide tax relief to nearly 80% of businesses statewide. Governor J.B Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, supporters of the measure, were on hand for the chamber vote. The measure was approved by the House on a vote of 69-47-1, and moved onto the Governor’s Desk for consideration. On February 19th, Governor Pritzker signed SB 1 into law – P.A. 101-0001.


Governor J.B. Pritzker Delivers State of the State Address

On February 20th, members of the House and Senate welcomed Governor J.B. Pritzker in a joint legislative session as he delivered his first State of State Address. He outlined a number of priorities ranging from increased funding for Pk-20 education to human services and public safety.

To date the Governor has not introduced his proposals in legislative form. The House Appropriations Committees are beginning their work in the coming weeks to hear from each executive agency on their Fiscal Year (FY) 20 (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020) recommendations.

As a member of the House – Appropriations Human Services Committee, I will be working collaboratively with my colleagues to ensure the most robust budgets, while operating within our financial means.

As part of his speech the Governor also discussed plans to increase revenue in Illinois. He is interested in expanding gambling and legalizing recreational cannabis, while working to move Illinois to a Fair Tax system with movement to a graduated income tax. Governor Pritzker also plans to introduce a long-awaited capitol proposal this spring.


Gong-Gershowitz Advances Second Bill Out of Committee

House Bill (HB) 905 creates the Private Sector Anti-Harassment Workforce Task Force. The charge of the task force is to create model policies and best practices to keep workplaces safe from sexual harassment. The task force has 19 members and is chaired by the Lt. Governor or her designee. Membership ranges from the Chief Legal Counsel of the Department of Human Rights, State Legislators, representatives of the business community, domestic violence and sexual harassment representatives, representatives from the food industry and labor representatives.

HB 905 was unanimously approved by the House Economic and Equity Committee on a voteof 15-0, and is now awaiting consideration by the full chamber.


State Internship Opportunities

llinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP)

The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) provides 24 unique paid internships annually for keenly interested and deeply motivated and talented individuals an opportunity to work within state government. Interns earn $2,100 per month for a 10-month term and receive four (4) graduate credit in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Twenty (20) of the positions are assigned to a partisan caucus staff – House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Democrats, and Senate Republicans. Duties include analyzing bills prior to committee and floor action, analyzing budget requests from state agencies prior to committee and floor action, researching issues, drafting bills, handling press and member services, and generally providing staff support for the legislative leader and members of their selected caucus. The remaining four (4) positions are research positions with the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA). COGFA is a bipartisan research agency within the Illinois General Assembly, and it researches a wide variety of questions on public finance and issues for legislators. Interns receive basic instruction on the legislative process, and then work independently and with COGFA staff to complete research requests.

The program accepts applications from all academic backgrounds who have completed either an undergraduate or advanced degree. For more information, interested students may contact the UIS Institute for Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies at 217-206-6579 or visit the ILSIP website at https://www.uis.edu/illaps/ilsip/internships/.

Graduate Public Service Internship Program (GPSI)

The GPSI program, located within the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) offers students with unparalleled opportunities to gain graduate education experience while working. Historically, GPSI interns have completed challenging internships in the areas of economic forecasting, grant writing, research, writing of press releases, preparing pubic services announcements, marketing, statewide conference management, laboratory analysis, environmental sampling and research on endangered species, website development, computer programming, database development and management, state-wide audits, and public health research.

During the fall and spring terms interns would receive a stipend of $1,175 monthly for a 20-hr work week, then moving into the summer term an intern would work 40 hours weekly for a stipend of $2,350 per month. Interns also receive tuition and fee waivers, and a $300 stipend for professional development costs.

For more information, students may contact the UIS Office of Graduate Intern Programs at 217-206-6158 or visit the GPSI website at www.uis.edu/graduateinternprograms.

Upcoming Events

The month of March marks Women’s History Month – Throughout the month, we will recognize outstanding women across the State daily during the House Session. I invite you to submit recommendations of outstanding women in our communities for consideration at info@gonggershowitz.com.

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