Rep. Bunting’s Springfield news update for February 9

In this issue:

  • Estate tax legislation unveiled
  • Bad bill stopped in its tracks – for now
  • Traveling Office Hours next Tuesday
  • Illinois headlines

Estate tax legislation unveiled

I joined the Illinois Farm Bureau and a bipartisan group of legislators at a press conference in Bloomington recently to announce the filing of legislation to finally begin reforming Illinois’ estate tax system. House Republicans have previously introduced legislation which would reform the estate tax for both farms and for small businesses.

Illinois’ estate tax hits family farms and small businesses especially hard. When there is a death in the family, the survivors are often confronted with the risk of having to sell the farm or the business in order to pay the tax bill. Residents of neighboring states do not face this same choice because of lower estate tax bills. With this legislation, Illinois could take a step toward a better system that does not cause grieving families to have to make that choice.

House Bill 4600 increases the Illinois estate tax exemption so that it will fall upon fewer families. This legislation deals with farms, but we will also need to address the impact of the estate tax on family-owned small businesses. As a small business owner myself I believe this bill is a good step in the right direction toward improving our system, but it is just the beginning.

Estate tax reform has been a major priority for House Republicans for years. We introduced bills last year to reform the system, but they did not advance.

HB 4600 was filed last Wednesday. It has not yet had a committee hearing in the House. You can help the effort by clicking here to sign our petition to protect family farms.

Bad bill stopped in its tracks – for now

Every year there are some really bad bills introduced in the General Assembly. Sometimes these bad ideas make it through the process and into law, but other times there is such a public outcry that they are quietly put aside and do not move forward. That appears to be what has happened (at least for now) to the latest bill which would have made it even harder for our law enforcement officers to keep Illinoisans safe.

Last week we got our first look at House Bill 4603, which would have prohibited police from making traffic stops for violations of several different laws: violations such as improper lane usage or certain speeding offenses.

My office received many complaints about this bill, as I am sure quite a few other representatives did. Around the same time, the Illinois State Police stopped a truck on Interstate 70 for improper lane usage and discovered a girl they suspected of being a victim of human trafficking. The State Police posted on Twitter/X “Enforcement of minor traffic violations saves lives and empowers survivors.”

Many of our local sheriffs and police chiefs weighed in with some of the many objections to this bill. Some of them focused on the higher thresholds for stopping someone who was speeding. A sheriff mentioned that they would not be able to stop someone for speeding in a 55 mph zone unless they were exceeding 80 mph.

Facing all of this, the sponsor of the bill quickly agreed to stop this bill and try something “more narrow.” So it appears this bad idea has been stopped, but bad bills have a way of coming back to life in the Capitol, so we will have to stay tuned.

Traveling office hours

With the spring session starting to pick up steam in February I am continuing my round of Traveling Office Hours throughout the district. By visiting the different communities of our district I hope to hear what is on the minds of local residents and find out if my office can help with questions about state agencies.

The next set of office hours will be on Tuesday February 13 in Onarga and Paxton. That morning from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. I will be at the Cornerstone Café and Gallery at 114 N. Oak Street in Onarga. That afternoon from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. I will be at Kino’s Coffee, 103 N. Market Street, in Paxton.

If you are in the area, I hope you will stop by.

Our current bill backlog

When a vendor provides the state with goods and services, they submit the bill to the Illinois Comptroller for payment. The Comptroller processes the paperwork and pays the bill when funds are available in the state’s checking account. Currently the total amount of unpaid bills is $1,560,871,001. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $2.5 billion in bills awaiting payment. This only includes bills submitted to the Comptroller for payment, not unfunded debts like the state’s pension liability, which is well over $100 billion.

Illinois headlines

Illinois Sheriffs’ Association announces annual college scholarship opportunities

Illinois dentists give a smile to children in need

IDOT releases updated Illinois highway map

It’s Earthquake Awareness Month