State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) released the following statement after the Democratic-majority voted to pass an out-of-balance budget on May 24:
"The majority party in the Illinois legislature demonstrated a shocking display of callousness at a time when thousands of Illinoisans are out of work and suffering by passing an out-of-balanced budget and creating a $1 billion in new spending. In addition to the increase in spending, Democrat legislators, who refused for weeks to return to the Capitol, elected to pass a budget that contains a pay increase for themselves. It's inconceivable for legislators to standby and accept a pay raise while the people of this state are struggling just to survive. It's things like this that has led Illinoisans to hold their state government in low regard. This was an opportunity, during a time of crisis, to show the people of Illinois that we could be sober-minded and thoughtful by coming together to lay out a reasonable path forward. However, what the Illinois General Assembly has shown is that a majority of its members are content to recklessly borrow, create unsustainable spending, and pad their own pockets at the expense of our taxpayers."
Plummer defends the integrity of elections: Senate Democrats use pandemic crisis to pass extremely partisan bill that enables widespread election fraud
Taking a stand for fair and secure elections, State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) spoke on the floor of the Illinois Senate opposing a dangerous measure which creates numerous loopholes to be exploited within the vote-by-mail program in Illinois.
Senate Bill 1863 is an election omnibus bill which expands the current vote-by-mail program in Illinois by mandating election authorities to send ballot applications to voters who took part in elections in the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.
"It is a shame that during this time of crisis, when there should be unity and people working together, the Senate Democrats have shamelessly passed the most extreme election law in the country," said Sen. Plummer. "Our state government should accept the responsibility of adapting transparent and secure protocols for upholding our voter's rights, not legalizing blatant election fraud."
Sen. Plummer took to the Senate floor to denounce the actions of Senate Democrats for using the COVID-19 to push a partisan agenda that raises numerous concerns for anyone that cares about the integrity of our election process. Plummer noted this new legislation allows votes to be generated from ballots with no signature, ballots with mismatched signatures, ballots that have been tampered with and even allows the potential for people to vote multiple times in one election. He also pointed out that many election authorities around the state that conduct our elections are opposed to the bill, were not consulted on the bill and have been threatened with punitive action if they object to any portions of the bill.
"I have been contacted by a number of election authorities in my District and from around the state, voicing their concerns about this bill," said Sen. Plummer. "Everybody wants robust elections. Everybody wants people to vote. But nobody should want corruption of our democratic process."
Under Senate Bill 1863, a panel of three partisan election judges can conduct reviews of ballots submitted by mail. However, Sen. Plummer points out that this legislation increases the likelihood of abuse within this system and creates more loopholes for unethical actors to exploit.
"After weeks of calling for a return of lawmakers to the Capitol, and while people are hurting across the state, are we standing up to protect our healthcare providers, speaking out against a governor who threatens our law enforcement and small businesses or addressing the current financial crisis? No," said Sen. Plummer. "What we're doing is watching as one party uses this crisis as a cover to advance a shocking election law bill and push a partisan agenda when the citizens of our state are seeking unity and bipartisanship."
Senate Bill 1863 passed the Senate by a vote of 37 to 19 on May 22.
Illinois State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene and defend the constitutional rights and civil liberties of Illinois citizens, currently being violated by the directives of Governor J.B. Pritzker.
"Governor Pritzker's executive orders have effectively transformed Illinois into an autocracy in a matter of weeks," said Sen. Plummer. "The Governor is depriving Illinoisans of their constitutional rights and, when the people seek redress, he is grotesquely using state police power to threaten and intimidate citizens, businesses, and local units of government who dare question or challenge his seized authority."
Eight weeks ago, Pritzker ordered all Illinois residents to remain in their homes and all church services, school and children activities halted. He also demanded that most Illinois businesses close indefinitely.
According to Sen. Plummer, such executive orders are in clear violation of due process of the United States and Illinois Constitutions, as well as the procedural safeguards within the Illinois Department of Public Health Act and Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act.
"Governor Pritzker is acting in complete disregard of all constitutional and statutory safeguards which limits his authority," said Sen. Plummer.
Sen. Plummer contends that these executive orders violate, among other things, citizens’ First Amendment rights to free speech, freedom of assembly, free exercise of religion, as well as their Fifth Amendment rights. The executive orders amount to a taking of property by government without due process of law.
"The process by which Governor Pritzker has handled this crisis is shocking, has shredded the separation of powers, and sets a terrible precedent that must not be allowed to stand. The exclusion of the legislative branch of government during this crisis and the arbitrariness of the governor’s orders have undermined the rule of law," said Sen. Plummer. "The wanton destruction of Illinoisans’ livelihoods by Governor Pritzker’s orders has destroyed jobs and decimated tens-of-billions of dollars of assets while undermining private property rights in our state. The total damage Governor Pritzker has done to families, workers, and job creators in this state is so large as to be currently immeasurable and unfathomable."
Last month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr publicly released a memorandum he sent to his 94 U.S. Attorneys on these issues titled "Balancing Public Safety with the Preservation of Civil Rights." It stated that the U.S. Constitution is "not suspended in times of crisis."
Governor Pritzker’s orders are clear evidence that he believes he can suspend the U.S. Constitution in Illinois.
As you all know, for weeks now I have been consistently calling on the Governor for transparency and accountability, especially in this time of crisis.
As lawmakers prepare to return to the Capitol for a special session beginning May 20, I’m calling on the Senate President and Speaker of the House to schedule legislative hearings on the Governor's highly controversial reopening plan. The public deserves this conversation and the discussion should take place in an open forum.
For far too long, the people of this state have been held hostage by the stringent, broad and damaging decisions being made by a Governor who refuses to allow for legislative input. Shockingly, the Governor called our initial requests for hearings "grandstanding." This is a pretty rich statement coming from a governor who spends more time on CNN and MSNBC then he does answering phone calls from legislators who represent the people of Illinois.
His unilateral decision-making and out-of-touch reopening proposal is hurting our residents and driving people out of business. The people of this state deserve a voice in the process and demand transparency. The COVID-19 health crisis does not give the Governor carte blanche to do as he wishes without explanation or repercussions.
I urge the Governor and the Democratic-leaders to set aside their political agendas and recognize the harm that an unchecked Executive branch is having on the people of this state. If you agree, be sure to sign the petition here.
On May 5, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced his five-step, phase-in plan to reopen the state of Illinois.
State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) issued the following statement in response to the proposal:
"While I recognize and appreciate the fact that the Governor has finally provided his vision for moving Illinois forward, it is unfortunately a plan that fails to address the very real concerns and challenges facing many Illinoisans.
In my opinion, this is not a plan to re-open Illinois. It is a baseless year-long, modified stay-at-home order with almost zero accountability or transparency.
The Governor has divided our state into four blanket regions and implemented this arbitrary 28-day minimum phase-in approach without fully considering the impact this will have on the citizens and businesses of this state.
Our small business community is being devastated day-after-day. Businesses declared 'non-essential' will have to wait another month before possibly being allowed to resume operations, despite there being ways for these businesses to safely open and other states, including New York, implementing shorter, more realistic timelines between phases. Jobs, businesses, livelihoods, and much more are being permanently - and unnecessarily - lost by the Governor's ham-handed approach to reopening Illinois.
It's time to acknowledge that the Governor has overreached his authority and recognize the needs of the people of this state. I respectfully urge the Governor to set aside his personal agenda and work with those of us in the General Assembly to provide for a realistic, bipartisan solution to reopen Illinois."
State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is urging state leaders to call lawmakers back to Springfield to resume session and open up the General Assembly.
"By issuing yet another Declaration Disaster and extending his ongoing stay-at-home order, Governor Pritzker has severely overreached his authority. Meanwhile, the leaders of both the Senate and the House are allowing this to happen and have stalled the legislative process.
The way Illinois is being run right now is the antithesis of how our system of government is supposed to work. Legislators are the voice of the people and we should be in session to represent them.
While we demand essential workers across this state continue to work and confront the realities of this health situation each-and-every day, I firmly believe lawmakers should be held to the same standards. I did not sign up to be a Senator only when it is safe, sunny outside, and times are good. Now, during this crisis, it is more important than ever for us to be working.
We were elected to be the voice of our constituents, and it is time for the General Assembly to get back to work. I respectfully ask that our state leaders allow session to resume and bring lawmakers back to Springfield immediately."
Arguing that transparency is a necessary cornerstone of democracy, Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) has joined with colleagues to send a letter to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker asking for increased transparency on critical issues relating to the state's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Transparency in government is a necessary hallmark of a well-functioning democracy," the letter argues. "And at no time is robust transparency more vital to our society than during the current state of emergency when your office possesses unparalleled power and authority over every aspect of the daily lives of Illinois residents."
"Transparency in government is always critical," said Sen. Plummer. "Especially now, in the midst of a national crisis, the people of this state deserve to know how and why government leaders are making these very impactful decisions.
The letter makes a plea for increased transparency in three key areas:
Who are the medical experts and leading epidemiologists that the administration is relying on to make consequential decisions concerning life and death and the economy?
- Who are the experts?
- Is the administration consulting experts from other fields? If so, which fields and which experts?
- Will the administration provide a comprehensive list with qualifications and backgrounds?
- Will the administration release more detailed information on the models being used to make key decisions?
- Upon which specific models is the administration relying?
- How do those compare or contrast with the modeling used in other states or at the federal level?
- How have those models and the estimates changed over recent weeks?
- Will the administration release these models for public scrutiny?
- Will the administration release more information about inmates released early from state prisons as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
- What are the criteria to make decisions as to who is released?
- Do all of those released fit that criteria?
- If not, who specifically was released that did not fit the criteria, and why were they released?
- Is there a limit to the number of people the Governor is willing to release, regardless of the criteria?
- Are there any violent crimes that are not eligible for release?
- Are there any non-violent crimes that are not eligible for release? As in, are there any non-violent felonies for which someone has been incarcerated, as in burglary, theft, home repair fraud (against seniors in particular) that are not eligible for early release?
- Does an individual’s prior criminal history make any difference?
"For weeks now, the Governor has been making these broad, sweeping decisions and creating mandates that are negatively impacting many Illinois citizens and businesses. Illinoisans deserve to know what scientific models and data he is basing these decisions upon," said Sen. Plummer. "The COVID-19 health situation has proven to be very fluid, and responding to it with a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach is unreasonable and dangerous."
In response to news that the Pritzker administration is releasing a number of felons from Illinois prisons, including convicted murderers, State Senator Jason Plummer and several of his colleagues sent a letter to the Governor asking for answers.
The letter specifically cites the case of Alma Durr: Ms. Durr took a revolver, held it to her 21-month-old son Darryl’s head, and pulled the trigger. A news story from the trial indicated that Darryl moaned and suffered but did not die for another two hours. Despite DCFS’s best efforts to protect Darryl, he will never get to see his 50th birthday. His murderer, at 50 years-old, will be leaving a prison that currently has no inmates infected with COVID-19 (according to IDOC’s website). She had been sentenced to life.
It also notes that many of the releases, including Durr’s, involve commutations, not pardons, which would typically imply that the individual is assumed to be guilty of the crime for which they were sentenced.
The letter asks several questions and makes five specific requests:
- Notify and consult with the victims and/or their families, local law enforcement leaders, members of the General Assembly, presiding judges, witnesses, and state’s attorney’s offices before making any future commutation decisions;
- Provide us a full list of the names of those convicted inmates who have been released and publish it on IDOC’s website;
- Provide us with a complete list of the names of any prisoners that are currently under review to be released;
- Provide information regarding who you consulted before making each individual decision; and
- Provide information regarding the capacity for parole officers to handle all of these new cases.
State Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to act as quickly as possible to get unemployment benefits to independent contractors, self-employed individuals and others who do not normally qualify for unemployment benefits but are being hurt by this shutdown.
Self-employed "gig" workers, according to ADP Research Institute, make up 18 percent of Illinois’ workforce. Under the recently signed federal stimulus law, these gig workers are now eligible for unemployment benefits, and states must modify their websites in order to review these claims. Unfortunately, no modification has been made to the Illinois Department of Employment Security's (IDES) website. Therefore, no claims can be submitted.
"As this health crisis continues, small business owners and self-employed individuals across the state have been forced to close up shop and are struggling daily to provide for themselves and their families," said Sen. Plummer. "President Trump has authorized expanded access to unemployment benefits for these workers during this pandemic, and I would urge Governor Pritzker to take immediate action to provide critical relief to our working families."
Sen. Plummer notes that weeks ago, Illinois constituents were told the IDES website would be improved, and access would be enhanced. However, based on what lawmakers are hearing from their constituents, delays with the site continue, and frustrations continue to mount.
A number of other states like New York and Iowa have already provided guidance for gig workers on their websites, and Michigan began accepting claims online April 13. Unfortunately, Illinois lawmakers have been told Illinois’ IDES website will not be able to accept claims until May 11.
The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) has announced it has distributed $7 million across the state to step up efforts to provide meal assistance for older Illinoisans impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
These funds, provided through Emergency Assistance Services grants, have been distributed to the state’s 46 care Coordination Units (CCUs) to provide meals for older Illinoisans.
According to IDoA, more than 85,000 seniors were provided meals at congregate meal sites, and an additional 43,000 received meals delivered to their homes last year. However, because of the temporary suspension of meal service in congregate dining sites, seniors who had received meals at these sites will now be included in IDoA’s home delivery programs. Between March 30 and April 3, 4,907 new referrals for home-delivered meals were processed.
If you are a senior, or know one in need of assistance, please visit www.illinois.gov/aging or contact the IDoA Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (hearing impaired call 888-206- 1327).