SAFE-T Act update: ‘No cash bail’ set to take effect September 18
Since the final day of the 2021 lame-duck session, the SAFE-T Act has been highly criticized among the public, law enforcement, and state’s attorneys. Now, two and half years later and after multiple court battles, the “no cash bail” provisions found within the law are set to take effect statewide Sept. 18.
Among other things, the SAFE T Act creates a standard that all defendants in a criminal process are presumed eligible for pretrial release and that States Attorneys must petition the court to even start the process of trying to hold a defendant behind bars pending trial.
I opposed the SAFE-T Act when it passed the General Assembly because the law places restrictions on how law enforcement officials can apprehend suspected criminals, and fails to address the financial impacts that the elimination of bail will have on counties and victim services. The law also fails to provide judges enough discretion to be able to hold certain offenders in jail pre-trial, leading to a heightened risk to public safety.
I co-hosted a First Responders Roundtable discussion recently, and our local officials are ready to implement the new procedures and will do their best to comply with the new mandates within the law.
Scholarships for low-income students in jeopardy as program is set to expire
Since its inception in 2018, the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Fund has provided 40,000 scholarships to K-12 students. Now, unless the Legislature intervenes during the upcoming fall Veto Session, the program will expire at the end of the year. As lawmakers, we cannot allow this to happen.
I have been a vocal supporter of the Invest in Kids Scholarship Fund because it helps underserved students improve their chances of academic success by offering private-school monetary scholarships for them to attend a different school. Invest in Kids offers a 75% state income tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute to the Fund. Scholarships are provided to families that meet certain academic and income requirements.
The looming fate of the program comes as just last week, news reports have called attention to hypocritical comments made by the head of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), who has been a staunch opponent of Invest in Kids. In a report by WBEZ, the CTU President confirmed that one of her children attends a private high school despite her many comments criticizing these private schools.
Upcoming Events in the 33rd District
We had a tremendous turnout for the Carpentersville Senior Fair I hosted last week. Thank you to everyone who came out to the event at the Rakow Center. A second Senior Fair is coming up in St. Charles on September 19, and a third one is scheduled in Crytal Lake on October 17. Those who attend my senior fairs always say they appreciate having access to so much useful information, as well as flu shots and blood pressure checks, all under one roof. They really are a great resource for our seniors, their families, and those who care for the elderly. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to attend one.
Events are added to the outreach calendar regularly, so I encourage you to visit my website (SenatorDeWitte.com) frequently to be kept up to date about upcoming outreach activities across the 33rd District.
Upcoming events include:
- September 19, Senior Fair: 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon, Pottawatomie Community Center, 8 North Ave, St. Charles
- (NEW!) September 20, Mobile DMV Event: 10 AM-2 PM, South Elgin Public Works Building, 1000 Bowes Rd, South Elgin (NOTE: Please RSVP for this event, see graphic and scan from the camera on your phone, or email Hannah at email@example.com)
- September 27, Traveling Office Hours: 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon, Pingree Grove Village Hall, 555 Reinking Road, Pingree Grove
- October 2-16, Fall Coat Drive: Coats can be dropped off at the DeWitte West Dundee office, 641 S. 8th Street, West Dundee, at the St. Charles Municipal Building, 2 E. Main Street, St. Charles, Algonquin Village Hall, 2200 Harnish Dr, Algonquin, or at the Salvation Army in St. Charles, 1710 S. 7th Ave, St. Charles.
- October 14, Document Shredding Event and Non-Perishable Food Drive: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM, Elgin’s Gail Borden Library, Rakow Branch, 2751 W. Bowes Road, Elgin
- October 17, Senior Fair: 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon, Grand Oaks Recreation Center, 1401 IL-176, Crystal Lake
- October 18, Senior Fraud Prevention Event: 10:00 AM-11:00 AM, Lake in the Hills Village Hall, 600 Harvest Gate, Lake in the Hills
- October 28, Prescription Drug Drop-Off Event: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Elburn Police Station, 301 E North St, Elburn
HFS halts co-pay requirement on state-funded undocumented immigrant healthcare program
On September 5, the Governor’s Administration sent a notice to hospitals regarding the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults and Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors Programs, informing them not to collect co-pays from patients enrolled in the program. The program provides top-notch healthcare to illegal immigrants ages 42 and older in Illinois.
Back in June, Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) filed emergency administrative rules to set maximum co-pay amounts for certain services in an attempt to rein in state costs of the ballooning program, which was expected to cost $1.1 billion this fiscal year. Previously, illegal immigrants in the program were allowed free services without co-pays. However, even though the emergency rules went into effect immediately, HFS is now informing providers that the cost-sharing portion of the rules were never meant to be implemented immediately and is on hold until further notice.
A total of $550 million was allocated to the program in this fiscal year’s budget, despite projections showing costs over $1 billion. To attempt to lower these costs, the Pritzker Administration filed a variety of new rules, but has failed to provide an updated financial outlook of the program.
Given the recent pushback by many in the Governor’s own party over his “cost saving measures” and the lack of transparency, I am not confident that the program will stay within the $550 million allocated to the program. In fact, I believe it is likely just a matter of time before the Governor and the Majority Party come back to the Legislature asking for more money.
Illinois homeowner grant program set to expire
Illinois homeowners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic seeking financial mortgage assistance have until October 31 to apply for a grant through the Illinois Homeowner Assistance Fund (ILHAF). ILHAF is a federally funded program dedicated to assisting homeowners at risk of default, foreclosure, or displacement because of financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
ILHAF was initially launched in April 2022 and has provided more than $246 million to help nearly 14,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure while regaining their financial stability. ILHAF supports qualified homeowners with grants of up to $60,000 for past-due mortgage payments, property taxes, property insurance, and homeowner and/or condo association fees. The average grant is $17,988 per household.
Applications must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31 to be reviewed for eligibility. A submitted application does not guarantee approval.
To qualify for a grant, Illinois homeowners must meet the following criteria:
- Have a household income less than 150% of the Area Median Income.
- Own and occupy their property as their primary residence.
- Are past due on their mortgage, property tax payments, or homeowner association dues.
- Have experienced a financial hardship directly related to COVID-19 that began, continued, or worsened after Jan. 21, 2020.
Eligible Illinois homeowners can apply online at https://www.illinoishousinghelp.org/.