The Final Stretch

With less than three weeks left until session adjourns, things in Springfield are amping up! The next few weeks will be filled with a flurry of committee hearings, rigorous debates, and floor votes as we take final action on numerous bills and await the Governor’s final budget proposal. Inevitably, the most controversial pieces of legislation will be introduced at the last minute, but I will keep you informed as we navigate through the next few busy weeks.

If there are any legislative proposals you either support or oppose, please reach out here. As always, your voices and feedback guide my work.

Faithfully yours

Dan McConchie
Illinois State Senator, 26th District

Updates from the Capitol

Senate Republicans warn, “This is how you steal an election,” as Democrats pass drastic change to election law

Last week, Republican lawmakers stood in solidarity to defy a controversial new piece of legislation that will drastically change the state’s election laws.

Senate Bill 2412 makes unprecedented changes to candidate ballot access and interferes with the current election cycle. Most notably, it would end the slating process currently taking place in state legislative districts throughout Illinois, eliminating the challengers that entrenched incumbents could face in November. This bill was filed, passed by both chambers, and signed into law by the Governor in less than 48 hours, circumventing the normal legislative process and reeking of a cheap political ploy to advantage the majority.

For decades, there has been a provision in Illinois election law that if a party is unable to find a candidate to run during the normal primary process, leaders from the respective party would have the ability to “slate” a candidate to run for said office. Because of how gerrymandered the legislative districts are in this state, it is sometime very difficult to find a candidate to run in certain areas.

This provision expanded choice for voters and allowed for greater ballot representation for both parties by allowing additional time to find a candidate in areas where it is very difficult to find people to run. There were numerous candidates across Illinois going through the slating process, having spent months collecting signatures, rearranging their schedules, lives, and jobs in order to gain ballot access. When SB2412 was signed into law, it effectively ended their campaigns and months of hard work and sacrifice.

This is a blatant power grab by Illinois Democrats afraid of competition for some of their incumbents who would have faces tough races in the general election. This bill is an attempt to change the rules midgame and assert control of the election process over the rights of Illinoisians to have free and fair elections. In an already polarized country, this legislation will continue to further erode public trust in the electoral process. Republican lawmakers in both the Illinois Senate and House stood in protest, voting “present” on the controversial measure. This was done as a way to protest the rushed process and proposal that is patently unfair and undemocratic, allowing Democrat lawmakers to undermine the election process and further solidify their total control over our state.

Fallen officers remembered in Springfield

Officers who gave their lives in the line of duty were honored at the annual Police Officer Memorial Ceremony on May 2nd at the State Capitol complex in Springfield. Joined by their loved ones and colleagues from various law enforcement agencies statewide, attendees gather to recognize the sacrifices made by those who serve and protect and pay tribute to fallen heroes killed in the line of duty. This year’s honorees include Chicago Police Officer Andres Mauricio Vasquez Lasso, Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Makayla Preston, Cicero Police Officer John Francis Kane, Montgomery County Sheriff Ray Boston, Sangamon County Deputy Sheriff Andrew H. Sloan, and Chicago Police Detective Todd C. Gillerlain.

Waiving FAFSA requirement for 2024 high school graduates

For the past three years Illinois law has required students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) to graduate from high school. FAFSA is a form that students fill out to apply for financial aid for higher education. Colleges and universities use the information from the FAFSA to determine the amount of financial aid a student is eligible to receive. This year, the federal government created a simplified version of the FAFSA, called “Better FAFSA”, but has faced multiple challenges creating an uncertainty for college-bound students. Students have been left scrambling to complete the application because of the challenges and delays. So far this year, less than 50% of the expected high school graduates in Illinois have filled out the FAFSA form, and 23% of those students must resubmit their forms with corrections. In response to this obstacle, I am sponsoring a bill that will waive the graduation requirement for this current school year so students can still graduate and get their diploma as the federal government continues to work out issues with the system. This bill passed the Senate Education committee with a 10-0 vote and now moves to the Senate floor for further consideration.  

In the District

2024 Spring Youth Advisory Council

A couple weeks ago,I welcomed dozens of high school students from across the 26th Senate District to the Lake County Court House to learn more about the legal field and the legislative process as part of my Youth Advisory Council (YAC) program.

The YAC program allows local high school students to learn more about our Illinois State Government and potential career and educational opportunities in those fields. They got to hear from Lake County judges, members of law enforcement, and different advocacy groups who spoke with the students about what they do and answered questions about pursuing careers in the legal field or law enforcement. The students also got a hands-on look at the legislative process with a mock committee hearing where they debated a bill to legalize fireworks in Illinois. The students served as lawmakers, reporters, concerned citizens and lobbyists, advocating for and against this mock legislative proposal in a simulated Senate committee hearing. After a rigorous debate, the bill did not pass!

Your Feedback Matters

As always, I look forward to hearing from you! If you have any feedback, concerns, or questions, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me here.

Dan McConchie

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