Seth Lewis


Seth Lewis


With less than one month to go, session hits high gear in Springfield

Senator Lewis Joins Senate Minority Leader to Push Public Safety Reforms in Springfield

blankOn May 1, I joined Senate Minority Leader John Curran (R-Downers Grove) for a Capitol press conference where we highlighted legislation that addresses an issue of growing concern in the suburbs- fleeing and eluding the police. We were joined by Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres and Lemont Police Chief Marc Maton. Maton also currently serves as the President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

Today, fleeing and eluding the police is only classified as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a small fine. In recent years, instances where motorists increase their speed so they can try to flee from police rather than be pulled over have increased significantly. When they run red lights and drive erratically, they don’t just put their own lives at risk, but they also put the lives of police officers, innocent motorists, and pedestrians in great danger.

Senate Bill 1807 would strengthen the penalty for fleeing and eluding a police officer by making the offense a Class 4 felony instead of a Class A misdemeanor. A third or subsequent violation would lead to a charge of a Class 3 felony, and a second or subsequent violation after that would result in a Class 2 felony charge.

Public safety must be top of mind if we are going to commit ourselves to making Illinois a place where people want to live rather than leave. Click here watch the press conference.


Senator Lewis Hosts Local High School Students for Spring Student Advisory Council Meeting


On Tuesday, April 23, I hosted close to 40 high school students from across the 24th Senate District for my 2024 Spring Student Advisory Council in Carol Stream. This is always one of my favorite events of the year. Click here to view a short video that features some of the day’s highlights.

The Council gathers twice each year. In the fall, the students hear from a few selected community or state leaders who share their paths into public service and answer the students’ questions about their fields of expertise and about the journey that led them on their career path. Then in the afternoon the students collaborate and brainstorm, and ultimately develop their own bill idea that represents an issue that is important to them as 16, 17, and 18-year-olds. Senate staff turns the idea into a “bill,” and in the spring the group reconvenes and moves their legislative proposal through a mock committee process, complete with Republican and Democratic Senators, lobbyists in favor and against the bill, and citizen witnesses who testify in favor and against the bill. The process concludes with an up or down vote by the “Senators.”

Students get a unique understanding of the importance of listening to both sides of an issue before registering official support or opposition. It is a life skill that will serve them well in a world where politics is very polarized today.


Legislation to Provide Stability for Abused Children Passes the Senate

Important legislation that ensures children taken into Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) custody don’t have to change schools has passed in the Senate. I was proud to support this important bill.

Currently, when a child is taken into DCFS custody, they often end up in a new home outside of their school district. Senate Bill 2824 ensures that all children who have been removed from their homes by DCFS can stay in the same school if the agency determines it to be in the best interest of the child. This includes situations where a student is moving from elementary to middle school or from middle school to high school within a school district. Allowing children to remain in their current school provides a measure of stability and familiarity for children who desperately need it.


Lewis Seeks Clarification on Bears Stadium Plan from IL Sports Facilities Authority

blankJust days after representatives of the Chicago Bears unveiled a multi-billion-dollar plan for a new lakefront stadium in Chicago, I was able to ask some pointed questions of leaders of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA) when they appeared before the Senate Appropriations-Public Safety & Infrastructure Committee with their budget request for Fiscal Year 2025 on April 30. I am the Minority Spokesperson for this committee.

First and foremost, it is important to understand that the Sports Facilities Authority does not have the ability to just build a new stadium. The Authority can only carry out the conditions set forth in legislation approved by the General Assembly, and at this time there is no such legislation before us.

At the hearing, ISFA Chief Executive Officer Frank Bilecki explained that the ISFA’s responsibilities are limited to the payment of debt service obligations to bond holders for Guaranteed Rate Field and Soldier Field, to provide for the safety and structural integrity and character of Guaranteed Rate Field and the surrounding property, and to provide financial assistance to the Chicago Park District for the maintenance and capital improvements to Soldier Field. He also explained that the debt for these sports facilities is structured for repayment largely through a percentage of the Chicago hotel tax and the statewide hotel tax.

Secondly, there have been statements made that the residents of Chicago are not and will not be responsible for one dime of the cost of a new stadium, and that is simply not the case. Mr. Bilecki admitted during the hearing that when hotel tax receipts fall short as they have in recent years, the State of Illinois is kept whole by reducing the amount of Local Government Distributive Funds (LGDF) they redistribute to Chicago.

LGDF funds are Chicagoans’ tax dollars. They are already being used to pay the debt service for the White Sox and Bears’ stadiums, and that debt service doesn’t expire until 2029 and 2033 respectively. There is no reason to believe this trend would not continue under a new plan. Mr. Bilecki said LGDF funds have been used to subsidize bond payments in recent years and will likely be needed in amounts that could total up to $20 million per year through the end of the bond repayment schedule in 2033.


Senator Lewis’ State Mushroom Bill Sails Through Senate

blankWith students from the Prairie School of DuPage watching remotely from their classroom in Wheaton, I was proud to receive unanimous Senate approval of a state symbol bill recently. Through Senate Bill 3514, the Calvatia Gigantea, or “Giant Puffball” is on track to be officially designated as the state mushroom.

As part of the students’ educational experience, they traveled to Springfield when the bill was heard in committee several weeks ago. A teacher and a student testified and answered questions from the committee members. The original idea for a mushroom as a state symbol came from a class discussion on the different state symbols in Illinois.

After receiving unanimous approval in the Senate, SB 3514 now moves to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Michele Mussman is carrying the bill.


Lewis Supports Legislation to Provide Flexible Daycare Scheduling Options

As families throughout the state struggle to make ends meet due to high inflation and other economic pressures, I was proud to vote in favor of legislation that would support working parents by providing greater flexibility in scheduling childcare.

Most daycare centers operate from 8:00 AM to 5:30, presenting a significant problem for shift workers who often work overnight or early morning hours. Republican legislation that recently cleared the Illinois Senate would create a more flexible childcare system to meet the different needs of working parents.

Senate Bill 3207 authorizes daycare centers to operate for 24 hours and provide child care for up to 12 hours for parents employed in a position requiring regularly scheduled shifts. A 10-hour period must elapse between daycare visits.

The bill received unanimous support when it passed out of the Senate on April 12. The legislation now awaits action in the House of Representatives.


Legislation to Combat Food Deserts Passes

I am doing my part to combat food insecurity throughout Illinois by supporting legislation to increase access to food in underserved areas.

Senate Bill 3265 creates a program within the Illinois Department of Agriculture tasked with developing strategies to ensure fresh, nutritious food is available in food deserts while also providing education on food preparation and nutrition.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food deserts are areas where people have limited access to a variety of healthy and affordable food. The proposed legislation emphasizes a comprehensive approach, aiming not only to increase food access but also to strengthen local food systems and understand the root causes of food insecurity. Lawmakers are optimistic about the bill’s potential to improve food access and education statewide.

The proposal received unanimous support in the Senate on April 12 and now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.


Bill Advances to Stop Governments from Charging Property Tax Penalties to Deceased Individuals

blankLegislation has advanced that would alleviate the financial burdens placed on families dealing with unforeseen property tax penalties in the wake of a loved one’s passing. I am a proud Chief Co-Sponsor of the bill.

Currently, even when a person has passed away, governments may still be charging their estate with interest and penalties for property taxes, leaving grieving families with unexpected expenses.

Senate Bill 2832 would allow for the estate of a deceased individual to apply for a waiver with the county treasurer that would prevent interest and penalties from being charged on delinquent property taxes.

Senate Bill 2832 passed the Senate on April 9 and now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

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