February 16, 2018

Illinois in Distress - Who on earth is going to fix this?

   Last year House Bill 40 (HB40) was introduced on January 11, 2016.  HB40 vastly expanded taxpayer funding for abortions under Medicaid and the State Employee Insurance program.  We made a tremendous effort to stop HB40 but it passed the House on April 25, 2017.  It passed the Senate on May 10, 2017.  Normally the next stop would be the Governor’s desk.  But instead Senator Harmon filed a Motion to Reconsider the Vote forcing the bill to remain in the Senate.

   As you may recall even though he is not pro-life, Governor Rauner made statements in public and privately that he was going to veto HB40 because of the cost of funding all those abortions.  Keep in mind that the law does not follow the Hyde amendment so the State will not be reimbursed by the Federal government for abortions included in HB40.

   The bill sat in the Senate until September 25, 2017 when Sen. Harmon withdrew the Motion to Reconsider.  It was then recorded as having passed both houses and sent to the Governor.  He signed it on September 28, 2017.

   Here is the rest of the story-at least for now.

   In November 2017 Rep. Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society filed a Taxpayer Complaint to Restrain and Enjoin the Disbursements of Public Funds in the 7th Circuit Court in Sangamon County.  The plaintiffs in the case are: Springfield Right to Life; Lake County Right to Life Committee; Knox County Right to Life; NFP; Morgan County Right to Life, Inc.; Henry County Right to Life, Inc.; Clinton County Citizens for Life; Pro-Life Action League, Inc.; Diocese of Springfield-In-Illinois; Illinois Right to Life Action; Illinois Federation for Right to Life, on behalf of their Illinois Taxpayer members, and Rep. Barbara Wheeler; Sen. Dan McConchie; Rep. Mark Batinick; Sen. Kyle McCarter; Rep. Steve Reick; Sen. Paul Schimpf; Rep. Keith Wheeler and Sen. Dale Fowler, as Illinois Taxpayers.

   The complaint alleged:

1.   The Illinois Constitution requires a balanced budget from the Illinois General Assembly (GA). The GA is supposed to estimate the available funds necessary for a proposed item and appropriate only within the bounds of that estimate.  The GA failed to do so. In fact, the 2018 appropriations (the budget) for funding Medicaid and the State Health Insurance program were enacted on July 6, 2017 and did not include the cost of HB40. It couldn’t because it was still sitting in the  Senate due to the Motion to Reconsider the Vote waiting for it to be acted upon. Therefore, the distribution of any public funds for HB40 would  violate the Illinois Constitution and be unlawful.

Take a moment to reflect on the fact that the Illinois legislature is required to pass a balanced budget!

2.   Per the Senate Rules a Senate Bill is not finally passed by the  Senate until the bill is out of the Senate’s possession. Also, per those rules a bill is not out of the Senate’s possession until a Motion for Reconsideration of the Vote has been decided (voted upon) or withdrawn. Therefore, HB40 did not pass out of the Senate until September 25, 2017 when Senator Harmon withdrew the Motion and it was recorded as “passing both houses”.  Per the Illinois Constitution a bill passed after May 31st shall not become effective prior to June 1 of the next year. So, the law could not be effective until June 2018 and any distribution of funds prior to then would be in violation of the Illinois Constitution.
   The Attorney General argued that HB40 passed on May 10, 2017, (discounting the effect of the Motion for Reconsideration that held it in the Senate until September 25, 2017), and therefore, the effective date was January 1, 2018.
 A hearing was held in Springfield on December 28, 2017.  The Court ruled:

1.  Due to separation of powers the Court did not have the authority to decide the issue of the appropriations of public funds; and,

2.  HB40 was passed on May 10, 2017 not September 25, 2017 so according to the Court’s ruling the effective date was January 1, 2018.

(The ruling allowed the State of Illinois to begin using taxpayer funds for abortions beginning January 1st).

The Court dismissed the Complaint and an appeal is now pending in the Fourth District of the Appellate Court.

Let’s review:
1.   We cannot trust our Governor to be honest with us.
2.   A majority of the legislators in the Illinois General Assembly are comfortable passing laws that                       violate the Illinois Constitution.
3.   A court has ruled that the judicial branch of the government does not have the authority to                             force the legislature to follow the constitution of our state.

Who on earth is going to fix this?

   Before you begin to weep for this sad state of affairs let me tell you the really crazy thing.

   I am more hopeful now then I have ever been! We cannot win this struggle through elections, legislation, politicians, going to court and protesting alone.  

We have been doing all those things and it keeps getting worse in Illinois.  

So, what is missing?

God’s love.

We must do the right things the right way.

   I know that sounds simplistic and na├»ve.  But I believe that as we continue our work to save the unborn we must work together in love and win over our enemies with love. It is more than just being united in one purpose. It is being of one mind and one spirit. It is speaking the truth in love to our enemies so they too can be rescued. Let’s strive to be bound together by God’s love. Let’s support each other and encourage each other.

   I have hope because lately I have heard pro-life people from all over the State of Illinois expressing this same belief.  It is especially true of the young people who are joining the movement. These new committed pro-lifers are adamant that there must not be divisions or strife among those who stand for life.

   We agree and stand with you. The Illinois Federation for Right to Life considers it a privilege to partner with those who honor life.  We honor you by being faithful servants with your donations.  Thank you for your financial support.  Please consider sending a generous gift as we prepare to return to the Capitol for the 2018 Spring Legislative Session. As we return to that broken place of power we do so knowing that you are with us in spirit.

    So yes, Illinois is a mess but with Divine help we can fix it as we press forward loving God, loving each other and overcoming every obstacle and any opposition with His love.  

Because Love never fails.

For life,

Dawn Behnke
President, IFRL