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SPRINGFIELD – Two House Republican legislators with law enforcement backgrounds advanced separate criminal justice reform bills in the Illinois House of Representatives on Thursday aimed at strengthening the ability of current and former inmates who complete an educational degree during their sentence to gain employment upon re-entering the community.
The House approved HB 3884, sponsored by Rep. John Anthony (R-Plainfield), which increases from 60 days to 90 days the length of service credit an eligible offender can earn by completing their high school equivalency testing while in the custody of the Department of Corrections. HB 3884 passed the House by a vote of 95-19 with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“Self-improvement and rehabilitation should be the focus of our criminal justice system,” said Rep. Anthony, a former municipal police officer, county sheriff’s deputy, and advocate with the Safer Foundation, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit providers of services to help people with criminal records secure and maintain jobs as they key to successful re-entry into the community. While with the Foundation, Rep. Anthony made assessments, taught GED to at-risk youth ages 16-21 and served as a case manager for adult offenders. “By incentivizing inmates to earn their GED, we can help them transition back into the community after completing their sentence and dramatically increase their likelihood of success in finding employment.”

In a related move, the House also approved HB 3149, sponsored by Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park), a Rockford police detective. The measure allows a non-violent felony offender who earns a high school diploma, associate's degree, career certificate, vocational technical certification, or bachelor's degree, or passed their GED test during the period of their sentence, aftercare release, or mandatory supervised release to petition for their criminal record to be sealed from potential employers. HB 3149 passed the House by a vote of 94-20.

“With this legislation I hope to encourage participation in progressive educational programs so that people serving sentences for non-violent crimes may take their chance at becoming productive members of society upon their release,” Rep. Cabello said. “The ability to have a record sealed is meant to provide that added incentive.”

Both bills now go to the State Senate for approval.

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IDOT: “project may or may not be terminated”

Springfield… The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) issued a response to local lawmakers regarding the possible future of an Amtrak passenger rail service to Rockford. IDOT stressed that project stakeholders understand the status of the project and the possibility that it may or may not be terminated.

“The availability of funds for this project was falsely advertised.  There was no money designated for the project. It was an outrageous political lie by the prior administration,” said State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford).  “We must proceed cautiously and explore other means of developing transportation until IDOT determines their current and future fiscal outlook.”

“I am disappointed that this project continues to be delayed,” said State Representative Brian Stewart (R-Freeport). “IDOT confirmed that this project currently looks doubtful, however I am hopeful that future plans will continue to develop as we strive to address our States’ current fiscal mess. Until then, we will just have to wait.”

IDOT went on to explain that the Governor’s office is committed to turning Illinois around, but it has to first perform a comprehensive review of all spending and programs, including major infrastructure projects.

As the Spokesperson for the Appropriations Public Safety Committee, which appropriates IDOT, State Representative John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) expressed some concern for the future of the project.
“It’s unfortunate that this project continues to be unsuccessful, but the reality is the funds were never allocated. IDOT is in a difficult fiscal situation and will have to evaluate its long-term fiscal problems before committing to the project. I will have a better understanding as I work with Secretary Blakenhorn to appropriate IDOT’s FY16 Budget. However, we must first and foremost be stewards to the taxpayers of the state.”

“This is a project that we all want, and that I think everyone is excited about,” said State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), “but unfortunately our last Governor made a promise that he never funded. In light of our state’s current fiscal condition, it looks like the project will continue to be delayed until suitable funding can be found.”

The Amtrak project to Rockford will be reviewed by IDOT and allow for locals to submit their concerns for the future of the project as they work to evaluate other projects around the State. 
Springfield… State Representative John M. Cabello (R-Machesney Park) has filed legislation to reinstate the death penalty in Illinois. House Bill 4059 would eliminate the language abolishing the death penalty that was passed in 2011 and creates the Capital Crimes Litigation Act of 2015. Rep. Cabello filed the legislation in response to the most heinous crimes involved in first degree murder charges.

“We need a mechanism in place for the criminals who decide to commit a heinous act that results in a violent death,” said Rep. Cabello. “This legislation is aimed to combat the worst of the worst. Criminals that decided to take the life of a first responder, child or multiple victims should have consequences that justify their actions.”

The bill narrows the list for prosecutors seeking capital punishment for a convicted first degree murderer to the murder of a peace officer, correctional employee or fireman while performing his or her duties, multiple murders, murder of a child under the age of 12, murder committed on school grounds, and murder as a result of terrorism.

“The bill is in the beginning stages,” said Rep. Cabello. “It’s still in rules and it may never be heard in committee, but I believe this legislation deserves the opportunity to be discussed. I will be working with legislators on both sides of the aisle as we move through the process.”

If passed, Illinois would become the 33rd State with the death penalty. House Bill 4059 currently sits in House Rules until it is assigned to a committee to be heard. 
State Representative John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) speaks in support of new legislation to combat the growing heroin epidemic in Illinois. House Bill 1 creates the Heroin Crisis Act and favors a number of changes that look to reform the process of how we target drug abuse in Illinois.

Springfield… Early this month, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued his 14th executive order to create the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. State Representatives John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) and Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) were tasked with representing the House Republican Caucus on the commission.

“We a have problem that deserves our full attention and I am confident this is the right step toward taking action,” said Rep. Cabello. “As the Republican Spokesperson for Judiciary-Criminal and 20 years of service in law enforcement, I believe my experience will help bring some new ideas to the commission. We have some serious issues to tackle and I look forward to getting started right away.”

The commission will be tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of the State’s current criminal justice and sentencing structure, sentencing practices, community supervision, and the use of the alternatives to incarceration.

“Recidivism in Illinois is dangerously high,” said Rep. Stewart. “48 percent of adult inmates and 53 percent of juveniles released from incarceration return within three years. This statistic should be shocking, but unfortunately it is a reality that we must address. As a former law enforcement officer, I understand this is going to be a challenge. However, Gov. Rauner’s swift action to create this commission could be the remedy to solving this vital issue.”

Imprisonment is Illinois’ most expensive form of criminal punishment. Taxpayers spend $1.3 billion on the Department of Corrections and $131 million on the Department of Juvenile Justice each year.  
Loves Park… The 99th Illinois General Assembly was sworn into office in January and has continued to prepare for spring session, most recently by releasing committee assignments. State Representative John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) received several new committee assignments, including a highly regarded role as Minority Spokesperson.

“My committee assignments for this General Assembly will definitely be challenging,” said Rep. Cabello. “I was honored to be selected as the Minority Spokesperson for the House Judiciary-Criminal and Public Safety Appropriations Committees.  As a law enforcement officer for 20 years, I know my experience will help well serve this new role. Furthermore, my position as Spokesperson for Public Safety Appropriations could lead to additional funding for the region as it includes appropriations for IDOT.”

As Minority Spokesperson for Judiciary-Criminal and Public Safety Appropriations Committees, Rep. Cabello will be tasked with representing the Republican Caucus on all matters in regards to legislation and funding. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) appointed Rep. Cabello as Minority Spokesperson based on his experience and professional background.

“I selected John Cabello to serve as Minority Spokesman on both the House Judicial-Criminal and Public Safety Appropriations Committees because of his knowledge and professional law enforcement experience,” said Durkin. “As Minority Spokesman, John will be taking on additional duties for the caucus.  He is going to have to meet regularly with other members of both committees to make sure they understand the bills being presented each week; answer their questions and give advice.  As issues are being debated before these committees it will be up to John to make sure the appropriate questions get asked and the Republican point of view is presented and placed into the record.”

In addition, Rep. Cabello will serve on two newly formed committees, Intermodal Infrastructure and Tollway oversight. Both committees will work to see that Illinois’ roadway projects and funding mechanisms become more transparent.

“Infrastructure is vital to Illinois’ economy,” said Rep. Cabello. “These two new committees will work directly with IDOT and the Tollway Authority to enhance transparency within the agencies and provide assistance to keep Illinois’ roadways safe. As the transportation hub of the Midwest, it’s essential to have a close working relationship with these two agencies. This relationship could also bring in new projects to the Rockford area.”

The last round of committees Rep. Cabello will serve is Public Utilities and Labor & Commerce. Constituents can find more information on this year’s committee assignments by visiting the State website ( The website also provides a full calendar for this year’s spring session and committee schedule.
Rockford, IL... Legislation sponsored by State Representative John M. Cabello (R-Machesney Park) to allow the sons and daughters of fallen servicemembers to apply for Gold Star license plates was signed into law by the Governor on Saturday in Rockford.

"Fallen military men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms that we enjoy today,” Representative Cabello said. “Their families deserve our highest levels of support and respect. My hope is that these Gold Star license plates will provide an added way for these sons and daughters to be recognized for their sacrifice and the sacrifice and service of their loved one.”

House Bill 5475 allows the children of fallen servicemembers to apply for Gold Star license plates. Prior to the signing of Rep. Cabello’s bill, state law only permitted the surviving spouses, parents, and siblings of persons who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces to be issued these special plates. The law becomes effective Jan. 1, 2015.

The Gold Star is distributed to members of the immediate family of a fallen servicemember by the U.S. Department of Defense. The pin is distributed according to strict Department of Defense guidelines for servicemembers who have lost their lives in conflict or in support of certain military operations. A Gold Star Affirmation verifying receipt of the Gold Star, including the service member’s name and relationship to the special license plate applicant is required.

House Bill 5475 was signed into law on Saturday, August 9, as Public Act 98-869. For more information please contact State Rep. John Cabello by email at