Representative blasts peers over failure to move crime-victim bills

By Kevin Beese Staff reporter

State Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) blasts fellow lawmakers on the House floor last week for failing to take up two bills on behalf of crime victims. Democrats have said they do not want to take up any penalty-enhancement measures as they attempt to reform the criminal justice system. “Reform by definition means to improve, not ignore,” McCombie said.

A state lawmaker is ripping her colleagues for failing to move forward two pieces of legislation on behalf of crime victims.

State Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) twice last week tried to get legislation out of the state House’s Judicial-Criminal Committee, but neither of the bills she was pushing made it out of committee.

House Bill 4586 would add protections to Department of Children and Family Services and Adult Protective Service employees from assault, the same protections applied to police, fire and other emergency responders. The bill was drafted after DCFS worker Pam Knight was beaten to death in Carroll County in the fall.

HB 4586 passed a sub-committee on a 3-2 vote, but failed in the full committee on a partisan roll-call, 8-5.

House Bill 4588 was named “Zachary’s Law” in honor of 18-year-old Zachary Phillips who was murdered in 2015 in Moline by a parolee who gained access to his parole host’s gun. HB 4588 would hold parole hosts criminally accountable for breaking an agreement they sign. The legislation says that if a parole host’s gun is accessed by a parolee and used in a crime, the host also may be guilty of the crime.

HB 4588 failed in a subcommittee vote, 3-2.

“The Jud-Crim Committee is narrowly focused on reducing penalties for offenders to reverse historical injustices in the criminal justice system and reducing the population in corrections,” McCombie said. “The blanket stance to decrease penalties and stop penalty enhancements is not the correct way to reform and improve Illinois’ criminal justice system. As legislators, we should all be committed to correcting the institutional injustices that exist in the system, but at the same time, we cannot ignore the responsibility to keep dangerous violent criminals from committing more heinous acts.”

Earlier in the week, McCombie could not even get hearings on the bills, which led her to lash out of the House floor.

“Members of the majority, as well as their staff, have stated that they are not willing to hear bills that will increase penalties as they want to reform our criminal justice system,” McCombie said. “Reform by definition means to improve, not ignore.”

By week’s end, both bills had gotten a hearing at the subcommittee level, but failed to make it to the House floor.

“Pam Knight and Zachary Phillips received a hearing, but they did not receive any justice,” a frustrated McCombie said. “The state again failed the people of Illinois, but I will not be complacent; and I will not stop fighting for what is fair and just.”

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said killing the two bills in committee was a terrible move by Democrats.

“Our single, greatest duty as legislators is to protect our constituents, and these actions by the House Democrats are appalling, egregious and unacceptable,” Durkin said. “These bills are responsible, thought-out, and will have an immediate impact in providing protections for innocent victims of crime.”

McCombie said the bills would have added protections to state workers and made parole hosts more accountable for parolees’ actions.

“Our job is to help give the tools to our schools and communities to stop crimes from happening and to protect individuals who serve our most vulnerable,” McCombie said. “I also find the timing of these actions extremely unfair and hypocritical. The majority has passed several pieces of legislation this session that were not heard in committee and will increase penalties for law-abiding gun owners. Unlike those gun-control bills, HB 4586 has bipartisan support with 43 co-sponsors and has no opponents.”

McCombie said the majority’s decision to vote down any and all penalty-enhancement bills was wrong.

“The safety of our residents is not a partisan issue,” the representative said. “We can work together to correct injustices within Illinois’ criminal justice system without jeopardizing the lives of the citizens we have sworn to protect.”





— Representative blasts peers over failure to move crime-victim bills —-