Bryant’s Bulletin: June 21, 2022

More than half of Illinois’ pandemic unemployment benefits lost to fraud

A recently released report by the Illinois Auditor General revealed that the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) gave out nearly $2 billion of pandemic unemployment benefits to fraudsters.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which was a federally-funded program created during the pandemic to provide benefits for unemployed individuals who ran out of regular unemployment benefits and for self-employed individuals, gig workers and other individuals typically ineligible for unemployment benefits.

The Auditor General’s report revealed an unprecedented level of fraud and IDES’ failure to “maintain accurate and complete” data on residents filing claims. Overall, the report showed that out of the $3.6 billion that Illinois received for the PUA program from July 2020 through June 2021, $1.9 billion was found to be fraudulent, mostly due to identity theft.

In a required report to the federal government last year, Gov. JB Pritzker estimated Illinois had only paid out about $14.2 million in fraudulent pandemic assistance claims, massively less than the nearly $2 billion it actually paid.

Senator Bryant points out that while fraudsters received checks through an IDES system that failed to verify identities and the legitimacy of claims, real business owners that were forced to close their doors through Gov. Pritzker’s executive orders waited months for service or even a return phone call. Some never received money owed to them, and many never reopened their doors for business.

She also says that we cannot forget that the State of Illinois still has a $1.8 billion hole in the Unemployment Insurance Fund that will now have to be replenished by business owners and taxpayers in this state.

Sen. Bryant receives pro-business award

Keeping Illinois businesses here and attracting news one is a priority of Senator Terri Bryant’s, which is why she was honored for her pro-business voting record.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce announced its 2022 Champion of Free Enterprise Award recipients to legislators who work toward the advancement of economic opportunity for all Illinoisans, and to those who have made special contributions to the defense and furtherance of free enterprise in our state.

The Illinois Chamber rated all members of the 102nd General Assembly based on each legislator’s votes on the key business-related legislation of the past two years. Sen. Bryant was one of the recipients of this award and earned a score of 88 percent.

“Our state and small business community continue to face significant challenges and economic uncertainty, which is why it is critical for lawmakers to support policies that promote fiscal responsibility and job creation,” said State Senator Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro). “I am honored to receive the Champion of Free Enterprise award as a result of my pro-jobs, pro-growth record and look forward to advocating for more proposals that will strengthen our economy and create more opportunities for job creators within Illinois.”

Click here to view the 102nd General Assembly Legislative Ratings report.

For the second time, Illinois Supreme Court declines to rule on FOID Act

Last Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court released a 4-3 decision to decline ruling on whether Illinois’ Firearm Owners Identification Act is unconstitutional.

This is the second time that the Court has seen the case of the People v. Vivian Brown and the second time the court has chosen to not rule on the constitutionality of state’s FOID Act, which requires Illinoisans to receive a permit to legally own a gun.

The majority opinion contended that the White County Circuit Court did not adhere to the Supreme Court’s previous 2020 ruling in the case and that the lower court had no authority to reconsider the case after that ruling. This decision once again vacated the circuit court’s ruling that the FOID Act was unconstitutional.

The People v. Vivian Brown case started when Vivian Claudine Brown was charged in 2017 with possession of a firearm without a FOID card after police responded to a call that she had fired a gun in her home. While police didn’t find evidence that she fired the rifle they found at the home, they decided to charge her for possession.

That led to the Circuit Court in White County ruling that the fees and forms required to receive a FOID imposed an unconstitutional burden on Brown’s Second Amendment right to keep a firearm in her own home. Additionally, the circuit judge issued an alternative ruling without the prompting from Brown’s legal team that the Illinois General Assembly did not intend to apply the FOID Act in the home because that would have meant anybody with knowledge of a firearm and exclusive control over the area where it was kept could be construed as possessing the gun.

Because of this alternative ruling, the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision vacated the original order and sent the case back down to the lower court in White County. There, Brown’s legal team filed a motion to reconsider, which was granted by the circuit judge. After charges were reinstated, Brown’s attorneys filed a new motion to dismiss on constitutional grounds, which the judge upheld. This led to an appeal from the state, sending the case back to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Upcoming District Events

State Senator Terri Bryant is hosting a series of casual events throughout the 58th Senate District to allow constituent to directly speak to her about issues important to them.

This Thursday,  Sen. Bryant will be hosting events in Waterloo and Murphysboro.

Happy Birthday Tyler!

Finally, I wanted to take a moment to wish my wonderful son a happy birthday.

Today, Tyler turned 29-years-old. If you happen to see him today, please join me in wishing him a happy birthday as he enters the last year of his 20s.

Want to stay up to date with your Senator?

Sign up for the District E-Newsletter below: