State Rep. Nathan Reitz (D-Steeleville) spoke with the Republic-Times Tuesday to discuss his plans for the spring legislative session that begins next week.
Reitz has four major bills he plans to introduce, one he intends to sponsor in the Illinois House of Representatives and an important problem he hopes to help solve.
The most sweeping legislation he plans to file would repeal the law requiring Illinois gun owners to have a Firearm Owners’ Identification Card.
Reitz acknowledged there is another bill doing the same thing from Republican John Cabello of Machesney Park and that previous efforts to repeal the law have failed, but he still believes it is necessary.
“It’s not fair,” Reitz said of FOID cards. “It’s pointless to have it. It doesn’t do anything to curb what people want it to curb. We’re one of the few states that have it, and it’s time for it to go.”
Reitz also aims to file measures related to outdoor sports.
One would raise the age at which youth can receive a free fishing license from 16 to 18.
“It just gives kids a couple more years to take to the sport if they haven’t and promotes continuing on as an adult,” said Reitz, who is up for re-election this year.
The second bill would allow military veterans who are disabled from their service to obtain trapping licenses for free. Currently, these individuals get hunting and fishing licenses for free.
The final bill Reitz said he will introduce is one that would create another option for special license plates. These would have “In God We Trust” on them.
“We have a lot of special plates, and this is another one I know we would have a lot of people be interested in,” Reitz reasoned.
In his sophomore spring session, Reitz also plans to sponsor a bill that state Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) is sponsoring in the Senate.
That measure would give pension parity to those who work security jobs at places like Chester Mental Health Center. Those approximately 600 people across Illinois would get the same benefits as department of corrections workers under the legislation.
Reitz noted other measures he may sponsor or introduce could come up throughout the session.
While he plans to work on his own bills, Reitz said his chief hope for this session is that the General Assembly can reduce property taxes for residents.
“We have to do something to alleviate the property tax burden,” he explained. “The report from the Property Tax Relief Task Force is due. It’s got a lot in it, but there’s going to have to be some meaningful legislation that comes out of that or comes from elsewhere.
“We have to have some kind of meaningful property tax relief, especially with all the increases we saw last session.”
That matter might be more likely to pass because Reitz said he is unaware of any major bills like upping the minimum wage that fellow lawmakers plan to introduce.
He predicted, however, that the General Assembly would tackle ethics reform for politicians.
“What we did last session was a start, but I’m sure there will be more of that because there’s been other things that have happened since then,” Reitz said.
In the fall veto session, the state passed a resolution creating an ethics reform commission.
Still, Reitz said he believes property tax relief may be on the way.
“I’m more optimistic that we’ll come up with something to eliminate some of the tax burden,” he said. “That’s probably my main hope that’s going to come out of this session – that we can find a way to help the middle class in southern Illinois.”