McCombie speaks out after bills to protect workers, tighten parolee laws get cold shoulder
Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) told her peers exactly what she thought recently about legislative action on two of her bills: HB4586, known as the Pam Knight Bill; and HB4588, known as Zachary’s Law.
Two months after two resolutions had been approved honoring fallen Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Pam Knight, who was brutally beaten when attempting to take a 2-year-old boy into protective custody from an unsafe environment in Milledgeville in 2017, McCombie stood angry on the House floor asking members to remain quiet during her point of personal privilege.
“We were elected by the people, and it is past due time that we act like adults and work for the people, all of the people,” McCombie said.
McCombie shared how Pam’s husband, Don Knight, was not given time to testify before the Judiciary Committee to discuss his concerns with the current law. The least the committee could have done was offer respect and time, she said.
“Pam Knight deserves so much more than what she got when she gave her life for the protection of another,” McCombie said. “The current law allows people to attack and harm DCFS and adult protection service workers ... with very little penalty.”
Members of the majority told McCombie that bills increasing said penalties are not being considered in committee.
“The committee leadership has a strong desire and a goal to reform our criminal justice system; and that is great, but reform by definition means to improve not ignore,” McCombie said. “Our jobs here are to give the tools to our schools and communities to stop crimes from happening and to protect individuals who live and work and support Illinois.”
The timing of the actions are extremely unfair and hypocritical, she added.
“Yesterday the committee did pass a street gang loitering bill that was initially good but amended to the point that it is now ineffective in my opinion,” McCombie said. “But the majority has passed several pieces of legislation just last month that were not heard in committee and that will add penalties to those who are currently law-abiding citizens."
Pam Knight’s Bill, HB4586, “has bipartisan support, and 43 of us are co-sponsors and it has no opponents, but still (it) did not get to be heard, McCombie said of the bill that adds protections to DCFS and adult protection services workers.
“It is not an overreach ... and it would give state employees ... the same protections as our police, our fire, and other emergency responders,” McCombie said.
HB4588, Zachary’s Law, in honor of 18-year-old Zachary Phillips who was murdered by a parolee who was only out of prison for seven days, was also not heard, according to McCombie. If passed, the bill would hold a parole host as guilty as a parolee if a murder weapon is gained from the host.
“I ask today that the Democratic leadership recall both Pam Knight's and Zachary Phillips' bills to be heard,” McCombie said. “We need to bring real reform, improvements to the floor and stop trying to hurt each other politically.”