Photos of some victims of violence in Illinois
Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) pleaded with the public to call on their legislators to pass public safety legislation that was shot down due to Democrats.
“We are all here to ask for help and push the passage of HB4586,” McCombie, who was joined by Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) and Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport), at an impromptu press conference one recent afternoon. “This bill would value the lives of our state employees within the Department of Children and Family Services as well as Adult Protective Services.”
Last week on the House Floor, the 71st District representative called out her peers for not hearing HB4586, also known as the Pam Knight Bill.
Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna)
Knight was brutally beaten when attempting to take a 2-year-old boy into protective custody from an unsafe environment in Milledgeville in 2017.
“Last week, Pam’s bill was voted down by the majority, with many other common-sense bills that would protect and promote public safety,” McCombie said. “I ask all of you today to strongly reject the message that was sent last week.”
Calling Knight’s murderer a monster, McCombie said he is now out on bond for aggravated battery, but could have been charged with a Class 2 felony, which carries a minimum of two years.
“HB4586 would bring penalties that would align across our agencies for those who would dare attack our state workers,” McCombie said. “We all know and agree that this bill will not deter crimes, but it will keep people who are a clear and present danger out of our communities and bring some sense of justice to the victims and their families.”
As the representative from Dixon, where Knight lived, Demmer said the community watched as the tragedy unfolded over the course of several months.
“HB4586 would send a strong message that attacks on people who are carrying out the work of the State of Illinois," Demmer said. "We have no tolerance for people who commit these acts against them.”
Politics at play over HB4586 are unacceptable, Demmer said.
“If any bill should be above politics, it is this one we are discussing here today," he said. "This bill has 50 bipartisan co-sponsors, yet last week we saw individuals subbed into committee with the purpose of defeating the bill before it got to the House floor where it has a clear bipartisan show of support.”
Before introducing Pam Knight’s husband, Don Knight, Stewart concurred with his peers.
“I think my colleagues have already articulated this is a good bill to protect the children of Illinois, and it is an even better bill to protect those DCFS workers, who every day put their lives on the line making sure the children of this state are safe,” Stewart said.
Don Knight said his wife would want HB4586 passed.
“I am asking for everybody’s support to help pass this bill; and the ones who vote no on this bill, I would appreciate if they send us a letter stating why they feel this is not important for us to have in place,” Knight said. “So please, I am asking the House and public to pass this bill.”
McCombie said the bill deserves to be heard.
“She deserves it, the family deserves it and the people out in the field today deserve it,” McCombie said. “So please call your legislators and ask them to have this heard on the House and Senate floors for a vote.”
When asked by a reporter at the end of the press conference if and when Republicans are the majority of the House, will she “give it right back” to Democrats, McCombie did not hesitate to answer.
“Personally, I don’t hold grudges, but I will never forget this,” McCombie said, adding when Republicans get the majority back she would hope they do not behave the way the Democrats did last week.