Bielert for IL 103

Brad Bielert taking on Carol Ammons for IL House of Representatives in District 103

After a long fight to get on the ballot this November, Brad Bielert is ready to take on Carol Ammons. The Champaign County Libertarian Party wholeheartedly endorse him for the position and stands ready to fight with him.

Brad was born and raised in Champaign and his family has lived here for 3 generations. As an auto mechanic, he has seen the difficulties facing the community: the lack of economic development, the over taxation, politicians treating people like serfs, and the abysmal social justice. He wants to change all that.

The fight to get on the ballot began with a petitioning. Marching door to door late into the evening to meet the signature requirement. It was no easy task after working long days under the hoods of cars, not to mention having to convince people to speak during a global pandemic.

Obtaining the required signatures, the victory was short lived, as opponents filed an objection to his signature counts. Objectors initially claimed there was a false address associated with one signature. When pressed on the fact that Brad obtained ~50% more signatures than the requirement, his adversaries changed tactics, attempting to argue that a pending case appealing a prior judicial reduction in signature granted to third parties in light of the pandemic invalidated the number.

On Friday August 21, the Illinois Board of Elections decided to reject the objection and ruled that Brad’s name be on the ballot this fall. He is the only opponent to Carol Ammons.

During an interview I asked him why he’s running.

“I want to see unity. People working together for the people. I don’t want to burden people with government control, but instill in them their right to individuality.”

Asked about his opponent he said:

“Unlike my opponent, I want to see legislation that represents all people. I want to give the people the freedom due to them while keeping them safe and out of harms way.”

He said that is why the four pillars of his campaign are:

  • Fair Maps
  • Lower Property Taxes
  • Making Springfield Work Again
  • Social Equality

Brad makes a strong case for libertarianism, and the Champaign County Libertarian Party to endorse him.

Please check out his website, follow him on Facebook, and donate to his campaign.

Get Illinois Libertarian House Candidates On the Ballot!

Due to the coronavirus situation, online petitioning to obtain registered voters’ signatures to get on the ballot is legal in Illinois this year. The Libertarian Party of Illinois has a US House of Representatives candidate in all 18 congressional districts. By signing a candidate’s petition, you are not endorsing or supporting a candidate. You are only stating that you would like the candidate to appear on the November 2020 General Election ballot.

Depending on the congressional district, each US House candidate must obtain between 856 and 1,599 signatures of registered voters by July 20 to get on this November’s ballot, and every signature helps!

It’s easy and will give you another choice at the ballot box this November. Thank you so much!

Sign the petition here:

Champaign LP Calls for Curtailing City Emergency Powers

The following letter was submitted May 5th, 2020 in response to Champaign City Council’s proposal (and ultimate passage of) to extend the Emergency Order originally passed March 13th, 2020 to again implore restraint in government authority.

My name is Russ Clark and I am the chair of the Champaign County Libertarian Party.  Our members are concerned that another month has gone by without any changes to Ordinance 2020-022. I would hope council members are concerned as well.  It is time yet again for the Mayor and unelected city officials to be granted the power to impose a curfew, ban the sale of liquor, wine, beer, gasoline, firearms, and ammunition, as well as cut off a citizen’s utilities, ban entry or exit from the city, take possession and title of a citizen’s personal property without compensation.  The regular study session on April 28th was cancelled without discussion.  This would have provided the perfect opportunity to craft and amend this ordinance to provide for the safe operation of the city during this public health emergency.  

I ask yet again for the council tonight to vote down this ordinance extension and direct the city manager to write amendments striking the unconstitutional powers granted under it. It is not necessary for a municipal government to take powers not granted or authorized by either the Federal or State constitution.  There is no impending destruction of the city nor have our medical facilities been overrun with COVID-19 cases.  If the ordinance is not extended, the ordinance 2020-039 for overtime and other COVID-19 costs would need to be continued.  An agenda amendment could be added to approve funding to pay overtime costs for police, fire, and city employees if necessary.

The city has encouraged people to wear masks but it has not proposed nor passed any resolutions pressing the State of Illinois to reopen the economy.  Many citizens would happily wear a mask if it meant they could get a haircut, shop for clothing at Marketplace Mall, workout in a gym or play with their child at our playgrounds. Council has not requested for such a quid pro quo, at least publicly, but has deemed fit to seize unconstitutional powers to take from the people with only promises to never use it.

Leaving this ordinance unchanged will leave the door open for future councils and future mayors to overreach and take drastic unnecessary measures.  I would encourage any new emergency ordinance to have clear delineations for authority and allow council to amend it prior to implementation.  Routing bills through the city administration is perfectly acceptable for zoning amendments, not for the restriction of civil rights.  Council should be allowed to amend emergency ordinances at the emergency meeting, not wait for a study session which could be cancelled out-of-hand.

I, on behalf of the Libertarian Party, ask that this council sees fit to vote down this ordinance and request amendments so that a LAWFUL emergency order can be passed at the next city council meeting.

Russ Clark
Champaign County Libertarian Party

Open Letter to Champaign Council Denouncing Extraordinary Powers

The following letter was submitted April 7th, 2020 in response to Champaign City Council’s proposal (and ultimate passage of) to extend the Emergency Order originally passed March 13th, 2020.

My name is Russ Clark and am the chair of the Champaign County Libertarian Party.  I am yet again shocked and dismayed that my city council is ruled by fear.  Yet another motion for emergency orders that allows our mayor and unelected city officials to ban the sale of liquor, wine, beer, gasoline, firearms, ammunition, as well as cut off a citizen’s utilities, ban entry or exit from the city, take possession and title of a citizen’s personal property without compensation.  This emergency ordinance needs amendment so city government only takes the actions necessary to deal with a public health crisis, not invasion by a foreign power marching down Neil Street. If there is no need or desire to use them, why take them at all?  We all know the names of leaders who assume these kinds of powers under the guise of an emergency only to later use them when it suits their own ends. We call them many names that we all know.

So I implore the council tonight to vote down this ordinance and direct the city manager to write amendments striking the unconstitutional powers granted under it. The council appears to trust the Mayor. Many in her political party have publicly stated she would never take such rash actions. We cannot be assured that future councils can be worthy of trust nor future mayors would be so inclined to not use them. To leave this emergency order as is would invite lesser people to use their guile and political skill to gain these powers with a populace unable to halt them. The people would be forced to rely on County, State and Federal courts or force to rein them in.  How much damage can be done to our community while we wait for a judge to dither, hear arguments and ruminate on a decision?  If a mayor were to cut off natural gas supplies in winter to halt carbon dioxide emissions under a “climate emergency” declaration, quite a bit!

This ordinance has no delineation for the state of emergency nor does Council’s procedure allow Council to make amendments prior to adoption.  They must be routed through city administration first. This is acceptable for zoning ordinances and personnel policies, not enacting police powers that trample individual freedoms guaranteed by Federal law.

I would hope that this council sees fit to vote down this order and request amendments so that a lawful emergency order can be passed at the next city council meeting.

Russ Clark
Champaign County Libertarian Party


Under emergency ordinance, Mayor Feinen and unelected City Manager David more powerful than Governor Pritzker or President Trump

Champaign, IL — The Champaign County Libertarian Party today denounced the unanimously passed emergency ordinance as a backdoor power grab due to the COVID-19 virus.  The ordinance does not stipulate timelines nor causation for suspending property rights or elimination of commerce.

“This ordinance grants Mayor Feinen and our unelected City Administrator Dorothy David, the power to seize property and take title, prohibit the sale of firearms, gasoline, and alcohol, ban meetings, cancel events, enforce a curfew, prohibit the movement of free people in and out of the city and direct the shutoff of utilities and water.  I would have assumed this city council would defend an individual’s private property rights, even in times of emergency.  The ordinance does not stipulate the emergency conditions this ordinance can be enacted under or even stipulate that the actions of the Mayor must be relevant to the emergency at hand.”

Even under a Congressional declaration of war, a government may commandeer or seize property but the property owner is required to be compensated for such seizure under the 5th Amendment.  The emergency ordinance passed today makes no provision.  Detention without reason is rarely used outside of wartime as well.  Most court decisions on firearms and ammunition sales stipulate that it is firmly under control of Federal and State laws, not municipal ordinances, and outright bans on firearms or munition sales have been found unconstitutional.  Many cities have enacted ‘Climate Emergency’ ordinances.  Combined with this ordinance, the Mayor’s office could ban the sale of gasoline and diesel and shut off natural gas supplies to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.

“Outside of being invaded by a foreign power, there is no reason for such an ordinance to be written, much less enacted.  People should be concerned about the spread of COVID-19 but should not sacrifice their rights to a government so keen to tell them what they can or cannot do. Our government should be encouraging public spacing and personal hygiene, not creating pretexts to grow the power of government.  This ordinance should be repealed at the next city council meeting.”

Russ Clark
Champaign County Libertarian Party

On Policy: Marijuana’s Legal, Allow its Sale

After deadlock on the Environment and Land Use Committee, zoning ordinances for marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated areas of Champaign County are going to the board for vote. Proponents laud the potential tax windfall from potential businesses, while opponents fear children will be tempted to use the drug.

Lets consider the facts. Illinois legalized recreational marijuana earlier this year. The Champaign Board voted to tax marijuana-related businesses. Selling marijuana to minors will continue to be illegal. Even if marijuana sale is disallowed in these communities, citizens will be able to purchase marijuana elsewhere; Champaign and Urbana are only a short drives away.

Fear from opponents are purely unfounded. Legalization of marijuana has not increased use among young people or decreased graduation/dropout rates in Colorado. Use by teens in Washington state is also decreasing or remains flat. Scientific studies show that legalizing medical and recreational marijuana use is decreasing or having no affect on teen marijuana use. This tired old trope is played out.

The Champaign County Libertarian Party supports the right of people to choose for themselves what to do with their bodies. We support businesses and markets and the consensual exchange of goods. In light of evidence against increase youth usage in case studies around the US, we see no downside to allowing marijuana businesses. For these reasons, the Champaign County Libertarian Party urges board members to vote in support of pro-marijuana zoning ordinances.

On Policy: Money for Special Interests, Straight from Your Paycheck

Note: This new blog series will address, from a Libertarian perspective, policy issues facing Champaign County residents, and those of Illinois state more broadly. It will examine upcoming or recently passed laws, and inform you about how your elected officials voted on them.

Campaign season 2020 is underway in Champaign County: mailers are arriving by foot carried by the faithful letter carriers, political swag is beginning to fly off tables at local events, and yard signs will soon begin sprouting in lawns all around town. At least one such mailer detailing Rep. Carol Ammons’ agenda and key legislative record has already been making the rounds. I thought this would be a good chance to reflect on her representation and voting record over the 2019-2020 term to date.

Rep. Ammons’ recent mailer.

Rep. Ammons has been an ally on two issues that Libertarians care about deeply; namely, criminal justice reform and legalization of recreational marijuana use (see Sec. 1.7 of the LP party platform here). I applaud her efforts to provide transparency of public complaints of policing (HB2503), work to improve independent legal review of the polygraph process (HB2569), support for lowering the burden of appearing in court for persons held in State confinement (SB1890), and creation of criminal ramifications for law enforcement officials guilty of fraud (HB2112, HB2111). She also co-sponsored the recently passed bill legalizing recreational marijuana use in Illinois (HB0902), which was a landmark achievement in US legalization efforts in that it provides provisions to free non-violent drug offenders.

Bills co-sponsored or voted for by Rep. Ammons.

That said, much of her voting record has been in opposition to the values of liberty, freedom to operate, personal choice, smaller government, and fiscal responsibility. As evidence, I will briefly review bills she has supported — and explicitly calls out in her flyer — as they represent examples of the worst type of government.

Rep. Ammons supported the “Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency Act” which places new regulations on the healthcare industry within the State of Illinois at a time when health insurance costs continue to rise at rates greatly outpacing income and GDP growth. HB 156 burdens insurance provides with reporting requirements related to prescription drug coverage. Additionally, the law requires drug manufactures to provide justifications for increases in drug prices. While on the one hand this legislation does not change the right of manufacturers and insurers to price costs of insurance, it is clearly meant to publicly shame companies for their business practices.

Enter HB 471, a bill that amends the “Illinois Insurance Code” which empowers the State to reject ACA health insurance premium rate increase. By nebulously defining “unreasonable rate increases” it essentially allows the state to impose price controls on health insurance plans. Many might think this is good policy considering the rapidly rising health insurance costs; however, this bill will likely decrease choice among an already sparsely populated market. Insurer participation in the health exchange marketplace has continually dropped since the passage of the ACA from a peak of 5 insurers on average in 2015 to 2.35 in 2019, and as things stand today 15% of Illinois enrollees only have a single insurer option [1]. This is unsurprising considering the high costs of compliance. Price controls will only exacerbate the problem. As a case study, Land of Lincoln Health closed operations in 2016 after $7.1M in losses, despite $160M in government grants [2]. Along with decreasing choices, enrollment in the exchange has been declining at a rate between 7% and 9% per year from 2016 to 2018 [3]. I highly doubt adding price controls will solve these problems, and my prediction is that HB 471 will eventually require further Illinois subsidies to prop up failing marketplace plans.

In economic policy areas, Rep. Ammons voted for efforts that will weaken employment in Illinois, while raising overall State spending. She supported the “Lifting Up Illinois Working Family Act” (SB 1) that increases the minimum wage to $15/hour over 5 years, the bloated appropriates bill (SB 262) which adds between $574M and $1.3B to the state deficit [4], and an amendment to the Illinois tax code (SB 687) that raises corporate tax rates by a percentage point and creates a steep progressive income tax. While individuals and families making less than $100K per year will see similar or slightly reduced tax rates, higher earners will face steep taxes ranging from 7.75% to 7.99%. This is the second tax increase in four years, after the increase from 3.75% to 4.95% in 2017.

Ramifications of Illinois corporate and individual taxes have been felt for years. Corporations have been leaving Illinois for years [5] due to high costs of business as have individuals [6]. In fact, Illinois has the second highest rate of emigration surpassed only by New Jersey, based on data from moving companies [7,8]. This trend will likely continue given the increased corporate and individual tax rate increases, resulting in worsening financial situation within the state.

To put a cherry on the cake, Rep. Ammons supported broad subsidies for R&D and apprenticeships via SB 1591 and SB 191. The former amends the Illinois tax code to extend R&D tax credits to 2027 of up to 6.5% for certain expenses and creates and Apprenticeship Tax Credit of $3500 per employee (up to $5M per company!). While innovation is important, rather than increasing tax rates followed by subsidies, why not just let businesses keep more of their money? The latter bill creates a “21st Century Employment” grant program for community colleges that requires the state to pay at least 60% of proposed training costs. While no specific dollar amount is allocated for the training program—which is itself irresponsible governance—we can estimate the deficit due to the apprenticeship tax credits of up to $48.7M (based on the 13,900 apprenticeships identified in a 2016 report [9]). Rather than require the State to sponsor apprenticeships, why not let the plethora of unions in Illinois pay for them? That is part of their raison d’etre after all.

Overall, these hallmark proposals supported by Rep. Ammons are misguided. They include bad governance, increased regulations and price controls, tax hikes, and payments to special interests. I expect this will result in decreased competition, further flight of taxpaying corporations and individuals alike, and a worsening condition in Illinois. I give Rep. Ammons a D- for the 2019-2020 term so far.

Detailed Notes on Policy

IL HB 156 – “Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency Act”

  • Status: Passed June 21, 2019
  • Bill Specifics
    • Requires health insurer to disclose to Illinois Department of Public Health:
      • all covered prescription drugs
      • % of premium attributable to drug costs
      • % spending change in year over year spending on drugs
    • IDPH will publish list of drugs for which it pays significant amounts
    • Require manufacturer to report:
      • Justification for increase in drug cost
    • Good: Does not change manufacturers right to change drug price

IL HB 471 – Amendment to the “Illinois Insurance Code”

  • Status: Passed May 24, 2019
  • Bill Specifics
    • Added a nebulous definition of “unreasonable rate increase” which subjectively determined by a State committee
    • Requires all ACA healthcare exchange plans to file rate increase proposals with the Illinois Department of Public Health which will then determines whether to allow or deny them

IL SB 1 – “Lifting Up Illinois Working Families Act”

  • Status: Passed February 19, 2019
  • Bill Specifics
    • Bill raises minimum wage to $15 over 5 years
    • Minimum wage increases to:
      •  $9.25/$10 in 2020
      • $11 in 2021
      • $12 in 2022
      • $13 in 2023
      • $14 in 2024
      • $15 after 2025
    • Credit for companies with <= 50 employees if average wage is <$55K
      • 25% in 2020, 21% in 2021, 13% in 2022, 9% in 2023, 5% in 2024
    • Penalty for underpayment increase from 2% to 5%

IL SB 262 – Appropriations Bill

  • Status: Bill Passed as of June 5
  • Bill Specifics
    • Increases spending across the board
    • Estimated deficits between $574M and $1.3B

IL SB 687 – Amendment to the “Illinois Income Tax Act”

  • Status: Passed June 5, 2019
  • Bill Specifics
    • Raises corporate income tax rate from 7% to 7.99% on Jan. 1 2021
    • Raises income tax rates:
      • For individuals:
        • 4.75% up to $10K
        • 4.9% from $10K to $100K
        • 4.95% from $100K to $250K
        • 7.75% from $250K to $350K
        • 7.85% from $350K to $750K
        • 7.99% for anyone making $750K or more
      • And married couples:
        • 4.75% up to $10K
        • 4.9% from $10K to $100K
        • 4.95% from $100K to $250K
        • 7.75% from $250K to $500K
        • 7.85% from $500K to $1M
        • 7.99% for anyone making $1M or more
    • Adds a tax credit equal to 6% of real property taxes
    • Adds a tax credit for each child <18 years old
      • $5 for each $2K up to $60K (joint; total $150) or $40K (single; total $100)
    • Changes married filing jointly to be spouse instead of husband and wife (good!)
    • Transfers General Revenue Fund to Local Gov. Dist. Fund:
      • Down from 6.06% to 5.32% revenue from income taxes
      • Down from 6.85% to 6.16% of revenue from corporate taxes

IL SB 1591 – Amendment to the “Illinois Income Tax Act”

  • Status: Passed June 6, 2019
  • Bill Specifics
    • Extends Tax credit for R&D of 6.5% of qualifying expenditures for research to 2027 (from 2022)
    • Creates an Apprenticeship Tax Credit of $3500 for employers (Up to $5M per company)

IL SB 1919 – Amendment to the “Public Community College Act”

  • Status: Passed June 21, 2019
  • Bill Specifics:
    •  Creates a “21st Century Employment” grant program for community colleges
      • Colleges create a training plan and budget to work with local development partners
      • Private public partnership where development partners pay maximally 40% of the costs
      • Creates an advisory panel for grant program
    • No Dollar amount is given; based on appropriations

Referenced Materials

  1. R. Fehr, C. Cox, L. Levitt, “Insurer Participation on ACA Marketplaces, 2014-2019”, Kaiser Family Foundation, Nov. 14. 2018. Accessed: Aug. 8, 2019.
  2. L. Norris, “Illinois Health Insurance”, Health, Dec. 17, 2018. Accessed: Aug. 8, 2019.
  3. C. Gaba, “UPDATE: 2018 ACA Open Enrollment: FINAL TOTAL: 11,760,533”,, Feb. 7, 2018. Accessed: Aug. 8, 2019.
  4. A. Schuster, “Pritzker Signs Illinois Budget Out of Balance By Up to $1.3 Billion”, Illinois Policy, Jun. 11, 2019. Accessed: Aug. 8, 2019.
  5. A.M. Kukec, “Illinois Loses Out as Companies Move Out: Budget woes and political chaos have businesses and workers fleeing Illinois”, U.S. News, Mar. 15, 2018. Accessed: Aug. 8, 2019.
  6. D. Keene, “Fleeing the Land of Lincoln”, The Washington Times, Mar. 13, 2018. Accessed: Aug. 8, 2019.
  7. J. Barnas, “Moving Company Ranks Illinois 2nd in Nation for Outbound Moves”, Illinois Policy, Jan. 7, 2019. Accessed: Aug. 8, 2019.
  8. United Van Lines, “2018 National Movers Survey: New Jersey Tops List of Outbound Moves while Western ad Southern States Lead Inbound Moves”, Jan. 2, 2019. Accessed: Aug. 8, 2019.
  9. Illinois Department of Labor, “2016 Apprenticeship Survey Report “, Mar. 1, 2017. Accessed: Aug. 8, 2019.

From the Chair: IL DCFS Needs Accountability

A recent report from the Inspector General found that the Illinois Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS) played a role in 102 children deaths in the past 3 years.  102 deaths that don’t include Tanaja Barnes of Decatur, 2, in 2019.  She froze to death in her home as her mother’s boyfriend refused to pay for heat.  102 deaths don’t include AJ Freund of Crystal Lake, 5, who died being beaten at the hands of his drug addicted parents.  Those parents had repeated contact with DCFS from Tanaja’s and AJ’s births.

JB promised to expand DCFS role in child upbringing during the campaign.  He promised to increase the birth-to-three services of the during the campaign.  This includes expanding home visits because it “increased school readiness, reduced child maltreatment and reduced lifetime arrests and convictions.”  He also promised to create a mobile and online portal to provide information from the state so the state can reach all new parents.  This will require ever increasing budgets for a state agency that consistently fails its mission today.

DCFS staffers face high workloads and, unfortunately for the children, it can result in the death of those in their care.  The majority of DCFS workers are not evil, thrive on forcing drama, or incompetent.  The ones that are cause dire consequences.  The majority of children who come into contact with DCFS will not be taken from their parents.  The ones that are face peril not only from our legal system but also those charged with their care.  This agency is in drastic need of reform and formal policies that will guide a good working culture.

The agency contractors who were in contact Tanaja and AJ will not face criminal charges for their actions.  In these cases, the contractors didn’t attempt to falsify reports.  They did falsify reports in the case of Semaj Crosby in 2017.  This contract employee, to date, has not been charged with any crime.  This is wrong.  If a prisoner dies in custody and a police officer falsifies the report, that officer is accountable of any number of offenses at the very least, filing a false report.  The DCFS worker who falsifies a report and a child dies, faces being fired but no jail time.  Given that current employment law prohibits employers from given information as to why a former employee is released, this seems like a small consequence for doing such an important job so poorly.  The contractor will likely not face any financial harm at all for a 17 month old baby that is crushed under the living room couch.

This agency needs reform, not more contact with more parents who will fear their children being taken away.  The agency needs to be accountable to those it assumes the care of, not a union that protects those who cannot be trusted to tell the truth.  The agency needs a stable director, not a political flunky who is unwilling to make tough choices fighting that union or worse, do their bidding.  If the agency is unwilling to do so, it should be dissolved and its charge handed back to law enforcement with full capacity.  102 lives and no agency employees being held to account.  One can only imagine the cost for expanding DCFS’ reach into every Illinois family.

From the Chair: Mahomet Annexes Outlying Subdivisions

On April 23, the Village of Mahomet annexed three subdivisions against the wishes of a vocal contingent of homeowners in those subdivisions.  The Briarcliff and Summit Ridge subdivisions were developed outside the existing limits of the village explicitly for a country feel and lower taxes.  Many of those residents attended study sessions explaining to elected Mahomet trustees that they purchased their home, in part, because it was not in the Village.  Village officials have been concerned with increasing revenues and increasing the Village’s population count for the upcoming 2020 Census.

A Federal Census should NEVER be a reason to annex property into a city or village.  Nor should property owners be forcibly annexed into a city or village.  These homeowners are now facing increased property taxes and fees that they didn’t want.  These homeowners are now forced to purchase services from a provider they didn’t choose. These homeowners are now taxed without elected representation as the homeowners couldn’t vote in the 2019 Village of Mahomet election.  These communities would have been better served to be annexed after a referendum vote on annexation.  We doubt this would have passed given the large number of negative comments given in public meetings.

This is taxation without representation.  We believe the annexation statutes should be changed to require subdivision annexations to go to a direct vote of the proposed annexation residents.  These residents should be allowed to have their say at the ballot box, not railroaded in a village hearing or ask for relief in a court of law.  The statutes should also be changed to require cities and villages to annex properties PRIOR to a municipal election so newly annexed residents can elect their officials, not have them foisted upon them.