Laura Hois: Candidate profile, Illinois State House -- 81st District
In the race to represent District 81 in the Illinois House of Representatives, Republican Laura Hois of Downers Grove is challenging incumbent Democrat Anne Stava-Murray of Naperville in the Nov. 3 general election.
Hois is an attorney with a solo practice in Downers Grove with more than 20 years' experience in real estate, local government, estate planning, and corporate law. She was Downers Grove Township Clerk from 2013-2014 and a longtime Republican precinct committeeman.
To explore her campaign website, visit laurahois.com.
District 81 includes parts of parts of Naperville, Woodridge, Bolingbrook, Darien and Downers Grove.
The Daily Herald recently asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Stava-Murray did not respond to the questionnaire.
Q: Should Speaker Madigan resign from his leadership positions? If he does not resign, will you support him for a new term as House speaker?
A: Speaker Madigan should resign from all leadership positions, including his position as a state representative.
I support the no-confidence resolution to remove him. He will NOT be receiving a vote for Speaker from me. Corruption has only expanded under Madigan's 38-year reign. Elected officials are supposed to work for the people, not for the failed leader of their political party.
Q: Describe at least two circumstances in which you have shown or would show a willingness and capacity to act independently of the direction or demands of party leadership.
A: As a Downers Grove Township committeeman, I listened to and respected the party leadership's direction while supporting only those Republican candidates who had kept their promises to constituents. I also ran as an independent candidate against the establishment choice for Downers Grove Township Assessor in 2017.
Q: What should the General Assembly do to improve the state's unemployment benefits system?
A: The IDES failures revealed an outdated system completely unable to keep up with the demand, resulting in unreturned phone calls and families going for months without a paycheck through no fault of their own. The governor and the government officials in charge must be held accountable to improve IDES services.
To fix IDES, the governor must take action to invest in crucial system infrastructure upgrades and train more employees and intake workers to provide responsive customer services.
At the very least, Illinois Department of Employment Security staff members should call unemployed people back to let them know where their unemployment application stands. Until the governor resolves IDES issues, Illinois residents will continue to voice their frustrations with the system and the governor's inadequate response to them.
Q: Should Illinois use a nonpartisan process to redraw legislative districts?
A: Illinois has missed another chance to stop politicians from drawing legislative maps that allow them to pick their own voters. For decades, corrupt politicians like Michael Madigan have controlled the drawing of legislative district boundaries.
The General Assembly's failure to meet during the lockdown allowed the fair maps amendment deadline to expire. Those like me who diligently gathered signatures on fair maps petitions were sorely disappointed when our opportunity to have a bipartisan commission make future redistricting decisions was put off for 10 more years.
Enacting fair maps is a critical first step to ending corruption in Springfield. Republicans and Democrats agree that gerrymandering fosters an unfair advantage to one party.
I am running to allow voters to have a voice in their government and to hold their elected officials accountable for representing their interests.
Q: How would you rate the governor's handling of the COVID-19 crisis? Does the legislature need to have more input and influence in establishing rules and policies related to stemming the spread of the disease? What you have done differently, if anything? If nothing, please say so.
A: I would rate the governor a C-minus.
In the beginning stages of the pandemic, his daily briefings provided Illinoisans with key information on keeping their families safe.
However, as the pandemic continued, the governor acted unilaterally and without legislative input.
He allowed big-box retail to continue to operate while shuttering small retail stores, causing many to close forever. He shut down churches, park district facilities, schools and sports activities while allowing abortions, cannabis sales, gambling and certain protests to continue.
To help those who lost their jobs, he should have anticipated and mitigated the problems with IDES. Unreturned calls and a system unable to keep up with the demand have resulted in some families going for months without a paycheck through no fault of their own. Government officials must be held accountable for the services they provide.
The governor should act immediately to fix IDES. We want our state governor to assist Illinoisans and ensure their safety in times of crisis.
Q: Regardless of whether the federal government provides assistance, what is the impact of the pandemic on the state's economic outlook and what immediate and long-term actions should be taken to address it? Would you support increasing taxes to pay for COVID-19 response or to make up for lost revenue related to COVID-19?
A: I cannot in good faith support additional taxes. In the last decade we have seen the income tax increase twice. With each increase, lawmakers assured Illinoisans they would "fix" the debt.
Instead, we saw decreased funding to municipalities and more new, reckless spending. Our property taxes soared, the motor fuel tax doubled, DMV fees went up 50% and sin taxes were piled on. Enough is enough. There is no way to squeeze any more money out of Illinois taxpayers.
Q: The graduated income tax is designed with the intent to reduce taxes for 97 percent of Illinoisans. Do you believe that will happen? Why or why not? What assurances can be given to voters?
A: The graduated income tax amendment would not truly reduce taxes for the 97%. For example, a family making the median income of $60,000 a year would realize only $40 in tax savings.
It is disingenuous to say that such a small amount -- $40 -- is a tax reduction.
The governor, and my opponent, are proposing that lawmakers be empowered to tax different incomes at different rates, as in federal taxes. The tax rates on higher incomes have not yet been disclosed and would be voted upon later, after the general election.
The governor is advertising this as a "tax decrease" for most people. Yet, the alleged tax savings in each bracket may not be enough to fill up a tank of gas or buy two day's worth of groceries.
Even though he is spending $55 million to claim that 97% of taxpayers will save money, the income bracket savings don't deliver true relief for middle-income taxpayers who pay high property taxes and 50% higher gas taxes.
Q: Do you support any type of tax on retirement benefits?
A: No. The Graduated Income Tax would open the door to taxation of retirement income. The people in my district have already told me that if that happens, they're "outta here!"
Q: Should Illinois prohibit lawmakers from lobbying other levels of government? Should lawmakers be prohibited from becoming lobbyists after their term in office? For how long?
A: Yes, Illinois should prohibit lawmakers from lobbying other levels of government. Lawmakers should be prohibited from becoming lobbyists for at least two years after they leave office.
Q: What are the most important components that should be included in legislative ethics reform? What will you do to help them come to pass?
A: Fair Maps. Term limits for legislative leaders. I wish to revise Madigan's rules that have prevented state representatives from making any progress on behalf of their constituents.
For example, I support a bill that has been proposed to require a floor vote on any legislation that has at least 5 bipartisan co-sponsors, to prevent Madigan from squashing legislation without a vote.
Q: What should the state do to address the still-growing problems with its key pension programs?
A: The state should prioritize the payment of debts and funding of pension accounts. Lawmakers must: (a) never again raid the pension fund for other purposes, and (b) stop initiating new spending until such time as the state's debts are paid in full and pension funds are viable again. I support pension reform. Illinoisans know that pensions are unsustainable.
Previous attempts at pension reform have been unsuccessful. There are no easy answers. I will work with lawmakers across the aisle to propose a plan to fix the state's most enormous and difficult problem which we cannot afford to ignore any longer: unfunded pension liabilities. I support making incremental financial improvements to get pensions back on track.
Q: Do you believe climate change is caused by human activity? What steps should state government be taking to address the issue?
A: Human activity may impact climate change, and we should all do our part to take care of our planet. I believe small steps can be taken every day by individuals worldwide -- as well as in Illinois.
For example, ensuring access to clean air and drinking water is essential to human health.
Taking action to remove plastics from our waters, preventing unlawful discharges of toxic substances such as ethylene oxide (EtO), and educating on best practices will help to improve public health and extend environmental longevity.
Q: Protesters have massed in the streets in Chicago and other cities across Illinois for greater social justice and changes in the funding and responsibilities for police. How significant a role does systemic racism play in limiting equal opportunity in Illinois? To the degree that it exists, what should be done about it? What, if any, changes should be made in funding and duties of police?
A: I don't believe there is systemic racism in our district. Equal opportunity exists here in DuPage and Will counties.
I respect and admire the police officers who serve our community and put their lives on the line for us every day. We have top-notch police services in the 81st District, DuPage and Will counties. Illinoisans need to have a fully trained police force ready to respond to their calls for help and protection. I support law and order.
Municipal police department budgets must remain fully funded to serve local communities. Police departments should review their policies and practices regularly to strive for continuous improvement.