04-12-2021 3:19 AM

Veteran GOP lawmaker Rep. Dan Caulkins recently announced plans to seek the seat in Illinois' newly drawn 88th Legislative District. Caulkins, who has served as the face of the 101st District since 2019, made his intentions known at a gathering in Bloomington at the McLean County..

GOP headquarters. The new district includes parts of southeastern McLean County, and portions of Dewitt and Macon counties.

Even in a new district, Caulkins said his primary goals in Springfield would remain the same, namely making the state less politically corrupt across all levels of government.

“We need to improve the financial reporting, we need to make it more specific, we also need to stop the revolving door of people leaving the General Assembly and going into lobbying,” he said in a press release.

Caulkins further stressed that if re-elected, he plans to continue pushing for fairer district maps. A 40-year Army veteran, Caulkins added he looks forward to meeting and greeting more voters across the expanded district.

Between now and Election Day, Caulkins said he plans to continue pushing a bill that would make it more difficult for criminals to own firearms.

“So, Governor Pritzker, you really want to work on preventing violence? Let’s get together in the General Assembly. Let’s do what the system is designed to do. I have (House bills) 4190 and 4191 sitting on the books. Let’s call those bills. Let's have that discussion,” he said in a video posted to Facebook.

Caulkins’ proposals come in the wake of the governor using his executive muscle to declare gun violence a public health crisis along with establishing the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention, the McLean County Times reported.

HB 4190 seeks to establish that if there is a plea agreement in a criminal case involving illegal use or possession of a firearm, authorities must detail why the charge was lessened and that explanation must also be made publicly available.

“For those who are found guilty of the original charge or a lesser charge, the judge shall set forth in a written sentencing order his or her reasons for imposing the sentence or accepting the plea agreement."

Caulkins said that the goal of the legislation is to provide law enforcement with yet another tool in their battle to keep communities safe.

“We have introduced bills that enhance penalties for crimes that are committed with a gun," he said. "We have introduced bills that enhanced penalties for felons caught with a gun. Gun violence has a lot to do with the lack of respect that these criminals have for law enforcement.”

Caulkins is also pushing Democrats to get tougher on crime following killing of Chicago officer Ella French.

“Another tragedy as a result of the so-called ‘Criminal Justice Reform’ movement,” Caulkins posted on Facebook at the time. “How do the Democrats in the General Assembly and Gov. Pritzker justify the atmosphere of lawlessness they’ve created?”

By Caulkins’ count, 11 CPD officers have now been shot this year. In her third year on the force, the 29-year-old French was fatally wounded when gunmen opened fire as she and two other members of the department's Community Safety Team were in the process of conducting a routine traffic stop. 

Caulkins and other Republicans are now calling on legislators from both sides of the aisle to work together toward what they deem to be real ethics reforms, such as giving the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) more independence, increasing the time between serving in the General Assembly and registering as a lobbyist, and including nonpartisan citizen representation on the Legislative Ethics Commission.