News - Sauk Valley

McCombie: Judge’s Safe-T Act ruling was correct

State Rep. Tony McCombie, a Savanna Republican, appears at a November campaign event in Rock Falls. She issued a news release dated Wednesday hailing a judge's ruling on the cashless bail provision of the Safe-T Act.

SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Tony McCombie, the incoming leader of statehouse Republicans, expressed her gratitute for the ruling late Wednesday night by a Kankakee County Circuit Court judge that cashless bail provisions in the Safe-T Act are unconstitutional.

“Today’s ruling by Circuit Judge Thomas Cunnington was the correct one,” said McCombie, a Savanna Republican, in a news release dated Wednesday and received by Shaw Local News Network early on Thursday.

McCombie said Republicans have “loudly and consistently” expressed their concerns about the SAFE-T Act, which was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Jan. 22, 2021, with added amendments on Dec. 6 of this year.

During the mid-term elections, it was a top issue for many Republicans running for state legislative seats.

The main criticism from the minority is that rapid release of accused persons puts law enforcement officers and victims of crime at an elevated risk.

“I am grateful the courts have ruled on the side of common-sense and am hopeful that any appeal will be upheld to protect Illinois families and the most vulnerable throughout the state,” McCombie added.

Ogle County State’s Attorney Mike Rock and Ogle County Sheriff Brian Van Vickle issued a joint news release Thursday saying the county will not be subject to the provisions because of the judge’s actions.

They said the SAFE-T Act “amended the State Constitution and eroded the constitutional protections of the Victims Rights Act, all while disenfranchising the people of their Constitutional right to vote on such reforms.”

They also called the act “significant overreach” from the Legislature and the state’s executive branch.

State Rep. Andrew Chesney, a Freeport Republican who was elected to the state Senate representing the 45th District, said minority-party input earlier in the process would have been helpful.

“This all could have been avoided if the Democrats had simply held real bipartisan working groups and hearings that took into consideration the testimony of law enforcement, states attorneys, victim advocates and others,” Chesney said. “Let’s see if the lesson is learned.”

Chesney’s predecessor, state Sen. Brian Stewart, also a Freeport Republican, said in a news release he opposed both the original bill and the amendments. Based on the response from the law enforcement community, he said he was also not surprised by the court ruling.

“Despite the recent changes, the SAFE-T Act will also still increase costs on police departments and local governments,” Stewart said, adding, “meaning that many communities would likely see cuts to their local police departments, higher property taxes, or a combination of the two.”

Don Tracy, chairman of the state Republican Party, also issued a statement.

“For now, it should serve as a message to Governor Pritzker and Democrat legislators that they can’t subvert our constitutional process by ramming their unpopular and dangerous soft-on-crime policies through the legislature in the dark of night.”

Troy Taylor

Troy E. Taylor

Was named editor for and the Gazette and Telegraph in 2021. An Illinois native, he has been a reporter or editor in daily newspapers since 1989.