Dear Senate President Cullerton:
As you near completion of the current legislative session in the Illinois Senate, we respectfully request that you bring House Bill 4744 to the Senate floor for a vote. This important legislation would require approval of the Illinois General Assembly before the Thomson Correctional Center can be sold by Governor Quinn to the Federal Government.
As you know, the President has included in his fiscal year 2011 budget funding to complete the purchase of the Illinois prison facility, where the Administration intends to transfer enemy terrorist combatants currently detained at the U.S. Naval facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Furthermore, the state has announced that today, April 30, 2010, it will close operations at the Thomson Correctional Center, qualifying the facility to be declared surplus property, and thereby making it eligible for sale by the Governor.
We believe that a decision to sell this facility, with such profound implications, is of a magnitude that deserves the full attention and input of the entire Illinois legislature.
Full Senate debate and consideration has been afforded to legislation to create commemorative license plates, name state highways, and license hair braiders. We simply ask that the same consideration be given to a bill that carries enormous safety, security, and financial implications at the local, state, and national level.
We applaud House Speaker Michael Madigan's decision to provide state representatives with the opportunity to debate and vote on HB 4744, which was approved by an overwhelming vote of 81 to 31. It would be a grave disservice to state residents and a violation of the public trust for the Governor to sell this property without the transparency and accountability of an open and fair vote before Illinois' elected leaders.
In Washington, we are working hard to ensure that public safety remains paramount in all decisions relating to detainee policy. In Illinois, we ask that you do the same by holding a full vote in the Illinois Senate on HB 4744.
Judy Biggert (IL-13), Aaron Schock (IL-18), Timothy V. Johnson (IL-15), Peter J. Roskam (IL-6), and John Shimkus (IL-19)