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State Representative Bob Pritchard will be leading a public discussion of current state issues and legislation at a town hall meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday January 28 at the Lincoln Inn, DeKalb (240 East Lincoln Highway). Residents are invited to attend, participate and enjoy discussion over coffee.

The 100th General Assembly has assembled and hundreds of pieces of legislation have been filed to address various issues in Illinois including the lack of a state budget. Pritchard said residents need to understand the issues and feel they can share their views.

“In the weeks ahead the legislature will be making a number of difficult decisions about funding for public services, regulations and ways to restart the Illinois economy,” according to the legislator. “I value your opinions and want to help increase understanding about the options and consequences.”

Pritchard will hold additional meeting this spring in other areas of his legislative district which includes portions of DeKalb, Kane and Boone Counties. Comments and ideas can also be shared with the legislator by contacting his local office at 2600 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore, by phone: 815-748-3494 or e-mail: Bob@PritchardStateRep.com.


Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com

January 17th, 2017

Today, we still remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.:  “Hate cannot drive out hate.  Only love can do that.”  Let us love our neighbor as ourselves.


In This Issue:
  Ø  Legislation Passes House
  Ø  New General Assembly Ready to Break Gridlock
  Ø  School Funding Commission Reports Progress
  Ø  Revenue Stream Shrinks
  Ø  Recognizing Longstanding Research
  Ø  Bicentennial Planning Accelerates
  Ø  Town Hall Meeting January 28

Legislation Passes House
In the final two days of the 99th General Assembly last week, lawmakers passed a number of significant pieces of legislation.  Here are a few key bills that passed the House:
SB 2872:  This bill creates trauma focused recovery centers through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA).  These trauma centers are to provide services for violent crime victims that include behavioral health treatment, financial recovery, family support, relocation assistance, and support in navigating the legal system.  This bill also increases the ability of inmates to gain programming and sentencing credit.  It is the hope that this bill will help reduce crime and promote public safety while efficiently using prison and state resources.
SB 550:  This bill requires testing for lead in drinking water of elementary and middle schools and daycare centers that were built prior to January 1, 2000.  It allows schools to use Health, Life and Safety Funds to pay for lead mitigation, and allows water suppliers to enact fees on rate users to cover the cost of water testing.  Citizens must be notified if samples find more than 5 parts per billion of lead.  After the Flint Michigan experience of lead in drinking water, several Illinois schools tested their water and found high levels of lead which can affect brain development of younger children.   
The Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Tax Credit was extended by SB513 for an additional four months.  The additional time will allow negotiations on legislation to change the program.  The EDGE Tax Credit is the state’s major economic development tool to encourage job creation and retention.
SB2799 amended the Sick Leave Act by clarifying Personal Sick Leave Benefits, and expanding employees’ use of personal sick leave.  The bill allows absences due to an illness, injury, or medical appointment of the employee's child, spouse, or other family member on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use personal sick leave.
Illinois now joins other states as a designated Purple Heart State.  SJR57 helps remember and recognize veterans who have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy activity..
Lastly, a Property Tax Freeze bill (HB6630) passed the House but was not acted upon in the Senate.  The bill amended the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) by lowering the automatic annual escalator to 0 percent, while giving tax payers the opportunity to approve an extension increase by referendum.  This bill is likely to be reintroduced in the 100th General Assembly.
State Legislators were officially inaugurated as the 100th General Assembly for the State of Illinois on Wednesday in Springfield. Despite the lack of any leadership changes, Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Sycamore) says there was a mood of optimism that the gridlock which has plagued Illinois for the past two years might be broken.

“The House has 15 new Republican members, about a third of its caucus, and 7 new Democrats which adds a fresh perspective, enthusiasm and energy to the chamber,” Pritchard observed. “Members are fresh off the campaign trail and have heard from citizens that the legislature can’t continue to avoid a full-year budget and changes to keep and grow jobs.”

Pritchard said his main goals in the new legislative session that begins Thursday are to find bi-partisan agreement on a budget, to fund higher education and human services, and to gain control of state expenses. “It will be critical for citizens to continue pressuring their legislators for solutions and to not accept gridlock,” Pritchard said.

“It is an honor to continue serving DeKalb, Kane and Boone Counties in Springfield,” the legislator continued. “I am committed to working hard for communities not only in the 70th district but statewide and for policies that will make residents proud once again to live in Illinois.”

A group of about 20 friends joined the legislator for the ceremony, lunch and a personal tour of the capitol following the inauguration. Pritchard has served in the Illinois House of Representatives since 2003. He and his wife Mary live on the family farm he operates with his son.
Starting January 1st, 191 new laws become effective in Illinois. Here is a preview of just some of the laws that will impact Illinois residents beginning in the new year:

Social Media Right to Privacy
Public Act 99-610, House Bill 4999


Amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to make it illegal for an employer or prospective employer to request or require an employee or applicant to access a personal online account (such as Facebook) in the presence of the employer. It is also illegal to request or require that an employee or applicant invite the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account of the employee, or applicant, or join an online account established by the employer.

Employee Sick Leave Act
Public Act 99-841, House Bill 6162


Under the new law, employees may now use personal sick leave benefits for purposes dealing with a child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or step parent. The employee can use such time as may be necessary on the same terms that employee would use the time for their own illness or injury.

Traffic Stop Education
Public Act 99-720, House Bill 6131


Students taking drivers education courses will now be educated on safe procedures to follow during a traffic stop by law enforcement. The lesson will include such tips as remaining calm and keeping one’s hands in view at all times and will also educate drivers on their rights when in the presence of law enforcement.

‘Taps’ at Military Funerals
Public Act 99-804, House Bill 4432


A student in sixth through twelfth grades at an Illinois public school is allowed to be absent from school if that student is sounding ‘Taps’ at a military funeral for a deceased veteran in Illinois. The legislation was suggested by a high school senior who estimated he had been called upon to render the honor at two dozen military funerals.
Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com 
December 14, 2016
In This Issue:
  Ø  Christmas Wish
  Ø  Budget Talks Stall
  Ø  Fiscal Realities
  Ø  Witness History Being Made
  Ø  Winter Safety Reminders

Christmas Wish
The Christmas season is upon us with its message of a savior’s birth, hope, joy and peace.  This tree in the Capitol was decorated by America’s Gold Star Families and the Sergeant Anthony Maddox Memorial Fund, an army soldier who died from injuries sustained in Afghanistan in 2013.  The tree was adorned with pictures of fallen Illinois veterans who fought for peace.
There is gloom in our state as we come to an end of the temporary budget and leaders find little common ground in the search for solutions to reach a balanced budget and grow job opportunities. 
 
I found strength from the tree that, like the dedicated soldier, we all should work for peace and hope that will bring joy once again in our state.  This is my Christmas wish.   


The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) operates an up-to-date map of road conditions throughout the state. For more information on how to drive safely in Illinois this winter, click here.
Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com 
December 5, 2016

In This Issue:
  Ø  Legislators Fail to Act on a Budget
  Ø  Easier to Pass Budget in January
  Ø  Pension Issues Remain Unresolved
  Ø  Complex, Confusing Energy Bill Passed
  Ø  Legislators File Lawsuit Over Pay
  Ø  Update on AFSCME Contract
  Ø  Illinois Guard Changes Sycamore Leadership

Legislators Fail to Act on a Budget
Veto sessions are created in the Constitution to address gubernatorial actions on bills and resolve important issues left from the spring session.  With the stopgap budget set to expire on January 1 and state bills and debt mounting by the minute, nothing would seem more important for the legislature to discuss than the budget. 
Instead, the legislature adjourned until January 9 without spending any time on important issues like insufficient funding for higher education and student grants, gaps left unfunded in the human service network, and the skyrocketing public pension liability. 
Please join me in keeping pressure on legislators and our state’s leaders to compromise on budget issues.  The election is over and this state cannot afford to go any longer without a full, balanced state budget and structural reforms to set the state on the right track for job growth.  Such pressure worked to pass a temporary budget; your calls and letters now can break the gridlock.