“As phone texting becomes more and more popular as a means of communicating, texting while driving has led to increased accidents and deaths on our highways,” said State Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley).  “It has been proven that those who read and send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.”
As a result of these facts, the legislature passed a state law banning texting while driving but many are unaware or ignore the law.  Pritchard said AT&T has launched the “It Can Wait” public awareness campaign, and to date more than two million people have made an on-line pledge to help end the dangerous and sometimes deadly practice of texting while driving. “This campaign is about saving lives and I applaud AT&T for taking these steps to educate and warn motorists,” explained Pritchard who took the pledge last week. 
AT&T is conducting a pledge campaign on the Northern Illinois University campus September 19 to appeal to younger drivers.  However, any driver can take the on-line pledge by going to www.ItCanWait.com, and while on the website they can view videos featuring people whose lives were changed forever because of texting while driving Pritchard noted. “They can also share a personal testimonial or get involved with the movement to put an end to texting while driving.”
“The videos on the web site are very compelling,” Pritchard said.  “The ‘From One Second to the Next’ video is especially powerful and I would encourage all drivers to watch it and pledge not to text while driving.”
Two bills that were suggested by local residents to Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley) were signed into law by Governor Quinn last week.  One bill could save residents living in unincorporated areas money on electrical bills while the other will make parking more convenient for cancer patients.
House Bill 1745 amends the Illinois Power Agency Act to make it easier for residents who live in unincorporated areas to pass a referendum on electric aggregation. “A current Illinois law allows municipalities, counties and townships to negotiate for lower electric rates on behalf of residential and small-business customers living within their borders,” said Pritchard.  “HB1745 clarifies that the referendum to approve the unit of government to negotiate for a lower rate only needs to be taken in areas of the county not already covered by aggregation.” 
According to Pritchard the idea came from local residents and county officials who were concerned with the confusion and expense of a county-wide vote.  “The law was modified for townships several years ago but did not include counties,” the legislator said. “Many municipalities have already approved aggregation of rates and are saving residents hundreds of dollars per year depending upon their electric usage.” 
Governor Quinn also signed House Bill 1809, another bill sponsored by Pritchard which adds cancer-related conditions to the list of conditions eligible for a temporary disable parking placard. “From personal experience with my family I know that cancer patients often tire easily when walking from a parking lot,” explained Pritchard. “This addition to the law that already includes neurological, arthritic and orthopedic conditions will allow oncological patients to qualify for the temporary placard.”  
Both of these new laws are just common sense added Pritchard, who said they will take effect on January 1, 2014.
State Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley) reacted with disappointment this week in response to recent credit rating downgrades at seven of Illinois’ public universities.  Moody’s Investors Service took action on August 9 to downgrade debt ratings for all but two of Illinois’ public universities, and warned that further downgrades are coming if the state doesn’t address its pension crisis.
“I was disappointed to learn of these downgrades and that Moody’s seemed to ignore efforts our public universities are making to adjust to state funding, needed pension reform and stimulating our economy,” said Pritchard, who sits on both the Higher Education and the Appropriations- Higher Education Committees in Springfield.  “Moody’s attributed the downgrade to the universities’ reliance on state funding and lack of pension reform so let’s look at the facts.” 
Pritchard explained “The legislature’s pension conference committee is making progress toward a pension reform solution, and I believe that solution will be coming to legislators for ratification soon.  The public universities presented a reform plan that appears to be part of the committee’s   recommendations. This action by Moody’s does nothing to reward these people for their willingness to accept necessary reforms.”
In addition, universities have been operating on less state funding for over a decade.  Pritchard pointed to the declining state investment in higher education, and said he was confused by a Moody’s statement that the downgrades were tied to reliance on state funding. “With the exception of Chicago State University, which receives 29.1 percent of its funding from the State, all of Illinois’ public universities only receive between 14.8 percent and 25.6 percent of their funding from the State of Illinois,” Pritchard said. “I wouldn’t exactly call that an overly-large dependence upon State funding.”
The August 9 downgrades by Moody’s affected the debt ratings for the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University. While not included in last week’s downgrade, the debt rating for Northern Illinois University was downgraded in March, at the same time that Moody’s decreased the credit rating for the State of Illinois.
“Because of this action, any time our universities seek to borrow money most likely they will have to pay a higher interest rate,” said Pritchard. “Moody’s action just made college more expensive for students since the universities will most likely have to pass these costs along through tuition hikes.”  The recent downgrade of the state’s credit rating added nearly $180 million to the interest costs of a recent bond sale.
Overall, the Moody’s downgrade affects a combined total of $2.24 billion in university debt, with the majority of the debt belonging to the University of Illinois, which currently has $1.56 billion in debt. “Those higher interest rates most likely will have a profound impact on the U of I, as it prepares to borrow $77 million in an upcoming bond sale to pay for renovations at the hospital on their Chicago campus,” said Pritchard.
The Hinckley legislator is a co-sponsor of a package of bills that were unveiled this spring, which aim to make college more affordable for Illinois families. One of the bills would create a $1,000 tax credit to help families making less than $150,000 per year pay for college expenses at an Illinois accredited college or university.  Another bill in the college affordability package would encourage families to save for college expenses by offering an “up front” tax deduction when they invest up to $10,000 in a “529” college savings plan.  “These credit downgrades are counterintuitive to what our state and nation are trying to do to hold down college costs,” said Pritchard.
State Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley) will be hosting a series of meetings over the next few weeks to meet constituents, listen to their opinions and offer assistance in dealing with state agencies.  “We titled the meetings ‘making lemonade out of lemons,’” Pritchard says, “and we will be serving lemonade.” 
Everyone is encouraged to attend one of the meetings and discuss some of the issues facing Illinois, possible solutions and concerns.  The locations are:
  • Saturday, August 31: Burlington Fire Station, 154 South Street, Burlington, 9:00 AM
  • Saturday, September 14: Werdin Community Center, 2S101 Harter Road, Kaneville, 9:00 AM
  • Tuesday, September 17: Cortland Town Hall, 59 S. Somonauk Road, Cortland, 6:30 PM
  • Saturday, September 21: Bonus Township Office, 9015 Marengo Road, Garden Prairie, 9:00 AM
Pritchard began the community discussions around his district last spring and met with over a hundred constituents.  If you are unable to attend one of the meetings, you can reach Representative Pritchard at (815) 748-3494, email:  bob@pritchardstaterep.com, or website: www.PritchardStateRep.com.
The Representative for western Kane County, northern DeKalb County and eastern Boone County said he enjoys sharing information with constituents and hearing their ideas.  In addition to the community discussions, Pritchard meets regularly with municipal and township officials, and writes an electronic newsletter about state issues.  
Children who participated in State Representative Bob Pritchard’s (R-Hinckley) Summer Reading Program are invited to attend a reading party to celebrate their summer reading success.
The 2013 Pritchard Summer Reading Program encouraged kids to read at least eight books over the summer. “Reading is an important element of everyday life, and it is especially important that children read over the summer,” said Pritchard. “Reading keeps young minds active and helps with the retention of knowledge gained during the previous school year.”
Reading parties for those who read at least eight books will take place at the following locations:
August 3: Big Rock Library, 10:30 AM
August 8: Hampshire Public Library, 1:00 PM
August 10: DeKalb Public Library, 10:00 AM
August 13: Sycamore Public Library, 1:00 PM
Participants may attend the party of their choice. At the party the summer readers will enjoy ice cream and receive prizes for their achievement as a summer reader. For more information about the upcoming ice cream parties, please call Representative Pritchard’s office at (815) 748-3494.