December 30, 2014
Happy New Year!
In This Issue:
  • You’re Invited!
  • Special Session is both Unconstitutional and Expensive
  • New Laws Take Effect
  • Yes Virginia, There is a Four-Year Degree
  • New Year’s Resolutions
You’re Invited!
Some of you may already be aware that the Illinois Legislature will be sworn into office on Wednesday, January 14th at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Public Affairs Center Auditorium.  I would like to personally invite you to be my guest at the inauguration ceremony.  You will be part of history as the 99th General Assembly is seated and organized.  Following the ceremony I will give a guided tour of the Capitol and host a luncheon.  If you are interested in attending, please contact my office for details at (815) 748-3494.

Special Session is both Unconstitutional and Expensive
With the holiday season upon us, you may not be following the news about filling the vacancy in the office of State Comptroller created by the death of Judy Baar Topinka.  Never in our 198 year history have we in Illinois faced the situation of a state office vacancy at the end of one term and beginning of another term.

Governor Quinn has called a special session of the legislature for January 8 to pass legislation establishing a special election in 2016 to fill the State Comptroller position.  While such an election sounds reasonable and would follow how vacancies in some units of local government are handled, it violates our constitution for state office holders.  Therefore, I believe the goal of the special session is both unnecessarily expensive and unconstitutional.

Not only is the cost of a special session unnecessary since the legislature could consider some action when it meets in regular session later in January, but also the cost of litigation over the constitutionality of this action would be great.  If we want to set up a different way to handle vacancies, let the legislature pass a constitutional amendment that citizens could ratify in 2016.

As for the vacancy in Comptroller, why not combine the office with the State Treasurer and appoint the Treasurer to also be the Comptroller?  Many have proposed this idea for saving millions of dollars in the cost of running a separate office and the idea was supported by the late Judy Barr Topinka.  Then the legislature would have time to pass a constitutional amendment consolidating the offices.  This would certainly shake-up Springfield.

New Laws Take Effect
The legislature passed over 500 laws in 2014 and many take effect on January 1st.  For a full list of new laws, please visit my website at  Here are a few of the more significant new regulations which I haven’t covered in earlier newsletters.

PA 98-0650 (SB 3411) Ban Police Ticket Quotas
The law prohibits county, municipal, conservation, and state police agencies from implementing ticket quotas.  Officers may still be evaluated on “points of contact,” including the number of traffic stops completed, arrests, written warnings and crime prevention measures.  This is an initiative to refocus law enforcement on public safety instead of revenue generation.

PA 98-0698 (SB 3433) Boating Safety Certificates
Provides that no one born on or after January 1, 1998 shall operate a motorboat with more than 10 horse power without securing a valid Boating Safety Certificate from the Department of Natural Resources or another approved agency.

PA 98-0746 (HB 5895) Nighttime BiOptic driving permits
Allows persons using non-traditional visual aid instruments, such as BiOptics, to apply for a special, restricted driver’s training permit.  Currently, no process exists for drivers who wear BiOptic lenses to practice driving prior to taking the nighttime road test.  BiOptic glasses are vision enhanced lenses with extreme magnification.

PA 98-0774 (HB 5701) ‘Ban the Box’ bill
Prohibits employers from seeking information regarding a potential employee’s criminal history until after an invitation to interview or a conditional offer of employment has been extended.  This is intended to allow job seekers with criminal history to be considered on their merits and experience rather than being dismissed out-of-hand for an offense.

PA 98-0775 (SB 2636) Use of medical cannabis for minors
Amends the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act to allow individuals including those under the age 18 to use medical marijuana for seizures and epilepsy.  The Illinois Department of Public Health may create rules saying minors must have parental consent, have the recommendation of two medical doctors and may not smoke the cannabis.

PA 98-0870 (SB 2583) “Sign and drive” in Illinois
This new law institutes “sign and drive” in Illinois by prohibiting the confiscation of a motorist’s driver’s license as bail when stopped and cited for a minor (no jail time) traffic offense.  Since 9-11, state-issued photo identification has become a necessity for such things as travel, gaining access to some buildings, obtaining health-care, and renting vehicles.  The driver’s license is still the standard, accepted form of photo identification.

PA 98-0977 (SB 3506) Emergency Medical Treatment
Seeks to avoid confusion in the type of care that a medical facility provides from the name it uses.  A facility may not use emergency or similar name unless there is an emergency room connected with the facility.  The Act provides that a person, facility, or entity is not prohibited from holding itself to the public as an “urgent” care center.

PA 98-1050 (HB 8) Workplace Pregnancy Accommodations
Provides that it is a civil rights violation if employers do not make reasonable accommodations for employees with conditions commonly related to childbirth or pregnancy.  Further, employers cannot require a job applicant or employee to accept accommodations; to require an employee to take leave for a medical condition related to childbirth or pregnancy; or to retaliate against a person who has requested, attempted to request, used, or attempted to use a reasonable accommodation.

PA 98-1089 (SB 352) Internet sales tax collection
Will allow the state to use an Internet “click-through” relationship as a way to demand that the Internet retailer collect and remit sales taxes to the State of Illinois.

PA 98-1052 (HB961) Faster Transfer of Funds
Amends the State Revenue Sharing Act and the Illinois Income Tax Act by requiring the transfers from the General Revenue Fund to the Local Government Distributive Fund no later than 60 days after the State Comptroller receives the certification of the amounts from the Treasurer.  In the past, transfers have been intentionally delayed much longer.

Yes Virginia, there is a 4-Year Degree
In a parody of the child’s letter about Santa Claus, Complete College America wants to burst the myth that it takes longer than 4 years and mountains of debt to get a college degree.  On their web site ( they outline best practices of students and colleges to achieve the goal of an affordable college education.

With college students home on break, it’s a good time to talk about progress toward a degree and the cost of an education.  For example is the full-time student taking at least 15 credit hours of classes per semester?  Are they following structured schedules to achieve their degree?  Too many students take more credit hours than necessary for the degree.  Are they using guided pathways to identify their career goal?

Colleges and universities must continue to reduce their cost of operations and encourage students to accept the counseling and tutoring necessary to be successful.  For students ill-prepared for college, more universities and colleges should be offering co-requisite remediation course work.  Almost no students complete college when they just take non-credit remedial classes.

A degree beyond high school is still essential for the jobs of the 21st century and a desirable income.  Then too students must be working for marketable skills and employment that will repay the cost of the education.

New Year’s Resolutions
As we approach the dawning of a new year there is reason for optimism despite huge fiscal problems facing Illinois.  Citizens elected Bruce Rauner their governor to bring some much needed change to state policies and procedures.

Here are a few New Year’s resolutions for the Governor-Elect to get our state back on track.  Resolve to make Illinois a business-friendly state.  A recent Gallup poll gave Illinois an “F” in all things related to business.  Instead of favoring big business, why not help small businesses to succeed since they employ nearly half of the private-sector workforce and contribute two-thirds of the job creation according to a Chicago Tribune article.

Resolve to balance the budget.  As I have worked on several appropriation committees over the last decade, I've seen first-hand the gimmicks to get a so-called balanced budget by overstating revenue and understating expenses.  Yes, we will have to cut expenses but that can be done with the suggestions of front-line workers, more efficient procedures, less fraud and by helping those who can to get off public aid and back to work.

Illinois should also resolve to fix the pension pressure on the budget, school funding inequities and inadequacies, and how the state generates revenue.  These are all issues that have been facing us for years but the citizens want officials to throw out partisan politics and roll-up their sleeves to solve these issues.  There is a new governor who campaigned on changing the procedures; appointing people to agency management with experience and desire to operate more efficiently and effectively for our citizens.

There is much more we could resolve but these are good places to start and the results would change the state’s reputation and outlook of our citizens.

May the hope, joy, peace, and love of this holiday season remain with you through the New Year.  May your resolutions all come true.  And may the God of all creation continue to bless you, Illinois, and the United States of America.

The following list contains all the laws that will become effective as of January 1, 2015.  If you have any questions regarding these laws, please feel free to contact my office.

PA 98-0519 (SB 1898) Increases minimum mandatory coverage for liability insurance policies
The new law raises the required minimum coverage for 1) Bodily Injury or death to any one person from $20,000 to $25,000; 2) Bodily Injury or Death of 2 or more persons in any one accident from $40,000 to $50,000; and 3) Injury to or destruction of property from $15,000 to $20,000. Only apply to policies issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2015.

PA 98-0528 (SB 1598) Collection of racial and ethnic data from arrests
Acknowledging the disproportionality of arrests among racial and ethnic minorities, data will be collected for each adult and juvenile sentenced to the Department of Corrections and Department of Juvenile Justice for the following criminal justice contact points: arrest, referral, diversion, detention, petition, delinquency findings, probation, secure confinement, and transfer of juvenile to adult court.

PA 98-0628 (HB 2317) Allows for property tax bill to be sent via e-mail upon request
Permits County Treasurers to send property tax bills via e-mail if the property owner or taxpayer makes a request in writing. In addition, requires sales tax on leased vehicles to be collected on the monthly payments, as opposed to prior law which provided the tax be collected on the value of the vehicle at the inception of the lease.

PA 98-0629 (HB 1584) Children’s Community-Based Health Care Centers
Amends state law to eliminate conflict and confusion arising from two different titles referring to the same program by redefining "children's respite care centers" as "children's community-based health care centers”, thereby making it easier for Illinois residents to see U.S. Health and Human Services Dept. reports by requiring that Home Office Cost statements related to children’s community-based health care centers also be sent to DPH and for DPH to post them on the Department’s website.

PA 98-0635 (HB 5815) Record Sealing/Expungement – Municipal Ordinance Violations
This act allows an individual to have their municipal ordinance violations sealed or expunged, excluding minor traffic offenses and speeding tickets. As enacted, an individual over the age of 18 convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, other than a minor traffic offense, can petition the court to expunge the records of his/her arrests two years after the completion of their sentence.

PA 98-0637 (SB 978) Expungement of Juvenile Arrest Records
Eliminates barriers on young adults seeking to pursue higher education, secure employment, join the military, and/or obtain or maintain public housing by requiring the State Police to automatically expunge all arrest records (misdemeanor or felony) of a minor if the arrest did not result in charges being filed. The state would have to expunge arrests automatically when the minor turns 18 under specific conditions.

PA 98-0638 (SB 2727) Ban Synthetic Microbeads in Cosmetic Products
Prohibits the manufacture or sale of any cosmetic products that contains synthetic plastic microbeads, a pollutant composed of non-biodegradable solid plastic particle used to exfoliate or cleanse in a rinse-off product. Illinois is the first state to enact such legislation, aimed at protecting the Great Lakes and other bodies of water.

PA 98-0650 (SB 3411) Ban Police Ticket Quotas
The law prohibits county, municipal, conservation, and state police agencies from implementing ticket quotas. Officers may still be evaluated on “points of contact,” including the number of traffic stops completed, arrests, written warnings and crime prevention measures. Initiative enacted to refocus law enforcement on public safety instead of revenue generation.

PA 98-0661 (HB 5716) Access to Digital Public School Emergency Crisis Response Plans
Allows school boards to update public school building’s emergency crisis response plans and make them accessible in a digital format to allow emergency and crisis plans to be available to first responders, administrators and teachers for implementation through the use of applications on electronic devices, including, but not limited to, smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers.

PA 98-0666 (HB 4418) Referendum to Dissolve Municipal Fire Department
Requires municipalities with 500 or more residents to seek approval from the electorate in a referendum before dissolving a full-time fire department. This new law ensures greater public accountability and protects full-time firefighter staff in the event that a municipality considers going to an all-volunteer fire department.

PA 98-0685 (HB 4083) Department of Corrections and Juvenile Justice Technical Changes
Makes technical changes to the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. It enables the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of corrections to update administrative rules to clarify roles. The clarifications do not change current practice by either Department, but only better define responsibilities.

PA 98-0689 (HB 4781) Contact Visits for Department of Corrections
Amends the Unified Code of Corrections to clarify that the six month limitation on contact visits applies to the Department of Corrections, and not to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

PA 98-0690 (HB 5410) Lead Poisoning Prevention
Amends the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act to bring the Act into compliance with recent federal regulations, by requiring health care providers to report to the DPH when the provider has verified information of the existence of a blood lead test result for any child or pregnant person. Also provides that the prohibition on disclosure of information regarding lead testing does not prevent the DPH from using the information to prosecute an person who violates the Act.

PA 98-0692 (SB 3443) Budgeting for Results Omnibus Bill
Eliminates various boards, task forces and commissions and allows a number of required reports to be published online. Removes duplicative State agency functions and repeals obsolete programs.

PA 98-0693 (SB 121) Changes to the African American Family Commission
Makes changes to the Illinois African American Family Commission by requiring more state agencies to collaborate with, and obtain guidance from, the commission. Also changes the appointment structure from being made entirely by the Governor, to appointments being made by the Governor and the four legislative leaders.

PA 98-0697 (SB 2731) Safety for Persons Towed by Watercraft
Amends the Boat Registration & Safety Act to require operators of a watercraft towing a person to display an orange flag on their watercraft from the time the person prepares for towing until the person reenters the boat.

PA 98-0698 (SB 3433) Boating Safety Certificates
Provides that no one born on or after January 1, 1998 shall operate a motorboat with more than 10 horse power without securing a valid Boating Safety Certificate by the Department of Natural Resources or another approved agency.

PA 98-0699 (SB 3434) Forfeiture and Seizure of Watercraft
Provides that a watercraft used with the knowledge and consent of the owner for the commission of specified offenses may be seized.

PA 98-0701 (SB 2922) Public Adjuster Rates
Amends the Illinois Insurance Code by setting a cap on the amount a public adjuster may charge, agree to, or accept. Sets the cap at 10% of the amount of the insurance settlement claim paid by an insurer on a claim resulting from a catastrophic event unless approved in writing by the Director of Insurance.

PA 98-0704 (HB 5949) Access to Birth Certificates of Adopted Persons
Allows adult grandchildren to access birth certificates and other information regarding their deceased grandparents if the grandparent was adopted. Also allows a birth parent of an adopted child to receive a non-certified copy of an original birth certificate if certain conditions are met.

PA 98-0707 (HB 671) Personal information of children
This Act changes the Children’s Privacy Protections and Parental Empowerment Act to state that the sales or purchase of a child’s personal information without parental consent is not prohibited in the course of criminal and civil investigations. Current law states that the sale or purchase of personal information concerning a child without parental consent is prohibited.

PA 98-0708 (HB 2544) Guidelines and protocols for laboratory testing
The law creates the Accountable Care Organization Clinical Laboratory Testing Advisory Board. The Act says that every accountable care organization providing diagnosis and treatment for patients in this State must establish an advisory board to consider and recommend guidelines or protocols for clinical laboratory testing.

PA 98-0717 (HB 4266) Protecting crime victims’ privacy
This Act prohibits the Prisoner Review Board from releasing any name or address of the victim to anyone other than the law enforcement officer or the victim. This Act also prohibits the Attorney General from releasing personal information of any person registered to receive notifications to any other person except State or local officials.

PA 98-0718 (HB 4336) Updating GED-related statutes
Changes references relating to General Educational Development (GED) testing and certificates to high school equivalency testing and certificates throughout various Acts.

PA 98-0719 (HB 4340) Updating statutes relating to the Illinois Community College Board
Existing statutes are updated to change references from the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois Community College Board to the Executive Director of the Illinois Community College Board.

PA 98-0725 (HB 4417) Armed probation officers
This Act states that probation officers may only carry weapons while in the performance of their official duties, or while commuting between their homes, places of employment, or specific locations that are part of their assigned duties, provided they have received the prior consent of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court for which they are employed, and they have received weapons training according to requirement of the Peace Officer and Probation Officer Firearm Training Act.

PA 98-0726 (HB 4422) Secretary of State omnibus bill
The omnibus bill for the Secretary of State makes the following changes: under the Illinois Identification Card Act, expands the definition of “disability” to include “oncological impairments” within Class 1A and Class 2A disabilities. It also amended the Illinois Vehicle Code concerning the Secretary of State’s discretionary authority to suspend or revoke the driver’s license or permit of military personnel. It removes the “J48 restriction” from statute. This restriction limits a driver to operating only a school bus and no other type of commercial motor vehicle.

PA 98-0728 (HB 4687) Fees for shipping radioactive material
For truck shipments of less than 100 miles in Illinois that consist entirely of cobalt-60 or other medical isotopes or both, the $2,500 per truck fee shall be reduced to $1,500 for the first truck and $750 for each additional truck in the same shipment.

PA 98-0730 (HB 4707) Out-of-state CPA licensees awaiting Illinois licensure
Any individual who is the holder of a current and valid license as a certified public accountant of any state who has properly applied to the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for licensure by endorsement may perform accountancy activities until the expiration of 6 months after the filing of the application or until the denial of the application by the Department, whichever occurs earlier. This Act further provides several changes to the Illinois Public Accounting Act in regards to the licensure of certified public accountants.

Ground was broken for the remodeling and expansion of Stephens Hall at Northern Illinois University. No machinery: just people power! The project has been at the top of Northern's construction list for over a decade.
Want a Job?
A recent article in State Legislatures magazine focused on the inability of companies to fill many of their jobs even in a slow economy and despite high unemployment. The Wall Street Journal found 43 percent of small businesses struggling to expand because of job vacancies and in another study, 79 percent of manufacturers told a consulting firm they had trouble filling skilled positions.

This so-called “skills gap” is affecting many sectors of the economy such as health care and manufacturing, and primarily hits jobs which require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree.  According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce these “middle skill” jobs will make up one third of all U.S. jobs by 2020.

Some companies are partnering with community colleges and technical schools to prepare future workers for jobs in those companies.  We have several examples of this in my legislative district.  The goal is to give the potential employee the precise training they need while still in high school so they graduate ready to move immediately into not just the general workforce, but into a specific job.

As part of this effort, some state governments have started creating programs to revamp their workforces and better target training for employees in these fields.  In Tennessee, the state created the Labor and Education Alignment Program to do just that.  Tennessee’s program was made that much more urgent when a major manufacturer brought 400 new jobs to the state and received thousands of applications for them, but found very few qualified applicants.

Maryland, Oregon and Michigan have taken similar approaches.  Maryland introduced a series of programs to help properly train workers, including a “manufacturing boot camp” and a program which helps match up aspiring computer code writers with paid IT internships in writing mobile health apps for hospitals.

In our area we have the examples of Custom Aluminum Products in Genoa and South Elgin and an initiative of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation in working with high school students to understand the job opportunities and skills necessary for local employment.  Then too there are many examples of community colleges working with local businesses to train and retrain workers for changing job skills.

I attended a recent ceremony at Custom Aluminum Products where they recognized 8 individuals who had completed their Custom University training program.  The courses were specifically focused on skills necessary in their business and would provide advancement opportunities.  Several Genoa-Kingston high school students participated as part of a unique paid internship program the company has with the school.

Senator Dave Syverson and I presented Custom Aluminum President Steve Dillett with a check for $13,909 from an Illinois program which reimburses companies for up to half the cost of training workers. We also witnessed a demonstration of a 3-D printer the company was donating to the local school.

What brings all these programs together is that they are collaborative efforts usually between government, community colleges and private business to help improve skills and create jobs. You can read the full magazine story here.

Helping residents avoid foreclosure
Next Saturday, September 27th, several state agencies will have representatives in DeKalb to counsel homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages. Senator Dave Syverson and Representative Joe Sosnowski are joining me in hosting this free mortgage relief program which includes seminars and one-on-one counseling from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Community Outreach Building, 2500 North Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb.

The Mortgage Relief Project is a program designed to provide information about ways to lower your mortgage payments, avoid foreclosure and keep your home. Important facts about avoiding fraud will also be available to those who attend. Participating will be representatives from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and the Illinois Attorney General.

Far too many Northern Illinois families are still being affected by the mortgage crisis and are struggling to make mortgage payments and keep their homes. The Illinois Foreclosure Prevention team will provide counselors, explain the foreclosure process, offer information about state programs and give suggestions on avoiding costly foreclosure.

Those attending are encouraged to bring their mortgage statement, tax returns for the past two years, two months of recent pay stubs and bank statements, documentation of other income, recent utility bills and your budget of household expenses. Even if you do not have all of these documents on hand, the counselors can still help you get the process started.

Governor fails to correct legislative error
Last month, Governor Quinn signed legislation (SB 3324) which the Illinois Department of Insurance now says will raise taxes on Illinois job creators by an estimated $100 million. Neither the sponsor of the legislation nor the legislature had any idea that the department would use the legislation to close so-called “loopholes” to increase tax revenue.

When the General Assembly unanimously passed this legislation in the spring, it did so on the understanding that it was a mere technical change to existing law. The Department of Insurance’s own fact sheet about the bill made no mention of a tax increase or closing loopholes. When the potential for a tax increase became clear, the sponsor of the bill tried to persuade the Governor to veto the bill, especially since the tax only applied to Illinois businesses.

Instead of working with the sponsors on an amendatory veto, Governor Quinn signed a law which increases the cost of doing business in Illinois thus making it harder for companies to succeed, expand and hire more people. With unemployment in Illinois of around seven percent, this is the last thing state government should be doing.

The bill applies to companies who in their business have unusual or very high risks like manufacturers and even nursing homes. These companies self-insure for some of the risk and then buy insurance policies for the balance of the potential risk. The Department of Insurance already taxes the insurance policies but now proposes to tax the amount companies are self-insuring. This could amount to millions of dollars of additional taxes for our larger manufacturers like John Deere and Boeing. I have joined with dozens of my colleagues in drafting legislation to repeal this latest tax on the hard-working businesses of Illinois.

In previous newsletters I discussed what can happen when state governments create a climate that is friendly to job creators: that state’s economy grows and jobs are created. We have seen this in neighboring states but not Illinois. The policies promoted by the Speaker and Governor take the opposite approach: higher taxes, unreasonable regulations and delays that have resulted in economic stagnation and jobs fleeing to those neighboring states.

Ask any Illinoisan who is looking for work or hoping that their children and grandchildren will not have to leave the state to find jobs; they will tell you that our state is following the wrong track.

Recognizing our agricultural heritage
Hybrid corn has been called one of the most amazing advancements of the last century, if not of all time. Hybrid corn breeding revolutionized the farm economy around the world and dramatically increased the farmer’s ability to feed a growing world population.

The commercial success of hybrid corn has its roots in DeKalb County and the DeKalb Agricultural Association. In 1925, Tom Roberts Sr. and Charlie Gunn began work to develop hybrid corn on a plot west of DeKalb. The exact location of the plot was forgotten until recently when the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association researched the location and erected a road-side marker on Nelson Road just north of U.S. Route 38.

The DEKALB brand of hybrids is still being developed today on research fields in DeKalb County just north of Waterman. The winged-ear of corn logo with the word DEKALB can be seen by fields of DEKALB corn.

The Heritage Association is planning other markers to commemorate significant developments in agriculture including the first Illinois county Farm Bureau and the home of the first county “farm advisor.” You can learn more about the agricultural innovations that occurred in the DeKalb area at the Heritage Association’s museum located at 111 South Second Street, DeKalb.

Research is critical to innovation and we in Illinois have benefited from the public investment in research at such institutions as the University of Illinois. It is one of our nation’s Land Grant Universities created by Congress and signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. It is disconcerting that public policies in recent years have decreased research investments dramatically, especially in Illinois.

Fracking rules delayed, again
Last year when a tough law permitting hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Illinois was passed, many thought the rules would be written quickly and exploring for oil and gas would begin by this year. Environmental groups and businesses agreed to the bill. Since then not only did the Department of Natural Resources take nearly a year to write the rules, post them for public comment and then to analyze the thousands of responses, but it has also written final rules that nobody likes. The legislative oversight committee now wants more time to get the parties to some agreement.

Southern Illinois holds a large area, called the New Albany Shale formation, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. Companies are ready to explore the potential when the rules are written. The rest of the state stands to benefit from industrial production for fracking firms and the additional tax revenue such production would create.

Proponents of fracking claim that the new rules impose limitations which are not included in the law, and that the rules might actually serve as a deterrent to such drilling. The current opponents have never wanted fracking in Illinois so when they failed to stop the legislation they now focus on the rule making.

New legislation helps cooperatives
Legislation which loosens controls on the amount of money individuals can invest in cooperatives was signed into law last month. Senate Bill 3438 makes it easier to raise the startup funds needed to organize a new cooperative in Illinois.

The legislation was focused on food-related consumer cooperatives which, for example, could buy a small piece of land, erect a chicken house or plant a garden, hire a few workers, and provide eggs or produce to members.

State revenues fall despite heavy tax burden
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) reports that state revenues for the first two-months of the fiscal year are down $279 million compared to a year ago. Federal payments are down $95 million, gross corporate income taxes are down $17 million, personal income taxes declined $14 million, and even riverboat gambling transfers are down $19 million.

These reductions in revenue come at the same time as another COGFA report found that Illinois residents pay some of the highest income taxes in the nation. According to COGFA, Illinois’ income tax revenues on a per person basis are the 10th highest in the nation. Illinois collects $1,284 in income tax for every man, woman and child in the state. All five of our neighboring states impose a lower income tax burden on their residents.

More laws, vetoes
In the spring session of the 98th General Assembly, the House and Senate passed 511 bills–-268 originating in the House and 243 originating in the Senate. Exactly 500 of these bills were approved by the Governor over the summer, the last one just a few weeks ago. They now become law on the effective date in each bill, usually either immediately or on January 1.

Eleven bills were vetoed by the Governor. Unlike the U.S. President, an Illinois Governor has a variety of veto options. He can issue a total veto, which rejects a bill in its entirety; he can make an amendatory veto, which allows him to cross out certain lines of the bill and sign the remaining parts into law; or he can submit a reduction veto, a tactic employed in spending bills to reduce a certain item of spending. This year, the Governor issued six total vetoes, four amendatory vetoes and one reduction veto.

The fate of those eleven bills is not fully decided just yet. Under our state constitution, the lead sponsor of each of those bills has the option of moving to have the vetoed bill reconsidered when the legislature convenes for the fall session on November 19.

Throughout the summer I have told you about some of the 31 bills which I sponsored or cosponsored as they were signed into law. Some other new laws which I sponsored or co-sponsored included legislation to help dislocated workers obtain MAP grants for higher education, a bill which speeds up transfers of funds from the state to local governments, a requirement that students complete more math and computer science classes before graduating high school, and legislation to fight underage drinking.

The full list of new laws can be found on the Illinois General Assembly’s website at The new laws are Public Acts 98-626 through 98-1125.

Upcoming events
Besides the Mortgage relief program on September 27 that I mentioned earlier, circle your calendar on October 15-16. I am joining with the DeKalb County Farm Bureau and Country Companies Insurance in hosting a defensive driving course at the Center for Agriculture at 1350 West Prairie Drive in Sycamore. For more information, contact the Farm Bureau at 815-756-6361.

September 22 marks the official beginning of fall. Crop harvest is starting across the district so be alert for slow moving equipment and vehicles pulling out of fields.
SYCAMORE –Local legislators have invited several state agencies to DeKalb to help residents take advantage of programs to lower their mortgages, avoid foreclosures and keep their homes.  The program which includes seminars and one-on-one counseling is being hosted by State Representatives Bob Pritchard (R-Sycamore) and Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford), and Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford).

“Too many northern Illinois families are still being affected by the mortgage crisis and struggling to make mortgage payments and keep their homes,” Pritchard said.  “The Illinois Foreclosure Prevention team of state agencies will provide counselors, explain the foreclosure process, offer information about state programs, and give suggestions on avoiding costly foreclosure.”  

The event will be held on Saturday September 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Community Outreach Building, 2500 N. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb.  Participating will be the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and Attorney General.

To receive the most helpful counseling, you should bring a number of personal documents, Pritchard advised.  “Bring your mortgage statement, tax returns for the past two years, two months of recent pay stubs and bank statements, documentation of other income, recent utility bills, and your budget of household expenses,” he said.  “Don’t worry if you don’t have all these documents on September 27, the counselors can still help you get the process started.”

“The Mortgage Relief Project will offer important advice and one-on-one counseling for strained Illinois homeowners who are trying to keep their homes,” Sosnowski said. “I strongly encourage all residents who are behind on or struggling to make mortgage payments to attend the seminar and gain access to programs available in Illinois that can prevent foreclosure.”

More information is available by contacting the Department of Financial and Professional Regulations at 1-800-532-8785, Rep. Pritchard at (815) 748-3494, or Rep. Sosnowski at (815) 547-3436.
The following is a press release from the Governor's office regarding the Distance Learning bill on which Representative Pritchard was a co-sponsor. Look for Pritchard's quote in paragraph 5. 

Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Ensure Quality Distance Learning and Online Education Programs 
 Also Signs Legislation to Streamline School Financial Processes and Extend Task Force on Civic Education 

CHAMPAIGN – Governor Pat Quinn today visited the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to sign a law to help boost the quality of distance and online learning programs across Illinois and other states. The Governor also signed laws to streamline higher education financial processes and to extend the Task Force on Civic Education. Today's actions are part of Governor Quinn's agenda to ensure that everyone in Illinois has the opportunity for a high quality education.

 “Attending college online is an important educational option more people around the world are pursuing,” Governor Quinn said. ”Illinois’ higher education institutions have found a willing and world-wide audience for these types of course offerings. This new law makes sure the educational programming offered online out of Illinois maintains the same high quality standards in order to help ensure all students receive a high quality education, regardless of where they live.”

 Senate Bill 3441, sponsored by State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) and State Representative Robert Pritchard (R-Sycamore), authorizes the Illinois Board of Higher Education to make agreements with other states to guarantee distance learning programs maintain common standards and that completed course work is recognized by institutions in each state. The agreements will also establish a mechanism for handling complaints and refunds across states and institutions. The new law is effective January 1, 2015.

 "Governor Quinn's action fulfills the legislature's goal to make high-quality, affordable online higher education available to Illinois residents,” Senator McGuire said. “This new law shows what cooperation between Democrats and Republicans and among Midwestern states can accomplish—lower costs for governments, and expanded opportunities for our 21st century workforce."

 “Distance learning allows students to take courses that may not be offered where they are attending college or at times that are more convenient for them,” Representative Pritchard said. “This legislation offers consumer protections that the courses will be recognized by institutions of higher education, and assures refunds will be made if the student takes the appropriate steps to cancel the course.”

 The new law will allow Illinois to join other members of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact to make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines while also making it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education. The Midwestern Compact will interact with other regional compacts across the country. Any public college, university or independent institution can participate and seek accreditation, a designation that will indicate the institution has the “seal of approval” from the participating states for its distance learning programs.

 Last year through the University of Illinois, 323,857 students from around the world enrolled in online offerings through the Massive Open Online Courses including nontraditional students, professionals looking to build specific competencies and many other lifelong learners.

 By providing a broad range of affordable, flexible options, online learning has great potential to help many people across Illinois meet their education and careers goals. With nearly one in ten community college students taking a class online each year, online learning is becoming an increasingly popular option.

 Governor Quinn today also signed two bills sponsored by State Representative Naomi Jakobsson (D-Urbana). Senate Bill 230, co-sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), increases efficiency by saving schools time and money by removing an extra step in the public university vouchering process. Senate Bill 2728, co-sponsored by State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), allows the Task Force on Civic Education to complete its mission by extending the life of the task force and setting a new date for its final report. Both laws are effective immediately. Governor Quinn has made support for higher education in Illinois a top priority. At his direction, distance learning is just one of the many strategies Illinois has pursued as part of a comprehensive plan to make postsecondary attainment more accessible to all students. Illinois is engaged in a number of innovative approaches to bolstering college completion including early college credit opportunities. 

In Fiscal Year 2012, almost 8,900 dual credit courses were offered through Illinois community colleges, providing opportunities for approximately 88,000 high school students during the past year. The dual credit system has seen tremendous growth with a nearly 125 percent increase in dual credit students served annually since 2004.

 As a result of these and other initiatives, Illinois’ college completion rate, which is above the national average, has grown to 43 percent under Governor Quinn’s administration.

 In addition to supporting expanded access to early college credit and career certificates, Governor Quinn has been a steadfast supporter of the Monetary Award Program (MAP) which enables more than 140,000 low income students to pursue higher education each year. He has proposed doubling the funds available for the plan over the next five years to provide 21,000 more students each year with an opportunity to attend college that would not otherwise be available.
Just in time for the summer construction season, Governor Quinn released hundreds of millions of dollars in new bonding for infrastructure improvements last week.  Counties, townships, municipalities and mass transit are among the beneficiaries of the funds from the $31 billion Jobs Now capital bill approved in 2009.  The fact that it has taken six years to generate the revenue capacity to service the bonds is testimony to how slow the Illinois economy remains.

The allocations for each unit of local government in the 70th District is listed below:

Boone County - $119,652
Bonus Township - $9,816
Spring Township - $13,190
Belvidere Township - $17,522
City of Belvidere - $102,192
 DeKalb County - $228,308
Cortland Township – $8,415
DeKalb Township – $6,269
Franklin Township - $8,658
Genoa Township – $10,321
Kingston Township - $8,950
Malta Township - $9,783
Mayfield Township – $8,893
Pierce Township – $11,432
South Grove Township – $8,781
Squaw Grove Township – $10,729
Sycamore Township- $12,550
Town of Cortland - $17,180
City of DeKalb - $198,673
City of Sycamore - $64,558
City of Genoa - $23,338
Village of Kingston - $4,255
Village of Kirkland - $7,752
Village of Hinckley - $8,659
Village of Malta - $4,208

Kane County - $1,007,256
Big Rock Township – $7,100
Kaneville Township - $6,170
Burlington Township - $6,625
Hampshire Township - $7,551
Virgil Township - $7,074
Campton Township - $5,173
Plato Township - $9,686
Village of Big Rock - $2,671
Village of Kaneville - $1,911
Village of Burlington - $1,963
Village of Hampshire - $16,567
Village of Virgil - $1,155
Village of Campton Hills - $58,552
Village of Lily Lake - $3,583
Village of Maple Park - $5,715

DeKalb, IL... - The Illinois Academy of Audiology (ILAA) is pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the 2014 Legislative Award is Representative Robert Pritchard.  Representative Pritchard (R-Hinckley) received this award due to his advocacy and commitment to individuals with hearing loss and the profession of Audiology.
He goes the extra mile in order to educate himself about current issues relating to those with hearing and balance impairment and to better understand the field of audiology.  Pritchard takes time to understand the issues audiologists and their patients face. He is very approachable and encourages citizens of all ages to get involved. 
The Illinois Academy of Audiology (ILAA) is the largest professional association for audiologists in Illinois and represents the interests of audiology as a profession and also those of the consumers who receive our services.  A large part of our mission is to promote public awareness of hearing and balance through education, outreach and research. 
Representative Pritchard with Liz Tusler Meyer, BS, and Diane ScheckLong, Au.D., Illinois Academy of Audiology members and his constituents. 
For more information you can also contact the Illinois Academy of Audiology at (800) 963-ILAA (4522).
Springfield, IL…House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and members of the House Republican caucus today unveiled legislation asking voters to put an end to lame duck sessions of the Illinois General Assembly by moving up the date of inauguration. The proposal also requires the outgoing General Assembly to conclude their work by Election Day.
“You never know what shenanigans are going to be played in a lame duck session.  In 2011 under the veil of night, Democrats in the lame duck legislature voted to impose the largest income tax increase on families and employers in the history of our state.  Outgoing lawmakers, who are no longer accountable to the voters, should not be approving such controversial legislation,” said Durkin.
Durkin’s proposal would put on the November general election ballot a constitutional amendment asking voters to move the date of inauguration to the second Wednesday in December, approximately one month following the election.  Currently, inauguration is held on the second Wednesday in January.     
House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 43 would also prohibit the outgoing General Assembly from convening or acting on legislation unless a special session is convened with the joint approval of the Governor, and each of the four legislative leaders (the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the House, and the Minority Leader of the Senate).  The purpose of the session must be specified in the proclamation and action limited to the topic identified.
“This would allow the legislature to convene if there was a true emergency such as an act of terrorism or natural disaster,” said Durkin.
Durkin also filed a resolution to change the current House Rules that would limit the actions of a lame duck legislature during the period of time between the vote on a constitutional amendment at the 2014 general election and the date when the amendment’s adoption is certified and becomes effective. 
House Resolution 805 would require, beginning on the date of the general election, a three-fifths vote to move a bill from the Order of Second Reading, when amendments are considered, to the Order of Third Reading, when a bill is voted on for final passage.  This would also apply to bills on the Order of Concurrence or Conference Committee reports.
“The two-year legislative session allows more than enough time to thoroughly vet and move legislation through appropriate channels while simultaneously holding lawmakers responsible for their legislative action,” said Rep. Pritchard (R-DeKalb).  “Lame duck sessions often give rise to laws which otherwise would not have enough votes to pass because outgoing lawmakers are no longer accountable to the voters; one example of this is the 67% tax increase passed during the lame duck session in 2011.” 
 “If a legislator wants to vote for a tax increase or other controversial issues they need to be held accountable to their constituents.  In the past we have seen lawmakers take positions on bills during the lame duck that they might not have taken if they had to answer to the voters,” said Durkin.  “The bills we have filed will eliminate lame duck sessions and tough votes will have to be taken before an election – not afterwards.”