State Representative Bob Pritchard (R- Sycamore) was recognized as 'Legislator of the Year' by the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts.

Along with State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), Representative Pritchard was honored at the annual IAFPD conference this past weekend in Peoria. Both will have their names engraved on a patio brick at the Illinois Firefighter Memorial near the state capitol. This is the second time in his 12 years in office that Representative Pritchard has been selected to receive this honor. 

"It is a privilege to sponsor legislation that enhances and benefits firefighters and fire protection districts," Representative Pritchard said. "I take the safety and priority of our firemen and first responders very seriously and as such I consider IAFPD to be an important legislative partner. I will continue to collaborate with IAFPD on legislation that assists our Illinois fire services and their abilities to protect citizens."

The Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts represents over 650 fire districts throughout Illinois. Every year the IAFPD honors a legislator who has supported fire service legislation and promoted the interests of fire service personnel. The award is named for Representative Don Moffitt (R- Galesburg), chairman of the fire services caucus. 
Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com

June 29, 2015
In This Issue:
  Ø  Government Shutdown Imminent
  Ø  Public Private Partnership Bill Passes
  Ø  Fire Districts Honor Legislators
  Ø  Governor Vetoes All But One Budget Bill
  Ø  Poker Run Bill Rides to Governor

Government Shutdown Imminent
Without a state budget for FY2016, many state operations will be required to shut down on Wednesday as the new year begins.  The courts have ruled that the Comptroller cannot pay any new bills if the money has not been appropriated.  Among those programs that will continue are essential services like state police, some prison operations, federally funded programs, court ordered payments and programs funded by continuing appropriations.  
While the state budget for K-12 education has been approved, money to operate the State Board of Education which oversees many school functions has no budget.  State workers may choose to continue working with no assurance they will be paid on time, meanwhile many non-profits and other businesses, without a state contract, have no assurance they will ever be paid.
I’ve been asking a lot of people how they think a shutdown of state government will affect them.  Representative Tom Demmer and I asked the question of those at our first ‘Discussion over Coffee’ last Saturday in DeKalb as well.
Obviously some rely very little upon state programs and don’t think they will be affected.  Perhaps the major impact will be upon their friends or neighbors.  For other individuals and non-profits who rely on government funded programs the answer is much different.  One person I visited with uses subsidized child care for her children so she can work.  In the future she must choose between missing work and perhaps losing her job, or finding someone she can afford to pay just to watch her children. 
Still others who work to deliver state programs anticipate being laid off until their employer gets a new state contract.  Higher education employees may not be affected because the college or university has sources of funding other than the state to carry them for awhile. 
Going without pay will present immediate hardships for people with mortgages and those living paycheck to paycheck.  Such uncertainty affects the emotions and mental health of families.  The delay in a state contract can tip a business just on the financial edge to have to close.
I clearly understand that closing down state government has serious consequences so I will continue urging the legislative leaders to work with the Governor to reach a compromise; and quickly.  Meanwhile we can all look out for those affected directly by the shutdown and offer whatever help we can; even a word of encouragement and prayers will help.

Public Private Partnership Bill Passes
This past Tuesday the House debated and passed a bill that creates a public private partnership to encourage economic growth and innovation.  I discussed the concept advanced by the Governor in last week’s newsletter, but HB574 sponsored by Speaker Madigan added eight amendments.
The amendments could not be considered improvements and were anything but friendly to the concept.  Amendment nine ends the program in three years which sends a clear message about the state’s lack of commitment to the concept and is hardly enough time for such a partnership to produce many results.

Fire Districts Honor Legislators
The Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts honored two legislators Saturday for their sponsorship of legislation important to its members.  Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and myself were selected “Legislators of the Year” and will have a patio brick at the Illinois Firefighter Memorial by the capitol engraved in our honor. 
Charles Vaughn, IAFPD Lobbyist, Senator Holmes, and Representative Pritchard
This is the second time in my 12 years in the House that I’ve has been honored by the Fire Association as Legislator of the Year.  The Association represents over 650 fire districts throughout the state and offers training, counsel, and other services to fire district trustees and chiefs.

Governor Vetoes All But One Budget Bill
Governor Rauner vetoed 19 of the 20 budget bills last Thursday, approving only the Elementary and Secondary Education budget.  He explained his decision in a Chicago Tribune op-ed which can be read here.  
The education budget (HB3763) funds $6.9 billion for K-12 education which is about $300 million higher than the previous year and a number that closely resembles the level recommended by Governor Rauner.  The bill also funds the Teacher Retirement System and Teacher Retirement Insurance Program, and makes a contribution toward the Chicago Teacher Pension System. 
The state has underfunded its contribution to school districts for years now, but this move does increase the funding level from an average 89 percent of the legislature’s goal per student to 92 percent.

Poker Run Bill Rides to Governor
HB 3538 will help to smooth the licensing approval process for this popular fundraising tool throughout suburban and downstate Illinois.  The bill was approved by both chambers last week and now heads to the Governor.
Current law creates local snags in the ordinances that groups use to win licenses to carry out these popular fundraising activities, and HB 3538 pushes to streamline these snags by placing poker run licenses in the hands of Illinois county boards other than Cook County.  The bill also clarifies that all bona fide nonprofit groups are eligible to seek to operate a poker run. 
Poker runs are activities, usually one day long, in which a group of people make an event of traveling from place to place and playing a game at each location.  At the end of the poker run, the players concentrate at a finish line and play out the game, and prizes are awarded.  Under the provisions of HB3538, the poker run must be set up so as to raise money for a needy person, a good cause, or the financial survival and stability of the group sponsoring the run.  Many motorcyclists and biker groups carry out poker runs.
 
I had the privilege of participating in the Relay for Life of DeKalb County over the weekend and especially enjoyed this message by one of the teams.  These relays sponsored by the American Cancer Society seek to honor cancer survivors, remember those who have lost the battle, and contribute funds for researching a cure for cancer. 


Bob
The Governor signed signed House Bill 3763 today making appropriations for education funding and the teachers retirement system. The budget bill, one of many sent to the Governor, increases General State aid by $244 million and early education funding by $25 million. The school funding proration rate is up from 89% to 92%.

"I want to commend the Governor on his willingness to work with the majority party in developing a responsible budget." Representative Pritchard said. "I’m glad to see that the Governor has made education an important part of his agenda. By signing this bill increasing the education proration rate we’re seeing that in action. With the budget battle going on in Springfield I am glad that this investment in our children’s future will be out of the crossfire and that our schools will open on time. Now is the time for Speaker Madigan and his fellow Democrats to come back to the table and help break the current stalemate. I’m confident if both sides continue to be willing to negotiate and meet each other halfway we can find a solution that protects our most vulnerable while keeping in mind the fiscal realities of this state."  

Taken together, the budget bills amount to an almost $4 billion dollar over appropriation of state resources. The governor has said he will not sign the whole budget as it is unreasonable and grossly overspends what the state has to work with. 

For more information 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

June 22, 2015
In This Issue:
  Ø  Join in Discussion Over Coffee
  Ø  Getting more Aggressive in Job Attraction
  Ø  Comptroller’s Office Sets Example
  Ø  A History of Innovation in our Area
  Ø  Some of the Budget Bills Sent To Governor
  Ø  Auditor General Stepping Down
  Ø  Pipeline Company Supports Education, Responders

Join in Discussion Over Coffee
        This Saturday I will be holding the first of several morning discussions about state issues, the budget and topics important to you.  Representative Tom Demmer will be joining me on June 27 at the Lincoln Inn, DeKalb.  I hope you will join us at 9 a.m. for coffee and a lively interaction.  We’ll also be taking questions from you and look forward to hearing your concerns.
This is the first of several gatherings planned for the next several weeks around the district.  Other discussions will be held in Campton Hills, Garden Prairie, and Kirkland.  I will keep you posted as the dates approach, but be sure to check my website and Facebook for frequent updates.

Getting more Aggressive in Job Attraction
       Last week the House held its third Committee of the Whole this year to hear details about Governor Rauner’s initiative to encourage growth and innovation through the creation of a public- private partnership.  Eleven states as well as counties like DeKalb, DuPage, Lake and Will have successfully used such partnerships to attract and work with businesses for job growth and investment in their areas. 
       As an example, job creation in Ohio lagged behind Illinois until they formed a private nonprofit corporation.  Now job creation exceeds Illinois’ effort by 40 percent and new company capital investment in 2014 increased $6.1 billion over 2013 levels.
       The Governor’s proposal would create a corporation governed by a board of directors who are appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders.  The corporation would be funded by Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) grants and private tax-deductible donations.  It would focus on business development, small and minority business incubation, trade and investment, and tourism and film production-- activities currently managed by DCEO.
      DCEO Director Jim Schulz testified that red tape, mandates, and bureaucracy have contributed to the state’s lack of success in attracting jobs compared to other states.  He said Illinois ranks as an “F” in small business friendliness.
      Negotiations between the Governor and Speaker Madigan’s office have addressed concerns about the organizations created in other states.  This new more nimble entity would be subject to appropriate oversight and audits, freedom of information requests, ethical constraints, and final approval on all projects from the director of the DCEO.

Comptroller’s Office Sets Example

        People who are skeptical that government can significantly improve efficiency or cut costs should listen to Comptroller Leslie Munger.  I heard her speak in Kane County last week about the great strides her office has made in just six months to become more efficient and reduce costs.  

The Comptroller said she has cut 10 percent from an operations budget that was already as low as in 1998, combined divisions within the office, and cross trained some staff to provide more streamlined services.  Staffing is at the lowest level in modern times according to the Comptroller who is putting to work her experience as a business executive.

          What was most exciting about her comments was the goal she has to upgrade the state’s computer system and reduce the number of financial accounts and incompatible computer systems.  Munger spoke about the inefficiency in managing over 800 different financial accounts and how unacceptable it was to have 263 computer financial reporting systems that lack the ability to interact. 
Overhauling the financial reporting system state-wide is estimated to save $300 to $500 million per year according to the Comptroller who added the new system will be phased in over the next five years.  Munger added the executive branch is attempting to replicate these improvements and similar accomplishments in other agencies and services in order to cut state spending and the need to raise taxes.  
         
A History of Innovation in our Area
The DeKalb Area Agriculture Historical Association (DAAHA) is serving a wonderful purpose of remembering past innovations in our area and challenging citizens to continue the tradition.  The group unveiled its latest historic sign in Sycamore on June 13 at the site of the Marsh Harvester Manufacturing plant-- what is now the home of Blumen Gardens. 
The sign approved by the state Historical society tells about the significance of the Marsh Harvester in 1858 and how the Marsh Harvester works was Sycamore's first major industry.  The company helped install the city’s first water system to help control fire at the plant according to Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy.
The Marsh reaper-combined the process of cutting and binding the stalks of small grains, and greatly reduced the number of workers needed.  The machine was quickly adopted by farmers during the Civil War when labor was scarce because men were off fighting the war.
DAAHA has erected four signs so far in tribute to the innovation of local residents.  From the Marsh Harvester to barbed wire, pasteurized milk, seed drying, hybrid corn and the county Extension Advisor, people in this region have demonstrated their creativity and willingness to try something new. 
Innovation and education go hand-in-hand.  Not only is cultivating the creative mind in our schools and universities important but also teaching the skills necessary for work.  I believe we can’t forget the importance of such programs in our middle and high schools to serve the needs of all our students.

Some of the Budget Bills Sent to Governor
The 18 budget bills that passed the General Assembly in May are finally being sent to the Governor.  Late last week, two of the bills from each chamber were sent to his office; more are expected to be sent this week.  The Governor has stated that an unbalanced budget is unacceptable and he will veto these bills.
The Governor continues to hold out hope that some agreement can be met by the beginning of the budget year on July 1st.  Speaker Madigan, on the other hand, continues to resist any compromise with the Governor and appears ready to shutdown state government.

Auditor General Stepping Down
Bill Holland, Illinois Auditor General since 1992, is retiring at the end of this year after nearly 23 years on the job.  Last Wednesday he sent a letter to the four legislative leaders announcing his intent to leave his office effective December 31st. He has done an excellent job in his tenure handling it with complete professionalism and uncovering serious errors in government spending.

Pipeline Company Supports Education, Responders
I had a chance last week to witness check presentations by the oil transportation company Enbridge to two local organizations.  One $5,000 check was presented to Kishwaukee Community College President Tom Choice for scholarships in engineering, welding, and other related fields.  Another check in the same amount was given to Chief Chad Connell and the Kirkland fire department for their costs in responding to the tornado on February 9.
John Gauderman (center) and Kish College officials
The checks were presented by John Gauderman, the Chicago region manager for Enbridge.  The company transports 70 percent of the oil in the Midwest and their pipeline in western DeKalb County has the potential to carry 1.2 million barrels per day.
Kirkland Fire Department officials receive help with expenses
Here’s hoping you have a dry and a productive week.

Bob
The area’s two State Representatives invite residents to an informal discussion over coffee on Saturday June 27 at the Lincoln Inn in DeKalb. Tom Demmer (R- Dixon) and Bob Pritchard (R-Sycamore) will be discussing the spring legislative session, the 2016 budget, and other issues facing the community and the state. The representatives also want to hear the ideas and concerns of residents on issues directly impacting them. 





Where: The Lincoln Inn Restaurant, 240 E Lincoln Hwy, DeKalb

When: Saturday June 27 at 9am

On Saturday the DeKalb Area Agriculture Historical Association as they unveiled a new historic sign in Sycamore at the former site of Marsh Harvester manufacturing, now the Blumen Gardens site. The Marsh Harvester Manufacturing Company was Sycamore's first major industry.

Read more about the marker and the association here.
Letter to the editor,

I hope you are paying attention to the ongoing battle in Springfield over the direction of our state.  The disagreements between Governor Rauner and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan are about to go viral and will affect every resident.  Yet there is time to avoid a government shut-down and the resulting significant inconvenience and damage it would cause to a lot of families.

Over the past four months the General Assembly and Governor should have been discussing a budget and policy reforms that would stop the out-migration of our jobs and citizens, plus put us on a fiscal track to pay our bills and get out of debt.  I have been a part of many of these so called “closed meetings” and witnessed the dynamics created by these two leaders. 

For his part, Governor Rauner has been engaged in the negotiations and willing to modify his turnaround agenda.  Speaker Madigan has been playing a waiting game apparently in hopes that the Governor would abandon altogether his reforms, agree to raise revenue and just keep spending the way the Speaker has directed for the past 12 years.  That is a losing strategy, not for any particular party, but for the entire state.  If the Governor agrees to pass a budget and wait to discuss reforms, I doubt there will ever be any of the desperately needed changes to state policies.

So our state is headed toward July 1, when a new budget year begins, with little hope of having an appropriation bill signed into law.  You may have heard Comptroller Leslie Munger while she was traveling around the state last week outline the major consequences of a failure to reach a budget agreement and a shut-down of all but the most essential state services.

Let’s work in the days ahead to avoid a government shut-down.  Join me and the Comptroller in a call to Speaker Madigan to quit the posturing and work with the governor.  Contact the Speaker’s office in Chicago or Springfield and let him know Illinois needs to balance its budget and change its policies to stop the loss of jobs and out-migration of frustrated citizens.  Let’s all raise our voices to get Illinois working again.

Bob Pritchard
State Representative

Contact Speaker Madigan at his district office (773) 581-8000 or at his Springfield office (217) 782-5350
State Representative Bob Pritchard and State Senator Dave Syverson will be hosting a Senior Health Fair on Thursday July 23rd at DeKalb High School. Admission is free and so are the health screenings and refreshments. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about local, regional, and state service providers. Professionals will be on hand to answer all of your questions. 

Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com 
June 8, 2015
In This Issue:
  Ø  War of Words
  Ø  SBA Approves Area for Loans
  Ø  Sycamore Unveils Action 2020 projects
  Ø  Commitment to Stay Within Budget
  Ø  On a happier note…

War of Words
The struggle between the Governor and the Speaker of the House was in full view as the House officially kicked off its overtime session last week.  The only bill presented for consideration was HB1287 which was drafted in response to the Governor’s call for workers’ compensation reform. Additionally, the Appropriation Human Services Committee held a hearing to question the Governor’s staff about which account it used to pay the Governor’s Education Advisor.  

The Governor has been calling for reforms that will make Illinois a more attractive state in which to do business.  The Speaker’s staff introduced HB1287 focused on just two aspects of Workers’ Compensation—causation of the injury and injuries incurred while employees are traveling in their work. 

The sponsor of the bill admitted that the bill was drafted without even having conversations with the Governor’s staff and didn’t contain any of his suggestions.  The bill was opposed by nearly every business group and was worded so as to not reduce the cost of insurance for Illinois worker’s compensation which is among the highest in the nation.  Nevertheless, the bill passed out of the House on a partisan vote.

The hearing into which account the Governor uses to pay his Education Advisor was orchestrated to further divide the Governor and legislature.  One of the Speaker’s assistant leaders who isn’t even a member of the committee attended the meeting so he could speak about it on the House floor.  Not only did his comments mischaracterize the testimony, but also they were intended to be divisive and indicative of someone looking for a fight.

Until the Speaker and Governor come to terms about any reforms that will take our state in a better direction, meetings of the legislature are going to continue to be non-productive.

SBA Approves Area for Loans
Through a lot of our efforts, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved DeKalb and its contiguous counties for low-interest, long-term loans for the victims of the April 9th tornado.  The declaration followed an inspection of the damage by state, local, and federal officials which concluded that 31 homes and 7 businesses sustained major uninsured losses.  

This announcement means that people affected can now apply for loans up to $200,000 for destroyed real estate and up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property with interest rates as low as 1.8 percent.  Businesses can receive loans of up to $2 million.

I appreciate the work of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Director James Joseph in pursuing these loans.  Thanks also go to the Governor and the Illinois Congressional delegation for expressing their support of this request.  The area has not received any federal aid so these loans will be important tools for the long-term rebuilding effort.

Sycamore Unveils Action 2020 Projects
On Saturday I attended an event where Sycamore’s park and school districts unveiled a joint project to aid in a safer and healthier community.  The walking and bike trail is part of the park’s Action 2020 plan and connects neighborhoods with parks and schools.  It’s great to see our local units of government working together and developing public-private partnerships.

Commitment to Stay Within Budget
The Governor made clear last Tuesday that he will make cuts in any budget that is not balanced.  He outlined $400 million in cuts that will be made should the legislature continue the all-to-frequent practice of under estimating expenses and over estimating revenue. 

Both the House and Senate have passed a budget that spends $4 billion more than expected revenue but the bills have yet to be sent to the Governor for him to either reject or sign.  If a budget is not signed by July first, the state loses a significant amount of its authority to spend money.  The Governor is wisely preparing for that possibility. 

The Governor announced steps to ground state planes, suspend the state portion of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, freeze state police vehicle purchases, suspend the Illiana expressway, and suspend all future incentive offers to companies for business attraction and retention.

On a “Happier” Note…
A ban may be lifted on retail establishments offering alcoholic drink specials during certain hours called “Happy Hours.”  Legislation has been sent to the Governor that would lift the ban that has been in effect in Illinois since 1989.


The legislation is intended to improve the number of customers for bars.  As a compromise, new employee training requirements will be mandated that include learning the signs of underage drinking.  The 1980s-era ban was enacted in a time when authorities were fighting to reduce DUI (driving under the influence) violations and to enforce an increase in the legal drinking age from 18 to 21.  Senate Bill 398 passed both chambers on May 31. 

Bob
Why the confusion about telemarketing to wireless phones?
Consumers report receiving emails saying they'll soon begin receive telemarketing calls on their wireless phones. The confusion seems to stem from discussions in the wireless phone industry about establishing a wireless 411 phone directory, much like your traditional (wired) 411 phone directory. A number of email campaigns seem to suggest that if your wireless telephone number is listed in a wireless 411 directory, it will be available to telemarketers, and you will start to receive sales calls. In addition, some of these email campaigns suggest that there is a separate do-not-call "cell phone registry," which you must call to have your wireless phone number covered by the do-not-call rules. This information is inaccurate.

The Facts
Even if a wireless 411 directory is established, most telemarketing calls to wireless phones would still be illegal. For example, it is unlawful for any person to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with express prior consent) using any automatic telephone dialing system or any artificial or prerecorded voice message to wireless numbers. This law applies regardless of whether the number is listed on the national Do-Not-Call list.

Read more here
People and businesses in DeKalb and eight other northern Illinois counties now are eligible to apply for low-interest, long-term loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help them recover from the April 9 tornado. 

“Access to this loan program will be a big help in the recovery from the tornado damage especially for people who did not have adequate insurance” State Representative Pritchard said. “We appreciate the work of the IEMA and Director James Joseph in seeking the availability of these low interest, long term loans. The DeKalb County Long Term Recovery Committee is providing excellent support for the victims of the tornado and this loan program will be another tool in the rebuilding effort.” 

Anyone affected by the April 9 tornadoes in DeKalb County and the contiguous counties of Boone, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Lee, McHenry, Ogle and Winnebago is now eligible to apply for a low-interest, long-term loan through the SBA. More information about the disaster loan program and details about a Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC) will be announced by the SBA in the near future.

Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com
June 2, 2015
In This Issue:
  • Taking a Break
  • Bipatisan Legislative Achievements
  • Higher Education Executive Report Released
Taking a Break
The tug-of-war between Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan--or put another way, between turning Illinois around or business as usual—reached the end of regulation “play” on Sunday so the legislature is going into overtime.  After a short break, play will resume this Thursday, but legislators will not be paid their per diem compensation or travel expenses as a penalty for failing to get their work done by May 31.

The Governor was elected by a majority of our citizens to change the direction our state is headed but he has been blocked all session by those who helped create our current fiscal problems.  They are unwilling to seriously consider his Turnaround Agenda or negotiate improvements to it. 

Of course one of the big unresolved issues is the budget.  Partisan majorities in the House and Senate have passed 18 bills dealing with spending but the total exceeds expected revenue by nearly $4 billion.  This follows the FY2015 budget that over spent revenue by $1.5 billion and resulted in many programs being cut this spring so that prison guards, court reporters and day care centers could be funded.

Governor Rauner has stated he’s unwilling to continue ignoring the Constitutional requirement that the legislature pass a balanced budget.  The budget bills are being held in each chamber which delays any action the Governor might take.  Many legislators just want to increase taxes to balance the budget but the Governor understands that reforms must be negotiated first or there will be no changes that will make Illinois a more attractive place to do business and generate more revenue through job growth.

Bipartisan Legislative Achievements
With all the negative news and tales of gridlock coming out of Springfield, some of the bipartisan efforts can get lost in the shuffle.  A number of significant measures were passed by both chambers last week:

HB 1 contains a number of provisions to address heroin and opioid abuse and addiction in Illinois.  The bill requires availability and training in use of opioid antagonists, information on unused drug disposal, and reporting of drug overdose.  

SB 1304 is a compromise police reform bill which includes guidelines for police body cameras, the requirement of two independent investigators in officer involved shootings, and bans police chokeholds.  It condenses and consolidates some of the 200 police reform bills that were submitted this session in response to national incidents of police shootings.

SB96 implements the transition to a statewide 9-1-1 emergency system and upgrade to the Next Generation 9-1-1 system by 2020.  It also phases out the required wireline local calling packages among other provisions.

HB3887 is an effort to reduce the bureaucratic red tape that is hampering small businesses. The bill states that every five years each state agency must scrutinize its rules and regulations that pertain to small businesses to identify those that are unreasonable, unduly burdensome, or duplicative.

SB1630 allows Kane County to add a small facility fee to civil and criminal cases to help finance badly needed repairs and an expansion of the current courthouse facilities.

HB3428 is an effort to recognize that the cost of college is a significant barrier to those seeking to achieve higher education. This bill provides that a student who takes an AP exam in high school and receives a score of 3 or higher on the exam is entitled to receive postsecondary level course credit at a public institution of higher education.

SB836 combined a number of Senate and House bills which clarify the intent of the original gun conceal carry law passed in 2013.  It also allows individuals with “mild” developmental disabilities to file an appeal with the Illinois State Police upon having their FOID card revoked.

SB455 represents an agreement after nearly two years of negotiations to allow pharmacists to substitute interchangeable biologic products licensed by the Food & Drug Administration.  Physicians still need to agree to the substitution for the cheaper product.

SB1441 amends the vehicle towing law with provisions about who can tow a vehicle.  It also allows for the towing and impoundment of an uninsured vehicle if the driver has a prior conviction for driving without insurance in the past 12 months.  I requested the towing of uninsured vehicles after numerous complaints from citizens involved in accidents with drivers who had no insurance.

HB165 provides that students during noninstructional times of the school day may engage in prayer, religious-based meetings and study.

HB3122- creates the Illinois Veteran’s Preference in Private Employment Act, which allows a private employer to adopt a voluntary veterans' preference employment policy.  Current Illinois law already allows public sector employers to show a preference for veteran’s and I proposed this bill so the private sector could benefit from the skills and dedication of veterans too.

Over the past several years I’ve worked with the U.S. Department of Defense to sponsor a number of successful initiatives to help our active military, their families, and veterans.

SB1246 clarifies that a law passed in the last General Assembly regarding manning levels of fire departments does not affect an arbitrators ruling on manning language in a bargaining agreement.

Higher Education Executive Report Released
Following public controversy over the retirement package for the College of DuPage president, the Senate Democratic Caucus has released a report of executive compensation at all 9 public universities and 46 community colleges.  I find the report, which is available on my website, instructive but also puzzling.

One has to question why the Democratic Caucus conducted the study rather than passing a resolution of the entire Senate to study the issue.  Republicans often conduct such studies when the Democrats, who control the chamber, refuse to participate.  This issue should not be political.

The study reveals a great diversity in the way elected and appointed boards manage executive compensation for their institutions.  Regardless of whether compensation packages should be more uniform across institutions, the report suggests some best practices that trustees for the institutions should take to heart.   

First, boards that oversee operations should demonstrate more accountability for the spending of student and taxpayer dollars.  Boards should spell out clear compensation, bonus and severance agreements for their administration.  Second, the board should be more open with the public in their compensation deliberations, agreements, and records. 

Finally, all Boards of Trustees should conduct administrator performance reviews, set measurable goals for performance and vote on bonuses, contract extensions and pay raises.  Administration may comprise a small portion of the college or university expenditures but when the cost of higher education has reached unaffordable levels for many families, we need to pinch every penny a little harder.

I hope to see you as I travel around the district in the next few weeks.  I will be volunteering at the Palmer Cup on June 12-14 at the Rich Harvest Farms near Big Rock.  Admission is free.  The Palmer Cup, named after Arnold Palmer, is an annual team golf competition between American and European college golfers.  The teams are selected on the basis of nationality, not according to the location of the players’ universities.  This is the first time in its 18 year history, that the competition has been held in Illinois. 

Bob
The Senate Democrats recently released a harsh report about spending at Illinois' higher education institutions. Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus requested compensation data and employment contracts for selected administrative positions from all 9 public universities and 46 community colleges in Illinois for 2005-2015. A review of that information found that administrators were receiving "excessive" benefits including country club memberships and six figure severance agreements. 

You can read the full report here.
Governor Rauner has requested a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) physical disaster declaration for DeKalb County to help people and businesses in Fairdale and surrounding areas recover from the April 9 tornado.

The Governor’s request came after officials from the SBA, Illinois Emergency Management Agency(IEMA), and local officials surveyed damage and documented uninsured losses. That survey found 31 homes and seven businesses sustained major damages and had significant uninsured losses.

If approved, anyone affected by the April 9 tornadoes in DeKalb County and those counties contiguous to it would be eligible to apply for a low-interest, long-term loan through the SBA.