With the arrival of the New Year comes a series of new laws enacted by the State of Illinois. This year, over 200 new laws will take effect on January 1. These include bills for small technical corrections as well as major pieces of legislation.

Click here to read through a recap of these new laws which will be on the books next year. 

For more information on all the bills in the General Assembly, visit www.ilga.gov.

Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com
December 18, 2017

In This Issue:
·         Making Progress Toward Real ID
·         Illinois Losing Out on Tax Dollars from Online Sales
·         The Bicentennial: Make it more than a Birthday Party
·         10 Reasons to Hire a Vet
·         Aging and Disability Issues
·         Unfunded Pension Liability Continues to Grow
·         Business Continues to Invest in Kishwaukee Education
·         New Laws for the New Year

Making Progress Toward Real ID
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Congress passed the Real ID Act in an effort to increase airplane security and set minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards.  Illinois has satisfied 90 percent of the federal requirements and is on track to meet all of the requirements by January 2019.
While many states have already complied with these standards, Illinois’ progress was hampered by lack of funding and legislative interference.  A House Resolution in 2007 called for Illinois to ignore the unfunded federal mandate.  However, the General Assembly authorized Illinois to comply with the federal law with Public Act 99-0511. 
Renewing a drivers’ license or state ID will now take longer so background checks can be completed.  A temporary secure paper driver’s license or ID will be issued at the time of application and the permanent license or ID will arrive in 45 days.  Until Illinois is fully compliant with all Real ID standards, current Illinois Drivers Licenses and State IDs continue to be acceptable forms of identification for such things as boarding airplanes and entering federal buildings. 

Illinois Losing Out on Tax Dollars from Online Sales
Online retail sales are increasingly more popular with shoppers, especially during major holidays, but local units of government are seeing lost tax revenue.  The Taxpayers Federation of Illinois in a recent newsletter reported that online retail sales result in a loss of $635 million in local sales and use taxes.  You can read the full article here.
Online sales account for at least 8.5 percent of total retail sales in the United States.  This has been a significant change in recent years and has made things more complicated for local governments and local tax rates.  “Sourcing” for sales tax purposes determines where a sale occurs, which determines who gets the local share of the state sales tax.
Illinois is an origin rather than destination sourcing state, which means the applicable tax rate is where the purchase originates and not its final destination.  According to the Federation’s report, Illinois does not have a true sales tax on retail sales.  Instead, the state’s sales tax is comprised of four different taxes: the Retailer’s Occupation Tax (ROT), Use Tax (UT), Service Occupation Tax (SOT) and the Service Use Tax (SUT).
Amazon, the country’s largest internet retailer, provides an interesting example.  The company has a physical presence in Illinois and is now collecting tax on its sales to consumers in Illinois.  The report estimates that there has been an annual increase of some $200 million in state and $52 million in local UT collected as a result of this one company establishing nexus (physical presence in state) and collecting taxes. 
I have introduced legislation similar to a Colorado law that levels the taxes paid for on-line versus brick and mortar stores.  Action on the bill has been delayed while a court case that could resolve the issue moves to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Bicentennial: Make it More Than a Birthday Party
As a society we love parties and celebrations but how can we make more out of Illinois’ bicentennial?  The clock started the count-down to our 200th birthday as a state on December 3 with flag raising ceremonies around the state.   
I am certain that during the next year libraries will feature books and discussions about how the land was settled, our ancestors and public policies that have shaped how we live and work.  There will even be building projects to restore life to historic buildings like what the Hinckley Historical Society is doing, but I doubt anyone can afford a new building such as the Centennial Building the state constructed in 1918.
It will also be productive in the next year to think about where we want our state and its citizens to be in the next 100 years.  Perhaps we can reflect upon the writings of Thomas Jefferson who helped to frame our liberties, James Monroe who unleashed growth and innovation, and Abraham Lincoln who sought to unite our purpose.
At my Youth Advisory Council meeting last week I distributed an article about author Doris Kerns Goodwin’s focus on our Presidents and the qualities of leadership.  Perhaps in the next year we might have a public discussion about the qualities of leadership we desire for the future, how we are developing those qualities in our young people, and electing people with those qualities to lead our state and nation.

On December 3rd we in Illinois began a year-long celebration leading to our bicentennial.  It is a time to reflect upon the past 199 years since Illinois became a state.  On our way to December 3, 2018 we have the opportunity to study and discuss the people and events that have shaped who we are today.  It is a time to reflect upon our achievements and failures; our resources and their use; our melting pot of cultures and dreams; and the opportunities we still share today at the crossroads of America. 

Our state has become the fifth most vigorous economy through the creative ideas of entrepreneurs and efforts of our workers.  From an agrarian society to the industrial age, and now information technology, biotechnology and bioinformatics we have innovated and changed.

An educated workforce has been a critical element to our success and is key to growing our economy and improving the human conditions for all our residents.  The legislature recently made a fundamental shift in the adequacy and equity of funding for elementary and secondary education and thus the ability for our educators to serve the needs of their students.  A group of us legislators is now beginning to focus on higher education and the affordable structure for lifelong learning.

Clearly a number of important policy issues confront our citizens and political leaders as we embark on the next century for Illinois.  Many question the future growth potential for our state and whether they should continue to live and work here.  As daunting as some of the challenges appear, Illinoisans can take heart in the natural and human resources we have been blessed to possess, and we must exhibit the same resilience and creativity as was shown by our forebears.   

Our libraries, historical museums, schools and units of local government can play an important role during our bicentennial year in helping residents to reflect upon our history and renew our confidence and optimism for the future.  Let us all become involved in the Illinois 200 celebration and build upon Illinois’ legacy.