On January 1, 237 new laws will take effect in Illinois. Unfortunately, a balanced budget is not among them.

Several of the new laws affect children, veterans and the elderly. Others affect drivers and consumers. Here's a quick look at some of the more notable laws taking effect on Friday, January 1.

A full list of new laws can be found here.
Below are some important legislative and statewide updates. Please have a Merry Christmas, and a joyous holiday season!

FY16 Budget
·         Legislative leaders meet with Governor Rauner for third time; Madigan a no-show.  The series of budget meetings has brought together Governor Bruce Rauner with Illinois legislative leaders to discuss issues standing in the way of the enactment of constitutional balanced budgets for FY16 and FY17.  The third in this series of meetings was held in Chicago on Thursday, December 17. 
The high-level meeting follows sharp criticisms leveled against the Democrats’ leader in the Illinois House, Speaker Michael Madigan.  The powerful Democratic legislative leader and party chairman had previously told attendees at a gathering, held on Wednesday, December 9 at the City Club of Chicago, that the State needed to look at re-instituting a 5.0% personal income tax rate on individual Illinois incomes.  Madigan’s move in January 2011 to pass a bill to enact the first 5.0% individual income tax rate was the largest tax-hike law in Illinois history.  Speaker Madigan’s spokesman told the press that the House leader would not be able to attend the December 17 meeting and the Speaker was not in attendance.  
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Randy Frese (R-Paloma) is pleased to announce the passage of various significant state funds to his House District.

Rep. Frese stated, “With the passage of Senate Bill 2039, veterans homes, motor fuel tax receipts for roadway projects and road safety, statewide 911 services, breast cancer research, domestic violence shelters, and lottery payments will all receive due funding. I do realize these items are vital to so many in my District, and I cannot wait to call our community leaders to inform them of this long-awaited appropriation. I also cannot wait to tell this news, in person, to all those good people I have met at Quincy Veterans Home. I was happy to support the amendment that collectively passed all of these funds, and I hope to see our General Assembly continue to progress through cooperation. While many key budget issues remain unsolved, this is a vital step forward for local government.”

It is anticipated that the Illinois Senate will promptly convene its members to concur with the House on Senate Bill 2039, and Governor Rauner has already stated his support of the appropriations.
QUINCY – State Representative Randy Frese (R-Paloma) joined AT&T in making Transitions of Western Illinois a recipient of AT&T’s “Investing in Illinois” Award. The award provides contributions to organizations and programs that improve lives in their communities by bringing essential community services.

Representative Frese stated, “I’d like to thank AT&T for allowing me the opportunity to recognize such a great charitable agency in the form of this donation. Since 1955, Transitions of Western Illinois has served the Adams County area, providing first-rate affordable services to those living with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses. They deserve every recognition they receive for what they do for our neighbors.”

Transitions provides an array of services to meet the needs of area residents from birth through the remainder of life. Serving over 9,000 area residents, its goal is to help people reach their full potential.

The community investment was given officially on Tuesday, November 17, at 10:30AM at 4409 Maine Street in Quincy.
FY16 Budget
Governor Rauner to chair public meeting with legislative leaders on Nov. 18.  The meeting is expected to examine the delayed FY16 budget process.  Although the FY16 fiscal year began on July 1, 2015, a constitutional balanced budget has not been enacted by the Democrat supermajorities in the Illinois House and Senate.  The State has continued to operate under consent decrees, court orders, continuing appropriations, and school appropriations, but this has created many operational problems.  Recipients of State services, and providers of goods and services to the State, have been affected by the lack of a legal budget document.  

Spokespersons for all four legislative leaders expressed positive interest in the meeting.  The gathering was requested by a consortium of nonpartisan advocacy groups.  Sponsors of the request included the Better Government Association, the League of Women Voters, and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. 

FY16 Budget

Comptroller Munger: Early Intervention payments will be made. Comptroller, DHS agree EI services fall under active consent decree

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger announced Wednesday that her office is setting up accounts and will immediately begin making payments to Early Intervention providers as soon as it receives vouchers from the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Munger learned from her Nonprofit Advisory Council last week that Early Intervention services were "slipping through the cracks" of consent decrees requiring payments during the budget impasse, and she contacted DHS officials to discuss what payment options were available. After looking more closely at several active consent decrees, DHS and the Comptroller agreed that Early Intervention services were covered and they immediately began setting up the processes for making payments to providers.

"I know the tremendous benefits that Early Intervention services can provide to our delayed and disabled infants and toddlers, and I was extremely concerned when I learned many providers would likely be suspending their vital therapeutic services at the end of this month," Munger said. "My office is working today to set up the accounts and we will immediately begin making payments to Early Intervention providers as soon as we receive vouchers from DHS so we can avoid further hardships."

Early Intervention providers, who work on development strategies with disabled infants and toddlers, are the latest group in a growing list of organizations to be penalized by the ramifications of the budget impasse, now in its third month. Munger announced last week that the current $6.2 billion bill backlog is expected to grow to $8.5 billion by the end of December if the impasse continues.

"It is time for members of the General Assembly to sit down with the Governor to find common ground and pass a balanced budget so we can fund our critical priorities," Munger said.
As many are aware, an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease has occurred at our very own Illinois Veterans' Home in Quincy. Forty-five people associated with the home have tested positive for the disease, and this includes residents (41) and staff (4). Sadly we have lost seven residents to the terrible outbreak.

Specialists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are on-site in Quincy, and I have been assured that the disease is being closely monitored by staff at the Illinois Veterans' Home, and by officials of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Please keep everyone at the Illinois Veterans' Home in your best wishes.

Law Enforcement – Fox Lake Tragedy
Illinois House honors Lt. Charles Joseph “G.I. Joe” Gliniewicz.  The Fox Lake Police lieutenant was murdered on the morning of Tuesday, September 1.  Gliniewicz and his family were praised on Wednesday, September 2 by House Republican members John Anthony and John Cabello, who are retired police officers themselves.  The Illinois House was silent as Rep. Anthony, who had been personally acquainted with Gliniewicz, told the body that the veteran of 30 years’ service in law enforcement had been looking forward to retirement with his family.  Rep. Barb Wheeler, who represents Fox Lake, told the House of the lieutenant’s long service to his community.

Since October 1990, the Illinois Capitol has cooperated with the Illinois Police Officers Memorial Committee to honor fallen police officers from forces throughout Illinois.  The memorial, which stands on the southwest corner of the Capitol in Springfield, is visited by officers, troopers, police veterans, and families throughout the State.  All law enforcement officers who have given their lives while in the performance of their duty are eligible to be honored by name at this memorial.  Visitation peaks at the annual Police Memorial Ceremony, traditionally held on the first or second Thursday in May.  The ceremony individually recognizes each addition to the engraved list of the names of the fallen.      
Springfield – With the State of Illinois yet to pass a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2016, State Representative Randy Frese (R-Quincy) was pleased to see Senate Bill 2042 signed into law. The legislation authorizes the spending of a total of almost $5.4 billion in federal money for programs that help domestic violence victims, low-income seniors and disabled people.

Rep. Frese stated, “This bill appropriates vital federal funds to vulnerable individuals and agencies during the state’s budgetary impasse. I was glad to see these funds pass quickly through the process, and not be held further by any state budget deadlocks.”

The legislation is now Public Act 99-0409.

As your State Representative, I have seen across all our communities how trying the past month has been on our District, as storms have ravaged through much of our region causing floods, power outages, and property failures. Many residents have had to struggle without power after the severe storm weather, during which Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore declared a State of Emergency after wind speeds reached up to 70 mph. I fielded calls with emergency teams and encouraged homeowners to report damages to their homes and the surrounding area. Through this work I can say that there is no one more proud to represent their home region than I am today. Mother Nature has not been kind to us, amidst a State budget deadlock no less, but I have watched neighbors and communities come together to help rebuild the damages of the past month, and I am very grateful to everyone that has reached out a hand to help during the tougher times.
With the forecasts changing however, I hope everyone finds time to enjoy the back end of our summer.  

Now onto some updates from Springfield…

QUINCY – Adams County residents are dealing with major storm damages Tuesday morning as thousands of residents are still without power after severe storms hit Monday night. Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore declared a State of Emergency Monday night after 70 mph winds ripped through Quincy, downing power lines and damaging homes.

Alongside Mayor Moore and Adams County Emergency Management Director John Simon, State Representative Randy Frese (R-Quincy) is fielding calls with emergency teams and encouraging homeowners to report damage to their home and the surrounding area.

Rep. Frese stated, “This storm has caused 34,300 people to be without power at one time. At this time crews are at work to get streets safely cleared. I’d like to thank the Mayor’s Office, Ameren Illinois, and Adams County Emergency Management for their quick aid to our communities. Emergency officials expect to work throughout Tuesday to restore outages. We will be assessing all damages and addressing all affected very shortly. Please do not hesitate to call my Office or local emergency services to report damages or request help.”

With gas lines in Quincy damaged by trees, the situation could take days for crews to address all power line and home damages. To report damages, the Adams County Emergency Management Agency can be reached at 217-277-2005. 

Springfield – With the State of Illinois set to begin Fiscal Year 2016 without a budget in place, State Representative Randy Frese (R-Quincy) will co-sponsor legislation to ensure thousands of state and university employees will still receive paychecks.

As a result of Governor Rauner’s veto last week of the Democrats’ $4 billion unbalanced budget, there is no budget resolution in sight, with both sides deadlocked over spending and taxes. Without a budget in place by July 15, the State will be unable to make payroll for employees in numerous agencies.

With vital state and university services to the District in mind, Rep. Frese has co-sponsored House Bill 4245. The bill ensures that state and university employees continue to be paid, thereby continuing vital services during the state’s budget impasse.

Rep. Frese said, “I did not want to see this legislature reach an impasse, but just because it has, state and university employees should not see their pay halted. We want to pay those workers who remain diligently performing their duties, such as the ones at nearby Western Illinois University, and the ones at Quincy Veterans Home within my District. Bipartisan negotiations have not won the day in Springfield yet, but this would be a necessary appropriation to pay the hardworking state and university employees that provide vital services to our students, communities, and veterans.”
Fiscal Year 16 Budget Crisis
Governor Rauner, Republicans fight to prevent Illinois government shutdown.  Without a budget in place for the new Fiscal Year 2016 (which began on July 1), there is a possibility that paychecks could be delayed for approximately 65,000 state employees starting July 15.
Governor Rauner and his staff are examining their legal options. The governor stated on Monday, June 29 that “Our lawyers are working hard to ensure that all employees will be paid on their scheduled pay dates.”  Speaker Michael Madigan and Attorney General Lisa Madigan continued to assert that paychecks may well be delayed and parts of Illinois’ government shut down. 

Placing telemarketing calls to wireless phones is - and always has been - illegal in most cases.

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.

The federal government does not maintain and is not establishing a separate Do-Not-Call list for wireless phone numbers.

Wireless phone subscribers have always been able to add their personal wireless phone numbers to the national Do-Not-Call list, either online, or by calling toll-free 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number they wish to register. The do-not-call rules require callers that are not exempt from the rules to stop telemarketing calls 30 days after you register a number.

There is no deadline for registering a number on the national Do-Not-Call list. There is also no longer any need to re-register a number – it will stay on the national Do-Not-Call list until you cancel your registration or discontinue service. Read more.
QUINCY - State Representative Randy Frese (R-Quincy) announced Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R) gave an early approval of House Bill 220, which allows for the execution of a voter-approved tax to help safety and emergency services within Adams County. The bill corrects the referendum that was passed by County voters in April, and adds language that was omitted from the ballot.

Rep. Frese stated, “Counties are permitted to establish a sales tax for safety purposes if approved by voters on a referendum vote. In April, a vote was held, the voters approved, and now Adams County will have the funds it requires to build the jail facilities that it has needed for some time. This bill is great for the District, and knowing Governor Rauner’s priority to maintain the safety of all Illinoisans, I thank him for his confirmation on this very important initiative.  I would also like to thank Representative Don Moffitt and Senator John Sullivan for all of their work on this issue.”

The legislation was signed into law by the Governor on May 31.
Budget – FY16
House, Senate Democrats introduce fake State budget.  House and Senate Democrats introduced a series of spending bills for FY16 (starting July 1, 2015) that spends more than $4 billion what nonpartisan revenue estimates expect the state to generate.  Ignoring their constitutional responsibility to enact a balanced budget, the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate rammed through spending bills they readily admit they cannot pay for, while at the same time walking away from the reform negotiations Governor Rauner initiated.

Illinois is estimated to bring in $32 billion next year, and the Democrats proposed budget would spend over $36 billion.  The proposed spending is 12% higher than projected revenue and would push the state’s backlog of bills to over $10 billion, equaling 30% of our total revenue. The Democrats budget gives false hope to those who rely on state services and is an outright lie to schools, service providers and the state’s most vulnerable. 

With locked-in increases intended to cover higher costs for Medicaid expenses, pension contributions, and other mandated and constitutional responsibilities, the House Democrats’ FY16 budget calls for spending more than $36 billion.  House Republican members rejected the unconstitutional budget; calling upon the majority to change course and come back to the negotiating table so that a responsible, bipartisan budget with structural reforms can be agreed upon.   On party-line votes, the Democrats’ spending bills were approved by the Illinois House and Senate.

Gov. Bruce Rauner – agenda
Rauner, House Republicans introduce Illinois Turnaround agenda.  Key issue areas covered by the Governor’s agenda include measures to enact or ratify term limits for elected officials, legislative map reform, a property tax freeze, tort reform, workers’ compensation reform, and municipal bankruptcy reform.

Republican Leader Jim Durkin was the lead sponsor of five Illinois Turnaround measures in the Illinois House, with tort reform filed as HB 4222, workers’ compensation reform filed as HB 4223, the property tax freeze filed as HB 4224 , term limits filed as HJRCA 39, and redistricting reform filed as HJRCA 40.

Chicago – Memorial Day violence; HB 1
Violence again erupts in Illinois’ largest city; drug gangs blamed.  The police blotter for the three-evening Memorial Day weekend (Friday, May 22 through Monday, May 25) listed 56 casualties on Chicago streets, of whom twelve were killed and 44 wounded.  Victims were as young as age 4. 

Typical scenes from this tally of early summer Chicago gunplay, described to reporters by witnesses and survivors, included drive-by and sidewalk shootings.  Veteran police officers and other observers describe this violence pattern as characteristic of the turf operations of organized gangs.   House Republican Representatives John Anthony, John Cabello, and many colleagues in both political parties are sponsoring HB 1, a 2015 Illinois House bill to fight back against gang crime by reducing dependence by many Illinoisans on opioid painkillers.  Many of the painkillers taken by Illinoisans for non-prescribed or addiction reasons are available to them from the streets of urban cities like Chicago.  John Anthony and John Cabello have relied on their experiences as a sheriff’s deputy and a police officer to help craft the anti-opioid features of HB 1.   See “Drug crime,” below.

Drug crime – HB 1
House Republicans help pass bill to reduce opioid dependency.  The bill, HB 1, includes both penalty enhancements and a new commitment to education and rehabilitation.  It contains numerous provisions intended to discourage and prevent patients from misusing opioid prescriptions and developing a dependence upon these dangerous drugs.   Dispensing pharmacies would be forbidding from selling a vial of opioids containing more than a 10-day supply.  One key feature of the bill contains a process to make Narcan, a one-time-use opioid antagonist, available to all Illinois first responders (police, fire, EMT) for administration to persons in an opioid overdose emergency.  

HB 1 contains expanded commitments to drug courts, diversion pathways for nonviolent drug offenders, mandatory drug treatment, and other pathways intended to reduce addiction and recidivism.  The May 27 House vote on HB 1 was 114-0-0, sending the measure to the Senate for final action.     

Economy – Illinois unemployment
State unemployment rate holds steady at 6.0%.  Numbers for April 2015, released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, were identical to the 6.0% figure for March 2015.  5.92 million Illinois residents were collecting paychecks from nonfarm employment in April, but this was only 4,800 more jobs than in March.  Jobless figures for April 2015 were 6.0% in Illinois and 5.4% nationwide.

Unemployment is increasingly concentrated in Downstate and rural areas.  Illinois and its job-counting partners calculate individual unemployment rates for 13 separate metropolitan areas. All 13 of these areas had jobless rates lower than the 6.0% statewide average.  April 2015 Illinois metro jobless rates fell into a range bounded by 3.9% in Bloomington-Normal, the state’s most prosperous locality, and topping out at 5.9% in Chicago, Danville, and Decatur.  Unemployment was higher, however, than the 6.0% statewide in many rural counties located outside these thirteen urban areas.

The numbers continue to show the Prairie State underperforming neighboring states.  While many U.S. states now have many more jobs than they did before the 2008 downturn, Illinois numbers indicate that our job count will not recover to pre-recession levels until July 2016.  The April 2015 jobless rate, calculated by states was 5.4% in Indiana, 3.8% in Iowa, 5.0% in Kentucky, 5.7% in Missouri, and 4.4% in Wisconsin.  Even hard-hit states such as Michigan (5.4%), Ohio (5.2%) and Pennsylvania (5.3%) had lower unemployment rates than Illinois in April 2015.

Fair Map – General Assembly redistricting maps
House Republicans, Governor call for bipartisan maps.  U.S. voters vote for legislators – members of Congress and state legislators – who represent “districts” that are drawn on maps to contain equal numbers of people counted by census.  At the time the U.S. Constitution was adopted, maps were drawn by hand.  It was presumed that legislative districts would be compact or follow the boundary-lines of existing communities, or both.

In recent years, however, the invention of demographic software has made it possible for computers to draw maps that ruthlessly cross existing lines, sprawl across many different jurisdictions and virtually certain to elect politicians from one political party.   Here in Illinois, two “Democratic maps” drawn in 2001 and redrawn in 2011 have led to fourteen straight years of uninterrupted control by the Chicago-based political party over both chambers of the state legislature in Springfield. 

In November 2014, a strong margin of voters elected Republican Bruce Rauner to be Governor of Illinois, yet because of politically-drawn legislative maps, Democrats retained veto-proof supermajorities in both the Illinois House and Senate.

Other U.S. states have removed politics from the all-important job of mapmaking.  HJRCA 40, a House Republican measure introduced on May 22, creates an Independent Redistricting Commission made up of members of both major political parties to draw the maps.  The constitutional amendment provides a nonpartisan process to break a tie and draw the map if the two parties cannot agree.      

Governor Bruce Rauner has stated his strong support for HJRCA 49, and has called for the House and Senate to consider the measure.  House Republicans see redistricting reform as one aspect of reforms needed to enact a balanced budget and move beyond the failed policies of former Governors Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn under Democrat-controlled legislative maps. Redistricting reform as supported by Governor Rauner and House Republicans would succeed in taking politics out of the drawing of legislative maps.

Higher education – COD scandal
“Lavish perks” discovered at other campuses in wake of COD scandal.  The investigation, described by the “Chicago Tribune” on May 22, described employment-related benefits authorized by friendly trustees for a wide variety of Illinois public university and community college presidents. The reported benefits include housing allowances, private club memberships, expense accounts, retention bonuses and supplemental retirement plans.  Supplemental benefits like these are routinely provided to administrators whose market services are in demand. 

The investigation followed efforts by newly-elected trustees at the College of DuPage (COD) to cooperate with a growing investigation of a sheaf of supplemental benefits and perks provided to retiring COD president Robert Breuder, who is currently on leave of absence.  Reports that Breuder and his inner circle enjoyed an extensive tab for gourmet food and drink at the high-end restaurant operated by the college’s school of culinary arts have raised questions about Illinois public higher education compensation issues.   

Police – bodycams
Illinois House passes bill to encourage police forces to adopt bodycams as routine element of uniform.  Nothing in SB 1304 will require a police force to use bodycams, but a variety of provisions in the bill – worked out with the active participation of statewide law enforcement groups – will strongly encourage them to do so.  Video taken by bodycams will have to be kept for at least 60 days and can then be erased by the police force or its data-security partner, unless specific enumerated events took place and were photographed by the camera and the video must be secured for a longer period of time.

Other features of SB 1304 will expand the existing protocol used by police officers in tracking statistical information on individuals detained in traffic stops.  Under this bill similar information will be gathered, also for statistical purposes, on pedestrians detained by a police officer.

The bill contains a $5 supplemental fine imposed on motor vehicle moving violations.  Money from the fee will be allocated to a grant fund to help individual police departments obtain bodycams and for the police-training process.  Police training will include increased information for new and retrained officers on the use of bodycam video in day-to-day police work. 

Two House Republican members with experience as serving police officers, Rep. John Anthony (R-Morris) and Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park), were co-sponsors of SB 1304.  The vote on SB 1304 was 107-3-4, sending the measure back to the state Senate for concurrence.  

Term limits
Republican freshmen members lead call for term limits.  The call was issued on May 20 at the State Capitol in Springfield.  This call was backed up on May 22, with the introduction of HJRCA 39, a term-limit amendment to the Illinois Constitution.  House Republican Leader Jim Durkin was the lead sponsor of HJRCA 39.

If the voters are allowed to vote on and enact HJRCA 39, then starting in 2017 the State will start phasing in a fixed, 8-year term limit on the terms of Illinois statewide elected officials, including the Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Comptroller and Treasurer.  HJRCA 39 will also place a 10-year cap on the length of time that members can serve in the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate.

Proponents of HJRCA 39 believe that future Illinois officials and lawmakers should be drawn from the voting electorate, and they need to look forward to returning to the places from where they came.  According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 15 states have legislative term limits.  States with legislative term limits include comparable Midwest and neighboring states such as Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. 

Governor Bruce Rauner has repeatedly pointed to ultra-seniority Illinois lawmakers from the legislative majority party as key barriers to Illinois’ movement into the future.  He has reiterated his strong support for Illinois political term limits and HJRCA 39 is part of his “Turnaround Illinois” agenda for 2015 policy action.


SPRINGFIELD – As the end of the legislative session nears, House Democrats have completed their withdrawal from bipartisan working group discussions, and intend to pass an unbalanced budget that looks to spend $4 billion more than the State is taking in. Illinois is estimated to bring in $32 billion next year, with a proposed budget from the majority party that would spend over $36 billion.

State Representative Randy Frese (R-Quincy) stated, “Illinois Democrats cannot seem to comprehend the fact that they can no longer spend our tax dollars without significant changes to the way we do business. We don’t have the money to sustain this type of overspending without significant reforms. For all the calls for transparency, and early agreements for bipartisan involvement, this budget was crafted in the back halls of the Capitol by the majority party without any input from anyone but themselves. The state cannot sufficiently run on money it does not have, and I am perturbed to say the least, about the unbalanced budgetary information I must relay to the hard-working taxpayers in my District.”

The proposed spending is 12% higher than projected revenue, and would push Illinois’ backlog of bills to over $10 billion, equaling 30% of its total revenue.
Budget – FY16

Despite deadline, Democrats again refuse to pass balanced budget for FY16.  The Illinois Constitution requires that the State annually pass a balanced budget in which revenues match mandated expenditures.  One way that Speaker Madigan has been Speaker for 32 of the past 34 years is by passing a series of unbalanced budgets, which have all spent money the State has not had.  He has curried favor with powerful interests and forced Republicans to be the villains whenever steps are taken to prevent the spending of imaginary money.

Strong rumors circulated on Friday, May 22 that Democrats were preparing another unbalanced budget for FY16, the fiscal year starting July 1, 2015.  This budget may get filed in the week starting Memorial Day, May 25.  This phony budget is expected to commit $4 billion that Illinois does not possess to the Democrats’ spending priorities.  Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed a different budget for Illinois and has strengthened his calls for the State’s government to live within its means.

General Assembly – Term Limits

Many House Republicans push for term limits.  Having only spent four months on the job, the large class of House Republican freshmen came together in the Capitol Wednesday to express their disgust with the partisan political atmosphere that has engulfed Springfield.  The message they came to deliver is there is no better time than now to call for term limits in Springfield.

“Illinois requires bipartisan efforts to bring about change, and as we’ve seen in the past, the state hasn’t received it. Term limits for members of the General Assembly would help ensure newer, better initiatives are brought to Springfield and voters would receive a much bigger voice away from the status quo,” said Representative Frese.

An initiative to put a binding term limits referendum on the 2014 General Election ballot was denied by a three-judge Illinois Appellate Court last August, leaving legislative action as the best alternative. With three separate joint constitutional amendments filed, House Republicans point to the onset of gridlock so early into the new Governor’s first term along with the increasingly draconian House rules as evidence that term limits need immediate consideration.

“Status quo is rampant in the state of Illinois. For too long now Illinois has suffered at the hands of entrenched politicians stifling new ideas and solutions,” said Representative
Christine Winger (R-Wood Dale). “Let the voters decide whether term limits are a good idea for Illinois.”

House Republicans have three separate constitutional amendments filed aimed at imposing term limits in Illinois:
HJRCA1 filed by Rep. Ron Sandack (R, Downers Grove), HJRCA 10 filed by Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R, Rockford) and HJRCA 28 filed by Rep. Steve Andersson (R, Geneva); all seek to put on the ballot limits on legislative terms to varying degrees.  It is expected the Governor’s own proposal will be filed soon.

“We all need to work together on solutions that put Illinois back onto a path toward prosperity, and that path must include reforms to how we do business here.  One of those key reforms must be the implementation of term limits for members of the General Assembly,” added Representative
Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield).

Taxes – Income Tax Hike

Democrats back proposal to raise income taxes by $1 billion/year.  HJRCA 26, sponsored by Speaker Michael Madigan and 46 of his Democratic House colleagues, failed to win the required House super-majority vote on Thursday. As a constitutional amendment, the failed measure required a three-fifths majority (71 votes) in order to gain House approval. After getting to 68 votes in a tense roll call (with three Democrats voting “No”), the Speaker ordered the roll call to be dumped and the measure placed on the calendar order of “Consideration Postponed.”

HJRCA 26 would have imposed a separate, supplemental 3% surtax upon Illinois incomes exceeding $1 million/year. The trigger number for this surtax would not have been indexed to inflation. The issue was also voted on in November 2014 by Illinois voters in the HB 3816 advisory referendum.

Governor Rauner and House Republicans have committed to cutting waste and reforming state government before we begin any discussion of new revenue. Illinois now has a balance of power between those whose first instinct is to raise taxes and those who believe the path to good-paying jobs is through growing small business, not attacking it.

Speaker Madigan’s tax hike proposal isn’t new. It is the same cynical attempt to create class warfare as was proposed last year, when Illinois Democrats were similarly and instinctively demanding higher taxes.

The last tax hike forced upon working families by former Governor Quinn and legislative Democrats was supposed to balance the budget and pay off old bills. That didn’t happen. In 2011, when the temporary income tax increase went into effect, Illinois had an $8.5 billion backlog of unpaid bills. After collecting $31 billion in additional revenue, Illinois still has $6 billion in unpaid bills.

Illinois needs comprehensive reform that fundamentally changes the way we do business. We need honest negotiations between Governor Rauner and the General Assembly on how to clean up the fiscal mess, and any discussion of new revenue should come after reform, not before.

Workers’ Compensation

Illinois fails to take action to catch up to neighboring states.  Sham workers’ compensation language was presented by the Democrat majority to the Illinois House on Friday, May 22.  The language was broken up into four separate amendments to HB 1287 to give House Democrats the chance to cast multiple votes against the proposals.  Workers’ compensation reform is strongly opposed by organized labor, trial lawyers and other powerful special interests.

Governor Rauner and the House Republicans continue to support real workers’ compensation reform as part of an overall agenda to turn around Illinois. To that end, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin filed HB 4223 on Friday, which contains Governor Rauner’s workers’ compensation reform proposals: a higher causation standard; AMA guidelines; fee schedule reduction; and Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission reforms.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day to be observed throughout Illinois.  The day of remembrance for those who have served our country, especially those who have fallen in its service, will be observed on Monday, May 25.  Memorial Day was raised from informal, local day of observance to national holiday through the effort of native Illinoisan General John A. Logan, a veteran of the Civil War and head of the Grand Army of the Republic.