On Friday, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill that I sponsored that will save local taxpayers thousands of dollars. House Bill 5584 allows two Lake County Sanitary Districts to have their duties and obligations taken over by the Lake County government, potentially saving local property taxpayers thousands annually.
One of the major contributors to high property taxes in Illinois is the number of special taxing bodies we have on the local level. Many of the services these taxing bodies provide can be easily assumed by a broader local government at lower cost. This is exactly the case with the Sanitary Districts in Round Lake and Fox Lake Hills. Lake County already has the infrastructure to provide these sanitary services and can save taxpayers thousands by assuming the responsibilities. It’s an obvious move and I hope more opportunities like this can be found to keep more money in residents’ pockets.
House Bill 5584 provides that the Round Lake Sanitary District and the Fox Lake Hills Sanitary District may enter into agreements with Lake County to assume their assets and responsibilities and then dissolve. This would be a cost saver for local residents because the County already performs these duties in many areas and has the infrastructure to take over the sanitary district duties at lower cost to taxpayers.
Last week I was proud to advance legislation in the House that would improve the acceptance chances for college bound high school students in Illinois and provide an opportunity to earn credit at the same time. Students applying to one of Illinois’ many public universities are currently required to complete two years of foreign language to be considered for admission. House Bill 4330 would allow students to qualify based on a proficiency exam and those who earn high makes can earn college credit for their skills.
I believe that every hardworking student deserves the chance to pursue a quality college education, but I know that the heavy cost of paying for college puts it out of reach for many today. This bill gives students who have shown they have strong foreign language skills the ability to earn credit and save on costs through earning the State Seal of Biliteracy. When you consider that the cost for one class at U of I averages out to be more than $5,000, students and parents could save a lot of money.
House Bill 4330 was passed out of the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee in the House with unanimous consent and will now be taken up by the full House for consideration. If passed into law, the bill allows a student who earns a score of “intermediate high” on the State Seal of Biliteracy test to meet foreign language admission requirements at any public community college or university in Illinois. Once accepted, the student may then request that their State Seal of Biliteracy be used to earn credit, potentially saving thousands on the overall cost of attendance.
According to data from CollegeCalc.org, which compares and calculates college costs across the country, using the State Seal of Biliteracy to earn credit for one foreign language class at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign could have saved $5,553 during the 2014/15 academic year.
We have college bound students leaving Illinois every day because they can get a more affordable education out of state. I am confident that this legislation will be a step in the right direction to encourage students stay in Illinois, use their knowledge to save them money, and lead them to pursue their career here in Illinois after they graduate.
The State Seal of Biliteracy score is similar to Advance Placement (AP) scores, but open to students who didn’t have the chance to take the AP test through their high school classes. To learn more about House Bill 4330, click here.
Over the last couple years, it has only become more clear that the State of Illinois, and the General Assembly in particular, in in desperate need of reform. That's why last week I signed on as chief co-sponsor on legislation to enact term limits for Illinois lawmakers and put a stop to gerrymandering by removing the process of incumbents drawing their own legislative districts to ensure their re-election. The two reform proposals if approved by the legislature would send a signal to Governor Rauner that the legislature is ready to solve the current budget impasse.
Since I first took office in January 2013, I have been advocating for term limits and redistricting reform. These are two very simple reforms which deserve an up or down vote in the legislature in order to pass on to the people, who can make their final decision. At the very least we owe it to the people of Illinois to allow their lawmaker to vote on term limits and put a stop to gerrymandering.
Term limits and redistricting reform are two of the five proposals Governor Rauner would like to see considered by the legislature. We should be back in Springfield today and at least send these two simple proposals to the Governor’s desk, then get back to the negotiating table to hammer out a state budget. We need to get back to work now and we need a state budget now.
The two legislative reform proposals I am chief co-sponsoring are HJRCA 49 and HJRCA 51 to amend the redistricting process and enact term limits, respectively.
More specifically, HJRCA 49 calls for the State Board of Elections to develop a specialized computer program to create unbiased districts for Illinois State Senators and Representatives. The computer program designated by the Board of Elections must disregard specified data and must consider certain prioritized factors to help ensure that districts are otherwise produced in a random manner and not correlated to a political party affiliation and gerrymandering. At present, Illinois State Senators and Representatives draw the maps for redistricting themselves, often leading to a basis in favor of one party.
HJRCA 51 seeks to prohibit members of the Illinois General Assembly from serving more than ten years in office. This Amendment to the Illinois Constitution would essentially limit Illinois State Senators to three terms (one term of two years and two terms of four years) and Illinois State Representatives to five terms in office. It also stipulates that no person can use a combination of the offices of Senator or Representative to serve more than ten years. Currently, neither of these offices have any limit on the number of terms or years served, or limitations on an elected official holding a leadership role in their respective body of the legislature.
Please use your voice to urge Speaker Madigan to allow a vote on these proposals so that the people of Illinois can definitively act at the next General Election as to whether or not these proposals should be adopted! These changes should be up to the voters, and every day they remain stuck in the Rules Committee is another day the will of the people is ignored.
Speaker Michael J. Madigan
Illinois House of Representatives
300 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Now that the primary season is over, it is time to get back to business. And our General Assembly has a LOT of business to attend to:
The last time the House was in session (TWO WEEKS ago), House Democrats made an attempt to override the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2043. I am bewildered and saddened by the lack of compromising as well as the misinformation about this bill and the budgetary process in general. This piece of legislation is a lie to college students who depend on MAP Grants to attend college.
I said it last fall, I said it last month, and I'll say it today: without a means of funding, we can’t actually pay the money in this bill and without a budget in place it’s just another lie. We need a budget!
In January, House Republicans offered a counter proposal, House Bill 4539, which would provide $1.68 billion from general revenue to adequately fund colleges and universities, and students’ MAP grants. The proposal has sat in limbo, despite a request from House Republicans to craft compromise legislation last week.
To make matters worse, Speaker Madigan decided to end the House's work for this month on March 3 and adjourn the House for OVER A MONTH until April 4 despite passionate objections from the other side of the aisle.
Can the partisan wrangling please stop so we can finally pass a constitutional, balanced budget and stop these unconscionable lies to students, families, and every other person in this state whose funding has been stopped due to this impasse? Let me say it once more, we need a budget now!
Please contact Speaker Madigan and ask him to call the House back to Springfield so we can do our jobs and contact the Speaker and Governor Rauner to tell them that enough is enough and negotiations must continue. Make sure not to send a form letter that will just be put in a pile somewhere. If possible, please send a personal note or call their office to show how important this is to Illinoisans:
Speaker Michael J. Madigan
Illinois House of Representatives
300 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Governor Bruce Rauner
State of Illinois
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
This contentious primary season will soon be over. As a reminder, early voting ends March 14 at 7pm and official voting day is March 15. Please do remember to vote. But as this heightened primary season draws to an end, we are reminded that no matter who wins or loses, we all still live and raise our families in the same, close knit community. This has been one of the most interesting primaries I have experienced yet. The presidential race has certainly made it more entertaining. And unlike many of the other counties, we have a lot of local races.
In addition to one of the more fascinating "sign war" battles this year, we have also seen, without a doubt, far more mudslinging. That's disappointing, but not unusual. We know politics is a full contact sport, but hopefully the name-calling will dissipate so that policy contrasts can be determined by voters.
Staying focused on the policy differences rather than engaging in personal attacks is the best ways to stay above the fray. It's a lot easier to work together for the benefit of this community when we are able to get along AFTER the primary elections. As candidates, we need to remember this; as supporters of candidates, we need to remind them of this.
March 15 is next week. The primary is officially over at 7 pm next Tuesday. Polls will then be closed. Some candidates will win, but the truth is...more candidates will lose. It will be the time to celebrate and congratulate all who were a part of the process. Let's share in the victories of our founding fathers and honor their efforts of bring a representative form of government to our country.
Remember: we are only half way there. November is the "winner takes all" election. We need everyone working together to make a difference in this county, state, and country. After all, "A house divided ..." Well, you know the rest.
Please join us at these celebratory events:
McHenry County GOP Election Night Party
Hosted by McHenry County GOP Chairwoman Sandra Salgado
March 15 beginning at 7pm
Marzano's Wood Fire Grill
National and Local election results will be playing throughout the evening.
All are welcome.
Chairman Joe Gottemoller's Election Night Event
March 15 beginning at 8pm
Georgio's in Crystal Lake
Chairman Joe Gottemoller is hosting a open event for all candidates and supporters.
Comptroller Leslie Munger is having a fundraiser!
Monday March 7, 2016
5:30 - 7:30 PM
Brief program around 6:15 PM
Half Day Brewing Company - Lincolnshire, IL
Tickets $100 available at the door or via RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to a positive November with all of our capable candidates!
On Wednesday February 24, I will be hosting a special human trafficking awareness seminar alongside the Refuge for Women organization at Lundahl Middle School in Crystal Lake.
The seminar will focus on the affects human trafficking has on our youth, such as the dangers of social media. It will also highlight methods that parents and the community at large can use to spot the signs of exploitation and prevent our youth from being taken advantage of by predators.
I’ve spoken on many occasions about how far reaching and traumatic an impact human trafficking can have. Its impact is felt in our suburban communities every day because recognizing the tactics of human traffickers and other sexual exploiters is not as easy as we may think. This is why it’s so important to learn how to recognize the signs of exploitation so we can protect our children and vulnerable youth from falling victim to predators.
The seminar will feature presenters from Refuge for Women, the Willow Creek Anti Trafficking Ministry, the McHenry County State's Attorney's office and a criminal defense attorney.
WHAT: Human Trafficking Awareness Seminar
WHEN: Wednesday, February 24, 2016 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
WHERE: Lundahl Middle School 560 Nash Road Crystal Lake, 60014
Many people think that human trafficking is only a city problem. NOT TRUE. Sadly, predators scour social media lurking for unsuspecting, innocent youth in every town across America.
What can YOU gain from this seminar?
Parents & Teachers: Be informed how you can protect your children and learn the red flags.
Teens: Be informed and know how to use social media with caution.
I hope to see you at Lundahl on Wednesday. Please feel free to contact me with any questions at email@example.com
As you may know, President Obama addressed the General Assembly on Wednesday regarding the need for bipartisanship and cooperation (You can read the full text of the speech here or watch the video).
Though I'm a conservative Republican who typically disagrees with the President on policy, he delivered a speech with many points worthy of consideration. I credit him for recognizing that his Presidency has not stewarded in the age of political compromise and civility he had hoped to create when he entered office. I would go so far as to guess that this speech, along with his State of the Union address, are meant to kick-off a 'House Divided Tour' to heal the ever worsening wounds of polarization.
That being said, I'm hopeful that both sides of the aisle in Springfield can realize that we do have the common ground that the President referred to throughout his speech. This is the same common ground that Governor Rauner spoke of in his State of the State address. The President reiterated what the Governor and others have said before: Without compromise we cannot govern. This was the principle that our founding fathers laid out for our nation so that one party or set of views wouldn't dictate to or control all others.
I'm glad that the President cheered independent redistricting and campaign finance reform as necessary to move our democracy forward and combat the growing polarization. I agree, and I also agree in the value of increasing voter turnout. With today's technology, there is no reason we can't improve turnout while also putting in place common sense measures to prevent voter fraud. You can't have increased turnout without ensuring frauds are prevented from damaging other citizens' rights.
I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle with take his words to heart and help us all stand up for reform that will create a more fair and just political system. This will allow us to pass a balanced budget with reforms and common sense solutions so that Illinois can once again be a state we are all proud to call home.
Last week, Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti formally presented Governor Bruce Rauner with the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force’s final report at a meeting in Oak Brook.
I am so glad that this is one of the priorities of the current administration and was very pleased to see the proposals and data contained within the report. However, now it is time for the General Assembly to actually take up the recommendations and get to work when we reconvene for the year! We have completed this step and now it's time to continue moving forward.
As most of you are aware of, property taxes are crushing Illinois residents, which is why a property tax freeze and structural reforms are so important. Now that the Task Force has delivered its recommendations to tackle the problems, we must take action as soon as possible. The recommendations in the report touched on some very important strategies; some are no brainers that we already knew, like making it easier for local governments to share equipment and cut costs. However, others are the major reforms that are needed to pave a way toward turning the state around.
The priority now shifts to the General Assembly to take up these recommendations when we reconvene. Though we were scheduled to convene this week, Speaker Madigan canceled session -- even amidst the lack of a state budget -- and the House will not be convening until January 27th. Illinoisans can’t wait any longer and I hope my colleagues in the House will join me in this effort.
Some legislation does already exist to tackle some of the recommendations offered in the Task Force’s report. For example, there is active legislation geared at unfunded mandates on school districts for P.E. and Driver’s Ed, however, the first hurdle is getting the bills out of the Speaker’s Rules Committee over which he has unilateral control.
To read the complete 406 page report delivered to the Governor by the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force, click here. In the meantime, I hope you will stand with me in demanding that the Speaker allow these important proposals to be assigned to committee so that we can have the important debate these issues deserve!
The National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL) is pleased to announce that Representative Barbara Wheeler has been named as the Midwest Regional Director of the NFWL for 2016. Wheeler was the Director for the State of Illinois last year, and is taking on a greater role to continue to promote NFWL’s mission of advancing women in government on the state and local levels. The NFWL, entering its seventy-eighth year of operation, is a non-profit, non-partisan foundation that works to promote female elected officials and encourages women’s involvement in government.
“I am very excited and honored to continue to serve the National Foundation for Women Legislators and take on this larger role as a Regional Director,” said Wheeler. “There are so many excellent and skilled women in government in the Midwest, and it’s a privilege to be thought of among that group. I know first-hand the difficulties that a woman can face in the world of politics and government and I hope my personal experiences, and those over the past year with NFWL, will help engage more women in the governmental process.”
Elected women from across the country will gather in Orlando, Florida from November 16-20, for NFWL’s 2016 Annual Conference to identify effective solutions to some of the nation’s most timely and pressing issues. Providing a non-partisan environment that encourages dialogue and the sharing of information and experiences, women leaders are able to build coalitions, share the concerns of their constituents, and identify out-of-the-box solutions to the most pressing issues facing their communities today.
“We are so proud Representative Wheeler has again accepted a leadership position in our Foundation,” stated Delaware State Representative Helene Keeley, NFWL’s 2016 Chair. “She will play a key role in aiding women legislators in the Midwest, as we grow as an organization.”
As a Regional Director, Wheeler’s duties will include: serving as the main point of contact for NFWL and elected women in the region; increasing participation in NFWL by encouraging current and former state and local elected officials to become active; encouraging elected women from the region to take part in the NFWL annual conference to advance women in politics and government; hosting events to encourage cooperation of elected women from around the region; serve as a liaison to business within in the region to help identify funding and lobbying sources to support NFWL scholarships.
The primary goal of the NFWL is to not only encourage women in government, but to assist those that are elected in the processes of legislative debate, networking, and earned media opportunities. For more information about NFWL, please visit their website: http://www.womenlegislators.org/.