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State Representative Barbara Wheeler has been invited to speak on a panel at the Professional Women in Advocacy (PWIA) Conference in Chicago on Thursday, August 23rd.

The PWIA Conference was founded in 2013 to reach women at all levels of their profession across various industries with the goal of giving women advocates the tools and information they need to competently and confidently represent their organization or cause. This year’s theme is “Women Count” to highlight the impact women have in the civic arena. The Chicago workshop will cover communications for advocacy, lobbying compliance and political engagement. The all-day conference will take place at University Center at 525 South State Street in Chicago.

Rep. Wheeler will sit on a bipartisan panel titled “Been There Done That- Women of Distinction”. Every year this particular panel gathers successful women from business, media, and politics to share their stories, lend advice, and inspire others. It is expected to be moderated by FOX 32 anchor, Sylvia Perez. 

Tickets can be purchased and more information on the conference can be found here.

Springfield, IL… Today Governor Rauner signed House Bill 4340 into law, legislation sponsored by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) to bolster the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act and maximize its impact.
In 2015 Rep. Wheeler passed the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act (Public Act 99-0099). The law requires the posting of information on the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at specific businesses and establishments known to be frequented by victims of trafficking or associated with human trafficking activities. The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) is tasked with ensuring compliance with the law, but the department lacks the resources to properly do so.

While Illinois has seen the number of phone calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline rise from 473 in 2012 to 673 in 2017, these numbers pale in comparison to other states. In the same period Ohio, which implemented similar legislation but with tighter enforcement laws and expanded notice posting requirements, saw a rise from 459 to 1,113 calls.

“The differences between us and the states that really enforce these notices are stark and frankly heartbreaking,” Rep. Wheeler said. “Illinois ranks among the top states for human trafficking cases and Chicago is considered to be a national hub for human trafficking because of the role it plays as a major convention city. There are many victims out there that can be saved at no cost to the state if people only knew where to turn or what to do.”

The vast majority of the tips the NHTRC receives does not come from victims, but from concerned members of the community, which is why making information about NHTRC more readily available to the public is so important. HB 4340 removes the IDOL as the primary enforcer of compliance with the law and instead shifts the role to the governmental entity regulating the particular establishments and local law enforcement who are better equipped to handle the responsibility.

Information gathered by the Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force helped to craft this legislation, a panel on which Rep. Wheeler served. In addition, Rep. Wheeler, a noted human trafficking advocate, was contacted by tattoo parlor owners who shined a light on the industry-wide ignorance of what to do in cases where they suspect human trafficking. Similar to how slaves were branded by their owners, purveyors of so called “modern slavery” often take their victims to tattoo parlors so that if they ever run away, they can be tracked back and returned to their captors.  Some tattoo artists have caught on to this trend and offer their services to remove these brands for free, among those being INK180, a nonprofit based in Oswego. Removing these brands is an important reintegration step for survivors on their journey to move on from their victim status.

As a result, HB 4340 further expands the locations where the notice must be posted to include massage parlors (one of the top human trafficking related industries), certain large public events and gatherings, schools, and tattoo and piercing parlors.

“Not only does this new law contain the best practices of states that have made great strides in reaching human trafficking victims and concerned citizens, but it makes Illinois a state leader in combating human trafficking. No other state requires posting at public events or schools.” Rep. Wheeler said. “By publicizing these notices and resources, victims will know they are not alone and Illinoisans who see suspicious behavior will know what to do and have the potential to make a lifesaving impact on someone.”

HB 4340 is effective immediately.
Today, on the eve of Independence Day, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has filed legislation to allow Illinoisans to celebrate the occasion with the time honored tradition of fireworks without the risk of fine or arrest. Illinois is one of only four states that does not allow for the consumer purchase and use of fireworks and Wheeler’s legislation would give that independence back to residents.

“Illinois is already an outlier in so many ways, and this another silly example,” said Wheeler. “Illinoisans, like residents in 46 other states, can and should be trusted to responsibly use consumer fireworks and take care of themselves. Not only does it make sense to give a little independence back to the people for Independence Day, but it will also generate some business and tax revenue for the state that will help mitigate some of the exodus of people leaving the state.”

Wheeler’s legislation, House Bill 5928, creates the Pyrotechnic Use Act of 2018. The bill, modeled on best practices utilized in other states, sets rules for the licensing, sale and purchase of consumer grade fireworks beyond the extreme limit of only items like sparkles, which is current Illinois law.
From Lake County's 19th Judicial Circuit Court:
The 19th Judicial Circuit Court’s Jury Commission received notification of several occurrences where individuals had been contacted via telephone by a male identifying himself as a Lake County Deputy Sheriff. Citizens were told that they had failed to appear for Jury Duty and needed to proceed to the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan immediately. Once at the Courthouse, they were instructed to call the Deputy Sheriff stating that they had left their residence. Local authorities have verified that the name provided by the caller is NOT a Lake County Deputy Sheriff.

In response to these events, Chief Judge Jay W. Ukena has issued the following statement. “The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit is appreciative of the service performed by the citizens of Lake County and is committed to protecting their civic right to serve as a juror. The Circuit is issuing a press advisory regarding this matter to all our local justice and media partners today to warn and protect the Citizens of Lake County."
This week, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation sponsored by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) to support the Fox Waterway. Senate Bill 2696 furthers the mission of the Fox Waterway Agency to ensure the safety, cleanliness and usability of the waterway along the Fox River and Chain O’Lakes.

“The Fox River and Chain O’Lakes are beautiful natural resources that drive critical economic activity for our area,” said Wheeler. “Through Senate Bill 2696, the Fox Waterway Agency will be better equipped to ensure the environmental and economic viability of these natural resources and I look forward to the Governor signing the legislation into law.”
Today, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and the Illinois House of Representatives honored Dixon Police Officer Mark Dallas, the school resource officer whose quick action saved numerous lives on May 16, 2018. Governor Bruce Rauner has also declared today Mark Dallas Day.

“Officer Dallas is a true hero in every sense of the word,” said Wheeler. “His immediate recognition of the situation and quick action to disarm the gunman that day at Dixon High School averted what could have been a terrible attack and saved numerous lives. Officer Dallas, for your bravery and selfless action to save lives by going into harm’s way, we thank you.”

On May 16, 2018, Dallas confronted an armed former student who had fired a gun at Dixon High School where students were gathered for a graduation rehearsal. As a result of Dallas’ decisive action, no students were harmed. Dallas was honored by House Resolution 1114, which also commended the lockdown procedure put into place by the educators and students at Dixon High School who all acted calmly in the face of the incident.
Following the violent attack in Parkland, Florida, it became clear it could have been prevented had the school had the ability to petition the court for protection. Recognizing this reality, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) began crafting bipartisan legislation to address a similar gap in Illinois law. Along with the help of Lake County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Salvi, Senate Bill 3411 would allow a school, place of worship or workplace to seek protection.

“Even though we already have specific rules in place to keep firearms out of the hands of someone who may be suffering from a potentially dangerous mental health problem or who has exhibited signs of violent behavior, a gap currently exists in our law. This legislation helps us close that gap and improve public safety,” said Rep. Wheeler. “I want to thank Senator Raoul for carrying this legislation in the Senate, Lake County Judge Joseph Savli for helping us find a solution to address this issue, and all of the members of the Legislative Public Safety Group who came together to support this legislation.”