Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner – Inauguration, Budget
•    State’s chief executive position to change hands on Monday, January 12, 2015.  The office of Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has unveiled their inauguration website.  Events, to be held on Sunday, January 11 and on Inauguration Day, will be held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, the Lincoln Presidential Library, and the Old State Capitol. 

The swearing-in ceremony itself will be held at Springfield’s Prairie Capital Convention Center on Monday, January 12.  Attendees at the space-limited facility are requested to be present at 11:00 a.m.  In addition to Rauner, Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, Secretary of State Jesse White, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Treasurer-elect Mike Frerichs will take their oaths of office. 
Flu Season Alert
•    Flu season hits Illinois with medical warnings.  Infectious disease specialists point out a gap between the strains of flu protected against by each fall’s flu vaccine and the strains that actually hit the United States.  The Associated Press and its partner, the Northwest Herald, reported an increase in flu-related hospital admissions on Saturday, December 13.  The Department of Public Health reports that 115 of these patients have been admitted to intensive care treatment units.  Cases of flu often need to be monitored with special care when the victim or potential victim is already facing other long-term or acute health challenges. 

Persons with infectious diseases are encouraged to stay away from public places, including schools, workplaces and especially health facilities.  The Chicago Tribune reported climbing absentee rates at Illinois primary and secondary schools on Wednesday, December 17 as parents withdrew pupils from classes and activities.  Persons who have been vaccinated will continue to be partly protected from this year’s flu threat.   

Illinois Comptroller – Succession – Special Session is Unconstitutional and Expensive
•    Governor Quinn calls special session; Constitution stands in way.  Some advocate creating a special election to add the office of Comptroller, on a one-time-only basis, to the presidential ballot that Illinoisans will vote on in November 2016.  Retiring Gov. Quinn has called a special session of the General Assembly to consider legislative measures to provide for an off-term election for the office of State Comptroller.  The General Assembly has been directed to meet in Springfield on Thursday, January 8. This special session will cost taxpayers roughly $46,000 and could be avoided entirely by waiting to address the prospect of a special election in the upcoming 99th General Assembly.

Another major hurtle however, is that the Constitution of Illinois does not currently provide for an off-term special election.  Section 2 of Article V of the Constitution provides explicitly that the Comptroller and the other statewide elected officials shall be elected at the general election in 1978 and every four years thereafter.  Section 3 of the Constitution’s transition schedule, approved by the voters in that year, moved the election dates for Statewide elected officials, including the Comptroller, from presidential election years to midterm election years to prevent national issues from overshadowing state issues.  The change became effective in 1976-1978 and was the only time in the history of the current Constitution that statewide officials have been elected to a two-year term.      
Judy Baar Topinka – biography
•    State Comptroller passes away in office; veteran elected official is remembered by both parties. Judy Baar Topinka, a lifelong resident of historic Riverside, Illinois, passed away on Wednesday, December 10.  The incumbent State Comptroller had just been reelected by popular vote to serve a second term in office; she would have taken her oath of office alongside Governor-elect Bruce Rauner on Monday, January 12.

Praise flowed in honor of Topinka’s memory from leaders of both political parties, aware that Topinka had been the most senior member among Illinois’ elected statewide officials.  First elected to statewide office in 1994 as the state Treasurer, Topinka temporarily stepped down in 2006 following an unsuccessful run for Governor.  The veteran executive then again sought statewide office in 2010 as state Comptroller, easily winning election to a four-year term in a new office.  Topinka was completing this term when she died this week.
CRYSTAL LAKE – Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has sought to alleviate the concerns of many residents following a number of misleading media pieces concerning Senate Bill 1342. SB 1342 pertains to surreptitious recording of private conversations and seeks to protect all citizens from having private conversations recorded and made public without their consent.

“I think it’s fair to say we should all be very concerned about the prospect of our freedom of speech being infringed upon,” said Wheeler. “Unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation is being circulated right now that it’s a crime to record the police. This is simply not true; in fact SB 1342 ensures each and every one of us is protected from someone else secretly recording a conversation we think is private.”

"The passing of Judy Baar Topinka is a tremendous blow to our state. Judy led the way for so many women like me to become involved in Illinois politics. She was a trailblazer who held firm to a belief in sound fiscal management and her leadership will be sorely missed."
General Assembly – Veto Session
•    Veto session ends on a partisan note.  The first week of the 2014 Veto Session took place prior to Thanksgiving. In legislative action, members held informational and subject-matter discussions on various issues.  Subjects discussed included the State formula for aid to public school districts, creation of a State medical insurance state exchange, and extension for one year of the Medical Practice Act. 

Key bill actions took place this week on various issues that included election law, Illinois lawsuits, the ridesharing industry, and truck speed limits. Many of these actions were partisan actions taken by the House and Senate Democrats, in sharp contrast to Governor-elect Bruce Rauner’s belief that it is “important that our Government be done on a bipartisan basis.”
During the second week of this year’s veto session, the majority party once again sought to ignore the demand of Illinois voters and their call for bipartisan solutions. On a party-line vote of 67-46, the Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 3075 under the guise of a narrative to reduce costs. The bill, if signed into law by Gov. Quinn prior to Gov.-Elect Rauner taking office, would slash civil juries from twelve members to six, while increasing pay by more than six-times its current level.

On face value this seems like a relatively good thing, local governments are financially strapped, why not save some money by reducing the size of juries. Governments can reduce expenditures and be able to better compensate those missing time from work to perform their civic duty. However, what about the rights of a person to have a jury of their peers, doesn’t it seem a bit obtuse to arbitrarily cut jury sizes in half? In a democracy as diverse as ours, a group of only six people may come to a very different conclusion than a group of twelve, particularly on civil cases where money is being awarded to one of the parties. The reason for twelve jury members was not determined without careful consideration, and for good reason.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has praised the people of the 64th District for their tireless efforts that put a halt to Senate Bill 16. Senate Bill 16 would have made major changes to the state education funding formula, shifting millions of dollars in state funding away from McHenry and Lake County schools. Wheeler noted that without the combined engagement of so many community members, both from within the education system from outside it, putting a halt to SB 16 would not have been possible.

“Senate Bill 16 was a bad bill, based on arbitrary distribution methods that would have done major damage to our suburban schools,” said Wheeler. “Without the involvement of so many members our community, stopping this bill would have not been a reality. I want to thank the thousands of concerned parents and citizens that attended the public forum in McHenry or signed the petition online. The school districts also did a tremendous job in communicating with the parents on just how damaging this bill would have been for our children’s education. Without these combined efforts, our schools would be headed down a path to a shambolic redistribution of funding.”