State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) will host a series of informational meetings about Refuge for Women to aid women who have been victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The four available meetings will take place on January 19 at the Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus at 2710 S. Country Club Road, Woodstock, IL 60098. The meetings are open to anyone interested in helping bring the mission of Refuge for Women to the local area this spring and aid in the funding effort for their new facility.

“Human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women is a much more pervasive practice than many of us realize,” said Wheeler. “Unfortunately, even when a woman is able to escape her exploitation, the road to recovery and her ability to regain self-worth is not an easy one. Refuge for Women has a very successful program to help women recover, heal and find meaningful employment, but it takes a community to succeed.”

WHAT:       Community meeting on new Refuge for Women facility

WHO:         Rep. Wheeler
                     The public
                     Refuge for Women

WHEN:        January 19, 2016
                     1st meeting: 8 a.m.
                     2nd meeting: 9:30 a.m.
                     3rd meeting: 12 noon
                     4th meeting: 2 p.m.

WHERE:    Loyola University Retreat and Ecology Campus
                    2710 S. Country Club Road
                    Woodstock, IL 60098

To learn more, get involved and RSVP for any of the four meeting times offered, please call (847) 973-0064 or email
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.
A very Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger last week said legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor will allow her office to swiftly process payments for local governments, 911 emergency phone services, Lottery winners and domestic violence shelters.

Approved by the House last week, SB2039 unanimously passed the Senate Monday, and was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner.

"I have directed our staff to process payments for domestic violence shelters, local governments, 911 services and Lottery winners as soon we receive the necessary vouchers," Munger said. "Domestic violence shelters have entered their sixth month without payments and are turning away women and children. Local governments also provide critical services to our families and communities. I am committed to ensuring these organizations and local governments are paid promptly so they can avoid further hardship."
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced in September that his office would suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. In order to receive a reminder, you must sign-up to receive electronic notices through the Secretary of State’s web site

Click here to sign up, you will need your Registration ID and PIN number found on your current registration card. If you do not have your current registration card, please call the Public Inquiry Division at 800-252-8980 to obtain your Registration ID and PIN number.
The enactment of SB 2039 appropriated $3.1 billion in what are called “other state funds” which are funds continue to flow into Illinois from taxes and fees other than sales, income, and other general-revenue taxes. An example of this cash flow is the hundreds of millions of dollars paid annually by motorists who buy diesel fuel and gasoline for their cars and light trucks in Illinois. Release of this money has been “frozen” so far this year due to the lack of an approved balanced budget.

Passage of SB 2039 into law unblocked these program lines and allowed the money to flow. The move released funds for streets, roads, and highways; 9-1-1 call centers; firefighter training; lottery payouts; and other moneys for local first-responders and local governments. The bipartisan House vote of 107-1-1 was one of the key moves sending this bill to the Governor for his signature. Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2039 on Monday, December 7.
Wheeler with Misericordia staff and a parent of one the 
hundreds of children served at their 31 acre campus.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) recently had the opportunity to visit the 31 acre Misericordia – Heart of Mercy campus in Chicago and get a first-hand look at the incredible services and facilities it provides to the developmentally disabled. Their Chicago campus began serving persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities in 1954 and currently serves more than 600 hundred children and adults, many of whom come from poverty, throughout Chicagoland and the suburbs.

“Like many, I knew that Misericordia provided essential services for many of our most vulnerable, but I had no idea just how much they did to give every person they serve the ability to live a truly meaningful life,” said Wheeler. “Because of the environment fostered at their campus, residents don’t merely receive healthcare services, but a full range of educational, self-help and social related services that allow residents to become contributing members of society.

“The unique programs at Misericordia have allowed so many people to find meaningful jobs and live remarkably independent lives. The success of this kind of facility is exactly what we should be supporting and promoting in our state so more and more people with developmental disabilities can lead meaningful lives and be able to contribute just like everyone else.”
Many parents and relatives of young children are concerned when they learn that a product has been recalled for reasons of child safety. The Safe Shopping Guide provides detailed descriptions of many of the toys, baby products, children’s clothing, bedding, and other products recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Guide also provides helpful information for parents and relatives considering the purchase of many types of well-known electronic goods asked for by children.
HB 1285, which was reached by an agreed bill process chaired by the Governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Employment Security, includes provisions to extend the life of the Illinois unemployment insurance program. The bill also eliminates the so-called “Social Security offset,” a feature of existing State law that, under some circumstances, has led to cuts in unemployment insurance payments to persons eligible for Social Security benefits. These cuts have been eliminated by HB 1285, which will allow persons eligible for Social Security who are laid off and are eligible for UI benefits to be paid their full unemployment insurance at the same time they collect Social Security.
The “November 2015 Monthly Briefing” by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the nonpartisan economic forecasting arm of the General Assembly, continues to describe a pattern of slow Illinois recovery from the 2008-14 economic downturn. Much of this sluggishness can be attributed to overall national patterns. CGFA’s nationwide economic monitoring partners report that nationwide wages paid to employees are up only 2.1% year-to-year, and retail sales have risen so far this year by a comparable 2.1%.
Happy first night of Hanukkah to all our Jewish friends and neighbors!

State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has been named a Regional Director of the National Foundation for Women Legislators (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.”
Loyola University Chicago’s Retreat and Ecology Campus in Woodstock, Illinois will host a series of culinary classes that begin on December 5.

The one-session events are open to the public and range in theme from “Holiday Season Food and Wine Pairing,” providing simple techniques to create a five-course meal with the perfect beverage pairings, to “Spanish Tapas,” where participants prepare and enjoy a 15-course meal of traditional Spanish small bites.

Budding chefs can even join in during the “Kid’s Cooking Class” on February 6, 2016. Children from ages 7 to 12 will learn fundamental kitchen skills while baking chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. 
My staff and I would like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday!

The face-to-face meeting is scheduled to bring together Governor Bruce Rauner and the leaders of the four General Assembly legislative caucuses, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. Originally scheduled to be held on Wednesday, November 18, the meeting has been reset for Tuesday, December 1. The new time will allow preparations to continue over the Thanksgiving holiday.

In addition to budget issues, questions dividing Illinois leaders include workers’ compensation, property tax relief, public-sector labor pay and benefits, tort reform, election process reform, and term limits. Many key items of House Republican advocacy have been barred from discussion and debate within the Illinois General Assembly in recent years. The role of House Speaker Madigan has come under discussion as an element in the overall operation of Illinois state government, often characterized in recent years as one of the “worst in the nation.” Illinois currently has the lowest bond and credit ratings of any of the 50 states.

The District Offices are CLOSED this week until Monday November 30, 2015 for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Springfield office will be closed Thursday 11/26 until Monday 11/30
Here at the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) we have been busy preparing our equipment, training our drivers, and planning our snow removal response effort for the upcoming winter season. The LCDOT snow plows went out on a dry run last week to make sure everything was operating as it should, and to make sure there were no hazards or unforeseen obstacles along the routes.

When you are driving in snow and icy conditions, you will be sharing the road with LCDOT snow plows. We hit the road before the snow starts to fall, and we run the routes in 12 hour shifts until roads have returned to normal conditions. The two most important things to remember:
A spokesperson for Governor Rauner issued a statement on Monday, November 9 describing the move: “As a result of bipartisan discussions with legislators concerning the future of the Child Care Assistance Program, the Rauner administration today plans to amend the emergency rule it filed at the beginning of the fiscal year. Under the amended rule, income eligibility will rise to 162% of the federal poverty level while current co-pays will remain intact. Other eligibility and restrictions will also be lifted pending further review and legislative consultation. Additionally, the governor's office will establish a bipartisan, bicameral task force aimed at ensuring the long-term stability of the program.”

After legislators in both parties urged Governor Rauner to compromise, the Governor acted in good faith to restore eligibility for the overwhelming majority of families receiving child care assistance. Compromise language supported by the Governor brings CCAP eligibility up to 162% of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is higher than most of Illinois’ neighboring states. This is a reasonable compromise that protects child care for the working poor, while at the same time holding the line on spending.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has named State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) a “2015 Legislator of the Year” for her efforts to curb repeat drunk driving. Wheeler was the chief sponsor of House Bill 3533, which prevents repeat drunk drivers from prematurely reobtaining a driver’s license and increases the length of time breathalyzer ignition devices (BAIID devices) must remain in their vehicles.

“MADD graciously thanks Representative Wheeler for her unwavering support of stronger drunk driving laws in Illinois,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “MADD is proud to partner with Representative Wheeler and other state leaders who are dedicated to our mission of eliminating drunk driving once and for all.”

Under HB 3533, the Illinois Vehicle Code was amended so that anyone caught driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, intoxicating compounds, or any combination of these on multiple occasions will be subject to the installation of BAIID devices on all their vehicles for no less than five years. BAIID devices are breathalyzer devices that are connected to a vehicles ignition, if there is any presence of alcohol on the breath of the driver, the vehicle will not be able to start.
The Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force has recently made drug collection boxes available county-wide in an effort to keep unneeded drugs out of the hands of children and young adults who may misuse them. The task force's mission is to provide leadership and resources to reduce and prevent underage drinking and other youth substance abuse in Lake County. I am very proud of the work this Task Force has done and the impact it has had and will continue to have on keeping our youth safe! More information on the locations and details of the drug collection boxes can be found here.
The headquarters of the well-known brand family of processed meats, currently located in Madison, Wisconsin, will move to downtown Chicago. The decision by brand owner Kraft Heinz was announced on Wednesday, November 4. Illinois could gain as many as 250 jobs as a result of the move. Oscar Mayer’s headquarters move is associated with Kraft Heinz’s decision to close its Madison packing plant no later than 2017.

Kraft Heinz remains a net subtractor of jobs from the greater Chicago area in 2015. The international consumer-goods firm’s announcement this week followed its decision in August to reduce by 700 its Chicago-area headcount. Kraft Heinz is shifting its Chicago-area headquarters operations to the city and out of the buildings used by formerly autonomous Kraft in suburban Northfield.
General Assembly watchdogs chart continued budget picture.
The nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the in-house budget agency of the Illinois General Assembly, released their October 2015 fiscal report this week. The CGFA “Monthly Briefing” covers ongoing State revenues, particularly key State General Funds revenue numbers, and ongoing trends likely to affect future State revenues. For example, the October briefing includes a discussion, based on nationwide trends and economic models, of the likely health of the 2015 Christmas retail selling season and its expected impact on State sales tax revenues.

CGFA, working in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Revenue, uncovered continued dismal trends in State revenues this October. Illinois general funds revenues were $319 million lower in October 2015 (fiscal year 2016) than they had been in October 2014. General Funds revenues come from income taxes, sales taxes, and other sources. As in previous months, the decline was paced by a year-over-year shortfall in State personal income tax revenues and corporate income tax revenues. The accumulated deficit for the four months of FY16 so far experienced is $1,456 million. The current fiscal year began on July 1, 2015.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) reported this month that the statewide jobless percentage for September was 5.4%, down 0.2% from the August 2015 total of 5.6%. However, this drop in the jobless rate was not caused by net new hiring. Illinois seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment actually dropped by 6,900 jobs on a month-to-month basis in September, with sector weaknesses continuing in manufacturing, trade, transportation, and utilities. Strong sectors included education services, health services, and government.
The Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” requires most U.S. adults who do not have employer-provided health care coverage to purchase health care coverage on the private market, and imposes tax penalties for the failure to make this purchase. Private-sector providers of health care coverage are required to conform to a significant set of complex mandates, and many of them say these mandates drive up the prices they are required to charge. Sharp increases are being seen in the costs of average Illinois health care policies offered across various tiers of coverage, with the average lowest cost Illinois silver plan going up 5.3% and the average lowest cost bronze plan increasing 11.3%.
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, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, 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.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is sending a friendly reminder to residents of the 64th Legislative District about Halloween trick or treating this weekend. As kids across Lake and McHenry Counties get ready to bring home bags of yummy candy, Wheeler also wants to remind parents of some important safety tips offered by the CDC’s “SAFE HALLOWEEN” tips.

“Trick or treating is such a fun way to celebrate Halloween and enjoy fall,” said Wheeler. “To ensure you have a fun and safe Halloween, the CDC has some great tips through their ‘SAFE HALLOWEEN’ webpage that I hope parents will take a moment to look over to make sure everyone enjoys a very happy and healthy Halloween.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers free information to parents and kids through their website. Helpful tips include, fastening reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you, eat only factory-wrapped treats, avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers, and enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. For a complete list of “SAFE HALLOWEEN” tips click here.
Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger told Illinoisans on Friday, October 16 that the State’s unpaid bills, in the absence of budgeted appropriations for FY16, have reached $6.9 billion. Based on the assumption that no significant changes will alter current trends, the State’s backlog of unpaid bills will be about $8.5 billion by December 31, 2015.

While many subsets of the FY16 budget are being protected by at least 14 separate court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations laws, not all of the budget is so protected. A major November 2015 pension payment of approximately $560 million, required by certified actuarial projections, is expected to be delayed. Payments due to many nonprofit socials service providers, Illinois university students and their institutions of higher education, counties, municipalities, 9-1-1 emergency call centers, and many other vendors are facing delay. Layoffs are taking place due to the inability of the State of Illinois to enact a constitutionally balanced budget.
Representative Wheeler gives children backpacks along with
daughter Catherine Wheeler and friend Megan Mowthorpe.
Today, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) partnered with the National Foundation of Women Legislators (NFWL), the Office Depot Foundation and Fraternite Notre Dame to provide backpacks and other items to children in need. The backpacks were donated through Office Depot’s National Backpack Program and filled with socks, the number one need for those faced with homelessness and poverty as winter dawns. Wheeler was also joined by local Chicago Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago).

“For most of us, the shift from fall to winter is a happy time as the holidays approach, but for many in Illinois, the approach of winter means finding ways to keep their families and children warm,” said Wheeler. “It may come as a surprise, but the most needed item for those faced with homelessness is actually socks. While items like coats and knit hats are hugely important, a simply donation of socks can be every bit as important to those fending off the cold this winter.”

The Teletown Hall is about to start. If you miss the initial call but would like to join the conversation, call 815-414-9711 to get in on the discussion. ‪#‎jointheconversation‬
State Representatives Barb Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) invite residents to join them for an over the phone Teletown Hall Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5:45pm. The event will be broadcast live from Springfield and participants will be able to ask the Representatives’ questions on a number of topics.

A call will be made to households located within the 61st and 64th Legislative House Districts at 5:45pm on Tuesday, Oct. 20, and residents will be able to stay on the line and be connected to a live call with Rep. Jesiel and Rep. Wheeler. “I enjoy these teletown hall meetings because they offer people an opportunity to learn more about issues affecting Illinois, and they can directly ask us questions,” said Wheeler. “With the serious issues now facing our state, I’m looking forward to a lively conversation on a variety of issues.”
Many suburban and Downstate school superintendents are issuing statements of support for the push, led by Governor Rauner, to eliminate some of the more than 100 unfunded mandates imposed by Springfield on local school districts and their taxpayers. For example, last week St. Clair County Regional Superintendent of Schools Susan Sarfaty agreed that these unfunded mandates are costing her schools money not provided for in these districts’ property-tax-funded budgets.

Unfunded mandates targeted by the Rauner push include required drivers’ education, for which schools are supposed to be reimbursed by fees paid by pupils but often are not; daily physical education; and restrictions on school districts contracting out needed non-educational services, such as janitorial work, to the private sector. The Rauner “Turnaround Illinois” property tax relief measure, sponsored by House Republican leadership in the General Assembly as HB 4247, includes language specifically aimed at repealing barriers to use of third-party contractors for budget savings. House Democrats have so far failed to release HB 4247 from the Rules Committee for discussion and debate.
The drawings of lottery numbers, a longtime staple of Illinois television, moved last week from over-the-air and cable broadcast to online. The move affects players with Pick 3, Pick 4, Lotto with Extra Shot, and Lucky Day Lotto tickets. The last electromechanical drawing was held on Wednesday, September 30, and the transition was effective on Thursday, October 1.

Traditional lottery drawings use an electromechanical system that utilizes a physical drum stuffed with balls bearing lucky numbers. The Illinois State Lottery’s move to an all-electronic draw includes moving to a computer software system, called a Random Number Generator, which generates random numbers by harvesting them from a mathematical algorithm. Many financial institutions use similar algorithms to encode the secure material they send over digital wires. State lotteries throughout the United States are moving from electromechanical lucky-number drawings to digital draw systems.
The defending Stanley Cup champions will host their first regular-season game at Chicago’s United Center tonight. The team’s October games will mark the start of the 90th season for a National Hockey League (NHL) club that began operations in 1926-27. Returning players include team captain Jonathan Toews and alternate captain Duncan Keith, winner of the Conn Smythe trophy during the 2015 Cup playoffs. The Blackhawks have hoisted the NHL’s foremost trophy six times, in 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010, 2013, and 2015.
Rep. Wheeler received a very special treat in the office from a constituent today. A pink pumpkin in honor of breast cancer awareness month!

Mary Moltmann, who provided the pumpkin, is involved with the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation. The Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation was created in 2012 to aid in the fight against breast cancer. America’s pumpkin growers have committed to giving a percentage of proceeds from every pink pumpkin sold to organizations involved in breast cancer research.

The foundation oversees donations and ensures that the funds go directly to reputable organizations with the highest percentage of dollars spent on actual research. In 2013 alone, a $30,000 grant was given to the breast cancer research department at Rush University Medical Center.

This is a perfect of example of how we can all make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. To learn more about the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation and how you can get involved, buy pink products, or make a donation, visit:
Corn Mazes: the child-friendly fall attractions are located in Northern, Central and Southern Illinois. The top-rated mazes honor family, patriotic, and sports-related themes. Two fields (at separate ends of the State) have winding pathways this year to celebrate the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Blackhawks. Richardson Adventure Farm’s Blackhawks-themed 2015 Stanley Cup maze, located near Spring Grove, Ill. in northeastern McHenry County, was rated by design firm DesignCurial as the #2 corn maze worldwide this year. Landowners George and Wendy Richardson dedicate a 33-acre rectangle each year to the family-friendly layouts, turning their designs into the “world’s largest corn maze.” A typical corn maze offers visitors the chance to buy souvenirs and Illinois farm products. Some charge admission fees. The closing day for most corn mazes is the last day of the Halloween weekend.

Check out other local corn mazes like Stade's Farmtraction Theme Park in McHenry and All Seasons Apple Orchard-Pumpkin Patch-Corn Maze in Woodstock. Stade's Farm and All Seasons offer everything from hayrides to the pumpkin patch, to petting zoos, to craft foods, in addition to corn mazes.
October is breast cancer awareness month. While we reflect on just how important it is to spread awareness and promote regular screening, I would like to highlight a local business that has made it their mission to help women overcome this experience and restore their lives and confidence.

Benchmark Atlantic Healthcare in McHenry aims to create an on-going relationship with women, built on the understanding that people are there for them on a continuing basis; not just a stop on the road, but someone to walk alongside them on their journey.

Their services compassionately walk a woman diagnosed with breast cancer through the process of renewing her comfort and confidence by offering solutions after a mastectomy, lumpectomy or reconstruction surgery. Whether she is newly diagnosed, currently in treatment or a long term survivor.

Benchmark Atlantic also works hand-in-hand with charitable organizations and its own Image Renewal’s Bra & Breast Bank to ensure that if a woman does not have insurance or cannot afford restorative services, she can get what she needs.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that his office will immediately suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. Those who want to continue receiving a reminder must sign up to receive electronic notices through the Secretary of State’s web site

Click here to sign up, you will need your Registration ID and PIN found on your current registration card. If you do not have a current registration card, please call the Public Inquiry Division at 800-252-8980 to obtain your Registration ID and PIN number.

Please contact my office for more information or if you have any questions at (847) 973-0064 or
Yesterday, the Illinois House of Representatives adopted a resolution offered by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) to honor the memory of McHenry County Sherriff’s Deputy Dwight Maness. Deputy Maness recently lost his battle with recovery following the Holiday Hills shooting in October of last year that left him severely injured.

“This month has been a very difficult one for the area,” said Wheeler. “Deputy Maness will always be remembered for his desire to do right by the community, something that anyone who knew him would tell you from first-hand experience.”

McHenry County Sherriff’s Deputy Dwight Maness had served with the McHenry County Sherriff’s Office for nearly eight years, following a 20 year U.S. Army career that involved service overseas in the 1990-91 Operation Desert Storm and designation as an Army Ranger.
FY16 Budget
Comptroller Munger: Early Intervention payments will be made. 
IDHS.gifComptroller, 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.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake), Illinois State Director for the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL), provided the address by state legislators for Illinois at this year’s annual NFWL conference. The conference in Oklahoma City features women legislators and aspiring young women from around the country. Wheeler’s address provided the conference attendees a look at a legislative success story from this spring’s legislative session.

Wheeler’s address centered around House Bill 3533, recently signed by Gov. Rauner to curb repeat drunk driving incidents, “This year, Illinois enacted House Bill 3533 to ensure that the progress we’ve made in curbing intoxicated driving fatalities over the past few decades doesn’t start to rise again,” said Wheeler during her address. “Too often, repeat [DUI] offenders get around the requirement of their [in-car] breathalyzers by using a family members car instead of their own. To help stop this go-around, repeat offenders will now have to have a BAIID device installed in all their family’s vehicles, at their own expense, to ensure every vehicle they may commonly drive is protected from unsafe use.”
"As information continues to come in about the shooting of another police officer in the line of duty in Fox Lake, I hope we can all remain calm and pray for the officer’s family and the other officers in harms-way right now. Eleven police officers have needlessly lost their lives since Aug. 20th alone in America because of shootings and sadly our communities have been directly impacted today."
House Republicans with law enforcement experience were central to the successful effort to implement a host of law enforcement reforms in the form of SB 1304 and signed into law as Public Act 99-352 on Wednesday, August 12.

The measure, which was worked out with substantial input from police officers, prosecutors, and criminologists, includes provisions intended to sharply increase the number of body cameras (“bodycams”) worn by Illinois police officers as part of their uniforms. This measure responds to concerns raised by the overwhelming level of negative media stories surrounding law enforcement around the nation during the summers of 2014 and 2015.
Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2042 today, which appropriates money for the pass through of federal dollars without adding to the state’s budget deficit. The clean bill allows the state to provide some services to the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

“Governor Rauner supported and signed this clean pass through bill because it will help those in need without adding to the state’s budget deficit,” Director of Communications Lance Trover said. “While the Governor continues to work on passing a balanced budget with structural reforms to maximize how much we can invest in our schools and important social services, some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens will be able receive additional support.”
The Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act mandates that school with athletic programs develop rapid-response concussion emergency action plans that will enable medical help to be obtained and prompt care available in cases of actual or suspected head injuries. Parallel mandates are placed on youth sports leagues and on park districts that organize youth sports activities. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and other affected groups will develop rules and policies to implement the new law, which went into effect immediately and will apply to the 2015 high school football season.

The new law is the result of the passage in spring 2015 of SB 3 by the Illinois General Assembly. The bill was signed into law on Monday, August 3 by Governor Bruce Rauner. The House vote on SB 3 in May 2015 was 104-1-1, with almost all House Republicans voting in support of the measure.
The annual Illinois State Fair opened on Thursday, August 13 and will continue until Sunday, August 23. Held at the State Fairgrounds on the north side of Springfield, the gathering features entertainment, festival food, rides and attractions. State fairs have been held since 1853, with the exception of the years during World War II. In a typical year, between 0.5 million and 1.0 million fairgoers attend the festivities.
As the FY16 budget showdown continues, House Republicans took the lead in keeping a federal only pass through bill on track, ensuring approximately $5 billion in federal dollars will flow to state agencies and service providers. SB 2042, as amended in the House on Wednesday, August 12, will appropriate federal funds given to Illinois for specific state programs mandated or strongly encouraged by Washington, D.C. The Governor has signaled his support for a “federal funds” budget bill.

Despite overwhelming passage in the Senate, the original SB 2042 almost failed in the House due to a late amendment added by House Democrats that attempted to hold these federally-funded programs “hostage” to the overall budget impasse. In the end the majority party yielded and allowed the original federal funds appropriation bill to be voted on by the full House with a handful of Republican suggested additions related to homeland security.
One ugly law that Illinois has imposed on its residents is a requirement that when the ownership of a motor vehicle moves from a late husband to his widow, or from a late wife to her widower, the surviving partner is required to pay a full vehicle transfer fee in order to get a new title and protect his or her right to legally own and drive the vehicle.

Representative Terri Bryant, working with a constituent who brought this issue to her attention, has pushed a bill through the General Assembly to reduce this financial burden. HB 3797 was signed into law on Tuesday, August 4. The new law authorizes the widowed partner to file an application to “correct” the title. The widowed partner will have to submit information to the Secretary of State’s office within 180 days of the death of the original owner. A corrected motor vehicle title applied for in this way will cost $15, as opposed to the $95 charged by the Secretary of State’s office for transferring the title.
HB 1335, co-sponsored by Representatives David Harris and John Anthony, affects patients who have been diagnosed with conditions that, in the absence of additional treatment, are likely to result in death. Under current law, health providers cannot prescribe or provide investigational drugs, biological products, or medical devices to Illinois patients until the items in these categories have been fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – a time-consuming process that often takes many years. The Right to Try Act gives medical professionals the right to prescribe or provide items in these categories to members of this group of patients if they are very ill, and shields these medical care providers and professionals from professional discipline based on these unapproved medical products.