Though budget stalemate grips Springfield, Gov. Rauner has pressed forward with the signing of two more important pieces of legislation authored by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake). House Bill 2556 is a victory in the ongoing fight against human-trafficking, while House Bill 341 fixes a conundrum created by the new Medical Cannabis Pilot Program that would have put law enforcement officials at risk in the performance of their duties.

“Human-trafficking is a much more pervasive practice than many of us realize,” said Wheeler. “I’m pleased that Gov. Rauner has joined with many us advocates to help protect victims by signing House Bill 2556 into law. This legislation makes information about a very important resource available to victims and witnesses so that we can take another step closer to ending this horrific practice”

House Bill 2556 creates the Human-Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act. The legislation provides that specified businesses and establishments conspicuously provide information concerning the availability of the National Human-Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). Not only will this legislation help victims of this heinous crime gain access to the resources they need to overcome the trauma they’ve experienced, but also be an avenue for anyone who observes or suspects trafficking of occurring to be able to report it to the proper authorities.
Despite the ongoing budget impasse in Springfield, three of State Representative Barbara Wheeler’s (R-Crystal Lake) bills important to Lake and McHenry County taxpayers have been signed into law. House Bill 299, which deals with court security officers, House Bill 437, which deals with compostable waste, and Senate Bill 38, which address an overtime pay loophole, were all signed by Gov. Rauner last week.

“Though the Governor and Democratic leaders may be at a standstill in Springfield over a balanced budget, I’m glad that a strong level of cooperation allowed these bills to pass and be signed into law quickly,” said Wheeler. “These three bills address important issues that directly impact our communities here in Lake and McHenry Counties and I’m glad I was able to sponsor these bills in the House.”

House Bill 299 provide a direct benefit to a unique problem in Lake and McHenry Counties with regards to security offices in each county’s court system.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has filed a resolution to protect military personnel in the wake of last Thursday’s attack on the Recruitment Center and Navy Operational Support Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. House Resolution 658, calls on the U.S. Congress to act swiftly to enact laws that allow military personnel to be armed for their protection in light of several terror attacks that have been carried out on U.S. military installations in recent years.

“The issue of ensuring the safety of those who protect our nation is two-fold in this day of terrorist threats at home and abroad,” said Wheeler. “We expect our military personnel to be able to defend themselves while overseas, but today they also need to protect themselves at home. For this reason, I have filed a resolution that calls on the U.S. Congress to act quickly to allow our service men and women to protect themselves while serving on home soil.”

Since last week’s events at the recruiting center in Chattanooga, the governors of Louisiana and Oklahoma moved quickly to enact executive orders to allow National Guard members to be armed while on duty. However, this action leaves a major hole in the protection of other military facilities, prompting Wheeler to call on Congress to act.

The Armed Forces Recruiting Center
in Crystal Lake
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) today is urging Governor Bruce Rauner to join in the executive actions taken by various other states’ governors to protect our National Guardsmen in Illinois’ military installations in the wake of the Thursday attack on a Recruitment Center and Navy Operational Support Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“In these days of global terrorism, the members of our armed forces deserve the utmost protection,” said Wheeler. “By prohibiting the arming of our personnel in public facilities, we are making it nearly impossible for our service members to defend themselves.”

Governor Mary Fallin (R-Oklahoma) issued an executive order Friday authorizing the State’s Adjutant General to arm certain full-time military personnel on military installations throughout the state with weaponry deemed necessary to adequately provide for the safety of the facilities and their occupants.

Similarly, Governor Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) today proclaimed that Louisiana’s Adjutant General should identify and arm certain Guard personnel currently on state active duty as reasonably necessary to preserve the lives, property and security of themselves and other persons subject to threat of an attack.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is calling on residents to support a petition encouraging Presidents Obama’s review to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to WWII veteran Loren Duke Abdalla, known as Duke “The Indian” to his comrades in arms. Wheeler authored a resolution in the spring of 2014, supported by many of her colleagues, which urged Congress and the President to review Cpl. Abdalla’s heroism.

“Cpl. Abdalla was overlooked for the Medal of Honor because of his Native American heritage,” said Wheeler. “I’m glad that the President has taken up a review of Cpl. Abdalla’s heroism and sacrifice for our nation and I hope he will soon be recognized for his service to America.”

The actions in question occurred on May 5, 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa in the Pacific theater where Abdalla was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Cpl. Abdalla displayed the bravery and heroism that has earned many other American servicemen the Congressional Medal of Honor, but at the time, giving the Medal of Honor to a Native American was an unlikely prospect. This has led to efforts around the country to have Cpl. Abdalla’s record reviewed, including in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
The first version of the familiar white banner was adopted in 1915. Through the 1800s, Illinois and other states had informally adopted a variety of colors that were physically carried by each regiment in battle. Many of Illinois’ and other states’ Civil War flags became famous. At the beginning of the 20th century, however, changes in military technology were making regimental flags obsolete.

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) led a nationwide campaign to get all of the 48 states that were part of the Union at that time to adopt separate, unique State flags. Here in the Prairie State, the Illinois DAR chapter sponsored a statewide contest for a proposed new flag design. Lucy Derwent of the Rockford DAR designed a white banner charged with the Great Seal of Illinois. The Illinois General Assembly agreed, and a law creating the new flag became law on July 6, 1915. This weekend thus mark’s our State flag’s 100th birthday.
Since the Illinois Constitution was adopted in 1970, state lawmakers have presented themselves to the voters within legislative districts drawn by a partisan process controlled by one political party. Since 2001, the Democrats’ control over drawing the legislative maps has been extremely valuable for them, and increasing use of computer software to draw these key boundaries has meant this advantage has grown over time. In the November 2014 election, the voters of Illinois voted a Republican, Bruce Rauner, into the governor’s office by a wide margin – but the same voters found that after they had cast their votes within these artificially drawn districts, they had elected supermajorities of Democrats to both the Illinois House and the Illinois Senate.

A growing number of Illinois political observers, in both parties, are pushing to move this key mapmaking function out of the hands of partisan politicians and into the control of a politically independent redistricting commission. Similar commissions have successfully reduced the role of mapmaker-politicians in states such as Arizona and California. On Monday, June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the constitutionality of the independent redistricting process when drawing maps for elections to Congress.
Announced last week by the Secretary of State, the new cards will be voluntary for all veterans who have received an honorable discharge. This includes all DD-214-carrying certified completers of U.S. military service. Qualified veterans can work with the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain a certified copy of their DD-214. Then, the veteran is invited to present the certified discharge paper at any office of the Secretary of State’s Office of Driver Services when he or she is applying for a new or renewed Illinois driver’s license or State ID card. The newly-printed card will display the driver or resident’s status as a service veteran. The revised card format became effective on Wednesday, July 1.

The new drivers’ license cards are being offered, free of additional charge, to Illinois veterans as the result of a bill shepherded through the House by Rep. Mike Fortner. SB 2837 directed the Secretary of State to modify its driver’s license/ID card format to include the veterans’ honor designation. The bill became law as Public Act 97-739.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced on Wednesday, June 24 that it had received a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to enable two years of intensified research on energy sorghum. The grant will help cover the cost of semi-robotic farm machinery that will roll between rows of sorghum plants and sense the genetic information contained within the plants’ stems and leaves. This information will control researchers’ efforts to achieve success in the breeding of improved strains of the potential new crop.

High-biomass sorghum shows potential in carbon capture and green energy production. Plant breeders in Texas have grown sorghum stalks up to 20 feet tall, which can be harvested for distillation into ethanol and other energy products. The plants have to be carefully bred so as not to produce flowers and seeds.