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 wheeler@ilhousegop.org.
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 www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

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.