Last week, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) welcomed D.A.R.E. program students from Spring Grove for a special visit to Springfield, along with their instructor and parents. Wheeler thanked Spring Grove Police Sgt. St. Clair for the work he does to develop the kids self-esteem and teach them the life skills they need to resist the pressures of alcohol and drugs.
The Illinois House voted Friday to support a proposed Constitutional Amendment that seeks to protect a funding mechanism for Illinois’ roads, highways, and transportation systems. HJRCA 36 passed the House overwhelmingly and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

“This Constitutional Amendment is meant to stop the misuse of taxpayer dollars intended for road repair and other transportation infrastructure projects,” State Rep. David Reis said. “I am proud to join the bipartisan effort to require those funds only be used for transportation-related purposes.”

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 36 seeks to amend the Illinois Constitution to say that tax dollars collected via the motor fuel tax, vehicle registration fees, and license taxes will be used exclusively for transportation-related purposes.
Last week, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and the Illinois House of Representatives honored Grant High School graduate Daniel Dennis, who recently qualified for the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team. Dennis qualified for the Olympic Team at 57 kg (125.5 lbs.) and was recognized by Wheeler and the House by special resolution.

“This is truly an underdog story and there is no more deserving of a person,” said Wheeler. “Everyone I’ve spoken to about Daniel has commented on how humble and dedicated he is to wrestling and to helping other young wrestlers. I hope next fall we’ll be passing another resolution after Danial brings an Olympic medal back home to the Fox Lake community.”

During his high school wrestling career at Grant, Dennis recorded 153 wins and was a two-time IHSA state finalist. Dennis went on to the University of Iowa, where he became a two-time All-American and was the winner of the 2008 Midlands Championships. Dennis spent a few years away from competition, but was encouraged to return and won an astonishing underdog victory by 10-0 fall to make the Olympic team on April 10.
Based on the continued lack of a balanced budget for FY16, Comptroller Leslie Munger has directed her staff to move the issuance of paychecks for elected State officials from a silo of bills that are paid immediately and on schedule, to a separate silo of bills that are paid after a delay. The move affects pay for all constitutional officers in statewide elective positions, including herself, and affects pay for the 177 members of the Illinois General Assembly – 118 House members and 59 senators.

The move, which was announced on Sunday, April 17, comes amid growing cash-crunch consequences upon normal recipients of State grants and procurements who are not protected by court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations. Firms, offices, and entities that are getting money late or not getting money at all, include providers of many community social services, State universities, community colleges, and providers of many health care services.
The past week was filled with activities to cheer on Daniel Dennis in his quest to win a gold medal for the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team in Rio de Janeiro this summer. A rally was held on Friday to honor Dennis, a 2005 graduate of Grant High School in Fox Lake.

After a very successful career in wrestling while at Grant, Dennis was a two time IHSA state finalist, he went on to the University of Iowa where he continued his wrestling career and became a two time All-American. He currently trains and resides in Iowa City.

Dennis' proud mother Jane, along with his brother Charlie, still resides in the Ingleside area. The family is trying to raise money to help with expenses to travel to Rio and support his quest for gold. Anyone wishing to donate to help this humble man’s dream come true and help the family be there to cheer him on can do so on the go-fund-me site by clicking here. To also help this cause, a recent fundraiser was held at Fairmont Shores where numerous past coaches, teachers, friends of the family and classmates showed up to support Dennis.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) expressed her relief after a bipartisan group of legislators in the House and Senate came to an agreement that will ensure funding for higher education does not run out.

“This agreement is a major step forward because it will keep our students in the classroom and we won’t further exacerbate our backlog of unpaid bills,” said Wheeler. “This is how the process in Springfield is supposed to work. When we put aside the partisan wrangling and we let common sense prevail we can get a lot accomplished.”

The amendment to Senate Bill 2059 will temporarily fund higher education by using $600 million from the Education Assistance Fund and have no impact on the states already over stretched finances. When signed into law by the Governor, the agreement will keep Illinois’ universities open until a full budget agreement can be negotiated and will avert a series of impending layoffs and shutdowns.

“I hope the Governor moves quickly to sign this legislation and that this will lead to more compromise to create a comprehensive and balanced budget,” Wheeler concluded.
The House of Representative has passed legislation offered by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) that will save local taxpayers thousands of dollars. House Bill 5584 allows two Lake County Sanitary Districts to have their duties and obligations taken over by Lake County, potentially saving local property taxpayers thousands annually.

“One of the major contributors to high property taxes in Illinois is the number of special taxing bodies we have,” said Wheeler. “Many of the services these taxing bodies provide can be easily assumed by a broader local government at lower cost. This is exactly the case with the Sanitary Districts in Round Lake and Fox Lake Hills. Lake County already has the infrastructure to provide these sanitary services and can save taxpayers thousands by assuming the responsibilities. It’s an obvious move and I hope more opportunities like this can be found to keep more money in residents’ pockets.”
Lake County Government and the Lake County Partners hosted their third Leaders Summit in Gurnee recently. This year’s theme was finding ways to strengthen Lake County's workforce ecosystem. Over 175 business leaders, elected officials and civic leaders were in attendance to hear the panelists discuss issues which affect local businesses.

This year’s panelists were Jeffrey Anderson, President of Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, Gerald Weber, President of the College of Lake County, Jennifer Serino, Director of Lake County Workforce Development, Brad Mueller, Chief of Operations at Healthsmart, and Kevin Meyers, Superintendent of Mundelein High School. The main discussion with the panelists was the importance of strengthening relations between employers, employee needs and education for an employment pathway for students to have successful careers in the business world. It was stressed that schools needs to have a curriculum which includes training opportunities to match up with workforce development needs
The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) Board has APPROVED funding for its electronics recycling program.

After voting at an emergency meeting on March 3 to close its five remaining collection sites effective May 1, 2016, the SWALCO Board of Directors reversed that decision at its April 14 meeting.

For at least the remainder of the year, Lake County residents should continue to use the five collection sites located in Waukegan, Highland Park, Grayslake, Grant Township and Cuba Township.
As work continues to improve on the railroad right-of-way between Joliet and Alton, improved timetables grow near for the implementation of service along much of the route as fast as 110 miles per hour. The faster trains could be running as soon as 2017. Amtrak is also taking steps to revamp and rebuild the interior space in Chicago’s Union Station, with moves underway to concentrate passenger ticketing and waiting areas in the station’s Great Hall and open more multilevel space to West Loop-oriented private-sector retail activity.

While Illinois continues to tighten its belt with regards to a wide variety of spending commitments, the Joliet-Alton speedup is being implemented through a multi-year capital improvement consortium program that includes federal U.S. Department of Transportation money and partial funding from the Union Pacific Railroad, the owner and operator of the railroad bed. Union Pacific has consented to continue to allow Amtrak trains to run on its line in return for federal and State help in improving the roadbed, on which it is running an increasing count of double-stacked trailer trains.
The presentation was made by the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation (ILBEDC) CEO Jim Schultz. He explained to the newly-convened House Committee on Public Private Partnerships the role of ILBEDC to sell Illinois as a place to locate businesses and create jobs. CEO Schultz explained that the new nonprofit corporation is expected to match the economic-development-corporation organizational model grasped by 17 U.S. states and by many regions within Illinois. Neighboring states that have set up EDCs include Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Large states that have set up EDCs include Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas.
Notices of vehicle emission tests due soon on nearly a half a million Illinois vehicles are finally being mailed out, despite a state budget stalemate, state officials said Wednesday.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency had stopped mailing the reminders in December because of the state budget crunch. It resumed doing so Wednesday after the testing contractor, Applus Technologies, agreed to eat the cost of the mailings, state EPA officials said.

The reminders started to go out Wednesday for vehicles due for emission tests in March, April and May, Illinois EPA spokeswoman Kim Biggs said. That covers as many as 498,000 vehicles, she said.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has advanced legislation in the Illinois House of Representatives that would improve the acceptance chances for college bound high school students in Illinois and provide an opportunity to earn credit at the same time. Students applying to one of Illinois’ many public universities are currently required to complete two years of foreign language to be considered for admission. House Bill 4330 would allow students to qualify based on a proficiency exam and those who earn high makes can earn college credit for their skills.

“Every hardworking student deserves the chance to pursue a quality college education, but the heavy cost of paying for college puts it out of reach for many today,” said Wheeler. “This bill gives students who have shown they have strong foreign language skills the ability to earn credit and save on costs through earning the State Seal of Biliteracy. When you consider that the cost for one class at U of I averages out to be more than $5,000, students and parents could save a lot of money.”

House Bill 4330 was passed out of the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee in the House with unanimous consent and will now be taken up by the full House for consideration. If passed into law, the bill allows a student who earns a score of “intermediate high” on the State Seal of Biliteracy test to meet foreign language admission requirements at any public community college or university in Illinois. Once accepted, the student may then request that their State Seal of Biliteracy be used to earn credit, potentially saving thousands on the overall cost of attendance.
The Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology, created by Bruce Rauner executive order in January 2016, has been asked to consolidate the information technology (IT) functions performed by a wide variety of State agencies and departments. In a joint appearance on Wednesday, March 30, the Governor asked several of his department heads and senior staff to explain to the public what they are doing to increase the IT productivity of their departments.

Historically, almost every agency had their own IT staff and in-house technology standards. In many cases, this led to the selection of incompatible software platforms; in some cases, some State agencies are still using repeatedly-updated platforms that have roots in code written as far back as the 1970s. In some cases, these platforms continue to require the same data points to be added repeatedly to redundant databases, or require the use of obsolescent or obsolete technologies such as computer tapes. Individual agency IT staff members are now moving into the new Department, where they will have the chance to work together. Consultants have told the Rauner administration and the General Assembly that, over time, the rationalization of IT technology will lead to growing productivity benefits for the State of Illinois and its taxpayers.
The 2016 Options Fair for high school and college students with disabilities and their families will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 14 at the College of Lake County. Fifty agencies and organizations will provide vital information for individuals with disabilities, community and education professionals and families/caregivers.

The Options Fair will be held in the Physical Education Center (Building 7) on the CLC Grayslake Campus, 19351 W. Washington St.

Information provided at the fair will focus on educational opportunities, employment services, vocational day programs, government programs, health services, recreational opportunities, referral sources, residential programs, transportation resources, vocational programs and trade schools.