Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law today a tax credit worth up to $750 for property owners in 18 Illinois counties where flood damages were sustained in July.

The bill, signed at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago this morning, creates a natural disaster credit that eligible, affected property owners may apply to their 2017 Illinois income taxes.

Included counties are Cook, Lake, Kane, McHenry, Alexander, Clinton, Jackson, Marshall, Union, Woodford, Carroll, Henry, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Rock Island, Stephenson and Whiteside — all of which were declared state disaster areas by the governor last summer.

“July’s severe storms pushed rivers and lakes over their banks across a wide swath of Illinois,” Rauner said. “Many home and business owners are still working to restore their properties after the inundation of water, debris and mud they suffered through, in some cases for weeks. In northeastern Illinois counties, the flooding was unprecedented. This tax credit offers a measure of much-needed relief.”

State Rep. Barbara Wheeler said the tax credit will be welcome news.

“Unfortunately for many families impacted by this type of disaster, once the initial shock wears off, the reality of financial hardship caused by the devastation can be just as traumatic as the event itself,” said Wheeler, R-Crystal Lake. “In the past, state government has not always responded quickly enough to provide the relief needed for this financial stress. However, this time the governor and legislature acted quickly, and I know many of the families still trying to recover are grateful.”
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is working in conjunction with the Illinois State Rifle Association on legislation to curtail the presence of so-called “bump-fire stocks” in Illinois. House Bill 4120 prevents the future sale and possession of the device used during the deadly Las Vegas shooting which left 59 people dead.

“I’m the first person to stand-up for our essential right as Americans to keep and bear arms, whether for personal protection, hunting or another sporting purpose,” said Wheeler. “However, the horrific events in Las Vegas showed quite clearly the devastation that can be caused by a rifle attachment like a bump-fire stock in the hands of an ill person. After speaking with firearm experts and the Illinois State Rifle Association, we all agreed that bump-fire stocks have no practical protection or sporting use and should be taken off the market.”

Under HB 4120, it will become illegal to import, sell, manufacture, transfer or possess a bump-fire stock in Illinois. Wheeler noted that since 1935 U.S. law has banned most automatic weapons, like the Tommy gun made famous by horrific mob violence in the early years of the 20th century. Since the only purpose of the bump-fire stock is to increase a rifles rate of fire to perform like an automatic firearm, it is an end-around way of skirting safety laws already in place for decades.
Former members of the Guard and Reserve who do not have any periods of active duty other than their initial active duty for training and annual training are now eligible to receive “Veteran” on their driver’s licenses. "This bill ensures that every man and woman who has served this state and nation is recognized,” said Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries. "Our veterans have given so much for us, and I am glad Illinois is taking this step to expand designations."

Last year, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2173 to allow National Guard members and reservists to obtain the veteran identifier on their Illinois driver's license.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has been named a 2017 Woman of Distinction by the Lake County Journal. Wheeler is joined by six other honorees to be recognized at the Women of Distinction Awards Luncheon to be held on October 17 in Mundelein.

“I want to thank the Women of Distinction sponsors and the Lake County Journal for this recognition.” said Wheeler. “There are so many women doing wonderful work to serve and improve our communities and being counted among them is a great honor.”

Each year, the Lake County Journal and sponsors recognize women who have been chosen as representative role models and leaders in their respective fields and communities for the Women of Distinction Award. The October edition of the Lake County Journal will feature all of the 2017 Women of Distinction recipients. Subsequent monthly publications will then contain detailed features on each of the 2017 honorees.
Illinois residents are advised to be on alert for a renewed phone scam in which callers pose as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officials in an attempt to scare people into sending money to pay for allegedly unpaid taxes. Consumers report being contacted by scammers pretending to be IRS officials who leave threatening messages that include a number for consumers to call in order to avoid lawsuits or prosecution.

Scammers also “spoof” phone numbers, causing caller ID devices to display what appears to be a legitimate call from the IRS, with identifiers such as “IRS” or the (202) area code for Washington, D.C. The scam artists claim they are representatives of the federal government collecting on unpaid taxes and leave threatening messages or instruct their targets to make a payment to them through a prepaid debit card. 
From Lake County: The flood of 2017 caused major flooding throughout Lake County resulting in significant property damage. The Stormwater Management Commission of Lake County is hosting a Flood Proofing Expo and Workshop for homeowners and property owners across 52 municipalities on October 19, 2017 from 3-8 p.m. at the Libertyville Sports Complex, 1950 US Highway 45. There is no charge to attend the Flood Proofing Expo. 

Participants will have the opportunity to learn about various products, services, and solutions to minimize flood damages to their homes and properties. The expo portion of this event will provide the opportunity to explore exhibitor tables for companies, vendors, and other resources. Presentations by industry experts will take place every hour, where participants can learn about drainage systems and ask questions about anything from flood insurance to best practices for flood damage protection. 

For more information, Click Here.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the Veteran’s Assistance Commission, several local law enforcement agencies and many local high schools to collect coats and outerwear for the Lake County Law Enforcement Veteran's Coat Drive. The collection period run until Wednesday, November 8.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office and our law enforcement partners invite you to join them in bringing gently used coats, gloves, hats, socks and scarves to one of the following locations:
  • Lake County, IL Government, 18 N County Street, Waukegan 
  • Lake County Sheriff's Office, 25 S Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Waukegan 
  • Lake County Sheriff's Office, 1301 N Milwaukee Avenue, Libertyville (entrance off Winchester Road) 
  • Bannockburn Police Department, 2275 Telegraph Road, Bannockburn 
  • Deerfield Police Department, 850 Waukegan Road, Deerfield 
  • Gurnee Police Department, 100 N O'Plaine Road, Gurnee 
  • Hawthorn Woods Police Department, 2 Lagoon Drive, Hawthorn Woods 
  • Highland Park Police Department, 1677 Old Deerfield Road, Highland Park 
  • Lake County State's Attorney's Office, 18 N County Street, Waukegan 
  • Lake County Coroner's Office, 18 N County Street, Waukegan 
  • Libertyville Police Department, 200 E Cook, Libertyville 
  • Mundelein Police Department, 221 N Lake Street, Mundelein 
  • Round Lake Park Police Department, 215 E Main Street, Round Lake Park 
From the University Center of Lake County: For the tenth consecutive year, University Center of Lake County has collaborated with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission and multiple partners across Lake County to organize a series of workshops at which students and families can electronically submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2017-18 series will begin on October 2. These workshops are held in the computer labs of high schools, colleges, libraries, and nonprofit organizations. Volunteers trained by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission are available to provide assistance; at least one volunteer at each site speaks Spanish.

The FAFSA is required to access any federal student aid and to access the State of Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) funds. Many colleges and universities also rely on FAFSA data to determine eligibility for the institution’s own financial aid funds. Students seeking financial aid to attend college from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 are encouraged to apply as early as possible. 
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) responds to signing of the controversial House Bill 40:

“To say I am disappointed about the signing of House Bill 40 would be a severe understatement,” said Wheeler. “As I said several months ago, this legislation actually prevents women from being provided basic health information and removes all rights for unborn children. How can that be good for women and families?”
Equifax, an Atlanta based credit-rating agency, suffered a security breach on July 29th that exposed sensitive information of millions of Americans. Such information included social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, birthdays, and addresses. It has been determined that 5.4 million Illinois residents have been affected by the breach. 

The company has set up a website where you can check if your personal information was affected by the breach: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com
From the Lake County Health Department:
The Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center's Animal Care and Control program is offering the last two low-cost pet vaccination clinics of 2017 on the following dates:
  • September 9, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Grayslake Police Department (10 South Seymour, Grayslake, IL). Weather permitting, the 4-H dog spin club “K9 Krew” will provide pet nail trims for a $5.00 donation. 
  • October 7, from 9 a.m. to noon at Beach Park Public Works (40185 Glendale, Beach Park, IL). 
These clinics provide a convenient and affordable way for Lake County residents to keep their pets up to date with shots and rabies tags.
The new school funding formula moves towards an “evidence-based” model based on practices followed in many other states. Illinois’ 852 school districts will be given positive incentives to work hard to improve their students’ performances. The new formula is contained in SB 1947, as amended in the House. Enactment of the measure followed up on two years of bipartisan negotiations between school advocates from both parties and was a response to the school funding discussion that took place during the summer of 2017.

SB 1947 represents a compromise agreed to by the four legislative leaders and Governor Rauner. Many of its individual features are not perfect from the standpoint of people who voted for the measure. Other features are popular with many Illinois legislators and voters. School mandates are reduced, and school management operational transparency is increased. One feature of the reform bill creates a system of new Illinois income tax credits. This new program is expected to leverage the donation of up to $100 million to scholarship funds to enable the enrollment of low and middle-income students in Illinois private schools. Supporters see the bill as a way to move Illinois toward adequate school funding and to add serious budgeting for results.
Last week, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation sponsored by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake), House Bill 770. The legislation improves the Fox Waterway Agency’s ability to ensure the safety, cleanliness and usability of the waterway along the Fox River and Chain O’Lakes.

“The Fox River and Chain O’Lakes are beautiful natural resources that also drive critical economic activity for our area,” said Wheeler. “Through House Bill 770, the Fox Waterway Agency will not only be better equipped to protect these natural resources, but it will also lead to improved benefits for the businesses and communities who rely on our beautiful waterway.”

Under House Bill 770, which State Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) sponsored in the Senate, the Fox Waterway Agency (FWA) will acquire certain public lands from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Through this land conveyance process, the FWA will be able to construct a site to process dredged sediment from the waterway. The dredged sediment will not only ensure the long-term environmental health of the waterway, but the processed sediment will then be able to be utilized by local businesses and communities to benefit the local economy.
From the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO):
To help tackle the seemingly endless barrage of leaves, twigs, thorny rose trimmings (ouch!), banana peels and that weird collection of egg shells and to supply your fall flowers with a renewable water source, we will be hosting a Compost Bin & Rain Barrel Sale at our Gurnee Facility on Friday, September 15th. Grab a few Compost Bins and/or Rain Barrels to help organize your good intentions. These make wonderful housewarming, hostess & holiday gifts too! 

Friday, September 15
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Solid Waste Agency of Lake County
1311 N Estes Street
Gurnee, IL 60031
Phone: 847-336-9340 or 847-377-4950
A new program developed by the Illinois Natural History Survey with support from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources aims to encourage more adults to hunt. The Hunter Recruitment Program is offering a series of free workshops around the state, giving new hunters an opportunity to learn from experienced mentors and to get hands-on experience hunting for deer, turkey, squirrels, pheasants, ducks, geese and other game.
From the Job Center of Lake County:
Are you 18 to 24 years old? If you live in Lake County and you are currently unemployed, you may be eligible for a paid internship.

Start by attending an information session:
Job Center of Lake County, 1 N. Genesee St. Waukegan, IL
Tuesdays at 3pm and Thursdays at 11am

Job Center Satellite Office, CLC building 4, 1935 W. Washington St. Grayslake
Wednesdays at 3pm
Speaking on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) says the man-made disaster in Springfield is adding insult to injury for those impacted by recent flooding. (Closed Captioning Available). 
A Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) being set up this weekend in McHenry County to assist residents impacted by flooding. Many agencies will be present to help residents, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army, as well as many private agencies to aid flood victims and answer any questions regarding clean-up, insurance and more. The service is free to  residents that are in need of flood assistance.

Important update on how to qualify for potential disaster relief for flood victims


If you live in Lake or McHenry counties, your county is responsible for reporting residential and commercial property damage to state and federal emergency management agencies. This data will help your county and property owners qualify for state and federal assistance programs. Be sure to indicate if you have flood insurance as this information is critical for state and federal assistance programs.

McHenry County Flood Resources:
To report flood damage in McHenry County, click here to report flood damage or call (815) 334-4560.

More information on resources available to you in McHenry County is available here.

Lake County Flood Resources:
In order to qualify for potential disaster relief that may flow into Lake County, your local emergency management agency is requesting that you fill out an online damage assessment form by TODAY Monday, July 24th: The form is available here.

More information on resources available to you in Lake County is available here.

Additional Resources Provided by the Red Cross and Salvation Army:

Residents needing human services assistance should contact the Red Cross directly at 847-220-7495.

Salvation Army donation hotline, 888-369-1349.
Photo courtesy of Daily Herald,
PAUL VALADE | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

If you are able to volunteer today, please call the Algonquin Township office at 847-639-2700.


According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, it appears that all locations on the river are cresting at this time. Although there is still uncertainty in the path of the storms forecast for Friday night and Saturday, the current center of the rainfall has shifted further east toward the Fox River from this morning’s forecast. This increases the forecast rainfall estimates to 1.5” – 3” during that time frame.

Thank you to our emergency personnel and volunteers currently helping during this time of crisis and thank you in advance to those of you who are willing to volunteer your time this afternoon.

Sincerely,

Barb Wheeler
State Representative, 64th District
Enclosed are the following FAQs provided by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency:

1. FAQs for Residents Affected by Flooding
2. FAQs for Governments Affected by Flooding


FAQs for Residents Affected by Flooding:


What does the state disaster proclamation mean for me?
The state disaster proclamation ensures all available state resources are available to help municipal and county officials respond to and recover from the disaster. The proclamation also is necessary for the state to seek federal assistance.

Assistance available to residents at this point includes services from the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other non-profit organizations, including shelters, food and flood clean-up kits. Please contact your county emergency management agency (EMA) to see if other types of assistance are available in your area.

My home was flooded. What should I do now?

  • Contact your county emergency management agency (EMA) to report damage to your home. For a list of county EMAs, visit www.Ready.Illinois.gov.
  • If you have flood insurance, contact your insurance company to report your damage.
  • Even if you don’t have flood insurance, you should still contact your insurance company to ensure all potential assistance has been sought.
  • Take pictures of the damage and make a list of any possessions damaged or destroyed.
  • Keep receipts for costs incurred during the flood, such as receipts for hotels, clean-up, replacement and repair.
  • Be safe when cleaning your home or making repairs.
Speaking on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) says more Illinoisans will be pushed out of the state by a tax increase.
Antioch’s Taste of Summer. 
Food, carnival, exhibitors & sidewalk sales with crafts!

4 Days of fun in downtown Antioch are a must for summer pleasure. Carnival rides and games add up to fun for the whole family. Enjoy the delectable specialties prepared by top restaurants. Dine in the relaxing sunshine or under the Big Top while listening to top entertainment in the Brook Bandshell. Browse among our Taste Exhibitors, plus find bargains at our Sidewalk Sales with a mix of Crafters too!
Lake Villa Craft Beer Festival
July 15, 2017
More than 30 beer vendors with more than 65 types of beer and wine, live music, and food vendors.
Historic Lehmann Mansion
485 North Milwaukee Avenue, Lake Villa, Illinois
Information: Click Here.

Fox Lake Movie by the Lake
July 15, 2017
Starts at Dusk, Free Admission
Lakefront Park
71 Nippersink Blvd, Fox Lake, IL 60020
Information: Click Here.

5th Annual St.Paul's-A-Palooza
July 29, 2017
All are welcome to join St. Paul's United Church of Christ for the 5th Annual St.Paul's-A-Palooza on Saturday, July 29, from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. This is a community-wide, free family event, with live rock and roll, country, and inspirational music, and activities for children. Concessions available for purchase will be pork chop sandwiches, hot dogs, corn on the cob, snacks, and beverages. All proceeds benefit local charities, including the Pioneer Center, Salvation Army, Home of the Sparrow, and local families in need. St. Paul's U.C.C. is located at 485 Woodstock Street in Crystal Lake. For information and tickets, please contact 815-459-5096, email info@stpaulsucccl.org, or check out our website at www.stpaulsucccl.org.
Responding to the Illinois House of Representatives action to override Gov. Rauner’s veto of a massive tax hike, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) said the state must change course instead of taking more money from taxpayers.

“We cannot keep doing the same thing in Illinois and expect a different outcome,” said Wheeler. “If our economy had grown at the national average since the year 2000, we would have enough revenue to balance our budget right now. Instead, Speaker Madigan’s leadership has led to a doubling down on failed policies and another tax increase in less than a decade, but this time it’s a permanent tax increase that families and businesses in Illinois simply cannot afford.

“I frankly cannot support a budget and tax hike that does nothing to address our backlog of unpaid bills, fails to provide relief to homeowners and leaves our most vulnerable susceptible to more harm down the road. Only creating a third pension tier does nothing to address our current unfunded pension liability and to suggest it will solve the existing problem alone is disingenuous. We must fundamentally change the way Illinois spends money in order to provide sustainable solutions for the future of the state and to ask taxpayers for more money without doing so is wrong.”
In June, Governor Rauner signed a landmark criminal justice bill in his capitol office with Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), and other members of the General Assembly. The bill, which State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) also sponsored, is a result of successful negotiations between the administration, City of Chicago and the General Assembly that will crack down on criminals who are repeat gun offenders, safely reduce the prison population, and create a more rehabilitative criminal justice system.

"This legislation provides new tools for law enforcement and the Courts to take on violent crime, while providing a second chance for non-violent, first time offenders," Governor Rauner said. "This shows what is possible when leaders at all levels of government work together, and across party lines, to address the challenges facing our cities and state. It took several months of hard work, compromise and bipartisan cooperation - but together, we got it done."
The May 2017 monthly metropolitan-area job report was released this week by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). While unemployment rates dropped in most Illinois metro areas, this drop was attributed to a decline in the number of Illinois residents classified as being in the active labor force rather than new jobs being created. As with the state as a whole, few new jobs are being created.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced Thursday that the unemployment rate declined -0.1 percentage points to 4.6 percent in May and nonfarm payrolls increased by +2,400 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. April job growth was revised little to show a decrease of -7,300 jobs rather than the preliminary estimate of -7,200 jobs. 

May’s modest monthly payroll gain kept over-the-year job growth well below the national average. Payroll growth has been sluggish thus far this year.
Chicago Beyond is looking to support organization’s with ideas/approaches that help youth succeed. They are now accepting applications nationwide for the second annual Go Innovate Challenge. The Go Innovate Challenge is a competition designed to identify and support transformative, innovative programs, ideas and approaches that have the potential to dramatically impact life outcomes for young people. To participate, interested organizations simply need to submit a 90-second video that describes the program, idea, or approach.

Formed in 2016, Chicago Beyond is a venture philanthropy fund that was created to transform the lives of marginalized young people through two critical issues – safety and educational attainment. The Go Innovate Challenge is part of Chicago Beyond’s effort to build a diverse portfolio of great ideas and partners – from established organizations with proven results to the newest and most innovative early-stage programs and organizations.
One day after House and Senate Leaders unveiled a compromise balanced budget plan to end the budget impasse, Governor Bruce Rauner called lawmakers back to Springfield for a 10-day special session from Wednesday, June 21st through the June 30th fiscal year deadline. 

"Republicans in the General Assembly have laid out a compromise budget plan that I can sign," Governor Rauner said in a video announcing special session. "It provides a true path to property tax reduction and it reforms the way our state operates to reduce wasteful spending. It will fund our schools and human services, while spurring economic growth and job creation. It is a true compromise - and one I hope the majority in the General Assembly will accept." 
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), Senate Republican Caucus Whip Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), Deputy House Republican Leader Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) and House Republican Conference Chairperson Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) have introduced a package of bills to end the budget impasse. The bills represent a compromise balanced budget and reforms that address the priorities of both parties, and urged the General Assembly to return to Springfield to vote on this proposal. State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) said she is evaluating the proposal.
One of the most challenging infrastructure concerns for Johnsburg has been sewer and water. Currently that is being solved for residents on Church Street and St. Johns Avenue. During a May 23, 2017 meeting, they were given information on the upcoming sewer extension project with summarized connection options and associated costs to connect with the system and a time to answer any questions.

Construction is expected to be completed this fall which is when residents will get final notice that the system is ready for connection. Road improvements start at Hillcrest Place and continue east to just short of the intersection of Johnsburg Road. The Village was successful in securing $1.5 million for the road improvements. The Village received an ITEP grant, with the assistance of State Representative Barbara Wheeler, of approximately $1 million to help fund the installation of sidewalks, pedestrian lighting and other streetscape enhancements along Church Street and St. Johns Avenue consistent with those constructed as a part of the Johnsburg Road/Roundabout Project.
Small Business Administration - Prime 2017
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued Program Announcement No. PRIME-2017-01 to provide training and capacity building grant programs to microenterprise development organizations (MDOs). The PRIME Act authorizes the SBA to provide funding to qualified organizations for the purposes of: (i) providing training and technical assistance to disadvantaged entrepreneurs; (ii) providing training and capacity building assistance to microenterprise development organizations (MDOs) and programs; (iii) aiding in Research and development of best practices for microenterprise and technical assistance programs for disadvantaged entrepreneurs; and (iv) for other activities as the SBA Administrator determines. Click Here.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is offering a program to keep children intellectually engaged over summer vacation. The Summer Reading Club offers children in kindergarten through 5th grade the opportunity to keep their minds active during summer vacation, while also providing the chance to have some fun for participating. Participation brochures are available at Wheeler’s District Office in Crystal Lake.

“As a former teacher, I know how important it is to keep the mind active over summer vacation, so I hope lots of kids will take part my summer reading club,” said Wheeler.

To be a member of Rep. Wheeler’s Summer Reading Club, children are asked to read eight books (books over 150 pages count for two) between the time school ends and the program deadline of July 25. Children who achieve this goal will be invited to join their fellow classmates and Wheeler at an ice cream social in August. This program can also be done in conjunction with any program already in existence at a child’s school, or offered through the public library in their community.
The downgrades imposed by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, move Illinois to the brink of “junk bond” status. The rating status, which in Moody’s terminology is “Baa3” and in S&P’s wording is “BBB-“, comes with a “negative outlook,” a formal warning by both debt-rating firms that a further demotion of Illinois’ status to non-investment-grade is both possible and relatively imminent. The moves, announced on Thursday, June 1, followed the Democrat-controlled General Assembly’s failure to enact a FY18 budget by the May 31st deadline. 
SB 886 contains provisions to allow the State to sell one of its principal pieces of property, the city block in downtown Chicago that currently contains the James R. Thompson Center. The 1.2 million-square-foot office building is currently home to 2,200 State of Illinois workers. However, the 1985 building has not been maintained and requires hundreds of millions of dollars in overdue upkeep and maintenance. 

The building’s footprint, which is bounded by LaSalle, Lake, Clark, and Randolph Streets, could be re-used for development. A new building on the site could house private-sector workers, and its owner or operator would pay property taxes to Chicago Public Schools and other public-sector entities that face financial challenges in 2017. As a State building, the Thompson Center currently does not pay property taxes.
On the final day of the scheduled spring session, House Democrats rushed a vote on a new school funding formula, Senate Bill 1, which would provide Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with a $500 million bailout while offering empty promises to the rest of the state’s public schools. 

The Democrats’ bailout bill would provide CPS with a more than $500 million windfall that will only continue to grow in future years. With the State already owing Illinois schools more than $1 billion this year and no way identified to pay for the new formula, Republicans stood in opposition to SB 1.

The new evidence-based funding model provides a blueprint to overhaul our broken state funding formula. The evidence-based funding model is significant to Illinois for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was specifically designed to drive much-needed funding to school districts that are the farthest away from adequacy. The model, as it was initially envisioned, was meant to focus more dollars on districts that are the least adequately funded.
A Letter to the Editor by State Representatives Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake)
Today, another spring legislative session ended, and with it ended another opportunity to stop the financial death spiral gripping Illinois. Despite the efforts of many rank-and-file members to create a balanced budget compromise, Illinois’ rigged political system has once again superseded good governance.

Over the past year, I took part in working groups and special commissions to address the budget crisis and the pressing need to reform Illinois’ school funding formula. These good faith discussions and negotiations were more productive than I expected and I was optimistic about the legislation we began to put together. Staying positive in Springfield these days isn’t easy, but it seemed like a ray of hope was finally beginning to shine.
State Representatives Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) welcomed a special group of STEM students to Springfield to congratulate them for setting a new world record. The fourteen students from Nippersink Middle School and Richmond Burton High School spent nearly two years working on “Project Blackbird” to set the world record for the highest remote control airplane flight.

"These students have spent countless hours developing their skills in the sciences of aerodynamics, aeronautics, electoral theory, meteorology and system integration to accomplish this great feat,” said Wheeler. “To build their own unmanned aircraft and set a new world record by flying it more than 70,000 feet is truly incredible. Congratulations to these inspiring students. I’m sure they will all go on to accomplish even more amazing things in the future.”
From SWALCO: The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) will be hosting a one day only special electronics recycling collection event for broken and unwanted electronics. This one-day special event will be held on Thursday, June 8, 2017 from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Gurnee Public Works Facility located at 1151 Kilbourne Road in Gurnee. 

Recycling fees will be assessed for televisions and cathode ray tube monitors ($35 for TV’s 21” and larger, $25 for TV’s 20” or smaller, and $25 for each cathode ray tube monitor) all other acceptable electronics will be collected at no cost. Cash, check or major credit cards are accepted for payment of applicable recycling fees. 
In an effort to end a rigged system and advance good government policy, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has passed Senate Bill 666 through the Illinois House of Representatives. The legislation ends the use a misinterpreted section of the Township Code that led to vastly reduced voter power in Township elections through the use of the caucus system.

“This legislation is good government policy that seeks to end the manipulation of township elections,” said Wheeler. “It is never good when a political party has the ability to limit the participation of voters due to the misinterpretation of the law. This change will ensure township voters in McHenry County have the same freedom of participation as those in any other county.”

Due to a vague section of the Illinois Township Code concerning the caucus process (alternative to a primary election), some townships in McHenry County were using a weighted voting system during caucus votes. This weighted voting system would give preferential treatment to Republican or Democrat township committee members when casting votes in a public caucus to determine candidates for election to township offices. Due to this, one committee member would be given dozens, or even hundreds, of votes compared to only one vote for any other registered voter participating in the caucus. Wheeler’s legislation guarantees every voter in a given party, regardless of committee membership, will have one vote, thus ending the manipulation of the caucus system.
From the Better Business Bureau and ComEd: With the return of warm weather, deceptive door-knockings and utility scams are kicking into peak season.

The Better Business Bureau and ComEd, which have a long standing business alliance of more than 90 years, are teaming up to warn consumers around the Chicago and Northern Illinois areas to watch out for fraud.

According to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker Risk Report “Home Improvement Scams” were the #1 riskiest scams in the USA.

Steve Bernas, president and CEO of BBB Chicago and Northern Illinois says, “Consumer safety is at the core of our mission and deceptive door-knockers often con consumers into agreements for shoddy home services or make attempts to steal money and I.D. information with false claims regarding their alarm, cable, or electric services.”
In an effort to move the state budget process forward, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has joined 39 House colleagues in sending a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The letter calls on Attorney General Madigan to use the power of her office to compel the Illinois General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate prior to the filing and passage of any spending bills to prevent further damage to the state’s finances and the many social service providers who serve the state’s most vulnerable.

In the letter, Wheeler and her co-signers cite several prior court rulings and instances which set precedent for the Attorney General to intervene to ensure the Illinois Constitution is upheld. Both the Constitution and state law require the General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate on which to base a balanced budget for the forthcoming fiscal year, an action which has not occurred in either of the past two years and hasn’t yet occurred for the coming fiscal year.

“Every day this budget impasse continues, the social service providers who care for our most vulnerable are placed in a more and more dire situation,” said Wheeler. “Illinois’ families, taxpayers and job creators are not immune to the situation and time is running out to resolve the problem.”
Every year children die of heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, while unattended in vehicles. Young children are particularly at risk because their bodies can heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults. 

The auto industry is spreading the message on the dangers of heatstroke and working to educate parents and caregivers about the risks of leaving children unattended in a vehicle — even for just a few moments. 

Together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Safe Kids Worldwide, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers offers information and tips to help prevent these tragedies from happening. Click Here to find out more.
The Illinois House reconvened this week for a two-week period dedicated to the consideration of Senate bills in the House. The Senate has sent 345 bills to the House, less than 16% of the 2,209 bills filed in the Senate this spring. These bills have been assigned to House committees for further discussion and debate. Under normal House rules, Senate bills have to get out of House committee no later than Friday, May 19, in order to be eligible to become law this spring. In a few cases, a few Senate bills may be granted extended deadline consideration, but this should not be counted on. The current status of all of these bills can be tracked on the General Assembly website, ilga.gov.
Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino, age 54, is currently under investigation. Allegations include reports that Mautino, who prior to his appointment was a state representative, used or allowed associates to use campaign funds for non-campaign purposes.

In order to protect the integrity of campaign funds, substantial reporting requirements are placed on campaign committees. They have to report substantially all of their larger contributions and spending. The reports are contained in mandated filings that must be deposited with the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBEL).

As part of the overall investigation, questions have been asked about the reports filed by former Rep. Mautino and his campaign committee. An ISBEL hearing officer officially found this week that the Mautino committee willfully violated the informational requirements that surround at least one of these required filings. The hearing officer had the right to recommend that the State Board of Elections impose a fine on the campaign committee, which remains in existence pending conclusion of the investigations. The ISBEL will consider this recommendation and take final action.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is offering a program to keep children intellectually engaged over summer vacation. The Summer Reading Club offers children in kindergarten through 5th grade the opportunity to keep their minds active during summer vacation, while also providing the chance to have some fun for participating. Participation brochures are available at Wheeler’s District Office in Crystal Lake.

“As a former teacher, I know how important it is to keep the mind active over summer vacation, so I hope lots of kids will take part in this year’s reading club,” said Wheeler.

To be a member of Rep. Wheeler’s Summer Reading Club, children are asked to read eight books (books over 150 pages count for two) between the time school ends and the program deadline of July 25. Children who achieve this goal will be invited to join their fellow classmates and Wheeler at an ice cream social in August that will offer games and prizes. This program can also be done in conjunction with any program already in existence at a child’s school, or offered through the public library in their community.
A joint statement from the bipartisan group:
"The finances of the state of Illinois are in crisis, and we must do better. The time for resolution is now. We are a bipartisan group of House members committed to seeing that happen.

There have been many ideas submitted both inside and outside the Statehouse. The key question for any of them is 'do they have the votes to pass?' The Senate offers one set of ideas in the form of a grand bargain negotiated by both Democrats and Republicans in that chamber.

We believe a solution that can pass the House and Senate and be signed by the Governor needs to include a package of bills that fundamentally addresses the needs of the state, and most importantly provides a normal, full-year budget for our state agencies, schools, and social service providers.
An Illinois based not-for-profit, the Computer Banc, is an organization that takes donated computers and refurbishes them for low income families, schools, veterans and others in need of digital technology. In the past year, the Computer Banc started a program to work with the State of Illinois to take surplus government computers, refurbish them and sell them to schools at drastically reduced cost for use in the classroom. The pilot program recently provided three central Illinois schools with 140 computers. The state is now working with Computer Banc to provide state and federal surplus computers to expand the program. 

For the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, the program is expanding to provide 2,000 computers to schools across the state for only $85 per computer:
  • 2,000 computers at $85 each are available for August 1 delivery. Additional computers will be available on a monthly basis on the first of each subsequent month. Each computer comes with a 1-year warranty. 
  • The computers come preloaded with Google Chrome, Testnav functionality for required assessments, as well as offline curriculum featuring over 1,500 eBooks, Illinois State Museum modules and early learning educational games. 
  • For additional information, visit www.ComputerBanc.org, or contact Executive Director David Fowler at (217) 528-9506 or director@computerbanc.org.
Governor Bruce Rauner announced today that Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin have filed legislation that will direct all future property tax receipts from the redevelopment of the James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) to Chicago Public Schools. The bill numbers are SB 2209 and HB 4044

"The JRTC is sucking up valuable space, time, and money," Governor Rauner said. "No one likes working here. It's expensive to maintain and it's a drain on taxpayer resources. The legislation introduced today gives us yet another reason to move swiftly in selling this building. Every day of delay just postpones Chicago's ability to earn millions in property taxes."
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced this week that six firms have responded to their request for information on who would be interested in developing an airfield in southeastern Will County. The initiative, which was not a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) process, was explained as a way for IDOT to gauge continuing interest in the project. Since 2001, the State of Illinois has acquired more than 4,454 acres of land northeast of Peotone, Illinois. Most, but not all, of the land needed to build a modern airport has been acquired at a cost of $95 million. 

While development proponents have long dreamed of reducing Illinois’ air traffic congestion through the construction of a third Chicago-area airport, hopes have faded somewhat during the sixteen years that the “Peotone airport” has been under development. The airline industry has sharply reduced its positive attitudes toward new U.S. airport development. Major passenger carriers operating in Illinois have moved their focuses toward more efficient usages of existing runways and gates at Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare International Airports.