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.
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. 
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 Tuesday, May 9, 2017 from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Mundelein Public Works Facility located at 440 East Crystal Street in Mundelein. 

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. 
The “fun state” gauge used aggregated data on the availability of options for entertainment, nightlife, restaurants, and other leisure-time activities, adjusted for population. Tourism-oriented states such as Nevada (ranked #1 of 50) and New York (#5 of 50) tended to do well. Illinois outdid all of the states that border it, with the nearest nearby rival, Wisconsin, scoring 21st. The Prairie State’s overall 16th slot was an aggregate of its score on “entertainment and recreation” (10th of 50) and its score on nightlife (24th of 50). By contrast, Indiana scored 47th in entertainment and recreation, and 45th overall. Numbers were released on Tuesday, May 2.
The new program aims to create home-visiting opportunities for newborn babies and their families. The first support visits implemented by the pilot program will be carried out by the Stephenson County Health Department, which is based on the northwestern Illinois city of Freeport. 

Home visits are a way to help children remain healthy and thrive by providing personal contacts between a mother and a trained professional who can answer questions. The program, which is being coordinated by the Illinois Home Visiting Task Force and by FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport, will be implemented by community nurses. Visitation times will be as soon after birth as possible, to enable these questions to be rapidly asked and answered. Illinois Family Connects also plans to create wellness checks for the baby and family, and to put the family in touch with any supportive resources that may be helpful.