Springfield, IL… Legislation from State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) to amend Illinois law to address the reality of the dangers that can be posed by mentally ill and violent individuals was signed in to law by Governor Rauner on Monday.

The legislation was sparked by February’s violent attack at a school in Parkland, Florida. Senate Bill 3411 will grant entities, like schools, the ability to petition the court for protection. Specifically, it updates Illinois’ Stalking No Contact Order Act to allow a school, church, or workplace to petition the court if they have a legitimate concern that a person poses a danger. Current law only allows an individual to petition the court in this way. This will allow a judge to temporarily restrict access to firearms of someone who is deemed a danger to themselves or others while an investigation is conducted. Such a law could have prevented the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, as the shooter was expelled from the school for violent behavior.  

Individuals can pose a threat to more than just another specific individual. As we’ve seen from the tragic shootings at Parkland and the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, it’s clear that institutions can be targets as well,” Rep. Wheeler said. “This bipartisan legislation was the work of a lot of legislators and individuals who recognized the need to strengthen current law concerning the public safety threat of individuals who exhibit signs of violent behavior.”

SB 3411 was crafted with the help of Lake County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Salvi. The bipartisan legislation, backed by all members of the Legislative Public Safety Group, passed both legislative chambers unanimously.  The new law will take effect on January 1, 2019. 
Springfield, IL… Legislation spearheaded by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) intended to help reduce gun violence through better mental health reporting has been signed in to law.

Image result for foid renewalStatistically, two-thirds of gun deaths are attributed to suicide. Current Illinois law requires hospitals to report certain mental health admissions to ensure that people at risk of harming themselves or others do not have access to firearms. However, there is a lack of clarity in the reporting process that has led many hospitals and medical facilities to under-report required admissions to the Department of Human Services and the Illinois State Police (ISP). House Bill 4855 will serve to clear up the state statute that ambiguously defines what constitutes a “patient” receiving mental health treatment and under what circumstances it needs to be reported. As part of the agreement process in crafting the bill, the Illinois Hospital Association has committed to improved staff training at Illinois’ hospitals to ensure the law is being properly followed and patient rights are being respected.

“This law is a much needed clarification to the regulations that are already in place to keep guns out of the hands of mentally unstable individuals for hospital workers,” Rep. Wheeler said. “Laws intended to address gun possession by mentally unstable individuals only work if people understand and follow them.”

In addition to shoring up existing law, HB 4855 also serves to protect the second amendment rights of responsible FOID card holders. The legislation requires FOID card renewal applications to be approved or denied within 60 days. If the application was submitted prior to expiration, the individual’s FOID card will remain valid while ISP processes the application unless the person becomes subject to revocation.

“The FOID renewal process can be lengthy, resulting in responsible, law abiding citizens needlessly losing their gun rights,” said Wheeler. “This legislation will ensure that an individual’s right to their FOID card is not infringed.”

HB 4855, now P.A. 100-906, will take effect on January 1, 2019.


State Representative Barbara Wheeler has been invited to speak on a panel at the Professional Women in Advocacy (PWIA) Conference in Chicago on Thursday, August 23rd.

The PWIA Conference was founded in 2013 to reach women at all levels of their profession across various industries with the goal of giving women advocates the tools and information they need to competently and confidently represent their organization or cause. This year’s theme is “Women Count” to highlight the impact women have in the civic arena. The Chicago workshop will cover communications for advocacy, lobbying compliance and political engagement. The all-day conference will take place at University Center at 525 South State Street in Chicago.

Rep. Wheeler will sit on a bipartisan panel titled “Been There Done That- Women of Distinction”. Every year this particular panel gathers successful women from business, media, and politics to share their stories, lend advice, and inspire others. It is expected to be moderated by FOX 32 anchor, Sylvia Perez. 

Tickets can be purchased and more information on the conference can be found here.

Springfield, IL… Today Governor Rauner signed House Bill 4340 into law, legislation sponsored by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) to bolster the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act and maximize its impact.
In 2015 Rep. Wheeler passed the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act (Public Act 99-0099). The law requires the posting of information on the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at specific businesses and establishments known to be frequented by victims of trafficking or associated with human trafficking activities. The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) is tasked with ensuring compliance with the law, but the department lacks the resources to properly do so.

While Illinois has seen the number of phone calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline rise from 473 in 2012 to 673 in 2017, these numbers pale in comparison to other states. In the same period Ohio, which implemented similar legislation but with tighter enforcement laws and expanded notice posting requirements, saw a rise from 459 to 1,113 calls.

“The differences between us and the states that really enforce these notices are stark and frankly heartbreaking,” Rep. Wheeler said. “Illinois ranks among the top states for human trafficking cases and Chicago is considered to be a national hub for human trafficking because of the role it plays as a major convention city. There are many victims out there that can be saved at no cost to the state if people only knew where to turn or what to do.”

The vast majority of the tips the NHTRC receives does not come from victims, but from concerned members of the community, which is why making information about NHTRC more readily available to the public is so important. HB 4340 removes the IDOL as the primary enforcer of compliance with the law and instead shifts the role to the governmental entity regulating the particular establishments and local law enforcement who are better equipped to handle the responsibility.

Information gathered by the Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force helped to craft this legislation, a panel on which Rep. Wheeler served. In addition, Rep. Wheeler, a noted human trafficking advocate, was contacted by tattoo parlor owners who shined a light on the industry-wide ignorance of what to do in cases where they suspect human trafficking. Similar to how slaves were branded by their owners, purveyors of so called “modern slavery” often take their victims to tattoo parlors so that if they ever run away, they can be tracked back and returned to their captors.  Some tattoo artists have caught on to this trend and offer their services to remove these brands for free, among those being INK180, a nonprofit based in Oswego. Removing these brands is an important reintegration step for survivors on their journey to move on from their victim status.

As a result, HB 4340 further expands the locations where the notice must be posted to include massage parlors (one of the top human trafficking related industries), certain large public events and gatherings, schools, and tattoo and piercing parlors.

“Not only does this new law contain the best practices of states that have made great strides in reaching human trafficking victims and concerned citizens, but it makes Illinois a state leader in combating human trafficking. No other state requires posting at public events or schools.” Rep. Wheeler said. “By publicizing these notices and resources, victims will know they are not alone and Illinoisans who see suspicious behavior will know what to do and have the potential to make a lifesaving impact on someone.”

HB 4340 is effective immediately.
Today, on the eve of Independence Day, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has filed legislation to allow Illinoisans to celebrate the occasion with the time honored tradition of fireworks without the risk of fine or arrest. Illinois is one of only four states that does not allow for the consumer purchase and use of fireworks and Wheeler’s legislation would give that independence back to residents.

“Illinois is already an outlier in so many ways, and this another silly example,” said Wheeler. “Illinoisans, like residents in 46 other states, can and should be trusted to responsibly use consumer fireworks and take care of themselves. Not only does it make sense to give a little independence back to the people for Independence Day, but it will also generate some business and tax revenue for the state that will help mitigate some of the exodus of people leaving the state.”

Wheeler’s legislation, House Bill 5928, creates the Pyrotechnic Use Act of 2018. The bill, modeled on best practices utilized in other states, sets rules for the licensing, sale and purchase of consumer grade fireworks beyond the extreme limit of only items like sparkles, which is current Illinois law.
From Lake County's 19th Judicial Circuit Court:
The 19th Judicial Circuit Court’s Jury Commission received notification of several occurrences where individuals had been contacted via telephone by a male identifying himself as a Lake County Deputy Sheriff. Citizens were told that they had failed to appear for Jury Duty and needed to proceed to the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan immediately. Once at the Courthouse, they were instructed to call the Deputy Sheriff stating that they had left their residence. Local authorities have verified that the name provided by the caller is NOT a Lake County Deputy Sheriff.

In response to these events, Chief Judge Jay W. Ukena has issued the following statement. “The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit is appreciative of the service performed by the citizens of Lake County and is committed to protecting their civic right to serve as a juror. The Circuit is issuing a press advisory regarding this matter to all our local justice and media partners today to warn and protect the Citizens of Lake County."
This week, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation sponsored by State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) to support the Fox Waterway. Senate Bill 2696 furthers the mission of the Fox Waterway Agency 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 drive critical economic activity for our area,” said Wheeler. “Through Senate Bill 2696, the Fox Waterway Agency will be better equipped to ensure the environmental and economic viability of these natural resources and I look forward to the Governor signing the legislation into law.”
Today, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and the Illinois House of Representatives honored Dixon Police Officer Mark Dallas, the school resource officer whose quick action saved numerous lives on May 16, 2018. Governor Bruce Rauner has also declared today Mark Dallas Day.

“Officer Dallas is a true hero in every sense of the word,” said Wheeler. “His immediate recognition of the situation and quick action to disarm the gunman that day at Dixon High School averted what could have been a terrible attack and saved numerous lives. Officer Dallas, for your bravery and selfless action to save lives by going into harm’s way, we thank you.”

On May 16, 2018, Dallas confronted an armed former student who had fired a gun at Dixon High School where students were gathered for a graduation rehearsal. As a result of Dallas’ decisive action, no students were harmed. Dallas was honored by House Resolution 1114, which also commended the lockdown procedure put into place by the educators and students at Dixon High School who all acted calmly in the face of the incident.
Following the violent attack in Parkland, Florida, it became clear it could have been prevented had the school had the ability to petition the court for protection. Recognizing this reality, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) began crafting bipartisan legislation to address a similar gap in Illinois law. Along with the help of Lake County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Salvi, Senate Bill 3411 would allow a school, place of worship or workplace to seek protection.

“Even though we already have specific rules in place to keep firearms out of the hands of someone who may be suffering from a potentially dangerous mental health problem or who has exhibited signs of violent behavior, a gap currently exists in our law. This legislation helps us close that gap and improve public safety,” said Rep. Wheeler. “I want to thank Senator Raoul for carrying this legislation in the Senate, Lake County Judge Joseph Savli for helping us find a solution to address this issue, and all of the members of the Legislative Public Safety Group who came together to support this legislation.”
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has published state gross domestic product (GDP) numbers for 2017 as compared with 2016. The federal data table has mixed numbers for Illinois. On the one hand, Illinois’ economy grew in real terms in 2017, with real (inflation-adjusted) GDP rising 1.2% as compared with 2016. The Land of Lincoln’s per capita numbers were even better, with Illinois residents enjoying real GDP in 2017 that was 1.5% greater than that of 2016. 

On the other hand, most U.S. states continued to outperform Illinois. The Prairie State scored 33rd in real 2017 GDP growth among the 50 states, with 32 states outperforming Illinois’ growth rate. Furthermore, Illinois’ good per-capita GDP numbers were helped out by our State’s declining population, with a smaller number of people sharing a slightly larger pie. 
For more than 24 months, from the end of June 2015 until mid-July 2017, the state of Illinois spent taxpayers’ money without an approved budget. The partial withdrawal of Illinois’ legislative branch from the job of overseeing and controlling Illinois spending effectively kicked this oversight power over to the federal and state judiciary, and created wide gaps between Illinois spending areas. Although the General Assembly maintained partial oversight of state spending through continuous public hearings and discussions of spending programs and issues, this partial oversight fell short of the mandate contained in subsection 2(b) of Article VIII of the state Constitution. This subsection requires the General Assembly to make annual formal appropriations for all expenditures based upon funds estimated to be available in the approaching fiscal year. 
FOID cards are required for the legal possession or purchase of a firearm in Illinois. People seeking to renew these cards should submit their applications in a timely manner. Since June 1, 2008, an Illinois FOID card has been valid for 10 years. In the summer of 2008 many Illinois residents applied for 10-year cards, and these cards are all expiring this summer. 

The Illinois State Police urges Illinois current and prospective gun owners who are looking towards applying for or renewing a FOID card this summer to submit their application as soon as possible. The vast majority of applications are submitted online. Delays could happen as the State Police works through the statistical bulge of applications that are expected to come in this summer. 

From the Lake County Clerk: Door-to-door sales people working in unincorporated Lake County must carry a solicitor’s certificate while on the job. 

Every solicitor must:
  • Register annually in-person with our office. Registration is free. 
  • Work only between the hours of 11 am and 7 pm. 
  • Carry his/her own Certificate of Registration bearing the sales person’s name, employer’s name, manufacturer’s name, type of business, and our embossed seal. 
  • Observe any “No Solicitation” signs. 
  • Respect your request if asked to leave. 
If a solicitor comes to your door, ask to see the certificate before conducting any business. You may report unregistered vendors to the Lake County Sheriff’s office (847.549.5200).
In January of 2016, an important new law to fight human trafficking took effect in Illinois, the Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act. This law (Public Act 99-0099), which State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) carried through the Illinois General Assembly, utilizes the business community to ensure human trafficking victims have access to essential services. 

“Human trafficking is a much more pervasive practice than many of us realize and it is essential that we increase awareness and engage the public to fight this form of modern day slavery,” said Wheeler. “The Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act makes information about a very important resource available to victims and witnesses, which has taken us another step closer to ending this horrific practice.” 

The Human Trafficking Resource Center Notice Act provides that specified businesses and establishments conspicuously provide information concerning the availability of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). The law not only helps victims of this heinous crime gain access to the resources they need to overcome the trauma they have experienced, but also acts an avenue for anyone who observes or suspects trafficking the ability to report it to the proper authorities. 
From the Lake County Sheriff's Office: On Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Lake County Sheriff’s Office is taking back unwanted prescription drugs. Each year, the Sheriff’s Office partners with the DEA on the national ‘Drug Take Back’ program which encourages the public to prevent substance abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. 

The service is free, anonymous, and offered at the following three locations:
  • Beach Park Village Hall, 11270 W. Wadsworth Road, Beach Park 
  • Long Grove Fire Protection District, 1165 Old McHenry Road, Long Grove 
  • St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 27551 Volo Village Road, Volo
The House bill voting deadline will come at the end of this week on Friday. April 27 is the cutoff date for bills originating in the House to be favorably considered by the full House in floor debate and sent to the Senate for final passage. Bills that are not passed by the deadline will be sent to the House Rules Committee, which is the primary pathway under the rules of the House to “table” bills that will no longer be considered. 

Following the House deadline for consideration of its own bills, the focus will shift toward consideration of Senate bills. The House will reconvene on Tuesday, May 8 to hold committee hearings for testimony and discussion of bills that originated in the Senate. Both houses of the Illinois General Assembly will have a four-week period to consider the bills passed by the other chamber and reach final compromises on the difficult issues of 2018. The House and Senate are scheduled to adjourn regular session on Thursday, May 31.
Last fall, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) began to work with the Illinois State Police (ISP) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) to address a reporting issue linked to mental health concerns and gun violence. A review of required reporting showed a number of hospitals were failing to report certain mental health admissions to keep guns away from potentially dangerous individuals. House Bill 4855, which passed the House today, addresses this reporting problem by clearly defining when a hospital needs to report a mental health admission.

“As I have said before, even though we already have rules in place to keep firearms out of the hands of someone suffering from a potentially dangerous mental health problem, if those rules are not being followed, it means nothing,” said Wheeler. “However, if those rules lack clarity, the fault is with the rules and we need to correct them.”

The recently formed Public Safety Task Force pointed out the statistical reality that two-thirds of gun deaths are attributed to suicide. This is one of the reasons Illinois law already requires hospitals to report certain mental health admissions to ensure that people at risk of harming themselves or others will not have access to firearms. The lack of clarity in the reporting process occurred because current state statute ambiguously defines what constitutes a “patient” receiving mental health treatment and under what circumstances it needs to be reported. This led many hospitals and medical facilities to underreport required admissions to DHS and ISP.
The Illinois State Police (ISP) is teaming up with the Save a Star Drug Awareness Foundation to help decrease prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse.

Governor Bruce Rauner announced at the beginning of April that five ISP District headquarters across the state will house receptacles for people to drop off their unused and unwanted prescription medications.

Save A Star Drug Awareness Foundation provided the receptacles for initiative. The foundation was created by David and Gail Katz, whose son died in 2007 from an overdose of prescription medication.
Celebrate Earth Day by checking out these family-friendly events.
  • The Forest Preserves are celebrating Earth Day (April 22) with a week of free nature programs April 16 to 22. Enjoy Acoustic Bat Monitoring, a Guided Nature Paddle, a Woodpecker Walk and more. Locations vary based on program. Learn more.
  • Enjoy a day of fun, free outdoor activities as Lindenhurst celebrates Earth Day from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 21. The celebration will include a 5K run and walk, recycling opportunities, a Concert for the Earth, an Earth Day kite fly and more. Learn more
  • Join the first Earth Day Expo from noon to 4 p.m. April 22 at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills. Participate in the Cardboard Challenge, enjoy face painting, music and more. Learn more
  • Enjoy a recycling experiment, scavenger hunt, music, recycling opportunities and more at a free Earth Day and Recycling event from 1 to 3 p.m. April 22 at the Dunbar Recreation Center in Mundelein. Learn more
5 Steps to Your Next Job New time and location!
Dates:
Monday, April 16 to Friday, April 20 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm each day
Location:
Round Lake Public Library 906 Hart Rd. Round Lake, IL

Attend a 5-day interactive workshop series. This series covers the entire job search process from researching careers to landing your next job. Attend all 5 days to earn a certificate! Reservations recommended 847.377.3439 or email elocke@lakecountyil.gov

Additional Featured Events:
Job Searching Over Age 50
April 11 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Cook Park Library
413 N. Milwaukee Ave. Libertyville
847-362-2330
From Lake County: The Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) is gearing up for a busy road construction season. In 2018, Lake County will have nearly $100 million in road projects under construction, including 30 new projects. There will also be several resurfacing projects, culvert replacements, signal modernizations, and enhancements to the non-motorized network.

View the Interactive Construction Map to find a project you are interested in and connect to the latest information and important updates.
The newly-formed bipartisan bicameral Legislative Public Safety Working Group met late yesterday to begin discussions on a wide range of issues that impact the safety and security of Illinois citizens.

The meeting was the first in what Governor Bruce Rauner and legislators expect to be a series of discussions this session on a comprehensive approach to public safety. Rauner is working to engage with legislators to collaborate on critical issues of gun trafficking, school safety, mental health and crime prevention.

Yesterday’s meeting centered on gun issues and school safety. On the latter, the administration shared recommendations developed by a panel of school administrators, police and fire officials who are members of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force. Potential action items include behavioral threat assessments, information sharing among schools, student safety tip lines, active shooter drills, and enhanced fire alarm protocols.
Today, the Legislative Public Safety Group will hold its first meeting. In response to recent acts of mass violence around the country, Governor Bruce Rauner called for the creation of this group to work with his administration. This working group will work with the administration to develop bipartisan legislative proposals to address several factors causing incidents of mass violence. State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake), who has already been working on several bipartisan public safety initiatives, will play a key role in the work of this new group.

“The incidents of mass violence which have happened in our society demonstrate that we are dealing with an issue bigger than just guns falling into the hands of bad people,” said Wheeler. “We need to address what is leading people this type of behavior by considering a multitude of factors. If we can more effectively identify those at risk, it will allow us to create better measures to protect our schools and places of work, help those suffering with mental illness and ensure law enforcement is better equipped to prevent something from happening in the future. Several of my colleagues and I have already begun to work together with this mindset, so I hope this public safety group can be the final piece of puzzle to get things done.”
From the Lake County Treasurer's Office: The more than 20,000 Lake County taxpayers who prepaid their property taxes last December are allowed to deduct their prepaid property taxes on their 2017 federal tax return, according to a statement from the U.S. Treasury Department. 

“The Lake County Treasurer’s Office is very pleased to be able to provide clarity on this question for local taxpayers,” Lake County Treasurer David Stolman said. “I would like to thank Congressman Peter Roskam (6th District) for his assistance in seeking confirmation that taxpayers in Illinois are not bound by previous IRS guidance regarding the prepayment of property taxes.” 

The U.S. Department of the Treasury agreed that an advisory issued by the IRS does not address Illinois and, therefore, taxpayers in Illinois are not bound by the IRS guidance and are able to deduct their prepaid property taxes. 
The first International Summer Games festival held by the Special Olympics movement for challenged athletes was celebrated in Chicago in 1968. Nearly 1,000 athletes, from twenty-six U.S. states, participated in these first Games. Over the past 50 years, the movement has radiated outwards from the South Side’s Soldier Field and now encompasses organizers in 172 countries and territories around the world. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), which rarely grants out the use of its intellectual property to any other body, allows the Special Olympics to share the Olympic name and torch symbol.

The Special Olympics were founded in Illinois’ sesquicentennial year of 1968. On Friday, March 2, Special Olympics officials joined fundraisers and well-wishers for the groundbreaking ceremony of the “Eternal Flame of Hope.” The 30-foot sculptural installation, to be located on the lakefront at Chicago’s Soldier Field, will celebrate the heritage of these Games and point towards further Special Olympics growth over the next half-century.
Following the violent attack in Parkland Florida last month, it has become clear it could have been prevented had the school had the ability to petition the court for protection. Recognizing this reality, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) began crafting bipartisan legislation to address a similar gap in Illinois law. Along with the help of Lake County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Salvi, Senate Bill 3411 (same as House Bill 5829) would allow a school, place of worship or workplace to seek protection.

“Even though we already have specific rules in place to keep firearms out of the hands of someone who may be suffering from a potentially dangerous mental health problem or who has exhibited signs of violent behavior, a gap currently exists in our law. This legislation helps us close that gap and improve public safety,” said Rep. Wheeler. “I want to thank Senator Raoul for carrying this legislation in the Senate, as well as Lake County Judge Joseph Savli for helping us find a solution to address this issue.”

Specifically, Senate Bill 3411 updates Illinois’ Stalking No Contact Order to allow a school, church or workplace to petition the court if they have a legitimate concern that a person poses a danger. Current law only allows an individual to petition the court in this way. This will allow a judge to temporarily restrict access to firearms of someone who is deemed a danger and allow for a mental health evaluation. Such a law could have prevented the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, as the shooter was expelled from the school for violent behavior.
The rating was bestowed by “Site Selection” Magazine, a CEO-oriented periodical and database that compiles information on the relative activities of U.S. locations for business relocation and job growth. Illinois ranked third in the number of new and expanded facilities per capita tracked by the periodical database, in a ranking called the “Governor’s Cup” by the magazine. 

Commentators said Illinois was honored for its transportation infrastructure and relatively affordable real estate. More than 400 new and expanded facilities were tracked moving to or expanding in greater Chicago, exclusive of Lake County, in the 2017 Governor’s Cup rankings. This benchmark, which made greater Chicago the #1 U.S. metropolitan area tracked by “Site Selection” with a population of 1 million or more, powered Illinois’ overall standings. However, Illinois’ strength was not limited to greater Chicago. Three Illinois areas defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as “micropolitan areas,” population centers in predominantly rural environments with a population between 10,000 and 50,000, also scored highly. Strong Illinois micropolitan areas were Ottawa-Peru, Effingham, and Rochelle. All three regions are places where transcontinental railroad service comes together with two or more U.S. Interstate highways.
The U.S. commemorative postage stamp had its “First Day of Issue” on Monday, March 5. Sold for 50 cents, the stamp shares the white, yellow, blue, and green colors of the Illinois state flag and the words “Illinois 1818.” It features an outline map of Illinois with the sun rising from the State’s southern tip. Twenty stars in the stamp’s corners reflect the U.S. states that entered the union before 1818, with the rising sun of Illinois being the twenty-first star of the National Union.
As part of Illinois' 200 year birthday celebrations, the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer has announced the Bicentennial Coin Contest. The contest encourages individuals to submit a design for the coin that will be created and distributed to commemorate the Illinois Bicentennial.

The treasurer’s office will accept electronic submissions for the Bicentennial Coin Contest from Illinois residents. Each design should depict an aspect of Illinois or Illinois history. One entry, per contestant, can be submitted now through May 1, 2018 at www.IllinoisCoinContest.com. The winning design will be used for the commemorative bicentennial coin. To pre-order a commemorative bicentennial coin, visit www.IllinoisCoinContest.com and click on the “medallion pre-sale” graphic.

The public will have an online opportunity to vote on the top five designs in June. A final winner will be announced on June 18, 2018.
The benchmark news came from Empower Illinois, one of the nonprofit entities overseeing implementation of the Illinois tax credit scholarship program created by the Illinois General Assembly in 2017. Under this new tax credit, Illinois income taxpayers are authorized to donate moneys to an approved scholarship clearinghouse. The moneys will be used to pay for scholarships to be awarded to enable children to attend fee-charging schools. Scholarships that will cover 50 to 100 percent of a student’s tuition and school-related expenses will be awarded to children from income-eligible households.

Empower Illinois’ announcement followed the nonprofit’s previous announcement of a glitch on January 31. When the Empower office first tried to roll out their online scholarship application window, so many applications were submitted that the website broke down. The 33,000 valid applications submitted in the second process, which generated totals announced on Wednesday, February 28, reflect emergency repairs made to the application website. Empower Illinois reported receiving $45 million in pledged donations from Illinois taxpayers. The taxpayers will receive individual income tax credits to cover up to 80 percent of the cost of their donations. Applicant households who do not get into the program this year may choose to reapply again in early 2019.
Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, Deputy Governor Leslie Munger, and leaders from the Illinois Math and Science Academy have launched the three-year Illinois Bicentennial STEM Fusion Campaign. The Campaign will generate enhanced teacher professional development opportunities and student STEM enrichment programs to participants in 25 selected schools across the State. 

The STEM Fusion Campaign pays tribute to Illinois’ heritage in mathematics education. One of the first bills passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 1818 was a measure to set aside a set percentage of the new state’s frontier land as seed money for a public school system to teach English and math. One-thirty-sixth of the new state’s unsettled farmland was set aside for this purpose. Some Illinoisans may still remember hearing that a square mile near their home was once a “school section.”
Looking for a fun community project to join? SWALCO's Reuse-A-Shoe program might be the perfect fit for your organization.

Every year, across the globe, millions of pairs of shoes end up in landfills or disposed of in some way, creating a lot of waste. It is estimated that 85% or more of these unwanted items end up in our landfills, which here in the U.S. and around the world, are filling up fast. 

No matter what age we are, most of us have at least a few pairs or more of unwanted shoes hanging out in our closets. Some may be shoes we just don’t wear, shoes we or family members have outgrown, or those that have gotten a little worn around the edges. Much of what we consider unwanted waste can actually be recycled or repurposed. 
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce presents the James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award each year to an entrepreneur or small business in the Chicago region that has demonstrated growth and civic/philanthropic values. The winner of the Tyree Award receives a $50,000 cash prize, courtesy of Mesirow Financial and CIBC, plus business consulting services from the Chicagoland Chamber. 

2018 is the 7th year of the Tyree Award. The winner will be announced during the Chicagoland Chamber's 114th Annual Meeting on June 5, 2018. 

The Tyree Award application process runs through March 25th.

Click here for to see award criteria and to apply.
In a week at the State Capitol dominated by debate on gun reform initiatives, Several Republican Lawmakers are pushing for a fair hearing on bills they stress would help keep our communities safe while also protecting the rights of law abiding gun owners.
The Veterans Creative Arts Festival is the celebration and regional finale stage and art show, which are the culmination of talent competitions in art, creative writing, dance, drama, and music for Veterans treated in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national health care system. All Veterans invited to participate in the national event are selected gold medal winners of year-long, regional fine arts talent competitions across the nation. Our regional center is the Cpt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, IL. This will be the VA’s 11 Annual Festival and the 3rd year CLC has collaborated with Lovell FHCC on this event.
In the wake of another violent attack, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) says Illinois cannot continue to wait to take action. In the fall, Wheeler sponsored legislation to address bump stocks like the one used by the Las Vegas shooter and began working with the State Police (ISP) and Human Services (DHS) to address mental health reporting failures. She has since filed new legislation to increase security at gun shops and increase penalties for possession of fully automatic weapons, which is illegal under Illinois law.

“Last week’s shooting in Florida is another clear example that we cannot keep delaying action to address the link between mental health and gun violence,” said Wheeler. “Nor can we continue to ignore the reality that we do not need certain types of firearms and firearm modifications, like bump stocks, on the market.”
Voting on the first round of the poll opened this week and will conclude on Friday, March 2. Results will be announced on Monday, March 5. The first round of the online survey will measure voters’ support for movies filmed or produced in Illinois. The second round of voting, to begin in March, will give participants the chance to select their favorite Illinois private-sector business firm. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the State Journal-Register and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission are co-producing this set of nonscientific surveys in honor of each fortnight in the State’s bicentennial year. There will be room for as many as 20 online surveys to be run prior to the conclusion of the Bicentennial and celebration of the actual 200th birthday on December 3, 2018.
Under existing law, the 45 states that charge sales taxes are not allowed to order retailers to enforce the collection of these taxes on many of the goods and services that cross state lines. In a 1992 federal Supreme Court decision, Quill v. North Dakota, the Supreme Court attached a strict condition upon state attempts to use retailers to charge these sales taxes. The state must present evidence that the retailer has a physical presence, called by lawyers a “nexus,” within the state that seeks to use the retailer to charge the sales tax.
Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday. The Governor renewed his call for a $1 billion tax cut for all Illinois taxpayers. He also called for “structural reforms” to Illinois laws that underlie the current patterns of Illinois public-sector taxes and spending. 

Assailing what he called “unsustainable growth in our pension and healthcare costs,” Gov. Rauner stated that more than 25 cents of every dollar the State spends goes to these facets of public-sector employee benefits. These benefits far exceed the benefits paid to workers in the private sector, and the cost of these benefits is driving job growth from Illinois to other states. Rauner pointed to job trends, including manufacturing job growth, in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. 
Tomorrow at noon, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his annual Budget Address. The address will provide a blueprint to the General Assembly of how the Governor would like to see the state appropriate taxpayer dollars. 

You can watch it live online, Click Here.
From ABC Chicago: Find out if your school, business or daycare center is closed because of a weather emergency. 

The Emergency Closing Center lists the status of all reported ECC facilities. If you do not see your facility listed it means the facility has not reported a status change to ECC. Click Here.
The first day of the spring session was Tuesday, January 30. In addition to considering appropriation bills to make up the FY19 State of Illinois budget (for the fiscal year which starts on July 1, 2018), the Illinois House and Senate will consider many substantive bills. With Amazon.com considering Chicago as one possible location as the site for its second headquarters, the lawmakers will be eager to prioritize measures to improve Illinois as a place for job creation and enterprise. Continuing competition from other Midwestern states, especially Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin, is expected to be a major theme of the session’s substantive bill work. 
Speaking on the House floor, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) called for a federal investigation of the leadership within the United Auto Workers labor union following horrific accounts of sexual harassment and abuse of female employees at the Ford plant in Chicago.

For more information about House Resolution 783, calling for the investigation, Click Here.
Following the annual State of the State address by Governor Rauner, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) said she hopes the other side of the aisle will finally support similar reforms that have allowed the national economy to thrive.

“Last year, a renewed sense of confidence led to the beginning of a national economic surge. This economic surge has been increasingly buoyed by the federal reforms which have eliminated numerous burdens caused by government overreach, as well as comprehensive tax reform. Companies small and large across the nation are responding to these policy changes, whether it is the burgeoning craft brewery industry or the likes of Apple, Chase or Walmart. Across the nation, employee pay is rising, bonuses are being paid and major investment is taking place as the financial benefits of reform are being realized.
Rauner concentrates on health of private sector - Illinois in 2018 represents what would be the world’s 17th largest economy if the Prairie State were an independent country – roughly equivalent, in national terms, to the economies of Spain and Canada. The progress of this economy formed the heart of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s 2018 State of the State address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday.

Rauner reminded the lawmakers that Illinois is the home of 1.2 million job-creating small businesses, 36 Fortune 500 companies and 72,000 farms that plow 27 million acres of agricultural land. Illinois has 12.8 million residents, almost one-half of whom – 6.05 million – are in the nonfarm payroll workforce, making and producing goods and services that are in demand all over the world. Support for public and private education is a necessary part of continuing this record of achievement, and the Rauner administration and the General Assembly have increased funding for K-12 public schools by $1.2 billion. The administration last year proposed, and the General Assembly enacted, the Invest in Kids program to create tax incentives for donations to scholarship granting organizations that help high-achievement students obtain financial help to attend competitive private schools.


Today at noon, Governor Rauner will deliver his State of the State Address.

You can watch it live online, Click Here.
Whether scam artists use your information to file tax returns in hopes of getting your refund or pose as IRS agents and threaten legal action if payments aren’t immediately made – there are preventative steps you can take to ensure a smooth tax season. The Illinois CPA Society outlines key points than can help you avoid becoming a target and what to do if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam.

Tax ID Theft Warning Signs
The IRS estimates that recent crackdowns in 2016 on ID theft scams stopped more than 785,000 fraudulent returns, but that $239 million in “suspect” refunds were paid out. Tax ID theft is still very prevalent and some warning signs to look for if you think you may be a victim are:
  • Your electronically filed tax return is rejected because a return with your SSN already has been filed. 
  • Receiving a letter from the IRS asking for confirmation on submission of a tax return being held for review. 
  • Being informed by the IRS that that records of wages were received from an employer that you did not work for. 
State Representatives Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) and Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) have asked the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to hold a local public hearing to gather testimony from Johnsburg and Antioch residents who would be affected by a massive sewer and water rate hike proposed by Utilities, Inc.

“My office has been inundated with calls and emails from constituents that would be affected by this increase, which I’m told would be the third rate increase for water and sewer since 2009,” said Reick. “These people, many of whom are living on fixed incomes, have asked us to help facilitate a local platform where they can come and provide testimony on how this latest rate increase would affect their family budgets, and for some, their ability to remain in their homes.”

In 2009, Utilities Inc. serviced the affected area at a monthly rate of $5.14 and consumption rates of $3.14 per 1,000 gallons. If the latest request is approved by the ICC, those customers would then have to pay a rate of $35.03 per month with consumption rates of $11.08 per 1,000 gallons; a 353% increase in water/sewer service costs in just eight years.