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Rep. Mike Tryon is chief sponsor of HB 1040
Illinois has put two new laws on the books that state officials hope will clarify the state’s purchasing process and emphasize a move to cloud technology and shared services.

House Bill 5491 better defines the authority of Illinois chief procurement officers and requires state officials to more clearly state the requirements and specifics of what they want to purchase. HB 1040 creates a mandate where agencies must consider cloud solutions before investing in new technology. Both measures have been signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

HB 1040 went into effect in March, while HB 5491 is official as of Jan. 1, 2015. Read more by Brian Heaton in Government Technology.

Economic incentives potentially worth more than $14 million in taxpayer dollars played a key role in helping Illinois land a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant, said a state lawmaker who helped shepherd the package through the General Assembly.

State Rep. Adam Brown, R-Champaign, said the state aid was a critical factor in convincing Cronus Chemical to build the facility in Tuscola.

"I think we had to have some skin in the game," Brown said Tuesday. Read more.

Bills – Unpaid State Bills
Comptroller counts $5.82 billion in unpaid bills.  The October 2014 count of unpaid bills was submitted to her Twitter followers by Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka on Tuesday, October 21 under the Twitter hashtag #ILbillbacklog. The past-due bill count, which can also be seen on Topinka’s Facebook page, is $500 million greater than the comparable figure in mid-September.
Travis Platt is passionate in his efforts to help others, because he wants to give back.

Platt, owner of Platt's Printing in Farmington, says he likes to work with other small businesses and with anyone planning a benefit. His storefront has been open since December of 2013, but the entrepreneur has been in business since he was in junior high school.

"We are light years from where we started," says Platt, who emphasizes small businesses need to stick together. That is why he is proud to be located in Farmington with many small business owners who also want to grow.

He puts his self-taught graphic design efforts, and what he calls 'special prices,' to work for those needing his help. "I offer quality printing and design with good pricing."

Life has not always been easy for Platt, who is confined to a wheelchair due to Muscular Dystrophy.
Through a program offered by the state, he had the help of a personal assistant, who could help with travel and other necessities. That help was taken away suddenly when the state unexpectedly closed his case. His business was in danger of closing and Platt found himself in the battle of a lifetime.

In the midst of that battle, a friend introduced him to State Rep. Mike Unes. Unes learned of his plight and helped Platt get his case reopened and help was restored. "It took about a year and a lot of money," says Platt of the experience. Read more.

State Rep. Raymond Poe next week will begin undergoing a stem cell transplant designed to replace his bone marrow and cure a blood disease.

Poe, 70, will undergo the procedure at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he said he will be “at least a month.”

“That’s what they’re telling me in Texas, you’re coming down here for a cure, not a treatment,” Poe said.

Poe, a Springfield Republican, was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS.

In an interview with The State Journal-Register in August, Dr. Leonard Giannone, a Springfield oncologist and hematologist who has treated Poe, described the disease as a low-level malignancy of the stem cells that produce blood. He said it is not a fast-growing cancer, and that patients can live with it for years. Read the story by Doug Finke in the Springfield Journal-Register.

Too bad the Legislature didn’t apply a little weather-stripping to keep its home energy-efficiency program from leaking money and promised jobs.

This boondoggle of a state program was done in by either politics or incompetence, not unlike the way Gov. Pat Quinn’s anti-crime Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was botched.

Can’t Springfield get anything right?

Five years ago, lawmakers enacted the Urban Weatherization Initiative. The idea was to train workers in predominantly African-American communities to refit old buildings, creating jobs and lowering utility bills.

The notion was laudable, but the program had some gaping holes.

As a result, only a fraction of the 1,900 people trained to be laborers and inspectors actually got jobs, according to a Better Government Association report in Monday’s Sun-Times. Only 183 homes have been upgraded. And more than $13 million of the $16-million-plus spent so far has gone for administrative costs and training. Read the rest of the SunTimes Editorial.

Energy – Fracking
Negotiations continue on new rules. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources continues work to finalize the rules it will use to regulate future horizontal shale drilling in Illinois. New engineering technologies, known as “fracking,” have multiplied the power of drilling activity to get oil and natural gas out of rock characterized by tightly-packed grains of clay and sediment – the kind of rock known as “shale.” Until recently, engineering challenges prevented these deposits from being drilled and pumped.