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House Republicans hold a press conference immediately following the vote of an appropriation plan that spends $7 billion more in revenue than the state has coming into its coffers.

House Republicans were denied a vote verification for a 500-page bill that was introduced a mere 90-minutes before it was called for debate on the House Floor. Democrats then limited the debate to less than an hour with a parliamentarian move.

SB2048 appropriates $14 billion - that with court orders, continuing appropriations and consent decrees would push state spending over $40 billion.
House Republicans call on Democrat colleagues to continue budget collaboration

On Wednesday, House Republican legislators who have been participating in bipartisan budget working groups expressed their disappointment with Democrat Speaker Michael Madigan’s dismissal of their collaborative efforts. They called for a continuation of the efforts of rank-and-file members from both sides of the aisle to devise a framework for a compromise and balanced budget.
Veterans will soon see more flexibility in seeking help for addiction treatment and other mental health services according to the House sponsor of Senate Bill 3401, State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago). The legislation would amend the Veterans and Servicemembers Court Treatment Act to allow Veteran’s Assistance Commissions (VAC) to provide assessments, mentoring, and treatment programs to veterans. Under current law, veterans can only receive such services at the federal Veteran's Affairs (VA) office or the Illinois Department of Veteran's Affairs (IDVA).

“It is imperative that we provide our veterans with the best and quickest treatment possible,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “This bill will increase access to important services for veterans.” Read more.

Legislation to crack down on the sale of synthetic cathinones, or “bath salts,” passed the Illinois House Tuesday without opposition.

The bill passed the Senate last month, also without opposition, so it now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

These dangerous drugs, which can cause hallucinations and severe aggression in users, are often disguised and labeled as actual bath salts and other common products when sold.

“This is just one really small way of going at the issue,” said Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, the bill’s House sponsor. “The goal of the legislation was to make it so that retailers couldn’t sell it, and it gives some teeth to the ability of state’s attorneys to prosecute them.”

Under Senate Bill 210, retailers selling bath salts can lose their retail license and be charged with a Class 3 felony, which carries a fine of up to $25,000 and up to five years in prison. Read more on SJ-R.
Gov. Bruce Rauner and Republicans leaders Monday reiterated that lawmakers must pass reforms to workers compensation, pensions and other issues before they’ll entertain talks of a tax increase to balance the budget.

Speaking at a Statehouse news conference, Rauner said he is “cautiously optimistic” that rank-and-file lawmakers will be able to negotiate compromises on reforms that Rauner said are essential to growing the state’s economy.

“We’ve got eight days left,” Rauner said. “We’re encouraging bi-partisan compromise and focus, focus, focus. Hopefully, we don’t get all bogged down on a lot of other issues.”

Rauner and the four legislative leaders last week agreed to appoint people to working groups that would work on proposals for workers compensation reforms to control business costs, property tax relief coupled with local government cost controls and changes to pensions to save the state money.
“These are not partisan issues,” Rauner said. “They are good government issues.” SJ-R has the rest of the story.

Budget
Leaders meet to discuss budget negotiations, but many obstacles remain. The four legislative leaders met with Governor Rauner for only the second time this year on Tuesday, May 17. The leaders agreed to deputize lawmaker working groups, including key members of the House Republican Caucus, to discuss specific issues relevant to an agreement. The Illinois budget process has been stalled by an impasse that has now gone on for nearly 11 months. Illinois began operating without a constitutional balanced budget to control spending on July 1, 2015, and is now the only state not to have a budget for the current fiscal year.
Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) today held a press conference announcing May 17, 2016 as Hepatitis C Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Springfield. The press conference highlighted the progress of the Hepatitis C Task Force as well as outlined the events of the day designed to raise awareness of this “silent epidemic.” Read more.