The state is one step closer to implementing Illinois’ new concealed carry law.

Today, the Illinois State Police posted approved concealed carry curricula on their website and an updated registry of concealed carry instructors who have been certified to-date. After instructors and curricula have been approved the next step is to begin training Illinoisans.

While applications for a Concealed Carry License won’t be available until early January 2014, those interested in applying for one can begin by contacting one of the 300 trainers that have been already approved.
Durkin Takes Reins as New House Republican Leader

·         Representative Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) takes over as Leader of the House Republican Caucus.  The transition took place on Monday, September 23.  Representative Tom Cross (R-Plainfield), the leader of the House Republicans for ten years (2003-2013), moved on to turn his attention to other opportunities.  While Cross plans to serve out his legislative term, Durkin becomes the leader of the forty-seven House Republican members.

Jim Durkin, a practicing attorney, began his House service in 1995.  He has served repeatedly on the House’s Judiciary Committees, specializing in issues of criminal law and civil misconduct.  He was a leader in the bipartisan investigatory committee that gathered evidence and made a recommendation that led to the impeachment and removal from office of former Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008-2009.  In 2012-2013, Durkin led the General Assembly’s efforts to investigate and help regain financial stability for the troubled “College Illinois” savings program.    
U.S. Rep. James Mann (R-Chicago)
introduced the first legislation to
take on the issue of human trafficking.
He also was a leader in the fight
for granting the vote to women.
Declaring that “the time is right, the people are ready,” U.S. Rep. James Mann (R-Chicago) put before the U.S. House of Representatives the proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which stated that, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” That day in May 1919 was to be the culmination of the life’s work of the Illinoisan and former House Republican Leader, who dedicated his professional career to fighting for causes which we take for granted today.

James Robert Mann was born in Bloomington and educated at the University of Illinois and the Union College of Law, now known as Northwestern, before being admitted to the bar in Chicago in 1881. He served on the board of education and the Chicago City Council, and was chairman of the Republican state convention in 1894. Mann began his congressional career in 1896, winning election to the House, where he would serve until his death in 1922.
Top left: Rep. Adam Brown,    Top right: Rep. Wayne Rosenthal
Lower left: Rep. Dan Brady
We didn't know about this until SJ-R columnist Bernard Schoenberg included it in his column today:  Three members of our caucus "sprang into action" to provide medical assistance to man who was seriously injured in downtown Decatur earlier this month.

State Representatives Dan BradyAdam Brown and Wayne Rosenthal came to the aid of 26 year-old Alex Griffin after his arm was sliced-open by a broken mirror he was taking to the trash. The legislators used their belts as tourniquets and worked with others to stop the excessive bleeding. Later, they were told by doctors that the quick actions of those on the scene helped save the young man's life.

Thanks for sharing the story, Bernie Schoenberg.
Back in 1971, newly-arriving Hispanics in the Rockford area found a critical need for help in resettling and adjusting to their new home. They banded together to help each other and the community as a whole, forming Spanish-Speaking Special Services to advise newly arrived families and to help them with such basic skills as learning English.

Before long, Spanish-Speaking Special Services expanded beyond the basics into La Voz Latina, an organization determined to assist Rockford’s Hispanic population to grow and thrive. La Voz Latina partnered with the local United Way to open a Hispanic Resource Center in 1984, providing vocational training and bilingual references to other social service agencies.
Can you name the six Native American Tribes who were the original inhabitants of present-day Illinois? If not, we’ve got you covered!

Native Americans have made significant contributions to the history and culture of the United States, particularly here in Illinois. In fact, our state was named after a Native American Tribe!

Native American heritage has borne strong influence in nearly every community in our state. From city and street names to schools to public parks; Native American heritage can be found all across the Land of Lincoln.

Here are the six original tribes who called Illinois home prior to European settlement:
Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford)

Legislation authored by State Representative Joe Sosnowski aimed to prevent stalking with an electronic device was signed into law on Friday, August 16. The new law addresses a major gap in current state law by outlawing the use of electronic tracking devices to record the location of a person without their consent.

The idea was brought forward by Belvidere Police Chief Jan Noble when a local woman came forward after she found an unwanted GPS tracking device hidden beneath her car. Because current Illinois law only allows law enforcement to take action in the case of immediate danger, there was nothing the police department could do. Upset with the situation, Chief Noble came to State Rep. Joe Sosnowski looking to make a change.

Rep. Sosnowski says the situation in Belvidere clearly highlighted the need for the State to place more tools in the hands of law enforcement to protect residents.

“Illinois residents have the right to live without the fear of having their every movement watched,” said Sosnowski. “These tracking devices can be secretly attached to a car without the driver ever knowing making the car vulnerable to being tracked from a remote location.”
Let’s face it, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, smart phones, tablets, texting and the never-ending introduction of new technological gadgetry and apps will continue to be a growing part of your family’s daily lives. There is no getting around it -- digital media is a fact of life for our families.

Children, parents and grandparents look to the the web for news, entertainment, information, and purchases. They are using it to communicate with friends, family, and yes, even their elected officials. They are also sharing their life stories through posts, photos, videos, website viewing and online sales. That’s a lot of information and that’s where you must take care because this digital world can also hold dangers: scams, cyber bullying, predators and identity thieves threaten our families’ safety and financial security.

The Illinois House Republican Caucus is pleased to introduce State Rep. Jim Durkin as the new Illinois House Republican Leader.

“I am proud to be the new leader for the House Republican Caucus and am anxious to get to work.  It’s an exciting time.  We have significant fiscal challenges facing our state, but nothing is insurmountable.  The House Republicans have ideas on how things should be done to get Illinois back on the right track.  Working together – we can move Illinois forward.”
Budget – Medicaid Reform

·         Representative Patty Bellock questions Quinn administration’s compliance with Medicaid reform.  In a Chicago budget hearing on Tuesday, September 17 that centered on Medicaid and health care issues, members of the Illinois House questioned the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) about the Department’s implementation of Medicaid reforms.  The General Assembly, bound by its constitutional duty to generate a balanced budget, appropriated money to DHFS for Medicaid that assumed that these reforms, which have been enacted into law, would be carried out. 

One key reform, looked at closely by the Illinois House this week, is the scrutiny of existing Medicaid patients to see how many of them are legally ineligible for Medicaid.  Existing law assumes that this redetermination will be carried out under contract by the private sector, and DHFS has contracted with Maximus, a service provider with experience at performing database scrutinies and redeterminations of this type. 
State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer this week filed House Resolution 581, legislation which calls on the Governor to live in the Executive Mansion in Springfield.

“We have a very nice executive mansion just blocks from the Capitol,” Davidsmeyer said. “Residents of Central Illinois are rightfully proud of the mansion, and they expect the Governor to maintain his residence there.”

The resolution urges the Governor to maintain residence at the mansion during the entire legislative session so that he may participate first-hand in the workings of the General Assembly as it tries to find solutions to the many budget pressures that have led to all the recent credit downgrades. Recent Governors have been criticized in some quarters for attempting to govern from Chicago while legislators met in Springfield. Read the rest of the story.

Illinois has a long history of Governors taking office under difficult circumstances. Governor John Wood assumed the office when his predecessor died just before the civil war. John Beveridge became Governor in 1873 after just ten days as Lieutenant Governor.  Others have taken office suddenly following deaths, resignations and an impeachment, while still more were elected and inaugurated through the normal process, only to take office amidst war, economic crisis, social unrest or other grim trials. But Governor Frank Lowden (R-Ogle County) falls into the latter category in a big way: facing each one of these challenges during his term as the state’s 25th Chief Executive.
September 15 through October 15 marks the 48th annual national celebration of Hispanic heritage in the United States. Originally a week-long commemoration of the contributions of persons of Hispanic origin, the celebration was extended to a full month in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan in order to, “celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.” The observance coincides with independence days in seven Latin American countries, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile.

Take out your mobile phone. Read aloud the last text message you sent or received. Would reading or responding to that text message from behind the wheel be worth the risk of getting into a car accident -- or worse?  Texting and driving is deadly, take the Pledge today to never text while driving. It Can Wait.

Via Forbes:

Across the U.S., investigators are scrambling to find out how much debt states and municipalities have taken on.  The general answer is: far more debt than has been previously disclosed, often debt beyond legal limits and without required approvals.  The debt is in the trillions.

There are sure to be some epic showdowns between (1) interest groups determined to collect everything politicians promised them and (2) taxpayers determined not to pay for other people’s problems – especially since many of the problems involve other people’s pension and health care benefits plans that are much richer than their own.

The interest groups include institutions holding some $3.5 billion of municipal bonds and labor unions representing most of America’s 19 million state and local government employees.  What can we expect to happen? Forbes contributor Jim Powell provides 7 possible outcomes in  his recent Op/Ed.


·         August numbers show growing State general funds revenues.  Through the first two months of Fiscal Year 2014 (July-August 2013), general funds revenues are up $444 million compared to the same time period in FY13.  “General funds” are the funds replenished by the State’s largest taxes, such as sales and income taxes, which pay for much of the operating expenses of State government.  Budget experts pay close attention to general funds trends because these are the monies that cause pain when they fall short, as with outstanding debts to health care providers that have billed the State.  The new numbers are included in a summary presented to the General Assembly by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA).

Most of this growth is attributed to a $397 million one-time transfer from the Income Tax Refund Fund.  A surplus had built up in the fund, which was transferred by law to the General Revenue Fund.  Sales tax receipts have also performed better than expected, growing by $108 million in the first two months of FY14.  Personal income tax receipts are up by $68 million compared to the same period in FY13.  Continued growth in revenue receipts over the remainder of the fiscal year will be necessary to support spending levels contained in the FY14 budget bills, as these bills (which were signed into law by Gov. Quinn) have appropriated all of the $35.446 billion estimated to be available for the fiscal year. 
The Illinois State Police (ISP) has created new positions to manage the state's new concealed carry law. Below is a list of job openings within the ISP related to concealed carry :

Executive I - Opt F1 (Springfield)
Full-Time  $4,291.00 - $6,452.00 Monthly

Information Systems Analyst II - Opt A (Springfield)
Full-Time $5,657.00 - $8,699.00 Monthly

Methods & Procedures Career Associate I (Springfield)
Full-Time, $3,176.00 - $4,502.00 Monthly

Methods & Procedures Career Associate Trainee (Springfield)
Full-Time, $2,968.00 - $4,140.00 Monthly
            In 1837, an abolitionist publisher named Elijah Lovejoy was murdered by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois. Lovejoy had published his anti-slavery newspaper, the Alton Observer, and a companion paper in St. Louis, since the early 1830s, and his writing had enraged opponents both in Illinois and in Missouri, where slavery remained legal. That fall, Lovejoy was murdered and his printing press dumped into the Mississippi. The mob thought they had silenced the voice of abolitionism in the region, but they were mistaken. Instead, the martyred Elijah Lovejoy and his cause would be replaced by his brother, Rep. Owen Lovejoy (R-Princeton).

Rep. Patti Bellock has long been a champion for those who need state assistance. Unfortunately, over the years, the Medicaid system has gotten weighed down, become too costly and nearly unsustainable. Reform in Illinois of the Medicaid system has been no easy task.

For her entire tenure in the House, Rep. Bellock has led House Republicans through the complicated issue standing up for those in need by fighting to save Medicaid.   In 2012, she succeeded in passing key reforms that would secure Illinois' failing Medicaid system. She is standing up again, demanding and successfully securing a public hearing to discuss recent actions that might halt reforms passed by the General Assembly in the 2012 Saving Medicaid Access and Resources Together (SMART) Act.

That public hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 3 p.m. in the Michael A. Bilandic Building in Chicago - C-600, 6th floor.

David Davis Mansion – Bloomington, IL

This poem was written by Hannah Schoechert in 2001, she was a 7th grade student at the time of its writing.

Those twin towers
Standing tall with pride,
Fell with grieving hearts.
Stunned, America cried.

But we’re still standing.

Bin Laden tried
To crush our land,
But we stood our ground
With our flag in hand.

And we’re still standing.

Red for valor
And the blood that fell.
White for purity
Our heroes tell.
Blue for the justice
That will be done,
Proving once more
These colors don’t run.

And we’re still standing.

Rep. Darlene Senger, Naperville

In a recent column in Reboot Illinois, Rep. Darlene Senger talks about new legislation that would keep convicted criminals from collection taxpayer funded pensions.

Believe it or not, criminals in Illinois can still legally collect taxpayer funded public pensions while behind bars. Currently in Illinois, unless the crime is related to the retiree’s job, public pensions must be paid to criminals.

For example, retired Chicago fire department lieutenant, Eugene Ornstead, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of first degree murder of his wife in 1994. Ornstead’s crime was not tied to his job as a firefighter; therefore, he continues to collect a pension check from the Chicago firefighter’s pension fund.

Despite his life sentence, he still receives a pension check while incarcerated, costing taxpayers more than $55,000 a year. Reboot Illinois has the rest of the story.

Should incarcerated felons receive taxpayer funded pensions? Let us know what you think.
Did you know that the most powerful earthquakes ever to occur in the continental United States took place in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) during the winter of 1811-1812?   At that time, the area of the seismic zone was scarcely populated. Experts estimate that a similar series of earthquakes today would devastate the region, with projected damages of $60 to $80 billion.

The largest earthquake in recent years occurred on the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone. This earthquake registered a magnitude of 5.4 and occurred in Mt. Carmel, Illinois on April 18th, 2008.

The Wabash Valley Zone is located between southeastern Illinois and southwestern Indiana. The NMSZ is located in the Central Mississippi Valley and includes portions of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee. 

Be sure to take a look at IEMA's website about earthquake awareness it provides practical information on what Illinois residents can do before, during, and after an earthquake. 

Week in Review for week of 9/2/13 through 9/6/13


The Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) reports an ease-up in the hard-pressed State of Illinois general funds.  This is the account used to cover many of Illinois’ past-due and delinquent bills and debts, such as payments to medical care providers.  In recent years Illinois has repeatedly owed its creditors billions of dollars, with current debts running more than $8 billion behind cash on hand.   

Do you know what to do to help keep your family safe in an emergency? Would you know what supplies you need in case the power goes out or what documents you should have on hand if you need to evacuate your home? From flooding to tornados, emergency preparedness begins with three simple actions: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed. Take the interactive Be Red Cross Ready online presentation and learn how. Get started now. The information below is from the Red Cross.

On Friday, August 30, the Illinois State Police (ISP) promulgated new emergency rules dealing with the registration of instructional personnel who will play a key role in the implementation of P.A. 98-63 (HB 183), the Firearm Concealed Carry Act.  This new Act (430 ILCS 66) directed the State Police to begin the process of approving training instructors and courses no more than 60 days after the effective date of the enactment of this new Act, and this emergency rulemaking is intended to comply with the deadline.

These emergency rules are temporary in nature.  They must be replaced by permanent ISP rules no later than January 27, 2014.  The permanent ISP rules, which will be in effect in 2014 and following years, must go through a First Notice process for public feedback and comment.  The August 30 Concealed Carry rules did not go through First Notice and have not received formal public comment.

House Republicans believe the public should have the right to comment and provide suggestions to improve these concealed carry instructional rules.  We encourage you to provide feedback on these rules using the following form and we will share your comments with the Illinois State Police.  
Every day, hundreds of legislators, staff and visitors to the state capitol complex pass through the doors of the large, 1950s-style office building just west of the Capitol. Most are familiar with the Stratton Building, but not all know about the building’s namesake, the 32nd Governor of Illinois, William G. Stratton (R-Morris).

Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation freed more than four million slaves, was an effective politician, profound statesman, and a shrewd diplomat. He also had a keen sense of humor. His stories and anecdotes gave rise to his moniker as the "Great Story Telling President." For the next few weeks we will share some of those stories from the *Project Gutenberg's Lincoln's Yarns and Stories, by Alexander K. McClure. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Mr. T. W. S. Kidd, of Springfield, says that he once heard a lawyer opposed to Lincoln trying to convince a jury that precedent was superior to law, and that custom made things legal in all cases.

When Lincoln arose to answer him he told the jury he would argue his case in the same way.

"Old 'Squire Bagly, from Menard, came into my office and said, 'Lincoln, I want your advice as a lawyer. Has a man what's been elected justice of the peace a right to issue a marriage license?'

I told him he had not; when the old 'squire threw himself back in his chair very indignantly, and said, 'Lincoln, I thought you was a lawyer.

Now Bob Thomas and me had a bet on this thing, and we agreed to let you decide; but if this is your opinion I don't want it, for I know a thunderin' sight better, for I have been 'squire now for eight years and have done it all the time.'"

This year, Illinois joined three other states in establishing a diabetes awareness license plate, a plate which would set aside $25 for the Diabetes Research Check Off Fund.

With the legislation creating the new plate now signed into law, Representatives Tom Cross (R-Oswego), Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) are encouraging Illinoisans to sign up for the new plates.

In order for the plates to to enter production, 1500 must be requested. The Legislative Diabetes Caucus has set November 14, Diabetes Awareness Day, as its goal for reaching that mark.

More information from the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus, including the registration procedure, is available here.
House Republicans
·         Rep. Jim Durkin named new House Republican Leader. House Republicans are proud to announce the unanimous election of State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-82nd District) as the new Leader of the House Republican Caucus. Durkin served in the House from 1995-2003, and rejoined the chamber in 2006. Prior to his service in the General Assembly, Durkin was an Assistant State’s Attorney in Cook County, and an Assistant Attorney General. He served as the Republican spokesman on the special House committee which investigated and ultimately impeached former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Durkin is currently an Assistant Republican Leader in the House, and serves on five House committees: Accountability and Administrative Review, Financial Institutions, Housing, Judiciary and Transportation Regulation—Roads and Bridges. Durkin, 52, and his wife Celeste live in Western Springs. He is a graduate of Illinois State University and John Marshall Law School.

Budget & Legislation
·         FY 2014 budget analysis released by COGFA. The Committee on Government Forecasting and Accountability has released its roundup of the FY 2014 state budget. The entire document can be accessed here.

·         All legislation sent to the Governor has been acted upon. Governor Quinn on Tuesday completed action on all legislation which passed both houses and reached his desk this spring. In total, the Governor signed 355 house bills, 234 senate bills, and vetoed five bills, three of which were duplicates of other legislation. There was also one amendatory veto and one reduction veto.