Check back here at noon for live blog coverage of expected House Floor debate on pensions during today's session.

Yesterday, House Republican Leader Tom Cross along with Democrat State Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) introduce comprehensive pension reform legislation yesterday that will save hardworking taxpayers $30 billion and the pension system for hardworking government workers.

Coverage from around the state:
The video from the press event is here below and on our YouTube Channel, you can check out some photos from the press conference here on our Facebook page, and to read the full details of the proposal, you can visit Tom Cross' governmental site.  

Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross and Rep. Elaine Nekritz introduced House Bill 3411, a comprehensive pension reform plan that will save the hardworking taxpayers $30 billion and the pension system for hardworking government workers. You can see the bill here.

From the live blog today:

Speaker Michael Madigan announced his intention to introduce and debate 27 different gun amendments (all on one bill) on the Floor of the Illinois House of Representatives today. The amendments have not been heard in committee and will be introduced for the first time today.

We will live blog the process and debate here, starting at 12:00 p.m. today

Illinois State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) and Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) along with their Republican colleagues and members of the business community revealed a pro-growth jobs package today at the Illinois Capitol.

The pro-growth jobs package is aimed at making Illinois job creators more competitive with Illinois’ border states. The package includes reducing start-up costs for small businesses, eliminating job-killing policies, speeding up the approval of state permits and licenses, rolling back taxes, making research and development tax credits permanent, implementing workers’ compensation reform, and restoring fairness to Illinois’ court system.

“The pro-growth jobs package is necessary at a time when many people are looking for work,” said Rep. Kay. “Job creators are looking for a place to stay, expand, and grow. We have an educated workforce ready to go to work. Illinois is home to one of the best infrastructures and we are the financial capital of the Midwest. Putting people back to work will provide opportunity and grow our economy. Jobs equal revenue and Illinois desperately needs more revenue without raising taxes.”

According the U.S. Department of Labor, Illinois’ unemployment rate as of December 2012 was 8.7%. Illinois has the seventh highest unemployment rate in the nation. Since 2008, Illinois has lost the third most jobs in the country.

“We need to be laser-focused on creating an environment in Illinois where residents can find good jobs,” said Leader Cross. “For years, we have been fighting for legislation that will improve our economy and we must make it a priority.”

Illinois was also ranked the third worst state to do business in by Chief Executive Magazine and has the 11th highest tax burden on citizens in the nation. Furthermore, Illinois is losing more jobs and opportunity due to excessive taxation and archaic regulation.

The House Republican pro-growth jobs package includes the following:

• Reduce the cost of starting a small business by reducing the cost of setting up an LLC by 50%. (HB 2230)

• Eliminate job-killing administrative policies by creating a panel that would bundle together old, obsolete rules and submit them to the General Assembly for abolition by up-or-down vote. ( HB 2892)

• Speed up the approval of permits and licenses for professionals or job creating enterprise to be answered within 60 days. (At LRB)

• Make Research and Development (R&D) tax credits permanent; add biodiesel and ethanol research as qualified R&D activities. (HB 2891)

• Enact stronger workers’ compensation reform which establishes a standard (making the workplace primary cause) for determining whether or not an injury occurred at the workplace, making the system more fair for the injured employee and employer. (HB 107)

• Restore fairness to Illinois courts by keeping out of state lawsuits with no connection to Illinois employers from being filed (HB 138), including curbing the practice of double-dipping (plaintiffs being compensated multiple times from the same defendant, for the same claim/lawsuit, HB 153).

• Rollback taxes, rolling back the corporate income tax will promote economic growth. (HB 2890)

“The NFIB applauds the House Republicans for pursing a pro-business package of bills that will help alleviate the cost of doing business in Illinois,” said Kim Clarke Maisch, NFIB/IL State Director. “Small business owners have not recovered from the recession and continue to struggle to keep their doors open. These bills are introduced at an important time as some in Springfield pursue a job-killing minimum wage hike. Small business owners need public policies that help them be successful, not hurt them.”

“I applaud Rep. Kay’s hard work and dedication in trying to bring some common-sense lawsuit reforms to Illinois,” said Travis Akin, executive director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch. “Illinois is the fifth-worst state in the country for legal fairness. What we need in Illinois is more jobs – not more lawsuits.”

“This pro-growth jobs package will create and attract jobs,” said Rep. Kay. “The state needs to create and attract jobs. It is necessary to see growth at three to four percent annually and this pro-growth jobs package will get the job done. This will not happen until the state meets its obligations by improving the tax and regulatory climate in order for business to prosper.”

 Read the entire package here:
This week, we're fortunate to have State Representative Jim Durkin guest-hosting 'In the Know Illinois'.   He'll be helping man the post every morning to sort through the news of the day and curate the most important news items for everyone to read before their morning meetings.

He's also the Assistant Minority Leader who sits on an accountability committee among others.  You can see his full contact info and committee assignments here on the General Assembly site.

Follow along with Representative Jim Durkin on his Facebook page to see what's going on in Springfield.  He does a good job posting photos from committee meetings.

If you haven't already, You can sign up and subscribe to 'In the Know' via email, twitter, or good-ole-fashioned RSS. You'll be up-to-speed on everything you need to know in the morning and you'll be ready for your morning meetings because we don the reading and skimming, so you don't have to!
Live coverage of press conference unveiling Republican plan to grow jobs in Illinois begins at 2:00PM today, right here.

House and Senate Republicans sent a letter to Governor Pat Quinn and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate this week asking for an update on many spending issues impacting the Fiscal Year 2013 State Budget.

Tune in at 11:45 today to a live-blog of press conference announcing an agreement on Fracking in Illinois:
The employees of Illinois’ election authorities will be spending the Easter holiday with their families instead of their co-workers if legislation filed by Rep. Renee Kosel (R-New Lenox) and House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R- Oswego) continues to advance. 
House Bill 1560 would specifically exempt election authorities from staying open for early voting on the Easter holidays, while providing additional voting hours during the last week of early voting. It would also require notice be given to the State Board of Elections of any closure and public notice for the subsequent extended hours. 
The bill passed unanimously out of the Executive Committee Wednesday. 
Nancy Schultz Voots, Will County Clerk, supports this measure. 
“Generally on holiday weekends, we have not seen good voter turnout. We think this is an excellent idea that will boost voter turnout during the week with extended hours,” said Voots. “As soon as this bill would pass we would immediately prepare a voters’ guide to make sure everyone is aware of the early voting hours.” 
“There is no reason for these offices to be open on Easter,” Cross stated. “The law was originally drafted with the intent to afford for closures during major holidays. The timing of Easter this year was an anomaly that wasn’t foreseen, but should be accommodated for.”

House Committee on Judiciary is meeting now for a subject matter hearing on expanding gun safety laws and unlawful use of weapon. Watch it live here:

Witnesses are providing testimony on the expansion of gun laws.

Last week, House Republican Leader Tom Cross and State Representative Ron Sandack unveiled a comprehensive package of bills that aim to make state and local government more accountable to taxpayers.  We covered it here on the blog.

In this video, watch Leader Cross and Representative Sandack walk through their proposal.
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Representative Mike Fortner
Special thanks to State Representative Mike Fortner for "guest hosting" this week's version of 'In the Know Illinois'.

You can keep up with Mike Fortner via his caucus site here and check out his district using his district map.  He's based in West Chicago and represents the 49th District.

If you haven't already, You can sign up and subscribe to 'In the Know' via email, twitter, or good-ole-fashioned RSS.  You'll be up-to-speed on everything you need to know in the morning and you'll be ready for your morning meetings because we don the reading and skimming, so you don't have to!

What might have you missed last week at the Statehouse in Springfield?  Check out the Week in Review to get up to speed.

Highlights include:

  • Leader Tom Cross and Representative Ron Sandack push for greater transparency
  • Tom Demmer (R-Rochelle) introduces package of bills to crack down on local government embezzlement
  • Questions asked about controversial Chicago red-light program.
  • Senate passes Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. 
  • Sheila Simon announces plans to step away from lieutenant governorship. 
  • And even more....
Check it out here.
Earlier today, State Representatives Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) and Tom Cross (R-Oswego) unveiled a three-point set of new transparency initiatives today to make state and local government more accountable to taxpayers.
"The goal is to provide every property taxpayer with an annual itemized breakdown of the spending outlays they are billed for to support units of local government; including school districts, municipalities, library and park districts, community colleges and more."
Get your mornings off to a great start each day by subscribing to "In the Know Illinois"?  Dazzle those around you with your knowledge about what's in the news, important birthdays, and fun history facts. 

You can sign up via email, twitter, or good-ole-fashioned RSS.

This week, one of the youngest members of 98th General Assembly, State Representative Tom Demmer is hosting the content. 

You can keep up with Representative Tom Demmer on Facebook or Twitter or by visiting his government site at
Tune in below to participate in a live-blog of Governor Quinn's 'State of the State' address here on from the Illinois House Republicans.


House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) speaks against House Bill 190 ($2 billion in new spending) on the House floor. Leader Cross released the following statement immediately following the passage of the bill by the House Dems.


“Democrats jammed through a $2 billion spending bill today at a time when our focus must be on forcing the state to live within its means, prioritizing the limited resources we have available to spend, and reforming our government. While the bill includes some items that have merit, Democrats unfortunately bogged it down with millions in unnecessary and irresponsible spending. Today’s action is just another example of how the Democrat majority in Springfield has spent us into the fiscal mess we are trying to clean up.”
Tomorrow at Noon, Governor Quinn will give his 2013 'State of the State' address at the State Capitol in Springfield.  We're looking forward to hearing what the Governor includes in his address, but are mindful of the issues we're focused on as a Caucus and ways we can make Illinois great again.

Read Leader Tom Cross' statement on the 2013 'State of the State' address here.

We'll be live-blogging the 'State of the State' address right here on  Tune back in tomorrow to stay on top of any developments from the address and response from members of the Illinois House Republican Caucus.

As for the speech specifically, here's what we need to hear the Governor address:
  • How we can grow the economy
  • How we can protect hardworking taxpayers
  • How we can safeguard services for most vulnerable
Newly sworn-in Freshman Representative Jeanne Ives (R – District 42) announced this week that she's opening her new district office in Wheaton. She's taken a unique approach that will likely lead to a very high level of constituent service. She's teaming up with her State Senator - Michael Connelly (R-District 21) - to share space in Wheaton.
“I look forward to meeting as many of my constituents as possible in person,” said Ives. “I am humbled by and grateful for their belief in my ability to advocate for them in the General Assembly. As I step into my first term, I want those I represent to know that from the beginning, my promise has been to advocate for them – the tax-payers, families, businesses and organizations I represent – at every decision point. Now that the doors to our district office are open, I welcome my constituents’ participation in the legislative process. They know where I stand on the issues affecting our state, and I look forward to hearing their opinions and addressing their concerns.“
The office is located at 725 S. Naperville Rd., Suite 200, in Wheaton, Illinois. A map is below.

View Larger Map

Head over to the Caucus site to check out the "Week in Review" for a run down of all the action that occurred this week in and around the Statehouse.

From ratings downgrades, to how the House Republicans are helping consumers, to closing the "lame duck loophole", to developments in higher education including a look at the UI Labs project, check out this week's "Week in Review".