Most private insurers do not write flood insurance policies and so flood damage is not included in typical homeowners' policies. Instead private insurers work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to administer the National Flood Insurance Program.

Flood insurance is required for residents and business owners who live or work in a Special Flood Hazard Area, if they have a loan from a federally regulated mortgage lender.  Those who live outside a Special Flood Hazard Area may, but are not required to, purchase flood insurance.  Individuals should contact the National Flood Insurance Program to determine if their location is in flood hazard area and to find a local agent.
Rep. Kay Hatcher
The House will begin hearing Senate bills this week. Follow all the floor action right here today starting at noon. And, throughout the week.
We continue to provide regular updates on flooding related issues.

IEMA Update:
Rivers recede across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan
- Numerous Flood Warnings remain in effect
- Local and joint damage assessments are ongoing
- Less than 1¾ inches of total precipitation is expected over the next five days
- No impact to current river conditions

4:30 IEMA Update:

No critical situations or new unmet needs arose overnight, and no new requests for State assistance have been received. One existing State assistance mission (cleanup) has been extended for three days.

Water levels are dropping in all areas of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, and on the Wabash from Mt. Carmel north.

Maintenance of flood protective measures continues along the middle section of the Mississippi River and the southern half of the Illinois River. The State continues to support local operations as required.

Flooding is ongoing along the Wabash River in Lawrence, Crawford, and Clark Counties. IEMA personnel are deployed to work with local officials there and facilitate assistance requests; all currently identified needs have been addressed.

With tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in new revenue at stake, a group of House Republicans today called for a House vote on a bi-partisan fracking agreement currently stuck in the Rules Committee.

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly referred to as fracking, is the extraction of natural gas and oil from the earth through horizontal drilling. The extraction technique involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into rock to release the natural gas.

More than a year of negotiations involving both energy and environmental organizations resulted in a bi-partisan agreement that permits high volume fracking while enforcing some of the nation’s strictest water and air protections. House Bill 2615 establishes the permit process, property owner notification, defines prevention standards and public input timelines. With widespread agreement and more than 50 bi-partisan House sponsors, Republican Representatives today called for the measure to be released from the Rules Committee for prompt consideration by the full House.
House Republicans are holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m. on Fracking in Illinois. Follow it live here:

Reboot Illinois is conducting a series of conversations with Illinois freshman lawmakers. Here is an excerpt from their interview with Rep. David McSweeney earlier this month:

If you were to pass one bill, no politics involved, what would it be?
It would have to be pensions....We made some good progress in the House with the three measures that we passed. Limiting the cost of living adjustments, raising the retirement age and putting in place a salary cap for pensions. There’s nowhere to start unless we do pension reform because that obviously has a big effect on the budget. I certainly do not want to extend -- in fact I want to repeal -- the tax increase that I think has been a disaster in this state but ... Illinois has been insolvent since 2008 with $9 billion of unpaid bills with the type of pension liabilities we’re facing. So if I could pass one bill it would be pension reform.

Like you said, they’ve already passed three measures and more are being worked on. What are some of the things you’d like to see moving forward as part of the pension reform?
I think the central component is that we address the cost of living adjustments. So I support the measure, in fact I wrote about in a piece with Reboot, as you know, a couple weeks ago, I support limiting cost of living adjustments in the future. Specifically that  they apply to only the first $25,000 of income. So I’m very supportive of that measure. I’m supportive of raising the retirement age of the people that have worked and also putting in place a pensionable salary cap. Those are three good places to start. I think one thing that we have not done yet that we need to do is increase the employee contributions by two percentage points. I just think that will be part of a better overall program. Read more of Reboot's interview with Rep. David McSweeney.

Other links to Rep. David McSweeney's legislative initiatives: 
Eliminating position of Lt. Governor
Opposing graduated income tax
Rep. Halbrook pics from Lawrence Co
Flooding continues to impact Illinois residents, businesses and farmers in a big way.

We will keep you posted with updates from IEMA and the Governor's office as we receive them.

Some resources for the cleanup and recovery:

Find your local American Red Cross chapter:

Ready Illinois:

Find your local Salvation Army:

Get the latest road closing information from IDOT:

The latest river stages in Illinois from the National Weather Service: 
Lawrence County IL
Rep. Dwight Kay on Worker Comp

On Wednesday, April 17 the House State Government Administration Committee held a subject matter hearing on the privatization of the taxpayer funded Illinois workers’ compensation system.  The privatization of the workers’ compensation system is a result of the fraud and abuse of the workers’ compensation system previously administered by the Department of Central Management Services (CMS).

Participating in Wednesday’s hearing for the House Republicans was Representative Dwight Kay (Glen Carbon).  Rep. Kay serves as the point man on workers’ compensation reform for Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross and currently serves on the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board.

In 2011, an audit sponsored by Rep. Kay, requested an investigation into the state’s workers’ compensation system after reports of abuse at Menard Correctional Center came to light.  Over a four year period, Illinois paid out $295 million in workers compensation claims.  Of that $295 million, almost $96 million, or one-third, was for claims filed by Corrections employees.  And of that $96 million, over $30 million were from claims from Menard employees.

As a result of Rep. Kay’s audit, the Illinois legislature approved the privatization of the taxpayer funded workers’ compensation system.  Offering testimony in committee was both CMS and TRISTAR risk management.  TRISTAR will serve as the first third party administrator of the state workers’ compensation system and was awarded a five year contract to administer the State’s workers’ compensation system.  The contract will include workplace safety training, and place the current
19,000 claims in electronic format in order to improve administering the workers’ compensation system.  Effective July 1, 2013, TRISTAR will be administering all workers’ compensation claims made by state employees.

More info on Rep. Kay's efforts to reform workers' comp in Illinois:

We continue our coverage of Illinois flooding right here. Please check back often for regular updates.

We also encourage you to check the following sites for additional flood related information:

Previous Flood Watch Updates
Flood Resources
Ready Illinois

More updates:
GOP lawmakers unveil measures to transform welfare in IL
Illinois House Republican lawmakers took steps today that will preserve important benefits for those who need them and eliminate waste and abuse in the state's welfare system.

“The reason we are all here is to make sure that those who need these vital services, receive these vital services,” remarked Rep. Barb Wheeler who joined House Republican Leader Tom Cross and fellow lawmakers Bill Mitchell,  Adam Brown, Dan Brady and  Pam Roth today at press conference to unveil a package of legislation designed to reduce fraud and misuse of the state’s welfare system and shore up the safety-net for individuals and families during difficult times.

The welfare reform package focuses on reducing the fraudulent use of LINK cards (food stamps), the misuse of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (cash) benefits, and preventing criminals from receiving welfare benefits. The goal of the legislation is to save taxpayer dollars and preserve benefits for those most in need.

Here are highlights of the introduced legislation:
  • House Bill 2784 guarantees that cash assistance benefits are used for the basic needs for which they are intended. TANF benefits are intended to provide financial assistance to help pay for basic needs such as food, shelter, utilities, and other necessary expenses, however under current law a person is free to spend this cash however they feel. The legislation would prevent TANF benefits from being used to purchase alcohol, lottery tickets, firearms, and other specified goods and services.

  • House Bill 3174 and House Bill 2490 would prevent criminals from receiving aid. These bills would suspend public aid and benefits to inmates at State correctional facilities and recipients with outstanding warrants.

  • House Bill 133 ensures that a person using a LINK card is the authorized user. The proposal would require all LINK cards to display a photo of the cardholder to ensure that the person presenting it at the checkout counter is the same person who is entitled to use it. The names of all secondary users will also be placed on the card. Secondary users will be required to show a valid photo id before they can use the card.

These measures will protect against those who are scamming Illinois taxpayers and help secure the viability of programs currently used by one third of Illinois residents. While this intitiative will go a long way in transforming Illinois' welfare system, Illinois has to work harder to keep and attract good paying jobs so we can reduce the need for welfare benefits and makes lives better for Illinois families.

Recent flooding continues to widely impact communities in the state.

Info from IEMA, Illinois State Police and the Governor's office in a separate post. 

- Red Cross Hotline 1-800 Red-Cross
River Watch - Water Observation
- Local EMA & Red Cross Contacts
- Ready Illinois

Flooding Assistance Process 
Be sure to document the damage caused by flooding and take the following steps:
  1. Contact your homeowner's insurance to determine what if any flood damage is covered.
  2. Contact the local emergency management agency for your community, typically that agency is within county government. Here is a link to some of the local agencies:
  3. Contact Red Cross for flood clean up kits. Here is a list of Red Cross sites:

Governor Quinn has declared a disaster exists within the State of Illinois .

Update by IEMA - Monday, April 22 @ 4:30 p.m.

Widespread flood fighting efforts are ongoing along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers; low-lying areas in several locations on these are currently being threatened. Residential areas, agricultural land, and key infrastructure such as water and wastewater treatment plants are currently at risk, and the State is supporting sandbagging and pumping operations as required.

Some flood fighting efforts continue along the Fox, Des Plaines, Rock and Spoon Rivers; recovery operations are also beginning in these areas. Response activities along creeks and streams impacted by flash flooding earlier in the week have concluded and recovery is ongoing in these areas.  Widespread rain is forecast for the next two days increasing chance of river rise and additional flooding.

Rep. David Harris (Mt. Prospect)

Today is the deadline for passing bills out of the House over to the Senate. Lots of bills, moving quickly through the process. We'll be covering it live today, here:

Rep. Sandra Pihos (Glen Ellyn)

Members are expecting a long day on the House Floor today. They'll be racing to get bills passed before Friday's deadline. Don't miss a beat, join us back here at noon for live highlights.

In the meantime, check out our website for more about our members' legislative initiatives.

Please follow us on Twitter , like us on Facebook and let us know about the issues you care about.

In 2011, the largest tax hike in state history passed with all Democratic votes and was sold as a temporary remedy for our disastrous budget problems.

The tax increase hiked rates for individuals by 67% and businesses by 30%.  While Illinois taxpayers saw their paychecks shrink, state government saw its revenue grow to record amounts.  But was this record influx of new revenue the answer to our ever growing deficit and debt?  Of course not, because it failed to address the root causes of fiscal mismanagement that has plagued our state for more than a decade. Read the rest of Rep. Sandack's Column in Reboot Illinois.

Rep. Ron Sandack represents the 81st district, serving Bolingbrook, Downers Grove, Darien, Lisle, Naperville, Westmont, and Woodridge.
Three days until deadline to pass bills out of the House to the Senate. Check back here at 10:30 AM today for Live coverage of House session.

If there are bills you are tracking and they've passed in the House they are now headed to Senate Executive Committee. Senate sponsors will "pick-up" bills and most will be be assigned to standing committees.

Like the House Rules Committee, the Senate Executive Committee can decide not to assign bills to a standing committee, in that case the bill is effectively dead.

To follow a bill's status go to the Illinois General Assembly website and find the box under "By Number" (in the left column of the page) enter the bill number of the legislation you are following and click the "Go" button.

Today, legislation that is part of transparency initiatives introduced earlier this year by Leader Tom Cross and Rep. Ron Sandack passed in the Illinois House of Representatives. House Bill 1555 will expand the current Illinois Transparency Portal (ITAP) to include all taxing bodies not just state organizations.

"Too much spending and too much borrowing are leading to higher property taxes for homeowners and are driving up the cost of doing business in Illinois", according to Sandack. "The taxpayers deserve to know what financial promises are being made in their names – especially if they are on the hook to pay for them."

Follow today's floor debate of the Illinois House Republicans here starting at 10 a.m.

Legislation will be moving fast as we approach Friday's deadline for passing House bills over to the Senate. We'll provide you with the highlights and description of the action.

Keep up-to-date in between sessions on Facebook.
This is the last week to pass House bills over to the Senate, we're expecting long days on the House floor. You can follow important bills as they are being debated, right here. Check back at 2 pm for live coverage of today's session.
Session begins at 9 a.m. today. Follow live blog coverage here.

State Representative David McSweeney passed HJRCA18 a measure that would eliminate the job of Lieutenant Governor in the state of Illinois.

Rep. McSweeney garnered bipartisan support by citing that the measure will save the State money and eliminate redundancies. It will have a positive fiscal impact on the state’s budget as it would eliminate the salary and operating costs of the Office of the Lt. Governor. For fiscal year 2013, the Lieutenant Governor's salary was $135,900 and total office appropriations were approximately $2 million.

The Attorney General would be next in line to assume the duties of Governor if necessary.

If the constitutional amendment passes in the Senate it will be placed on the 2014 ballot for voters to approve.
On March 12 of this year House Republican members introduced the "Protect our Children" initiative, a package of legislation designed to keep children and families safe from gang and gun violence.

Yesterday, Illinois State Representative Jim Durkin passed out of the House of Representatives, HB3009 a piece of legislation from that package. His legislation increases the criminal penalties for gang recruitment and changes the current requirements for proving coercion and physical force, making it easier to convict gang recruiters.

“In order to address the root of the problem and deter gang recruitment, we must be able to prosecute those who are poisoning our streets and killing innocent kids,” said Durkin. “A zero tolerance attitude on gang violence must be in place and this bill is a step forward.”

 The bill now moves to the Senate for further debate.
According to the House Bulletin, members are being called in alphabetical order to present their bills this week.

Friday, April 19 is the 3rd Reading deadline and only House Bills passed out of the House by this date will be addressed by the Senate. With a little over a week to deadline, "floor action" will likely be stepped-up today. Follow the action right here starting at 10 a.m. today.

This is a busy week for floor action in the Illinois General Assembly.

Don't miss the debate on important pieces of legislation, check back here at 10 a.m. for live coverage of today's session of the Illinois House of Representatives.

State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer passed legislation today that eases the hunting license application process for military veterans. 

Over the next two weeks the Illinois House of Representatives will hear and debate hundreds of pieces of legislation that were introduced earlier this year. Bills that pass out of the House will head over to the Senate to be assigned to committee and ultimately be heard in the Senate chambers.

We will be covering the House sessions here, bringing you live coverage of the debate on bills you care about most.

Join us at 10 a.m. today for live blog coverage of the Illinois House of Representatives: