Motorists who attempt to cross railroad tracks while the gate is down or lights are flashing will see fines doubled under legislation signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) and in the House by State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake), SB 2806 seeks to deter those who ignore the signals and cross tracks while oncoming trains approach. “Illinois ranked second in the nation last year with regard to rail crossing fatalities, and it is my hope that these new, steeper fines will make motorists think twice before making the foolish decision to cross railroad tracks when it is unsafe to do so,” said McConnaughay. “It was a pleasure to work with Metra on this life-saving legislation.”
Drugs – cannabis possession
Governor Rauner consults with Illinois State Police on cannabis possession bill. A measure passed by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly this spring will, if signed into law, reduce criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Current law (the Cannabis Control Act) sets up a complex table of penalties for simple possession of cannabis. Under the law, simple possession of less than 10 grams of pot (less than 0.4 oz.) cannot be charged higher than a Class B misdemeanor. Under the law, a judge may sentence someone convicted of a Class B misdemeanor to up to six months in county jail.
Governor Rauner signed legislation this afternoon sponsored by Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) to modernize the organization of Adult Education under Area Planning Councils, an effort that brings Illinois into compliance with the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).

“This legislation enhances the delivery of adult education programs across the state and reduces the duplication of instructional services by aligning programs more closely with the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act,” said Dr. Karen Hunter Anderson, executive director of the Illinois Community College Board, following the House passage of Rep. Hammond’s legislation in April. Read more.

Budget – FY17
Budget experts warn of continued Illinois deficits. Although Illinois’ lawmakers enacted a stopgap budget in late June to cover the first six months of FY17, budget analysts warn that this move was not equivalent to a constitutional balanced budget for the entire year. In fact, the act of “spreadsheeting out” the money being spent, and comparing it to honest projections of the money coming in, reveals that Illinois’ expected spending will outweigh expected FY17 revenues by $7.8 billion. The Reuters news service believes this is the largest single deficit by a state in U.S. history. Expected spending totals $39.5 billion and expected revenues total $31.8 billion.

Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 466, sponsored by State Rep. Michael McAuliffe and State Sen. John Mulroe to require insurance plans in Illinois, including Medicaid, to cover breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography. The signing took place today at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.

“This bipartisan legislation signifies the commitment of the General Assembly to the fight against breast cancer and protecting women's health,” said Rep. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago), chief sponsor of the legislation. “The best way to fight cancer is with early detection; I'm proud we're taking this step that will expand women's access to this important diagnostic tool.” Read more.
Governor Bruce Rauner today signed House Bill 6083 and House Bill 4715, the bills known as Molly’s Law.  These bills strengthen Illinois’ Freedom of Information Act and extend the period of time in which a victim’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit where the act is intentional and violent in nature.

“Today is an important day for Illinois families seeking justice,” Gov. Rauner said. “This bill provides families a longer timeframe to bring wrongful death actions against perpetrators of intentional violent crimes and gives families access to the necessary public information to find closure in a loved one’s death.”

The heat index is expected to soar this week and so will the need for places to keep cool.

As part of his Keep Cool Illinois campaign, Governor Rauner has made over 120 state facilities available as cooling centers. The cooling centers will provide Illinoisans a place to stay cool and comfortable during hot summer days.

In 1995, 739 people died in Chicago during the deadliest stretch of heat ever recorded. Please share this information with those who do not have air conditioning and need a place to stay cool.

Cooling Centers
Find a cooling center near you:

Additionally, Tollway Oasis locations are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and Department of Human Services cooling centers are open during normal business hours from 8:30AM - 5:00PM, Monday through Friday.

Governor Bruce Rauner today signed Senate Bill 210 which creates the Bath Salts Prohibition Act to help curb the growing number of people selling and consuming synthetic cathinones, popularly known as “bath salts”.

“Bath salts have been on the rise here in Illinois and are being sold under the disguise of normal products,” said Governor Rauner. “This bill will help counteract the growing number of synthetic cathinones producers and help our communities, especially those in rural Illinois, combat this epidemic.”
Health care – Land of Lincoln
Key provider of Obamacare health insurance must liquidate. Land of Lincoln Health, a health care insurance co-operative set up under the terms of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), has defaulted on its payments. The State of Illinois initiated steps on Tuesday, July 12 to wind up the operations of the failing firm and shut it down. 49,000 Illinois residents had purchased mandatory health care insurance through Land of Lincoln, which sold its policies to the individual, individual family, and self-employment markets. They will have to find emergency new coverage before the close of calendar year 2016.
In response to the failure of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino to answer questions amidst the ongoing federal and state investigations into his campaign spending irregularities while a member of the Illinois General Assembly, State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) announced the filing today of House Joint Resolution 158 aimed at removing Mautino from office, a measure with over 20 co-sponsors.

“Auditor General Mautino is not able to perform his duties with the trust and confidence that Illinoisans deserve,” Rep. Kay said.  “The Auditor General’s Office is a position where transparency is at the very heart of the job itself.  Illinoisans deserve a clean government and Auditor General Mautino, by his refusal to respond to public questions surrounding his ethical conduct, has demonstrated that he is unfit to remain in office.” Read more.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin today announced his appointments to the newly formed Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. The commission will be composed of five designees from the Governor’s administration and each of the four legislative leaders. Secretary of Education Beth Purvis will serve as chairperson.  

“The current school aid formula is archaic and needs to be reformed. I applaud Governor Rauner for forming this commission in an effort to bring all sides to the table to find a solution that is fair to both schools and taxpayers across Illinois,” said Durkin. “Each of my appointees to this bi-partisan, bi-cameral commission has taken a strong interest in reforming education funding, and each will bring a different regional perspective to the discussion.”  

House Republican appointees are:

The Commission is charged with coming up with a recommended comprehensive solution to reform Illinois’ school funding formula. A report is to be presented to the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly by February 1, 2017 with action to be taken in time for the 2017-2018 school year.

Rep. David Welter 
“I would like to welcome David Welter of Morris as the newest member of the Illinois House Republican Caucus and State Representative of the 75th District. David is a committed public servant as he currently serves as the Chairman of the Grundy County Board.

David is joining the Illinois General Assembly during very difficult times. He understands that the future of our state is at stake. I am confident that he is prepared to serve his constituents and to do the heavy lifting required to get Illinois back on track. I look forward to working with him,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.

"Illinois must find a balanced approach to foster a
better climate for families and businesses." ~Rep. Sosnowski
The Illinois General Assembly passed a temporary budget last week. The budget funds K-12 education for an entire year and provides funds for higher education institutions, state departments including correction, healthcare accommodations and capital projects to keep operations ongoing until the beginning of 2017 or until a more permanent solution is found.

A permanent solution will have to reverse a course Illinois has been on for a long time. Decades of mismanagement have sent this state in a tailspin and it’s up to us to correct our course. Our generation can lead the state back to prosperity. Read the rest of Rep. Sosnowski's column in the Rockford Register Star.

On Friday, State Representative Bob Pritchard’s (R-Hinckley) boat racing certification reform bill, House Bill 4369, was signed Governor Rauner. The bill no longer requires temporary participants in a sanctioned and insured boat race in Illinois to have a valid Boating Safety Certificate of Competence issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Currently, temporary out-of-state boat racers between the ages of 12 to 18 are required to complete an eight hour course and pass an exam before racing on state sanctioned and insured events in Illinois. Since out-of-state racers have already completed similar training in their own states; the current certification requirement in Illinois is redundant and deters out-of-state competition. Read more here.

Budget – Stopgap Budget Bill Signed
Money begins to flow after Gov. Rauner signs stopgap budget bill. SB 2047 was signed on Thursday, June 30. Money began to flow on the first day of the new FY17 (Friday, July 1), and continued during the first full week of July. Emergency spending authorizations were concentrated on some of the key areas of state spending and operations that had been deprived of funding in FY16.
Budget – stopgap budget deal enacted
New FY17 spending bills will enable full K-12 school operations for entire school year. By contrast, however, many other State operations will only be funded through December 2016. The “stopgap” bills do not balance the budget and do not solve Illinois’ fiscal woes. The State’s leaders believe that the current Springfield policy gap has achieved dimensions great enough that only the voters of Illinois, in the November election, can choose which path the State should follow. One of the key bills was the measure that actually appropriated money for FY16 and FY17; it was SB 2047, which was passed by the House and Senate on Thursday, June 30. Some elements of the package appropriated money so that it could be legally used to match spending/spending commitments made in FY16, which ended on Thursday. Other bills in the package contained “substantive” legislation, effective starting on Friday, intended to implement the FY17 portion of the package and match State law to appropriated spending.