In advance of the Jan. 5 statutory deadline, Illinois State Police (ISP) officials today provided an update on the Concealed Carry License (CCL) program and previewed the CCL application process for the public.

ISP officials were also joined by Vermilion County Sheriff Patrick Hartshorn, President of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police President John Kennedy, House Deputy Majority Leader Frank Mautino, and ISP staff members.  Central Management Services also provided a step by step power point presentation on how to navigate the portal and obtain a Digital ID.

Since early July, the ISP has been providing the public with regular updates on the CCL process including FAQs, firearms instructor training requirements, firearms instructor databases, approved curricula, signage requirements, training, and the ability to apply for a Digital ID and submit electronic fingerprints.  A new CCL unit has been created and is currently operating out of the ISP central headquarters building in Springfield.

“Today’s preview of the CCL application should provide the public with a glimpse into the application process a week before the application is posted on line,” said ISP Colonel Marc Maton, who has been overseeing the project.  “We have built a system from the ground up and our dedicated team has met every deadline and milestone under the statutory requirements,” Maton stressed.

Officials also used the opportunity to remind the public about the new Gun Safety and Responsibility Act (HB1189).  Governor Pat Quinn signed the law to improve gun safety and to strengthen the Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) program.

The Gun Safety and Responsibility Act is a law which requires citizens engaged in the sale of a firearm to contact the Illinois State Police for verification the purchaser's FOID card number.  The law also requires the reporting of lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.

Effective Jan. 1, all private firearm transactions in Illinois must be approved by the Illinois State Police.  Any non-federally licensed firearm dealer who desires to transfer or sell a firearm will be required to contact the Illinois State Police and provide the purchaser’s Firearm Owners Identification Card number.  The Illinois State Police will determine the validity of the FOID Card and Issue an approval number which will be valid for 30 days from the date of issue.  The seller is permitted to transfer the firearm to the purchaser after obtaining the approval number and waiting 24 hours for a rifle/shotgun or 72 hours for a pistol.

A private firearm transaction approval number can be requested 24/7 from the Illinois State Police preferably through the ISP website at, or by calling 217 524-3847 during normal business hours.

The Department’s Concealed Carry website address can be accessed at  The ISP will continue to regularly update its Concealed Carry FAQ’s on the website with information regarding the Illinois Concealed Carry program.

In 1938, then in Illinois' 18th Congressional District, they elected Jessie Sumner to Congress — only the third woman from the state to serve in the House. Sumner, running on a vigorous anti-New Deal platform, defeated U.S. Rep. James A. Meeks, a Danville Democrat, in a race that attracted national attention.

Well, Sumner attracted national attention with good reason.

Jessie Sumner, born on a farm in Iroquois County in 1898, was accustomed to making history: She was the first American woman to study law at Oxford University in England, the first woman elected a county judge in Illinois and, according to her, the first woman elected county judge in any state.

Click here to continue reading Tom Kacich's column in the Champaign News-Gazette.
Chicago Tribune, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas, AFSCME! You may get up to 520 new jobs in the state's Department of Human Services. A private contractor that has done an extraordinary job of scrubbing the state's Medicaid rolls of ineligible people is being shown the door so unionized state workers can take over.

We've told readers about this case. Gov. Pat Quinn's administration hired Virginia-based Maximus Health Services Inc. to investigate how many people on the Medicaid rolls actually qualify for Medicaid. Thousands of ineligible recipients were identified and removed.

But the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed a complaint, and an arbitrator ruled that the Maximum deal violated AFSCME's contract with the state. Quinn wisely appealed the ruling ... but now he has surrendered.

Quinn dropped the state's appeal Tuesday and agreed to shift the job of vetting Medicaid recipients from Maximus workers to state workers. Quinn said the new deal was the best way to keep the program running and avoid the legal wrangling. Read the rest of the editorial in the Chicago Tribune.

Other stories you might be interested in reading:
Backroom deal threatens bipartisan Medicaid reforms
Illinois Watchdog: Despite ‘staggering’ success, Illinois drops Medicaid fraud finder
Bellock urges public hearing to discuss future of Medicaid program
Illinois State Police Officials issued traffic safety reminders regarding the new 2014 traffic laws that become effective on January 1, and will most likely have an impact on motorists driving throughout Illinois.

Public Act 98-0511 which amended the Illinois Vehicle Code, 625 ILCS 5/11-601 changes the existing legal speed limit from 65 mph - 70 mph on all rural interstates. The Act also allows eight counties (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, McHenry, Lake, Madison and St. Clair) with heavily congested highways to opt out and maintain the current 55 mph speed limit.

2014 will ring in hundreds of new laws. Over the next five days we will recap 25 of them. Some you may have heard about, others you may be just learning about now. Follow the links to read the law in its entirety.  

Fifth and final post in the five part series:

Freedom From Drone Surveillance Act
SB 1587 (PA 98-569) – Creates the Freedom From Drone Surveillance Act. The bill specifies that law enforcement may not use drones to gather information, and may only use them in certain specific circumstances, such as when law enforcement has obtained a search warrant, to search for a missing person, or to counter a high risk of terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is a risk.

Puppy Lemon Law
SB 1639 (PA 98-509) – Also known as the “Puppy Lemon Law,” SB 1639 provides certain remedies to a customer who purchased a dog or cat that possesses or has died from certain diseases, illnesses or conditions, if within 21 days of the date of sale, a licensed veterinarian states in writing that at the time of sale the animal was unfit for purchase due to illness or disease. The bill gives pet shops a procedure to contest the remedy. The bill requires pet shops to give every customer; prior to the time of sale; a copy of the store’s warranty, refund and return policy, and must give the customer an explanation of the remedy provided for customers who have purchased an animal with a congenital or hereditary disorder.

E-cigarettes Age Restrictions
SB 1756 (PA 98-350) – Prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The bill requires sellers to verify that a buyer is over 18.

Social Networking at Work 
SB 2306 (PA 98-501) – Amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to distinguish between protection of personal social networking sites and an employer’s right to monitor a professional social networking account: such as instances in which an insurer or investment advisor is required by state or federal law to comply with specific requirements related to its communications with the public in order to protect investors and consumers.

Rural Speed Limits
SB 2356 (PA 98-511) – Raises the speed limit on rural Illinois interstates to 70 miles per hour. The bill excludes certain urban and suburban counties from the higher speed limit. SB 2356 also reduces the number of miles over the legal limit a vehicle must be traveling in order to constitute a serious traffic offense.

New Illinois Laws - Part 1
New Illinois Laws - Part 2
New Illinois Laws - Part 3
New Illinois Laws - Part 4

2014 will ring in hundreds of new laws. Over the next five days we will recap 25 of them. Some you may have heard about, others you may be just learning about now. Follow the links to read the law in its entirety.  

Fourth in a five part series:

Sex Offender Prohibitions
HB 3023 (PA 98-266) – Prohibits a child sex offender from knowingly being in any public park building, a playground or recreation area within any publicly accessible privately-owned building, or on a public park or playground within any publicly-accessible privately-owned building when children under 18 are present. The bill also prohibits child sex offenders from attempting to approach, contact, or communicate with a child under 18, unless the offender is a parent or guardian of a person under 18 who is present in the building or on the grounds.

2014 will ring in hundreds of new laws. Over the next five days we will recap 25 of them. Some you may have heard about, others you may be just learning about now. Follow the links to read the law in its entirety.  

Third in a five part series:

Workplace Violence Prevention Act
HB 2590 (PA 98-430) – Creates the Workplace Violence Prevention Act. HB 2590 allows an employer to seek an order of protection if an employee has suffered violence or threats of violence at work, or if the threat can be reasonably assumed to be carried out at work.
Beginning January 1, 2014, Illinois drivers may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device, specifically a cell phone.

What exactly does this law do?
The law prohibits the use of a hand held cell phone while driving, drivers still can use their phones in hands-free or voice activated mode, which may include a headset.
Concealed Carry
New Illinois State Police website for concealed carry pre-applicants and applicants.  Pre-applicants for a firearms concealed carry license (CCL) are invited to visit a new website,, to establish their digital password ID and learn about the segments of their application they will be requested to fill out, including a strong suggestion that they submit fingerprints to speed up their background check.  The CCL applications themselves will become available to the general public no later than Sunday, January 5, 2014.  The State Police requests that e-applicants pay $150 with their applications, in addition to the costs to the applicant for pre-licensure training and fingerprinting services.

2014 will ring in hundreds of new laws. Over the next five days we will recap 25 of them. Some you may have heard about, others you may be just learning about now. Follow the links to read the law in its entirety.  

Second in a five part series:

Patricia’s Law
HB 1010 (PA 98-169) – Also known as “Patricia’s Law”, HB 1010 prohibits court supervision in cases where the defendant’s violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar local ordinance was the proximate cause of the death of another person if the defendant has a prior conviction or supervision for a moving violation, suspension revocation or cancellation of his or her license.

2014 will ring in hundreds of new laws. Over the next five days we will recap 25 of them. Some you may have heard about, others you may be just learning about now. Follow the links to read the law in its entirety. 

First in a five part series:

Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act
HB 1 (PA 98-122) – Creates the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, the strictest medical marijuana law in the country. It establishes a pilot program that sunsets after four years. A specific list of debilitating, or terminal medical conditions are outlined in the bill which patients must be suffering from in order to qualify. The number of dispensaries are limited to 60 throughout Illinois, and the Department of Agriculture may approve up to 22 cultivation centers. A patient is prohibited from possessing more than 2.5 ounces at a time.
Illinois State Police have opened the Firearm Concealed Carry application process to Certified Firearms Instructors, giving them access to apply for their Concealed Carry License starting today, Wednesday, December 18, 2013, in advance of the January 5, 2014, deadline.

The statute requires that Certified Instructors be eligible for a Concealed Carry License. Early access to the application process will provide applicants with an opportunity to obtain their license and test the application system.  With nearly 2,000 Certified Firearms Instructors currently listed on the ISP Concealed Carry website, officials anticipate that instructor applications will serve as a test for workload capacities.  Officials see this as a necessary step to ensure the integrity of a system which is expected to process more than 400,000 applications during the first year.
Illinois residents can assist with the state’s recovery from the Nov. 17 tornadoes while building their professional skills and drawing a paycheck. Temporary, full-time positions are available locally with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA has joined forces with the Illinois Department of Employment Security to recruit and screen individuals to work in positions including administration, writing and public information, television/radio broadcast production, planning, individual disaster assistance and logistics.
In response to revelations of a backroom deal that completely undoes the state’s efforts to save the Illinois Medicaid program State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) and State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) criticized the Quinn administration’s most recent efforts to dismantle the most important element of the bipartisan SMART act reforms.

“The administration has negotiated a backroom deal with AFSCME that would halt the state’s redetermination efforts using an outside vendor by April 30, effectively eliminating the cornerstone of the Medicaid reform,” Righter said. “The redetermination process goes to the heart of fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program, and without it there is no doubt that the state’s limited resources will again be directed to people receiving taxpayer-paid benefits fraudulently.”
Pensions – Illinois credit rating
Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s issue positive statements about Illinois pension progress.  After pension reform bill SB 1 was signed into law on Thursday, December 5, global credit-rating firm Moody’s labeled the move a “credit positive.”  Moody’s currently ranks Illinois’ general-obligation (G.O.) debt as A3 with a negative outlook, the lowest ranking among the 50 states, and this rating did not change this week.   The statement by the New York-based debt watchdog described itself as awaiting independent actuarial confirmation of the proclaimed $160 billion in savings “clawed back” from pledged future pension payments by the controversial measure.   The statement was issued on Friday, December 6.
The Illinois State Police (ISP) today launched a website to provide the public with information regarding the Concealed Carry application process.

The Concealed Carry License (CCL) website is being launched in advance of the January 5 application posting date to provide citizens with additional information that will assist with eligibility requirements, application fees, training requirements, official forms, information for firearms instructors, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Though they may find it hard to believe, Chicago property owners pay relatively less in property taxes than suburban owners do, particularly in the city's collar counties. And the difference continues to widen.

So says a new report issued today by the Civic Federation, a Chicago tax watchdog and research group, on the "effective tax rate" paid by owners — the percentage of a property's true market value that has to be paid in property taxes.

The study, as in previous reviews, found dramatic differences in who pays what within the metropolitan area, based on how much each town and school district needs in taxes and how big their property bases are on which those taxes can be levied. Seen over a 10-year period, the differences truly are striking. Read Greg Hinz's take in Crain's.
Through two months of open enrollment in new health insurance plans created under President Barack Obama’s health care law, nearly 365,000 Americans have selected policies, including 7,043 in Illinois, administration officials said Wednesday.

The numbers, which include sign-ups from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30, are still short of the roughly 500,000 the Obama administration estimated would sign up in October alone, the first month of the new health insurance exchanges designed for consumers to compare and purchase health coverage.

Officials did not break out enrollment figures by month, a decision they said would eliminate double-counting some consumers, who may apply, shop and select plans in separate months. Through Oct. 31, 106,000 Americans, including 1,370 in Illinois, selected policies, according to figures released last month.

The relatively low figures underscore the tumultuous first two months of, the federal website that operates the online marketplaces for 36 states, including Illinois, which has been beset by technical problems that prevented many from completing applications.  Peter Frost has the story in the Chicago Tribune.

Rep. Darlene Senger is concerned
about those who will be losing their
jobs with the Office Depot move.
Office Depot Inc.'s decision to base itself in Boca Raton, Fla., instead of Naperville, where predecessor entity OfficeMax Inc. had its headquarters, puts some 1,600 west suburban jobs at risk.

The timing of the move remains uncertain, but Naperville city officials noted that the office supply retailer, created by the merger of OfficeMax Inc. and Office Depot Inc.last month, has two and a half years left on its lease of its 344,000-square-foot former HQ. An Office Depot spokeswoman declined to comment on how many people ultimately will be let go.

"The whole city of Naperville is saddened by the fact that OfficeMax and Office Depot have decided to move to Boca Raton," Naperville Mayor George Pradel said in an interview this morning. "In addition to being Naperville's sixth-largest employer, they do all kinds of community work for our schools." Read the rest of the story by Brigid Sweeney in Crains.
One of Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s primary responsibilities is to pay the state’s bills. Given that duty, she has made it a priority to reach out to nonprofit agency vendors across the state to ensure that they do not slash services or shut their doors altogether due to state payment delays.

Topinka knows that the nonprofit sector provides essential services to folks who need them the most, including seniors, children and those with disabilities.

As the state’s bill backlog stacks up, Topinka’s staff prioritizes what must be paid statutorily and under specific time constraints.  She has instructed staff to make nonprofit payments one of the top priorities.

Read more about the Comptroller's Program
Illinois has Heart flyer
Illinois Nonprofit Advisory Council
Beyond destroying homes and killing two people, the Nov. 17 tornado that ripped through Washington scattered bits of family history across the state.

Papers and photos have been found 150 miles away in the Chicago suburbs.

Ground zero for the return of photos, documents and small mementos is a cramped room at the Morton Public Library. Volunteers there are numbering items, noting where they were found and preserving them in hopes they will be recovered.

More than 1,000 items have been cataloged, and there's an equal number awaiting review.
Military records, marriage licenses, birth certificates, photo albums, canceled checks, report cards, love letters, address books and baseball cards are among the items being cataloged at the library.

Photos of items that do not contain sensitive information are being posted on two Facebook pages.
Those pages, titled "Found Items from the Washington Illinois and Diamond Illinois Tornadoes" and "Photos found from Nov. 17, 2013 Illinois Storms/Tornadoes" have thousands of followers.

Volunteers and library staff members also are trying to connect items with owners by writing letters and doing Internet research. Items began coming into the library a few days after the tornado struck, and the flow has continued, especially after group searches have been done.

Disaster SNAP applications available starting Wednesday, December 11

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) will offer immediate food assistance to 15 counties beginning Wednesday, December 11. The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services has authorized IDHS to offer special Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to residents in those counties declared federal disaster areas as a result of severe storms last month.
General Assembly enacts, Governor signs landmark pension reform bill.  SB 1, as amended by conference committee, is expected to reduce future actuarial expenses to State taxpayers by $160 billion.  These savings are subject to many future events, including the outcome of litigation to determine the constitutionality of the new law.  In addition “Tier 1” public-sector employees affected by the policy changes enacted under this statute may change their retirement plans to increase or decrease the savings the State will enjoy under this bill.   The bipartisan House vote on Tuesday, December 3, was 62-53-1.  The Senate vote of 30-24-3 sent the measure to the Governor for his signature.  The Governor signed the bill on Thursday, December 5.
In preparation for their Christmas shopping consumers are making their lists and checking them twice but before the buying begins they need to be aware of the scams that could ruin an otherwise joyous occasion. The Better Business Bureau, serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, offers a "Christmas Top 10" list that consumers need to check.

“Vigilance is the word,” said Steve J. Bernas, president andCEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.“Whether you’re making a donation, shopping online or in stores, scammers are on the lookout for you and you should do the same for them. Keep, your eyes and ears open.”

What should consumers look for this holiday season? Read more in the Geneva Patch.
A bill to revamp Illinois’ underfunded pension system passed the House 62-53 and the Senate 30-24 today, sending the bill to Governor Quinn, who has said he will sign it.

The legislation was drafted by a 10-member conference committee made up of members of both parties and both houses. A conference committee is a rarely-invoked process which the General Assembly uses when the two houses each pass different bills on the same topic and cannot reconcile the differences. Different House and Senate pension bills passed in May. When the two houses deadlocked over the two bills, each chamber voted to create a conference committee, and the four legislative caucuses appointed its members.
Rep. Patti Bellock believe Maximus
is doing exactly what lawmakers
hired them do to and questions
the need to cancel their work.
A private contractor hired by Illinois has excelled in removing from the state's Medicaid rolls people who didn't qualify for the benefit. The contractor, Virginia-based Maximus Health Services Inc., has recommended over the course of the year that the state scrub about 190,000 people from the Medicaid rolls. That saves money and helps to preserve the vital health coverage for lower-income residents.

Maximus' reward? Its caseworkers may be fired, its responsibilities scaled back.

Why? Because AFSCME, the state employees union, convinced an arbitrator this year that the state couldn't legally hire Maximus to do the job. The work should have been done by the state's union workforce, arbitrator Edwin Benn ruled. He set a Dec. 31 deadline for the state to fire Maximus and use state workers. Read the entire Chicago Tribune Editorial.

Other stories on the issue:
Pensions – General Assembly
General Assembly to meet in session on Tuesday, December 3.  The session is expected to deal with the ongoing Illinois pension crisis.  Many State lawmakers and statewide elected officials have called for action to deal with at least $97 billion in unfunded liabilities reported by four major pension systems managed by boards of directors appointed by the State of Illinois, and partly funded by taxpayers.
By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog

Rep. Patti Bellock
Illinois is rewarding a private company that has found more than 200,000 people who should not be enrolled in Medicaid by pulling the firm off the job.

Maximus, a Virginia-based company, has been combing through the 2.7 million people enrolled in Illinois’ Medicaid program.

So far this year, the company has reviewed 465,076 cases, and recommended that 228,965 people — about half — be dropped from the Medicaid rolls. Illinois has removed 114,675 people from Medicaid, and kept 176,664. The remaining cases are pending.

But Maximus time on the job is coming to an end...

Please click HERE for the full article from Illinois Watchdog.
Residents impacted by recent tornadoes can immediately begin registration for grants and low-interest loans. Businesses can apply for low-interest loans.

President Obama has approved the state's request for federal assistance to help people and businesses in 15 Illinois counties recover from the November 17 deadly tornadoes. The announcement comes just one day after the Governor submitted his request for Champaign, Douglas, Fayette, Grundy, Jasper, LaSalle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Vermilion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford counties. Since November 17, Illinois’ emergency management officials have worked around-the-clock to expedite the federal request and direct aid into the communities as quickly as possible.”
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin is joining forces with the wine and spirits industry to promote the “We Don’t Serve Teens…and You Shouldn’t Either” campaign to protect teenagers from the dangers of underage drinking.

“Most teens who drink are provided the alcohol from parents of other teens, older siblings, friends and relatives,” said Durkin.   “Giving alcohol to teenagers not only undermines the efforts of parents to protect their children, it’s breaking the law.”

  Read more about the effort.

The Governor today asked President Obama to declare 15 Illinois counties major disaster areas to help people and businesses recover from a violent outbreak of tornadoes across the state on Nov. 17.

The requested federal disaster declaration is for Champaign, Douglas, Fayette, Grundy, Jasper, LaSalle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Vermilion, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford counties.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency, in cooperation with other disaster relief agencies, is
opening Multi-Agency Recovery Centers (MARCs) in Gifford and Diamond. MARCs have already opened in Washington and Brookport. These centers are facilities where representatives of many different disaster relief agencies are available to assist residents of the affected areas - all under one roof.

The center at 2205 County Road 3000 in Gifford opens Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. and is open until 6 p.m.

In Diamond, the MARC is located at the Diamond Banquet Hall at 55 S. Daly Street, and is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. next Monday, December 2.

Updated storm recovery information from across Illinois is available at

Hepatitis C is now killing more people in this country than HIV/AIDS and another form of hepatitis combined.  More alarming, it is estimated that between half and three-quarters of those with the virus do not know they have it.

Those born between 1945 and 1965 are disproportionately affected by this disease, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that they get a one-time test for HCV regardless of whether they have any symptoms or risk factors. Other groups with a disproportionate burden of disease include African Americans, those undergoing dialysis, hemophiliacs, the homeless, the incarcerated, those who received a blood transfusion before 1992 and Vietnam veterans.

Rep. Michael McAuliffe recently passed legislation to create a task force to increase awarness about Hepatitis C.  Watch his interview on Comcast Newsmakers.
Governor Pat Quinn today announced the opening of a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) in Washington, IL to make it easier for people affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes to access disaster-related relief services and information. The MARC will bring together representatives from more than 20 local and state agencies in one location.

“The MARC will be a one-stop shop for people affected by the deadly tornadoes to connect with the services and information that are available to them,” Governor Quinn said. “While the recovery will be long and hard, we will continue to work around the clock to ensure that every community can rebuild.”

Anyone affected by the Nov. 17 tornadoes is encouraged to visit the MARC at Five Points Washington, 360 N. Wilmor Road in Washington from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Sat., Nov. 23 through Tues., Nov. 26. Proof of address is requested.
Gov. Quinn, Rep. Chad Hays and
others tour Gifford earlier this week
Last Sunday while watching the Bears game, the telecast was interrupted by a weather bulletin informing viewers of an outbreak of tornado activity in central Illinois and around the rest of the state as well.

The tornado warnings had already expired in my community of Chatham so I really wasn’t paying much attention until I heard the reporter mention that emergency vehicles had been sent to Gifford, a small community in Champaign County.  Gifford happens to be the home of Country Health Care and Rehab where my mother resides so I immediately started paying closer attention and wanted more details.
Illinois Tornadoes
  • Tornadoes strike communities throughout Illinois.  While twelve states were affected, Illinois was especially hard-hit by the severe frontal system that moved eastward on Sunday, November 17.  Death and destruction followed cyclonic strikes, including at least two tornadoes measured at a severe EF-4 on the North American scale of intensity, on the central Illinois city of Washington, located east of Peoria; the central Illinois town of Gifford, north of Champaign-Urbana; the southern Illinois town of New Minden, east of St. Louis; the far southern Illinois town of Brookport, north of Paducah; and other communities in Illinois.  More than 1,500 Illinois homes were damaged or destroyed. 
The cleanup and recovery from the devastating tornadoes which struck Illinois on Sunday November 17 continues. Six people were killed in Illinois and hundreds of homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed in a line of storms which affected the entire state, from Brookport at the southern tip all the way to Chicago. We have compiled the latest information from state agencies, non-profits and media in the disaster areas to try and assist the victims and their families, and to provide an outlet for those who want to help.

People whose homes were heavily damaged or destroyed by recent storms are being urged to stay with friends, family, at a local shelter or in a hotel, and not in their vehicles. State officials have heard reports of people sleeping in their vehicles, which can result in serious health effects or death if carbon monoxide builds up in a running vehicle.

“You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide, but at high levels it can kill a person in minutes,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “We want to help people stay safe and healthy as we pick up and rebuild in communities around the state. Do not stay or sleep in your car if your home has been damaged. Instead, take advantage of the shelters and other resources available.”

Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned.  People who have lost power and are heating their homes using an appliance that burns fuel should make sure the appliances are working properly and are being used correctly.  Hundreds of people die accidentally every year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances.

Symptoms of mild to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning may resemble winter flu and can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and lethargy. Higher levels of exposure can cause fainting, confusion and collapse. If exposure to carbon monoxide continues, death can result.

For more information about disaster recovery resources, visit
Gov Pat Quinn, Rep. John Anthony and others
tour tornado-ravaged communities.
9 a.m. update
Ready Illinois has updated its website with a list of items which are needed for the Washington recovery effort. That information can be found by clicking here and scrolling down to "volunteers and donations information."

Original post
The Governor announced on Tuesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin damage assessments on Thursday, November 21 in several Illinois counties devastated by Sunday’s tornadoes and severe storms. The assessments will provide the documentation necessary to support a request for federal assistance.

“The state of Illinois is doing everything necessary to ensure that every community impacted by these deadly tornados can rebuild and recover,” Governor Quinn said. “These teams will gather information to help us quickly submit a federal disaster assistance request.”
The Edwardsville office of Illinois State Representative Dwight Kay incurred damage from a fire on Monday evening and will remain closed until further notice. While the office is closed, Rep. Kay’s staff remains available to assist constituents by phone and e-mail.

Rep. Kay's constituents will continue to receive service from Rep. Kay by contacting him at 618-307-9200 or by email

“It’s important for my constituents to know my staff and I will continue to provide service to those with issues concerning state government by phone and e-mail until we get our district office back open,” said Rep. Kay. “In the coming weeks my office will be announcing satellite office hours in the metro east for constituents who prefer discussing issues in person instead of electronically.”

Fayette and Vermilion Counties Added to State Disaster Declaration.

Governor Pat Quinn declared Fayette and Vermilion counties state disaster areas, bringing to 15 the number of Illinois counties to receive the designation after several tornadoes ravaged the state on Sunday. Other counties declared state disaster areas by Governor Quinn include Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Jasper, LaSalle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford counties.

“The initial damage reports continue to pour into the State Emergency Operations Center, illustrating just how far-reaching these deadly storms were,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois will recover and we will rebuild our communities, but we expect the total number of homes damaged and destroyed will exceed 1,500. That’s why it is so important for those who have been impacted in our hardest-hit areas to document damages and save their receipts in order to qualify for future assistance.”

The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms. The state of Illinois has personnel and assets that can be mobilized to help local government officials with disaster recovery, including such things as trucks, heavy equipment to remove debris, communications equipment and assistance with security and other public safety issues.
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

Washington, Clinton, Madison and St. Clair Counties
Rep. Charlie Meier 

  • American Red Cross:  (618) 397-4600
  • Washington County Emergency Management Agency: (618) 327-4800 ext. 340
  • Clinton County Emergency Management Agency: (618) 594-4455

Governor Pat Quinn today declared seven counties state disaster areas after severe storms generating tornadoes and high winds ripped across Illinois. Hundreds of homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people are without power, and numerous roads throughout the state have been closed by fallen trees and downed power lines. At least six people are reported dead and dozens more injured.

Later today, Governor Quinn will inspect damage on the ground in some of Illinois' hardest hit communities: Washington, Diamond, Gifford, Brookport and New Minden. Counties included in the Governor’s declaration are: Champaign, Grundy, LaSalle, Massac, Tazewell, Washington and Woodford counties.
Week in Review for week of 11/11/13 through 11/15/13

Health Care

·         House Republicans lead effort to enable Illinoisans to keep their health care coverage.  HR 702, sponsored by Rep. David McSweeney (R-Cary), responds to news of widespread health insurance cancellations and the catastrophic breakdown of, the federal health insurance marketplace website.  The bipartisan resolution, introduced on Friday, November 15, calls on the U.S. Senate to enact the Keep Your Care Act, a law approved by the federal House.

The Keep Your Care Act would freeze and reverse the current tidal wave of insurance cancellations and replace them with a new law that will enable Americans with health insurance to renew their policies.  Their policies, if they keep them, will be valid under the “Obamacare” mandate, and people in this status will be able to have insurance of their choosing without paying a federal income tax penalty.     
Raymond & Carol Poe
State Rep. Raymond Poe was 19 when he and his wife-to-be, Carol, were at the Sangamon County courthouse getting their marriage license as President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.

“Everybody remembers where they were,” Poe, 69, recalled this week.

“We got married the next day, and then went down to the Smoky Mountains” in Tennessee, he said. “At that time, people showed so much respect for the president, and literally, you couldn’t hardly find a place even to stop and eat” because so many businesses were closed. Open gas stations were rare, too.

“I’m not sure today that would happen,” the Springfield Republican said. “There was just a lot of respect and a lot of mourning going on.”

He said he and Carol did have TV at their motel and watched the coverage in the aftermath of Kennedy’s death.

“I think it hurt every American,” Poe said. “We … hope to never live long enough to see it happen again.” Read more of the story by Bernard Schoenburg in the SJR.
The Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus in coordination with Illinois healthcare providers and businesses are hosting free diabetes screenings throughout the state today, November 14.

Early diabetes detection is cruicial in preventing blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke that can be part of the disease.  Find a location near you.

Rep. Tom Demmer
Last week lawmakers, including Rep. Tom Demmer, asked the Illinois Department of Insurance to provide them with the number of Illinoisans who have obtained healthcare coverage through the Illinois Health Exchange Marketplace and the number of Illinois families who have had their health insurance cancelled. Some numbers have been estimated about enrollment, but there has been no mention about the number of people who lost health coverage, or whose insurance rates have increased.

Even if you are not sure how you feel about the Affordable Care Act, if you believe the state of Illinois should make information available so Illinoisan can make better decisions about their own healthcare, please sign Rep. Demmer's petition using greater transparency.

by Rep. David McSweeney
Originally Published November 11, 2013 - Northwest Herald 

It’s clear that Illinois is heading in the wrong economic direction. We have a 9.2 percent unemployment rate (second highest in the country), $6 billion of unpaid bills that will continue to grow, $100 billion of unfunded pension liabilities, the worst credit ratings in the nation, and a pension crisis.

The only way to start turning Illinois around is to adopt meaningful public employee pension reform soon. We owe to it our hard-working teachers and state workers to save the pension systems.

It’s a crisis because if we don’t act soon, Illinois will continue to be plagued with high unemployment and economic uncertainty. Small businesses will not want to expand and companies will not want to locate in Illinois because they will be concerned about the prospect of higher tax rates to fund future pension obligations. More here.
State Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville, has joined the call to delay enactment of a key provision in the federal Affordable Care Act.

The “individual mandate” that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or be subject to a tax penalty survived a constitutional challenge in 2012 when the Supreme Court cleared the way for its implementation. Still, it continues to be challenged by conservative lawmakers, some of whom say time is running out for consumers to meet the requirements for the scheduled full rollout of the act seven weeks from now.

Senger introduced House Resolution 680 in Springfield on Tuesday, and Rep. Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove, and three other GOP House members joined her as chief cosponsors the following day. Another 39 of their remaining 42 Republican peers also signed on as cosponsors Wednesday. Read the rest of the story by Susan Frick Carlman in the Naperville Sun.

You might also find these stories of interest:

House Republican members call for health insurance
numbers at November 7th press conference.
Via Crains Chicago Business,  November 8, 2013
Only hundreds of people enrolled in the Illinois health insurance exchange in October, state officials said today, offering the first glimpse into an online marketplace that has been vexed by glitches.

Insurance carriers have told state officials that hundreds of consumers signed up in October, confirmed Jennifer Koehler, director of the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace. But she and Cristal Thomas, Illinois deputy governor, cautioned that it was just a guess since federal officials haven't yet provided enrollment figures.

“We do not know,” Ms. Thomas said. “If we have to guess we would guess probably in the hundreds.”  Kristen Schorsch and Andrew L Wang tell the story in Crains Chicago Business.