Rep. Bill Mitchell and other House GOP members introduced a constitutional amendment today that would hold legislators responsible for passing a "truly" balanced budget. HJRCA32 requires the Auditor General's office to certify that expenses do not exceed revenues in budgets passed by the Illinois General Assembly. If the budget is not balanced, legislators will not be paid their salaries.

Support responsible spending by signing the petition to require a balanced budget.

Check back here at 9:30 a.m. for live coverage of the House of Representatives.
House Republican Leader Tom Cross talks to the press after bipartisan pension reform legislation passes out of the House. HB1165 Amendments 5 & 6, sponsored by Cross, Represenative Elaine Nekritz and Senator Daniel Biss is on its way to the Senate.
Check back here at 11 a.m. for live updates from today's House session, a "Weekly Order of Business" on pensions.
Earlier this month the House Republicans introduced the "Protect our Children Initiative." Leader Tom Cross and other legislators believe Illinois needs tougher laws to stop the violence. We want to know what you think. Please Click here to take our brief survey.
Check back here at 12:30 p.m. for live updates on today's House session.
In December, the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the State of Illinois' ban on carrying a weapon in public as unconstitutional. The court gave the state 180 days to pass a new law imposing "reasonable limitations." If the General Assembly does not pass legislation within this timeframe, the lower courts will be mandated to implement concealed carry in Illinois.

Speaker Madigan has put a new process in place this session in the form of the Weekly Order of Business where he has allowed members to add amendment after amendment to the court-mandated legislation concerning concealed carry. These amendments have been introduced without a public hearing that would typically occur in committee. The result of this approach is a bill that both supports and severally restricts concealed carry, essentially a bill destined to fail.

House Republicans continue to object to this process.
Check back here at noon today for live coverage of Session and Weekly Order of Business on Guns. Expected to be debated are Amendments to HB1155, HB1156 & HB1157.

"...Receiving significant support from members of all four caucuses, including 32 sponsors in the House, House Bill 3411 gives the General Assembly the best shot at achieving a bipartisan consensus that will ultimately save the Illinois pension system for hardworking government workers, while remaining affordable to taxpayers." More on
Follow session here:
Late this afternoon, Leader Tom Cross passed a comprehensive pension reform bill out of committee. The Legislation was the result of a collaborative effort between him, State Representative Elaine Nekritz and State Senator Daniel Biss, both Democrats.
The "Special Order of Business" today is Pensions. Check back here at noon for live coverage of the Illinois House of Representatives.

House Republican Leader Tom Cross called on Democrats to stop the political games and work together to address pressing issues, like ending violence and reforming the pension system.

Speaker Madigan has scheduled a "Special Order of Business" on Guns today. Follow live coverage of the Illinois House of Representatives here at 11:30AM.
House GOP members introduce legislation designed to protect children from violence at a press conference this morning. Watch video below:

State Representatives Jim Durkin and Dennis Reboletti along with House Republican Leader Tom Cross and other House Republican members introduced new legislation today that will help keep our children and our communities safe from violence.

Durkin said the measures in the “Protect Our Children” initiative target the greatest threats to our children’s safety – gang and school-related violence. Here is an overview of the legislative package:

  • HB 3217 increases penalties for gang-related gun offenses. It increases the minimum sentence for possession of a firearm by a street gang member from 3 up to 4 years and makes it a non-probationable offense. The legislation also requires 85% truth in sentencing for many gun offenses by felons and known gang members.

  • House Bill 3009 cracks down on gang recruitment in our communities. Illinois’ gang recruitment law currently requires prosecutors to prove that the defendant used force or coercion to recruit another person into a gang. This legislation adds two new felony offenses for recruiting adults (Class 4 Felony) or minors (Class 3 Felony) to join gangs that do not require proof of physical force.

  •  HB 1925 FA1 utilizes gun offense fines to enhance mental health reporting. A recent audit conducted by Auditor General Bill Holland found that due to deficiencies in the reporting of individuals with potentially disqualifying mental health conditions, State Police don’t always receive information needed to revoke or deny FOID cards. This proposal imposes an additional $50 fine on defendants convicted of certain firearm offenses to fund continuing education for circuit judges and circuit court clerks to improve the reporting of mental health prohibitors to the State Police.

  • HB 1978 FA1 improves conflict resolution education in schools. To help prevent school-related violence, this legislation ensures school districts will provide instruction and training in violence prevention and conflict resolution education as part of social-emotional learning standards for all students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. The State Board of Education and local school boards are not required to implement these provisions unless funding is available from private sources, the State, or the federal government.
Live coverage of floor debate in the Illinois House of Representatives here at noon.

Last week was an active week in Springfield.  What did you miss?  Check out the House Republican "Week in Review" for the week of March 4th - March 8th, 2013 here.

You'll find:
  • Widespread skepticism as Gov. Quinn presents $35.6 billion budget to General Assembly
  • Australian company admits that it understood that its consultant was probably making large payments to a well-connected Chicago official
  • Women’s correctional center in Dwight, IL set to close by end of March 2013
  • Illinois school districts face possible $278 million cut in State aid 
  • Gov. Quinn vetoes major gaming expansion bill; Senate begins to move new language
  • An estimated 300,000 Illinoisans wait for passage of mandated concealed-carry rights in Springfield
  • General Assembly passes legislation to increase license fees paid by Illinois medical doctors, replenish insolvent State fund
  • Gov. Quinn launches new call to reform Illinois pension system, reduce benefits for existing State employees and retirees
  • Planners look to enlarge superhighway in northwestern suburbs
And more....
State Representative David Harris (Arlington Heights) is guest-hosting over at 'In the Know Illinois' this week.

Representative Harris is helping curate the leading stories of the week and setting the agenda that is driving the Statehouse.   Stay in touch with him on his Facebook page.  'Like' him to stay connected.

Each morning, opinion leaders, influencers, elected officials, and staffers read ITK to quickly understand what's driving the news each morning.  

Of course, you can join them and sign up and subscribe to the daily newsletter 'In the Know Illinois' via email, twitter, or via feed subscription. 
Pension Reform Debate heats up in Illinois House of Representatives. Follow it live here:
House Republican Leader Tom Cross reacts to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's 2013 Budget Address during a media availability following the speech.
Follow live blog coverage of the Governor's budget address from the Illinois House Republicans on March 6th at noon, right here on The Caucus Blog.
Tomorrow, Governor Quinn will deliver his annual budget address.  Here's what we're looking to hear from him as he addresses the issues across the State of Illinois.
Today, the House Republican Caucus in Illinois officially 'launched' The Caucus Blog - which if you're reading this you already know about!
“This is a great way for everyone to tune into what’s happening in the Illinois House and around the capitol,” said Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross. “Be prepared to see videos, member posts and the latest happenings in Springfield.”
You can read the full release here on
Read blog coverage of March 5th session of House of Representatives
Illinois State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) will be introducing a significant workers’ compensation reform package to help improve Illinois’ job climate on Wednesday, March 6, 2:00 p.m. in room 114 of the Illinois Capitol Building before the Illinois House Labor & Commerce Committee. Read more about this important legislation here.
In this morning's print edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Editorial Board encourages lawmakers to act to solve the state's pension crisis by rallying behind the bi-partisan bill introduced last week by Democrat State Representative Elaine Nekritz and House Republican Leader Tom Cross.  

They say:
"The Nekriz/Cross bill is by far the most carefully crafted pension-cutting plan we've seen and, more important, promises to reduce costs by enough to be considered a real solution."
You can read the entire piece on the Sun-Times website.  

State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is taking the reins over at In the Know Illinois this week and is helping drive the agenda for the week.  Today's post is here.  

You can catch up with Representative Wheeler over on her IL House GOP Caucus site or on her Facebook page.

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 did you miss last week at the Statehouse in Springfield?  Check out last week's "Week in Review" on the Caucus site.

Highlights include:

  • Bi-partisan Pension proposal from Leader Tom Cross and Representative Elaine Nekritz
  • A report by CMAP, the intergovernmental agency asked by State and federal law to look at economic changes in the Chicago area.
  • The JOBS package - introduced by the House Republicans
  • Debate over "concealed carry" and gun issues
  • Foreclosure rules for homeowners
  • A new cigarette tax hike that will raise the estimated Chicago cost of a legally-purchased pack of cigarettes to about $11/pack
  • And more...
On the floor of the Illinois House, Republican Leader Tom Cross implored the chamber’s majority to call off what he called “games” and a “charade” relating to the state’s pension crisis.
House Republicans refused to participate in a publicity stunt on the House floor today, instead choosing to ask for a Committee of the Whole meeting, one during which members could exchange ideas and work toward a real solution to the pension crisis which is costing taxpayers $17 million per day.