Whatever your partisan affiliation, you’ll find our posts on social networks to be positive, solutions-oriented, and committed to transparent and open government. If you care about the state of Illinois, we want to hear from you - no matter your positions. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, "When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say." In other words, what you have to say is important to us.

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During the summer, members of the House Republican caucus are touring their districts attending events and meeting with their constituents. Here are just a few of our members in action this summer.

Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) participated in a diabetes screening and educational seminar in Jerseyville on Thursday, July 25. Davidsmeyer recevied an excellent report, but encouraged all residents to get screened and to practice healthy eating habits.

Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) hosted a town hall meeting July 25 in Wheaton to review this year's spring legislative session. To view the full presentation, visit www.jeanneives.org.

Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Charleston) conducted an informational seminar on Illinois' new concealed carry law July 25 in Robinson. Check back to the Caucus Blog throughout the summer and fall as more information develops on the implementation of the law.
Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth)
Nineteen House Republicans joined together this spring to co-sponsor HB 28, a bill to sell most of the state's airplane fleet. Last week, WICS in Springfield spoke with Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth), the bill's primary sponsor, as part of its feature on the state's airplanes for its "Waste Watch" segment.

WICS -- Hollywood actors, political spouses and Supreme Court justices are among hundreds of people flying around the state on your dime.

Taxpayers are spending millions of dollars to shuttle people on hundreds of flights on state-owned airplanes. That's just this year.

At a time when Illinois is more than $6 billion in debt, one critic is calling it a luxury the state can't afford.

To view the full segment, click here
I am the world’s most famous cartoon sailor.

I was created by E.Z. Segar, and first appeared in Thimble Theateron January 17, 1929.
Several of my cartoon pals are based on real characters found on the Mississippi River.
There’s no snack I enjoy more than a nice can of spinach.
Still stumped? Click below for the answer.

When members are not is session they spend the majority of their time meeting with constituent, attending events and addressing issues affecting their districts. In the photo above are Reps. Jim Durkin,  Patti Bellock, Darlene Senger and Ron Sandack (on the fire engine).

·         McCormick Place expansion measure becomes law.   Plans were unveiled in mid-May to construct a 10,000-seat arena, which could be used as a meeting space or for athletic contests, adjacent to Chicago’s McCormick Place.  The project, which is expected to cost $173 million, will have the De Paul Blue Demons basketball team as its flagship tenant.  The name of the arena, and the arena’s luxury-box and sponsorship arrangements, have not yet been revealed.  The arena could also be used for large-group convention events and presentations.   The new Chicago arena legislation was “bundled” into an end-of-session omnibus economic development measure, SB 20, and was signed into law as P.A. 98-109 on Thursday, July 25.  The final House vote on the bill was 81-35-1 (the omnibus bill also contained other controversial measures).

Rep. David Reis
State Representative David Reis (R-Ste. Marie) is joining fellow lawmakers and local residents in voicing strong opposition to a proposed regulation by the Illinois State Fire Marshal mandating fire sprinkler systems be installed in all new residential home construction and existing places of assembly.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) proposed the new regulation on June 28, 2013, requiring the installation of fire sprinkler systems in new one-and-two family homes.   Existing churches and other places of public worship are also affected by this rulemaking.

“Right now families are working hard to save enough money to purchase or build a home, and with this mandate, they will be required to pay thousands of dollars more,” Rep. Reis said.  “Additionally, many homes downstate rely on wells for fresh water that cannot accommodate these increased demands, which will lead to additional well drilling costs.”
U.S. Rep. Winifred Sprague Mason Huck was the first wife and mother elected to Congress.
She was also the first Illinois woman to serve as a U.S. Representative. 
In the years following the “War to End All Wars,” hopes for a genuine and lasting world peace prevailed throughout America and the world. During the “Return to Normalcy” years of the Harding Administration, America turned inward, eager to put behind it the horrors of the recent war that had so devastated Europe. While political leaders sought to make progress toward a lasting peace abroad, a leading domestic political movement was the continuing drive for women’s equality. It was these two causes which would converge in 1922 with the election of Winnifred Sprague Mason Huck (R-Chicago) as Illinois’ first female Member of Congress.
FEMA announced today that residents of 35 Illinois counties affected by severe storms and flooding back in April and early May have an additional 15 days to apply for federal disaster assistance. The new application deadline is August 8.

Counties designated for individual assistance for this disaster declaration are: Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Clark, Cook, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kane, Kendall, Knox, Lake, LaSalle, Livingston, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Whiteside, Will, Winnebago, and Woodford.

To apply, visit www.disasterassistance.gov, or call 1-800-621-FEMA.
Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation freed more than four million slaves, was an effective politician, profound statesman, and a shrewd diplomat. He also had a keen sense of humor. His stories and anecdotes gave rise to his moniker as the "Great Story Telling President." For the next few weeks we will share some of those stories from the *Project Gutenberg's Lincoln's Yarns and Stories, by Alexander K. McClure. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Lincoln always took great pleasure in relating this yarn:  
Riding at one time in a stage with an old Kentuckian who was returning from Missouri, Lincoln excited the old gentleman's surprise by refusing to accept either of tobacco or French brandy.

When they separated that afternoon—the Kentuckian to take another stage bound for Louisville—he shook hands warmly with Lincoln, and said, good-humoredly: "See here, stranger, you're a clever but strange companion. I may never see you again, and I don't want to offend you, but I want to say this: My experience has taught me that a man who has no vices has d——d few virtues. Good-day."

*This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with the eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org.

From Reboot Illinois:

At its June 26th Board of Directors meeting, the Illinois Chamber Board voted unanimously to oppose a graduated income tax for Illinois.

You'll be hearing a lot more about this topic in the coming year -- proponents will be doing everything they can to convince you -- the citizens of Illinois -- to vote "yes" for a Constitutional Amendment that would, for the first time in our state's history, permit the Illinois General Assembly to impose a graduated income tax.

The November 2014 general election will be the last opportunity to pass a Constitutional Amendment authorizing a change in tax structure before the temporary income tax rate increases enacted in January 2011 begin to roll back.

Read the full story.
by Rep. Jeanne Ives, in Chicago Tribune on July 12, 2013
"Illinois doesn't need just any pension reform -- Illinois needs real, measurable reform."
Illinois has an unusual weight problem. State leaders’ appetite for grease-laden power and political control has led to a $100 billion crisis that is clogging the arteries and slowing the flow of blood to the heart of Illinois. Figuratively speaking, we Illinoisans can no longer button our pants. The state could eventually collapse into an unresponsive state. A strict weight-loss regimen is necessary.

The first thing a weight-loss coach would recommend is a multipronged approach. First, we have to develop a clear vision for results — perhaps, tape a picture of our slimmer, sexier sister, Indiana, to the refrigerator — followed by psychological counseling for our addictions. Finally, our goals need to be measurable and specific.

But instead of committing to the work that needs to be done, Gov. Pat Quinn’s solution for pension reform is to merely cut out some desserts. Read the rest Rep. Ives column.
The oldest host of SNL, I was born in Oak Park, Illinois and won my first grammy at age 90. Who am I?

Betty White.

Born Betty Marion White in Oak Park, Illinois, on January 17, 1922, she is the daughter of Tess Curtis, a homemaker, and Horace Lawrence White, a traveling salesman and electrical engineer. White's family moved to Los Angeles, California during the Great Depression. Read more about Betty White.

State Representative Jeanne Ives reads to youth at summer reading program, poses with Russian Delegate and General Counsel long along with Rep. Darlene Senger & Senator Michael Connelly, visits with members of the VFW after her keynote address, and shows young people how to properly fold the American flag.

Today, the governor signed Leader Tom Cross' Diabetes Awareness Bill into Law.
Diabetes and Public Health
House Republican measures aimed at improving public diabetes awareness become law.  The bipartisan Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus 2013 agenda included two measures to raise funds for diabetes research and direct that the State systematically monitor the growing diagnosis of diabetes among Illinois residents.  HB 1815 (Cross/Hunter) and HB 2199 (Durkin/Muñoz) were signed into law on Thursday, July 18 as P.A. 98-96 and P.A. 98-97.
  • HB 1815 creates the Diabetes Awareness special Illinois license plate.  As with most other Illinois special license plates, persons showing a commitment will help to raise money for a cause recognized by the State.  The supplemental fee for original issuance of this plate will be $40, and the fee for annual sticker renewal will be $27.  $25 from each sum will be transferred to the Diabetes Research Checkoff Fund, and will be used to supplement the monies raised from the State income tax checkoff for diabetes treatment and research.
  • HB 2199 will create a biennial report to be submitted by the State Diabetes Commission, an independent panel staffed by the State’s Department of Public Health.  The report, which will be submitted every two years starting in January 2015, will list not only the number of Illinois residents with diabetes, but also (a) the number of Illinois family members directly affected by these diagnoses, (b) the financial impact of diabetes upon the Illinois economy and its public-sector budget, and (c) the costs and benefits of anti-diabetes public health and diabetes prevention measures.  The report will also direct the State to look at, and continuously monitor, the level of cooperation between different State and other public-sector programs that are aimed at the treatment of diagnosed diabetes and the slowdown and prevention of existing cases of metabolic syndrome and other pre-diabetic conditions from progressing to a diagnosis of diabetes.  
John A. Logan (R) Murphysboro

On the last Monday in May, a grateful nation pauses to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we hold dear. The annual commemoration we now know as Memorial Day has its roots here in Illinois, and it came about because of Union General turned Illinois Congressman John A. Logan (R-Murphysboro).
Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation freed more than four million slaves, was an effective politician, profound statesman, and a shrewd diplomat. He also had a keen sense of humor. His stories and anecdotes gave rise to his moniker as the "Great Story Telling President." 

For the next few weeks we will share some of those stories from the *Project Gutenberg's Lincoln's Yarns and Stories, by Alexander K. McClure. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

*This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org.

Time Lost Didn't Count
Thurlow Weed, the veteran journalist and politician once related how, when he was opposing the claims of Montgomery Blair (who aspired to a Cabinet appointment) that Mr. Lincoln inquired of Mr. Weed whom he would recommend, "Henry Winter Davis" was the response.

"David Davis, I see, has been posting you up on this question," retorted Lincoln. "He has Davis on the brain. I think Maryland must be a good State to move from."

The President then told a story of a witness in court in a neighboring county, who, on being asked his age, replied, "Sixty." Being satisfied he was much older the question was repeated, and on receiving the same answer the court admonished the witness, saying, "The court knows you to be much older than sixty."

"Oh, I understand now," was the rejoinder, "you're thinking of those ten years I spent on the eastern share of Maryland; that was so much time lost, and didn't count."

Blair was made Postmaster-General.

Rep. Mike Tryon is Republican
Spokesperson for the committee 
hearing testimony on Metra
News coverage of the fiasco at Metra continues to heat up. We've pulled together several articles that best explain the issues:

Controversy surrounding the departure of Metra Chairman Alex Clifford is emblematic of one of several key things wrong with Illinois government, and a thorough probe could be an opportunity for a thorough scrubbing. Read the opinion piece in the Northwest Herald.

A shake-up is needed on Metra's board of directors, state lawmakers say, as a scandal over political meddling in the agency continues to snowball. Marni Pyke has the story in the Daily Herald.

This Metra mess is wrong on so many different levels, it’s hard to know where it will end or where to begin. Reboot Illinois' Matt Dietrich and Madeleine Doubek get to the bottom of the issue.

More on the Metra Mess:
Ousted Metra chief hits Madigan's 'moral character flaw' in the Chicago Tribune
Former Metra CEO says Mike Madigan’s requests show ‘a moral and ethical flaw’ in the SunTimes
Franks, Tryon differ on what Clifford hearing would bring in the Northwest Herald

Members of the Illinois General Assembly spend a great deal of time in Springfield in the first half of the year for legislative session, in the remaining months they are working in their districts. The photos below depict some of their activities.

Rep. Patti Bellock and Phil Southerland, founder of Team T1D at the
 Diabetes Awareness 5k on June 24 at Chicago’s historic Soldier Field.

Rep. Raymond Poe meets with seniors from his district at the 15th Annual
Central Illinois Senior Celebration on May 15.

Rep. Don Moffitt presents flag flown over state Capitol at
Aledo fire station grand opening on June 1.

June 25th tour of BNSF Railyard in Galesburg by
Reps. Norine Hammond & Don Moffitt

The recently passed law allowing Illinois residents to carry concealed weapons has an immediate effective date. But, what exactly does immediate mean?  Who can qualify for a concealed carry license? What are the details? We decipher Illinois' new concealed carry law here:

Effective Immediately
By law, the Illinois State Police (ISP) has 180 days from July 9, 2013 to make concealed carry applications available to the public. That's about 6 months, putting the deadline in the first half of January 2014. The ISP has indicated applications will be available on its website by January 5, 2014.

Rep. Sandack on the House Floor
The embezzlement and fraud that occurred in Dixon, Illinois is almost impossible to believe.  Over $30 million embezzled over 6 years, by a single government employee all from a town that only had an annual average budget of $8 million.  While most news outlets focused on the accused’s extravagant lifestyle and lavish hobbies, the more concerning story to me was how did this happen and how do we protect taxpayers in the future.

The answer, in one word:  Transparency.

Transparency serves as a sort of disinfectant to graft, corruption and fraud.  The more access the public has to information, the more responsible government will be.

The State of Illinois has moved swiftly to open access to information.  Both watchdog groups and government officials are providing endless streams of data on state contracts, spending and salaries.  I believed that it was necessary for taxpayers to have that same type of data available from them for their own hometown.  That’s why I worked with House Republican Leader Tom Cross to develop a new transparency initiative to provide taxpayers with even greater insight into how their tax dollars are spent.

Reboot Illinois has the rest of the story.
Born in the newly annexed community of Hermosa on Chicago's Northwest side, I attended McKinley High School. I started my own businesses called Laugh-O-Grams in Kansas City. While my first business failed, my subsequent endeavors that started in Hollywood have thrived to this day. Who am I? Walt Disney.

Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was born on December 5, 1901, in Hermosa, Illinois. He and his brother Roy co-founded Walt Disney Productions, which became one of the best-known motion-picture production companies in the world. Disney was an innovative animator and created the cartoon character Mickey Mouse. He won 22 Academy Awards during his lifetime, and was the founder of theme parks Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Read more about Walt Disney,

Walt Elias Disney. (2013). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 08:24, Jul 16, 2013, from http://www.biography.com/people/walt-disney-9275533.

Concealed Carry Enacted
House overrides Governor’s veto of concealed carry bill.  The compromise concealed carry bill enacted by the General Assembly in May 2013, HB 183, contained measures intended to meet the Second Amendment mandate imposed on the states by the federal Constitution and found valid by the federal court system.  It enacted the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, a new State Act.

The Second Amendment grants broad rights to Americans to own and carry firearms; the complex May 2013 legislation and new Act, HB 183, will implement these rights by creating a “shall issue” licensure process in Illinois.  Most Illinois residents

In January 1838, a young state Representative in his second term in the Illinois House offered an eye-opening warning to the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield. Alerting the audience to the tendency throughout history for civilizations to collapse from within, rather than be beaten down from the outside, Representative Abraham Lincoln (Whig, later Republican, of Springfield) offered these words:

“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step over the ocean and crush us at a single blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa … could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years….If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

The House Republicans know how important small business is for Illinois families and our economy. Small businesses provide the lion's share of Illinois jobs and their owners find ways to live within their means while providing a quality product and/or service. We believe Illinois' small businesses and the people of our state deserve nothing less from their state government. 

In Reboot Illinois, Elliot Richardson, CEO of Small Business Advisory Council, calls on Illinois lawmakers to take some cues from small business. Here is a synopsis of his column

"...A dysfunctional government in Springfield causes uncertainly for small business owners and costs people jobs.

Business owners understand that operating their companies in a smart, and efficient manner, is a critical part of ensuring their viability.  Most also acknowledge that politics can be complicated and policy-making difficult.  However, in talking with thousands of business owners over the past few months, who deal with complicated issues of their own, here are a few suggestions that have been offered to the folks in Springfield.
Illinois lawmakers overrode Gov. Pat Quinn's veto of concealed carry legislation on Tuesday, but it will likely be 2014 before any firearm owners are permitted to pack handguns in public.

The last state to adopt a concealed carry law, Illinois now has to set about building a bureaucracy to process applications — which could number in the hundreds of thousands in the first year — screening out people with prohibitive criminal records or conditions of mental illness that police believe could make them dangerous if armed.

While gun owners may have questions about how soon they'll be able to carry guns in public, other state residents may also have questions about where they can expect to find people armed with deadly weapons. And where guns will still be banned.  Read more of the story  in the Chicago Tribune where David Heinzmann, Monique Garcia and Jeremy Gorner put it all together for you.
Session to consider the Governor's veto of concealed carry legislation is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. today. We'll be providing live coverage here.

Governor's Veto Message
Bill Status for HB183 - Concealed Carry Legislation

Pension Reform Conference Committee on July 8, 2013
Members of the the Pension Reform Conference Committee met for the third time yesterday to discuss options for comprehensive pension reform.

Today was the date established by the Governor to take action on pension reform. At yesterday's meeting, the Conference Committee overwhelmingly agreed that the July 9th date set by Governor was an unrealistic deadline without knowing what the Governor will accept as reform.

Testifying at the hearing were: Rep. Mike Fortner on his legislation HB 2365, Dave Urbanek on behalf of the Teachers’ Retirement System, Tim Blair on behalf of the State Retirement Systems, Jerry Stermer from the Governor’s Office, and Rich Whitney and Professor William Barclay on behalf of HB 1554 and SB 7.

At this time the Conference Committee has not set a date for the next meeting and will stand adjourned until the call of the chair.

Read more:
Rockford Register Star
News Channel 20, ABC
Capitol Fax

I can run 40 miles per hour, swim 13 miles per hour and manage 9 foot hurdles. The flash of brilliant white as I run by is where I got my name. Who am I? I'm the Illinois State Animal: White-Tailed Deer

Illinois schoolchildren voted the white-tailed deer as the state animal in 1980. An animal of incredible b
beauty and power, white-tailed deer are able to run up to 40 miles per hour, jump 9 foot fences, and swim 13 miles per hour. The white underside of the deer's tail waves when running and is flashed as a warning when danger is sensed. Fawns are born with white spots for camouflage. State Symbol USA has more.

White-tailed deer are frequently found in wooded or brushy areas and cleared areas near woody habitats. This type of habitat includes roadways, fields, pastures, and woodland clearings. Deer are generally active at night or during the hours around dawn and dusk. White-tailed deer eat a wide variety of plant food. They browse tender shoots, leaves, and twigs of shrubs and trees. They will also eat many common agricultural and garden crops. Read more about Illinois' white tailed deer.

Concealed Carry 
Governor Quinn on Tuesday issued an amendatory veto of HB 183, the concealed carry bill. HB 183 passed the House in late May by a vote of 89-28, and the Senate by a 45-12 margin. The Governor’s changes included:
  • An expansion of the list of locations in which a permit holder may not carry a concealed weapon to include all businesses which serve alcohol. HB 183 as passed banned concealed carry only in bars where alcohol sales made up at least 50% of all revenue. The amended version would ban concealed carry in many restaurants.
  • A requirement that the weapon must be completely concealed instead of “mostly concealed” 
  • A limitation to only carrying one concealed firearm and one ammunition clip which carries no more than 10 bullets 
  • Reinstatement of the assault weapons ban 
Long before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote nationwide, state Rep. Lottie Holman O’Neill (R-Downers Grove) was hard at work for the causes she believed in.

A native of Pike County, in western Illinois, Rep. O’Neill married in 1904 and moved to the Chicago area to pursue a career. She was inspired to enter politics by U.S. Rep. Jeanette Rankin (R-Montana), who became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1916. She became active in the Business and Professional Women, and before long she was an activist for equal voting rights, working with the League of Women Voters during the debate on the 19th Amendment. Illinois gradually granted women the right to vote – starting in 1913 with legislation allowing women to vote only for President, but O’Neill would not be satisfied until women had access to the entire ballot.
The Governor has taken action to sign the FY14 budget bills passed by the General Assembly into law, with the exception of HB 214 which awaits action. The following chart shows the bills as passed by the General Assembly and the appropriation totals contained in the bills:

FY14 Spending
Bill #
Budget Item Description
HB 206
Includes Pension Payment and Group Insurance
HB 208
IBHE and ISBE Operations; Partial Grants
HB 213
Human Services
HB 214
General Services
HB 215
Public Safety
SB 2555
K-12 Education Grants
SB 2556
Higher Education Grants
Budget Bill Subtotal:

SB 1329
BIMP - Transfers
SB 1329
BIMP Debt Services
GRF Transfer for Old Medicaid Bills*

CIP and TRIP Continuing Approp

Less Permanent Lapse
FY14 Spending:
* Total Old Bill set aside of $651 million including $50 million set aside in HB 206

At 11:00 today, the Governor will take action on HB183, concealed carry legislation that passed the General Assembly this session. We'll be covering it live here.


In an effort to honor President Abraham Lincoln in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of his death and interment at Oak Ridge Cemetery in 1865. House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) has filed a resolution calling on the United States Secretary of the Treasury to mint a Lincoln Sesquicentennial coin in time for circulation in April and May of 2015, the period during which Lincoln’s funeral train made its way from Washington, D.C. to Springfield.

“Abraham Lincoln’s life and legacy is a critical part of Illinois’ heritage,” said Cross. “We can encourage students and families to learn more about our most distinguished native son by minting a coin that celebrates the defining achievements of President Lincoln in ending slavery in the United States, advancing the cause of equality and succeeding above all else in unifying our country.”
Rep. Mike Unes
State Representative Mike Unes (R-East Peoria) announced last week that HB1868 has been signed into law by Governor Quinn. House Bill 1868 is aimed at keeping High-Tech Manufacturing Classes in area high schools.

As a member of the Focus Forward Central Illinois Economic Development Steering Committee, Rep. Mike Unes has been working hard on issues aimed at job creation and retention in Central Illinois. One of the major concerns expressed by the specialized manufacturing group in the region has been closing the skills gap between ideal job candidates and the skills they were finding amongst area job applicants. Employers like Excel Foundry & Machine began partnering with local high schools to share information with students in area high schools about specialized manufacturing careers. This is a critical public/private partnership according to Representative Unes. Read more on Rep. Unes Website.

Other news from Central Illinois