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.
House Republicans demand answers after thousands of Illinois residents report losing health insurance.  The implementation day of the federal Affordable Care Act, October 1, 2013, imposed complex and costly new mandates upon private health insurance policies sold, or provided by employers, to Americans citizens and residents.  A large segment of previously profitable health insurance policies have become unprofitable.

In the weeks following the “Obamacare implementation date,” a significant number of Americans have reported to their lawmakers that they have recently received letters from their insurers,
In response to stories about Illinois residents who lost their current health insurance coverage or experienced rate increases, Rep Darlene Senger is asking the Illinois Department of Insurance to publicly disclose the impact of the Affordable Care Act on Illinois families.

House Resolution 680 introduced by Senger and co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Bost and more than 39 other legislators, urges the Illinois Department of Insurance to release information regarding the number of people in Illinois whose current health insurance plan was cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act and the number of Illinoisans who have obtained health insurance through the Illinois marketplace. Read more about HR680.

Rep. Adam Brown testifies in committee about HHP
Hypophosphatasia (HPP) is a rare disease that an estimated 70% of our medical professionals are not even aware exists. By raising awareness and educating the public, it is our goal to effect earlier diagnosis and treatment of HPP.”Rep. Adam Brown

Rep. Brown says he was first made aware of HPP through a local area family whose three-year-old son was recently diagnosed with the disease. It is estimated that 1 in 100,000 newborns are born with HPP.   

With almost all forms of HPP, bones become soft because they cannot absorb important minerals like calcium and phosphorous; in some people, this can cause problems with bone growth and strength and lead to broken bones and bone pain.  Read more of the story.
Pictured: Reps Bill Mitchell, Dennis Reboletti, Patti Bellock, Chad Hays, Jim Durkin, Mike Tryon, David Reis, JoAnn Osmond and David Leitch.

The Illinois Constitution provides the Governor with four possible veto alternatives, below is a brief description of each:

Total Veto:  The Governor can veto an entire bill by returning it with his objections to the chamber in which it originated. The General Assembly can override this veto by a vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each chamber.

Item Veto: The Governor can veto any item of appropriations in a bill by returning it to the chamber in which it originated. The General Assembly can override this veto by a vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each chamber.  
Gov. Quinn’s “supplemental” budget request includes significant overtime payments to unionized State employees.  State auditors have reported that the Department of Corrections (IDOC) notched $62 million in overtime expenses in fiscal year 2013 (ended June 30, 2013).  The overtime payments, which are required by the terms of the union contracts signed by the Quinn administration and the AFSCME union that represents prison guards, help compensate these workers for the dangerous work of maintaining control of overcrowded prisons.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and for the next 30 days the Illinois Legislative Diabetes Caucus will be featuring on their website stories of real Illinoisans who are living their lives with diabetes.

“It is important to be aware of the warning signs of diabetes and know when to see a healthcare professional,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin about the 30 days project. “These stories show that diabetes effects people in all walks of life and that many people with Diabetes have overcome the challenges and have gone on to do great things.”