General Assembly Pay
House Republicans vote for bill to deny pay increase for selves in FY16. The measure, HB 576, amends State law to block implementation of the automatic pay increases slated to be paid in FY16 to Illinois elected officials. This action is necessary to prevent an annual automatic pay increase from being paid to members of the General Assembly, statewide elected officials, certain Cabinet-level executive branch agency directors and appointees, and county state’s attorneys. Automatic pay increases of this type have been mandated by the Compensation Review Act since 1984.
The Rauner administration and the largest state employees union have agreed to a two-month contract extension while negotiations continue on a new labor agreement.

At the same time, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would prohibit either a strike or lockout and provide for an independent arbitrator to resolve the contract talks.

Rauner said the bill would put the fate of the contract into the hands of an unelected arbitrator “to impose billions of dollars of new costs on our taxpayers without any involvement of the executive branch, the General Assembly or those taxpayers.”

The agreement was signed Wednesday between the administration and Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 38,000 state employees.

The agreement says that “neither side will resort to strike, work stoppage, work slowdown or lockout between August 1, 2015, and September 30, 2015, or until impasse is reached, whichever comes later.” Read the entire story in the State Journal-Register.
FY16 Budget Crisis
Budget stalemate continues in Springfield. As the State of Illinois entered the fourth week of the new fiscal year without a balanced budget in place, the Democrat majority again refused to negotiate in good faith and instead continued their piece-meal approach to the budget crisis.

In the House, Democrats again backed a temporary budget to fund certain services at a level that is not sustainable over the course of the entire fiscal year. House Amendment 1 to HB 4143 was adopted by a narrow majority of Democrats, but did not receive enough votes to be passed on Third Reading and was therefore held for future consideration.
State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) received the Governor’s signature on her first piece of legislation on Tuesday. Back in April, Bryant received unanimous support in the House for HB 3721, a bill designed to help National Guard members keep their jobs. Bryant, whose district shares a border with the state of Missouri, explained the need for the measure.

"When a member of the National Guard is called to duty by their own state's Governor or by the Governor of a neighboring state, this bill would allow them to categorize their work as military service," Bryant said. "The addition of a 'military service' definition to their work in another state affords members of the National Guard protection that their job will be held for them upon a call up to duty in another state."

Bryant said that while the change may seem small, it is quite significant for the men and women of Illinois serving in the National Guard. Read more.
While Illinois faces $5 billion in unpaid bills and struggles to find the resources to pay for vital services, Legislative Democrats are again thwarting attempts to reject an automatic legislative pay raise that was enacted July 1st of this year.

On Tuesday, Illinois House Republicans, again, requested the immediate release from the House Rules Committee, a bill (HB 4225) that would prohibit 2% cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for State government legislative and executive elected officers and appointees for the FY2015 budget.

In his request, Representative Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), implored the House Speaker to release the bill for a vote, calling it “unconscionable” that Democrats would allow themselves and others in state government to get pay raises, while the budget --- and money for vital services--- still lie in limbo.  However, the House Republican’s request was deemed to be “out of order” and no action was taken.

A 2% raise for members of the General Assembly will automatically go into effect unless legislation is passed to specifically to stop it.  The Republican Caucus wants no less than an immediate release of HB 4225 from Rules to reject the pay raises and allocate those dollars where they can help our communities, and this was not their first request to advance the legislation.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has filed a resolution to protect military personnel in the wake of last Thursday’s attack on the Recruitment Center and Navy Operational Support Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. House Resolution 658, calls on the U.S. Congress to act swiftly to enact laws that allow military personnel to be armed for their protection in light of several terror attacks that have been carried out on U.S. military installations in recent years.

“The issue of ensuring the safety of those who protect our nation is two-fold in this day of terrorist threats at home and abroad,” said Wheeler. “We expect our military personnel to be able to defend themselves while overseas, but today they also need to protect themselves at home. For this reason, I have filed a resolution that calls on the U.S. Congress to act quickly to allow our service men and women to protect themselves while serving on home soil.” Read more.

Some changes to Illinois’ fledgling concealed-carry law that clarify some of its ambiguities took effect with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature.

Senate Bill 836, which took effect earlier this month, addresses a number of issues raised by gun-rights groups, such as privacy, mental illness and dealings with law enforcement. It was the first set of changes made to the law since its approval in June 2013.

Illinois’ concealed-carry law, which took effect in 2014, is among the more stringent in the nation. In-state applicants have to take a 16-hour course – or eight hours for honorably discharged veterans – and pay a $150 fee to the Illinois State Police. It forbids carrying in a number of locations, mandates increased mental health reporting requirements and allows local law enforcement to object to granting licenses to people they feel are a danger to themselves or others.

The most significant changes deal with the process of applying for a concealed-carry permit. The new law clarifies that the privacy waiver that applicants have to submit applies only to personal records, such as criminal and psychiatric history, that have direct bearing on the applicants’ qualification to carry a concealed handgun. It also provides a mechanism by which someone with a “mild” developmental disability who otherwise meets the legal requirements can appeal a denial. The Daily Chronicle has the story.

FY16 Budget Crisis
Democrats send unbalanced partial-month budget to the Governor. As the State of Illinois entered the third week of the new fiscal year without a balanced budget in place, the Democrat majority continued to take a piece-meal approach to the budget crisis.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Senate concurred with House changes to SB 2040, an unbalanced partial month budget set to expire on August 1. The Democrats’ plan passed the House by the bare minimum of 71 partisan Democrat votes in the House the previous week. SB 2040 does not contain one-month spending levels based on the projected FY16 revenue estimate of $32 billion.
Forty emerging leaders from throughout Illinois have been selected as 2015 Edgar Fellows in the fourth year of an initiative to inspire bipartisan, inter-regional cooperation in addressing major challenges for the state in the years and decades ahead. Among the leaders selected are Representatives Tim Butler, Tom Demmer, Sheri Jesiel and Grant Wehrli from the House Republican Caucus.

The Edgar Fellows Program is an initiative of the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. It focuses on developing leadership and governing capacity in Illinois. It emphasizes the need to forthrightly address major policy issues without permitting partisan, ethnic and regional rivalries to trump statesmanship. It is designed to influence attitudes and foster mutual understanding. It holds the promise of facilitating bipartisan and cross-regional cooperation as class participants assume more influential public leadership roles.

“Since we launched this initiative in 2012, we have seen Democrats, Republicans and independents, from the neighborhoods in Chicago to the rural areas of deep southern Illinois, discover they have much in common even as they develop an appreciation for other viewpoints,” former Gov. Jim Edgar said. "I am confident this class of fellows also will form bonds that will serve them and our state well as they climb the leadership ladder.”

FY16 Budget Crisis
Democrats continue push for unbalanced, unconstitutional budget. As the State of Illinois entered the second week of its fiscal year without a balanced budget in place, the Democrat majority continued to take a piece-meal approach to the budget crisis.

Democrats again backed a temporary budget to fund certain services at a level that is not sustainable over the course of the entire fiscal year. SB 2040, passed by the bare minimum of 71 partisan Democrat votes in the House Thursday, does not contain one-month spending levels based on the projected FY16 revenue estimate of $32 billion.
State employees should be paid in full while a budget impasse plays out at the Capitol, a downstate judge ruled Thursday.

The decision in St. Clair County, near St. Louis, contradicts a Tuesday ruling in Cook County, where a judge denied Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger’s request to continue paying workers in full despite the absence of a budget.

Following the downstate ruling Thursday, Munger’s office issued a statement saying she was moving forward with processing payroll for checks due to go out July 15.

“While there will most certainly be additional legal action, I am confident that the court will ultimately determine that paying state employees for their work is the right, and legal, thing to do,” Munger said in a statement. Read the entire story in the Chicago Tribune.
Today, Illinois House Democrats amended and passed a one-month budget that sets Illinois on a path to a $36 billion unbalanced budget. The spending plan doesn’t match projected revenues and it is anticipated that Governor Rauner will veto the legislation. However, prior to arriving on the Governor’s desk the legislation will head back to the Senate due to a late amendment.

The partisan vote was yet another clear indication House Democrats continue to focus their efforts to force a tax increase without any concessions to the Governor who has consistently insisted that any revenue must be accompanied by fundamental reforms to Illinois government.

 Earlier in the week, Governor Rauner went before the media and called for the Speaker to either put up a tax increase to pay for the budget that was proposed or come back to the negotiating table to discuss the turnaround agenda. The Governor’s agenda was again filed this week and incorporated many changes requested by legislators.
Legislation that limits the size and scope of community college buyout packages and severance agreements, and limits the length of employment contracts, has passed in the Illinois House and Senate and now moves to the Governor’s desk to be signed.

In response to the $763,000 contract buyout approved by College of DuPage Trustees for President Dr. Robert Breuder earlier this year, State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) carried HB3593, which would limit the amount of future agreements to no more than one year of salary and benefits. “The agreement that the majority of the COD trustees approved for their underperforming president was excessive and not in the best interest of the taxpayers who fund the college,” said Ives. “I would have liked to have been able to roll back his agreement, but at least moving forward there will be taxpayer protections in place.”

Beginning July 1st, U.S. military veterans are now able to receive updated driver's licenses with a veteran designation displayed on the front of the card.  Details on the new licenses can be found here on the Illinois Secretary of State website.

The legislation enabling this new feature was carried in the House by State Representative Mike Fortner and State Representative Mike Unes as well as a handful of other legislators in 2012.  

FY16 Budget Crisis

     Governor Rauner, Republicans fight to prevent Illinois government shutdown.  Without a budget in place for the new Fiscal Year 2016 (which began on July 1), there is a possibility that paychecks could be delayed for approximately 65,000 state employees starting July 15.

Governor Rauner and his staff are examining their legal options.  The governor stated on Monday, June 29 that “Our lawyers are working hard to ensure that all employees will be paid on their scheduled pay dates.”  Speaker Michael Madigan and Attorney General Lisa Madigan continued to assert that paychecks may well be delayed and parts of Illinois’ government shut down. 
This weekend hundreds of millions of Americans will be celebrating America's independence which is Saturday, July 4.

The state of Illinois has banned the following types of consumer fireworks unless licensed:

  • Hand held fireworks
  • Bottle rockets
  • Firecrackers of any size or type
  • Sky rockets
  • Roman candles
  • Chasers
  • Buzz bombs
  • Ground items other than those identified as approved consumer fireworks
  • Helicopters
  • Missiles
  • Pin wheels or any other twirling device whether on the ground or mounted above the ground
  • Planes
  • Sky lanterns - the type of balloon which requires fire underneath to propel

In a new twist to the state’s ongoing budget battle, Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed salary increases for Illinois lawmakers, and other highly paid state employees.

Rauner has already signaled he won’t go along with a one-month budget Democratic lawmakers were expected to push through the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday in an effort to avoid a temporary government shutdown.

Rauner’s budget director, Tim Nuding, said that measure would be unconstitutional. He said, if the $2.3 billion temporary budget plan were applied to a full year, it would be nearly $4 billion short of revenue.  Read the rest of the story in CBSChicago.