Governor Rauner issued a state disaster proclamation on December 29th for seven counties to ensure continued state support to help affected communities respond and recover from flooding caused by the recent heavy rains.  Counties included in the proclamation include Calhoun, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair.

“These counties have significant issues related to flooding that is already occurring or could occur over the next several days,” Gov. Rauner said. “We are committed to help local responders in these and other impacted counties ensure the safety of people affected by this unusual December flooding.”

According to the National Weather Service, rainfall between December 23-28 averaged approximately seven inches in the declared counties.

The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield was activated Monday to ensure state personnel and equipment could be deployed quickly to support local emergency responders. Resources provided to date include nearly 400,000 sandbags, 160 rolls of plastic, 1,200 tons of sand, and numerous pumps and generators to support flood-fighting efforts in several counties.

For updates on the current situation, visit the Ready Illinois website at

These 237 piece of legislation were signed into law and will take effect in 2016.

Clarifying “Discovery” Court Procedures (P.A. 99-0110, HB 95)
Provides that discovery and depositions shall be in accordance with rules of the Illinois Supreme Court. This law expands the definition of “discovery” to include physical and mental examinations and the taking of any depositions.

SMLCR Act Bond Increased (P.A. 99-0224, HB 123)
Amends the Surface-Mined Land Conservation and Reclamation Act by increasing the amount of any bond that is required to be filled out with the Department of Natural Resources by an operator to any amount between $600 and $10,000 per acre (Currently $600 to $5,000). Also changes the name of the Fluorspar and Underground Limestonee Mines Act to the Fluorspar Mines Act.
State Representative David Leitch (R-Peoria) was honored on Monday, December 14th with the President’s Award from the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association (CBHA) in recognition of his advocacy on mental health and substance use issues.

“This recognition was awarded to Rep. Leitch by the CBHA Board of Directors as the first time the award has been presented since 2008,” said CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey.  Mr. Lindsey went on to say that Rep. Leitch has been an, “unwavering clear voice in the Illinois Legislature who has unselfishly enriched the lives of countless men, women, families and the community and state.” Read more.

FY16 Budget
Legislative leaders meet with Governor Rauner for second round of budget talks.  The second week of budget talks took place behind closed doors in Chicago on Tuesday, December 8.  The meeting yielded some mild optimism and word that more talks — including among the Governor’s and legislative staff — are planned for the near future.

The leaders agreed to meet again next week to further discuss the major outstanding budget and budget-related issues facing Illinois.  The State continues to operate in FY16 (began July 1, 2015) without a constitutional balanced budget.
The Better Business Bureau warns consumers to be careful this holiday season and watch out for scammers.  Here are top scams identified by the BBB.

Look-alike websites: When shopping online, make sure to use only legitimate websites. Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words.

Fake shipping notifications: These can have attachments or links to sites that will download malware on your computer to steal your identity and your passwords. Don’t be fooled by a holiday phishing scam. 
A meeting of Gov. Bruce Rauner and four legislative leaders in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon yielded some mild optimism and word that more talks — including among governor’s and legislative staff — are planned for the near future.

But the Republican governor and the Democrats who lead supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly still seem far apart on their core positions.

“This was a good meeting,” House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said after the session in the governor’s offices at the James R. Thompson Center.

But the speaker also said there were no breakthroughs: “We all know from experience that when you get into a budget impasse of this nature that it’s a bunch of small steps, there’s not going to be any big leaps to success.” Read the entire story in Reboot.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger on Monday said legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor will allow her office to swiftly process payments for local governments, 911 emergency phone services, Lottery winners and domestic violence shelters.

Approved by the House last week, SB2039 unanimously passed the Senate Monday, and was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner.
FY16 Budget
Governor Rauner, legislative leaders hold budget summit; December cash flow affects talks.  The summit, which included House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, was held on Tuesday, December 1 at the State Capitol in Springfield.  There was a frank and full exchange of views on issues dividing the four caucuses, including the need for property tax relief, workers’ compensation reform, public-sector labor-management relations, and a reformed system to elect and re-elect State lawmakers.
Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) shared her experience and leadership on health care policy at a recent Healthcare Summit in Washington, D.C. hosted by Women in Government. During the summit, Bellock met with other female legislators from across the country to discuss the numerous national, regional and local issues surrounding health care.

Bellock's landmark legislation – the SMART Act reforming Illinois' Medicaid system and new laws requiring mental health parity and MRSA infection control have all been recognized on a national level.
As snow and ice season bears down on Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police and the Illinois Tollway are teaming up to alert motorists to be prepared and to remember: “Winter Weather – Get it Together.” By taking steps now to be ready to drive in wintry conditions, the traveling public can do its part to ensure a safe and successful winter driving season.

“With temperatures dropping and some of the state already experiencing a first blast of winter, drivers should be aware of what they can do to keep safety their No. 1 priority,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “That means buckling up, slowing down, increasing traveling distances, and preparing to stay home if the weather is bad. By remembering the basic winter driving skills, together we can make this winter the safest one ever on Illinois roads.”
On Tuesday, Representative Steve Andersson asked for a moment of silence on the floor of the House of Representatives to acknowledge and remember those affected by the November 13th terror attacks in Paris.

Watch his moving tribute of the victims and condemnation of the terrorist attack.

State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Springfield) formally took the oath of office Wednesday as the new representative of the 99th District in the Illinois House.

“This is such an exciting opportunity to work for the people of Sangamon County,” Jimenez said. “I am looking forward to getting started.”

The oath was administered by Judge Carol Pope in the Illinois House chamber with Jimenez’s family, friends and new colleagues in attendance. Jimenez moved to Springfield when she was 5 years old. She attended Cathedral Grade School and is a graduate of Ursuline Academy, SIU Edwardsville and the University of Illinois at Springfield.
With the holiday season in full swing, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies are offering tips to help people stay safe now and into the new year.

“December can be a fun but hectic time of year,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “Throughout the month, we’ll be offering tips to help people stay safe, as well as provide ideas on gifts that can help friends and family stay safe during all types of emergencies.”

Joseph offered several ideas for preparedness gifts including: