Dear Friend, 

This week's email newsletter comes after a week's long break from legislative action in Springfield. Every year, the legislature takes a break while the Passover season is recognized. I took the opportunity to meet with several constituents at my two offices, and attended tours, events, and certificate presentations for some truly extraordinary and deserving individuals. 


The House heads back to Springfield on Tuesday, May 3 when Senate bills will start to move through the Committee process. A push to find a compromise on social and human service funding programs is likely in the works, and I will have more news on that in next week's edition. 

Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce Certificate Winners
Each year the Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce hands out special recognition to deserving individuals that have made a positive impact on the community.
I was happy to meet with this year's winners and present them with official certificates of congratulations from the Illinois House.
Pictured here are Rep. Bryant and Mike Tyler
of Tyler Toyota Buick GMC, the winner of this
year's Small Business of the Year Award



Pictured here are Rep. Bryant and
Robert "Bob" Brown. 
Bob was honored as
this year's Citizen of the Year

by the Mt. Vernon Chamber.











Pictured here are Rep. Bryant and Holly Kruep, of Karco
in Mt. Vernon. Holly was this year's Mt. Vernon Chamber of Commerce
Young Professional of the Year
Uncle Joe's BBQ Sauce Gains National Recognition


Terri presents Joe Wilkerson with a certificate of
congratulations for achieving national recognition
for two of his famous sauces. 
Terri reads HR 1197 congratulating Good Samaritan Hospital's
Auxiliary on its 50th Anniversary. 
I was especially excited to stop by Uncle Joe's Deli in Ina this week to present Joe Wilkerson with a House Certificate for his outstanding achievements at a recent National Barbecue Sauce competition. Uncle Joe's ALl Purpose Sauce XXX Hot took the title of Illinois Champion in the National BBQ Sauce Competition Sponsored by the Illinois Barbecue Society. Uncle Joe's Also received a bronze medal for  its Sweet Mustard Sauce.


Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary Celebrates 50th Anniversary
I was honored this past week to join supporters of the Good Samaritan Hospital's Auxiliary for a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Auxiliary. Earlier this month, the Illinois House passed a Resolution congratulating Good Sam's Auxiliary. Text of the resolution can be read here.

Here's an excerpt from the Resolution:

|
The Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary enriches 
the community and supports the healing mission and values of SSM Health by creating opportunities for people to experience the joy of serving others while ensuring an exceptional experience for those who serve; and through a variety of volunteer opportunities including customer service and hospitality, administrative duties, assisting nursing staff, pastoral care visits, and working in non-clinical support areas, the Good Samaritan
Hospital Auxiliary contributes goodwill and support to the community at large in a major way. 

Stay Connected!
The House will return to Springfield on May 3rd. We have much work to do. 

My office in Mt. Vernon is staffed Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is staffed Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 to 4:00 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can email me directly at bryant@ilhousegop.org or send me a message through the contact form on my website at www.repbryant.com


Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!


Deadline Week in the House Sees Compromise on Higher Ed Funding, Furious Floor Action

Dear Friends, 

The tone for the week in Illinois politics was set early last Sunday morning as Comptroller Leslie Munger announced that lawmakers and Constitutional officers’ pay would now be subject to delay due to the budget impasse. 

When asked for comment on the issue by WSIL-TV, I was quoted as saying, “This is probably something that should have happened in January.” Had it happened earlier, who knows where Illinois would be, but for now, I want to reiterate my support for Comptroller Munger’s decision to prioritize payments to social service providers over politicians’ paychecks.

This week is known in Springfield as 3rd Reading Deadline Week. That means that all substantive bills were on a deadline to pass the House by Friday. With so many bills filed this year, and with so much work left to do on higher education funding, school construction funding, and much more, the action in the House was furious.  Below are some quick descriptions on critical items that saw action this week:

Voting YES on Higher Education Funding - The State of Illinois has been delinquent in providing funding for SIU, community colleges, and MAP grant recipients since July. But, with the passage of SB 2059 this week, SIU will receive $57 million. The bill also contains nearly $170 million to ensure MAP grant recipients to be able to attend school next fall, and also includes funding to help support community colleges.

An important part of the bill’s passage was the fact that it contained a specifically identified funding mechanism. This has been a demand of mine from the beginning. I have said that any bill that passes without a source to pay for higher-ed spending equates to a broken promise.

After SB 2059 passed the House and Senate on Friday, Comptroller Munger released a statement saying she is prioritizing payments to our higher education community so that money is sent immediately. This week’s action on higher education funding shows that when legislators from both parties work together to find solutions, we can get the job done.

School construction funding bill HB 4232 passed - Last June, I sponsored legislation to free up construction funding to complete Mt. Vernon’s new high school. The freeze on construction funding has been a result of the budget impasse, and has caused some very difficult financial circumstances for affected school districts. HB 4232 makes appropriations from the School Construction Fund and the Capital Development Fund for ongoing school construction and improvements for Fiscal Year 2016. Under the bill, an amount of nearly $6 million would be released to Mt. Vernon Township High School to assist in completing the new high school’s construction.

HJRCA 36 Passes House: Dedicates funds for road improvement - I voted yes this week on a proposed Constitutional Amendment meant to stop the misuse of taxpayer dollars intended for road repair and other transportation infrastructure projects. A bipartisan effort to require those funds only be used for transportation-related purposes was successful this week. When we pay fuel tax, vehicle registration fees, and when our businesses pay taxes and fees for special licenses, stickers, and license plates, we expect that those dollars will be returned to our communities to help maintain and repair our roads and highways. 

In the past, the road fund has been used for other projects not related to infrastructure improvements. This measure would amend the Illinois Constitution to say that tax dollars collected via the motor fuel tax, vehicle registration fees, and license taxes will be used exclusively for transportation-related purposes.

Part Two of Molly's Law passed the House this week with
unanimous support.
Molly’s Law - On Friday, HB 4715  passed with unanimous support in the House.The vote was 107-0. 

This bill is the second piece of a package of bills I sponsored that you may now know as Molly’s Law. Earlier this month, I was joined by Larry Young, father of Molly Young, in Springfield to testify on behalf of HB 6083. That first piece of Molly’s Law changes the statute of limitations for filing wrongful death lawsuits from 2 to 5 years in cases of violently caused deaths. 

HB 4715, which passed on Friday, changes the Freedom of Information Act statute to increase the fine from a maximum fine of $5,000 to a maximum fine of $10,000 when a public entity refuses to comply with a court order to release documents under FOIA. It also adds a $1,000 fine per day for every violation that occurs after 30 days when a public entity is in non-compliance with a court order.

Stay Connected!
The House will return to Springfield on May 3rd. We have much work to do. 

My office in Mt. Vernon is staffed Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is staffed Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 to 4:00 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can email me directly at bryant@ilhousegop.org or send me a message through the contact form on my website at www.repbryant.com

Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!


HB 4715 received unanimous support in the Illinois House.
Springfield….State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) announced on Friday that HB 4715, which is the second piece of Molly’s Law, passed unanimously out of the House. The unanimous passage of part two of Molly’s Law is consistent with the previous unanimous Committee and House support that Bryant received for HB 6083, which was part one of Molly’s Law.

"I want to thank my colleagues in the House for their attention to Molly’s case,” Bryant said.

 “I was proud to sponsor Molly’s Law to help families that, God forbid, may find themselves in a similar situation as the Young family in the future. 


The changes contained in HB 6083 and HB 4715 are a direct response to the circumstances that occurred during Molly’s case, so to receive unanimous support from my colleagues in the House for these important changes is very encouraging.” 


Earlier this month, Rep. Terri Bryant was joined by Larry Young,
the father of Molly Young to testify in committee
on behalf of Molly's Law.  Molly's Law was created to fix
our wrongful death lawsuit laws and to add strength to
the Freedom of Information Act.
Part one of Molly’s Law is contained in HB 6083. That bill would change the statute of limitations for interested parties to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their loved one from 2 to 5 years after the discovery of evidence that supports the assertion that a violent act lead to the death of the individual. That bill received unanimous Committee and House of Representatives support and now awaits action in the Senate.

Part two of Molly’s Law is reflected in HB 4715, and contains important changes to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The bill would change the current fine for public bodies that violate court orders to release information under FOIA from the current maximum fine of $5000 to $10000. It also adds an additional fine of $1000 for every day after 30 days that a public body is in violation of the court order as well.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin was on hand for a press
conference to announce Molly's law in Carbondale alongside
Rep. Bryant and supports of the Justice for Molly movement.

Having passed the House 107-0, the bill moves to the Senate for consideration.


####
Springfield....State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) voted to provide financial support to the state’s higher education institutions and MAP grant recipients, in an early morning vote taken in the Illinois House on Friday.  Bryant noted a bipartisan agreement was reached after rank and file legislators worked together on the plan.

"We worked hard to identify a real funding source for this bill,” Bryant said. “The higher education crisis has gone on too long, so I am glad to be able to vote to support community colleges, and Southern Illinois University and the students that rely on MAP grants to continue their education.”

Bryant says an important part of the bill’s passage was the fact that it contained a specifically identified funding mechanism. This, she says, is different than many other spending plans that have passed through the House since the budget impasse began last July 1.

“The State of Illinois has been delinquent in providing funding for SIU, MAP grant recipients, and community colleges since July,” Bryant said. “With the passage of this bill SIU will see a one-time disbursement of $57 million. The bill contains nearly $170 million for MAP grant recipients to be able to attend school next fall as well.”

Bryant issued a special note of thanks to southern Illinois Democrat legislators Brandon Phelps and Jerry Costello II for their bipartisan leadership to reach the higher education funding compromise.

“I applaud the efforts of my southern Illinois House colleagues for reaching across the aisle to reach a deal on funding these critical higher education budget items,” Bryant said. “I look forward to participating in further bipartisan negotiations to solve our human services and Pre-K and K-12 public education funding.”

SB 2059 also passed the Illinois Senate on Friday morning. The bill now goes to Governor Rauner for his signature. The Governor has stated that he intends to sign the legislation.

To contact Rep. Bryant, please visit www.repbryant.com and follow the Contact link. You may also call her district office at (618) 242-8115 or email her at Bryant@ILHouseGop.org.

####


Springfield….State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) announced on Thursday that HB 4715, which is the second piece of “Molly’s Law” passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary Civil Law Committee. The 7-0 vote on part two of Molly’s Law is consistent with the previous unanimous Committee and House support that Bryant received for HB 6083, which was part one of “Molly’s Law”.

"I want to thank my colleagues in the House for their attention to Molly’s case,” Bryant said. “I was proud to sponsor these two laws to help families that may find themselves in a similar situation as the Young’s in the future. The changes contained in HB 6083 and HB 4715 are a direct response to the circumstances that occurred during Molly’s case, so to receive unanimous support for these changes is very encouraging.”   


Part one of “Molly’s Law” is contained in HB 6083. That bill would change the statute of limitations for interested parties to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their loved one from 2 to 5 years after the discovery of evidence that supports the assertion that a violent act lead to the death of the individual. That bill received unanimous Committee and House of Representatives support and now awaits action in the Senate. 


Part two of “Molly’s Law” is reflected in HB 4715, and contains important changes to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The bill would change the current fine for public bodies that violate court orders to release information under FOIA from the current maximum fine of $5000 to $10000. It also adds an additional fine of $1000 for every day after 30 days that a public body is in violation of the court order as well.


Bryant says she expects a vote on HB 4715 from the full House tomorrow. 


To contact Rep. Bryant, please visit www.repbryant.com and follow the Contact link. You may also call her district office at (618) 242-8115 or email her at Bryant@ILHouseGop.org.  

####

Springfield….State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) voted in favor of legislation that would release funding to complete construction on the new high school in Mt. Vernon. HB 4232 contains Capital Development Board grant funding that was approved in 2003 and 2004 for school construction projects all over Illinois. The bill passed the House today with 70 yes votes.

"Last June, I joined my colleagues in sponsoring legislation that sought to free up construction funding to complete Mt. Vernon’s new high school,” Bryant said. “The freeze on construction funding has been a result of the budget impasse, and has caused some very difficult financial circumstances for affected school districts.”

HB 4232 makes re-appropriations from the School Construction Fund and the Capital Development Fund for ongoing school construction and improvements for Fiscal Year 2016.

“A major concern we have had is the potential extra costs to rebid any contractual work currently in progress,” Bryant said. “I want to thank my House colleagues on the other side of the aisle for supporting this bill and for pressuring their leaders into making the responsible decision to release this bill to help complete the stalled construction of several new Illinois schools.”

Under the bill, the remaining amount of nearly $6 million would be released to Mt. Vernon Township High School for the completion of the new school’s construction.

To contact Rep. Bryant, please visit www.repbryant.com and follow the Contact link. You may also call her district office at (618) 242-8115 or email her at Bryant@ILHouseGop.org.

####


Last Thursday, I sent out a call to my fellow Illinoisans to sign an online petition to Stop a proposal to tax Illinois drivers per-mile!
With your quick attention and support via social media, the message spread quickly. So far, the petition has gathered over 2000 signatures!
The best news of all, however, is that Senate President John Cullerton has DROPPED his plan to pursue a per-mile tax on Illinois drivers. Together, we said NO to the Per-Mile Tax, and NO to the Government monitoring your travel.

While this is indeed good news, we have to keep up the pressure to continue to reject this type of tax. Sometimes bad bills can stay alive for a long time in Springfield, even when it looks like they are dead on arrival. We cannot tolerate this type of intrusion into our personal lives.
I want to thank you all very much for your quick action to sign the online petition and Stop the Per-Mile Tax on Drivers! Below is a link you can share with your own social media and email contacts to spread the word even more. Again, thank you for taking the time to Stop the Per-Mile Tax!



Another proposal floating around in Springfield is a possible 30 cent increase in the sales tax on gasoline. If you would like to sign the online petition opposing these measures, please click on this link: 

Dear Friend,

This week I'm going to jump right to the issues. I've got news to report regarding my vote on SB 2046, Molly's Law, and my petition drive to Stop a proposed per-mile tax on Illinois' drivers.

Union Back Pay Issue and SB 2046 - Setting the record straight:

First, I have received a lot of feedback from constituents regarding my Present vote on SB 2046. I want to take this opportunity to clear the record on some misrepresentations that are being made on Facebook and in newspaper website comment sections.

As a former state employee, I am part of a group of state employees that are owed thousands of dollars in back pay from a previous contract deal signed in 2012 by then Governor Pat Quinn. Governor Quinn never got around to keeping his promises to public employee labor unions that year, and then he dumped the issue into his successor's lap. It has always been my position that voting Yes for any legislation that contains back pay would violate the state ethics' act. For that reason, I have consistently voted Present on any bill that contains these appropriations. SB 2046 is no different.

I believe that union employees are due their back pay. The state made them a promise, and the state should keep its promise, period. However, as your State Representative, I will not violate the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act by voting to give myself this money.
Week in Review for week of 4/11/16

Key

1.     FY16 Budget
2.     Criminal Law – “Molly’s Law”
3.     Domestic violence – Police training standards
4.     Energy – Downstate coal
5.     Higher education – Western Illinois University
6.     Jobs
a.     March 2016 unemployment rate
b.     Major layoffs
7.     Public health – Zika virus
8.     State Government – State jobs
9.     Taxes – Delinquent motor vehicle fees
10.     Transportation – mileage tax
11.     Week in Review



CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION!
Springfield....Multiple news reports this week reported that Illinois Senate President John Cullteron of Chicago has floated an idea to tax Illinois drivers for every mile that they drive. State Rep. Terri Bryant (R - Murphysboro), who represents a large, mostly rural district in southern Illinois announced today that she is heading up a petition drive to stop the planned tax increase on drivers.

“The idea that Illinois motorists would be forced to record every mile they drive to the government, or pay a flat fee to use the roads that they are already paying to maintain through the motor fuel tax is appalling to me,” Bryant said. “This is one of those, ‘where does it ever end’, type proposals that only a Chicago Democrat could dream up.”

Bryant has decided to take the fight against the per-mile tax plan beyond just statements. She is spearheading an effort to collect signatures from her constituents that oppose SB 3279.

“The Chicago Democrats are after every last dollar they can get to expand the size of government,” Bryant said. “We have to be vigilant to stop these intrusive actions that cost us money and sacrifice our freedom to travel our beautiful State, and to travel back and forth to work.”

Many people in Southern Illinois drive hundreds of miles per week just commuting back and forth to work. Bryant says her petition can be found on her website at www.repbryant.com.

“Go to my website, and sign this petition to reject the per-mile tax,” Bryant urged. “Let’s send a message to the Chicago tax and spenders that we won’t allow them to put trackers on our car and pay even more money into a broken system.”


####



Springfield…State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) issued the following statement following the House’s passage of SB 2046, a bill containing nearly $4 billion in spending for various programs and services provided by the State of Illinois.

“Today the Illinois House voted to pass yet another spending bill that has little hope of ever becoming a reality,” Bryant said.  “This bill contained the appropriations for the back pay owed to many State employees, including myself from my time at the Illinois Department of Corrections.  This is a conflict of interest that prevented me from engaging on this issue since taking office.”

Bryant added, “It’s time for the Governor, and the Speaker and the leaders in both chambers to get together and work out a solution to this crisis,” Bryant added.

####
Springfield…State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) received unanimous support from the Illinois House of Representatives today for legislation she says will extend the time families would have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Bryant introduced HB 6083 or "Molly’s Law” back in February alongside supporters of the Justice for Molly movement. Bryant thanked her House colleagues and the supporters of Justice for Molly for their assistance.

Dear Friend,

This week was a busy one in Springfield, as the deadline to pass bills out of committee came and went. One of my major legislative initiatives gained momentum this week as the first part of "Molly's Law" passed the House Judiciary Civil Law committee with unanimous support.

There were also several other important legislative items of note this week. Committee deadline week is one of the busiest weeks of the year in Springfield, and after a month long break, the House was finally back to work and bills on various topics have begun to move.

As always, your input on matters before the legislature is greatly appreciated. I continue to call every week for budget negotiations to continue. It is time for Speaker Madigan to return to the negotiating table with all parties to help craft a solution to the budget crisis.

Molly's Law Clears First Legislative Hurdle

On Tuesday, an important milestone in the Justice for Molly movement was reached. I was proud to be joined in Springfield by Mr. Larry Young, father of Molly Young for testimony on HB 6083 before the House Judiciary Civil Law Committee.
Pictured here are Rep. Bryant alongside Larry Young, father
of Molly Young during a hearing of the House Judiciary
Civil Law Committee in Springfield this week.

The bill extends the amount of time that families or other interested parties would have to file wrongful death lawsuits in murder and manslaughter cases. The bill changes the current statute for filing lawsuits in these cases from the current 2 year time frame to 5 years after a wrongful death occurs.

You can read more about this week's passage of HB 6083 from Committee by clicking here: 

The second part of Molly's law deals with important changes to the Freedom of Information Act. Next week, I will present HB 4715, which expands fines and penalties on public institutions that refuse to comply with court orders to release requested documents. 

Appointment to House Veterans' Affairs Committee
This week I was proud to announce that I have received a new Committee assignment in Springfield. I was appointed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin to the House of Representatives’ Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

I am very proud to be a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, where I can better serve the large number of veterans that reside within the 115th district. I look forward to working to improve conditions for veterans in the areas of health care and economic opportunity

Congratulating Farm Bureau on 100 Year Anniversary

I was proud to be a chief co sponsor of HR 962 this week that celebrates the 100 Year Anniversary of the Illinois Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau is an invaluable resource for farmers and for those interested in increasing their knowledge about agriculture.

The Farm Bureau provides financial planning assistance for farmers, publishes FarmWeek Magazine, and has recently come out in favor of a proposal that I am sponsoring to create a private foundation to help fund necessary repairs at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.

You can read the State Fair Foundation bill, HB 4990 by clicking HERE


Congratulations to the Illinois Farm Bureau on 100 years in service to the agriculture industry in Illinois!

Legislative Week in Review

A new feature of my weekly e-newsletter is being added this week. Every week, the House Republican Leader's office publishers a "Week in Review" that provides a comprehensive look at action and news from around the state. 


Please take a moment to CLICK HERE to read this week's news. You can CLICK HERE to subscribe via email to the Week in Review. 

Stay Connected
Please keep me informed of your opinions by visiting my website and offering responses to my legislative review survey. You can participate by CLICKING HERE

My office in Mt. Vernon is staffed Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is staffed Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 to 4:00 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can email me directly at bryant@ilhousegop.org or send me a message through the contact form on my website. Also, you can find important links and information on my Facebook page. 

Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!
Week in Review for week of 4/4/16

Key

1.     Budget
a.     Auditor General’s report
b.     COGFA report
c.     Late payment fees
d.     General Assembly reconvenes
e.     “Lifeline” budget impasse relief bill
2.     Criminal law – Molly’s Law
3.     Economy – unemployment
4.     Environment – emissions testing notices
5.     Jobs – Economic Development Corporation
6.     Transportation – Amtrak
7.     Spring in Illinois
a.     Illinois State Fair plans
b.     World Shooting Complex
8.     Week in Review

Budget – Auditor General report
·     Comprehensive annual financial report for FY15 released. The report, generated by the office of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino, showed continuing deterioration in the ability of the State to meet its general funds cash flow needs through tax payments and other cash flow intake transfers.  The cumulative Illinois general fund deficit grew in FY15 from $6.7 billion on June 30, 2014 to $6.9 billion on June 30, 2015.  This cumulative deficit reflects the fact that Illinois’ budget has run in the red each of the past 14 years.

The consequences of this cumulative budget deficit show up again in another report generated by the State, the frequently-updated tally by the Office of the Comptroller of outstanding bills that have not yet been paid.  This week, the total of unpaid bills tallied by Comptroller Leslie Munger neared $6.8 billion.  These unpaid bills reflect debts incurred by Illinois for which there was (and is) insufficient cash to pay.  The State’s cumulative budget deficit will not be identical to or in balance with the State’s total of unpaid bills, but the two numbers tend to go up and down in synchronization with each other.

The deficit pattern revealed in the report from the Office of the Auditor General, the “structural deficit”, can partly be seen as a reflection of secular trends in the Illinois and U.S. economies.  Put very briefly, many cash flows that Illinois is legally bound to pay are tied to sectors of the economy, such as health care and pensions, that are growing faster than the economy as a whole.  At the same time, many cash flows that Illinois has historically relied upon for necessary revenue, such as sales taxes paid on tangible goods bought over-the-counter in retail stores, are growing more slowly than the economy as a whole.

The pattern of deficits and unpaid bills revealed in a growing quantity of data reflects the increasing urgency of taking structural State action to reduce this cumulative deficit.  Illinois’ cumulative deficit is now the highest among the U.S. states that have filed audit reports for FY15.  There is a growing belief that the facts set forth in these reports make it essential for Illinois to improve upon its status as the 50th and worst placeto operate in the private sector, pay taxes, and create jobs and economic activity.

Budget – COGFA report
·     General Assembly budget office continues to see declining State general funds revenues.  The serious State FY16 budget situation continued throughout the month of March.  This was the conclusion to be drawn from the monthly briefing for March 2016 published by the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the nonpartisan budget arm affiliated with the General Assembly.  The state agency’s monthly revenue and economic summary covering the month of March 2016 was published on Monday, April 4.

In normal times, COGFA tracks State revenues to give the General Assembly guidance as to how much revenue Springfield will have in the approaching fiscal year and what limits are constraining the adoption of a constitutional balanced budget.  Now that the majority party in the Illinois legislature no longer enacts constitutional budgets, the numbers compiled by COGFA and published as spreadsheets have turned into a steady drumbeat of warnings for the future.    

As in previous months, COGFA works with the Department of Revenue (IDOR) and other State agencies to track incoming revenue, which is compared with revenues from previous months.  Throughout FY16, the State’s revenue from key tax sources, particularly individual and corporate income taxes, have fallen short of what was brought in during the previous fiscal year.  In March 2016, key State general funds revenue line items fell $407 million short of revenue during the previous year.  More than half of the shortfall was accounted for by drops in personal income tax receipts (down $131 million from March 2015) and corporate income tax receipts (down $129 million).  The relevant spreadsheet is printed on page 11 of the monthly report.

An accompanying commentary includes explanatory remarks that tie together the State’s diminished income tax receipts and business recession that continue to grip much of Illinois.  The Illinois U-3unemployment rate is currently 6.4%, one of the highest jobless rates among the 50 states.  In addition, employment figures tracked by COGFA and its partner, the Illinois Department of Employment Security, show a continued shift in Illinois employment away from comparatively high-paying positions, such as manufacturing and construction, toward relatively low-paying sectors such as education, health services, trade, transportation, and utilities.  The overall economic effect of a move towards these employment positions, many of which offer part-time employment without employee benefits, is showing up in the overall economic statistics in Illinois.      

Budget – Late-payment fees
·     Law requires Illinois taxpayers to pay late fees to private sector if many bills not paid on time.  With the current Illinois fiscal and budget crisis, many state bills are not being paid.  Under law, when the State pays many of these bills the government must add a penalty fee for the late payment.  In many cases, these are funds owed to medical care providers.   Money due for State employee medical health insurance claims are often paid with a supplement that represents the late payment.

The Office of the Comptroller, which has operational standing over Illinois’ payment cycles and cash flows, knows who is being paid (or not being paid) at any given time.  Their cash-flow monitoring includes knowledge of how much money is going out in late fees. This week, the Comptroller’s office reported that over the last six years, the money paid by the State of Illinois (and its taxpayers) in late fees has topped $900 million.  About $160 million was paid out in FY14, the most recent fiscal year tracked and publicly disclosed by Comptroller Munger’s office.  

Budget – General Assembly
·     House Republican Leader Jim Durkin ups pressure on Democrats to start moving on budget.  The reconvening of the Illinois House on Monday, April 4 created additional pressure on Democrats, led by Speaker Madigan, to begin serious negotiations to end the ten-month impasse that has so far prevented the passage of a constitutional balanced budget for FY16.  Illinois has been operating without an overall plan to guide and discipline State spending since July 1, 2015.  Illinois is now the only state in the United States operating without a budget, and has been slapped by credit-rating overseers with the lowest debt rating among the 50 states.

Speaking out with his counterpart, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, Leader Durkin urged Democrat leaders to meet with Governor Bruce Rauner and hold high-level negotiations aimed at bringing an end to the impasse.  According to Comptroller Leslie Munger, Illinois is on course to develop a backlog of unpaid bills and invoices that could top $10 billion before the end of the current, budget-less fiscal year.  

Budget – “Lifeline” budget impasse relief bill
·     Republican leaders introduce bill to free up money in certain crisis areas.  Hardest-hit by the current budget crisis have been several broad areas of State spending not protected by court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations, such as higher education and some providers of community services.   House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has joined with his Senate Republican counterpart, Sen. Christine Radogno, to advocate for a $1.3 billion budget/appropriations relief bill to reopen cash flow for defined subgroups of providers of community services, including public health-related services.

Services that would be restored under the categories covered by this proposal include screenings for lead poisoning, services for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and home care for elderly residents.The areas covered by these definitions are community public-health-related services, traditionally performed by locally-based nonprofit private sector entities that rely on grant support from the State of Illinois.  The failure of the State to enact a FY16 budget has forced many of these service providers throughout Illinois to carry out significant layoffs.  In some cases, longtime service providers have been forced to close their doors entirely.

Under this proposal, parts of the cost of these payments would be met by transfers from other State funds, and part would be met by a partial pension cost shift from the State to local school districts and higher education institutions that took certain enumerated salary actions to obligate their pension systems.  This move would be one of several proposed pension reforms being discussed by the General Assembly in the current spring session.

Criminal Law – Rep. Terri Bryant
·     House committee approves “Molly’s Law,” sends to House floor for final passage.  HB 6083 was approved by the House Judiciary – Civil Law Committee on Tuesday, April 5.  The bill will, under some circumstances, loosen the current strict standard of limitations that prevents actions for wrongful death from being taken under the Wrongful Death Act.  The lead sponsor of the measure is Representative Terri Bryant, who represents a Southern Illinois district centered on Mt. Vernon, Illinois.

The bill is called “Molly’s Law” in honor of Molly Young, a woman who was found dead in Carbondale, Illinois.  Seeking “Justice for Molly”, Larry Young, Molly’s bereaved father, looked at Illinois’ criminal and civil laws.  Civil laws for obtaining justice center on the Wrongful Death Act, which currently requires that a civil action be filed within 2 years of the death.  Young’s contacts with local law enforcement proved unfruitful; he kept being told that the case was under investigation and that relevant evidence essential to commencing a civil action under the Wrongful Death Act could not be obtained or released.  Eventually, local law enforcement ruled Molly Young’s death to have been perpetrated due to unknown causes surrounded by lack of evidence.  The same lack of evidence made it impossible for the Young family, who believe that Molly’s death was a homicide, to timely file a Wrongful Death Act civil action against the alleged perpetrator of the death.

“Molly’s Law,” if passed, will extend the Wrongful Death Act statute of limitations from 2 years to 5 years in cases where the cause of death is violent intentional conduct.  The bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 11-0-0.

Economy – unemployment
·     Jobless rates rise in Illinois metropolitan areas.  The widely-tracked U-3 unemployment rate rose in February 2016, on a year-over-year basis, in 14 individual metropolitan areas of Illinois.  These regions, which range from populous Chicago to southern Illinois’ Metro-East region, are tracked on a regional basis for job-counting purposes.  The new metro numbers supplement an earlier-reported finding that the overall Illinois February jobless rate increased to 6.4%, 150 basis points higher than the national unemployment rate of 4.9%.

The relative severity of the picture was worse in characteristically industrial areas, and a bit better in areas oriented towards higher education and medical care.  The highest February 2016 local rate of unemployment was posted in greater Decatur, Illinois (8.2%), a Downstate community traditionally oriented towards heavy industry, and the lowest rate could be found in nearby Champaign-Urbana (6.2%), the home of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).  On a statewide basis, Illinois currently ranks below average (34th of 50) in a state-by-state statistical comparison of new job creation.

Environment – emissions testing notices
·     Vehicle emissions test notices resume, for now.  Drivers of motor vehicles in specified areas in greater Chicago and metropolitan St. Louis are required by federal law to get their cars and trucks tested for compliance with emissions standards.  These large cities and their suburbs/exurbs are“nonattainment areas” that persistently zone out of acceptable limits on one or more atmospheric pollutants.  This compliance testing is a requirement within these areas for getting a vehicle’s road license renewed.  The vehicle owner must present proof-of-testing as part of the documentation submitted at the time the motor vehicle’s sticker is scheduled to expire. The tests must be performed on a rolling schedule tied to the age of each vehicle, and there is an official list of test centersauthorized to perform the emissions tests.

Until December 2015, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) routinely sent out friendly notices of vehicle emissions testing deadlines to motor vehicle owners.  The notice cycle was suspended at that time due to the State’s budget crisis, leading to widespread protests.  The IEPA has announced they have renegotiated the terms of their notice mailing process with their testing system private partner, and notices of duty-to-perform 0.5 million vehicle emissions tests are now in the process of beingmailed out.  The notices cover vehicles due for emissions tests during a three-month period starting on March 1, 2016 and ending on May 31, 2016.  Mailings resumed on Wednesday, April 6.

A separate suspended mailing program by the Secretary of State’s office to vehicle owners to remind them to renew their vehicle license stickers and purchase new ones has not been resumed.  Vehicle owners will continue to be responsible to renew their vehicle license stickers on their own and will pay penalties if they fail to do so.   The Illinois House is currently considering a bill, HB 4334, to temporarily suspend the delinquent registration renewal fee when it is being charged and collected under these circumstances.  Numerous House Republicans, led by Representatives David Harris and Michael McAuliffe, are cosponsors of HB 4334.    

Jobs – Economic Development Corporation
·     ILBEDC presents job-creation plan to House committee.  The presentation was made by the Illinois Business and Economic Development Corporation (ILBEDC) CEO Jim Schultz.  He explained to the newly-convened House Committee on Public Private Partnerships the role of ILBEDC to sell Illinois as a place to locate businesses and create jobs.  CEO Schultz explained that the new nonprofit corporation is expected to match the economic-development-corporation organizational model grasped by 17 U.S. states and by many regions within Illinois.  Neighboring states that have set up EDCs include Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin.  Large states that have set up EDCs include Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas.

A typical state-affiliated EDC operates its job creation activities in close cooperation with the State agency that has the task of maintaining and helping the creation of jobs and economic development.  In the case of Illinois, this agency is the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, IL-DCEO.  Former DCEO Director Schultz explained to the House committee that the decision to charter the ILBEDC is “a major initiative to accelerate job growth in Illinois.”  Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, ILBEDC will not be a government agency and will not ask for taxpayer funds for its day-to-day operations.  ILBEDC has been set up in a manner parallel to the existing, and relatively successful, Texas Economic Development Council. Texas has created more than 8 million net new jobs since the TEDC was organized in 1961.

Governor Bruce Rauner’s Executive Order 1602, filed in February 2016, sets forth the future relationship between IL-DCEO and the new ILBEDC.   IL-DCEO will continue to be a taxpayer-funded agency with overall responsibility over Illinois job creation.  Their approximately 350 employees will continue to maintain all of IL-DCEO’s other statutory responsibilities, including liaison with Illinois local governments and relationships with a variety of nonprofit entities.  IL-DCEO has ongoing relationships, including grantor-grantee relationships, with more than 1,000 nonprofit corporations throughout Illinois.      

Transportation – Amtrak
·     Faster trains coming to Chicago-St. Louis route.  As work continues to improve on the railroad right-of-way between Joliet and Alton, improved timetables grow near for the implementation of service along much of the route as fast as 110 miles per hour.  The faster trains could be running as soon as 2017.  Amtrak is also taking steps to revamp and rebuild the interior space in Chicago’s Union Station, with moves underway to concentrate passenger ticketing and waiting areas in the station’s Great Hall and open more multilevel space to West Loop-oriented private-sector retail activity.

While Illinois continues to tighten its belt with regards to a wide variety of spending commitments, the Joliet-Alton speedup is being implemented through a multi-year capital improvement consortium program that includes federal U.S. Department of Transportation money and partial funding from the Union Pacific Railroad, the owner and operator of the railroad bed.  Union Pacific has consented to continue to allow Amtrak trains to run on its line in return for federal and State help in improving the roadbed, on which it is running an increasing count of double-stacked trailer trains.    

Spring in Illinois – Illinois State Fair plans
·     Despite budget woes, plans go ahead to celebrate Illinois State Fair in August.  The new State Fair management released a lineup of entertainment acts expected to perform concerts at the historic State Fair grandstand in August 2016.  The lineup includes Grammy nominee Dierks Bentley, veteran rocker Gregg Allman and band ZZ Top.  The Illinois State Fair, which will be held August 12 through August 21, will also provide children’s attractions, carnival rides, subsidiary acts, animal showings, festival foods and a long list of midway attractions.  An admission fee will be charged.  The tentative Grandstand lineup was published on Monday, April 4.

Spring in Illinois – World Shooting Complex
·     Championship sporting complex reopens.  The World Shooting and Recreational Complex, a 1,600-acre facility of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is located in Randolph County north of Sparta, Illinois.  The southwestern Illinois facility is one of the largest shooting grounds in the world dedicated to competitive gunning events, particularly American-style clay-and-trap-shooting events.  The limited spring reopening of the Complex will allow national shooting events such as the Grand American amateur trapshooting classic to return to Illinois during the 2016 sporting season.  Members of organized groups that have signed an agreement with the Complex will be allowed to shoot.  The Complex reopened on Saturday, April 2.      

Week in Review
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Springfield….State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) announced a new Committee assignment in Springfield this week. Bryant was appointed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin to the House of Representatives’ Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“I am very proud to be a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, where I can better serve the large number of veterans that reside within the 115th district,” Bryant said. “I look forward to working to improve conditions for veterans in the areas of health care and economic opportunity.”


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Springfield…State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) received unanimous support from the House Judiciary Civil Law committee in Springfield today for a measure aimed at increasing the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Bryant, who introduced “Molly’s Law” in February, thanked Molly’s father Larry Young for testifying before the Committee today.
Rep. Bryant and Larry Young testify in favor of HB 6083
before the House Judiciary Civil Committee today.

“Today is an important day for Mr. Young, and for the entire Justice for Molly movement,” Bryant said. “I want to thank Larry for traveling to Springfield to testify alongside other supporters of Justice for Molly to help pass HB 6083 out of Committee. I will continue working with Larry and my colleagues in the House to pass this bill over to the Senate and ultimately gain the Governor’s signature.”

For his part, Larry Young spoke of his four-year effort to build Justice for Molly into a globally recognized movement, and urged further work on laws to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act to help families in situations like the one he and his family faced.

“I want to thank Representative Bryant for helping my family and the supporters of Justice for Molly fix a flaw in the wrongful death lawsuit statute,” Mr. Young told the committee. “Delays, obstructions, and road blocks in the law caused the clock for wrongful death lawsuits to run out on my family, and the subject of our wrongful death lawsuit has never faced the court system, even though substantial evidence exists that a wrongful death occurred in Molly’s case.”

As amended, HB 6083 will extend the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases to 5 years, instead of 2 as is the current law. During the Committee hearing today, Bryant and Young also urged members of the Committee to help to pass another bill, HB 4715, which makes significant changes to the Freedom of Information Act.

Having passed the Committee with unanimous support, HB 6083 now moves to the House floor for consideration.

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