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SB 2814, which parallels a recent law passed in New York State, contains a cross-subsidization program for electric markets across Illinois to support the continued operations of two nuclear power plants in Clinton and Cordova, Illinois (“Quad Cities”). Due to ongoing operating losses, Exelon had previously announced plans to close the Clinton plant in 2017 and the Quad Cities plant in 2018. One underlying theme of the legislation is the preservation of important carbon-free generating capacity for Illinois to meet power demands in the future.

As a result of passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, 1,500 direct jobs were saved at the Clinton and Quad Cities plants, with a total of more than 4,000 jobs impacted. In addition to the jobs saved, keeping Illinois’ nuclear plants in operation will prevent large increases in energy prices. Closure of the plants would have had a detrimental effect on electric rates, on the reliability and capacity of the grid, and on jobs and economic activity. The Illinois Commerce Commission had studied the effects of nuclear plant closures and in almost every scenario, rates would increase across the state. A report released in November by leading Illinois business organizations, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, indicated that preserving the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants will save Illinois businesses and consumers over $3 billion in electricity costs over the next ten years.
Today is Veterans Day and it is a perfect time for us to remember, thank, and honor all the men and women currently serving and those who have served our country. It is the anniversary of the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month that the Armistice went into effect with Germany, ending World War I. Since its establishment in 1919, this federal holiday reminds us how important our veterans are, and how grateful we are for their service to our country.

Lawmakers to Return to Springfield for Veto Session
With the election now behind us, lawmakers will return to Springfield on Tuesday for the fall veto session. Veto Session days are scheduled for November 15, 16 and 17, and November 29, 30 and December 1. During this six-day session we will take action on items that received either a full or partial veto during the spring session. Unfortunately, it appears likely that we will enter January with no approved budget in place, as the temporary spending plan expires at the end of December. I would urge the legislative leaders from both caucuses to come together with the Governor to create an agreed, balanced budget that can be enacted by lawmakers very soon.

According to the Governor’s office, many of the bills that received vetoes this year sought to add new spending to the Illinois budget, while other bills were deemed as duplicative or unnecessary, and still others included language that the Governor felt was harmful to taxpayers. I am spending the days leading up to November 15 reviewing the bills and the reasoning behind each veto.
For households that participate in trick-or-treating activities, I wanted to bring your attention to a very worthwhile initiative called the Teal Pumpkin Project.

Kids with food allergies are often left out of trick-or-treating fun since most candy is off limits to them. The Teal Pumpkin Project helps make sure all children will come home on Halloween night with something they can enjoy. It just takes one simple act: offering non-food treats, such as glow sticks or small toys, as an alternative to candy.

If you wish to participate, please print out the sign below and tape it to your door. This will alert families with children who have food allergies that this is a safe trick-or-treating home.

· Teal Pumpkin

Last year, households from all 50 states and 14 countries participated. This is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all trick-or-treaters.

Click here to learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project.
New Illinois Competitive Council to Review Agency Rules/Regulations to Find Millions in Savings for Illinoisans by Cutting through Red Tape
This week Governor Bruce Rauner announced a comprehensive plan to promote economic growth and job creation by cutting the red tape in Illinois. He signed Executive Order 16-13 to review all agency rules and regulations by the newly-created Illinois Competitiveness Council. The Illinois Competitiveness Council will be comprised of a representative of each of Illinois’ regulatory state agencies. Its goal is to save Illinoisans at least $250 million in direct license fee costs over the next decade, and save Illinois taxpayers and business owners at least 4 million pages in paperwork. It will work to ensure current regulations are up to date and relevant to today’s industries and practices; ensure the language in rules are easy to understand; reduce the amount of unduly burdensome requirements on businesses, social service providers, and citizens through both time and cost; and ensure there is a clear need for the regulation.

In addition, the Illinois Competitiveness Council will look for recommendations to improve Illinois’ licensing environment to promote job growth and job creation. Currently, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has more than a million active licenses in more than 200 license categories, however for nearly a third, IDFPR has issued fewer than 100 licenses. The growth of these licenses has increased 184 percent in the last 20 years.

Kentucky, Indiana, Colorado, and Massachusetts have all successfully reviewed their rules and cut red tape to give their citizens a more competitive advantage over Illinois citizens. Burdensome and unnecessary regulations, policies and licensing requirements disproportionately impact small businesses, particularly minority-owned businesses.

In order to have the greatest impact, the Illinois Competitiveness Council is seeking input from the public on which rules and regulations are the biggest hindrance to people and businesses. Anyone can submit feedback to cut the red tape at www.illinois.gov/cut.

Industry Hotline Offers Insurance Assistance
The Illinois Insurance Hotline is a free and valuable resource available to help Illinois residents make informed decisions about insurance-related issues. The Hotline is a non-profit industry-sponsored outreach that can answer basic questions, provide educational materials and offer direction for more intricate questions about property, casualty, life or health insurance. Residents can reach the Hotline by phone or email for guidance on a wide range of topics, including company contact numbers, financial ratings, complaint records, state mandates, options following a cancellation or non-renewal, the claim settlement process and more. You can contact the Illinois Insurance Hotline by phone at 1-800-444-3338, or by email at insurancehotline@illinoisinsurance.org. The Hotline is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM.

In Latest Sale of Illinois Bonds, Interest Rates Rise Again
The newest sale of Illinois general obligation (GO) bonds was completed on Thursday, October 13. It drew a picture of worsening yields and interest-rate obligations for the debt-beleaguered State of Illinois.

In the process that led up to this week’s bond sale, debt underwriters negotiated in the marketplace with potential lenders on the interest rate Illinois would have to pay as the price for selling its package of bonds. When the sale process was complete, Illinois taxpayers learned that their BBB-ranked State government would have to pay a premium of 200 interest basis points (2.00%) in interest over the rates paid by borrowers which have achieved the coveted triple-A (AAA) rating. AAA-rated borrowers include the neighboring state of Indiana.

The risk premium paid by Illinois and its taxpayers this week was a sharp upturn from the 1.62% risk premium quoted in the last Illinois debt sale. These numbers signaled a further weakening of Illinois’ financial position relative to other U.S. units of government. Illinois has now operated for more than 15 months without a full-year budget. Continued growth in the State’s backlog of unpaid bills (more than $8.9 billion as of Wednesday, October 12) is leading to growing pressure on the State’s credit rating and perceived standing as a debtor.

Federal Government Confirms Illinois is Moving Toward compliance with REAL ID Act
Compliance, or movement toward compliance, is required for a state ID card (such as a driver’s license) to be seen as adequate identification for federal security purposes, such as entering an armed forces base or the boarding area of an airport. Illinois is one of 14 states that have been officially ruled as out of compliance with the 2005 federal law. Congress enacted, and former President George W. Bush signed, the REAL ID Act after the events of September 11.

Under the terms of the federal law, applicants for a drivers’ license or official ID equivalent are required to present a variety of official documentation to confirm and re-confirm their legal status within the United States. In addition, the drivers’ licenses or equivalent state documentation must be produced in physically secure facilities and must comply with a series of federal mandates intended to reduce and eliminate counterfeiting. The eventual goal is to bring the 50 states’ drivers’ licenses closer to the level of identification and security that are imposed upon applicants for a U.S. passport. After a ten-year transition period, the federal government has begun to impose penalties upon the residents of states that remain out of compliance with the REAL ID Act.

The General Assembly responded to federal compliance issues in spring 2016 by enacting new legislation (SB 637) intended to move toward compliance with the REAL ID Act. Under this legislation, the offices of the Illinois Secretary of State are no longer allowed to print out and distribute plastic drivers’ license cards. Starting in summer 2016, Secretary of State employees who have undergone criminal background checks are now allowed to collect information from an Illinois resident. The State employee will then send digital information over a secure phone line to a facility in a secure location. The new drivers’ licenses, which are mailed to their recipients, are similar to the old drivers’ licenses in some ways and different from them in others. They contain features that are difficult to counterfeit.

Under the new legislation and technology, Illinois has now been re-ruled to be 84% in compliance with the REAL ID Act. This status will be valid until October 10, 2017. During the 12-month period preceding this deadline, Illinois drivers’ licenses and ID-card equivalents will be viewed as adequate to enter federal security-secured areas, such as federal facilities and airport boarding areas. The Department of Homeland Security is warning Illinois and 13 other states that they must take further actions in spring 2017 in order to move closer toward complete compliance with the REAL ID Act. Eight other states, including Kentucky and Missouri, have been ruled noncompliant with the REAL ID Act. Their residents could face identification-related sanctions as soon as January 30, 2017.
International Walk to School Day Set for Wednesday, October 5
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is encouraging schools throughout the state to participate in the 20th Annual International Walk to School Day this week, on Wednesday, October 5th. Organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America, Walk to School Day in the USA began in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. In 2000, the event became international when the UK and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the USA joined together for the first International Walk to School Day. 

In the USA and Canada, International Walk to School Day galvanizes visibility for walking and bicycling to school. Over time, this event has been part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration – with record breaking participation - each October. Today, thousands of schools across America and in more than 40 countries worldwide celebrate walking to school every October. Last year 129 Illinois schools hosted official events, and this year 170 schools have registered an official walk event. You can find a list of participating schools at http://www.walkbiketoschool.org.

FAFSA Applications Now Open for 2017-2018 School Year
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the key to securing federal, state and institutional (through a college or university) aid for college. From the Pell Grant to the MAP Grant, work-study opportunities and federal student loans, filing a FAFSA is the first step for eligible students who wish to receive financial assistance with their college education. Whereas the FAFSA has always been available beginning in January of each calendar year, a recent change now moves that timetable back so that now the FAFSA is available on October 1 of each year.

Because some financial aid is awarded to eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis (especially MAP Grants), students seeking assistance are encouraged to file their FAFSA as soon as possible. Resources are available to help students and families navigate the process. For additional information, visit www.isac.org/calendar to view a list of workshops and events or call 1-800-899-4722 to reach the agency’s call center.

Illinois Observes First Gold Star Family Day
Ceremonies in recognition of Illinois’ first Gold Star Family Day were held at the Illinois State Capitol on Monday, Sept. 26. Gold Star Family Day honors the families of U.S. service personnel who have died in combat or as a result of combat-related action. The first annual Gold Star Family Day was created by HB 4389, a bill I was proud to support. It was signed into law in August 2016 as P.A. 99-803. At the ceremony, bill sponsor State Rep. Steve Andersson spoke about the importance of this day for Illinois and thanked the families of the fallen servicemen and women for all that they have given.

Global Insurance Firm opens North American Headquarters in Schaumburg
The Swiss-based global firm, which specializes in industry-oriented property/casualty insurance, chose Chicago’s northwest suburbs as its 783,800-square-foot headquarters location. Zurich North America marked the official opening of its headquarters campus on Wednesday, Sept. 28 with a photographic tour of the new facility. The new headquarters is located less than 15 miles from O’Hare International Airport. 

The firm states that they currently insure at least part of the operations of 90% of all of the Fortune 500 companies, generating nearly $1.3 billion in positive economic impact for Illinois. Their new Zurich site is opening at a time of substantial changes in the traditionally staid property/casualty insurance industry, with a substantial shift in focus toward multi-faceted risk engineering, risk management, and alternative logistics solutions.

Six-Member Civil Jury Law Overturned
A law enacted in late 2014 (I was a ‘no’ vote on the bill), reduced the maximum size of Illinois civil juries from 12 to 6. Approved by largely partisan roll calls in the General Assembly and signed by former Gov. Quinn, the law was described as a way to make the civil courts more efficient. Part of the money saved by reducing the sizes of juries would have been allocated to a pay increase for jurors, but even after the increase the maximum pay for each juror under this new law would have been only $50/day.

Opponents of the controversial measure, including most Republicans, pointed out concerns that the Constitution does not allow the sizes of juries to be changed by statute. They also shared concerns that the measure had been advocated by powerful trial attorneys who were using the law as an additional opportunity to enlarge their control over Illinois circuit courts. The Illinois Supreme Court struck down P.A. 98-1132 last week, ruling it unconstitutional. The high court’s vote was 5-0, with two judges recusing themselves. The decision was handed down on Thursday, Sept. 22.

Police Work with New State Law, Produce Instructional Video for Drivers’ Education
A new law passed by the General Assembly in spring 2016 asks students taking drivers’ education courses to learn safe procedures to follow during traffic stops. The new law will by fully implemented in the 2017-18 school year. Many school districts are already including safe-police-stop procedures in their instructions to young and probationary drivers.

The Central Illinois Film Commission is working on a new instructional video demonstrating safe and unsafe police/driver interactions. After production and post-production work, the video is expected to be distributed to high schools before the end of calendar year 2016. The video, which is being produced in Springfield, is being supported by the FBI, local NAACP leaders, and representatives of local law enforcement.

The 23-minute video will describe and demonstrate the importance of remaining calm, keeping one’s hands in view at all times (usually by putting them on the steering wheel), and pre-notifying the officer when moving one’s hands (typically to uncover documentation such as a driver’s license or insurance card). The video will also describe the rights that citizens have when in the presence of law enforcement.

In 2015, two million traffic stops were reported by police to the Illinois Department of Transportation – approximately 1 stop for every 6 Illinoisans. The new 2016 traffic-stop-education law, HB 6131, was approved unanimously by both houses of the General Assembly and signed into law as P.A. 99-720.
Representative Sullivan Named “Guardian of Small Business” by Non-Partisan, Independent Group
Did you know that 98.2% of Illinois’ businesses are small businesses? These businesses and the entrepreneurs who create them are the drivers of the Illinois economy, and as a State Representative I feel it is our job to support them. 

Last week I was pleased to be named a “Guardian of Small Business” for votes I took in the House of Representatives in 2015-2016. This is the third time I have been recognized for my voting record in this area, and in an independent review of my voting record on bills that affect small businesses in the 99th General Assembly, I earned a perfect score of 100%.

The award, given every two years by the non-partisan National Federation of Independent Business/Illinois (NFIB), judged lawmakers on our votes on 11 key bills over the last two years. The bills included: HB 6162, SB 2964, HB 3887, HB 1285, SB 162, HB 1287, SB 2933, HB 4036, SB 11, HB 5576 and HJRCA 26. Lawmakers who received an 80% or higher rating received the award.

As legislators, we must do all we can to ease the regulations that impede our small businesses from growing and expanding. These are the people who have the ability to put Illinoisans back to work. With unemployment numbers in Illinois still lagging behind neighboring states, I am committed to doing what I can to improve our economy. You can read a summary of the 11 key business bills and view an overall tally and ranking of all Illinois State Representatives and Senators at: http://www.nfib.com/pdfs/Illinois-Voting-Record.pdf.

Illinois Payroll Drops by 8,200 Jobs in August
In spite of efforts by some lawmakers to support our job creators, Illinois posted a significant drop in jobs last month. The monthly jobs and unemployment report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showed a 30-day of 8,200 in Illinois’ seasonally-adjusted nonfarm payroll jobs. This key employment number declined from 6,016,900 in July 2016 to 6,008,700 in August.

More than one-half, or 4,400, of the new job losses were posted by the manufacturing sector. The making and supporting of goods assembled or packaged in factories now accounts for less than one-tenth of Illinois’ total nonfarm payroll jobs. In August 2016, 568,400 workers labored in or around Illinois factories, less than 9.5% of Illinois’ total employment of 6.0 million. Parts of the August job losses posted by Illinois in manufacturing, construction, mining and other sectors were made up by continued job growth in leisure, hospitality, professional services and business services. These sectors have done well in past months in Illinois and continued to add new jobs in August 2016.

The overall unemployment rate dropped in Illinois in August 2016 from 5.8% to 5.5%. Much of the decline was attributed to “discouraged workers” dropping out of the labor force or leaving Illinois entirely. Approximately 20,000 Illinois residents dropped out of the labor market in August 2016. Illinois’ unemployment rate continued to be significantly higher than the nationwide unemployment rate of 4.9% for the same month. The IDES jobs report was released on Thursday, September 15.

Coat Drive and Sale Kicks Off September 30
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Libertyville thrift store is seeking new or gently used coats and jackets for a coat sale Friday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 2. All coats, while supplies last, will sell for $3 each regardless of brand, size and style. Proceeds from the sale will go to the thrift store emergency voucher program, which provides individuals and families in Cook and Lake Counties with clothing, furniture, or other goods at no charge in a confidential and dignified way. Coat donations can be dropped at 1125 S. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. The society is funded through community donations and net proceeds from its thrift stores, which operate with all donated materials. Visit http://svdpchicago.org/ for store hours and contact information.

Explorer Applicants Wanted
The Lincolnshire Police Department is seeking people between the ages of 14 and 21 to join its Explorer program. Participants learn about law enforcement. For more, email Sgt. Jamie Watson at jwatson@lincolnshireil.gov.
State Representative Ed Sullivan Jr. has been named a “Guardian of Small Business” for votes taken in the House of Representatives in 2015-2016. In a review of his voting record on bills that affect small businesses in Illinois, Sullivan earned a perfect 100%.

The award, given every two years by the non-partisan National Federation of Independent Business/Illinois (NFIB), judged lawmakers on their votes on 11 key bills during the 99th General Assembly. The bills included: HB 6162, SB 2964, HB 3887, HB 1285, SB 162, HB 1287, SB 2933, HB 4036, SB 11, HB 5576 and HJRCA 26. Lawmakers who received an 80% or higher rating received the award.

According to Kim Clark Maisch, State Director of NFIB/Illinois, Sullivan has always shown strong support of small businesses. “Representative Sullivan’s 100% voting record with the NFIB indicates his willingness to fight on behalf of small businesses in Springfield,” she said. “He truly understands how government intervention keeps small business from thriving and creating jobs.”

Sullivan said it was an honor to be recognized for his support of the Illinois business community. “As legislators, we must do all we can to ease the regulations that impede our small businesses from growing and expanding,” said Sullivan. “These are our primary job creators; they are the people who have the ability to put Illinoisans back to work.”

NFIB/Illinois includes over 11,000 small business members from across the state. A link to a summary of the 11 key business bills and an overall tally and ranking of all Illinois State Representatives and Senators can be found at: http://www.nfib.com/pdfs/Illinois-Voting-Record.pdf.