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In an effort to improve public safety and reduce incidences of gun violence in Illinois, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has filed legislation that will help keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who have been deemed a public safety threat, have made threats of terrorism, or have been charged with an act of terrorism. The bill was unveiled at a press conference held at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago on Thursday.

HB 6588 protects the rights of lawful citizens while strengthening provisions of the Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Act to as it pertains to rejecting or revoking the credentials of individuals who have been identified as a clear risk to the safety of others. “We have all been devastated repeatedly by the massacres at the Pulse nightclub, in San Bernardino, at Sandy Hook Elementary, at Mother Emanuel AME Church, at Cole Hall at NIU in DeKalb and dozens of other places around the country, “ said bill sponsor State Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago). “I’m glad that in Illinois we have found a bi-partisan way forward to make sure that persons who pose clear threats to the community cannot no longer buy or possess firearms”

The bill’s Chief Co-Sponsor Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein) praised the legislation and said that as a lawful gun owner himself, he supports the bill because he believes it will save lives. “The Second Amendment is an important part of our Constitution, and HB 6588 does not diminish that right for any individual who wishes to conduct themselves within the framework of our laws,” said HB 6588 Chief Co-Sponsor Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein). “This bipartisan bill takes aim at gun violence in ways that could prevent tragedies like that which occurred earlier this month in Orlando and at Northern Illinois University a few years ago from happening ever again.”

State Representative Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove), who also serves as a Chief Co-Sponsor of the bill, calls HB 6588 a proactive measure that helps keep guns out of the hands of individuals who wish to cause harm to others. “I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but I also favor efforts that help ensure that only law abiding citizens have access to firearms,” said Sandack. “Every Illinois family deserves to feel safe, and this bill is a very fair method for maximizing public safety while preserving Constitutional rights.”

While providing law enforcement with an additional tool in the fight against gun violence and terrorism, the legislation also provides for a right to due process for those who have had a FOID card denied or revoked. In addition to the stronger provisions for screening FOID card applicants, HB 6588 also requires police chiefs and deputy chiefs to receive annual training concerning the FOID Act, the Concealed Carry Act, and firearms investigations.

Since its filing earlier this week, nearly 30 members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors.
Illinois House Session Cancelled; Negotiations Continue to End Budget Impasse
House Republicans have been full participants in the continuing negotiations that are taking place to develop answers to the current questions that are affecting the Illinois budget. Talks are taking place on a variety of related issues that include school funding, higher education funding, funding for social services, labor/management reforms, and public-sector personnel expense issues.

House Speaker Michael Madigan cancelled the second of four scheduled Wednesday session days this week. Lawmakers would have met on June 15 to enable public discussion and debate on these issues, but as a result of the cancellation no meeting took place. The cancellation was criticized by Republicans, who want all sides to work together to end the current impasse.

Comptroller Munger Adds Voice to Calls for Balanced Budget Action
The Comptroller maintains a website and a Twitter feed that track the ongoing pileup of Illinois unpaid bills. As of Thursday, June 16, this number had passed $7.58 billion. These unpaid bills are owed to healthcare providers, providers of community social services, providers of essential supplies to residential facilities and prisons, and other involuntary creditors of the State.

The numbers tracked by Munger serve as a reminder that the Illinois General Assembly’s Democratic majorities failed to pass a constitutional balanced budget in spring 2015 for FY16, which began on July 1, 2015. This lack of a budget and of budgetary spending controls have choked off much of the cash flow needed by creditors dependent upon Illinois’ good name and prompt payments, while other areas of Illinois spending proceed unhindered because they are covered by court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations.

Fairfield Road Construction Project Underway
Improvements are underway on Fairfield Road, which is closed to traffic north of Grand Avenue (Illinois 132), in Lake Villa. A posted detour will direct northbound traffic on Fairfield Road to go west on Monaville Road, north on Illinois 59 and east on Petite Lake Road to return to Fairfield Road. Southbound traffic on Fairfield Road should take the reverse route. The road closure and detour will remain in place for the duration of the project, but the closure will reopen to local traffic by the last week in June. The overall project is expected to be completed in Winter 2016.

The closure is part of the ongoing intersection improvement project at Fairfield Road and Grand Avenue, which consists of pavement widening, resurfacing and traffic signal installation. Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. Drivers are urged to pay close attention to flaggers and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits and be on the alert for workers and equipment.

Rep. Anthony Resigns to Take Position with Department of Corrections
Republican Representative John Anthony of the 75th District, an Interstate 80-oriented district centering on Morris, Illinois, announced his resignation from the Illinois House last week in order to take on a new opportunity with the Illinois Department of Corrections. The lawmaker’s last full day in the Illinois House was Thursday, June 16.

Anthony, a former sheriff’s deputy, specialized in questions of criminal law and law enforcement in the House. Republican Leader Jim Durkin praised Rep. Anthony’s work in the General Assembly. “A former law enforcement officer, John quickly became a go-to guy on issues related to criminal justice and corrections. His expertise and insight on these matters will be missed,” Leader Durkin said.

During his time in the Illinois House, Anthony was the lead Republican co-sponsor of HB 1, the bipartisan 2015 measure to reform Illinois laws relating to heroin addiction, other opiate addictions and opiate-related deaths. HB 1 includes provisions to place opiate agonist drugs, such as Naloxone, in the hands of police officers and other first responders.

Moody’s Places Illinois Public Universities under Credit-Rating Review
The review process could result in Moody’s downgrading the outstanding public debt of seven public universities: the University of Illinois, Illinois State University, Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Governors State University, Northeastern Illinois University, and Eastern Illinois University. All of these Illinois institutions of public higher education have extensive infrastructural needs that are supported by periodic recourse to the capital markets.

Moody’s stated that the schools are vulnerable to the State budget stalemate. The General Assembly’s Democratic majority did not enact a budget bill in May 2016 to provide operating funds for Illinois State universities in the 2016-17 school year. The U of I, ISU and SIU currently have investment-grade credit ratings that are actually better than those enjoyed by the State of Illinois as a whole; their revenue streams are backed up not only by political decisions, but by other monies coming in, such as tuition, student fees, and federal loans and grants.

Sullivan Offers U.S. Flag Exchange Program
Residents of the 51st District wishing to turn in an old U.S. flag and exchange it for a new one may bring their used flag to my district office at 700 N. Lake St., Suite 101, in Mundelein from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday. I have been sponsoring the U.S. Flag Exchange Program for several years as a way to provide residents of the 51st District with the ability to properly dispose of their old flags and to obtain a new U.S. flag to display at their home or business. The program is free while supplies last to the constituents of the 51st Legislative District. Summer time is a great season to display a flag outside your home or business as a way to express your pride in being an American, show support for our troops serving overseas and show respect to those active duty military personnel and veterans here at home who have served our country. With the 4th of July right around the corner, I hope local residents of the 51st District will take advantage of this opportunity to drop off their old flags at my office and pick up a new one.

Cell Phones for Soldiers Program Offered through District 51 Office
Please remember that my office is a drop-off location for gently-used cellular phones that will be donated as part of the Cell Phones for Soldiers program. As many as 200,000 troops are serving in the United States military overseas around the world. By donating to Cell Phones for Soldiers, residents can provide a lifeline for troops by allowing them to phone home.

Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded in 2004 by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist at the ages of 12 and 13. The charity has since provided more than 213 million minutes of free talk time to servicemen and women stationed around the world through its calling card program, Minutes That Matter. Funds raised from the recycling of cellular phones are used to purchase prepaid international calling cards. On average, Cell Phones for Soldiers distributes 3,000 calling cards each week to bases around the world, care package programs, deployment ceremonies, and VA hospitals. For more information on Cell Phones for Soldiers, please visit www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com.

ComEd Warns Customers of Increase in Scam Artists Posing as Utilities
ComEd is seeing a tremendous increase in reports from small businesses and some residential customers who have been contacted by scam artists.

Scammers are contacting customers by phone and in-person claiming to be ComEd representatives and telling them their service will be disconnected unless payment is made. They instruct the individual to wire funds or buy a prepaid credit card and call them back with the personal identification number (PIN). Variations of the scam include stories that the customer's billing cycle has changed and payment is needed immediately, or that the account is past due and immediate payment is required to avoid disconnection of service, or that the customer's previous payments were not accepted or processed.

"ComEd wants to protect its customers from these types of deceptive schemes. It's not current practice for ComEd to ask a customer to purchase a prepaid credit card or to make a payment on a bill," said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of Governmental and External Affairs, ComEd. "If customers are ever unsure about the status of their accounts, they should always contact ComEd for verification."

The ICC is advising customers that in most cases utilities are required to provide advance notice prior to disconnection of service and when in doubt customers should call the utility or visit its website to verify their account status and the utility's authorized payment methods.

People that believe they have been a target of a phone scam are urged to contact the Illinois Attorney General's office toll free at 1-800-386-5438 (TTY 1-800-964-3013) or visit the Illinois Attorney General's web site at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov and click on the link "Protecting Consumers". ComEd reminds its customers that scammers may call or come to your home. Representatives from ComEd always carry proper identification and never ask customers for cash or personal financial information. Customers can avoid being scammed by taking a few precautions: 
  • Never provide your social security or personal information to anyone initiating contact with you claiming to be a ComEd representative or requesting you to send money to another person or entity other than ComEd. 
  • When in doubt, check it out. Be skeptical of individuals wearing clothing with old or defaced company logos. If you have any doubts, ask to see a company photo ID. 
  • Never make payment for services to anyone coming to your door. 
  • If customers ever have concerns about the status of their account, they can contact ComEd at 1-800-EDISON1. 
New Skittles Production Line Opens near Chicago
The factory, located in the Kendall County seat of Yorkville, will produce Skittles candy for the William Wrigley Company. The confectioner, which has longtime ties to Illinois, has expanded its production of the colored candies outward from their existing Waco, Texas factory. Up to 75 new employees will be hired in Illinois.

William Wrigley credited incentives from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for the decision to site the new production in Illinois. DCEO operates a package of workforce development programs that include job training and employment development for prospective employers in Illinois.

Rauner Administration Seeks Expedited Resolution of AFSCME Case
The labor negotiations between the Rauner administration and AFSCME, the labor union that represents 38,000 state workers, have not yet generated a contract. The Rauner administration has asked AFSCME to grant various concessions, including a wage freeze and a significant increase in AFSCME member and retiree health care co-payments and other forms of cost sharing, and AFSCME has so far refused.

Under state labor law, a series of procedures are laid out to follow in the case of an unresolved public-sector labor contract situation, including a recommendation by an administrative law judge. The Rauner administration has taken legal steps to expedite a resolution of the ongoing dispute. These steps included a move to legally bypass the administrative-judge step in the dispute resolution pathway.

The Rauner administration has stated that the health-care concessions they are seeking from AFSCME and its members could save taxpayers as much as $35 million to $40 million/month. These savings could be applied immediately to the cash-flow situation currently facing the State. The case is currently before the Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB), which could declare that talks are at an impasse. The administration’s move became public on Tuesday, June 14.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced that Fairfield Road will be closed to traffic north of Grand Avenue (Illinois 132), in Lake Villa, beginning, weather permitting, Monday, June 13.

A posted detour will direct northbound traffic on Fairfield Road to go west on Monaville Road, north on Illinois 59 and east on Petite Lake Road to return to Fairfield Road. Southbound traffic on Fairfield Road should take the reverse route.

The road closure and detour will remain in place for the duration of the project, but the closure will reopen to local traffic by the last week in June. The overall project is expected to be completed in Winter 2016.

The closure is part of the ongoing intersection improvement project at Fairfield Road and Grand Avenue, which consists of pavement widening, resurfacing and traffic signal installation.

Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. Drivers are urged to pay close attention to flaggers and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits and be on the alert for workers and equipment.
During the House floor debate on Friday with only 4 days left in the regular session, State Representative Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein) stood up to join House Republicans in calling for a commitment towards a budget solution and compromise.

Republicans noted that given the limited time remaining during the regular session, the House should remain in session through the weekend and allow the bipartisan budget working groups to craft a compromise.

House Republicans held a press conference immediately following the vote on an appropriation plan that spends $7 billion more in revenue than the state has coming into its coffers.

House Republicans were denied a vote verification for a 500-page bill that was introduced a mere 90-minutes before it was called for debate on the House Floor. Democrats then limited the debate to less than an hour with a parliamentarian move.

SB2048 appropriates $14 billion - that with court orders, continuing appropriations and consent decrees would push state spending over $40 billion.
Today, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office announced a change to Illinois driver’s licenses and ID cards designed to protect against identity theft and to bring Illinois closer to compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005. The enhanced security features will include a new photo structure, a design that includes patterns, lines and images to make it more difficult to counterfeit, a laser perforation and an ultraviolet feature.

There’s no need to replace your driver’s license or ID card immediately, but there are a few changes to the process you should be aware of when it comes time to renew your license or ID.
Illinois is the only one of the 50 states that has not enacted a balanced budget to control its spending in FY16. Not surprisingly, Illinois also has the lowest credit rating among the 50 states. On Monday, May 9, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin expressed optimism that current talks going on between partisan budget experts could generate movement towards a solution.

At an educational event in west suburban LaGrange that he attended with Governor Rauner, Durkin discussed the need to reach budget action in order to improve prospects for sufficient school funding for Illinois public schools. While Illinois’ General Assembly enacted full funding for Illinois school districts in FY16, this money was not part of a constitutional balanced budget and does not extend into FY17. The next fiscal year will begin on July 1, 2016, adding to pressure on state negotiators to talk seriously on urgent issues of fiscal reform, budget reform, and Illinois job creation.