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Welcome to 2017! I hope you had an enjoyable holiday.

Inauguration
          The 99th General Assembly met for a final two days before we said goodbye to old colleagues and hello to new ones at the inauguration of the 100th General Assembly. The ceremony took place at the University of Illinois in Springfield last Wednesday. Each General Assembly (GA) is a two year period and this GA will celebrate the State’s 200th year in 2018.  Both the Senate and the House reelected their majority leaders; in the House it was Speaker Michael Madigan and Republican Leader Jim Durkin. It was an honor to be sworn in again as your representative down in Springfield.
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EDGE
          Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits, which expired at the end of the year, are a major tool used by the executive branch to attract jobs to Illinois. The controversial program has been plagued with questions about its effectiveness and implementation. In the final days of the 99th GA, the EDGE tax credits were extended for four months to allow legislators time to tinker with the program. Since taking office the Governor has made minor changes to the tax credits in order to make them more effective, but it is up to the legislators to completely overhaul the incentivizing program and ensure we are getting results and not wasting any taxpayer money.

The 118 members of the Illinois House of Representatives were sworn in at noon at the University of Illinois in Springfield

The arrival of the new year brought with it almost 200 new laws, yet over 6,000 bills were filed in the 99th General Assembly. Many of these bills were widely supported good government measures, but due to the top down rule structure of the General Assembly they were never allowed to receive due consideration and debate.

Click here to see some of the best laws that were never given a chance to see the light of day.
With the onset of the new year, 191 new laws are now in effect. Here are 26 Illinoisans should know about:

Social media right to privacy 
Public Act 99-610, House Bill 4999
Amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to make it illegal for an employer or prospective employer to request or require an employee or applicant to access a personal online account (such as Facebook) in the presence of the employer. It is also illegal to request or require that an employee or applicant invite the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account of the employee, or applicant, or join an online account established by the employer.

Read more at the Caucus Blog.

Frankfort, IL... A group of sixteen House Republican legislators are calling on State Comptroller Susana Mendoza to keep her promise of maintaining former Comptroller Leslie Munger’s policy of “No Budget No Pay’ in place with regard to payment of state lawmaker salaries.  Twelve State Representatives and four State Senators sent a letter to Comptroller Mendoza today urging her to defend “No Budget No Pay” in the face of a lawsuit filed by six House Democrat legislators on December 2 suing the Comptroller for delaying payment of their salaries.

“Social service providers and many others who rely upon the state to meet its financial obligations are being adversely impacted, to put it mildly, by the General Assembly’s failure to pass a comprehensive budget,” Rep. McDermed said. “We are calling on the new Comptroller to stand with us in support of the individuals and families whose lives are being irreparably harmed due to the lack of stability in our budget.”

“We do not believe that payment of legislator salaries should be prioritized over the funding of health care and social service providers or others enduring the long delay in state payments,” Rep. Batinick added. “The principle of “No Budget No Pay” should be kept in place; and the General Assembly should come together immediately to pass a responsible state budget in order to prevent further erosion of our social safety net and damage to our economy.”

Click here to read the letter that was sent to Comptroller Mendoza.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) operates an up-to-date map of road conditions throughout the state. For more information on how to drive safely in Illinois this winter, click here.