As a result of the 1.5 billion dollar hole in this year’s unbalanced budget, fiscal year 2015, signed by former Governor Pat Quinn, numerous cuts were necessary to state programs. This included $26 million dollars in cuts to autism funding, funding for indigent burials, epilepsy programs, and other human services. In response to revised estimates of this year’s revenues, the governor has made the decision to restore the $26 million dollars in funding. I want to praise the governor, who was put in a very difficult position by the Democrat controlled General Assembly, for restoring this funding which benefits our most vulnerable citizens. 
I wrote a Letter to the Editor urging the passage of HB303, which is now being considered in the Senate. Similar legislation filed by my predecessor, Representative Kosel, also passed the House, but died in the Senate. You can find your state representative on the ILGA website by clicking on "Legislator Lookup" under the "Additional Resources" section on the homepage. Contact him or her and ask them to support the bill. 

You can read the full letter at The Herald-News.
Pontiac, IL...State Senator Jason Barickman led Reps. Tom Bennett (R-Watseka) Randy Frese (R-Quincy) Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) and Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) on a tour of Pontiac Correctional Facility on Monday April 27th. 

Read more about the tour here.

Representative McDermed toured Pontiac Correctional Center on her way to Springfield today. This ia a maximum security prison with just over 2000 prisoners. The prison system is in need of real reform and this was a very insightful trip. Thanks to Warden Randy Pfister and staff for a thorough and informative tour.

Springfield, IL…. Filed by Representative McDermed (R-Mokena), House Bill 3983 passed out of House today with a vote of 68-23-3. HB3983 would make clear the state’s rules concerning where adult entertainment facilities can be located with regard to other sensitive buildings.

“Right now state law permits some municipalities to locate an adult entertainment facility right next to a church, school, park or day care center in the town next door” said Rep McDermed. “I wanted to make sure all our towns have to be good neighbors.

Currently, the statues in the Municipal Code and Counties Code concerning the location of adult entertainment facilities implicate complex constitutional issues. Over the years the statutes have been amended to address particular facilities without providing a clear state policy. Rep. McDermed’s legislation is an effort to clarify and modernize these statutes. It declares the General Assembly’s intent to control the negative secondary effects of these facilities. It protects that intent with a severability clause for each provision within the statute, and even protects such facilities from separations when the enforcement would not provide a reasonable alternative.

To further the state’s intent to mitigate any potential negative secondary effects of such facilities, it establishes a minimum separation of 250 feet between the location of an adult entertainment facility and a home-rule unit’s boundary, protecting any neighboring communities that may have established a stricter standard.

“This isn’t meant to violate any First Amendment rights” Rep. McDermed continued. “We just want to establish a state policy on such buffer zones.”

The bill now heads to Senate for consideration.
The Chicago Tribune writes about Representative McDermed's House Bill 303, banning secret severance agreements, which recently passed the House. The editorial argues that the bill should continue moving forward and be sent to the Governor to become law:

"Will it get a floor vote in the Senate? It must. There’s no defending these expensive golden parachutes, much less the secrecy surrounding them. Severance agreements funded by taxpayers should be public documents, no questions asked. Send this bill to the governor."

You can read the editorial here.

Will Connects 2040, Will County's Department of Transportation long range transportation plan has scheduled four Open House meetings. The Open Houses are scheduled for the following dates: 

April 28th, 4-7PM
Joliet Junior College
1215 Houbolt Road
Concourse C*1031
Joliet, IL 
April 29th, 4-7PM 
Wilmington City Hall
Council Chambers
1165 S. Water Street
Wilmington, IL  
May 5th, 4-7PM  
New Lenox Village Hall
Community Room
1 Veterans Parkway
New Lenox, IL
May 12th, 4-7PM  
Governors State University
Hall of Honors 
One University Parkway
University Park, IL
Frankfort, IL... State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) is extending an invitation to the residents of the 37th district to attend her District Office Open House on Saturday, April 25th, from 9:30am to 12pm. The new 37th District Office is located at 11032 W Lincoln Hwy in Frankfort. Constituents are invited to come see the new office and learn more about Rep. McDermed.

“It’s important that people know where our new location is,” stated Rep. McDermed, “and that they can get a chance to see what kind of resources myself and my office can provide to the community.”

Rep. McDermed is also pleased to announce that she will be collecting nonperishable food to help fill the need at the Frankfort and New Lenox Township Food Pantries. There will be collection bins placed out during the open house. In addition to nonperishable food, the Frankfort and New Lenox Township Food Pantries also accept monetary donations.

“If you are able to, please come by, say hello, and bring a few items to drop off” McDermed stated. “If we all pitch in, a little will go a long way to help our community.”

Constituents can find some needed food pantry items here

The legislature is back from Spring Break and ready to hit the ground running until the end of session. There’s plenty of work to be done, but as always it’s a pleasure for me to go to work for you in Springfield. 

Legislative update
My bill, HB303, made a significant move forward last week, passing out of the House with a vote of 114-2. The bill amends the Illinois Freedom of Information Act to ban a government body from concealing the terms of a severance agreement funded by tax-payer dollars. It further defines the term “severance agreement” and provides protection for trade secrets, proprietary information, or other exempt information. It is now in the Senate being sponsored by Republican Caucus Chair, Senator Althoff.
            The College of DuPage is under intense scrutiny and the subject of investigations right now for a number of reasons including a severance agreement reached between the board and its former president. Efforts to seal the terms of this agreement led to overall attention being given to the issue of sealed severance agreements throughout the Illinois public sectors.  I have made government openness and transparency a major focus of my efforts in Springfield.  

HB1335, colloquially known as the “right to try” act, seeks to give patients with no hope one last chance. The bill allows for terminal patients who have exhausted all other clinical options to bypass the lengthy FDA approval process and “try” drugs that are still in its clinical trials. These are drugs which have successfully passed Phase 1 testing but have not yet been approved for general use. The FDA process can take years, which many of these patients do not have. A similar bill introduced by Senator Connelly, passed the senate the same day.

HB208 designates pumpkin pie as the official State pie of Illinois.  The bill was approved by the House on Thursday, April 16 by a vote of 108-3-2. In discussion on the bill, Representative Keith Sommer told us about the importance of the traditional American dessert to his hometown. Bills like these, while not of vital importance to the state, are good for business and tourism. The University of Illinois reports that this plant, combined with the work of area purchasers of whole pumpkins for transport and sale, mean that approximately ninety percent of the pumpkins grown in the United States for commercial sale are cultivated in the region of Peoria, Illinois. The slogan of the Village of Morton is “The Pumpkin Capital of the World.”
New State Superintendent Appointed
The State Superintendent of Education is the supervisor of public schools and publicly-supported charter schools throughout Illinois.  Dr. Tony Smith was appointed to the position this week. He has experience in educational management in both the public and the private sector.  He is a past superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District, operating public schools in one of the largest cities in California.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), a nine-member panel appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the statewide school board that oversees distribution of state school aid and compliance with state and federal educational mandates.  Departing State Superintendent Dr. Christopher Koch was thanked for his 21 years of educational leadership at ISBE, particularly his advocacy for students affected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).    

Remembering Lincoln
Last Wednesday was the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death. Lincoln, a onetime state representative himself, was honored on the House floor with speeches and remembrances from various members. It was led by Representative Butler (R-Springfield) who represents the closest resembling district to the area that Lincoln had represented. Lincoln was shot while attending a play on the night of April 14th by actor John Wilkes Booth. He died the next morning, less than a week after General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox symbolically ending the Civil War. Arguably our nation’s greatest president and Illinois’ most favorite son, he is remembered as the liberator of slaves and the savior of the Union and a president who united the country in the darkest of times. If you’d like to read my full statement, you can do so at my website. 
18th Congressional District Race Dates Set
Abraham Lincoln used a distant ancestor of this district as his springboard to serve one term in Congress in 1847-1849. Governor Rauner set amended dates for voters to fill the vacancy left by Aaron Schock on March 31st.  In amended writs of special election finalized on Tuesday, April 14, Governor Bruce Rauner set dates of July 7 for the primary election to name two major-party candidates for the seat, and September 10 for the general election to allow voters to make a final selection.  

The amended dates will allow for Illinois citizens living abroad, especially soldiers in combat zones, to vote by paper mail in both elections as required by law.  Under the amended writs, candidates were able to file nomination papers with the State Board of Elections starting on Wednesday, April 15.  At the close of business on Monday, April 20, all of the candidates for the congressional vacancy will have filed their petitions. 

Devastating tornadoes struck central Illinois two weeks ago and destroyed an entire community. The main one was categorized as an EF-4 twister, the next-to-the-highest category of storm severity. In the town of Fairdale, 34 homes were destroyed, 16 suffered major damage, and another 22 suffered minor damage. I would ask that you pray for the families affected and take any and all weather alerts seriously. 
Please visit the Village of Kirkland website for updates on the area and to see how you can help our fellow Illinoisans out.  

Ribbon Cutting and Open House
Last week the Frankfort, Mokena, and New Lennox Chambers of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for my office. About 100 people celebrated with us; including area business leaders, numerous local elected officials, the three Chamber of Commerce presidents and the Mayors of Frankfort, Mokena, and New Lenox. I thank the Chambers for hosting our event and the volunteers who put the whole thing together to help make it such a success! 

Speaking of the new office, join us this Saturday, April 25th anytime between 9:30am and 12pm for an Open House! My office has moved from where Representative Kosel conducted her business and I’d encourage everyone to come out and see the new space. The office is located at 11032 W Lincoln Hwy in Frankfort. 

Teen Driving
I’m hosting a teen driving safety seminar on May 9th from 11am-1pm at the New Lenox Village Hall. The Illinois Secretary of State's office will be on hand with safety information and information about the Graduated Driving License program. Different rules and laws exist for teen drivers at different ages and it is important to understand this information to avoid getting in trouble. There will also be a distracted driving simulator so teens can see just how dangerous it can be to use a cellphone or get distracted in any other way while driving. Space is limited so please have your teen registered by emailing 

On Monday the Frankfort, Mokena, and New Lennox Chambers of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting to commemorate my new district office. About 100 people celebrated with us including the local business leaders, numerous local officials, and the Chamber presidents and Mayors of Frankfort, Mokena, and New Lenox. We are very grateful to the Lincoln-Way area Chambers for hosting the event and appreciate the volunteers without whom this event would not have been such a success. You can view more pictures from the event on my facebook page. 

Springfield, IL…. State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena)’s bill to address runaway severance agreements passed the House on Wednesday with a vote of 114-2. HB303 amends the Illinois Freedom of Information Act to ban to ban a government body from concealing the terms of a severance agreement funded by tax-payer dollars. 

Taxpayers should be entitled to look at the terms of an agreement that a public body, using taxpayer funds, reaches” Rep McDermed said. “This is a victory for public entity transparency.”

The bill was initiated in response to egregious cases of severance payments in the past few years such as a $763,000 severance agreement provided to the outgoing President of College of DuPage, Robert Breuder, and a $700,000 severance agreement given to former Metra CEO Alex Clifford. The bill is a part of the College of DuPage reform package.

“In a state that spends its money as irresponsibly as Illinois” Rep. McDermed continued, “simply put, the use of public funds by a public entity should be available for scrutiny.”

The bill further defines “severance agreement” and provides protection for trade secrets, proprietary information or other exempt information. Similar legislation was introduced by Representative Kosel, whose seat Rep McDermed took over upon her retirement, in the 98th General Assembly as HB 3664. That bill passed out of the House 106-0, but did not receive a vote in the Senate.

Today marks the 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death and the Illinois House commemorated Lincoln’s life and his impact on the state of Illinois on the floor. Ask any US citizen and they will most surely rank him in the top three of the greatest presidents, if not first. He is remembered as the liberator of slaves and the savior of the Union and a president who united the country in the darkest of times.

The legislature is shaking out the cobwebs as it comes back from Spring Break this week and the task resumes on tackling the substantial amount of work that still needs to be done. There are many challenges that lie ahead of us in the coming weeks. School funding reform, a potentially contentious battle, is being considered. Worker’s compensation and minimum wage reform are being discussed. The Fiscal Year 2016 budget needs to be structured differently than those in the past in light of a 6 billion dollar budget hole that came with the sunset of the income tax hike. We face the tough task of striking a balance between getting this state back to fiscal robustness and making sure that the least amongst us do not fall through the cracks. 

In these difficult times, we would do well to remember the lessons of Lincoln. As Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. Illinoisans need to be united as we wade through the unpleasant times that lie ahead and, as legislators, I believe we need to think in terms of what is best for the entire state and not get bogged down in partisan or regional battles.

It is not an easy road that lies ahead of us, but I believe that in the coming weeks good work can be done to put Illinois back on the right path. 

I had an eventful Spring Break at events around the district meeting with constituents and various organizations. I finished up today with a tour of Misericordia, a home for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. It is a wonderful non profit organization. 
Now back to work in Springfield next week!
By now many of you have received my legislative survey in the mail. If you are interested in filling out the survey online, the link is available below!  Thank you for your patience and for taking the time to express your opinions and concerns.

Click here to be redirected to my survey! 
Mokena, IL…. Representative Margo McDermed, along with the Mayor of Mokena, toured Provisur’s headquarters in Mokena on Wednesday. Provisur is a worldwide leader in manufacturing food processing, slicing, grinding, forming, and packaging machines. 

Founded as Formax in 1970 by Lou Richards in his garage in Mokena, the company took off after partnering with McDonalds and creating a hamburger patty forming machine that could make more than one at a time, which was the standard at the time. The company moved around in Mokena before settling in to their current headquarters at the manufacturing plant Rep McDermed toured in 1992. Since then the company has grown and was brought under the umbrella of Provisur, a company that houses six of the leading food processing brands. 

“I have known about Provisur and its reputation in the community for years” Rep McDermed said. “This was my first chance to see their impressive facilities and the new Ingenuity Center where customers can create their ideal machine line right on the spot.”

The plant in Mokena employs 212 people. The company, along with others in the field, is looking to open a food manufacturers school in conjunction with DeVry and ITT Tech to compensate for a workforce that lacks the necessary mechanical knowledge and skills. Provisur and other leading companies have pledged to hire the first 100 graduates. 

“I loved seeing how proud everyone, from the plant manager to the technicians, is of their machines and their work” Rep McDermed continued.

The tour was part of the Illinois House GOP’s ‘Made in Illinois’ initiative which seeks to highlight unique and vital companies that manufacture products here in Illinois.