Frankfort, IL… In order to get a better sense of how she can serve her district and respond to the needs of the community through her work in Springfield, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) has formed a business advisory council. Members from across the small business community in the 37th district have been invited to take part.

“My goal is to identify what is holding Illinois back” Rep McDermed said. “I want to find out what we in Springfield can do to spur innovation and small businesses growth both in my community and across Illinois as a whole.”

The Illinois Policy Institute found that Illinois had the second largest net loss in population migration in 2014, losing almost 95,000 citizens to other states. Forbes ranks Illinois down near the bottom at 40th on the list of 50 states that are the best to do business in. Despite being a state with the some of the biggest companies in the country, job growth, according to Moody’s Analytics, is projected to be the worst in the country over the next five years.

“High barriers to market entry for smaller businesses, worker’s compensation, and bureaucratic red tape are commonly cited as impediments to job growth and those are some of the issues I want to get more insight on so I can properly tackle them in the General Assembly” Representative McDermed continued.

The council met for the first time yesterday. Representative McDermed plans to follow up by forming an education council and a youth council later in the year. 

The House is in Session Tuesday and Wednesday this week. The fiscal year ends on Tuesday, June 30th and a full budget has still not been signed or agreed to.

DCEO
       The House held its third Committee of the Whole to discuss Governor Rauner’s proposal to create a public-private entity under the DCEO which would encourage growth and innovation. This is one of Governor Rauner’s initiatives to help spur job growth in the state. Director Schulz of the DCEO has said that red tape, mandates, and the bureaucracy that prevent the agency from doing a good job could be worked around in this new entity. Public-private partnerships have been successful on lower levels in other states and in Illinois in places like Lake, Will, and DuPage counties. Governor Rauner hopes to apply those models to the state level.
       The first panel of witnesses, including director Schulz, spoke about a need for a small and medium business program. That is where the most jobs are created and Illinois recently ranked as an F in small business friendliness. Schulz said the not-for-profit entity will be laser-focused on business development, small & minority business incubation, trade & investment, and tourism and film.
       The second panel to testify warned of potential problems with such an entity. They highlighted issues that had popped up in states like Ohio and Florida, which had in recent years created similar entities. Republican representatives pointed out that Governor Rauner’s proposal addressed the concerns raised by the panel and improved on the work of other states which the panel acknowledged. This new entity would be subject to appropriate oversight, FOIA, ethical constraints, and final approval on any projects is given to the head of the DCEO.
       This past Tuesday the House voted on the proposal from the Governor and eight additional amendments added by the Democrats. Republicans by and large voted present on the amendments and the entire bill because a universally agreed upon and much needed proposal was essentially hijacked by the subsequent amendments. Among the amendments was a sunset limitation on the entity of three years which is not enough time and would belie the commitment of the state to the program. The measure passed the House. 

CPS
       During session last Tuesday, the House voted on a bill to delay Chicago Public Schools’ payment to the teacher’s pension fund for 60 days. CPS’ finances are a mess. As a result of a deal made in the 1930’s, the state contributes very little to Chicago’s teacher pension fund. Chicago is left to handle its own school finances and years of mismanagement, borrowing, and underfunding have left them with a $634 million dollar payment to the pension system due on June 30th. Opponents to the pension holiday argued that this deadline has been known for a long time and there’s nothing that can be learned in the 60 extra days that couldn’t have been figured out 60 days ago. They say that Chicago needs to face the music and get its finances in order. Proponents said that this was only a 60 day holiday and cited an audit by Ernst and Young (an accounting firm) that said CPS will run out of cash as early as this summer without third party intervention. The bill was agreed to by the Governor and Mayor Emmanuel and appeared to be a rare opportunity for bipartisan compromise and agreement. However, the Speaker appears to have pulled his support and the vote failed to get the necessary 71 votes (as opposed to a simple majority vote).
       After the decision by the House, the Chicago Board of Education authorized $1.1 billion in new borrowing. CPS’ bond rating was just recently reduced to junk status, which means borrowing money is now much more expensive. Ernst and Young recommended that Chicago raise its property taxes to help climb out of the hole. Chicago pays some of the lowest rates in the state.

Education and the Budget
       The Governor signed HB3763 last Wednesday. This is the elementary and secondary education component of the Fiscal Year 2016 State budget. The move will fund K-12 education at over $300 million higher than the previous year, a number that closely resembles the level Governor Rauner recommended in his introduced budget. The state has underfunded its contribution to school districts for years now, but this move does increase the funding level from 89% to 92% which is a step in the right direction. Schools can now rest assured that they will open on time this year and our children’s education has effectively been removed from the crossfire in the budget battle happening in Springfield right now. I’m hoping the Democratic leaders see this as a measure of goodwill and another of the governor’s steps toward compromise and come back to the negotiating table to work through this stalemate.
       I, like all of my Republican colleagues, voted against this budget bill in the House. We acknowledged that increasing state spending on education was the right thing to do, but we voted no on all the budget bills that were put before us because they were sprung on us with little to no time to examine, quickly rammed through the House, and together they spend almost $4 billion dollars more than the state will take in this year. The entire budget as a whole is still irresponsible.
       Governor Rauner followed up by vetoing the remaining 19 budget bills on Thursday. He explained his decision in a Tribune op-ed which can be read here. The fact of the matter is that the Illinois constitution requires that the General Assembly pass a balanced budget and while other governors have let this slide in the past, Governor Rauner is committed to fiscal responsibility.

Government Shutdown Likely
       It seems increasingly likely that we will see a government shutdown. Many are asking what will happen. Much of state government will continue to operate:
• With the signing of the education component of the budget, Illinois schools will open on time.
• Prisons will stay open with correctional officers on duty.
• The State Police will stay on duty.
• Emergency Management personnel will keep working.
• A wide range of health and human services mandated by the federal government and federal courts will stay open.
• Funding transfers to local governments will continue automatically.
• The state will pay its debt obligations. If you’re waiting for a refund from the Department of Revenue, that refund is still coming.That said, there will be some problematic outcomes as well:
• Many non-essential state employees, while their benefits will continue, will see their checks stop.
• Funding for service providers will cease.
• Child care programs will stop.
• LIHEAP funding may cease.
• U of I Ag Extension, county fairs, and other programs will grind to a halt.
       I understand the serious consequences that will come with a government shutdown and I will continue, along with other legislators, to urge the legislative leaders to work together with the governor to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. 

Local News
       I recently toured the new Mokena ministry center of the My Joyful Heart Organization. This charity seeks to provide children in need with clothes, school supplies, and other necessities. They are having an open house at their new center on Saturday July 11th from 9:30am-1pm at 9981W. 190th Street, Suite I in Mokena. You can RSVP to 815-806-1700 or information@myjoyfulheart.org.


        Congratulations to the New Lenox Park District on the opening of Walker Country Estates Park on June 25, and the Mokena Park District on the opening of Prairie Ridge Park, on June 27th. Parks are an important investment in our communities and enhance our quality of life. A survey found that 85% of Illinois residents visited a park in the past year and that 7 in 10 find that the property tax money spent on parks is a 'good or excellent value'.
       Sharefest of New Lenox is sponsoring their 3rd Annual Job & Resource Fair Wednesday July 22 from 1pm-4pm at the Clarion Hotel Joliet Banquet & Convention Center. Participating are scores of local employers looking to hire local people to fill hundreds of job openings!
        I am honored to be on A Safe Haven's Honorary Host Committee for their upcoming 5K Run to End Homelessness on July 12th in Douglas Park. Governor Rauner is Honorary Host Chair. A Safe Haven is a wonderful organization that provides the tools to homeless individuals to help them climb out of their situation.
The My Joyful Heart organization has recently moved in Mokena. State Representative Margo McDermed toured the new ministry center today with The Mokena Messenger. The charity seeks to provide children in need with clothes, school supplies, and other necessities. They are having an open house at their new center on Saturday July 11th from 9:30am-1pm at 9981W. 190th Street, Suite I in Mokena. You can RSVP to 815-806-1700 or information@myjoyfulheart.org
Speaker Madigan has officially given us a schedule for this unprecedented extended session. Session days will be every Tuesday for the next 3 weeks.

Rauner Makes Preparations
       Governor Rauner has initiated steps to prepare for the underfunded FY16 budget passed by the GA. The various bills that make up that budget have not yet been sent to Governor Rauner to either veto or sign. If a budget is not signed by the beginning of July, then the state loses significant authority to spend money. The Governor is wisely preparing for that possibility.
       The Governor has announced steps to ground state planes, suspend the state portion of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, freeze state police vehicle purchases, suspend the Illiana expressway, and suspend all future incentive offers to companies for business attraction and retention.

Comptroller Warns of Consequences
       This past week Comptroller Leslie Munger held a press conference to outline some of major consequences of a failure to reach a budget agreement. Most notably, new payments to state vendors and Medicaid providers will stop, state workers will start missing paychecks, and most concerning of all, General State Aid payments to schools may not be delivered on time by August 10th. However, through continuing obligations and other legal provisions, the state will be able to continue funding certain critical areas including debt, pension, retiree, and most local government payments. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Aid to the Aged, Blind, and Disabled programs will continue to be funded as well. The Comptroller called on the General Assembly to quit with the rhetoric and posturing and work with the governor to pass a balanced budget.

Good news for Beer Lovers
       A bright spot in the Illinois economy is the rising number of craft operations that brew unique and local beers, which are often sold on-site in brewpubs or taprooms. Many beer distributors are developing mutual arrangements with craft breweries; these contracts expand the opportunity for these beers to be consumed in local taverns and even sold in beverage stores and groceries.
       While current law allows many breweries licensed as craft breweries to brew up to 30,000 barrels of annual production, this cap increasingly limits production growth and job creation by Illinois brewmasters and owners. On Tuesday, June 9, the Illinois House concurred with Senate amendments to HB 3237 to increase the craft-brewing production cap to 120,000 barrels a year, sending the measure to Gov. Rauner for possible approval.
       The General Assembly has also approved legislation to allow ‘Happy Hours’ once more in Illinois. Happy Hours have been banned since 1989 because authorities were fighting to reduce DUI violations and to enforce an increase in the legal drinking age from 18 to 21. The bill includes a new mandate to impose training requirements which will help staff identify underage drinkers.

Worker’s Compensation Battle Continues
      The workers’ compensation system was discussed on the first day of the extended session. It has been one of the most partisan issues of the 2015 spring session, and hopes had been raised that a debate of this issue could lead to common ground between the two political parties in Springfield. Unfortunately, the new language presented by the House Democratic leadership this week did not materially change their previous positions, and did not include the priorities publicly set by House Republicans and Governor Bruce Rauner. Essentially, Speaker Madigan proposed codifying existing law, creating a task force, and labeling it reform. The proposals discussed would have either not affected the cost of worker’s compensation or actually made it worse. House Republicans voted unanimously against the partisan amendments.

Property Taxes
        Both the Illinois House and Senate discussed and debated property tax issues during their sessions this past Tuesday. No resolution was reached in either chamber. Reports from the nationwide Urban Institute and from Wallethub label Illinois as the state with the second-highest property taxes in the U.S.
        Heads of local governments and tax reform experts agree that a freeze on Illinois property tax bills could have unintended consequences. The main source of education funding comes from property taxes and by freezing or cutting them, without helping local governments to cut costs, you endanger that critical funding.
        Many advocates are starting to call for real reforms in the way Illinois taxing bodies fulfill their duties. Relief that could be offered includes reductions in the unfunded mandates imposed by Springfield on local governments and school districts. Governor Rauner has renewed his call for the General Assembly to take a genuine look at these mandates and to sit down with him in real negotiations on one of the biggest issues that faces the State and its taxpayers. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has filed HB 4224 to enact a property tax freeze that also includes cost saving measures for local governments so that this needed relief does not come at the cost of quality education.

And finally, the New Lenox Park District is looking for past or present military members to represent their branch of service at the Proud American Days Military Tribute ceremony on July 26th. If interested, please contact Lauren Lotz at llotz@newlenoxparks.org
My office is here to help. Through my constituent service office in Frankfort members of my staff can assist in addressing state related questions or concerns. Examples of state related programs and common constituent
inquiries:
       - Medicaid {qualifications, application status, denial information, etc.)
       -AllKids and Familycare Health Programs
       -SNAP Benefits {Food Stamps}, cash assistance
       -Child support (delayed/missing payments, etc.)
       -IDOT/Transportation concerns (widening of state routes, etc.)
       -Department on Aging Programs
       -Unemployment insurance
Examples of federal related matters include inquiries relating to Social Security and Medicare, Questions regarding these programs, as well as additional federal services, can be directed to your U.S. Senator or U.5. Representative.

Municipalities provide many services to residents, typically handling issues such as trash and snow removal, police and fire protection and ordinance violations. If you are experiencing a problem with a particular local issue, it is best to contact your local Village Hall to express your concerns.

Inquiries relating to pending court cases, including general lawsuits, bankruptcies, child custody or traffic related offenses, are legal matters that are handled through the court system. Unfortunately, our office is not able to assist in these matters in any way. To find legal assistance in your area, please visit:
www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/about/probono.html

Why the confusion about telemarketing to wireless phones?

Consumers report receiving emails saying they'll soon begin receive telemarketing calls on their wireless phones. The confusion seems to stem from discussions in the wireless phone industry about establishing a wireless 411 phone directory, much like your traditional (wired) 411 phone directory. A number of email campaigns seem to suggest that if your wireless telephone number is listed in a wireless 411 directory, it will be available to telemarketers, and you will start to receive sales calls. In addition, some of these email campaigns suggest that there is a separate do-not-call "cell phone registry," which you must call to have your wireless phone number covered by the do-not-call rules. This information is inaccurate.

The Facts

Even if a wireless 411 directory is established, most telemarketing calls to wireless phones would still be illegal. For example, it is unlawful for any person to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with express prior consent) using any automatic telephone dialing system or any artificial or prerecorded voice message to wireless numbers. This law applies regardless of whether the number is listed on the national Do-Not-Call list.

Read more here



With Summer coming just around the corner, Representative McDermed is excited to announce the first year of her summer reading club. The program is designed to help keep kid's minds active during the long summer months. Elementary school students who read 8 or more books during their summer break will be invited to an ice cream party and receive a certificate from the Illinois House of Representatives. This year's theme is "Going Places With Reading" to highlight the imaginative and exciting world of books. Local schools and libraries have received copies of the reading club pamphlet, so make sure your child gets theirs! The deadline for completion is August 7th. Good luck and have fun reading!




If you would like a digital copy of Representative McDermed's reading club pamphlet, click the link below. 

Summer Reading Pamphlet

The spring session was scheduled to end yesterday. However, because budget and reform deals were unable to be reached, Speaker Madigan has declared that we will be holding continuous session. Representatives will not be given per diem or mileage compensation. The House is next scheduled to meet this Thursday. 

Budget Update
Legislators were asked to vote last week on a budget in a piece-meal approach, with no consideration as to how spending X amount here would impact the amount left to spend on Y over there. Instead of coming to an agreement on a budget/spending number and distributing what we have to the various appropriations committees who could take the time and give consideration to where that money should specifically be spent, we were asked to vote on bits of spending without the context of all state programs. The budget put forth by the majority party promises programs and agencies almost $4 billion more than the state has. Last year the General Assembly passed a bill that spent over $1.5 billion more than the state took in. The state would have been unable to make payroll at Illinois prisons, low-income working families would have lost their child care assistance, court reporters would have been laid off, and money for services for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled would have run out had a last minute bipartisan deal not been reached to make cuts and transfers in state spending. This $4 billion budget hole is not something that can be similarly fixed. It’s careless to make promises we know we can’t keep, especially to those that need it the most.

In November, the voters of this state made it clear that they wanted bipartisanship and shared policy making. They also made clear that Springfield couldn’t continue its ways of fiscal mismanagement. We now have a governor committed to turning Illinois’ financial ship around. I fully support the governor’s efforts to cut back spending and to seek reforms which would not only bring more taxpayers in to this state, but also reform the irresponsible state spending practices before considering tax increases. The recent pension decision by the State Supreme Court and subsequent credit downgrades make it clear that we can no longer “kick the can down the road”.

In the meantime, Republicans have filed a bill to prohibit cost-of-living adjustments during the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015 for state government legislative and executive elected officers. Given the dysfunction going on in Springfield, it’s safe to say we haven’t earned it. Speaker Madigan has not released the bill from the Rules committee.

Senate Squashes Turnaround Agenda
The 5 bills related to the Governor’s turnaround agenda aimed at reforming state government and bringing jobs to the state that I mentioned last week were rejected by the Senate. Senate committees, in a partisan split, voted down the administration’s proposed reforms of civil liability lawsuits, changes to workers’ compensation, and a property tax freeze. The governor’s proposals on term limits and independent map redistricting were not allowed to be heard in either the Senate or the House.

House Bill 303
My bill to ban confidentiality clauses in severance and agreements made with taxpayer money stalled in the Senate. The bill had passed the House overwhelmingly 114-2. A new Senate report, sparked by the controversy at the College of DuPage, where President Breuder recently received one of the largest severance packages for a public employee in state history, was released. It chastised public universities and community colleges for providing "excessive fringe benefits" and lucrative exit deals for top administrators, including a $480,418 severance package to the former ISUE president after less than a year on the job. I think we need legislation like HB303 now more than ever. I’m disappointed, but I remain committed to fighting for government transparency and accountability in Springfield.

Heroin Crisis Addressed
House Bill 1, passing last week, is the result of comprehensive effort by a 37-member, bi-partisan House task force on the Illinois heroin crisis that held hearings and public testimony throughout the state last year. This sweeping measure aims to curb heroin use and preventing overdose deaths by expanding specialized drug courts that focus on treatment. It would also require police departments and fire houses to stock opioid antidotes that could be used to counteract overdoses.

Police Reforms and Body Cameras
SB1304, is a wide-ranging police reform bill that was sparked, in part, by recent incidents in Ferguson, Baltimore, and South Carolina. 200 police reform bills were filed in the House this year. Bipartisan efforts combined the best 15 bills into this one inclusive measure.This bill, passing out of the House last week, is an omnibus police bill that creates both the Police and Community Relations Improvement Act and the Law Enforcement Officer-Worn Body Camera and Management Act. The first act, among other things, provides that two independent investigators must investigate officer related deaths and bans the use of a chokehold unless deadly force is justified under the Justifiable Use of Force Act. The second aims to create model guidelines, to be adopted as rules by law enforcement agencies using officer-worn body cameras and the regulations surrounding recording. It does not mandate body cameras statewide. 

Last Chance
This is your last chance to take my legislative survey and answer a few questions about the things that impact you. The results of the survey will be included in my end of session newsletter. Please take a brief moment and share your thoughts with me. You can fill out the survey by clicking here.

Reminder! Summer Reading Program
Kids are getting out of school for summer and it’s important that they keep not only their bodies, but their minds active. This year is the start of my annual summer reading club for local elementary school kids to help keep their minds engaged during the months away from school. This year’s theme is “Going Places with Reading” because when a child reads their imaginations are jump started and the possibilities are endless. Participants who read 8 books over the summer break are invited to an ice cream party in August they will receive an official certificate. Local libraries and schools have all been given a copy of the brochure with the appropriate form, so make sure your child gets theirs! Contact my office if you have any questions about the club or how to participate. The deadline is August 7th.
I will be out and about all summer in the district. Keep an eye on my website for up to date information on events. And as always, feel free to email or call my office at any time with questions or concerns.