It’s been a busy and tumultuous past two weeks in Springfield. A lot of work was done and it appears as though there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for this budget impasse.

Constitutional Amendments Considered
         It’s constitutional amendment season! In order to put a constitutional amendment question before the voters in November a proposal must either be approved by a three-fifths margin in both chambers or get the signatures of at least 300,000 registered voters. Only 3 constitutional articles are allowed to be amended in a given election year. A number of proposals made the news this week:
         HJRCA 5 would eliminate the office of the Lieutenant Governor beginning with the term of office commencing in 2019. It would change gubernatorial succession such that the Attorney General would take over the governorship should the office become vacant. The Lt. Governor’s office has limited official responsibilities and its elimination would save taxpayers around $1.6 million a year. It passed the House on Friday, but the Senate debated its own version the day before and it failed to gain the necessary support amid concerns that succession could fall to a member of the opposite party.
To the editor,

Last week was the first meeting among State leaders in months. Almost immediately after that meeting adjourned, Speaker Madigan paid a rare visit to the House Floor to give a 10 minute pre-prepared speech railing against the Governor before setting up what was yet another sham vote. It has become glaringly obvious that the battle of the wills between the State’s leaders won’t be resolved any time soon. Instead it is necessary for the rank and file legislators to step up and forge our own compromises.

That was what we attempted to do this past week. Legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle worked on a deal to get much needed and fully funded money to higher education institutions. It was modeled off of State Republican Representative Fortner’s recent proposals and efforts led by Democrat Representative Mayfield. The deal would provide stopgap funding for the state’s universities and MAP program and supply a legitimate funding source using the $600 million in the Education Assistance Fund.

Springfield, IL…. This week the House recognized military brats all over the state.  House Resolution 799, sponsored by State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena), designates April 30, 2016 as Military Brat Day in Illinois. The term "military brat" describes the child of a parent or parents serving full-time in the United States Armed Forces. There are currently around 15 million former and current military brats in the US.

“We often recognize the sacrifices made by our military, but rarely do we single out the hardships faced by their families,” Rep McDermed said. “These kids often have tumultuous and unpredictable childhoods, they deserve our thanks and respect as well.”

The military brat motto is “children of the world, blown to all corners of the world, we bloom anywhere!” The resolution acknowledges the difficulty of being a child of the military, a life they did not volunteer for, often moving at the will of the armed forces or going months without seeing a parent. It also praises the strength and adaptability of military brats. There is a nationwide effort underway to get April 30th nationally recognized as Military Brat Day.
Representatives from the Beagle Freedom Project and their allies brought rescue dogs to the state capital today as part of a push for 'right to release' legislation. State Representative McDermed is the sponsor of the legislation, known as the Beagle Freedom Bill, which would require tax payer funded labs to work with animal rescue organizations to give animals a chance at adoption rather than being euthanized. Beagles are a popular breed for lab testing and research purposes because of their disposition and size.

You can read more at the Chicago Daily Herald
The House convened for the first time in four weeks and as we prepared for a busy next two months, lobbyists and other interested parties began their yearly trips down to Springfield to see how the process works and share their views on legislation. Meeting with these groups is an important part of the job in understanding how bills will impact different groups of people and organizations. Representatives visit our offices every day lobbying for their causes (i.e. veterans), their fellow workers (i.e. Nat’l Assoc. of Social Workers), and their rights (i.e. I-GOLD gun owners). For most groups, the prominent topic of conversation of course was the desperate need for a budget, unfortunately there remains little movement on the subject even as we enter our 10th month.