Responding to the end of scheduled legislative spring session, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) released the following statement:

"It is unbelievable and incredibly disappointing that after months of spring session we have arrived at this point. We had plenty of time to work together to fix the downward trajectory of our great State and yet the General Assembly has no budget or anything substantial to show for it. This unprecedented situation proves more than ever that the Springfield way of doing things is broken. Every legislator is going to go home to their districts and think long and hard about where we go from here. We swore an oath to do right by our State Constitution and our constituents. We must move forward together to forge the elements of balanced budget and reforms that will put this State back on the right path to fiscal sanity and certainty."
Illinois is heading toward a second year without a state budget, putting some schools and colleges in jeopardy of closing and all but ensuring more social services and state programs will be cut amid a legislative standoff unlike anything the state has ever seen.

With the Legislature set to adjourn its spring session Tuesday night, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and majority Democrats remain deadlocked over a spending plan and business-friendly laws Rauner has made a condition of any budget deal.

The state already has gone almost a full fiscal year without a budget. Democrats on Tuesday could give final approval to a spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1, but Rauner has said he'll veto it because the measure spends about $7 billion more than Illinois is expected to take in without addressing additional revenues. Rauner instead is making a last-ditch effort to pass a short-term spending bill and provide money for schools -- an idea he opposed and some Democrats were pushing just days ago.

Read more from the Daily Herald.
From the Caucus Blog:
During the House floor debate on Friday, with only 4 days left in the regular session, Rep. Ron Sandack called on all legislators in the House to stand up if they are willing to stay the weekend and work on a compromise, comprehensive and balanced budget.

Rep. Mike Tryon reminded the body that the role of the minority is to challenge the majority and to keep them to task. He urged them to stay and continue the job of the working groups.

With just a few days left in the legislative session, Republicans urge Democrats to continue the efforts to find compromise and end the budget impasse.
Springfield, IL...State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) released the statement below following the House's passage of Senate Bill 2048, a $40 billion dollar State budget:

"If there was ever any proof that Speaker Madigan isn’t interested in compromise or fiscal responsibility, look no further than what happened in Springfield today and yesterday. After a horrendous show of disrespect to the democratic process last night the House today approved an over 500 page “budget”. To call it a budget would be a falsehood; it is a spending plan that would drive up taxes by $7 billion dollars and drive out Illinois citizens. I’m not sure what kind of fantasy land Speaker Madigan is living in, but the General Assembly needs to get serious about working together and fixing this State’s fiscal mess before it’s too late."
My office will be closed next Monday for Memorial Day. Spring session is scheduled to conclude at next Tuesday, but it remains to be seen whether that will be the case, or if like last year, we will remain in session throughout the summer.

New State IDs
       In an effort to comply with new federal standards resulting from the REAL ID Act of 2005, Secretary of State Jesse White announced changes to Illinois State ID’s and driver’s licenses. These new changes include security features that will help protect citizens from fraud and identity theft. With these changes we do not fully comply with the federal law, but we are a significant step closer. Click here for more information on the changes being implemented and what you need to know.
Springfield, IL… State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) has filed legislation to ensure that there is better accountability and transparency at public research facilities that use dogs or cats. House Bill 6580 creates the Higher Education Research of Dogs or Cats Reporting Requirement Act. It requires higher education research facilities that receive public funds to submit an annual report to the Governor and General Assembly beginning in 2017. Any facilities that don’t provide a report by March 1 of each year will receive a daily penalty; fines that will be deposited into the General Revenue fund.

“Recently in attempting to pass legislation to help make sure these dogs and cats get a second chance at life after being used in research, I hit roadblocks getting important information from public facilities and that’s unacceptable,” Rep. McDermed said. “This bill reflects my commitment to transparency in all aspects of government and the use of taxpayer funds.”

The report will include information on the rationale of the use of dogs and cats for research purposes and descriptions of the humane treatment practices being used. Public research facilities must also submit financial information relating to the research projects, including the identities of any external funding sources.

“With this bill I also want to make sure that in the noble pursuit of progress we are treating these animals as humanely as possible,” Rep McDermed continued.

House Bill 6580 has been filed and is awaiting committee assignment.
The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office announced new changes to Illinois driver’s licenses and ID cards designed to protect against identity theft and to bring Illinois into compliance with the federal 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. 

The transition will take place in phases. Beginning immediately, Safe Driver Renewal applicants will receive by mail their new driver's license with the upgraded security features. Beginning in late June 2016, through a gradual rollout, DMV’s throughout the state will implement the new process. By the end of July 2016, all DMV’s will have transitioned to the new process.

Click here for a step by step guide to the new process.

Click here for more information on the changes.

On the House floor, Rep McDermed spoke on House Resolution 1044. The resolution honors the memory of Olivia Kresach, who passed away two years ago from brain cancer, and recognizes May 17, 2016 as Gray Day in the State of Illinois.

There are just 13 scheduled session days before the General Assembly is to adjourn for the summer. 

Human Services Stopgap
            The House and Senate approved $700 million dollars in emergency appropriations to various human service providers and community based programs. The bill, SB 2038, uses no General Revenue Fund money, instead relying on the over $400 million in the Commitment to Human Services Fund and the rest from a variety of other smaller state funds. Since the bill is fully funded, groups will receive their money almost soon as the Governor signs the bill, instead of being added to the back of the line of a growing list of unpaid bills. Agencies and groups appropriated include programs to help support mental health, homelessness, families of persons with developmental disabilities, and breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day yesterday!

Constitutional Amendment Deadline Passes
         Saturday was the cutoff date for constitutional amendment proposals to pass the General Assembly for the November ballot. Of the 59 House proposals, only one constitutional amendment question, to protect road funds from being used for other purposes, will be seen this fall. If approved by the voters in November, this amendment will put all revenues from transportation taxes and fees into a “lockbox” that can only be used for road construction and repair, enforcing traffic laws, and paying off transit-related debt.  HJRCA 36 was a response to the lack of a balanced budget and concerns that money from this fund could be swept to pay for General Revenue Fund expenditures.
State Representative Margo McDermed and 19 other members of the General Assembly have sent a third letter to Auditor General Mautino calling on him to explain questionable campaign fund expenditures from his time as State Representative. Lawmakers are asking that Mautino answer questions raised by dubious vehicle repair and maintenance expenditures, including $214,000 to a single service station over a 10 year period. The accounting and spending irregularities from Mautino's campaign fund were first reported on by the Better Government Association and other government watchdog groups back in January. 

Rep. McDermed was one of only 10 House members who voted against former State Representative Mautino's appointment as Auditor General last fall. 

You can read the letter sent to Mautino's office here.
I-Cash is the Illinois State Treasurer's Unclaimed Property Division. Formerly called Cash Dash, the unclaimed property program was re-named I-Cash in 2012. It connects state residents with unclaimed property. The state currently has $2.1 billion dollars in cash, plus other assets including everything from stocks and CDs, to safe deposit boxes which need to be returned to Illinois residents. One in eight Illinois residents has an asset to be claimed in I-Cash. The largest will claim is $1.8 million. Most assets are transferred to the state after they've been inactive for at least five years. 

The law that created the unclaimed property program was established in the early 1960's as a consumer protection initiative. The names of 780,000 additional residents were added to the public web database after the state recently double-checked claims from years 1976 to 1992 – a time period before a computer-system upgrade streamlined the database's maintenance.

The Treasurer's office recently posted public notice of the program in the Chicago Sun-Times. Find out if you have unclaimed property here