Notable Bill Signings
It’s that time of the year again. A flurry of activity surrounds the governor’s office as he issues his signatures on new laws or vetoes the bulk of the bills that have been sent to his office.

Donor Registry Bill
If you can drive, you can choose to be a donor. That’s the concept behind a new law, the Drive for Life Act. 16 and 17 year olds can now join the donor registry with the Secretary of State’s office. Parents and guardians still have the right to give or revoke consent until the donor turns 18.

IT Security 
Cyber security threats and hacks are popping up in the news more and more often. States are increasingly the targets of these attacks, and security threats pose a daily risk to the state’s ability to serve taxpayers and protect critical and confidential information. In response, House Bill 2371, requires all state employees to undergo annual cyber security training. This training will help employees understand the risks and learn the best practices to defend against these kinds of attacks. The training itself will be implemented by the Department of Innovation and Technology, a new agency created by Governor Rauner in 2015 to consolidate the state’s IT functions and update the state’s cyber security. Illinois is now the 15th state to adopt mandatory this kind of awareness training for employees.

Procurement Reform
Governor Rauner signed Senate Bill 8, a bipartisan bill that makes the state procurement process more efficient and transparent, thus saving money for Illinois taxpayers. Specifically, it eliminates unnecessary administrative delays for state universities. The bill also permits Illinois to enter into joint purchasing agreements with other units of government, allowing state and local government entities to save money because of their increased purchasing power.


Breaking Down Senate Bill 1’s Amendatory Veto
On May 31st the Illinois House passed Senate Bill 1 with the bare minimum number of votes necessary, 60. A parliamentary hold was placed on the bill so that it did not have to be sent to the Governor. When the budget was passed it included a provision that requires the state to implement an evidence based funding formula or schools cannot recieve any state money. To be clear, the issue with Senate Bill 1 has never been the use of an evidence based model, which is widely accepted as the right shift for the state school funding formula. The issue has always been an unfair allocation of additional funds to CPS. Under SB1 there is an additional $778 million invested in K–12 education, of which CPS receives $495 million. This means that CPS will receive 64% of all new money despite having only 19% of the students in Illinois. The breakdown of CPS dollars is as follows: $221M for pensions, $202M Block Grant, and $72M for New Tier Funding. SB 1 essentially buries CPS pension reform in the school code, not in the state pension code where it belongs.
After two months, the procedural hold place on Senate Bill 1 by the Democrats was lifted and the bill was finally sent to the Governor last week. Shortly thereafter he issued his anticipated amendatory veto. 
There are three options now:
1) Pass the amendatory veto with a three-fifths (71 votes in the House) vote in both chambers 
2) Override the governor's veto with a three-fifths vote in both chambers
3) Allow the bill to die and pass new legislation for school funding
The first set of school payments are scheduled for Aug. 10, so the legislature must take action as soon as possible. However, I have yet to see movement in either the Senate or the House to call members down to Springfield to take urgent action.
The governor’s amendatory veto makes the following changes to ensure an adequate and equitable school funding formula:
  • Maintains a per-district hold harmless until the 2020-2021 school year, and then moves to a per-pupil hold harmless based on a three-year rolling average of enrollment.
  • Removes the minimum funding requirement. While the governor is committed to ensuring that the legislature satisfies its duty to fund schools, the proposed trigger of one percent of the overall adequacy target plus $93 million artificially inflates the minimum funding number and jeopardizes Tier II funding.
  • Removes the Chicago block grant from the funding formula.
  • Removes both Chicago Public Schools pension considerations from the formula: the normal cost pick-up and the unfunded liability deduction. 
  • Reintegrates the normal cost pick-up for Chicago Public Schools into the Pension Code where it belongs, and finally begins to treat Chicago like all other districts with regards to the State’s relationship with its teachers’ pensions.
  • Eliminates the PTELL and TIF equalized assessed value subsidies that allow districts to continue under-reporting property wealth.
  • Removes the escalators throughout the bill that automatically increase costs.
  • Retains the floor for the regionalization factor, for the purposes of equity, and adds a cap, for the purposes of adequacy.

Frankfort, IL…  Area residents are encouraged to sign-up to donate blood at an upcoming Blood Drive to be held at 11032 W Lincoln Hwy in Frankfort on Wednesday August 9th from 3:30-7:30pm. This is the 3rd annual blood drive sponsored by State Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) in conjunction with Heartland Blood Centers. Those interested in donating blood should call Rep. McDermed’s office to schedule an appointment at (815) 277-2079 or visit heartlandbc.org.

Blood donation is quick, easy, and has a tremendous impact,” Rep. McDermed said. “I encourage local residents to sign-up today to come out for a great cause and save lives.”

The Chicago Tribune and other outlets have reported on the unprecedented blood shortage this summer. Although during the summer blood banks normally see a downturn in donations and there is usually an uptick in accidents needing blood bags, this year’s shortage is reportedly much worse than in years past.  

“We can’t manufacture blood; lives are on the line when blood centers and hospitals see donation shortages like the one they’re currently experiencing,” Rep. McDermed continued. “I urge my constituents to sign up for an appointment, at this blood drive or any other.”

More than 500 donations are needed daily to save patient lives and donating one unit of blood can help save up to 3 lives. Heartland works with 63 Illinois hospitals and commits to donating all the blood they collect to local area hospitals.

Please call Rep. McDermed’s office with any questions at (815) 277-2079. Walk-ins are accepted, but scheduling an appointment is preferred.
From the ILHouseGOP Caucus Blog:

Where would you rather your hard earn tax money be directed, into the classroom for kids or to prop up Chicago’s mismanaged pension system?

Image result for classroomA new 32% income tax increase just went into effect on July 1 and Chicago politicians want to use it to bail out a pension system they failed to fund instead of using it to educate children across the state. The once bipartisan SB1 was a plan that would have equitably funded all schools in Illinois, ensuring each and every child was treated fairly. However in the waning moments of regular session, Chicago interests hijacked the bill and earmarked some of the money for the City of Chicago. 

An effort to get a clean bipartisan equitable funding formula back on track emerged with HB 4069. Every district is treated fairly and benefits at the highest level under HB 4069. To see how your schools benefit click here.
Below are some updates on upcoming events I am hosting in the district: 

Second Senior Driving Seminar
20170606_103804_1496764308252.jpegDue to the overwhelming response we received to our senior driving seminar last month, my office worked with the Secretary of State’s office to schedule another as soon as we could. Our second seminar will be next Tuesday July 25th at the Pipe Fitters Local 597, 10850 W. 187th St. in Mokena at 10am. With this new venue we can accommodate more people, but unfortunately we cannot provide any food, only water. We have attempted to reach out to everyone who put themselves on the waiting list for the earlier seminar. If you haven’t heard from us or you would like to sign up for this great opportunity to relearn the rules of the road, please call my office.

Illinois Finally Has a Budget, But at High Cost
         After weeks of being in Springfield with little progress, everything came to a head last weekend. On the last day of the fiscal year, negotiators met late in to the evening and a bipartisan deal seemed within grasp. However on Saturday, the start the new fiscal year, Speaker Madigan announced that no votes would occur over the weekend. This was surprising and drew a vocal response on the House floor from legislators on both sides of the aisle who wanted to see a deal done and didn’t appreciate the break in urgency implied by the Speaker’s words. Shortly thereafter in a statement to the press, the Speaker pulled a 180 and announced a vote on a budget for the next day. Negotiations on other reforms to repair the state stalled. On Sunday we were asked to vote on hundreds of pages of legislation just hours after it was filed. With some Republican support, the General Assembly passed and then overrode the Governor’s veto on both a budget and a tax increase. Illinois now has a budget for the first time in over 2 years, but little else. You can read my op-ed on why I voted no, here
          When the temporary income tax ended in 2015 with no budget in place, spending continued at the FY15 level primarily due to court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations. As a result, our state has been overspending revenue for years at around $39 billion. This budget spends $36 billion, a $3 billion cut, but well above the $32 million the state has been taking in over past years. The budget relies on increasing income taxes to 4.95% for individuals and 7% for businesses as well as provisions for borrowing billions to pay down the historically high bill backlog.
           A primary reason for so many to sign a budget, any budget, was to prevent the state from being labeled as junk by investor services. Signs from Moody’s say that Illinois is still at risk for a downgrade because we did not do enough to address Illinois’ main credit problems; our astronomical pension obligations and substantial bill backlog. 
In an Op-Ed, State Representative Margo McDermed explains her "No" vote on the tax increase and budget bills brought forth by the majority Democrats:

During the debate, many claimed that their votes to raise taxes and end the budget impasse would be the biggest vote of their lifetime. They’re right, but many for the wrong reasons. 

The process by which these bills came to the floor was rushed, unfair, and lacked transparency. It’s a process we’ve seen too often in Illinois government, a process made famous by former State Representative Bost’s outburst on the House floor and further proof that Madigan has no interest in playing fair or negotiating in good faith. We were told we had to vote on Sunday because the state couldn’t possibly afford another day of negotiations on pension reform and other reforms. And yet the vote to seal the deal had to wait days because so many members left town. 

Illinois’ current path is untenable. We hold 10% of the entire nation’s pension debt. We’ve got some of the highest property taxes in the nation. We’re losing population at concerning rates and have still not returned to the level of jobs we had in 2000. 

More than that our resident are tired. They're tired of Illinois being a national laughing stock. They’re tired of the mismanagement of their money by the state legislature and their local governments. They’re tired of short sighted, selfish politicians. 

We cannot in good conscience reach even further in to the pockets of overburdened constituents and offer them nothing in return. Nothing to convince people to stay and raise their families here with confidence in our state’s future. They deserve better than a tax increase and a booby trapped budget. 

After two years of this impasse, the state needs the stability of a budget. But more than that it needs substantive change. This move undercuts the momentum of negotiations on the issues that no one wants to tackle, but the ones that we must. We voted on a budget, but we didn't vote on any of our underlying problems and now the legislature goes home. When we return remains unclear.  

Legislators and local governments alike must remember that the money it spends comes from the hardworking men and women of this state. We need to earn back their trust. The veto is overridden and Illinois has a budget for the first time in two years, but the real work is not done. Not even close.
Springfield, IL – State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) issued the following statement in response to the Illinois House of Representatives passage of House Democrat revenue and spending bills:

"Today House Democrats had the gall to say that Illinois can’t afford to wait anymore and we need to act now. If they were sincere they would have filed and voted on their budget and revenues months ago, not this afternoon. We need to fix this state’s finances and end this budget impasse. While that may require revenue, we cannot in good conscience reach even further in to the pockets of Illinois taxpayers and offer them nothing in return. No guarantees that their money will be spent wisely, no guarantees that legislators are serious about tackling Illinois’ longstanding structural problems, and no guarantees that negotiations on important issues like property taxes and pension reform will continue with sincerity and urgency. My constituents deserve better. Illinois deserves better."

State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) is promoting legislation that will result in increased and fair education funding for all. House Bill 4069, like Senate Bill 1, utilizes the evidence based funding formula that ensures all school districts will receive more money. However HB4069 does not disproportionately give an advantage to Chicago Public Schools.

You can see the difference between the two bills on schools in the 37th district below:

The Illinois House of Representatives recently held a Committee of the Whole to discuss a statewide property tax freeze. State Representative Margo McDermed spoke out on the floor in support. The three panels of witnesses brought in to discuss the proposal were largely opposed to the idea. She directed her comments to these opponents:


Shortly before the session adjourned, Rep. McDermed sat down with Comcast Newsmakers in the capitol to discuss the budget and getting things done:

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School funding reform is an issue important to all Illinois residents, whether you have children or not. The Illinois Constitution says that the state government must provide a majority of the funding for public schools. Instead the state only provides around 24%, with the rest coming from federal funds and property taxes. This dereliction of constitutional duty is a big reason why Illinois property taxes are so high.

Over a year ago, Governor Rauner commissioned a bipartisan group to study how we can fix Illinois’ broken school funding system. The conclusions of that group formed the basis for a number of bills filed in the House and Senate. Bipartisan negotiations occurred to rectify the bills. Unfortunately, by the time a bill got to the House floor for a vote it had been co-opted by Chicago legislators. 

SB 1 would send nearly 70 percent of the new K-12 funding in FY18 to CPS. The other 851 Illinois school districts would receive just 30 percent of the new funds, despite have 77 percent of total students. School funding reform cannot help a broken Chicago school system at the expense of the rest of the state. I could not and will not support last minute legislation that supports further inequity in the system.

This is yet another in a long line of promising solutions stalled or corrupted by political games.

Regardless of what happens with school funding reform, the state as a whole needs to put more money towards our schools. Even though more money has been directed towards K-12 and early education since Governor Rauner took office, this is not something we can reasonably accomplish while this budget impasse continues.

I will continue to work with my colleagues, but the games have to stop. Illinois can’t move forward without the participation of both sides of the aisle. We need to focus on bipartisan solutions, not 2018. Too much is at stake. 

Margo McDermed
State Representative, 37th District
The House has been in continuous session “until the call of the chair” (Speaker Madigan) since May 31st. The fiscal year ends on June 30th and yet no session has been called or planned yet for the month of June.

Senate Bill 1
              School funding reform is an issue that has been buzzing a lot around Springfield over the past few years. It is fully accepted by both parties that the current formula is broken and we need a change. Governor Rauner’s bipartisan commission to study the issue produced a blue print for a new evidence based funding model. The evidence-based funding model is significant to Illinois for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was specifically designed to drive much-needed funding to school districts that are the farthest away from adequacy.
               On the final day of the scheduled spring session, House Democrats co-opted and amended a new formula, Senate Bill 1, to provide Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with a bailout at the expense of the rest of the state’s public schools. SB 1 would cost approximately $700 million in new state dollars to implement in FY18. Not only is that amount unachievable given the fiscal crisis facing Illinois, but CPS would receive nearly $500 million or 70 percent of the new funding. The other 851 Illinois school districts would receive just $200 million or 30 percent of the new funds, despite have 77 percent of total students.
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State Rep Margo McDermed is proud to announce her third annual Summer reading club. This year's theme is "Story Under the Sea"

"I'm pleased to continue with this successful program that encourages students to keep their minds active by reading and learning during their summer break." Rep. McDermed said.

Pamphlets were distributed recently to area schools. They are also available at local libraries or at Rep. McDermed's District Office. Participation in this program can overlap with any other summer reading program offered. Participating students have until August 11th to read ten books. Students who complete this challenge will be invited to an ice cream party. Attendees of the party will receive a certificate from the Illinois House of Representatives and information on college savings programs offered through the State of Illinois.

If you would like a digital copy of Rep, McDermed's reading club pamphlet, click here.
The House and Senate went late in to the evening over the last two days to no avail. The May 31st session deadline has come and gone yet again without a budget.
This special Thursday end of session edition of the Dispatch is a long one, so I’ve broken it down to the bad news, the good news, and the local news:

Bad News
Senate Passes Tax Hike Budget
Last week Senate Democrats passed a $37.7 billion dollar budget with $5.4 billion dollars in tax increases. The new taxes included a 32% income tax hike, from 3.75% to 4.99%. The Senate came as close as they could to a deal on the major issues that made up the grand bargain, but then gave up and essentially punted the issue to the House, which refused to deal with many of them, including the budget. 

Budget Still Nowhere to be Seen in House
The normal session deadline (where the requirement for bill passage is only 60 votes) ended last night with a total of 480 bill passing both chambers. 292 originated from the House and 188 from the Senate. However, before 1pm on the last day of session, House Leadership called for a continuous session throughout the summer, thus making it clear that no budget bills would be debated or called for a vote. A few weeks ago I joined my colleagues in writing to Attorney General Lisa Madigan requesting that she use her authority to force the House to adopt a revenue estimate. Knowing how much we have to spend is an important step in crafting a budget and something that has been absent during my time in office. The House spent more time in session over the last 3 days than in the last three weeks combined. But none of that floor discussion touched on a revenue estimate or the budget. Believe it or not, instead we dealt with things like a bill to require truth in advertising for catfish at restaurants and a bill to reign in feral cat populations. 
Springfield, IL... For the second year in a row the Illinois General Assembly has adjourned without sending Governor Rauner a budget. State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) has released the following statement in response to this dereliction of duty:

"I took office at the same time as the Governor. I have been a firsthand witness to the kind of political games being played over the budget. Time and time again the House has snubbed its constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget or even adopt a revenue estimate on which to base that budget. Speaker Madigan has said that we will hold hearings on the budget in June and I have to wonder when he finally realized that the House needs to start work on a balanced budget. Should the Speaker be interested in calling us back to Springfield to work and negotiate to try and rectify this situation before the end of the fiscal year, I stand ready and willing."
Image result for rape kit
Springfield, IL… State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) received unanimous support in Springfield for her measure to empower sexual assault victims. House Bill 528 requires the Illinois State Police (ISP) to create and operate a statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system. It also creates a commission to help ISP to develop the guidelines related to the tracking system. HB 528 passed the Senate on May 29th on a 55-0 vote. It passed the House on March 14th on a 107-0 vote. 

“The current handling of sexual assault evidence is rife with confusion and human error,” Rep. McDermed said. “I applaud the steps ISP was already taking to make this process easier and more effective for sexual assault victims, but we need to do better.”

After a number of untested rape kits were found in local law enforcement evidence rooms, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law in 2011 to require local law enforcement agencies to send thousands of untested rape kits to the state crime lab run by ISP. This was a step in the right direction for crimes that may have gone uninvestigated, but created other problems and muddled the chain of custody.

“The process of collecting these kits is difficult enough, we owe it to these victims to give them clarity on the status of their case,” Rep. McDermed continued. “No rape kit should go untested and no victim should go without critical information pertaining to their assault.”

A critical part of ensuring justice for victims of sexual assault is the proper handling, and transparency in the processing, of evidence kits. HB 528 creates the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, a group that will work with ISP to create and develop the tracking system. The bill brings together relevant actors from the state police, testing labs, local law enforcement, the court system, hospitals, and victim’s rights groups to discuss how to handle transfers of evidence, testing, payment for testing, and other important factors.

“Transparency and accountability in the evidence process is key to decreasing the likelihood of error, lessening the state’s rape kit backlog, and bringing more offenders to justice,” stated Rep. McDermed.

The bill received widespread support from across the state and the nation, including the Joyful Heart Foundation. HB 528 will next be sent to the Governor who is expected to sign it in to law.


Last week in Springfield produced little from the House. I’ve spoken out in the past on the floor about how we have a tendency to shirk our toughest priorities or leave them until the last minute to the detriment of taxpayers. May 31st is just days away, we cannot afford to waste any more time. You can listen to a recent speech I made here.

Bill Backlog Grows, Revenue Estimate Needed
          The state’s unpaid bill backlog has now topped $14 billion. In addition we’re paying more than $800 million in interest on these bills. Every day without a budget, the State pays out $17 million more than we take in.
           Both the Constitution and state law require the General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate on which to base a balanced budget for the forthcoming fiscal year, an action which legislators have failed to take in either of the past two years and haven’t yet done for the coming fiscal year. I joined Representative Keith Wheeler and others in signing a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan asking her to intervene and force legislators to comply with this requirement.
          A revenue estimate is a vital part of the state budget process. We can’t get our finances under control if we don’t know how much we have to spend.

Image result for survey results
In February, State Representative Margo McDermed asked constituents to take an online survey of state and local issues. The 10 question survey yielded a number of results from throughout the district. While most of the questions were multiple choice, other questions allowed respondents to write in their own specific concerns about the state. Many of those responses received advocated for term limits, breaking House Speaker Madigan's hold on the state, pension reform, protecting our most vulnerable and seniors, and a balanced budget. 

Responses from the survey make it clear that the main issues on the mind of residents in the 37th district are the budget, the state's economy, property taxes, and education. 

The multiple choice results are as follows:

Image result for senior driversNew Lenox, IL … State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) is pleased to offer a Senior Driving Seminar in collaboration with the Illinois Secretary of State. The two hour class is offered in June and will give senior citizens an opportunity to refresh their memory for the written driving test when renewing their licenses. The seminar is taught by an instructor from the Secretary of State’s Office and includes an extensive overview of the contents of the Rules of the Road booklet and sample test. The seminar is free of charge.

“I know how important it is for seniors to maintain their independence and being able to drive is an important part of that. For good reason the Illinois Secretary of State’s office has additional requirements and measures for senior drivers,” explained Rep. McDermed. “I invite any and all senior citizens to these driving seminars as I know they will benefit greatly from this refresher course.” 

Illinois drivers can renew their licenses for 4 years between ages 69 and 80. Until the age of 86 licenses drivers can renew for 2 years and after 87 years the license needs to be renewed annually. Drivers who are 75 years of age or older at the time their current driver license expires are generally required to renew their license in person at a local DMV. All drivers have to take a vision test, but in addition, drivers will be asked to take a written knowledge test every 8 years, unless they have no traffic violations. Drivers over 75 years have to take a road test at the time of renewal.


WHAT: FREE Senior Driving Seminar 
WHEN: Tuesday, June 6th at 10am
WHERE: New Lenox Police Department, 200 Veterans Pkwy, New Lenox 

If you have any questions or would like to attend, please RSVP by calling Rep. McDermed’s office at (815) 277-2079.
Before the House left Springfield for it's most recent break, instead of focusing on the budget, House Democrats passed bills that collectively spent $295 million dollars. In Springfield this week the House spent its time passing 57 House Resolutions. No bills were passed and no discussions were held on pension reform, the budget, property tax reform, or many of the other important issues facing this state. 

Listen to Rep. McDermed on the House Floor calling on her fellow representatives to get down to business, do their jobs, and address the real issues hurting Illinois:


State Representative McDermed co-sponsored and recently spoke out on the floor in support of HB 2462, a bill to ensure equal pay for men and women by prohibiting the screening of job applicants based on their salary history and requiring employers to justify gender pay disparity using legitimate business reasons. You can listen to her floor speech below:


From Illinois News Network:

Republican Margo McDermed, R-Frankfort, says her professional career would have been very different under this proposed law.

"I think about, with great regret, how much more I would have retired with if we'd had some of the protections that [Rep. Moeller] is fighting for here today," McDermed said.

The bill also prohibits employers from inquiring about wage history and creates sizable legal penalties for doing so. 

From AMNY:

If employers can’t ask you what you made the last time around, goes the argument, they’ll have to base their hiring decisions more on quality of the applicant than the easy glance to the right of the dollar sign — relying on a figure, in other words, that may unfairly undervalue a woman due to past history.

....It made it through the Illinois House, where Republican Rep. Margo McDermed voted for it, noting her personal experience as an attorney for an energy company.


House Bill 2462 passed the House on a 92-24 vote. It is currently in the Senate where it is expected to pass. 
From the Illinois House GOP Caucus Blog:

Lawmakers and environmentalists from parts of Illinois that rely on groundwater want tougher monitoring of porous rock quarries that are being "reclaimed" by filling them with construction waste, saying they want to regulate them to make sure drinking water doesn't become contaminated with toxins.

On the other side are road builders, engineers and others in the construction business, who argue that Illinois has sufficient quarry regulations and additional testing would be too expensive.

The proposed rules appear stymied this spring. But Attorney General Lisa Madigan is in court, trying to force previously dismissed groundwater monitoring on the quarries. She argued in a state appellate court brief that testing underground aquifers is necessary to protect drinking water "from the ongoing threat posed by the placement of unchecked materials ... directly into the water table."

Pro-monitoring forces use Flint, Michigan, as a worst-case scenario, where river water was not treated to reduce corrosion for 18 months, leading lead to leach from old pipes and fixtures.

"That's the danger," said Rep. Margo McDermed, a Republican from limestone-rich Will County who is sponsoring legislation requiring groundwater monitoring around quarry receptacles. "That's the concern of everyone who uses water nearby quarries: that we could be in a situation like that." 

Read more
Friday was the 3rd reading deadline in the House, which means it was the final opportunity for most House bills to be voted on and have a chance to become law.
 
The House takes another recess this week and when we return, will be in session every week from now until the scheduled end of session on May 31st.

Light At the End of the Tunnel?
We were in Springfield last week after a two week absence and the main issues of the day; the budget, pension reform, job growth, etc. were again put on the back burner and kicked down the road to May. In the flurry of activity before the final reading deadline, 179 bills passed last week, including a bill to require the teaching of cursive in public schools. Yet, instead of debating the budget, House Democrats voted on numerous pieces of legislation that, in total, would cost the state an additional $295 million. The priorities of House leadership are disappointing at best.
 
The legislature only has the month of May remaining to tackle the big issues. In the past two years at the end of May, the House Democrats have used their majority to pass budgets that were billions of dollars out of balance and wiped its hands of the issue. The House has thus abdicated its Constitutional responsibility to pass a balanced budget. This has left Illinois in an unprecedented and staggeringly bad financial position.
 
There was one notable piece of good news last week. Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan met for the first time in months. It remains to be seen whether this will be the start of meaningful budget negotiations.

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Rep. McDermed in Springfield with Ashley Crossett and her family

On Tuesday State Representative McDermed passed House Resolution 40, designating October 2017 as "Dysautonomia Awareness Month" in the State of Illinois.

Dysautonomia is an umbrella term used to describe several different medical conditions that cause a malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)
The ANS is responsible for controlling the "automatic" functions of the human body, including, but not limited to, heart rate, blood pressure, and kidney function. Various types of Dysautonomia result in the inability of the body to regulate these systems which may lead to lightheadedness, fainting, unstable blood pressure, abnormal heart rates, malnutrition, and even in some cases death. 

The resolution was inspired by Ashley Crossett, a constituent in Frankfort, who suffers from Dysautonomia and is committed to raising awareness in Illinois. Over 70 million people worldwide have some type of Dysautonomia. There is no known cure for Dysautonomia.

The legislature has been on ‘Spring Break’ for the past two weeks. I’ve been out and about touring the district, meeting with groups, and talking with constituents.

McDermed_transportation_ownhall.jpg

We return to begin voting on bills today.

Rep. McDermed, Minority Spokesperson, and Rep. Evans, Chairman, of the House Transportation Committee discuss statewide infrastructure issues


Please join Rep. Margo McDermed at a Transportation TownHall Meeting:

Tuesday, April 18,  6:30 PM
Frankfort Township Old Hall
11008 W. Lincoln Hwy., Frankfort IL

For more information, contact Rep. McDermed's office through her website or by calling 815-277-2079.

The townhall will be focused on transportation issues and include a discussion of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s plans for the 37th district. This will be the first of several townhalls Rep. McDermed will host over the course of the year. She will be available to hear from constituents on all issues, but each townhall will focus on a particular topic.

“The 37th district is an important transportation crossroads between Chicago and the rest of the State,” said Rep. McDermed. “I want residents to have this opportunity to talk with me about their local and state transportation concerns.”

Rep. McDermed is the House minority spokesperson on the Transportation; Regulation, Roads, and Bridges Committee.

From the Caucus Blog:

Governor Bruce Rauner announced today the State of Illinois will work with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to expand anti-hate education to Illinois students. This is part of Governor Rauner’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism and other hate crimes in Illinois.

“As Simon Wiesenthal and others frequently said, ‘For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.’ We’re here because we’re doing something. Illinois will not stay silent in the face of hate, bigotry and persecution,” Governor Rauner said. “Illinois is a leader in anti-hate education, and we will work with organizations like the Simon Wiesenthal Center to continue to lead by example.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center today presented Governor Bruce Rauner with its 2017 Digital Terrorism and Hate Report at the State Capitol. He is the first Midwestern governor to be presented with the report.

"The Simon Wiesenthal Center is grateful for Governor Rauner taking a leadership position today, in supporting our ongoing efforts to combat racism, anti-Semitism and extremism, especially on social media." said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization, and founder of the Digital Hate and Terrorism Project, twenty two years ago.  "The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Midwest Director, Alison Pure-Slovin, has already begun to train facilitators for our new Students Tools for Tolerance program that will empower young people to deal with the tsunami of online hate. We look forward to working with Governor Rauner and Secretary of Education Beth Purvis to educate our children on the perils of social media.”

Earlier this month, Governor Rauner unveiled a four-part initiative to combat the rise in anti-Semitism and hate crimes both in Illinois and around the country. His directives include:

  • Strengthening Illinois’ hate crime law to prevent and prosecute hate crimes targeting specific religions
  • Improving law enforcement training to properly identify, investigate and prosecute hate crimes
  • Expanding K-12 education to combat hate
  • Prohibiting state contracts with companies that boycott Israel




Image result for illinois pension crisisTogether with a number of other colleagues, Rep. McDermed has introduced legislation in the House to implement reform to stem the state's ballooning pension liability. Illinois' pension liability has spiked to $130 billion. House Bill 4027 would provide significant savings for taxpayers and grant Chicago Public Schools $215 million for a one time pension parity payment. Filed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, the bill is modeled after bipartisan legislation previously introduced in the Senate. 


Specifically, HB 4027 includes: 

  • Senate President John Cullerton’s “consideration model” that would require members of TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, and CTPF to exchange their Tier 1 COLA for the right to have future raises to be counted as pensionable, or keep their COLA and sacrifice future raises as pensionable. This concept previously received union support by the We Are One Coalition 
  • Provides a one-time normal cost payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund of $215.2 million for FY 17
  • Closes new member participation in GARS
  • Offers Tier 1 TRS, SURS, SERS and GARS employees the option to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan
  • Creates a voluntary Tier 3 Hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plan for new Tier 2 employees under TRS, SURS, and certain SERS members who do not participate in Social Security 
‘Quit Exploiting Will County’
          A recent Chicago Tribune Editorial discussed the practice of dumping construction debris in to old, unused quarries.  Will County has 9 such quarry sites that accept debris, the most in the State. Many of our local communities rely on groundwater for drinking and given recent national concerns about contaminated water I filed a bill to ensure that the water near these sites is properly monitored. Read the editorial here.
 
Republicans Offer New Pension Reform Proposal
          I joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, and a number of other colleagues in filing legislation to address Illinois’ staggering pension crisis. The pension reform would save taxpayers an estimated $2.25 billion dollars in the short run and grant Chicago the one time pension pickup of $215 million they need to finish the school year as part of a bipartisan good faith effort. The legislation uses Senate President John Cullerton’s “consideration model” that would require members of TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, and CTPF to exchange their Tier 1 COLA for the right to have future raises to be counted as pensionable, or keep their COLA and sacrifice future raises as pensionable. In addition it would close new member participation in GARS, the pension system for General Assembly members.
 
Chicago, Illinois Population Continues to Decline
          Chicago, one of the nation’s largest cities, was the only top ten city to see a drop in population between 2015 and 2016, losing 19,570 residents. In addition, for the third straight year Illinois has lost more residents than other state. In 2016 there was a net loss of 37,508 people. The decline coincided with patterns of stagnant job creation in Illinois. Groups leaving Illinois include young adults searching for employment elsewhere.  While the unemployment rate is down -0.7 percentage points from a year ago, at 5.4% it is still above the national average (4.7%) and monthly payroll gains continue to significantly lag behind the rest of the country. 
 
Upcoming Townhall
          I am hosting a town hall next month in Frankfort. This will be the first of several townhalls I will hold over the course of the year. I will be available to hear from constituents on all issues, but each townhall will focus on a particular topic. The focus of this first townhall will be transportation issues. The 37th district is an important transportation crossroads between Chicago and the rest of the state and I serve as the minority spokesperson on the House Transportation; Roads and Bridges Committee. The townhall will be held on Tuesday, April 18th at 6:30pm in the old blue Frankfort Township building, 11008 W Lincoln Hwy.
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Frankfort, IL…. State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) is hosting a town hall next month in Frankfort. The townhall will be focused on transportation issues and include a discussion of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s plans for the 37th district. This will be the first of several townhalls Rep. McDermed will host over the course of the year. She will be available to hear from constituents on all issues, but each townhall will focus on a particular topic.

“The 37th district is an important transportation crossroads between Chicago and the rest of the State,” said Rep. McDermed. “I want residents to have this opportunity to talk with me about their local and state transportation concerns.”

Rep. McDermed is the House minority spokesperson on the Transportation; Regulation, Roads, and Bridges Committee. The townhall will be held on Tuesday, April 18th at 6:30pm in the old, blue Frankfort Township Building, 11008 W Lincoln Hwy.
From the Chicago Tribune:

During construction season, it's not unusual to find dump trucks lined up at Will County's nine quarry sites that accept so-called clean construction debris. Dumping into retired or underused quarries has long been a subject of concern. The quarries aren't lined to protect groundwater, and they aren't regulated as heavily as landfills that accept garbage.
Image result for will county il quarry
...Bills sponsored by state Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena, and Emily McAsey, D-Lockport, are sitting in a House subcommittee where they are likely to remain. McDermed says the committee chairman, Rep. Daniel Beiser, D-Alton, believes current regulations of quarries go far enough.

...McDermed says Illinois can't expect the industry to regulate itself, so groundwater monitoring is crucial: "A system that says we're going to take the word of the person who runs it that it's clean construction debris because of some random checks by eyesight, that is not a system," she says.
Legislation Passes House
            House Bill 528, legislation I filed to create the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission unanimously passed the House. By making the evidence collection and testing process more transparent we can decrease the likelihood of error, lessen the rape kit backlog at the state police, and hopefully bring more offenders to justice.
           Under current law, the Secretary of State must publish and mail to every household a proposed Constitutional Amendment, the explanation of the amendment, the arguments for and against the amendment, and the form in which the amendment will appear on the ballot. House Bill 348 is a cost saving measure (about $1.3 million per amendment) that removes this requirement and instead only requires that the information be posted on a website controlled by the Secretary of State. Newspaper notices about the constitutional amendment would still be required.
 
New Pension Proposal
          Last June, Governor Rauner and the four legislative leaders agreed the state would pay for one year of CPS’ teacher pensions if lawmakers passed vital statewide pension reform. No pension proposal was sent to the governor and so he vetoed the separate Chicago pension pickup bill. CPS has moved to cut costs after the veto by furloughing employees and freezing school budgets but say that it could be forced to cut summer school and shorten the school year by about three weeks if the state doesn’t intervene. After a highly publicized meeting with Chance the Rapper, the Governor offered two paths to help CPS fill its budget hole: a legislative proposal or through city TIF funds. Senators Connelly and Tracy last week introduced legislation supported by the Governor that would give $215 million to CPS for its teacher pensions in exchange for reforms to the state’s public pensions. Critics to the proposal say that it is unfair to trade a one year deal for Chicago in exchange for permanent pension reform.