A number of new laws will take effect beginning with the new year. Some of the major pieces of legislation include:

Providing for taxpayer-funding of elective abortions for state employees and Medicaid recipients
Provides that taxpayer funds may be used to cover abortion costs through the state insurance program and through Medicaid for any reason, including elective abortions. Federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for abortion procedures beyond issues involving rape, incest or health risks to the mother. Due to the federal Hyde amendment, Illinois will not be eligible for the 50 cents-on-the-dollar federal reimbursement for elective abortion procedures done through Medicaid.

Law Enforcement Sexual Assault Investigation Act
The Law Enforcement Sexual Assault Investigation Act requires each law enforcement agency to have a written policy regarding the investigation of an officer-involved sexual assault. Any investigations must be conducted by at least two investigators with specialized sexual assault investigation training from either the Law Enforcement Training Standards Board or the State Police. If a
complaint is made against a member of the Chicago Police Department, Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority will conduct the investigation.

Research Dogs and Cats Adoption act
A research facility, after the completion of its research, must assess the health of the dog or cat, and determine whether or not the animal is suitable for adoption. For the animals determined to be fit, the research facility must make a reasonable effort to have them adopted. Facilities that provide the animals to adoption agencies are immune from liability except when willful or wanton misconduct takes place. Research facilities must also post their animal policies online.

Barack Obama Day
Designates August 4th each year as Barack Obama Day. This is not an official state holiday, state government does not shut down.

Police officers PTSD training
Amends the Illinois Police Training Act for probationary police officers to receive training on effective recognition of and responses to stress, trauma, and post-traumatic stress experienced by police officers. 

Outlaws hospital “no admit” lists
The law prohibits hospitals from maintaining a list of individuals that may not be admitted for treatment. It does not prohibit a hospital from recommending an alternate provider, coordinating an appropriate transfer, or arranging access to care services that best meet the needs of an individual patient. 

Free access to feminine hygiene products in Illinois schools
Feminine hygiene products will now be available, at no cost to students, in the bathrooms of school buildings under this new mandate to Illinois school districts. “Feminine hygiene products” means tampons and sanitary napkins for use in connection with the menstrual cycle.

Cybersecurity training for state employees
Requires state employees to annually undergo training by the Department of Innovation and Technology concerning cybersecurity. The Department will be able to make the training an online course, and it will include information on detecting phishing scams, preventing spyware infections and identity theft, and preventing and responding to data breaches. 

Illegal electronic monitoring
This act creates the offense of illegal electronic monitoring, to protect citizens’ privacy and safety from spyware and tracking software being unknowingly installed or downloaded onto cell phones.

State Grain
Designates corn as the official state grain of the state of Illinois.

Read the rest of the 200 bills becoming law on January 1st here
A statewide helpline has been launched to provide immediate assistance for those impacted by addiction to opioids and other substances. The telephone service line, 1-833-2-FINDHELP (1-833-234-6343), will be operated through the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances is funded by federal grant dollars secured by the State of Illinois and can be accessed free of charge. 
The helpline is the latest step in Illinois lawmakers’ commitment to tackle the opioid crisis and combat the growing number of overdose deaths related to heroin, other opioids, and synthetics like fentanyl. Earlier this year the Governor unveiled the Opioid Action Plan and signed an executive order creating the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The task force, chaired by Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and IDPH Director Nirav Shah, was charged with building strategies that would help reduce projected opioid overdose-related deaths by one-third within the next three years. It has been holding hearings and gathering testimony from public-health professionals and law enforcement leaders on the dimensions of the crisis.  

Another policy established under Executive Order 2017-05 was a Standing Order to make the overdose reversal drug Naloxone (Narcan) available to first responders and members of communities across Illinois, without a prescription. 

Data shows that opioid overdoses are dramatically increasing, with 1,946 people killed in Illinois in 2016 up from 1,382 in 2015. In Will County there were 103 opioid deaths in 2016, up from 79 in 2015. Opioids are killing more people every year than homicides or motor vehicle accidents. In addition, data from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) estimates that approximately 248,000 Illinois residents need, but do not receive, treatment for illicit drug use.

The helpline will provide a confidential outlet for individuals experiencing opioid use disorders, their families and anyone affected by the disease. It will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by specialists trained in evidence-based approaches to help connect callers with treatment and recovery-support services. 
When the Chicago River was reversed in 1900, the city's sewage was directed away from Lake Michigan, the city and surrounding suburbs' main drinking water source. However severe flooding leads to sewage tainted storm water being put in the lake. Raw sewage can be harmful to the lake and local rivers and has led to the severe pollution of the Chicago River.

State Representative Margo McDermed recently toured the McCook Reservoir, a new addition to Cook County's reservoir system that will have a significant impact on flood control. The reservoir is 3,000 feet long, 310 feet deep, and has the capacity to hold 3.5 billion gallons of storm water. By 2029 it will be able to hold an addition 6.5 billion gallons. 

The tour also included a look at Chicago's 'Deep Tunnel', the largest public works project ever undertaken by the city of Chicago and one of the largest civil engineering feats in modern history. The tunnel connects sewers to reservoirs that hold storm water until it can be pumped to sewage treatment plants for cleanup before being put into local water sources. 

The new reservoir and tunnel are part of a much larger project that began in the late 1970's and is expected to be completed in 2029. Once the project is completed, water management agencies will no longer have to pump excess wastewater in to Lake Michigan and the river during severe weather events to prevent flooding. 

The McCook and Thornton reservoirs, connected via the Deep Tunnel, were built out of large rock quarries recommissioned for public use. Rep. McDermed has pushed for greater regulation of private rock quarries and their impact on local drinking water. These debris and quarry sites are often high in toxins, which can seep in to the groundwater. You can read more here.

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Image result for small business saturdayThis Saturday, November 25th is Small Business Saturday. The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping time of the year and this new, unofficial holiday encourages people to shop small and support their local economy. At 99%, small businesses make up an overwhelming majority of the businesses in Illinois and employ an estimated 2.4 million people. Of the roughly 1.2 million small businesses, 311,609 are minority owned. 

Local small businesses can get social media marketing tools here.
Today State Representative Margo McDermed received an appointment to the House Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment. She was appointed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. The task force is in charge of conducting a comprehensive review of the legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment, in both the public and private sectors.

"I am glad that legislators have taken swift and strong action in recent weeks to condemn and help fix the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield. It is long overdue," Rep. McDermed said. "As a woman who worked in a male dominated field my entire career, I appreciate the opportunity to be at the forefront of the effort to substantially address this issue."

The task force was created by House Resolution 687, which passed unanimously last week in Springfield. During the final week of veto session the House acted on several measures to address the culture of sexual harassment in Illinois government. The House also unanimously passed a comprehensive measure to amend Illinois' ethics law to include sexual harassment. The task force must submit a report on the best practices to improve procedures for accepting complaints and the prevention of sexual discrimination and harassment in the public and private sector to the General Assembly by the end of next year.
Frankfort, IL… Following up on last year’s incredibly successful drive, State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) is proud to announce a second holiday diaper drive beginning next Monday. This month long drive will help to address the struggle young, and often single, mothers have in keeping their infant or toddler clean, dry, and healthy. Donations will be collected at Rep. McDermed’s district office and will benefit Journey, a local non-profit organization that helps young women and families in need and Catholic Charities expectant mother program. 
In Illinois 52% of births are covered by Medicaid and 23% of families live below the poverty line. However, there are no government subsidies to help purchase diapers and wipes, products which are taxed at the highest sales tax rate.

“It’s the season of giving and in lieu of a food or clothing drive, I wanted to bring attention to an under-served, but still very important, need in our community,” Rep McDermed said. “Most people don’t realize that government assistance programs, like food stamps, don’t cover diapers. As a community, we are measured most by how we take care of those who are down on their luck. I am asking residents to share their good fortune this season and help others who are struggling.”

What: Diapers, baby wipes, and diaper rash cream 
Where: Rep. McDermed's office, 11032 W Lincoln Hwy, Frankfort
When: November 20th to December 20th
Last week the Illinois House met to finish votes on bills vetoed by the Governor. In his first two years in office the governor was only overridden once. This year, including the vetoes of the out-of-balance budget and tax hike from this summer, the General Assembly overrode the Governor 18 times. The House does not meet again until January. 

Vacancy filled, Sexual Harassment Bills Passed
           Amidst the furor over sexual harassment revelations in Springfield recently, glaring holes in the system were brought to light. Sexual harassment is not currently listed as a violation in the Illinois Ethics Act. In addition, the General Assembly has been without a legislative inspector general for over two years. The legislative inspector general is responsible for “investigating complaints of violations of any law, rule or regulation or abuse of authority or other forms of misconduct by members of the General Assembly and state employees under the jurisdiction of the legislature”. This vacancy has left a backlog of at least 27 complaints against members of the General Assembly. Last week the Legislative Ethics Commission voted unanimously to appoint a former federal prosecutor, Julie Porter, as the temporary inspector general. It shouldn’t have taken over 2 years to fill this position, but this is all too common in Springfield. Often real issues aren’t addressed until they reach crisis level or a scandal occurs.
           Legislatively, the House acted on several measures to address the culture of sexual harassment in Illinois government. The House passed a comprehensive measure brought forth by Speaker Madigan to amend Illinois' ethics law. The bill adds sexual harassment to the ethics code and requires that the executive branch, legislative leaders, members of the General Assembly, the auditor general and higher education boards establish procedures for individuals to report allegations of sexual harassment and spell out disciplinary action for violators. Lobbyists also would be required to complete a training program and to develop their own sexual harassment policies. In addition, the House voted to create a Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment.

This Saturday is Veteran's Day. In honor of the occasion and in recognition of their service, State Representative McDermed is sponsoring a flag exchange program to allow veterans to obtain a new flag to fly at their home or business. This opportunity is available while supplies last. The program is free of charge and provided at no cost to taxpayers. 

In addition, residents of the 37th district wishing to turn in an old US flag for proper disposal may bring their used flag to Rep. McDermed's district office. Area residents may bring their flags in for proper disposal, while veterans may receive a new flag even if they do not have one to exchange. 

Rep. McDermed’s District Office is located at 11032 W Lincoln Hwy in Frankfort and is open from 9 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday. The office is not open on Friday for Veteran's Day. For further details, call 815-277-2079.
State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Frankfort) today filed House Resolution 678 congratulating a Tinley Park Brewery on their recent industry successes. Hailstorm Brewery was honored in October at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Their Prairie Madness IPA beat out 407 other beers to win the American Style IPA category. It was the single most competitive category in the festival’s history. Hailstorm also won silver in the bock category for Rock Out with Maibock Out.

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"The craft brewery market is exploding in Illinois, which is good for the Illinois economy and for Illinois consumers who have more choices," Rep. McDermed. "Hailstorm is an example of what small businesses can create and accomplish if the State gets out of their way. I congratulate them on their success and look forward to getting a taste of the award winning product myself."

It is estimated that the Illinois craft beer industry directly employs 4,500 people and has a $2.6 billion economic impact across the State. In 2015 Rep. McDermed voted for legislation to allow craft breweries expand their production, to 120,000 barrels of beer per year while operating as many as three retail facilities, such as brewpubs or taprooms. Previous law had limited craft breweries to 30,000 barrels a year, a death knell for the fast growing market in Illinois. This year she voted for legislation amending an antiquated section of the Environmental Protection Act that prevented breweries like Hailstorm from using certain kinds of beer cans. This new method of canning where the entirety of the top portion of the can can be removed to create a full opening at the top of the can is quickly gaining popularity. 
In his first two years in office, only 3 of Governor Rauner’s 111 vetoes were overridden. After Democrats were emboldened by the passage of the tax increase over the summer and outrage by Republican lawmakers over the governor’s signing of an abortion bill, this veto session was expected to be incredibly difficult for the Governor.
*In the House, 71 votes (¾ majority) is needed to override any gubernatorial veto. The House is composed of 67 Democrats and 51 Republicans*

Debt Transparency Act
bill_backlog.PNGIllinois unpaid bill backlog is now at a staggering $16 billion dollars. The Debt Transparency Act would require monthly instead of annual reports from state agencies to the Comptroller's Office and allow more comprehensive financial information to be included. The governor vetoed the bill because state agencies already report annually on their liabilities and interest. This legislation would dramatically increase their reporting requirements. Additionally it neglected to account for the realities of agency record keeping and reporting which make compliance with this mandate difficult, time consuming, and expensive. The Governor vetoed the bill believing the primary effect of this mandate would be to divert limited funds and staff attention away from their core functions in providing services to the citizens of Illinois.
However, many thought it is reasonable to require state agencies to disclose certain information to the public on a regular basis, including the amount of bills being held by each agency and an estimate of late payment interest penalties for eligible liabilities. The override of the Governor’s veto was unanimous.
Local Right to Work Lives to See Another Day
Governor Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 1905, a bill that prohibits local governments from enacting “Right to Work” zones in their communities. This means that local communities would not be able to allow individual workers a choice in whether or not they want to pay a union as a condition of employment.
I believe that Illinois communities should have the freedom to determine the best interests of their workforces and employers, especially cities on the border with neighboring states that have already enacted Right to Work laws. These cities are losing thousands of jobs every year to more competitive locations.
One of the most egregious components of SB1905 is that it would make violations of this Act a Class A misdemeanor. It is outrageous that we would jail local elected officials for up to a year for acting in the best interests of their communities.
The Senate voted to override 42-13. I believe in local control. For that reason I voted against the veto override, which failed to pass the House by 1 vote. Another attempt at an override is expected when we return in November.
Miss last week's Property Tax Townhall? Click here to view the powerpoint presentation

“Pop Tax”
This Wednesday the Cook County Board is meeting to consider action on an ordinance to repeal the controversial Sweetened Beverage Tax. In the short time since its botched implementation, the tax has been met with an overwhelmingly negative reception and there has been much public backlash.

I have spoken with many constituents about the negative effect this burdensome tax is having on their families and small businesses. I am a co-sponsor on 3 pieces of legislation to address the issue. House Bill 4082 filed by Rep McAuliffe(R) and HB 4083 filed by Rep. Mussman(D) would immediately repeal the tax and prevent any home rule community from imposing a tax on sweetened beverages based on volume sold. House Bill 4084 filed by Rep. Breen (R) goes a step further and prevents the implementation of a tax based on weight or volume of any purchase in a home rule municipality.

State Representative McDermed was recently appointed as the lone House Republican member to serve on the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission. The commission was recently created when Governor Rauner signed House Bill 528 in to law in August. Rep. McDermed was the lead sponsor of the bill and shepherded the bill through the legislative process with unanimous votes in both the House and Senate.  

This task force will work together with the Illinois State Police to improve the processing and review of sexual assault evidence. It will bring 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. The commission will also make sure that the courts, testing labs, and law enforcement are all adequately communicating with each other so that evidence does not get lost or end up creating a backlog crisis. 

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State Representative Margo McDermed served as Principal for a Day at a local middle school in the 37th district on Tuesday. Brian Horn, principal of Century Junior High School in Orland Park invited Rep. McDermed to serve as honorary school principle.

“Every time I get to serve as Principal for a Day, it's a treat. It is always a pleasure visiting our local schools and engaging with students,” said Rep. McDermed. “It really gives me a chance to see firsthand the great job our hardworking educators are doing and interacting with young students always inspires me as a legislator to ensure for them a quality education and bright future."

Rep. McDermed met with four classes of social studies students. She discussed the differences between state and federal government and went through the process of how a bill becomes a law. The students were eager to learn and asked questions about state government and current events.
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Senior Fair
This Thursday I am hosting my 3rd annual senior fair. This fair will feature numerous state and local vendors and will have helpful information for seniors and their caregivers. In addition, representatives from AT&T will put on a presentation about new legislation impacting land lines, new technology, and answer any and all questions.
The fair is from 10am-noon on October 5th at the Frankfort Square Park District at 7540 W. Braemar Lane in Frankfort. The fair will have refreshments and is free and open to the public.
Property Tax Townhall
On Wednesday October 18th at 6pm I am hosting a property tax townhall with an overview of the property tax system and the appeals process. A better understanding of the tax assessment process and the rights of homeowners can help you and your family save your hard earned money. The main focus and presentation of the townhall will be on property taxes, but I will be available to answer any and all questions regarding state government. The event is co-hosted with Frankfort Township Assessor Joseph Kral and will be held at Mokena Public Library. It is open to all residents of the 37th district and will have information on both Will and Cook Counties.
Earlier today Governor Rauner signed House Bill 40, a bill which will open up Medicaid and state employee health insurance coverage to elective abortions. State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) released the following statement in response:

"I voted against House Bill 40 and urged the Governor on multiple occasions not to sign the bill. I am incredibly disappointed in his decision to ignore the facts of this bill. This is not about women's health, but instead is a measure that will dramatically increase taxpayer funding of elective abortions. His decision to sign the bill goes against his promise to legislators and his commitment to fiscal responsibility. I still support Governor Rauner's agenda, but I am very upset and discouraged by his actions today."

Springfield, IL… State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) filed legislation last week to further separate political party interests and state interests. House Bill 4097 says that no member of the General Assembly shall concurrently serve as the chairperson for a statewide political party.

“For a state legislator, a public servant, to head a state political party and essentially hold the purse strings isn’t right,” Rep. McDermed said. “It is an unnecessary and improper consolidation of power. For those two roles to go hand in hand, it naturally invites conflicts of interest and possible corruption.”

According to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, among the 100 current Republican and Democratic State Party chairs in the nation, only nine also currently serve as state legislators. Of the nine, only two also serve in their party’s legislative leadership. In Illinois, House Speaker Michael Madigan has served as the Illinois Democratic Party’s Chair since 1998. He is the only statehouse chamber leader, House Speaker or Senate President, in the United States to also be the head of his state’s political party.

State party chairmen dictate the message and strategy of their party. Perhaps most importantly, they also organize party members and control millions of dollars in campaign funds. According to Illinois Sunshine, the Democratic Party of Illinois has $3.1 million in cash and the political committee Friends of Michael J. Madigan has $2.6 million on hand. As Speaker of the House, Madigan also controls the legislative process.

“The role of a state representative, especially a House Speaker, is to represent the best interests of the state, not engage in politics,” Rep. McDermed continued. “While I do believe Speaker Madigan has used his dual role to further cement his power in this state, it is not just about him. State party chairmen are focused on the next election and wherever possible we need to separate politics from governance.”

Cicero, IL… State Representative Margo McDermed toured the largest wastewater facility in the world on Friday. The Stickney Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) is one of seven wastewater treatment facilities owned and operated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). The MWRD is the largest landowner in Cook County and in the top ten statewide.

“The operational capacity of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is a true feat of civil engineering,” Rep. McDermed said. “It’s not something most people like to consider, but what happens to the water that goes down our drains and our sewers is essential to a productive, clean community.”

The MWRD is the wastewater treatment and stormwater management agency for the City of Chicago and 125 Cook County communities. It was created by the General Assembly in the 1890s and was responsible for the infamous reversing of the Chicago River. Today it has an 883 square mile service area.

The average WRP in the state of Illinois treats one million gallons per day. At maximum capacity, the Stickney WRP can treat that volume in one minute. The plant can handle well over a billion gallons in wastewater a day.  
“The sincere steps they are taking at Stickney to increase efficiency and re-use are almost unheard of in government,” Rep. McDermed continued.

The MWRD is one of the 20 biggest users of electricity in the state, but is making great strides in their effort to turn their wastewater processes electricity neutral. Bio-solids and other residuals removed from the water are recycled and sold to outside contractors. 

Equifax, an Atlanta based credit-rating agency, suffered a security breach on July 29th that exposed sensitive information of millions of Americans. Such information included social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, birthdays, and addresses. It has been determined that 5.4 million Illinois residents have been affected by the breach. 

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The company has set up a website where you can check if your personal information was affected by the breach: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened an investigation into the recent security breach, and called on Equifax to provide free credit freezes to all Illinois residents in the wake of the breach. Illinois residents should take the Equifax breach seriously and take steps to protect themselves from the possibility of identity theft:

  • You should put in place measures to protect and monitor your credit. Seriously consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax;
  • Regularly request your free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on your financial accounts so your financial institution alerts you when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don't open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.

With questions on the data breach you can contact the Illinois Attorney General’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1(866) 999-5630 or review the Identity Theft resources on her website.

Education Funding Reform Deal Tentatively Reached
Legislative leaders and the governor have reached an agreement on historic education funding reform.  The leaders from the House and Senate negotiated face-to-face last week and over the weekend. An agreement in principle was announced last Thursday. Under the agreement, which has not yet been approved by either house of the General Assembly, Illinois will adopt an “evidence-based” school funding formula. The House is scheduled to be in session today to consider passage of the proposal.

Rape Kit Tracking Legislation Signed in to Law
On Friday Governor Rauner signed my legislation, House Bill 528, in to law. Working with the Illinois State Police I spearheaded this legislation to help implement a rape kit tracking system in Illinois. It creates the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, a group that will work to create the tracking system and develop the guidelines for sexual assault evidence tracking. The commission will bring together relevant stakeholders including 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. It’s a great new law that will help limit human error, reduce the kit backlog, bring more offenders to justice, and empower sexual assault victims. Read more about the bill here.

Beagle Bill Finally Law
The legislation colloquially known as the ‘Beagle Freedom Bill’ was also signed by the Governor. The bill requires tax payer funded labs to work with animal rescue organizations to give cats and dogs used for research purposes 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. This is a bill I've helped work on for over a year and a half and I'm proud to see it finally become law. 

Pop tax Draws Ire and Legislative Response
On August 2 Cook County implemented a one cent per ounce Sweetened Beverage Tax.  Consumers now have to pay on average 67 percent more for a 2-liter of pop, 43 percent more for a gallon of juice or sweetened iced tea, and 29 percent more for a 12-pack. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently notified Cook County that portions of the tax were illegal and that the state could stand to lose more than $86 million in federal funding if the problems are not resolved. Additionally, the Illinois Liquor Control Commission has voiced its concerns with Cook County as well, stating that the new tax “may lead to practices that violate the Illinois Liquor Control Act.”
The tax has enraged many citizens and has even resulted in several lawsuits. Several House Republicans filed legislation to prevent any home rule county from imposing a tax on sweetened beverages based on volume sold and to repeal the Cook County ordinance.

Advanced Women’s Self Defense Class
Many who attended the previous classes I hosted over the summer requested a follow up class and I’m happy to inform you that one has been scheduled for September 18th at 6pm. It will be at St. Johns Church of Christ Community Center, 11000 2nd Street in Mokena. This is only available to those who have completed the introductory class. Contact my office to register. 
Springfield, IL… A bill spearheaded by State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) to empower sexual assault victims was signed in to law today by Governor Rauner.  House Bill 528 will improve the processing and review of sexual assault evidence by requiring the Illinois State Police (ISP) to create and operate a statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking system. 

HB 528 creates the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, a group that will work to create the tracking system and develop the guidelines for sexual assault evidence tracking. The commission will bring together relevant stakeholders including 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.

“With this law, that Illinois has made a positive step towards transparency and accountability in the testing process, which will help decrease the likelihood of error, lessen the evidence kit backlog, and bring more offenders to justice,” Rep. McDermed said. “I am proud to have sponsored this legislation and I am hopeful that this will bring some peace of mind to sexual assault victims who will be able to better monitor their case.”

According to the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Illinois became the first state in the nation to a enact rape kit reform law in 2010. With this new law, Illinois continues to be a national leader on the issue and this legislation will serve as a model for the rest of the nation. HB528 passed both legislative chambers unanimously this past spring and received nationwide support from groups like the Joyful Heart Foundation and Test400k.

“On behalf of the Test400K "Just Track It" Campaign, we commend Representative Margo McDermed for championing this critical legislation, and for sending an important message to survivors of sexual violence that they matter. A rape kit is not simply a box, rather it represents hope that a survivor will get the justice they deserve after experiencing a deeply traumatizing crime. We hope this legislation will succeed in raising awareness of the unacceptable backlog of untested rape kits and how technology, such as automated rape kit tracking and survivor notification tracking systems, can help establish desperately needed accountability to survivors and make all of our communities safer," said Test400K Foundation Executive Director Deanne Benos. The Chicago-based Test400K Foundation was co-founded by Lifeway Foods CEO and Oscar-nominated "The Hunting Ground" Documentary Producer Julie Smolyansky, and advocates to eliminate the estimated backlog of 400,000 rape kits across our nation.

HB 528 is effective immediately. 

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.