State of the State
                Despite the current political climate, Governor Rauner gave an optimistic State of the State to the entire Illinois General Assembly last week.  In his third annual State of the State Address, he indicated that he is optimistic about the future of Illinois and used the opportunity to talk about Illinois’ accomplishments, as well as the work that still lies ahead.
                The Governor said he recognizes the state’s challenges, but “with great challenges comes great opportunity”. He is optimistic these challenges can be solved by working together to improve the future of Illinois. He discussed the administration’s accomplishments including ethics reform, record education funding, job creation and making government more efficient. The Governor also encouraged the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing voters to weigh-in on fair maps and term limits.
Springfield, IL… The Illinois House of Representatives voted 63-53 to approve the House Resolution 46, legislative rules brought forth by Speaker Madigan. Below is a statement from State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena):

“In my two years in the House it has become abundantly clear that the House Rules are inappropriately used by the Speaker to consolidate power and corrupt the legislative process.  Illinois is a representative democracy; rank and file members should not feel as powerless as they do to enact real and favorable change for this state. I am saddened, but not surprised, in my Democrat colleagues for not supporting a more transparent and open House process.”
Welcome to 2017! I hope you had an enjoyable holiday.

Inauguration
          The 99th General Assembly met for a final two days before we said goodbye to old colleagues and hello to new ones at the inauguration of the 100th General Assembly. The ceremony took place at the University of Illinois in Springfield last Wednesday. Each General Assembly (GA) is a two year period and this GA will celebrate the State’s 200th year in 2018.  Both the Senate and the House reelected their majority leaders; in the House it was Speaker Michael Madigan and Republican Leader Jim Durkin. It was an honor to be sworn in again as your representative down in Springfield.
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EDGE
          Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits, which expired at the end of the year, are a major tool used by the executive branch to attract jobs to Illinois. The controversial program has been plagued with questions about its effectiveness and implementation. In the final days of the 99th GA, the EDGE tax credits were extended for four months to allow legislators time to tinker with the program. Since taking office the Governor has made minor changes to the tax credits in order to make them more effective, but it is up to the legislators to completely overhaul the incentivizing program and ensure we are getting results and not wasting any taxpayer money.

The 118 members of the Illinois House of Representatives were sworn in at noon at the University of Illinois in Springfield

The arrival of the new year brought with it almost 200 new laws, yet over 6,000 bills were filed in the 99th General Assembly. Many of these bills were widely supported good government measures, but due to the top down rule structure of the General Assembly they were never allowed to receive due consideration and debate.

Click here to see some of the best laws that were never given a chance to see the light of day.
With the onset of the new year, 191 new laws are now in effect. Here are 26 Illinoisans should know about:

Social media right to privacy 
Public Act 99-610, House Bill 4999
Amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to make it illegal for an employer or prospective employer to request or require an employee or applicant to access a personal online account (such as Facebook) in the presence of the employer. It is also illegal to request or require that an employee or applicant invite the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account of the employee, or applicant, or join an online account established by the employer.

Read more at the Caucus Blog.