Drugs – cannabis possession
·         Governor Rauner consults with Illinois State Police on cannabis possession bill.  A measure passed by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly this spring will, if signed into law, reduce criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.  Current law (the Cannabis Control Act) sets up a complex table of penalties for simple possession of cannabis.  Under the law, simple possession of less than 10 grams of pot (less than 0.4 oz.) cannot be charged higher than a Class B misdemeanor.  Under the law, a judge may sentence someone convicted of a Class B misdemeanor to up to six months in county jail.

Few cases of possession of this volume of cannabis result in substantial county jail time.  A perpetrator is more likely to face a multi-stage disposition that may include court supervision, payment of a fine, mandatory substance abuse counseling, and return to the court at a later date to determine whether the disposition should remain part of a public record that names the defendant.  The legislation currently on the Governor’s desk, SB 2228, takes steps to reclassify the possession of very small quantities of cannabis from a misdemeanor criminal offence to a civil offense.  Instead of being arrested, defendants would be issued a citation and face a different court process to dispose of their case.  They would pay a fine of $100 to $200 for a first offense.  16 other states have already reclassified the possession of small quantities of cannabis as a civil offense.
NORTH AURORA – Local residents in Kane and Kendall Counties wishing to display a blue light bulb on their driveway and/or front porch to show support for local police can pick up bulbs at the district office of State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), located at 959 Oak Street in North Aurora. Regular office hours are 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday-Thursday and 9:00am – 4:00pm on Fridays, or by appointment.

The blue light bulbs are free of charge; however donations are accepted at the time of pick-up.  Suggested donations are $2 per bulb. All proceeds will benefit Chiefs Lead the Way, a mental health and wellness initiative of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. Through training and interaction with mental health professionals, the program encourages chiefs to demonstrate an active concern for their own psychological and emotional well-being and to inspire their command staff, sergeants and officers to understand how important it is to take care of their personal mental and social health. 

“The men and women of our local law enforcement agencies deserve to know the support they have within the community,” Rep. Wheeler said. “Blue light bulbs are just one small but impactful way we can show respect to those who put their lives on the line each and every day to serve and protect us.”

Rep. Wheeler represents the 50th District, which includes portions of Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, Campton Hills, Elburn, Montgomery, Oswego, Plano, St. Charles, Sugar Grove and Yorkville.
Kendall County Record

The volunteers at the Kendall County Food Pantry in Yorkville are getting ready for school to start. Lea Ann Koch organized a community effort to donate backpacks for the upcoming school year. Generous neighbors responded by delivering 350 brand new backpacks to Jan Sticka, school supplies director at the pantry. Pictured with the new backpacks at the food pantry are Jerry Bannister, Jan Sticka, State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), Judy Wheeler, and Lea Ann Koch.
State Rep. Keith Wheeler (center) with food pantry volunteers and the donated backpacks.

Click HERE to read the full article and more local news.

Budget – FY17
·         Budget experts warn of continued Illinois deficits.  Although Illinois’ lawmakers enacted a stopgap budget in late June to cover the first six months of FY17, budget analysts warn that this move was not equivalent to a constitutional balanced budget for the entire year.  In fact, the act of “spreadsheeting out” the money being spent, and comparing it to honest projections of the money coming in, reveals that Illinois’ expected spending will outweigh expected FY17 revenues by $7.8 billion.  The Reuters news service believes this is the largest single deficit by a state in U.S. history.  Expected spending totals $39.5 billion and expected revenues total $31.8 billion. 

Although the state Constitution contains a legal requirement that the State annually enact a balanced budget, the requirement has been widely ignored in recent years.  Continued ten-figure State deficits have led to a growing backlog of unpaid Illinois bills.  The Comptroller’s office now counts the State’s unpaid bills at almost $8.0 billion.  The unpaid bill total is contained in Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger’s “The Ledger”, a subpage of the Comptroller’s webpage. 

Budget – stopgap budget deal enacted
·         New FY17 spending bills will enable full K-12 school operations for entire school year.  By contrast, however, many other State operations will only be funded through December 2016.  The “stopgap” bills do not balance the budget and do not solve Illinois’ fiscal woes.  The State’s leaders believe that the current Springfield policy gap has achieved dimensions great enough that only the voters of Illinois, in the November election, can choose which path the State should follow.   One of the key bills was the measure that actually appropriated money for FY16 and FY17; SB 2047, which was passed by the House and Senate on Thursday, June 30.  

      The stopgap budget package was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner before the end of the day and prior to the start of FY17.  The measures include funding to ensure that Illinois schools, including the troubled Chicago public school system, will reopen on time.  Money is included to resume or maintain operations at Illinois state universities and other essential public facilities.  Funds are earmarked to enable the fulfillment of this summer’s construction schedule for the repair and maintenance of State roads, bridges, and mass transit facilities.  Some money is provided for community social services.  The House vote on SB 2047 was 105-4-1.  After unanimous approval in the Senate, the appropriation bill became law as P.A. 99-524.

Budget – FY17
·         Bills signed into law on June 30 did not enact a full-year budget.  The financial markets are reminding Illinois that the current spending patterns being resumed by the State do not represent a stable long-term course for the State and do not constitute an annual, constitutional balanced budget. 

The package enacted on June 30 covers some back payments for FY16.  It also covers projected spending over a variety of State departments for six months, until December 31.  The State’s multi-billion-dollar budget deficit and pile-up of unpaid bills remain untouched by the June 30 budget compromise.  As of Thursday, July 14, Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger estimates the current count of unpaid Illinois bills as being more than $7.7 billion.  These factors are expected to hold Illinois’ credit rating down at the bottom of the debt ratings posted for America’s 50 states.   Continued slow State payments to public institutions of higher education are also causing credit-rating cuts in the debts issued by Illinois colleges and universities.

Despite these flaws, the Illinois General Assembly enacted the “stopgap” FY17 budget as a way of appropriating money to open Illinois K-12 educational institutions on time and keep operations going in other essential State buildings and points of infrastructure.  
CHICAGO – In response to the failure of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino to answer questions amidst the ongoing federal and state investigations into his campaign spending irregularities while a member of the Illinois General Assembly, State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) announced the filing today of House Joint Resolution 158 aimed at removing Mautino from office, a measure with over 15 co-sponsors.

“Under the cloud of federal and state investigation, Auditor General Mautino is not able to perform his duties with the trust and confidence that Illinoisans deserve,” Rep. Wheeler said.  “The Auditor General’s Office is a position where transparency is at the very heart of the job itself. If he will not do the right thing on his own and step aside, we have a responsibility as the people’s elected representatives to hold him accountable.”

Pictured (left to right) Rep. Tom Morrison, Rep. Jeanne Ives,
Rep. Dwight Kay, Rep. Keith Wheeler
At issue is more than $200,000 Mautino spent over 10 years on gas and vehicle repairs at a Spring Valley service station owned by a city alderman, as well as $259,000 in payments made to a local bank since 1999.

“The state official directly responsible for how every nickel and dime of taxpayer dollars is spent cannot serve effectively when he is under investigation himself for how he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds,” Rep. Wheeler added. “The people of Illinois and the General Assembly must have complete, unreserved confidence that the Office of Auditor General is able to operate with the utmost transparency and without the hint of scandal. Unfortunately, that is not the case today.”
Kendall County Record
By TONY SCOTT - tscott@kendallcountynow.com

Local state legislators gave mixed reviews to the stopgap budget approved by the General Assembly on Thursday.

Lawmakers adopted the $50.6 billion budget measure on the deadline of the state's fiscal year, which began Friday. The plan includes funding for K-12 and higher education, transportation and infrastructure projects and human services programs...

State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, said the stopgap measure "isn't perfect or complete."

"It is the product of a negotiated, bipartisan compromise," he said. "Ultimately, there will be critical discussions this fall that will address needed reforms to grow the Illinois economy and to create jobs to reduce Illinois’ unemployment rate which is currently the highest in the nation."