NORTH AURORA – State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) has filed new legislation to increase criminal penalties for those convicted of theft from a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization, signaling a commitment to protect the integrity of private funds that support a wide variety of charitable causes who provide services to individuals and families of need within communities throughout Illinois.

The legislation, House Bill 6599, would increase the punishment for those that steal from a nonprofit organization.  The increased penalties would allow judges to sentence offenders to up to 30 years in prison for thefts from nonprofits of more than $500,000.  

“We need to stiffen the criminal penalties for anyone convicted of misusing funds or in any way stealing from a nonprofit organization,” Representative Wheeler said. “These nonprofits do so much incredible and important work in the community, serving those who fall through the cracks of inefficient and impersonal government programs. We need to protect the integrity of the generous local donations that fund these organizations as well as honor the many unpaid volunteers who make these community service organizations viable.”
General Assembly – Redistricting
·         Independent Maps referendum language thrown out by Illinois Supreme Court.  The 4-3 decision, which fell along partisan lines, found that the Independent Maps amendment to govern the way Illinois draws its lines for General Assembly seats should not appear on the November 2016 ballot.  The decision, which cannot be appealed to any higher panel, will make it impossible for Illinoisans to speak out on the process used to elect members of the Illinois General Assembly. 

Three members of the Supreme Court, speaking out in dissent, strongly criticized the majority decision.  Justice Robert Thomas labeled the decision a “nullification” of plain language of the Constitution allowing the voters the right to circulate petitions to amend that article of the State’s fundamental law that governs the organization and operation of the General Assembly.  This limited initiative right was inserted in the Constitution of 1970 as a common-sense response to the likely conflicts of interest to be faced by future General Assemblies when looking at questions involving the Legislative Article of the Constitution. 

The Supreme Court majority, led by Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, said that Illinoisans can circulate a petition to change the way that Illinois legislative districts are mapped whenever they want to do so, but the Supreme Court will not advise them in advance of what the language on the petition should say if the amendment is to be drafted properly; and the Supreme Court reserves the right to throw out any language that it likes if it believes that the language has been drafted improperly.  Persons who commented on the Supreme Court decision were left puzzled as to what kind of recourse is provided by current case law to voters who are not satisfied with the current system of drawing legislative maps in Illinois.
By Tony Scott
Kendall County Record

A local legislator and former board chairman for the Kendall County Food Pantry wants those convicted of theft from non-profit organizations punished more severely.

Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, has filed a bill stating that anyone convicted of theft from a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization be sentenced to one felony class higher than other convicted thieves. Theft that qualifies as a Class X felony would have a minimum penalty of seven years in state prison, according to the proposed bill..

Health – Affordable Care Act
·         Aetna withdraws from Obamacare individual marketplace in Illinois.  The withdrawal follows the financial failure of ACA cooperative Land of Lincoln Health, and leaves an increased number of Illinois counties where only one or two health insurance providers are willing to participate in the marketplace.  Aetna announced its departure from marketplaces in Illinois and 10 other U.S. states on Tuesday, August 16.  The withdrawal from the ACA insurance marketplace could affect as many as 838,000 exchange enrollees nationwide. 

The financial failure or withdrawal of many insurance providers from ACA-related marketplaces nationwide has added to concerns about the challenges facing individual customers for U.S.-based health insurance plans.  With competition substantially weakened or even absent in many American localities, many persons required by law to comply with the health insurance mandates of the federal ACA law many find themselves facing much higher prices for insurance policies.  In many states, including Illinois, remaining health insurance care providers are demanding double-digit premium increases as a condition for meeting their fast-growing expenses and remaining as active suppliers to customers in health insurance markets. 
Governor Bruce Rauner on Sunday took action on several bills as part of Veterans Day at the 2016 Illinois State Fair. The bills strengthen Illinois’ commitment to our veterans and their families by providing needed assistance and honor to those who have sacrificed so much for our country and our state.

“The selflessness of our American heroes can never truly be repaid, but here in Illinois we are making it easier for our men and women to return home and have prosperous futures,” said Governor Rauner. “We are investing in our veterans’ futures while never forgetting those we have lost along the way.
Health care – Zika virus
·         Public health trackers have now counted 46 cases of Zika infection in Illinois.  The report from the Illinois Department of Public Health states that Illinois pregnant women are now counted on the list of people exposed to the mosquito-borne illness.  The names of the Illinois patients have not been disclosed, as is standard in new disease outbreaks.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a series of warnings and travel advisories in response to the widespread appearance of Zika in a range of tropical and subtropical ecosystems throughout the Western Hemisphere. In addition to outbreaks in Greater Miami and in Puerto Rico, the virus has been reported in all but two countries south of the U.S. border.  Affected countries include Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and all of South America except Chile and Uruguay. 

Potential Zika patients are strongly urged to take standard precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Not all mosquitoes are genetically adapted to serve as vectors of the Zika virus.  The mosquitoes that carry Zika live in tropical and subtropical environments and mostly bite during the daytime.  As the Zika virus has now been proven to have the capability of spreading by sexual intercourse, standard precautions are also strongly urged in this area.     
NORTH AURORA – State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) has been appointed to the state’s legislative oversight committee of rules used to implement new and existing laws across all state agencies; the bipartisan, 12-member Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). Comprised of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans from both the Illinois House and Senate; JCAR conducts several integrated review programs including for proposed, emergency and peremptory rulemaking, a review of new laws and a complaint review program. 

Representative Wheeler, a freshman legislator serving portions of Kane and Kendall Counties, was appointed to JCAR by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), who praised Wheeler’s skills in naming him to the panel.

“Representative Wheeler’s sound judgment, keen analytical skills and team-building approach make him ideally suited to serve in this critically important role,” Leader Durkin said. “I appreciate Keith’s willingness to take on this additional responsibility and bring his professionalism and insight to JCAR.”

“I am honored to accept this appointment and look forward to working collaboratively to ensure that state laws are implemented fairly, accurately, and according to the legislative intent with which they were passed,” Representative Wheeler said. “It is truly a privilege to have this opportunity as a freshman legislator, one that enables me to make a greater difference for Fox Valley families and taxpayers.”