·         Historic education funding reform passes.  The new school funding formula moves towards an “evidence-based” model based on practices followed in many other states.  Illinois’ 852 school districts will be given positive incentives to work hard to improve their students’ performances. The new formula is contained in SB 1947, as amended in the House.  Enactment of the measure followed up on two years of bipartisan negotiations between school advocates from both parties and was a response to the school funding discussion that took place during the summer of 2017.  

SB 1947 represents a compromise agreed to by the four legislative leaders and Governor Rauner.  Many of its individual features are not perfect from the standpoint of people who voted for the measure.  Other features are popular with many Illinois legislators and voters.  School mandates are reduced, and school management operational transparency is increased.  One feature of the reform bill creates a system of new Illinois income tax credits.  This new program is expected to leverage the donation of up to $100 million to scholarship funds to enable the enrollment of low and middle-income students in Illinois private schools.    Supporters see the bill as a way to move Illinois toward adequate school funding and to add serious budgeting for results. 

The House vote on SB 1947 on Monday, August 28, was 73-34-3.  The House’s three-fifths majority carried the bill over to the Senate for concurrence.  The Senate 38-13-4 concurrence vote sent the education funding reform package to Gov. Rauner for his signature on Thursday.
Chicago, IL – State Reps. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago), Christine Winger (R-Bloomingdale), Peter Breen (R-Lombard), Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville), and Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) today introduced legislation, House Bill 4082, to immediately repeal the one-cent-per-ounce Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax. The tax, which went into effect on August 2, will result in Cook County consumers having to pay on average 67 percent more for a 2-liter of pop, 43 percent more for a gallon of juice drink or sweetened iced tea, and 29 percent more for a 12-pack. 

“The pop tax is crushing small and family-owned retailers in Cook County, the very men and women who are the backbone of our local and state economy," Rep. Wheeler said. “Cook County politicians cannot hide from the fact that their tax-and-spend policies continue to fail the working families and job creators in every community from Lake-Cook Road to the Indiana state line.”
By Caitlin Nordahl | Kane County Reporter

Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) has filed legislation to prevent big city governments from being big bullies when it comes to challenges to to their authority, according to a press release.

The bill, House Bill 4080, comes in response to a now-withdrawn lawsuit by Cook County that followed a challenge to the recently imposed sweetened beverage tax. The challenge had prompted a judge to impose a temporary block on the tax, which was to take effect in July. Cook County's lawsuit maintained that the block cost the county $17 million in uncollected taxes...
State Rep. Keith Wheeler
SPRINGFIELD –State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) filed new legislation today, House Bill 4080, to prohibit governments from suing taxpayers and job creators for damages simply for exercising their constitutional right to challenge the legality of a tax. The bill filing comes in response to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s retaliation against the men and women of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) seeking $17 million in damages for the one-month delay in implementing the controversial Cook County “soda tax” after a judge issued an injunction in response to IRMA’s legal challenge to the tax, originally scheduled to go into effect on July 1.

Although Preckwinkle has withdrawn her motion to seek damages against IRMA, Wheeler believes this legislation is necessary to prevent even the threat of such action in the future.  “Some reports indicate that Preckwinkle only withdrew her motion because another court ruled in her favor.  That sends the signal that this chilling tactic could be used to punish or suppress those who might question tax policy in the future.”

“Imagine a local small business grocer, family restaurant, hamburger stand, or theater owner being driven out of business by their own local government leaders who are suing the small business owner because he or she had the audacity to ask the courts if a new tax, that the local government was forcing the business to collect from its customers, was actually constitutional,” Rep. Wheeler said. “No one should be able to be sued by their own government for asking the courts if a tax they are forced to collect is constitutional.”
By Theo Douglas 

The state of Illinois, which has taken pioneering strides with various blockchain projects in testing new Internet technology, is taking additional steps to improve cybersecurity at its first line of defense: with end users.

On Monday, Aug. 7, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 2371, an amendment to the state’s Data Security on State Computers Act requiring annual cybersecurity training from the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) for state employees.

The amendment allows DoIT to adopt rules to implement the training and to make the training an online course. It also requires that the education cover how to detect phishing scams; prevent spyware infections and identity theft; and how to prevent and respond to data breaches...