Rep. Keith Wheeler with Mollie Blum and Lois Sheaffer at the
Elderday Center in Batavia
Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) toured the Elderday Center in Batavia on Monday, a facility which offers a comprehensive adult day program of socialization, recreation and health maintenance for seniors that reinforces each participant's self-worth and dignity while enhancing current skills and abilities.

The staff at Elderday pride themselves on providing an environment that is a "home away from home" for seniors. Rep. Wheeler was impressed with Elderday Center's commitment to providing quality day services and promoting independence for older adults and providing support and education for their caregivers. 

The center is open Monday-Friday from 7:30AM-5:30PM. Please feel welcome to contact Elderday Center at (630) 761-9750 or www.elderdaycenter.org
AFSCME – Possible labor action
·         AFSCME announces results of strike authorization vote.  AFSCME, the labor union that represents 38,000 Illinois employees, states that 81% of the workers who participated in a recent advisory ballot voted to authorize a possible strike

A key advisor to Governor Bruce Rauner, General Counsel Dennis Murashko, called the vote to authorize a strike “an attack on our state’s hardworking taxpayers and all those who rely on crucial services provided every day.”

The union’s leadership pointed to a possible partial freeze in State pay rates, and cuts in employer-financed health care benefits, as reasons for the strike vote.  The Governor’s office responded that AFSCME workers currently enjoy many benefits that private-sector workers do not enjoy, such as a 37.5-hour work week, platinum health insurance benefits, and a ban on merit pay.  The AFSCME vote does not make a strike inevitable, but authorizes the union’s powerful bargaining committee to call a labor action in the near future.  The strike, if it occurs, would be the first ever statewide public-sector labor action against the State of Illinois.
Governor’s Budget Address
·         Governor Rauner delivers budget address to General Assembly.  Speaking to a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate on Wednesday, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual Budget Address, outlining his priorities and introducing his third balanced budget in as many years to be considered by lawmakers.

Saying “We must think anew and act anew,” the Governor presented a balanced budget that focuses on the future.  It invests in Illinois’ future with record funding for education, transforms our pension system, and makes structural changes to improve our jobs climate.

At the request of senators from both parties, Governor Rauner outlined his parameters to the General Assembly on the Senate’s “grand bargain” compromise.  He made it clear that the final product must be a good deal for taxpayers and job creators.  Rauner laid the foundation for balanced budgets for years to come, controlling spending so government lives within its means, and enacting real spending reductions with meaningful pension reform.

Governor Rauner once again said he would consider new revenue if it accompanies changes to grow the economy.  He asked legislators if they make an income tax increase permanent, the property tax freeze must also be permanent.  Rauner also reminded the legislature that term limits are important to restoring confidence in state government and workers’ compensation reform is critical to attracting job creators to Illinois.

General Assembly
·         House committees meet, begin to advance bills.  House members filed 3,921 bills in January and February 2017.  Under the “First Reading” deadline, bills filed by mid-February may be considered in a House committee in the 2017 spring session.  House bills filed after Friday, February 10 cannot be considered this spring as independent, free-standing pieces of legislation.  

Following the bill introduction deadline, the House schedule has set aside six weeks of session time in February and March for committee action.  During this six-week period, House committees will hold hearings, listen to testimony from witnesses, and hold votes on bills to be advanced to the House floor for further discussion and debate.  In spring 2017, the House has organized 57 permanent and special committees to hear bills and conduct legislative action.  Many of these committees began to meet this week.
Illinois News Network

Not passing a revenue estimate resolution is not being honest with taxpayers, which is why one lawmaker said he’s filed two measures requiring a revenue estimate before any budget bills are passed.
Rep. Keith Wheeler

The Illinois Constitution says lawmakers must pass a budget for a fiscal year that “shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.”

In previous years, the House and Senate would pass a joint revenue estimate resolution for the coming fiscal year’s budget. However, that hasn’t happened for the past two years – the same amount of time the state’s been without a full-year spending plan.

Republican state Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, said not passing the revenue estimate doesn’t give taxpayers the whole picture.

“We’re not really trying to be honest with taxpayers,” Wheeler said. “Until we get a revenue estimate adopted, we’re just playing with the money and this isn’t Monopoly money, this is actual real people’s money...”
State Government – State Employee Pay
·         Bipartisan bill would protect employee pay.  With Illinois continuing to operate without a budget, the paychecks of Illinois state employees are coming under threat.  HB 2803, sponsored by Rep. Avery Bourne and more than two dozen House colleagues, would protect these paychecks while State employees are on the job.  The bill would provide for a continuing appropriation for each State agency to meet personnel expenditures for each payroll period without a conventional budget.   The measure has been referred to the House Rules Committee. 

Criminal Law – Intensive Halfway House
·         New intensive halfway house to prepare Illinois inmates for life after prison.  The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Life Skills Re-entry Center is located in Kewanee, Illinois in western Illinois.  It represents the adoptive re-use of a former State juvenile detention center.  The Re-entry Center will begin taking in inmates in mid-February.

The new IDOC facility will teach skills to inmates and help them get ready for civil society.  Examples include technology familiarization and employment search.   Many inmates find looking for a job to be especially challenging, but the harsh odds they face if trying to “go straight” is matched by the dismal prospects if they do not make this effort.  Nearly half of inmates who are released from the Department’s custody are convicted of new prison offenses within three years.
Rep. Keith Wheeler
NORTH AURORA – State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) is providing a new resource for local residents to submit feedback on current legislative issues by announcing the launch of his 2017 online constituent survey, available on his official legislative website, www.repkeithwheeler.com.   

The survey covers a wide range of issues including property taxes, the minimum wage, government reforms and the state budget, to name just a few. Rep. Wheeler will utilize constituent feedback to help represent the district effectively during the 2017 legislative session of the Illinois General Assembly. 

“All of the issues covered in the survey have been considered by the state legislature in the past; and are likely to be again in 2017,” Rep. Wheeler said.  “Your feedback helps me to know where residents of our district stand on a wide range of policy questions of concern to Illinois families and taxpayers.”

Caterpillar Inc.
·         Caterpillar to move headquarters from Peoria to Chicago.  The earthmoving giant, headquartered in Peoria for more than 90 years, announced plans this week to move its corporate headquarters to the Chicago area.  The move is expected to affect only about 300 of the 12,000 Caterpillar employees in the Peoria area, with most of the firm’s engineering, production, and back-office staff remaining in Peoria.  Caterpillar’s chief executive officer and his personal staff will, however, vacate their headquarters office in the central Illinois city.  The transfer is expected to be substantially completed before the end of the 2017 calendar year.

In addition to the move, Caterpillar announced the permanent cancellation of its previous plan to construct a new headquarters building in Illinois.  Caterpillar’s new Chicago-area headquarters will be located in existing office space that will be rented or leased by the firm.  Caterpillar had previously announced the indefinite postponement of its prior plans to build a new headquarters building in downtown Peoria.  The firm described its moves as a response to the worldwide downturn in demand for power and earthmoving equipment.  Caterpillar, a key component of the infrastructure-building U.S. private sector, is a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA).

Caterpillar has strong historic ties to the Peoria area, and as recently as October 2012 the firm opened a Visitors Center on the Peoria riverfront.  The Visitors Center offers the public a chance to learn more about the firm’s construction-equipment history, and the current operating goals and challenges facing the firm and its designers and engineers.  Children are encouraged to touch and interact with the machinery on display.   
            
Rep. Wheeler at committee hearing
NORTH AURORA – State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) has been appointed Co-Chairman of 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 sophomore legislator serving portions of Kane and Kendall Counties, has served as a member of JCAR since August 2016. He will now serve as Co-Chairman of JCAR along with Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). JCAR is considered perhaps the most important and influential committee in Illinois, as it decides upon the rules by which state laws are implemented. JCAR meets monthly throughout the year, regardless of whether the General Assembly is in session.