Rep. Wheeler's Weekly Roundup: July 27

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
·        Deanne Mazzochi Sworn In as State Representative.  Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst was sworn into office Tuesday as the new State Representative for Illinois’ 47th Legislative House District. She took her oath of office outside of Elmhurst College’s Hammerschmidt Chapel, a mere four miles from where she was raised in Villa Park, and six blocks from her Elmhurst home. 
 
Elmhurst College Trustee and 4th Ward Alderman Kevin York welcomed guests, and the Honorable Liam Brennan, 18th Judicial Circuit Court Judge, administered the oath of office. Mazzochi was introduced by State Senator Chris Nybo.

In her personal remarks, Mazzochi pointed to her leadership on the College of DuPage Board, and how being accountable, applying good government principles and ending insider deals helped restore COD’s financial standing and public trust in the College. “We embraced innovation, demanded best practices to strengthen our financial position and improved organizational performance,” said Mazzochi. “We did what needed to be done to show we were serious about restoring the public trust. How much better would our state be if everyone in Springfield followed that same approach?”

Mazzochi also referenced her work as a private practice patent attorney, and said the focus on innovation that changes lives for the better results in the kind of real-world value that taxpayers deserve. “I look forward to a day when Springfield is full of citizen legislators who are innovation and future-focused. Who make decisions and embrace policies that safeguard our neighborhoods, strengthen our education system and attract jobs and investment,” Mazzochi said. “I want Illinois to be a state that calls the next generation home. Illinois has great people, great resources and great potential. I am so honored we can be on a journey together to bring proven reform to Illinois.”

In addition to her role as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at COD, Mazzochi is a founding partner of Rakoczy Molino Mazzochi Siwik LLP. Her Boston University undergraduate degree was in Political Science and Chemistry (Biology minor); her Juris Doctor degree was with honors from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She has a passion for science and commonly brings her scientific knowledge and analytical skills to her private sector work. She will also bring that expertise to Springfield.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin spoke at the ceremony and welcomed his newest colleague to the House Republican Caucus. “I am pleased to welcome Deanne Mazzochi to the General Assembly and wish her the very best as she joins the House Republican Caucus in Springfield,” said Durkin. “Deanne has done exceptional work through her public service as the Chair of the College of DuPage Board and I know she will do a great job for her constituents in DuPage and suburban Cook Counties.” 

Mazzochi was selected to fulfill the unexpired term of Patti Bellock, who was recently appointed to serve as Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Mazzochi’s local office operations will remain at 1 S. Cass Avenue, Westmont Centre, Suite #205 in Westmont. The district office phone number will remain (630) 852-8633.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
·        Governor signs bill expanding historic preservation tax credit program.  Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed SB 3527, a bipartisan bill improving and expanding the River Edge Redevelopment Zone (RERZ) Historic Tax Credit. The successful economic development incentive now will be available to communities statewide.

“This legislation opens up millions of dollars in economic incentives in the form of tax credits for historic preservation projects throughout Illinois,” Rauner said after signing the bill at the Peoria Riverfront Museum Plaza. “It is imperative that we add jobs and fuel economic development. This bill will help Illinois achieve those goals while also preserving our past and making our state even more beautiful to visit.”

Established in 2012, the RERZ originally was a five-year pilot program allowing a 25 percent state income tax credit for qualifying projects in blighted, historic riverfront areas in Peoria, Rockford, Elgin, East St. Louis and Aurora.

SB 3527, which passed both Houses in May, expands availability of the historic tax credits to similar projects across the state. It also adds a new Illinois Historic Preservation Tax Credit with $15 million in credits to be administered by the Historic Preservation Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources each year between January 2019 and December 2023.

Legislators joined business officials and leaders from Landmarks Illinois and the American Institute of Architects-Illinois in applauding the bill action, which they said will not only revitalize historic structures that are falling into disrepair, but also will spur job growth and boost tourism.

Assistant House Minority Leader Norine K. Hammond stated, “With its proven record of success, the expansion of this tax credit will help revitalize our communities while spurring economic growth. Private investment, partnered with this new law, will allow for town squares, main streets, and historic homes to be returned to their former glory.”

“I am thankful for the expansion and signing of this legislation. SB 3527 will encourage investors to take a look at the historical presence here in northwest Illinois,” said Rep. Tony McCombie. “The reforms and expansion of the River Edge Program will inspire additional investments to properties that have historically been too difficult to redevelop. Historic structures are often the core of our communities and the signing of this legislation will give communities another tool to boost economic development. I am proud to support and celebrate our history through projects that will reuse and repurpose our past."

JOBS
·        Trump touts return of jobs to Granite City, defends trade deals.  President Donald Trump visited Granite City on Thursday to tout the hundreds of jobs that have been brought back to a reopened steel mill — and to push back against criticism that his escalating trade disputes are hurting American workers and farmers.

“Today the blast furnace is blazing bright and we are once again pouring American steel into the spine into our country,” Trump told a crowd at the mill.

Read more about the President’s visit to Illinois from the Belleville News-Democrat.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT
·        Rauner acts to consolidate government units.  Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed House Bill 5123, allowing affected county clerk’s offices to absorb the functions of their now-separate county election commissions — a move hailed by DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin as “good government reform that will save taxpayers money.”

Residents of DuPage County passed an advisory referendum in March stating they wanted their county election commission merged into the county clerk’s office, a move that is predicted to save $300,000, improve efficiency and streamline election reporting.

House Bill 5123 will enable that consolidation to move forward, and would allow a similar action in Kankakee County, the only other county in Illinois where a separate county election commission presently exists.

“This is another step in the right direction for Illinois,” Rauner said after signing the bill at the DuPage County Administration Building in Wheaton. “We need to continue to root out duplicative layers of government that serve only to burden taxpayers and hinder businesses. I’m pleased to sign this bill and congratulate the leaders, voters and taxpayers of DuPage County.”

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin welcomed the governor’s action, calling it the culmination of a worthwhile process.

“DuPage County has spent several years to approve this consolidation effort,” said Cronin, a former state legislator. “With the support of voters and help from our DuPage legislators, we have advanced another good government reform that will save taxpayers money. Together with Gov. Rauner, we are setting the standard of a responsible, effective government, one that adapts and innovates the delivery of its services and works on behalf of the people it serves.”

“Nearly every county in Illinois already allows the clerk’s office to handle election responsibilities, so there’s no reason for DuPage County taxpayers to foot the extra bill for an unnecessary commission,” said Rep. Peter Breen, first chief co-sponsor of the bill. “This bipartisan measure will save DuPage residents money and improve the quality of services they receive. DuPage families keep a careful eye on their budgets and spending, and they deserve a government that will do the same.”

“Illinois has more units of local government than any other state in the country,” noted state Rep. Grant Wehrli, also a sponsor of the bill. “That’s expensive for taxpayers, and it’s inefficient. This consolidation will not only help us cut costs, it will also help ensure accuracy and continuity in our election reporting process in DuPage County.”

“This is an area where consolidation makes perfect sense,” added Rep. David S. Olsen, a chief co-sponsor. “It’s a model used successfully across the state. In DuPage County, the signing of this new law will lead to a more efficient level of service at a lower cost to taxpayers.”

VETERANS
·        Rep. Unes: New Law Will Help Gold Star Families.  Families of fallen service members now have one less burden when mourning the loss of their loved one.  A new law allows more flexibility to such families in terms of real estate leases.  The legislation, which was introduced by Mike Unes, allows surviving families to terminate their lease without penalty when their loved one is killed in action.

Rep. Unes vowed to assist military families after he met Kylie Riney, the widow of fallen soldier Sgt. Douglas Riney. She and her two young children needed to move back to Illinois from Texas after her husband was killed in action but her landlord required her to pay penalties for early termination of the lease.  The restrictions ultimately led to a weeks-long separation between Kylie and her two young children in the immediate aftermath of their father's death, a time when the family support system is so important.

“The goal of this legislation has been to ensure what happened to the Riney family will never happen to a Gold Star family in Illinois,” said Rep. Unes. “All members of our nation’s military and their families deserve the highest level of care and compassion in every circumstance, and I am proud to do what I can to make sure that we are upholding that standard.”

Under current law, families are permitted to terminate a residential lease without penalty when a service member is deployed. However, it does not allow for the same option when a service member is killed in action, causing the family additional hardship.

Nearly 55,000 Illinois residents currently serve our country in the military, ranking Illinois 13th in the number of residents serving our nation. Not only do thousands of military members call Illinois home, so do their families. Oftentimes those families are required to move to an Illinois community to accommodate the service member's assignment and renting can be an easy and flexible solution for them.  Rep. Unes summarized his thoughts by saying, “This legislation is the right thing to do for those families who have made the greatest of sacrifices.”

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