·        Ag-boosting measures signed into law.  At the Du Quoin State Fair on Saturday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Industrial Hemp Act, Senate Bill 2298, adding Illinois to a growing number of states that permit growth of cannabis cultivated for non-drug uses such as paper- and fabric-making, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and health food. 

The governor also signed House Bill 5749, easing weight-limit restrictions on state highways during harvest time, improving the competitive outlook for Illinois farmers and agricultural commodities haulers. Both measures will enhance one of the state’s leading industries: farming.

·        Rep. Helene Miller Walsh appointed to 51st House District seat.  With her business experience, passion for public service, and commitment to fighting for her community, Representative Helene Miller Walsh brings a valued perspective and unique skill set to the governing process. Rep. Miller Walsh graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a B.A. in Diplomacy and World Affairs with an emphasis on Middle Eastern Affairs, and a minor in Economics.

Representative Miller Walsh was sworn in to office on Saturday August 18th. She is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Leenie Productions, LLC, a multi-media production company. Helene has been involved with several successful philanthropic endeavors, and she has held leadership positions on several campaigns for Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital. 
State Rep. Keith Wheeler toured the Aurora Metals foundry in Montgomery on Thursday. Manufacturing is vital to families here in the Fox Valley. Rep. Wheeler is a strong advocate for manufacturers in the 50th District and appreciates the opportunity to tour their facilities in person.

State Rep. Keith Wheeler hosted a utility bill savings clinic with the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) at Montgomery Village Hall on Thursday. CUB's consumer experts provided free one-on-one consultations with local residents to show them how to save money on their electric, natural gas, and telephone bills.

State Rep. Keith Wheeler provided a legislative update to veterans at the Montgomery Memorial VFW Post 7452 breakfast on Thursday.
NORTH AURORA – Governor Rauner has signed bipartisan legislation into law introduced by State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, streamlining the process to hire teachers at an Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) facility. The legislation, House Bill 5005, was signed into law on August 19 as Public Act 100-0953. 

Specifically, the new law eliminates a provision in state law that requires the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to verify the license of a teacher employed by IDJJ if the license has already been verified by the Illinois State Board of Education. Removing this duplicative verification requirement improves the ability of IDJJ to attract and retain quality educators at Illinois Youth Centers.    

“Teachers at our juvenile justice facilities encounter unique challenges educating students committed to an Illinois Youth Center. Jumping through hoops of getting their educator license verified by two different state agencies should not be one of them,” Representative Wheeler said. “This new law streamlines the verification process and supports the critical work of our IDJJ educators across Illinois.”
·        Illinois’ unemployment rate drops to 4.2%.  The numbers also showed that Illinois’ economy created 3,700 new nonfarm payroll jobs in July 2018.  The new 4.2% unemployment figure approaches the 4.0% benchmark traditionally used to signify “full employment,” and come as a signal that Illinois is continuing its recovery from the 2008-09 economic crash and Great Recession.  The numbers were compiled and posted on Thursday, August 16, by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). 

“The state’s unemployment rate continued its downward trend in July and stands at its lowest point in 18 years,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Illinois payroll employment also saw its largest over-the-year gain in more than two years.”

“The Illinois economy continues its comeback,” said Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy. “We are seeing what reduced red tape, a competitive economy, and investment in workforce and career pathways can do to promote growth and opportunity across the state.”

In a change from recent trends, Illinois job creation growth in July 2018 was led by the manufacturing sector, which created 2,400 new jobs in the month.  Leisure and hospitality created 2,000 new jobs, and professional and business services created 1,900 new jobs.  There was a net loss of 1,700 jobs in the Illinois public sector. 
MONTGOMERY - Local residents interested in learning how to save money on their gas, electric and phone bills are invited to attend a free clinic sponsored by State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 23 at Montgomery Village Hall, located at 200 N. River Street in Montgomery.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their gas, electric and phone bills for a free one-on-one consultation with a consumer expert from CUB, who will give tips on how to reduce costs. At clinics across Illinois, CUB has shown consumers how to trim their bills by an average of more than $200 per year.

At the Utility Bill Clinic, guests will also be able to:

Learn how to spot billing errors and avoid common pitfalls and scams.
Hear about consumer choices in the gas, electric, and phone markets.
Find out about utility rebates, programs, and other incentives.

“Helping local residents save money on their utility bills is one of the many ways my office is pleased to serve our community,” Rep. Wheeler said. “I encourage everyone to attend and learn how to apply simple tips to get more for less on every dollar you spend on gas, electric and phone service.”

·        New law brings hundreds of state jobs back to Sangamon County.  Gov. Bruce Rauner followed through with his promise to bring state jobs back to the capital city with the signing of House Bill 4295 Thursday. The legislation moves hundreds of state jobs to Springfield. 

“It is a matter of state pride,” Rauner said. “This bill preserves the heritage of Springfield as Illinois’ capital city while boosting our local economy. It promotes Lincoln’s hometown and his vision as one of the original lawmakers who advocated for making Springfield the capital of Illinois.”

The bill codifies into law that Sangamon County is the default location for most state jobs, unless there is a specific reason the job needs to be in a different location.

·        New lottery game to benefit families of fallen police officers.  Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill this week to create a new Illinois Lottery scratch-off game from which proceeds will fund police memorials, support for the families of officers killed or severely injured in the line of duty, and protective vest replacements for officers. 

“Our police officers stand in the face of danger every day to keep us safe. We are proud to stand with them and support their families when they are faced with a devastating loss,” Rauner said. “This new ticket will help fund scholarships for their children and honor their bravery at memorial parks across the state.”