Rep. Wheeler's Weekly Roundup: November 16


GENERAL ASSEMBLY
·        Jim Durkin re-elected as House Republican Leader.  The 57-year-old Durkin has led the House Republican Caucus since 2013. Leader Durkin was re-elected unanimously by his House Republican colleagues in a meeting held in Springfield on Tuesday, November 13. The choice will be finalized when the 101st General Assembly officially convenes in January 2019.  

With a focus on protecting and strengthening families and communities, Jim Durkin has spent his entire career working for the citizens of Illinois. Following his graduation from law school, Jim served as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General. Jim continued his public service as an assistant Cook County state’s attorney. While working as an assistant state’s attorney, Jim served in the felony trial and narcotics bureaus. Jim currently practices law in the City of Chicago.

In January 1995, Jim became an Illinois State Representative in the 44th district. In 2002, Jim was the Republican nominee for United States Senate but was unsuccessful in his bid to defeat U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. In 2006, Jim was appointed to fill a vacancy in the 82nd House District and has successfully run for re-election. Jim served as the ranking Republican on the Illinois House of Representatives Special Investigation Committee for the impeachment of Governor Blagojevich in 2008, and in 2012 served as the House Manager for the removal of a sitting member of the Illinois House of Representatives.

In August of 2013, Jim was unanimously selected by his Republican colleagues to fill the vacancy of House Republican Leader and was officially inaugurated by the full House of Representatives on October 22, 2013.

During the 100th General Assembly, Jim worked tirelessly with members on both sides of the aisle to successfully negotiate a new education funding formula for our state. Now the law of the land, Senate Bill 1947 ensures that all students across Illinois receive adequate and equitable school funding regardless of where they live or income status. Jim was also the chief sponsor of Senate Bill 1722 which now gives judges the ability to crack down on repeat gun offenders by giving harsher penalties. This measure will reduce gun violence plaguing communities across our state.

In 2000 and 2008, Jim was State Chairman for U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential campaigns and served as Chairman for the Illinois Delegation at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Jim currently serves on the John Marshall Law School Board of Trustee’s, Misericordia Board of Advisors, Giant Steps of Illinois Board of Directors and JDRF Illinois Board of Directors.

Leader Durkin resides in Western Springs with his wife and family.

JOBS
·        Slight increase in Illinois unemployment rate for October 2018.  Illinois’ unemployment rate moved up from 4.1% in September 2018 to 4.2% in October.  Illinois unemployment continued to be slightly higher than the 3.7% nationwide rate for the same month, indicating slightly slower economic conditions in the Prairie State than the rest of the U.S.

Illinois’ total payroll numbers continued to increase.  The count of seasonally-adjusted Illinois nonfarm payroll jobs increased to 6,134,000 in October 2018, up 10,300 jobs from the previous month and up 59,300 jobs from one year earlier.  Job growth was especially strong in trade, transportation, utilities, information, and manufacturing.  The October 2018 report, by showing both more jobs and higher unemployment, demonstrate that marginal workers are once again returning to the Illinois labor force.  A person who is actively seeking work is counted as “unemployed,” even if he or she is in the labor force for the first time or is returning to the labor force after having voluntarily left on a previous date.  

HEALTH CARE
·        Swanson leads Veto Override of “Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention & Protection Law.”  Representative Dan Swanson led an effort during the House’s Fall Veto Session to override Governor Rauner’s Amendatory Veto of HB 4515 – the “Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention & Protection Law.”

“I disagree with the Governor’s Amendatory Veto (AV) on this legislation and today move to override that veto,” said Rep. Swanson before a unanimous 110-0 vote to override Rauner’s AV.

Rep. Swanson had previously passed the bill through the Illinois House in April to allow physicians to prescribe more aggressive treatment for Lyme Disease without the fear of disciplinary action.  Governor Rauner issued an Amendatory Veto on the bill in August 2018, despite overwhelming support in the Illinois House when the bill passed in April.

The legislation was inspired by Lauryn Russell, a 12-year-old student from Mercer County, who has Lyme Disease and has had to seek treatment out of state due to potential disciplinary action that could be taken against her Illinois physician for treating Lauryn’s post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) or Chronic Lyme Disease.  Advocates for Lyme Disease sufferers say the current recommended treatment of the disease, 10 to 21 days of antibiotics, is insufficient for people with advanced or persistent levels of the disease. 

“After local families reported these problems to me with treatment of Lyme Disease, I felt compelled to act on behalf of my constituents,” said Rep. Swanson.  “The Russell family’s story is just one of many by those affected by Persistent Lyme Disease.”

ILLINOIS STATE FAIR
·        Illinois State Fairgrounds’ historic Coliseum to get new name following renovation effort.  The century-old centerpiece of the Illinois State Fairgrounds, an oval arena with Illinois-style clerestory windows, is being re-roofed and partly rebuilt.  The Coliseum was temporarily closed to the public in 2016.  The building’s original ceiling beams, which were part of the first generation of steel-building technology when the Coliseum rose in 1901, have reached the end of their useful life.  The project is being funded with donations of $7.5 million from the private sector.  When rebuilt, the Coliseum will resume its role as a place to show horses in saddle and in harness. 

As part of the celebrations that will be held when the renovated Coliseum is reopened for a new century of use, the building will get a new name.  The Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation is hosting a naming contest for participation by eligible Illinois young adults.  Current members of three groups – Illinois 4-H, Illinois FFA, and the Illinois Junior Horsemen’s Council  – are eligible to submit naming ideas.  The Foundation will accept naming ideas through Friday, December 14.  A winner will be announced on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

RANKINGS
·        In quality-of-life ranking, Illinois rated above average at #22 of 50 U.S. states.   The rating was based on a wide variety of metrics that included household income, state unemployment and percentage of state residents with four-year college degrees.  The rating was compiled by Delaware-based website 24/7 Wall St. 

Illinois was highly rated for its household income.  The state’s current population decline and unemployment rate – both of them reflections of Illinois’ current slow speed at private-sector job creation – dragged what would otherwise have been a healthy Illinois score back towards the median.  The 24/7 ranking criteria tended to favor Northeastern states.  The website ranked Massachusetts highest, and gave six of its top 10 state rankings to neighboring states on the East Coast.  

SENIORS
·        Hammond advances critical consumer protections to long-term care application process.  Assistant House Republican Leader Norine Hammond has once again advanced legislation adding important consumer protections to Illinois’ public nursing home care program (long-term care Medicaid program).

“For over three years, I have worked with providers and constituents who have struggled to get through this convoluted process. The application process is cumbersome, unwieldy and seemingly impossible to navigate for persons in good health, let alone our vulnerable populations,” said Rep. Hammond. “Significant changes are much-needed, and after three years of negotiating these changes, I am pleased to present this package of reforms with the consumer experience in mind.”

After unanimous passage by the Illinois House in the 2018 spring session, HB 4771 came back to the House this November on the veto calendar. Under Rep. Hammond’s leadership, the House voted unanimously to override the amendatory veto and enact provisional Medicaid eligibility status into law. The measure now goes to the state Senate for final action.

Under provisions of Hammond’s legislation, Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) will make critical consumer protection reforms including instituting a system of provisional eligibility, providing a step by step checklist of documents required, departments must provide written receipt of documents turned in, must develop an electronic application process, and ensures applications do not ‘start over’ just because of a change of the applicant’s legal representative.

“Too many seniors and their families struggle with this process and it is past time we improve this system to make their experience easier and better protect their rights as an applicant,” Rep. Hammond continued.

TRANSPORTATION
·        Peer-to-peer car sharing debated.  A bill is being considered by the General Assembly to strengthen regulations on car sharing, including enactment of legal language specifically adapted towards this fast-growing industry.  Illinois already regulates and taxes conventional rental cars, phone-app taxicab services such as Lyft and Uber, and the leasing of cars from car dealers to individual households. 

In the case of what is called “car sharing,” the motor vehicle is not really “shared.”  It is rented by the owner to a user, with the owner of an intellectual-property phone app serving as the car finder and go-between.  The app operator locates the car, tells the prospective driver where to find it, bills the driver, and takes a profit percentage.  Many consumer advocates believe that car-sharing services need to be regulated to ensure the safety and drivability of the cars being rented out.  At the same time, critics point out that enactment of this bill will create a new set of taxes and regulations.  The car sharing regulation bill, SB 2641, may be discussed by the Illinois House in the second week of veto session starting on Tuesday, November 27.

ILLINOIS 200
·        Rauner, Pritzker to make joint appearance at Bicentennial Birthday Party.  Gov. Bruce Rauner and Governor-elect JB Pritzker will make a joint appearance at the state's 200th Birthday Party on Dec. 3, the day in 1818 when Illinois became the nation's 21st state.

Both men rallied around a unity theme in the aftermath of Tuesday's election. "There is no better place to start uniting than at an event that celebrates the greatness of Illinois," Rauner said.

"The milestone represented by our 200th birthday is especially important as we turn our focus to the future," Rauner said. "The state possesses a legacy of invention, persistence and economic vitality. This is the time to reflect on those assets and come together to put them to work for the people of Illinois."

"Just as Illinoisans of all backgrounds have united and pushed our state forward for 200 years, we will celebrate our bicentennial as one Illinois," said Governor-elect JB Pritzker. "We are the land of Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, home to the world's leading companies and universities, an economic powerhouse of the Midwest and agriculture powerhouse of our country. Together, we will ring in our third century with hope and optimism and strive to build on the progress of the 200 years before us."

The Bicentennial Commission also announced a change in venue for the official Bicentennial Birthday. The celebration is moving from the United Center to the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier.

The Birthday Party program will remain largely the same. People attending the affair will be treated to a star-studded presentation of things BORN, BUILT, and GROWN in Illinois.

The highlights include an original Gettysburg Address Rap - "All People are Created Equal" - by Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton, Chicago), performances by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Buddy Guy; a special acoustic performance by Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon; and a Championship Parade featuring star athletes marching with Chicago team championship trophies.

People who have purchased tickets for the United Center may use them for the party at Navy Pier or contact Ticketmaster for a refund prior to Dec. 2. Future ticket purchase opportunities will be announced as they become available.

ABOUT ILLINOIS BICENTENNIAL: On Dec. 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the union. The Illinois Bicentennial is a yearlong celebration of what has been BORN, BUILT & GROWN in the state and a reminder of why we are #IllinoisProud.

For more information about the Illinois Bicentennial celebration visit
www.illinois200.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by using the hash tag #IllinoisProud.

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