On January 1st, 191 new laws go into effect in Illinois. One is a law sponsored by Representative John Cavaletto on behalf of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to promote economic growth in Illinois with the expansion of hunting of game birds. One bill passed during the ‘Veto Session’ in November to help Sandoval School District 501 in November awaits the governor’s signature.

“I only introduce legislation brought to me by constituents. I call it the ‘Lincoln Policy’ because that was Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy when he was a state representative in the Illinois House of Representatives,” said Rep. Cavaletto. “There are plenty of laws on the books already and we should only pass more laws if absolutely necessary. The most important bill we should be working on is a balanced budget,” added Cavaletto who serves on the Appropriations – Public Safety Committee.

Over this 99th General Assembly (2015-2016) Rep. Cavaletto was the Chief sponsor of 28 bills and Co-sponsor of 50 more. Of the 28 Chief bills, the four that became law included the Animal Disease Lab building transfer to Kaskaskia College to benefit the Agriculture Education programs; a change in the teacher licensing guidelines to help Centralia High School’s vocational education program; and a debt limitation bill to benefit Sandoval School District’s ability to build new school facilities already approved by the local residents. The bill awaiting the Governor’s signature includes language to extend the deadline on selling bonds for the Sandoval school project by 5 years to 2022.

Rep. Cavaletto also sponsored ten House Resolutions honoring people of distinction like Dr. Bingham of Effingham and communities and groups in the 107th district like Greenville’s Bicentennial, Salem’s 150th Anniversary on becoming incorporated as a city, and The Abraham Lincoln Presenters Convention in Vandalia in 2015.

Several bills introduced to help clarify grandparents’ rights who are raising grandchildren and other bills to fight waste, fraud and abuse by putting a photo on LINK cards never made it out of committee for votes by the House. The Representative plans to keep fighting for these issues and reintroduce the same or similar legislation in the 100th General Assembly to begin January 11th.

“My priority continues to be creating good paying jobs for our area so there are more tax payers instead of raising taxes on those who are already stretched to the limits,” Cavaletto added.

Learn more about the 26 laws that may be of interest to you by clicking HERE.

Read Michael Lucci's article for Illinois Policy by clicking HERE.
Seed Solutions partnered with Linco Precision to host the Planter Technology Institute late last week. The Institute is a mobile, climate controlled expandable trailer with a video wall and demonstration units.

Brian Zeeb, of Seed Solutions, told WGEL the goal of the program was to help farmers plant a good crop and ensure good seed-to-soil contact to boost yields through the growing season. Mr. Zeeb said we can expect continued advancements in farming technology and more high tech educational tools like the Planter Technology Institute. He said there will be 9 billion people by the year 2050. He said farmers across the Midwest, the state of Illinois, and here in Bond county will have to utilize technology to feed that population.

(Learn more at WGEL Radio's web site by clicking HERE.)
Morgan Mulvany and Paul Polanski accept the Illinois House
Certificate at my district office in Salem on December 19, 2016.

"In recognition of receiving the 'Silver Award' under the National Quality Awards sponsored by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living"

Founded in 2004, SSC Odin Operating Company LLC is a mid-sized organization in the skilled nursing care facilities industry with 99 beds located in Odin, IL. It has 150 full time employees and participates in Medicare and Medicaid.
Abuse of the elderly and adults with disabilities is the least recognized form of family violence. The fiscal year 2014 Annual Report covering July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 there were 14,371 reports of abut received by the program (including 2,607 reports involving adults with disability age 18-59).

To report suspected abuse, financial exploitation or neglect of an older person or a person with disabilities age 18-59 call the statewide, 24-hour Adult Protective Services Hotline: 1-866-800-1409,
1-888-206-1327 (TTY).

For residents who live in nursing facilities, call the Illinois Department of Public Health's Nursing Home Complaint Hotline: 1-800-252-4343.

For residents who live in Supportive Living Facilities (SLFs), call the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services' SLF Complaint Hotline: 1-800-226-0768.

Abuse takes many forms, and in most cases victims are subjected to more than one type of mistreatment. In Illinois, 54% of adult abuse reports allege financial exploitation; approximately 23% allege physical abuse; 52% allege active or passive neglect; and 43% allege emotional abuse.
Physical Abuse – causing the infliction of physical pain or injury to an older person.

To learn more about identifying abuse and helping those around you, click here to connect to the Illinois Department on Aging.
Pre-Drill Briefing with Illinois State Police
As part of a two-day mock terrorism scenario held in Salem December 7 & 8, State Representative John Cavaletto was asked to serve as the "dignitary official" who traveled around town simulating a typical day's schedule of meetings and unexpected stops that included the Salem Fire Station, a local business and then the Salem Community High School for a mock assembly in the gymnasium.

This "State Counter Terrorism Scenario" was planned and coordinated by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force of the Illinois State Police with federal funding from the Department of Homeland Security. More than 300 state, local, and federal law enforcement, fire, EMS (emergency medical services) and paramedic personnel participate in the multiple drills. Only two drills are conducted each year around the state, one up north and one in southern Illinois.

The Counter-Terrorism Simulation begins...
"We hope we never have to utilize this magnitude of emergency personnel for any kind of terrorist situation, but it's just like when we do fire drills and tornado drills to keep our students safe and get them out of harms way as quickly as we can," commented Rep. John Cavaletto, Minority Spokesperson of the Public Safety Appropriations Committee in the Illinois House of Representatives. "I want to thank all of the students and school personnel who helped to make this counter terrorism drill a success and thank you to all of the Illinois State Police and first responder personnel from Salem and surrounding communities for all of your help and professionalism needed to make something of this magnitude work," Cavaletto added.
Mock motorcade en route to various locations around Salem, IL.

First stop of the motorcade was the Salem Fire Department.
Students evacuate the gymnasium after mock explosions.

Motorcade with 'dignitary & staff'' leaves the mock explosion site.

Emergency personnel coordinate safe evacuation of students & staff.

"Training Exercise In Progress" at Salem Community High School

The Salem Community Activities Center served as 'Central Command'

“Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” --Walt Disney

Find out more and register to participate by clicking here.
The Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) was awarded two projects totaling $10.1 million Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the Department's CarbonSAFE R&D program to develop technologies to mitigate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Including cost share, total funding for the two projects is more than $12.6 million.

ISGS, a division of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was awarded funds to evaluate the feasibility of commercial-scale (50+ million metric tons) geological storage of industrially sourced CO2 ($8.9 million). This project builds on the internationally recognized project of the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (led by ISGS) to store one million tons of this greenhouse gas in the Mt. Simon Formation 7,000 feet beneath the Archer Daniels Midland facility in Decatur, Ill. (Learn more about the impact of these studies by clicking HERE.)
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois will mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and honor the men and women who died there with a ceremony in Springfield.

The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs says the event is scheduled for Wednesday at the Disabled American Veterans Hall. It will include the reading of a proclamation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner and a wreath laying in the waters of Lake Springfield.

The Sangamon County Inter-veteran Honor Guard also will play “Taps.”

More than 2,300 U.S. service members died when Japanese planes struck the naval base in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. The attack propelled the U.S. into World War II.
The big story in Illinois agriculture in 2016 continues to be the 'margin squeeze' faced by crop producers — brought on by low corn, soybean, and wheat prices and costs of production that have yet to fully adjust to the new price realities, according to one U of I agricultural economist. At present prices, further cost of production reductions will be required. Producers and landowners face a series of difficult management challenges as they grapple with how to adjust to the changed environment.

Should cash rents be lowered? If yes, by how much? How much relief will be seen through lower fertilizer and seed prices? What are the prospects for grain prices to recover from current depressed levels? The University of Illinois Extension and members of the farmdoc team from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics in the College of ACES is offering a series of five Farm Economics Summit meetings to help producers navigate these difficult times.

Speakers at the summit will explore the farm profitability outlook and management challenges from several perspectives, including the 2017 outlook for prices, farm financial management in tough times, needed changes in farmland leases, updates on the farm program safety net, agricultural credit conditions, and long-term weather and yield trends. The format for the meeting will be fast-paced and allow plenty of time for questions from the audience.

Sponsored by U of I Extension, the farm economics summit will be offered at five different locations during the month of December.

The dates and locations are as follows:

Monday, Dec. 12 -- Champaign, iHotel and Conference Center
Tuesday, Dec. 13 -- Dekalb, Faranda’s Banquet Center
Wednesday, Dec. 14 -- Peoria, Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino
Thursday, Dec. 15 -- Springfield, Crowne Plaza
Friday, Dec. 16 -- Mt. Vernon, Holiday Inn

The sessions will begin at 7:45 a.m. and conclude at 1:30 p.m. The advance registration fee is $70 per person and includes lunch, refreshments, and all meeting materials. Register online at http://www.regonline.com/registration/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1895758 by Dec. 5, which includes a $5 discount. Registration at the door is $75 per person as space permits.

For questions about registration, contact Nancy Simpson ([email protected]; 217-244-9687).

See the website for the complete agenda and list of speakers at http://www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/ifes/2016/index.html .

For more information on University of Illinois Extension programming in Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion & Washington Counties, visit the U of I Extension website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/bcjmw/. For information on Effingham County visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cefj/
Dr. Colleen Bingham front row center.
State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem), recently presented a House Resolution to commend Dr. M. Colleen Bingham for her selfless service and for her impact on the improvement of rural health, and to congratulate her on receiving the "2016 Rural Physician of Excellence Award" from the Illinois Rural Health Association.

“One of the biggest healthcare challenges is the shortage of physicians who practice in rural areas,” commented Rep. Cavaletto. “We are lucky to have someone like Dr. Bingham in our community who is exceptional and recognized by her peers as well.”

Dr. Colleen Bingham joined Family Care in 1994. She is a board certified pediatrician with special
interests in asthma management, newborn and adolescent care, and child abuse. Dr. Bingham graduated from St. Louis University in 1990 and completed her residency at Indiana University Hospital.

Since 1994, Dr. Bingham has been practicing with Family Care Associates of Effingham and Dr. Bingham serves on the Board of the Crisis Nursery of Effingham County and was extremely instrumental in garnering the economic support and partnerships of local businesses and the medical community to get the Crisis Nursery operating.

Recognizing their struggles, Dr. Bingham spearheaded the development TAG in 2013, a mentoring program for young mothers; operated by volunteers, the program meets on a regular basis, assisting many mothers through the challenges of young parenthood.

After seeing a pattern of developmental and cognitive delays in at-risk children who were not able to attend preschool, Dr. Bingham and her staff reached out to businesses, transportation companies, and the local school district, leading to the formation of the "Effingham Preschool of All", which offers transportation and preschool education at no cost to eligible families.

Dr. Bingham learned of the plight of many low income children in need of meals when school was not in session, and through her request for donations and assistance from the Central Illinois Public Transit, "Mission Summer Fun" was formed, which provides meals and activities for children during summer break, and she was the lead physician in the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) Asthma Collaborative which resulted in improved treatment for children. Her dedication to public health and disease prevention is exemplified through her strong commitment to the Vaccine for Children program.

Through her service and dedication to the community, Dr. Bingham has become a phenomenal asset to the well-being of families in Effingham County. Her selfless service and impact on the improvement of rural health is why she is very deserving of the "2016 Rural Physician of Excellence Award."

Paul Fanning photo by Ted Schurter / The State Journal Register
The new director of the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield has big plans. Paul Fanning said he'd like to help the museum grow, to expand its outreach program to bring more visitors to the site, and he would also like to increase the exhibits on the Illinois National Guard’s deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rep. John Cavaletto is working with the Department of Military Affairs to collect the historical information on the National Guard Armory in Salem that is being demolished. The Salem Historical Commission is also working to raise the awareness of the Salem Armory history as well as the G.I. Bill of Rights history with the American Legion Post 128.

Salem Historical Commission Chairman, Jerry Nix with Rep. Cavaletto.

The Illinois Military Museum is at 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd., a few blocks north of North Grand Avenue West. The hours are 1 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. There is no admission to the museum, but donations are welcome. Read the full story by John Reynolds by clicking here.
(Associated Press) — The Illinois Secretary of State's office plans a statewide sting operation to catch those who illegally park in disabled spots at shopping malls.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White plans to announce the tenth-annual effort on Tuesday in Chicago ahead of the Black Friday shopping rush the day after Thanksgiving. Secretary of State police will conduct compliance checks at malls across Illinois during the holiday season.

Fines for parking in a spot reserved for those with disabilities without a placard or special license plate is up to $350. The fine for illegally using a placard or disability license plate is $600 and possible six-month driver's license suspension.

There are more than 630,000 disability placards and nearly 66,000 disability licenses in use in Illinois.

The following violations are Class A misdemeanors for a first offense and may result in a fine of up to $2,500, a one year driver's license suspension and possible confiscation and revocation of the disability parking placard or license plates. Violators may be charged with a Class 4 felony for a second offense which may result in a fine up to $25,000 and possible jail time between one and three years.

      * Using a deceased person's disability license plates or parking placard
      * Altering a parking placard.
      * Possessing a fake, fraudulent, lost or stolen placard.
      * Duplicating or manufacturing a placard.
      * Selling or otherwise distributing a fraudulent placard.
      * Obtaining a placard or plate under false pretenses.

For more information click here for the Illinois Secretary of State web site.
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Bruce Rauner today announced that April 22, 2017, will be the first annual State Day of Service in the state of Illinois. Throughout the past few years, many volunteer groups have expressed an interest in helping out at various state agencies. However, due to the previous AFSCME contract, severe restrictions were placed on the use of volunteers. The recent decision by the Illinois Labor Relations Board will now allow the state greater flexibility in using volunteers.

"We are all residents of Illinois and all working towards the goal of making the state a better place to live and work," said Governor Rauner. "Given the state’s challenging financial circumstances, it is absolutely essential that we engage partners when and where we can. Through the first State Day of Service, we will be able to provide additional services at no cost to taxpayers, while giving volunteers an opportunity to give back and help their fellow Illinois residents."

On the State Day of Service, groups and individuals will be able to come together across the state to assist state agencies through activities like cleaning up state parks, working on projects at the state fairgrounds or even volunteering at the state’s veterans homes. The closest state parks for residents of the 107th District are Carlyle Lake SFWA in Vandalia, Forbes State Park Kinmundy and Ramsey Lake State Park in northern Fayette County.
Secretary of State Jesse White today announced his office will launch an innovative, cost-efficient passenger license plate replacement program beginning in January to replace the oldest license plates with newly designed plates at no additional cost to Illinois taxpayers. B-truck license plate replacement is expected to begin in 2018.

The purpose of the program is to ensure – now and in the future – that older license plates on Illinois roads are replaced. License plates’ reflectivity diminishes with age, which impacts law enforcement’s ability to quickly and accurately identify license plate numbers.

“This is a forward-thinking, long-term solution that does not require a complete replating overhaul, which would cost around $60 million,” said White. “This plan will not cost the state additional money. It removes older plates and replaces them with newly designed plates. This will ensure that plates are appropriately replaced with the ultimate goal being no license plate on the road will be more than 10-years-old.”

Under the program, the oldest license plates will be replaced first. In 2017, passenger plates that were manufactured in 2000 and 2001 will be replaced. In 2018, passenger plates that were manufactured in 2002 and 2003 will be replaced. Each year the office will continue to replace older license plates with the newly issued plate. The process will start again in 2027, replacing the plates issued in 2017.

Vehicle owners will be notified by mail if they qualify for the new license plates. When they renew their vehicle registration, they will be provided with a yellow sticker with a “T’ on it to affix to the rear license plate of their vehicle. Within 60 days they will receive their newly designed license plates in the mail with a new registration sticker already affixed to the rear license plate.

Owners are encouraged to recycle their old plates by taking them to a Secretary of State facility and disposing of them in the tamper-proof bin.

Motorists who are not up for replacement may still request a new license plate at www.cyberdriveillinois.com for a replacement fee of $29. In addition, vehicle owners with license plates manufactured after 2001 that are showing signs of wear and are difficult to read may visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com to apply for a newly designed plate at no charge. 

“There are nearly 9 million passenger vehicle owners in Illinois,” said White. “This replacement program is mindful of Illinois’ state budget challenges, while also seeking to replace those plates that are most in need of replacement.”

Vehicle owners may renew their vehicle registration by visiting a Secretary of State facility, going online at www.cyberdriveillinois.com, by mail or by calling 800-252-8980.
Future security guards and pharmacy technicians now must go online to submit their initial applications to Illinois regulators.

Officials at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced Wednesday they have launched an online portal for applicants in those two professions.

The portal lets applicants enter required information, pay electronically and keep track of the status of their applications. Department Secretary Bryan Schneider says a paperless process is more convenient and accurate.

Illinois issues licenses to more than a million professionals, including roughly 106,000 security guards and pharmacy technicians. (Associate Press article at the State Journal-Register here.)
After several years of raising private dollars because the State of Illinois is strapped for money, Rep. John Cavaletto joined a meeting this morning in Vandalia to allow potential vendors to inspect the building's windows and ask questions about the bidding process to repair the 36 windows.

In addition to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency director and architect,  and potential craftsmen, the meeting included the site manager, board members of the Vandalia Historical Society, Inc., and Mayor Ricky Gottman.

These repairs will stop the water damage being done by the rain and snow that has been leaking in to the building and causing the building to deteriorate.

"I am excited that this project is moving along again,” commented Rep. Cavaletto. “One of the possible vendors is a local painter whose father and grandfather also painted on this historic building," said Rep. Cavaletto. “That’s a nice tradition to have in your family when you have multiple generations of family helping to keep this jewel of our Illinois history connected to notable Illinois
figures such as Abe Lincoln and Steven Douglas,” Cavaletto concluded.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016 Rep. Cavaletto made a presentation  for the 50th Anniversary to The Greenville Municipal Airport and the Authority board to recognize their continuing efforts.  They are quite proud of their airport and plan to keep soaring forward as long as they have lift under our wings!

The picture of Airport Authority Board: L-R: David Royer, Larry Suess - Treasurer, Sherry Schaefer - Vice President, State Representative John Cavaletto, Ben Kettlekamp - President, Randy Vasel
- Secretary.
Hunters are encouraged to donate their entire deer harvest to food banks and charities. Participating meat processors will grind the venison into two-pound packages of burger. Please watch a short (30 second) video for a summary of the program.
The US has officially welcomed its latest Virginia class nuclear submarine to the fleet, which the Navy believes has the capabilities required to maintain the US “undersea supremacy” in the 21st century.

The Navy called the ‘USS Illinois’ the “next-generation attack submarine” when the ship was commissioned Saturday in Groton, Connecticut.

The $2.7 billion black behemoth is the 13th ship in the Virginia class of attack submarines to be included in the US fleet of just over 70 subs stationed around the globe. The vessel weighs nearly 8,000 tons and is slightly longer than a football field at 114.9 meters (377ft) in length. It has a 10.3 meters diameter and accommodates a crew of over 130. (Read the complete story from RT by clicking HERE.)
Officials with the Illinois State Police remind motorists and parents that children in many communities will be trick-or-treating during the upcoming Halloween weekend and on Halloween night. The ISP encourages motorists and parents to take special safety precautions during the Halloween festivities.

Motorists should refrain from wearing a mask or bulky costume while driving as both can reduce efforts to safely operate a vehicle. Pedestrians should only cross streets at designated cross walks and make extra efforts to ensure it is safe to cross. Children should be reminded not to cross the street between parked vehicles and to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street. (read the full WGEL Radio article HERE)
Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem) toured the Beck's Hybrid Seeds facility in Effingham this morning along with Mayor Jeff Bloemker and the economic development team.

In 1901, Lawrence Beck purchased an 80 acre farm in Hamilton County, which is the headquarters of Beck's Hybrids. Then, in 1937, he and his son Francis each planted a three-acre allotment of hybrid parent seed corn offered by the Purdue Botany Department. They planted the crop with a two row, horse-drawn planter and harvested it by hand. This became the first crop of Beck's Superior Hybrids.

The interactive museum walks visitors through the development of our company and corn hybrids starting in 1833.

Beck's Hybrids seed company provides high yield corn, soybeans, wheat and elite alfalfa. All seed products are protected by the Escalate™ yield enhancement system delivering higher yields, insect protection, improved stand, and seedling health. (Learn more about the Beck's family business by clicking HERE.)
First Seed House
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Region 5, District 8 has announced that public webinars on the Multi-Year Program (2017-2022) Highway Improvement Program have been scheduled for this week. Click HERE to sign up to join the webinar on Tuesday October 25 at 5:30 p.m.or Thursday, October 27 at 6:00 p.m.

People are encouraged to visit the Multi-Year Program (MYP) Outreach link to learn further details and submit inquiries and comments on the Program Development Input Form by clicking HERE.

The presentations will be recorded and available at www.idot.illinois.gov.

Governor orders statewide review of all rules, regulations

OAK BROOK – Governor Bruce Rauner today announced a comprehensive plan to promote economic growth and job creation by cutting the red tape in Illinois. He signed Executive Order 16-13 to review all agency rules and regulations by the newly-created Illinois Competiveness Council.

“For years, Illinois has added layers and layers of burdensome rules and regulations to a never-ending bureaucracy,” Governor Rauner said. “It’s an endless line of red tape that creates a barrier for small businesses and entrepreneurs. By cutting the red tape, we are creating an environment where they can succeed.”
The two counties impacted by these seminars in Representative John Cavaletto's area include Effingham and Fayette Counties.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will hold Multi-Year Public Information Webinars, conducted over the internet, on the proposed IDOT, District Seven, Multi-Year Program for Highway Improvements for fiscal Years 2018-2023 at the following times:

* October 25, 2016 at 5:30 p.m.

* October 27, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.

The purpose of the Public Information Webinars is to provide the public an opportunity to review and comment on the Multi-Year Road Program Highway Improvements, current programming procedures, and other statistical information. Public feedback from these webinars will help IDOT in the development of the program. All interested persons are invited to participate.

Representatives of IDOT will be presenters of the webinar and you may sign up HERE to participate or make a comment HERE if you are unable to participate on either of the two days and times.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is awarding more than $520,000 to projects aimed at strengthening the state's specialty crop industry, from horseradish to pumpkins and gourds.

Agriculture Director Raymond Poe says in a news release that the money comes from the federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Among those receiving grants is a professor at Southern Illinois University who's developing new horseradish varieties. A University of Illinois professor will use grant money to study ways to combat mildew on gourds.

Illinois is the nation's largest producer of horseradish and pumpkins, and has a flourishing grape and wine market. A recent Census of Agriculture found more than 106,000 acres are used to grow specialty crops in Illinois, with sales totaling almost $470 million annually.
Compliance, or movement toward compliance, is required for a state ID card (such as a driver’s license) to be seen as adequate identification for federal security purposes, such as entering an armed forces base or the boarding area of an airport. Illinois is one of 14 states that have been officially ruled as out of compliance with the 2005 federal law. Congress enacted, and former President George W. Bush signed, the REAL ID Act after the events of September 11.

Under the terms of the federal law, applicants for a drivers’ license or official ID equivalent are required to present a variety of official documentation to confirm and re-confirm their legal status within the United States. In addition, the drivers’ licenses or equivalent state documentation must be produced in physically secure facilities and must comply with a series of federal mandates intended to reduce and eliminate counterfeiting. The eventual goal is to bring the 50 states’ drivers’ licenses closer to the level of identification and security that are imposed upon applicants for a U.S. passport. After a ten-year transition period, the federal government has begun to impose penalties upon the residents of states that remain out of compliance with the REAL ID Act.

The General Assembly responded to federal compliance issues in spring 2016 by enacting new legislation (SB 637) intended to move toward compliance with the REAL ID Act. Under this legislation, the offices of the Illinois Secretary of State are no longer allowed to print out and distribute plastic drivers’ license cards. Starting in summer 2016, Secretary of State employees who have undergone criminal background checks are now allowed to collect information from an Illinois resident. The State employee will then send digital information over a secure phone line to a facility in a secure location. The new drivers’ licenses, which are mailed to their recipients, are similar to the old drivers’ licenses in some ways and different from them in others. They contain features that are difficult to counterfeit.

Under the new legislation and technology, Illinois has now been re-ruled to be 84% in compliance with the REAL ID Act. This status will be valid until October 10, 2017. During the 12-month period preceding this deadline, Illinois drivers’ licenses and ID-card equivalents will be viewed as adequate to enter federal security-secured areas, such as federal facilities and airport boarding areas. The Department of Homeland Security is warning Illinois and 13 other states that they must take further actions in spring 2017 in order to move closer toward complete compliance with the REAL ID Act. Eight other states, including Kentucky and Missouri, have been ruled noncompliant with the REAL ID Act. Their residents could face identification-related sanctions as soon as January 30, 2017.
The Rauner administration announced a new data-driven push to encourage businesses to stay and expand in Illinois, and while it looks like the main focus will be downstate, it could bring jobs to a state that needs them everywhere.

Likening the effort to "a modern-age concierge service" for business, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Intersect Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner's new public-private economic development corporation, announced a new program called Core, which stands for Creating Opportunities for Retention and Expansion.

The bad news came in the monthly revenue report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget watchdog office. Overall base general funds revenues continued to fall in September, with base revenues down $119 million below the levels of funds brought in during September 2015. The decline was entirely due to changes in income tax cash flows, with personal income tax receipts down $136 million and corporate income tax receipts down $87 million. The corporate income tax revenue picture was particularly dramatic, with payments of corporate income taxes down 22% from a year ago.

Poor Illinois cash flow patterns are an underlying factor behind the slow payments and unpaid bills imposed by Illinois upon its creditors and vendors throughout the state. As of Tuesday, October 4, Comptroller Leslie Munger estimates that the State owes more than $8.5 billion in unpaid bills.

"The Champions of Free Enterprise are exactly the types of lawmakers who will encourage investment in Illinois and help it become more competitive with other states."  

--Todd Maisch, president and CEO, Illinois Chamber of Commerce.
Illinois Student Assistance Commission and Partners Support Students in Filing College Applications and FAFSA Completion

In Illinois, October is College Changes Everything® (CCE) Month, a campaign launched by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission(ISAC) to address the change to “early FAFSA” and assist students who will be completing college applications at the same time they are filing financial aid forms. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used to apply for all federal and some state financial aid; filing it is an important first step to maximizing financial aid. This year, students will be able to file their 2017-18 beginning October 1, 2016, instead of having to wait until January, as in previous years.

Because some financial aid programs—including the state's Monetary Award Program (MAP grant)–are awarded on a first-come first-served basis, eligible students should file their FAFSAs as soon as possible after October 1st in order to have the best chance of receiving funding. Students should check with their college for all school-specific deadlines.

During CCE Month, ISAC will partner with schools and communities to help students navigate these changes, and will offer support for students and families with both college application and FAFSA completion. (Learn more here.)
The Traveling Vietnam Wall will be in Salem, October 5-9. The wall will be on the softball diamond at Bryan Memorial Park and will be open 24 hours a day. There is no charge to view the wall to honor, respect, and remember those who served in the Vietnam War. For more information, visit the websitewww.TourSalemIL.com.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — University of Illinois researchers say an invasive variety of stink bug is spreading in the state.

Kelly Estes is cooperative agricultural pest survey coordinator at the university's Prairie Research Institute. She said in a news release Friday that brown marmorated stink bugs have been found in five new, widely scattered Illinois counties. The bugs' presence was recently confirmed in Macon, Winnebago, Clinton, Effingham and Stephenson counties.

The stink bugs were first found in the state in 2010 in Cook County and in the East St. Louis area.

The bugs feed on a wide variety of host plants in gardens, orchards and fields.

Estes said the bugs often winter in homes and with the onset of cooler weather may be seen on houses looking for winter shelter.

At the General Election to be held on November 8th (and beginning September 29th for those voting early), you will be called upon to adopt or reject this proposal to add a new Section (Section 11) to the Revenue Article (Article IX) of the Illinois Constitution that provides that revenue generated from transportation related taxes and fees ("transportation funds") shall be used prednisone exclusively for transportation related purposes.

Back in April of this year, I voted in favor of House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 36  to give the people of Illinois the opportunity to be heard on this issue. Click HERE to learn more about this proposal and download the full text of information provided by the Secretary of State.

Springfield, IL (KWQC) – Officials in Springfield Tuesday kicked-off a new program all about volunteering to help veterans in the state.

Governor Bruce Rauner joined officials from the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield, to encourage people to participate in the “Serving Those Who Served” initiative.

It is set to run through the month of November, and creates a state-wide database where veterans groups can list projects that require help, and volunteers can find opportunities to lend a hand.

You can find more on the initiative here.

Megan Trinrud article
For decades, mothers who have lost sons or daughters in military service have been recognized annually on Gold Star Mother's Day the last Sunday in September.
On Monday, the other surviving relatives of deceased military personnel got official recognition in Illinois on the first Gold Star Families Day. The day was observed during a ceremony in the Capitol.
The event was the result of legislation passed unanimously in the General Assembly last spring to bring recognition to people who are sometimes forgotten when a member of the military is killed.
“Gold Star families all suffered the loss,” said James Frazier, whose son Jacob, a staff sergeant in the Illinois Air National Guard, was killed in Afghanistan in 2003. “He was the eldest of five children. His four siblings suffered that loss just as badly as his mother and I did.”
The tradition of using gold stars to designate homes where someone has died during military service goes back to World War I. Homes with members serving in the military flew flags that had a star for each member. A blue star designated someone serving in the military, while a gold star represented someone who had died in the line of duty.
It wasn’t until 1936, though, that Congress declared the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother's Day. The legislation approved by the Illinois General Assembly designates the following Monday as Gold Star Families Day. (Read more from Doug Finke's article at The Springfield Journal-Register here.)

Find out more about the "Gold Star" programs by clicking on the respective links: