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State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) filed legislation today that would ensure that concealed carry permit holders are not being shortchanged on the length of time their cards are valid.

HB 364, amends the Firearm Concealed Carry Act to align concealed carry renewals with the dates of expiration of previous cards rather than five years from the date the renewal application is processed.

“This issue was brought to my attention by a few constituents who were essentially being penalized by submitting all required renewal documentation early within the 120-day timeframe recommended by the Illinois State Police,” said Reick. “These folks were receiving new cards that expired five years from the date their new information was processed rather than five years from the date their former card was issued. Gun owners who wish to carry are paying for a five-year permit, not a 4 ¾-year permit.”

The bill should be assigned to a substantive committee in the coming days or weeks, and Reick expects bipartisan support of the measure. “This is an issue of fairness,” Reick said. “These are individuals who are taking proactive steps to ensure they remain compliant with the Illinois concealed carry law, but they’re also not interested in paying for periods of double-coverage.”
101st General Assembly Takes Oath of Office
On Wednesday, January 9, it was an honor to be sworn into office for a second term in the Illinois General Assembly. The House of Representatives of the new 101st General Assembly includes 74 Democrats and 44 Republicans, and I will continue to represent approximately 108,000 residents from northern McHenry County. 

The first vote I took as your voice in the 101st General Assembly was against Mike Madigan as Speaker of the House. Despite unanimous opposition from the new House Republican caucus, the super-majority House Democrat caucus re-elected Madigan (D-Chicago) as Speaker. Representative Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) was re-elected House Minority Leader, and in his remarks to the newly-convened House, Leader Durkin pledged to uphold Republican principles and to work together with newly-elected Gov. J.B. Pritzker whenever possible for the good of the State of Illinois. Click here to watch Durkin’s full inauguration speech. 

The newly-convened 101st General Assembly faces challenging problems of governance, including Illinois’ structural budget deficit, underfunded tax-supported pension systems, and a growing pattern of out-migration to other states by young, ambitious adults eager for success in the private sector. House Republicans are determined to make Illinois a good place for hard-working people to live and raise families.

Within our caucus, 13 new Republican lawmakers took the oath of office and joined the ranks of the freshman class of the 101st General Assembly. I would specifically like to welcome Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa), who will now represent the 64th District next door in the seat recently held by Barb Wheeler. Tom will be seated next to me on the Floor of the House as he navigates his first term as a lawmaker. Click here to learn about all the new members of the House Republican Caucus

I am in the process of finalizing a comprehensive 2019 legislative agenda that protects taxpayers, enhances public safety and improves government operations. I welcome your input and suggestions. If you have an idea to share, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at reick@ilhousegop.org, or by phone at (815) 880-5340. You can learn more about my legislation by visiting www.stevenreick.com.

Rep. Reick Appointed to Serve on Bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules
During the afternoon of Inauguration Day, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin announced my appointment to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislative oversight committee. I will serve alongside House Republicans Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) and Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) on the 12-member, bipartisan ad bicameral committee.

State government regulations impact every aspect of the lives of Illinoisans, so it’s an honor to be selected to serve on this important oversight committee. We need to ensure that our regulatory environment in Illinois helps small businesses create jobs and reduces government burdens on working families. I appreciate Leader Durkin’s faith in my ability to contribute to this important work, and I look forward to this new role.

The members of JCAR oversee the rule-making process by state agencies, making sure the rules abide by the original intent of legislators when laws are passed. The committee is composed of 12 legislators who are appointed by the legislative leadership, with the membership apportioned equally between the two houses and the two political parties. It is co-chaired by two members representing each party and each legislative house. The members of JCAR are also charged with making sure the General Assembly is adequately informed of how laws are implemented through agency rulemaking and facilitating a public understanding of rules and regulations.

Rep. Steve Reick Launches Coffee & Conversation Tour
As part of continuing constituent outreach throughout the 63rd Legislative House District, I am launching a new series of “Coffee & Conversation” events at local coffee shops and restaurants in northern McHenry County. The first event takes place next week on Saturday, January 19 at the Windhill Pancake Parlor, 3307 W. Elm Street in McHenry. My legislative assistant and I will have a few tables reserved for guests between 8:30 and 10:00 AM. 

The 63rd District includes all or portions of 14 different municipalities, including: Bull Valley, Greenwood, Harvard, Hebron, Johnsburg, Marengo, McCullum Lake, McHenry, Pistakee Highlands, Richmond, Ringwood, Union, Wonder Lake and Woodstock. The District is very spread out and I am aware that my district office in Woodstock is not conveniently located for some of my constituents on the eastern and western edges of my district. Hopefully these events will provide constituents from the corners of the district with easy access to their legislative representative.

The Coffee & Conversation events will compliment an already-existing mobile office hours tour that brings district office resources to local libraries throughout the 63rd District.

Governor Vetoes Township Consolidation Bill that Targeted McHenry County
On Friday afternoon, Governor Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto to HB 4637, which singled out McHenry County and would have allowed township consolidation referenda to be brought forward by an extremely small number of township residents and without a cost study to prove savings. I was a vocal opponent to this bill throughout the legislative process. Upon learning of the Governor’s veto, I issued the following press statement:

“I am pleased with this amendatory veto and agree with the Governor’s comments that consolidation legislation of this nature should not target just one county. When I spoke against this bill during the House floor debate, I expressed my opposition to this ‘McHenry County-only’ initiative. The sponsor of this bill, in my opinion, was capitalizing on political dysfunction within one McHenry County Township. I believe the bill was written to only apply to one county because he would not have been able to generate the required number of votes if lawmakers were being asked to vote for the provisions in their own districts.

“There was nearly unanimous opposition to this bill by the members of the McHenry County Board, which would have had to absorb township functions through this consolidation bill. I am pleased to know the Governor put the brakes on this legislation so that a future bill could be written in a much more thoughtful and comprehensive fashion.

“My primary concern with consolidation legislation remains the absence of a requirement for an independent cost study to prove cost savings will truly occur. I maintain that consolidation for the sake of consolidation is not always beneficial to taxpayers. Show us your study and prove your savings. Then you can take you case to the voters.”

December Revenues Up Modestly
During the first part of Fiscal Year 2019, the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2018, revenues increased and Illinois was able to begin to chip away at the more than $7 billion in unpaid bills that burden Illinois health care providers and other creditors. This revenue growth curve flattened in December 2018 as existing taxes ceased to yield major net new revenue. Personal income tax payments to the State in December 2018, $1,577 million, exceeded the year-earlier figure by only $7 million, an annual growth rate of 0.4%. The flattened growth curve indicates the consequences of the failure of Illinois’ economy to generate a significant number of net new jobs. While other states such as Florida and Texas are creating large numbers of new jobs, Illinois is not doing so.

These and other revenue numbers can be found in the monthly report generated for December 2018 by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget monitoring office. CGFA was able to track significant growth in several smaller revenue lines. Sales tax revenues rose by $60 million in December 2018 relative to one year earlier, buoyed by Christmas sales and the newly-granted ability of the State to impose sales taxes on many purchases made online. Income from federal sources, which includes matching grants made by Washington to Illinois for payment to Medicaid care providers and other contractors, rose by $89 million. Current news events in Washington raise questions about whether this healthy increase can be sustained in January 2019. The Illinois General Assembly, working though the professionals at CGFA, will have to closely monitor revenue trends in the second half of FY19 in order to begin the work of putting together a new budget for FY20. This will be among the legislature’s top priorities in the 2019 spring session.

Illinois Underground Natural Gas Storage Safety Act becomes Law
A new law, SB 3549, sharply increases regulatory controls over underground aquifers and nearby geological strata used to store natural gas. The storage facilities serve as gigantic batteries that can be used to generate electricity on demand. A sharp movement in Illinois power generation, from coal-fired electricity to power generated from natural gas, has led to the construction and expansion of these facilities within state lines.

Under the bill, signed into law as P.A. 100-1172, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (which regulates underground caves and mines) and the Illinois Commerce Commission (which regulates electricity and gas) will work with the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure that all underground gas storage facilities in Illinois meet federal minimum safety standards. This will help protect aquifers and sources of groundwater used by hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans. The new measure was signed into law on Friday, January 4.

Old 100th General Assembly Convenes for Final Days of Session Activity; Passes Tollway Bill
The “lame-duck” session met earlier this week prior to the inauguration of the new 101st General Assembly. The House passed a bill to create a changeover in the membership of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, the often-controversial board with executive responsibility over the toll roads of northern Illinois. SB 1298 will end the terms of the nine members of the Toll Highway Authority, allowing the new Governor J.B. Pritzker to make appointments to fill the vacancies.

The new Tollway Board could take steps to reduce the level of patronage hiring and contracting associated with the operations of the Authority. A newspaper investigation has uncovered cases of contracts being awarded to firms linked with Toll Highway executives. It is expected that some, but not all, of the members of the departing board could be reappointed. No more than five of the nine members may be from either political party.
As part of continuing constituent outreach throughout the 63rd Legislative House District, State Representative Steve Reick is launching a new series of “Coffee & Conversation” events at local coffee shops and restaurants in northern McHenry County.

The first event takes place next week on Saturday, January 19 at the Windhill Pancake Parlor, 3307 W. Elm Street in McHenry. Rep. Reick will have a few tables reserved for guests between 8:30 and 10:00 AM.

“I’m inviting people to come and join me at a local coffee shop near their homes so we can talk about the issues that are important to them,” said Reick. “I’ll buy the coffee and listen as my constituents talk about their priorities and concerns.”

The 63rd District includes all or portions of 14 different municipalities, including: Bull Valley, Greenwood, Harvard, Hebron, Johnsburg, Marengo, McCullum Lake, McHenry, Pistakee Highlands, Richmond, Ringwood, Union, Wonder Lake and Woodstock.

“My legislative district includes 14 cities and villages and 13 different townships,” Reick said. “It’s very spread out and I am aware that my district office in Woodstock is not conveniently located for some of my constituents on the eastern and western edges of my district.”

The Coffee & Conversation events will compliment an already-existing mobile office hours tour that brings district office resources to local libraries throughout the 63rd District. By offering a variety of opportunities for public engagement, Reick is hoping to make himself more available to all of his constituents at locations that are convenient for them.

“My vision for these Coffee & Conversation events is that some will be solo events while others will be done in cooperation with local elected officials,” Reick added. “I’m looking forward to the casual conversations that will take place at the events.”
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has announced the appointment of State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislative oversight committee.

“State government regulations impact every aspect of the lives of Illinoisans, so it’s an honor to be selected to serve on this important oversight committee,” said Reick, a second-term lawmaker from McHenry County. “We need to ensure that our regulatory environment in Illinois helps small businesses create jobs and reduces government burdens on working families. I appreciate Leader Durkin’s faith in my ability to contribute to this important work, and I look forward to this new role.”

The members of JCAR oversee the rule-making process by state agencies, making sure the rules abide by the original intent of legislators when laws are passed. The committee is composed of 12 legislators who are appointed by the legislative leadership, with the membership apportioned equally between the two houses and the two political parties. It is co-chaired by two members representing each party and each legislative house. The members of JCAR are also charged with making sure the General Assembly is adequately informed of how laws are implemented through agency rulemaking and facilitating a public understanding of rules and regulations.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) joined 43 other Republicans on Wednesday as the 101st Illinois General Assembly was sworn into office in a ceremony held at the University of Illinois’ Springfield campus. Reick was re-elected in November to a second term in the House of Representatives.

Reick’s first vote as a lawmaker in the 101st General Assembly was against the re-election of Mike Madigan as Speaker of the House. “The people of Illinois’ 63rd House District deserve much better than the unfriendly policies forced upon them by Speaker Madigan,” said Reick. “As evidenced through this first vote of 2019, I will not support the failed leadership that has brought Illinois to the brink of insolvency and caused record numbers of Illinoisans to flee the state.”

During Reick’s first term (2017-2018), he was a strong voice for financial accountability, government transparency and the preservation of Second Amendment rights. He is putting the final touches on a comprehensive 2019 legislative agenda that focuses on tax relief, taxpayer protections and public safety.

Reick graduated from the University of Illinois in 1975 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy, followed by a Juris Doctor and Master’s Degree in Accountancy and Taxation from the University of Georgia in 1980. In 1982, he and his wife moved their family to Woodstock, where he established a law practice focusing on taxation and real estate matters. He continues his practice to this day.

Residents of the 63rd District can follow Reick’s legislation at www.ilga.gov, and by clicking on the House Members link and on Reick’s name. Legislative initiatives will also be highlighted on his web site at www.repstevenreick.com.
There are 253 new state laws with a January 1, 2019 effective date. Many of these new laws simply clarify existing statutes, while others improve transparency and overall government processes. Still others represent entirely new ideas that are now becoming law. Click here to view a list and summary of the 253 bills that become law on January 1.
Federal Government Bans Bump Stocks
In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a ruling banning bump stocks. The DOJ amended the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulations, and the ban will take effect 90 days after publication of the new regulation (expected by this Friday). This points to a mid-March effective date for the ban.

According to the new ruling, by the effective date individuals who own bump stocks must have either destroyed them or turned them in to an ATF office. While information about this new ban is still being released, I’m told the DOJ reevaluated the definition of bump stocks to now fall under the definition of “machine guns” as defined under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968. According to the DOJ, bump stock devices “allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.”

Upon learning of the ban, officials with the National Rifle Association (NRA) expressed their disappointment that the new rule doesn't include an amnesty, which would have allowed people who bought the attachments when they were still considered legal, to keep them. Gun Owners of America, a pro-Second Amendment group, promised litigation in response to the new ruling, which they called “arbitrary.”

Rep. Reick Tours INCubatoredu Classroom in Harvard’s District 5
I was pleased to have an opportunity last week to see the new INCubatoredu learning space at Harvard High School. A recent renovation (paid for entirely through private donations) transformed the former computer lab into a modern state-of-the-art workspace that will assist with teaching and learning in District 50. Students can now benefit from Smart Board technology, liquid-crystal display screens and new modular furniture in the new classroom space, which was built with 21st Century learning in mind.

This phenomenal entrepreneurial workshop teaches students how to bring a product idea through the entire business process from concept to financing and marketing. Throughout the course of the school year, student teams formulate a comprehensive business plan that is ultimately judged by a panel of adults, with projects scored on their viability as a product that could be successful in the marketplace. Much like the television program “Shark Tank,” this real world learning is preparing District 50 students for a bright future.

Project funding came primarily from donations from the Coleman Foundation, Domek Foundation, Foglia Family Foundation, Harvard State Bank, Harvard Community Education Fund and the McHenry County Economic Development Foundation.

Illinois Celebrates its 200th Birthday with Grand Bicentennial Party
On Monday, December 3, Illinois celebrities, dignitaries, veterans and citizens came together to celebrate Illinois’ Bicentennial Birthday at a party held on Chicago’s Navy Pier. Journalist Bill Kurtis hosted the program, which opened with Wayne Messmer singing the national anthem and performances from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and many notable Illinois entertainers. Governor Bruce Rauner and Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker were also on hand to welcome a crowd of more than 2,300 attendees.

Rauner noted the contributions of Bicentennial sponsors who made it possible to conduct a year’s worth of Bicentennial activities without spending taxpayer money. The key sponsors included Wintrust, which served as the Official Bank of the Bicentennial, Walgreens, Abbott, Boeing, BMO Harris, Illinois Office of Tourism, Comcast and United Airlines.

As part of the year-long celebration, Illinoisans were polled to determine the top 200 people, places and things in Illinois history. Every two weeks, people had an opportunity to cast on-line votes for the best movies, most inspiring leaders, greatest books, top businesses and much more. Click here to see the top 10 results in the 20 different categories.

Reick and Wilcox Partner on Successful Mobile Office Hours Event
State Senator Craig Wilcox and I held a very successful mobile office hours event on December 5 in Harvard. We had an opportunity to speak with a steady stream of constituents from the Harvard area as we brought our legislative offices to them in their community. These mobile office hours events offer us great opportunities to connect with the constituents we serve since our legislative districts are geographically very large. I schedule mobile office hours throughout the 18 communities that comprise the 63rd District and those events are always published on my web site (www.repstevenreick.com) and on my Facebook Page (State Representative Steve Reick).

National Day of Mourning Held for President George H.W. Bush
Earlier this month the world mourned the death of the 41st President of the United States, George Herbert Walker Bush. President Bush passed away at his Houston home on Friday, November 30th at the age of 94. Our 41st President’s flag-draped coffin lied in state at the U.S. Capitol from Monday, December 3 through Wednesday, December 5. The 5th was a National Day of Mourning and the date of President Bush’s State Funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Thousands of mourners attended the State Funeral, including the five surviving presidents: Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

The following day, funeral services were held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. After the service, President Bush’s coffin was transported via a special train that carried him to his burial plot near his presidential library, on the grounds of Texas A&M. He was buried next to his wife of 73 years, Barbara, and daughter Robin, who died in 1953 at the age of three of leukemia.

President George H.W. Bush was the last veteran of World War II to serve as president. Bush spent decades in public service, as a congressman, ambassador, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice-President for two terms under Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States from 1989-1993.

Health Care Fraud Prevention Initiatives Saves the State Over $218 Million
In its latest report, the Governor’s Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force showed that it successfully avoided or recouped $218 million in wasteful or fraudulent Medicaid spending. The effort resulted in 39 fraud convictions including $27.8 million in recoveries through criminal prosecutions, civil actions, and/or administrative referrals. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) saved or recouped an estimated $190 million in Fiscal Year 2018. The task force has saved the state more than $665 million since its inception in 2016.

The Governor’s Health Care Fraud Elimination Task Force was created in April of 2016. Chaired by Executive Inspector General Susan Haling, its purpose is to develop and coordinate a comprehensive plan to prevent and eliminate health care fraud, waste and abuse by deploying a cross-agency, data-driven approach. The Task Force specifically focuses on reducing wasteful spending and fraud in Medicaid, Worker’s Compensation, and State Employee Group Insurance.

In Fiscal Year 2017, members of the Task Force participated in the 2018 National Health Care Fraud Takedown, which was the largest health care fraud enforcement action in U.S. Department of Justice History. The Illinois State Police Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s participation led to the indictment of 14 people responsible for approximately $430,000 in fraudulent claims in the Medicaid Home Services Program. Task Force members also participated in the U.S. Attorney’s Office Health Care Fraud Task Force meetings to share information about data-driven approaches to fighting fraud.

Save the Date! Community Coffees to Begin in January of 2019
As an extension of my community outreach efforts, starting in January I’ll be hosting monthly community coffees throughout the 63rd District. My staff and I are currently planning our first event for Saturday, January 19 in McHenry from 8:30 until 10:00 AM. Mark your calendar now, and additional information will be shared in an early January newsletter.

Proposals Made to Increase State Gas Tax to Fund Infrastructure Needs
Illinois’ motor fuel tax on gasoline is 19 cents per gallon and hasn’t been raised since 1990. All revenue from the tax goes to the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. In Fiscal Year 2017, $1.35 billion in State revenue was collected (approximately the same amount as was raised in Fiscal Year 2016). The State continues to face many challenges in maintaining its transportation system, as we’ve seen first-hand with the recent Metra issues.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently proposed raising the gas tax by 20 to 30 cents per gallon to fund a new Capital program and infrastructure improvements across the State. That would more than double the current 19 cent per gallon State gas tax. IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn has also called for an increase in the State gas tax by at least 15 cents per gallon.

Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday, Dec. 12 did not dismiss the possibility of a gas tax hike to help pay for rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, but he also cautioned that a major capital construction program will not come quickly when his administration begins on January 14. Pritzker also said a new capital program and the revenue to pay for it is not something the lame-duck 100th General Assembly should pursue when we return to Springfield on January 7.

Merry Christmas!
As we end 2018 and prepare to usher in 2019, I hope you are able to spend quality time these next few weeks with family, friends and other loved ones. While this has indeed been a difficult year for the State of Illinois, we have very much for which we can be truly grateful. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy and prosperous new year!

Snow and wind that is common this time of year often makes travel difficult and dangerous. Please be safe in your holiday travels. You can use this link to access alerts about current road conditions that could make travel challenging.

The countdown to Christmas has begun! You can use this NORAD Santa tracker on Christmas Eve if you would like to follow Santa’s trip around the globe.