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Lawmakers Work to Gain Committee Approval of Bills Prior to March 31 Deadline
With just two weeks remaining for House members to move their bills out of a substantive committee, last week we spent most of our time attending committee meetings where we vetted hundreds of bills. We are now also beginning to take votes on the House floor on the initiatives that have successfully cleared a committee. Most of our time will continue to be spent in committees through the end of the month, and during the first two weeks of April we will be taking final action on House Bills on the floor.

Reick to Serve on New Education Funding Task Force
Changing the education funding formula in a way that maximizes students’ opportunities for success while easing the current over-reliance on property taxes is one of my highest priorities as a lawmaker. Because I have been outspoken in this area, I was recently selected to serve alongside 12 other House Republicans and 13 House Democrats on a new Education Funding Task Force in Springfield. The task force will be led by Democrat Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) and Republican State Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley). As a bipartisan group, we will review the findings of Governor Rauner’s 2016 bipartisan, bicameral Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, and work toward a legislative solution to provide, once and for all, a revamped funding formula that provides a more equitable and adequately funded system for educating all students.

It is important to me that this new group pick up where the Governor’s commission left off and not re-hash issues that have been discussed over and over again before previous education funding task forces. Our goal is to move forward; to use the results of the Governor’s commission as our starting point with an ultimate goal of bringing forward a legislative solution this session year. The task force held its first meeting last week, and we met again this morning. We will continue to meet throughout the spring session.

The school superintendents who represent schools located within the 63rd District are aware of my appointment to this commission, and I have asked them all to provide input and ideas.

Legislation to Increase and Standardize Requirements for Elected Official Pensions Clears Committee
I hear regularly from constituents who are taxed to their limit and looking for relief. This year I am a Chief Co-Sponsor of HB 291, which seeks to increase the number of hours per year an elected official must work to become eligible for a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). Today, state law only requires an elected official to work 600 hours per year to become pension-eligible, but the new rule would require 1,000 hours per year for eligibility. The bill passed unanimously out of the House Personnel & Pensions Committee last Thursday.

IMRF rules currently require each unit of local government certify the elected positions which meet the hour threshold biannually. HB 291 would set a uniform standard across the state that all eligible elected positions work 1,000 hours. HB 291 will now move to the floor of the House for full consideration and a vote.

Still Time to Take Reick Legislative Survey
My first legislative survey was mailed to households in the 63rd District a few weeks ago and my office is receiving a good response. Still, if I am to properly represent the priorities of those who live in northern McHenry County, I am hoping to have even greater participation. In addition to the paper version that should have arrived in your mailbox, the survey can also be found at http://www.ilhousegop.org/2017reick. The survey includes 11 multiple choice questions and an open response area where additional concerns can be shared. I will read every survey that is returned or submitted and will collect responses through March 31.

House Republicans Promote Free Solution to Web Site Translation Issue
Last week we spent over a half hour debating a bill on the House floor that would have authorized an expenditure of about $1.5 million to translate portions of the www.ilga.gov web site into Spanish. My colleague State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), spoke up during the debate and asked why we would spend $1.5 million in taxpayer funds to address an issue when free Internet software is available that would produce a more effective and inclusive result. Rep. Wheeler pointed to Google Translator, an Internet tool that can translate any web-based text into several different languages at the click of a button. Best of all, this solution is free; it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime. Anyone with access to the Internet can now find a translated version of www.ilga.gov in any of the most common languages spoken in Illinois simply by clicking on the links below:

Spanish Español
Arabic عربي
Hindi हिन्दी
Chinese (Simplified) 中文简体
Chinese (Traditional) 中文繁體
Japanese 日本語
Korean 한국어
Russian Русский
French Français
German Deutsch
Italian Italiano
Polish Polski
Greek Ελληνικά

The Illinois General Assembly website contains legislator profiles, full text of all legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and State Senate, live audio and video feeds of legislative session and committee hearings; and a wide variety of other legislative information and support services.

House Bills Begin to Move to the Senate
Bills that have been successful at the House Committee level and on the House floor are beginning to arrive in the Illinois Senate for consideration. Several initiatives for which I serve as a co-sponsor have already made their way across the hall to be considered by our colleagues in the Senate. Some of those bills include:

  • HB 222: This legislation will save our institutions of higher learning money. Whereas today all printed materials for our colleges and universities must be done with soybean oil-based ink, this bill allows the use of a less expensive alternative. The law does not apply to digital printing services. The University of Illinois, Western Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, Illinois State University, Governor’s State University, the Sierra Club of Illinois and the Illinois Environmental Council have all weighed in as being in favor of HB 222.
  • HB 643: This taxpayer protection bill would eliminate pay raises for Illinois lawmakers for the upcoming fiscal year. It would prohibit any raise or cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the time period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. In addition, mileage reimbursement amounts for members of the House and Senate would be frozen at the FY 2017 level.
  • HB 1797: This is a technical bill brought forward by the International Port District to address audit findings related to a liability tied to a loan it received back in 1979. The loan was not repaid because profitability levels never reached a point where repayment of the loan could begin. This causes a problem for the port district when they want to issue bonds for other development projects. The cost of debt is higher for them due to the large outstanding balance. 
As your voice in Springfield, I’m working to make our state and our communities the best they can be. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to invite me to speak to a group in the 63rd District, please contact my office at (815) 880-5340 or go to www.repstevenreick.com and click the contact button.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) has been selected to serve on the 100th General Assembly House Education Task Force.

Reick, vocal proponent of changing the education funding formula in a way that maximizes students’ opportunities for success while easing the current over-reliance on property taxes, will serve alongside 12 other House Republicans and 13 House Democrats. The task force will be led by Democrat Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) and State Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley). As a bipartisan group, the lawmakers will review the findings of Governor Rauner’s 2016 bipartisan, bicameral Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, and work toward a legislative solution to provide, once and for all, a revamped funding formula that provides a more equitable and adequately funded system for educating all students.

“It is important to me that this new group pick up where the Governor’s commission left off and not re-hash issues that have been discussed over and over again before previous education funding task forces,” said Reick. “Our goal is to move forward; to use the results of the Governor’s commission as our starting point with an ultimate goal of bringing forward a legislative solution this session year.”

The task force held its first meeting this morning, where they heard from two panels of experts. The group will continue to meet throughout the spring session. “Reducing School District reliance on property taxes was a key take-away from the Governor’s commission report, and any ultimate change to the formula must include that component,” Reick said.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) is a leading House Sponsor of legislation that eliminates pay raises for Illinois lawmakers for the upcoming fiscal year.

HB 3790, which has been assigned to the House Executive Committee for a hearing, would prohibit any raise or cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the time period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. In addition, mileage reimbursement amounts for members of the House and Senate would be frozen at the FY 2017 level.

“As lawmakers struggle with Illinois’ immense financial pressures, we need to lead by example by not adding to increased costs,” said Reick. “I am more than willing to forego a pay increase or cost-of-living adjustment to send a message that we take the state’s financial woes very seriously and want to be part of the solution.”

The current base salary for a State Representative is $67,836.
Winter Survey Offers Residents Opportunity to Weigh In on Key State Issues
My first legislative survey was recently mailed to households in the 63rd District, and I’m already receiving responses. In addition to the paper format, the survey can also be found at http://www.ilhousegop.org/2017reick. It’s no secret that difficult votes are coming, and I need to have a solid understanding of my constituents’ priorities and expectations. The survey includes 11 multiple choice questions and an open response area where additional concerns can be shared. I will read every survey that is returned or submitted, and can’t wait to see the final results. Survey responses will be accepted through April 15 and results will be published in late April or early May. If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please use the link above and let me know how you feel about Illinois’ most pressing issues.

Rep. Steve Reick Urges House Colleagues to Legislate without Fear of Losing the Next Election
As new lawmakers, we’re told the best way to learn the legislative process is by watching veteran legislators navigate bills through committees and present them on the House floor. We’re told to do much more listening than speaking. I broke “radio silence” last week, and shared with my colleagues my observations regarding the first several weeks of session. In short, I urged all Representatives- Republican and Democrat- to start legislating without fear of losing their next election.

I’ve been disappointed by some of the conduct shown on the floor of the House during the first several weeks this year. I sat back in disbelief a few weeks ago when an hour was spent railing against the new President’s federal immigration policy, an issue over which Illinois legislators have no authority. I also was disappointed on another occasion when the Governor was disrespected by some on the Democrat side of the aisle as he entered the House Chamber to present his budget address. That display by a few reflected upon us all, and did nothing but reinforce our reputation as an unserious body which is allowing our state to slouch toward insolvency.

Illinois has 118 House members who represent very diverse constituencies, and in addition to our district-specific initiatives, I believe we were all were sent to Springfield to do three fundamental things:

1. Find a way to fund education so that all children have the best opportunities for success in a manner that relieves the property tax burden

2. Enact constitutionally-sound pension reform

3. Approve a balanced budget

There are 118 of us in the House, and if enough of us choose to legislate without the fear of losing the next election, we can make those things happen. You may watch my floor comments here.

Reick Makes Legislative Visit to Harvard Senior Center
Last week I had a very enjoyable visit with about 20 seniors at the Harvard Senior Center. I provided a very brief update about the budget impasse and other issues affecting the State of Illinois, but spent most of the time answering questions from a very intelligent and engaged group of constituents. It was a wonderful event and I intend to return to the center before the end of the spring session to provide another update.

Reick 2017 Legislative Agenda Features Tax Code Reforms
I have worked for more than 35 years as a tax and real estate attorney. During this time I have dealt with provisions in Illinois law that I believe are overly burdensome for Illinois residents and families and hope that my experience can facilitate some much-needed reforms that will provide some real tax relief while also simplifying processes for taxpayers.

This year I filed a comprehensive legislative agenda that touches on many areas of improvement for our state, but a specific focus has been placed on fixing areas of the tax code that I believe are sorely in need of reform. Some of those bills include:
  • HB 380: Seeks to amend the Illinois Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Act by bringing Illinois law in line with processes used by the other 49 states in the nation. Generally speaking, the changes I’m proposing would lower the amount of death taxes owed for most Illinoisans.
  • HB 2576: Would add a county designation to all individual income tax forms. This simple change could provide a great deal of benefit for those who study the movement of Illinoisans from county to county within the state.
  • HB 3013: Would provide property tax relief to Illinoisans over the age of 65 who have a federal adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less. 
Other bills included in my 2017 agenda include:
  • HB 376: Based on levy issues tied to our own Valley Hi Nursing Home, this bill would provide county board members with the authority to suspend a tax line levy amount for nursing home purposes, so that surplus funds can be spent down with no future levying penalty.
  • HB 377: Protects business owners who lawfully allow concealed carry on their property by prohibiting any municipality from suspending, revoking or refusing to renew a business license for a business that allows concealed carry.
  • HB 378: Improves transparency and accountability by requiring the General Assembly to adopt a joint House-Senate resolution affirming that a rule associated with a new law represents an unfunded mandate handed down to local taxing districts.
  • HB 379: Would require each public university in Illinois to submit to the Board of Higher Education a study of the costs of making available online four of the university's most popular degree programs. 
  • HB 3708: Adjusts the notification period required for written notice to be mailed to any teacher who is losing their job due to a school board decision to decrease the number of teachers employed by a district.
In addition to serving as the Chief Sponsor for these bills, I have signed on as a Chief co-sponsor or as a co-sponsor of 22 additional bills. As is the case for every legislator, not all of my bills will reach the House floor for full consideration. But I am committed to working in a bipartisan fashion to move as many of my bills to the floor as possible this year.

Reick Tapped to Serve on Influential Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education Committee
I have always been outspoken about the need to fundamentally change how we fund education in Illinois. I’m happy to report that for my first term in Springfield I’ll be serving on the influential Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education Committee. This committee has a direct impact on critical areas of state spending and I look forward to having a role in shaping the area of the budget that deals exclusively with funds that will be allocated for K-12 Education. With education having such a huge impact on local property taxes, it’s obvious that we have to do something to bend the cost curve of education downward by completely revising the way we pay for it.

In addition to the Appropriations Committee for K-12 Education, I’ll also be serving on the Elementary & Secondary Education: Curriculum and Policies Committee. This is already proving to be an interesting assignment, as the Republicans and Democrats who serve on this committee vet bills that seek to make changes to the educational curriculum delivered to students. Unfunded mandates and the toll they take on taxpayers is an issue that is very important to the taxpayers of District 63, so I am pleased to have an opportunity to weigh in on these issues as bills make their way through the committee hearing process. My other committee assignments for the 100th General Assembly include the Labor Committee, the Economic Justice Committee, and the Restorative Justice Committee.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) invites all residents of Illinois’ 63rd House District to complete his 2017 Winter Survey. The survey was recently mailed to households in the district, and it can also be accessed at http://www.ilhousegop.org/2017reick.

“These survey results will be a valuable tool as I represent the issues and priorities of the 63rd District in Springfield,” said Reick. “Difficult votes are coming, and I want to be sure I have a solid understanding of my constituents’ expectations.”

The survey includes 11 multiple choice questions and an open response area where additional concerns can be shared. Participants will also be offered an opportunity to subscribe to an E-newsletter that will include updates on legislation and other issues affecting McHenry County and the State of Illinois.

“I encourage all residents to take a few minutes to complete my survey,” Reick said. “I will read every one of them, and can’t wait to see the results.”

Survey responses will be accepted through April 15 and results will be published in late April or early May.
The City of Marengo’s annual Festival of the Sugar Maples kicks off this weekend on Saturday March 4. Guests are invited to attend the celebration from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM on March 4-5 and March 11-12 at the Coral Woods Conservation Area, 7400 Somerset, in Marengo. The free festival features guided tours that include a half-mile hike and maple syrup tasting.

“This is a popular community festival that allows people from all over the area to learn how maple syrup is made and collected and get a taste of famous Marengo maple syrup,” said State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock).

In addition, a pancake breakfast will take place on Sunday March 5 and Sunday March 12 from 7:00 AM until noon on both days at Smithwood Bar & BBQ in nearby Union. The cost for the pancake breakfast is $6 for adults and $3 for children. Additional information about this festival is available at mccdistrict.org, or at (815) 338-6223.