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On the final day of the Spring Legislative Session in Springfield, State Rep. Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) spoke out against legislation that would place additional fees and restrictions on interior designers who are not currently members of the Illinois Interior Design Coalition or the American Society for Interior Designers. During his floor comments on SB 326, Reick said the bill was another example of the State taking it's heavy hand and creating a barrier to entry for people trying to do business in Illinois. You can watch Rep. Reick's floor debate on the bill here.
The end of our regular legislation session came and went on Wednesday with no agreement on a balanced budget. We remained on the floor of the House until late in the evening, hopeful that bipartisanship and reason would prevail. But as the night progressed, similar to the days that led up to May 31, most of the bills brought to us for votes were politically-motivated bills that mocked Republicans’ insistence that spending be limited to available revenues.

From day one Republicans have said they would put a proportionate number of votes on a tax increase if those increases were paired with reforms that grow jobs, build the Illinois economy, ease the property tax burden and root out waste and fraud in our systems. We have never wavered on that point. Democrats, on the other hand, have long said that tax increases are their preferred method for balancing a budget. Prior to May 31, just 60 votes were needed to approve a budget. There are 67 Democrats in the House. In the end, the majority party could not find 60 Democrat Representatives willing to put their name on a tax increase-only budget. When the clock turned to June 1, the threshold for budget approval increased to a three-fifths majority, or 71 affirmative votes. Approval of a budget just became significantly more difficult.

When it became clear in recent weeks that House Democrats could not move their preferred budget without Republican support, shouldn’t that have signaled that it’s time return to the negotiation table? Unfortunately, at the same time that many House Democrats were saying they couldn’t support the massive tax hike that went along with their budget, they continued with their refusal to work with Republicans on reforms that would add enough Republicans to a budget roll call. I can only liken it to a spoiled child who refuses to share on the playground. Rather than reach a compromise, they took their ball and went home. This marks the third year that lawmakers will be in continuous session over the summer I’m told to expect session one day a week during the month of June.

Rep Reick Welcomes 4-H Students to State Capitol
Last week the halls of the Capitol were filled with youngsters sporting green shirts in honor of 4-H programming in Illinois. I have stated publicly that one of the many things that makes McHenry County such a great place to live is the strong commitment of 4-H to our young people. Through 4-H, children are able to participate in a variety of programs that build a strong work ethic and vital problem solving skills. The value of our local 4-H programs contributes greatly to the success of our McHenry County Fair and I appreciate the 4-H participants who took the day to promote support of what I consider to be an incredibly useful program.

Huge Participation for Reick’s First Teletown Hall Meeting
Recently I partnered with Sate Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) for a Teletown Hall Meeting, and constituents from Illinois’ 63rd and 69th Legislative House Districts were invited to participate. We had an amazing level of engagement, with close to 6,000 initial participants and several hundred who remained on the phone line for most of the hour-long event. Between Representative Sosnowski and I, we took questions from approximately 20 callers, and those who did not have their own question answered during the live call were encouraged to leave a message with our offices at the conclusion of the event.

During the Teletown Hall Meeting, we asked two poll questions. Those results are as follows:
  • Do you believe that the state budget should be balanced by raising taxes only, cutting spending only, a combination of taxes and cuts, or something else?
    • Cut Spending Only 43%
    • Use a Combination of Taxes and Cuts 39%
    • Something Else 15%
    • Raise Taxes Only 3%
  • In your estimation, what do you believe should be the highest priority for the State when it comes to crafting a state budget?
    • Economic Development and Job Retention 42%
    • Health Care and Human Services 26%
    • Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice 15%
    • Education 11%
    • Infrastructure and Transportation 6%
I thank all who participated in my first Teletown Hall Meeting, and hope they found the information to be helpful.

Reick Passes Two Bills During First Legislative Session
While gridlock was constant on major issues in the State, there were opportunities for bipartisanship on individual member initiatives. This year I was pleased to pass one House Bill and one Senate Bill. Both now have been forwarded to Governor Bruce Rauner for his signatures. My 2017 bills that will soon be Public Acts include:

HB 2449: Provides additional protections for military personnel who are called to relocate in the course of their active duty, by allowing servicemen and women to terminate or suspend certain contractual services, like Internet services, television and cable services, athletic club or gym memberships or satellite radio services, without penalty.

SB 1478: Amends the Radiation Protection Act of 1990 by abolishing the Radiologic Technologist Accreditation Advisory Board (RTAAB). The board was created to assist the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in ensuring that technologists who apply radiation to patients are qualified to perform the procedures safely and effectively, but due to fiscal and staffing realities, the group had not met since 2010.

Lawmakers Recognize Importance of Foster Care System at State Rally
I recently joined many of my colleagues for a rally in the Capitol Rotunda as we recognized Foster Care Awareness Month in Illinois. We were joined by Susan McConnell from an organization called “Let It Be Us” and Director George Sheldon from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for a showing of support for youth in care in Illinois.

Reick Schedules Senior Fair for July 27
Please mark your calendars and join me on Thursday, July 27 for my free Senior Fair, which will be held from 10:00 AM until noon at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 401 St. John’s Road in Woodstock. I will be bringing together a variety of state, county and local government agencies that will be able to provide helpful guides, literature and other resources. My knowledgeable staff will also be available to assist constituents with their state government concerns. Those who attend will be encouraged to sign in for a chance to win a door prize. Refreshments will be served. For more information about this and other upcoming events, please call my local office at (815) 880-5340.
On Tuesday, House Democrats pushed through damaging legislation that would increase the Illinois minimum wage to $15.00 per hour over the next four years. SB 81 would destroy small business owners and negatively impact our jobs climate statewide. I was a very vocal NO vote on this terrible bill and Governor Rauner has promised a swift veto. You can watch my floor debate on SB 81 here.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) has passed clean-up legislation in the Illinois House that removes an inactive advisory board from the state statutes.

SB 1478 amends the Radiation Protection Act of 1990 by abolishing the Radiologic Technologist Accreditation Advisory Board (RTAAB). “This advisory board was created to assist the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in ensuring that technologists who apply radiation to patients are qualified to perform the procedures safely and effectively,” said Reick. “But due to fiscal and staffing realities, this group has not been fully utilized for quite some time. In fact, they have not met since 2010.”

The vote to dissolve the RTAAB was unanimous in the House. It previously also received unanimous support in the Illinois Senate, where State Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) sponsored the bill. With House and Senate approval complete, SB 1478 now moves to Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk for his signature.
State Representatives Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) welcomed a special group of STEM students to Springfield to congratulate them for setting a new world record. The fourteen students from Nippersink Middle School and Richmond Burton High School spent nearly two years working on “Project Blackbird” to set the world record for the highest remote control airplane flight.

“These students have spent countless hours developing their skills in the sciences of aerodynamics, aeronautics, electoral theory, meteorology and system integration to accomplish this great feat,” said Wheeler. “To build their own unmanned aircraft and set a new world record by flying it more than 70,000 feet is truly incredible. Congratulations to these inspiring students. I’m sure they will all go on to accomplish even more amazing things in the future.”

“Project Blackbird” was part of the Aerospace STEM Challenge program, designed to help students advance in the sciences as part of the Spaceport America and STEM+C flight series. After nearly two years of developing their skills, the students of “Project Blackbird” traveled to Spaceport America in New Mexico to attempt to set the new world record for the highest RC airplane flight. On April 29, 2017, the student built unmanned aircraft reached an altitude of 70,438 feet, setting a new world record for the highest remote control airplane flight ever.

“What these students have accomplished is extraordinary,” said Reick. Reick also offered a few words on continuing encouragement to the students, “No matter how high you’ve already flown, I hope that you never stop striving to fly higher.”

In addition to congratulating the students on the House floor, Wheeler and Reick had previously passed House Resolution 302 to recognize the students. To view that resolution, visit http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=HR&DocNum=302&GAID=14&SessionID=91&LegID=106665.

To learn more about “Project Blackbird” and the work of these fourteen inspiring students, visit https://sites.google.com/site/rftstars7/spring-2016-event.
Hoping to maximize chances of a balanced budget being approved prior to the General Assembly’s adjournment date of May 31, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) joined several House Republican colleagues this week in sending a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, calling on her to use the power of her office to force legislators to adopt a revenue estimate prior to the filing and passage of any spending bills for FY 2018. Forty members of the House Republican Caucus signed the letter.

The letter cites several prior court rulings and instances which set precedent for the Attorney General to intervene to ensure the Illinois Constitution is upheld. Both the Constitution and state law require the General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate on which to base a balanced budget for the forthcoming fiscal year, an action which legislators have failed to take in either of the past two years and haven’t yet done for the coming fiscal year.

“Budget implementation is a multi-step process, and step one requires the House and Senate to come to agreement on a revenue estimate,” said Reick. “With just 12 days remaining until the adjournment date set forth in the Illinois Constitution, the time for shenanigans and political games is long past. We must approve a revenue estimate without delay, and definitely before any spending bills for FY 2018 are considered.”

Reick is a Chief Co-Sponsor of House Joint Resolutions 49, 50 and 51, which provide three separate options for legitimate revenue estimate that could be used as the starting point for the creation of a balanced budget. HJR 49 uses the non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) FY2018 revenue estimate of $31.147 billion, HJR 50 uses the FY2018 estimate published by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) of $31.476 billion, and HJR 51 utilizes an average of the COGFA and GOMB revenue estimates, or $31.312 billion, as the starting point for the creation of the FY2018 budget.

“We have a legal obligation under Article VIII, Section two of the Illinois Constitution to approve a revenue estimate so we can fulfil our duty of creating a balanced budget," said Reick. “Further delays in the process are unacceptable and put us at great risk for going into a third year without a budget. We need to get this job done.”

Lawmakers return to Springfield on Monday, May 22 and are scheduled to be in session all but one day through May 31.
With only two weeks remaining in the General Assembly’s spring session, lawmakers in the House are now reviewing Senate Bills that have now moved over to the House for consideration. Similarly, members of the Senate are deliberating on House Bills that were approved prior to our April 28 deadline. Since the first step for all bills is a thorough vetting before a substantive committee, right now we are spending most of our time hearing bills at the committee level.

We still have not reached agreement on a balanced budget, so I was shocked last week on Wednesday when it was announced that the Friday, May 12 scheduled session day would be canceled. With the House, Senate and Governor all in Springfield, we should have remained at the Capitol. One of my freshman colleagues, Representative Tony McCombie of Savanna, IL, urged action on a balanced budget during an excellent floor speech. I agree with Tony 100%. If you would like to hear her speech, click here. We’re in Springfield again this week and as of this writing we are scheduled to be in session until Friday afternoon. Let’s hope Speaker Madigan doesn’t cancel any more session days. We have a job to do and we need to stay in Springfield until we get it done.

Reick Welcomes Family of Cindy Harris to Springfield for Passage of Honorary Resolution
One of the many things that makes McHenry County such a great place to live is the strong commitment of 4-H to our young people. 4-H is a presence throughout the county, and it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t have the best county fair in the state without the tremendous work done by the McHenry County 4-H.

On May 15, I welcomed the family of Cindy Harris to Springfield so they could be in attendance as the House of Representatives paid tribute to a tremendous community volunteer. For over 35 years, Cindy Harris gave freely of her time and talents to McHenry County 4-H, as a member, club leader and volunteer coordinator. She exemplified all the best of volunteerism and community service, and was the embodiment of 4-H in every aspect as she personified its motto: “To make the best better.” In recognition of her devotion to 4-H programs, he was inducted into the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame in 2012.

Cindy passed away on February 11 of this year, but the work she did will continue through those that she helped as they sought their own path to service. She will live on through those she served. You can read the honorary resolution here, and you can watch my floor comments on HR 292 here.

Reick Attempts to Jump-Start Budget Process by Co-Sponsoring Three Revenue Estimate Resolutions
Nothing is more important in Springfield right now than the adoption of a full and balanced budget. Budget implementation is a multi-step process, and step one involves lawmakers coming to agreement on a revenue estimate. To that end, last week I signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor of three pieces of legislation that provide revenue estimates that can be used as the starting point for the creation of a full budget.

The Illinois Constitution is clear; the responsibility for crafting and adopting a budget rests with the General Assembly, and that process begins with the approval of a revenue estimate that tells us how much money we have to spend. HJR 49 uses the non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) FY2018 revenue estimate of $31.147 billion, HJR 50 uses the FY2018 estimate published by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) of $31.476 billion, and HJR 51 utilizes an average of the COGFA and GOMB revenue estimates, or $31.312 billion, as the starting point for the creation of the FY2018 budget. Our schools, colleges and service agencies are relying on legislators to do their jobs and get a balanced budget put in place prior to our scheduled adjournment date of May 31. We need to take this first step without delay.

Hundreds of Elementary Students Visit Springfield for TECH Day 2017
On Tuesday, May 9, hundreds of students from across the state spent the day in Springfield for TECH Day 2017, where they showcased projects that illustrate the critical role technology plays in today’s educational environment. I had an opportunity to view displays and visit with students from a few schools located in Illinois’ 63rd District. In this photo, I’m shown with Jennifer Bigler and students from her class at Prairiewood Elementary School in Woodstock.

Technology is a vital tool that helps prepare students to succeed in the digital world that awaits them when they enter the work force as adults, and the projects on display at the Capitol last Tuesday offered students throughout the state an opportunity to demonstrate innovative uses of technology in their schools. It was clear from the several booths I visited that technology expands the boundaries of classroom learning, while allowing students to refine collaboration and critical thinking skills. I was truly impressed with the quality of the work on display.

Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) to be Expanded to Cover all Schools
As research evidence expands to show the importance of early education on adult outcomes, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is rolling out implementation of the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) program. The ISBE received approval for the administrative rules that will implement the KIDS expansion from a General Assembly rules coordination panel on Tuesday, May 9. This clears the way for the KIDS rules to become part of Illinois administrative law.

Under the KIDS program, early childhood educators are trained to observe, assess, document, and report on children’s development, using objective measuring sticks. Much of the training is done by taxpayer-friendly webinars. The goal of the KIDS program will be to collect data for all kindergartners to measure their readiness to start the educational process. Preschools, home child care centers, Head Start centers, family homes, and every other provider of life training for kindergartners are urged to participate in the KIDS assessment process, with the focus being on group-preschool care settings and the professionals who staff them. The KIDS rules were developed with continuing advice and input from First Lady Diana Rauner, a leading advocate of early childhood education.