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.
With just four weeks remaining until the General Assembly’s spring session adjournment date of May 31, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) has signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor of three pieces of legislation that should help bolster chances of lawmakers leaving Springfield with a balanced budget on its way to the Governor.

This week Reick signed on as a leading House sponsor for House Joint Resolutions 49, 50 and 51. Each provides a legitimate revenue estimate that could be used as the starting point for the creation of a balanced budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. 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. “Step one requires us to come to agreement on the revenue side of the budget.”

Reick pointed out that any of the revenue estimates could be later amended to reflect an increase or decrease in expected tax revenue. “We obviously don’t know yet how taxes and fees might be adjusted for Fiscal Year 2018, but by law we can update or amend our revenue projection so it remains accurate,” Reick said. “We need to take this step without delay. Taxpayers sent us to Springfield to do this job and I’m hopeful that a majority of legislators can get behind one of these resolutions so we can complete our work.”

At this time, all three pieces of legislation are being held in Speaker Mike Madigan’s House Rules Committee and they have not been assigned to a substantive committee for a hearing.
Despite the fact that Illinois currently has over 300 entities already providing workers’ compensation policies in our state, House Democrats pushed through a terrible bill  last week that would put the State of Illinois in the workers’ compensation insurance businesses. HB 2622 would also put the taxpayers of Illinois on the hook for a $10 million loan for the creation of the new workers’ compensation insurance company.

The bill sponsor presented no business plan and no information for how they would seek paying clients, yet lawmakers were asked to blindly support the measure. Real workers’ compensation reform is needed in our state to curb fraud and abuse of the system. Illinois employers pay $2.23 per $100 of payroll, making us the most expensive state in the Midwest for worker’s compensation costs. 

State Representative Steve Reick spoke out against the bill during the floor debate. You can watch a portion of his comments here.
Another week in Springfield ended on Friday without progress on a bipartisan, balanced budget that will grow our economy and address the major fiscal issues facing our state. Rather than focusing on this most pressing need, House Democrats spent last week appeasing their base and attempting to distract taxpayers around the state from their refusal to pass a balanced budget. Unbelievably, last week alone House Democrats voted on legislation that, in total, would cost the state more than $295 million. That's $295 million that Illinois simply does not have.

When the House returns to Springfield on May 9, there will be less than a month for us to do our job and pass a balanced budget. I have made it clear to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle that I am ready to do this critical work; I’m ready to make the tough decisions that are needed so we can once and for all end the budget stalemate and provide taxpayers with some meaningful relief.

Reick Releases Results of 2017 Winter Survey
As your Representative in Springfield, your opinions are important to me. In February, my office mailed a legislative survey to approximately 35,000 District 63 households. An online version of the survey was also posted on my web site. I’m pleased to report that approximately 500 households participated. The results of the survey fell right in line with the types of comments I hear every day from the people I represent- that they’re fed up with the grid-lock and want lawmakers to cut the wasteful spending and approve a balanced budget.

The survey included 11 multiple choice questions and also provided participants with an opportunity to add additional feedback and suggestions through an open-ended question. When asked what they felt the most important issue currently affecting the State of Illinois was, 54% of the respondents pointed to budgets and deficits as the state’s largest problem, and an additional 21% said the need for pension reform was the state’s greatest challenge.

Respondents were split nearly 50-50 with regard to whether or not they had personally been affected by the budget impasse, and when asked how lawmakers should go about balancing the budget, the most popular response was to use a combination of budget cuts and new revenue (increased taxes). For that question a large number of respondents wrote in their own preferred method for budget management, with several asking legislators to take steps to eliminate all wasteful spending.

In recognition of the burden that unfunded mandates place on schools, 71% of those who participated in the survey said they would support a ban on unfunded mandates. In a question regarding the possible expansion of gambling in Illinois, again 71% said they were opposed to any further expansion of the gaming industry. On a question about a possible tax on services in Illinois, respondents were split almost down the middle, with a slight majority of respondents weighing in against a service industry tax.

I appreciate everyone who took the time to respond to the survey. Click here to view the full survey results.

University of Illinois Students Showcase Undergrad Projects at State Capitol
The 4th Annual University of Illinois Undergraduate Research Day was held at the state capitol on Tuesday, April 25, and bright students from the Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield campuses were in town to showcase their scholarly achievements and present their work to the public. I had a nice conversation with Katelyn Camardelle of McHenry, who shared a very impressive project.

From what I understand, students are selected for the Springfield showing in a competitive process by the Undergraduate Research Steering Committee. In all, each campus had 30 student representatives on site to explain their projects to lawmakers and visitors to the capitol.

Reick Welcomes Page for a Day to Springfield
On Monday, April 24, I welcomed Cole Hostasa to Springfield to serve as a Page for a Day. Cole turns 15 years old this week and he attends Marmion Academy in Aurora. He enjoys playing ice hockey and lacrosse and is a member of St. Peter’s Church.

I really enjoy spending time with District 63 students and families when they visit the State Capitol. If your family or school group will be visiting Springfield while the legislature is in session, please let my Springfield office know so that I can say hello and talk with you. If your child would like to view the House of Representatives in action from the House Floor, please let my Springfield office assist with scheduling a visit. I also have a family pass for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum that my constituents visiting Springfield may use. You may reach my Springfield office at (217) 782-1717.

Illinois Awarded $16 Million Grant to Fight Opioid Crisis
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) was recently awarded a federal grant for over $16 million to fight Illinois’ opioid crisis. The grant is funded through the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes an estimated $1 billion to states over the next two years to combat the nation’s opioid crisis. Grants will be administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration under the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant program.

The grant supports new treatment and recovery services, including the establishment of an Opioid Crisis Line and expanded medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder. The funding will also support opioid-related enhancements to the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), the launch of a statewide opiate awareness campaign, new pilot programs to provide medications to treat opioid use disorder, and pre-release and post-release services for individuals who are incarcerated in county jails. In addition, this award will support a widespread expansion of the training of first responders to an opioid overdose and the availability of the overdose reversal medication Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan.

Drug overdose deaths in this country nearly tripled from 1999 to 2014. Among the 47,055 drug overdose deaths that occurred in the U.S. in 2014, 28,647 (60.9 percent) involved an opioid. Like many states, Illinois has recently experienced a notable increase in drug overdose deaths that can primarily be attributed to an increase in opioid overdose deaths. Provisional death records data obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) show 2,278 drug-related overdose deaths during 2016. This represents a 44.3 percent increase over the 1,579 drug-related overdose deaths that were reported by IDPH for 2013. Through the Illinois Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council, The Illinois Department of Human Services and many other state agencies are coordinating the state’s efforts to develop a statewide opioid epidemic preparedness and prevention strategy.

Reick Meets With Newly Elected Officials
I recently extended my congratulations via individual letters to those who were elected to serve local units of government in this area in the April 4 Consolidated General Election. I’ll be working closely with many of these public officials, as we have overlapping and shared constituencies. During the first half of this week,

I had the pleasure of meeting with a few of the new public officials that will serve constituencies located within the 63rd House District. On Monday, I met with some of the new McHenry Township Trustees and the Township Clerk in my Woodstock Office. Then on Tuesday I had a nice conversation with Veronica Myers, the Dorr Township Assessor. Meetings with members of city councils and school boards are also planned for later in the week. I look forward to working with these and other elected officials as we strive to do good work on behalf of the residents we serve.

Reick Serves as Principal for a Day at Johnsburg High School
On Monday I had an opportunity to step into the shoes of school principals and experience a day in the life of a top school administrator. The “Principal for a Day” program is sponsored by the Illinois Principals Association. It was an enjoyable experience, and it provided me with a unique glimpse into the lives that principals live in their schools every day. I’m shown in this picture with Johnsburg High School Biology Teacher Chris Setzler, who explained the details of a DNA lab the students are conducting this week. 

According to Alison Maley, Director of Government Relations for the Illinois Principals Association, the “Principal for a Day” program is a statewide initiative to provide state and federal elected officials with an opportunity to observe, interact, and serve as an administrator in schools within their legislative districts. The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization that serves more than 4,500 educational leaders throughout Illinois. Legislators have been encouraged to participate in the Principal for a Day program since 2004.