During a recent visit to Harvard High School, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) had an opportunity to do an interview with Harvard Community Unit School District 50 Superintendent Dr. Corey Tafoya. As part of the District’s “Hanging with Harmilda” video series, Rep. Reick talks about the new evidence-based school funding model adopted by the General Assembly this year, and what it means for the students who attend District 50 schools. Click here to watch the video clip.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) is asking McHenry County residents to join him in requesting a gubernatorial veto of legislation that would substantially increase the powers granted to the McHenry County Board Chairman.

Reick is hosting an online petition drive to gather signatures in opposition to HB 171. The petition specifically asks Governor Rauner to veto the legislation, which was approved earlier this month and now sits on his desk. “A few years ago the voters of McHenry County voted down by a 2:1 margin an effort to increase the powers of the leader of the McHenry County Board,” said Reick. “The electorate was clear in their mandate. They do not want an all-powerful County Board Chairman.”

According to Reick, in a subsequent election, voters approved a measure to allow for a popularly-elected County Board Chairman with limited authority and power. “When voters weigh in on an important measure at the ballot box, that should mean something,” Reick said. “The signing of HB 171 would directly circumvent the expressed will of the people who resoundingly said ‘no’ to a board leader with a great deal of individual power. My hope is that we will flood the Governor’s office with signatures from those who want him to respect voter intent and veto the bill.”

Shortly after the bill’s passage, Reick sent a letter to Governor Rauner asking him to veto HB 171. “There is strength in numbers,” Reick added. “A large showing of support for a veto could go far in influencing his final decision.”

Click here to sign the petition.
This Tuesday, November 28 is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving to worthwhile charitable organizations across the state, nation and globe. Celebrated annually on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday is a coordinated event that promotes the act of charitable giving during the holidays. Whether you like to donate to large organizations or prefer to channel your donation dollars locally, Giving Tuesday allows us all an opportunity to participate in holiday and end-of-the-year giving.

Click here to be directed to a database of local organizations and non-profits.
This week the Governor signed legislation that provides for a tax credit worth up to $750 for property owners in 18 Illinois counties where flood damages were sustained in July.

SB 403 creates a natural disaster credit that eligible, affected property owners may apply to their 2017 Illinois income taxes. Counties eligible for the credit include Cook, Lake, Kane, McHenry, Alexander, Clinton, Jackson, Marshall, Union, Woodford, Carroll, Henry, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Rock Island, Stephenson and Whiteside — all of which were declared state disaster areas by the governor last summer.

Qualified properties include a taxpayer’s principle residence or land owned by a small business, but not a rental or leasing business. The allowable income tax credit will be the lesser of $750 or the deduction allowed under the Internal Revenue Code for each taxpayer who owns qualified property in a county declared a state disaster area.

The bill provides that township assessors shall issue eligibility certificates for appropriately requesting property owners, and that assessors shall certify to the Illinois Department of Revenue listings of flood-damaged properties.

The fiscal impact to the state is estimated at $4.6 million, based on damages previously reported to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.
State Representative Steve Reick (R- Woodstock) joined Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, IL Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah and a panel of experts on Thursday for a public hearing about the opioid crisis that claimed the lives of nearly 2,000 Illinoisans last year. The hearing, which is part of the State Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force’s listening tour, took place at the McHenry County Government Building in Woodstock.

“The opioid epidemic knows no neighborhood, no color, and no class,” said Sanguinetti. “It is not confined to alleys in urban settings, nor isolated in rural communities.”

Three panels of local individuals representing the health care industry, law enforcement and local responders, spoke to the panel and a crowded room of citizens who came to listen or testify. “The information shared at this meeting was extremely valuable,” said Reick. “The heartfelt testimony shared today helped to humanize the issue of opioid abuse in a way that simply can’t be accomplished through studying statistics.”

According to Reick, one of the most startling pieces of testimony shared on Thursday came from Sergeant Michael Muraski of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, who reported that whereas ten years ago opioid or heroin incidents represented only 5% to 10% of their caseload, today about 75% of the drug cases involve opioids or heroin. “That testimony really drives home the devastating affects these drugs are having on our communities and families,” Reick said.

Reick also pointed to personal testimony provided by Christopher Reed, a recovering opioid addict who, upon recovery, founded New Directions Addiction Recovery Services and The Other Side, a gathering place for recovering addicts which includes a “sober bar.”

The Woodstock opioid crisis hearing was the sixth field hearing held to gather information and build partnerships throughout Illinois. The State’s official Opioid Action Plan includes steps to reduce the anticipated number of opioid-related deaths by one-third over the next three years. The plan identifies three areas of focus: prevention, treatment/recovery, and response. Click here to access the plan.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved the State of Illinois’ request for assistance to help people and businesses in northeastern Illinois recover from severe storms and floods that occurred July 11-27. Through the SBA approval, Illinois property and business owners in Lake, McHenry and Cook Counties are eligible to apply for low-interest, long-term loans.

To be eligible for an SBA declaration, at least 25 homes and/or businesses in a county must sustain major, uninsured losses of 40 percent or more. A damage assessment conducted in August identified 233 homes and 21 businesses in Lake County alone that sustained major damages and had uninsured losses.

Information about the disaster loan program and application deadlines is available on the SBA’s website at http://www.sba.gov/disaster.
Those who live in McHenry County may recall that a few years ago voters soundly rejected a ballot referendum question to change the operational structure of the McHenry County Board to a “County Executive” form of government. Voters said in a very loud voice that they did not want an all-powerful leader of the county board. Two thirds of all who voted said "no" to the County Executive proposal.

Shortly after the failure of that referendum, the county board placed a question before voters about whether or not the county board chairman should be popularly elected by county voters rather than by the 24 sitting county board members. Whereas the County Executive form of government would have granted a great deal of power to the individual elected to the post, McHenry County residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of a popularly-elected county board chairman with limited authority and power.

Last week in Springfield, lawmakers narrowly approved HB 171, a measure that would increase the power of the County Board Chairman in a few select Illinois counties, including McHenry County. I spoke out against the bill when it was debated, saying it would directly circumvent the expressed will of the people who resoundingly said “no” to a board leader with a great deal of individual power. 

This week I sent this letter to Governor Bruce Rauner and asked him to veto HB 171. 

Please join me in contacting the Governor and letting him know that the people of McHenry County have already voted down many of the provisions that are included in HB 171 and that he should respect voter intent and veto the bill.

Click here to access a web page where you can send a comment.

Or, you may call the Governor’s office at (217) 782-0244 (Springfield), or (312) 814-2121 (Chicago).

When voters weigh in on a measure at the ballot box, that should mean something. Please help me stop this attempt to do an end-run around the voters of McHenry County, and ask the Governor to please veto HB 171.
Fall Veto Session Concludes with Action Taken on Several Vetoed House and Senate Bills
Lawmakers were in Springfield last week for the final days of the 2017 fall veto session. Of the bills that received a partial or full veto by the Governor during the spring legislative session, more than a dozen were successfully overridden and are now Illinois law. I am pleased to report that attempts to override a vetoed bill that prohibited “right to work” zones in Illinois failed. The bill required 71 votes for an override, and on two separate attempts the bill sponsor came up short.

Legislators will spend the next few months in their home districts tending to the needs of local constituents. Members of the House of Representatives report back to Springfield on January 23, and Senators will return on January 30 for the 2018 regular session.

General Assembly Sends Comprehensive Sexual Harassment Prevention Legislation to Governor
Members of the House and Senate approved a comprehensive piece of legislation last week that seeks to address the culture of sexual harassment in Springfield. SB 402 includes a mandate for annual sexual harassment training sessions for State Constitutional offices, state employees, lawmakers and lobbyists. The bill also includes a provision brought forward by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, which would create a telephone hotline for persons seeking relief in cases of sexual harassment. Examples of help that the hotline could provide could include assistance in filing a sexual harassment complaint, referral of a victim to counseling, or referral of a victim to protective services. House members received their training on November 8 and Senators received their training on November 9.

SB 402 was part of a package of sexual harassment reforms passed in the wake of allegations of misconduct at the Capitol. Other bills that seek to change the culture in Springfield include HJR 83, a resolution that condemns the culture of sexual harassment and calls on all lawmakers to work together to change the culture, and HR 687, which creates a task force on sexual discrimination and harassment.

Legislative Inspector General Appointed
The Legislative Ethics Commission, a bipartisan working group within the Illinois General Assembly, has appointed Julie Porter as a special legislative inspector general. A former federal prosecutor in Chicago, Porter will play a key role in the General Assembly’s internal disciplinary process for members and staff. The appointment came in the wake of a nationwide inquiry into sexual harassment in American workplaces.

Reports of sexual harassment can be made on a confidential basis to the Legislative Ethics Commission. With approval of the Commission, the special legislative inspector general (LIG) will examine the reports. If a complaint appears to be valid, the LIG may conduct further inquiries, and may initiate a remediation process. In some situations, the remediation process may require a referral of a specific report and case to law enforcement.

Rep. Reick to Host Mobile Office Hours in Richmond on Tuesday, November 14
My fall mobile offices tour will continue next week with an event scheduled on Tuesday, November 14 at the Nippersink District Library in Richmond from 10:00 AM until 12:00 noon. The event is part of a series of mobile office hours events meant to provide residents of the 63rd Legislative House District with easy access to their elected Springfield representative. The 63rd District includes all or portions of 14 different municipalities, so once or twice each month my legislative assistant and I travel to another District 63 community so the people I represent in Springfield can come and share their concerns and ideas at a location that is convenient for them. No appointment is needed. Future mobile office hours dates and locations will be posted on my web site at www.repstevenreick.com

District 63 Residents Invited to Provide Testimony on Opioid Crisis at Local Hearing
The opioid crisis is a significant problem that is destroying too many families in Illinois. Residents of the 63rd District are invited to join members of the State’s Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force, including Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah, for a public hearing that will be held Thursday, November 16 at the McHenry County Offices in Woodstock. The State of Illinois Opioid Action Plan will be shared, and citizens will be offered an opportunity to share feedback on the plan and discuss next steps for addressing this crisis. The hearing will take place from 1:00 – 3:00 PM at the County offices, located at 667 Ware Road. The meeting will be held in the upstairs conference room. If you would like to attend this event, RSVPs are appreciated, but not required. To RSVP please contact Emma Ciavarella at Emma.Ciavarella@illinois.gov.

Bond Sale Allows State to Pay Off More Than $3 Billion in Past-Due Bills
The money was transferred to the Office of the Illinois Comptroller, which was authorized to sign checks to make the payments. The payment cycle reduced the estimated quantity of past-due bills owed by the State from more than $16.5 billion to less than $13.3 billion. Even after this payment cycle, Illinois continues to carry a significant backlog of past-due bills, and has the lowest credit rating of the 50 states. Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have assigned the lowest rank available which still allows investment-grade bonds to be sold in the debt markets.

Reick Calls Out House Democrats on Tax Freeze Gimmick
Last Wednesday, House Democrats floated a fake tax freeze bill that most members from both parties felt they had to support. The bill, an amended version of SB 851, would have frozen local government tax levies for two years. Prior to the vote, I spoke up and pointed to the fact that the legislation was nothing more than a gimmick, when what Illinoisans really need is permanent property tax relief achieved through reforms. As I suspected, after clearing the House, the bill moved to the Senate for their concurrence of the amendment, but the bill was not called for a vote. Click here to watch my floor comments on this latest example of political gamesmanship at the Capitol.

Governor Rauner Declares Harvest Emergency
Illinois is home to 72,000 farms on 26.7 million acres, and the state is among the top three corn producers in the nation. Last week Governor Bruce Rauner declared a statewide harvest emergency to assist farmers and grain handlers who are grappling with the fallout of rain-related delays. Under a new law signed Aug. 11, the declaration permits drivers of trucks carrying agricultural commodities over state highways to obtain a free permit to exceed gross vehicle weight limits by 10 percent. Further, local authorities may waive the permit requirement at their discretion. The emergency declaration is in effect for 45 days beginning Nov. 5. The Illinois Department of Transportation already is mobilizing the permitting process and notifying law enforcement agencies throughout the state. More information is available at https://truckpermits.dot.illinois.gov/.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Illinois corn harvest at the end of October was 17 percent behind the prior year and 11 percent behind the five-year average. The corn harvests in the Northwest, Northeast and East regions are especially hard hit. Farmers made up ground toward the end of October, but early delays still are causing backups in the transportation chain.

Reick Fights to Protect Voter Intent in McHenry County
As most McHenry County residents will recall, a few years ago voters soundly rejected an effort to change the operational structure of the McHenry County Board to a “County Executive” form of government. Shortly after the failure of that referendum, the county board placed a question before voters about whether or not the county board chairman should be popularly elected by county voters rather than by the 24 sitting county board members. Whereas the County Executive form of government would have granted a great deal of power to the individual elected to the post, voters voted in favor of a popularly-elected county board chairman with limited authority and power.

Last week in Springfield, lawmakers considered HB 171, a measure that would increase the power of the County Board Chairman in a few select Illinois counties, including McHenry County. This would directly circumvent the expressed will of the people who resoundingly said “no” to a board leader with a great deal of individual power. During the bill debate on HB 171, I spoke out vehemently against bill. Click here to watch my full floor debate on the bill. In spite of strong opposition by most McHenry County lawmakers in the House, the measure was approved in a 63-48-1 vote.

Hotline and Network of Legal Services Launched to Assist Veterans and Service Members
Judicial, government and civic leaders have announced the launch of the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN), the first-ever statewide hotline and network of legal support services for veterans, active-duty military, National Guard, reservists and their dependents. Through the IL-AFLAN, veterans and military personnel can obtain free legal help for urgent family, housing and consumer problems, as well as issues such as discharge upgrades and benefit appeals.

The free hotline can be accessed at 1-855-452-3526 (1-855-ILAFLAN) and is staffed by attorneys Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:30 PM. Serving as the entry point to the IL-AFLAN, the hotline will offer legal advice and brief services and then connect veterans and military personnel to legal aid providers near their community. Nine organizations, spanning every major area of the state, have received grants to provide legal aid services as part of the IL-AFLAN. To be eligible for services through this new program, veterans and active duty military members need to have an income less than 80 percent of the Chicago area median income. For a family of four, this translates into $63,000 annually.

Bicentennial Campaign will Honor 200 Illinois Veterans
State officials have announced the launch of HONOR 200, a signature program of the Illinois Bicentennial Celebration, honoring the work of 200 veterans whose contributions are above and beyond the call of duty.

The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs will work with veteran's organizations throughout the state to promote HONOR 200 and solicit nominations for those who will be recognized as part of the program. Nominees will be evaluated on their achievements and on the extent to which their contributions have aided, benefited and provided inspiration to their community. Anyone can nominate an Illinois Veteran. Written nominations can be sent to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, 69 W. Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60601 or on-line at www.illinois.gov/veterans.

The Official Illinois Bicentennial Celebration will begin on December 3rd, 2017 with events in Springfield and Chicago. The celebration will continue with programs and events throughout 2018, ending with the Bicentennial Birthday Party on December 3rd, 2018 at the United Center. The HONOR 200 veterans will be recognized during the Birthday Gala. For information on the Bicentennial and to find out how your community can participate go to www.illinois200.gov.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) will continue his fall mobile offices tour next week with an event scheduled on Tuesday, November 14 at the Nippersink District Library in Richmond.

The event is part of a series of mobile office hours events meant to provide residents of the 63rd Legislative House District with easy access to their elected Springfield representative.

“The 63rd District includes portions of 14 different municipalities, so I am very aware that my Woodstock District Office is not near the homes of many of my constituents,” said Reick. “By holding office hours in other communities, the people I represent in Springfield can come and share their concerns and ideas at a location that is convenient for them.”

Reick and a member of his staff will have a table set up at the library from 10:00 AM until 12:00 noon.

“I look forward to talking one-on-one with people as I bring my office to them in their own community,” said Reick. “I can help explain the services my office can provide while learning about their personal priorities.”

No appointment is needed. Future mobile office hours dates and locations will be posted on Reick’s web site at www.repstevenreick.com.
Yesterday in Springfield, lawmakers considered SB 2243, a measure that would increase the power of the County Board Chairman in a few select Illinois counties, including McHenry County. During the bill debate on SB 2243, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) spoke out vehemently against bill, stating that the voters of his county had already voted down a ballot proposition that would have created a “County Executive” form of government, and instead voted for a popularly-elected county board chairman with limited authority and power. Click here to watch Reick’s full floor debate on the bill. 

In spite of strong opposition by the McHenry County lawmakers in the House, the measure was approved in a 63-48-1 vote.
Today in Springfield, members of the House of Representatives approved a measure that would, among other things, freeze local government tax levies for two years. Prior to the vote, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) spoke about how the bill was nothing more than a gimmick, when what the state really needs is property tax reform. Click here to watch Reick's floor debate on the bill.
The Governor has declared a statewide harvest emergency to assist farmers and grain handlers who are grappling with the fallout of rain-related delays.

“Illinois is home to 72,000 farms on 26.7 million acres. We are among the top three corn producers in the nation,” Rauner said while visiting Stewart Farms in Yorkville Sunday afternoon. “Moving corn and other crops in a timely and efficient manner affects the bottom line of hard-working farmers. This declaration is an appropriate response to an urgent need.”

Under a new law Rauner signed Aug. 11, the declaration permits drivers of trucks carrying agricultural commodities over state highways to obtain a free permit to exceed gross vehicle weight limits by 10 percent. Further, local authorities may waive the permit requirement at their discretion. The emergency declaration is in effect for 45 days beginning yesterday, Nov. 5.

The Illinois Department of Transportation already is mobilizing the permitting process and notifying law enforcement agencies throughout the state. More information is available at https://truckpermits.dot.illinois.gov/.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Illinois corn harvest at the end of October was 17 percentage points behind the prior year and 11 percentage points behind the five-year average. The corn harvests in the Northwest, Northeast and East regions are especially hard hit. Harvesters of a variety of crops made up ground toward the end of October, but early delays still are causing backups in the transportation chain.
In an effort to connect the residents of the 63rd Legislative House District with their voice in Springfield, State Representative Steve Reick’s (R- Woodstock) mobile office hours tour will continue in the coming weeks with stops in Harvard, Richmond and Johnsburg.

“The 63rd District is geographically very large, and includes all or portions of 18 different municipalities,” said Reick. “I’ve had great success with my mobile office hours events so far, and appreciate those individuals who have stopped by to share their opinions and suggestions about the State’s government.”

The following three dates have been added to Reick’s mobile office hours calendar:
  • Monday, November 6: Harvard Diggins Library, 900 E. McKinley Street in Harvard, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Tuesday, November 14: Nippersink District Library, 5418 Hill Road in Richmond, 10:00 AM until 12:00 Noon
  • Wednesday, December 13: Johnsburg Public Library, 3000 W. Johnsburg Road in Johnsburg, 10:00 AM until 12:00 Noon
“I recognize that my Woodstock office is not convenient for many of my constituents, and I want to make it as easy as possible for those I represent to have face-to-face conversations with me,” Reick said. “My District Office Director joins me at most of these events and is available to help citizens with issues they are having with state agencies or departments. I hope residents from throughout the 63rd District find a location near them, and stop by to share their ideas, ask questions or simply say hello.”

The 63rd Legislative House District is located in northern McHenry County, and includes all or portions of Bull Valley, Chemung, Crystal Lake, Greenwood, Harvard, Hebron, Johnsburg, Lakemoor, Marengo, McCullum Lake, McHenry, Pistakee Highlands, Richmond, Ringwood, Spring Grove, Union, Wonder Lake and Woodstock. Mobile office hours are held at least once each month during non-session times and rotate between the 18 communities.