First Week of 2018 Session Cancelled
Last Friday we learned that the first scheduled session days on the 2018 calendar (January 23 and 24) were cancelled. While I was looking forward to beginning our 2018 work in Springfield, I am spending this week working on local projects and meeting with constituents. The first day of the 2018 session year will now be Tuesday, January 30. On Wednesday the 31st, Governor Bruce Rauner will present his annual State of the State address before a joint session of the House and Senate. This speech is streamed live on the state’s web site. If you would like to tune in to the Governor’s noon address on January 31, visit www.ilga.gov, and click on the link for Audio/Video.

Rep. Steve Reick Files Legislation to Require Cost Study to Ensure Township Road District Consolidations Save Money
Taxpayers and elected leaders seek consolidation because they want lower taxes. I fully support consolidation that results in lower taxes. But consolidation just for the sake of consolidation- when taxes don’t go down or possibly would actually increase- that is not in the best interest of taxpayers. What’s missing is an accountability layer; we need an additional step of transparency so trustees and voters aren’t voting on a measure that could have unforeseen negative consequences.

On January 16 I filed legislation that would require a cost analysis to determine if consolidation proposals will actually save taxpayers money. HB 4190 serves as a trailer bill to clarify two pieces of legislation approved earlier this year (SB 03 and HB 607). The bill would require a cost study be conducted before a township’s trustees could take action to put a consolidation proposal before voters. Specifically, the bill would amend the Illinois Highway Code by providing that before a township may submit a referendum to abolish a road district, the township must prepare through an independent contractor a cost study that demonstrates the abolishment is cost-effective and that the township which would assume the road district responsibilities is capable of carrying out the duties performed by the road district slated for elimination. Any consulting firm with an existing agreement for services in the township in question or in the county where the township is located would be prohibited from conducting the study.

Governor Rauner Vetoes Bill to Increase Powers of McHenry County Board Chairman
 In a solid victory for the citizens of McHenry County, Governor Bruce Rauner recently issued a full veto of HB 171, which would codify in state statutes powers granted to specific county board chairmen with regard to appointing members to standing committees. The bill was written to specifically apply to McHenry County, in spite of the fact that in 2012 county voters voted 2:1 against a referendum that would expand the powers of the leader of the McHenry County Board.

In his veto message to the General Assembly, Rauner condemned the practice of codifying in state law carve-outs and special solutions that only apply to certain counties and that respond to specific local concerns. “Passing state law on such specific question of local authority undermines local control and the ability to create rules as elected Board’s may deem appropriate,” said Rauner. “Questions concerning the balance of power within local governments can be most appropriately reconsidered by local voters. Just as the citizens of a county can vote via referendum on whether their county adopts an executive form of government, so too should they be able to determine the appropriate power balance in question in this bill.” HB 171 can return to the House and Senate for an attempted veto override, but a 2/3 vote in each chamber is required. The November House vote on HB 171 was 63-48-1, and in an override, 71 votes will be needed.

State-Sponsored School Library Grants Approved for 11 Districts Located within the Reick House District
I was pleased to learn recently that $17,381 in state-sponsored school library grant money will soon be flowing to 11 school districts located in the 63rd Legislative District. The School District Library Grant Program is designed to help provide more library books and materials for students attending public schools in Illinois. The state legislature has authorized up to a $.75 per pupil expenditure for qualifying schools. The grant award is based on funds appropriated by the General Assembly and the official enrollment as of the previous September 30th of a school district. Specifically, the following grants are being processed by the Secretary of State’s Office and will then be forwarded to the Comptroller’s office for payment:
  • Harvard CUSD #50: $1,865.25
  • Alden-Hebron Community Consolidated Unit #19: $750.00
  • Johnsburg CUSD #12: $1,359.00
  • Riley Community Consolidated School District #18: $750.00
  • Marengo-Union Community School District #165: $750.00
  • Marengo Community High School District #154: $750.00
  • McHenry CCSD #15: $3,262.50
  • McHenry Community High School District #156: $1,669.50
  • Nippersink School District #2: $845.25
  • Richmond Burton CHSD #157: $750.00
  • Woodstock CUSD #200: $4,629.75
Reick and Wheeler Petition ICC for Local Hearing on Proposed Utilities, Inc. Rate Hike
This week Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and I sent a letter to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), asking officials to hold a local public hearing to gather testimony from Johnsburg and Antioch residents who would be affected by a massive sewer and water rate hike proposed by Utilities, Inc. My office has been inundated with calls and emails from constituents that would be affected by this increase, which I’m told would be the third rate increase for water and sewer since 2009. These residents, many of whom are living on fixed incomes, have asked us to help facilitate a local platform where they can come and provide testimony on how this latest rate increase would affect their family budgets, and for some, their ability to remain in their homes.

In 2009, Utilities Inc. serviced the affected area at a monthly rate of $5.14 and consumption rates of $3.14 per 1,000 gallons. If the latest request is approved by the ICC, those customers would soon have to pay a rate of $35.03 per month with consumption rates of $11.08 per 1,000 gallons; a 353% increase in water/sewer service costs in just eight years. Considering the Consumer Price Index has only risen 13 percent since 2009, increasing rates by more than 350 percent for a necessity like water is extreme. We have offered to help coordinate the meeting. To read our joint letter to the ICC, click here.

IL Department of Veterans Affairs to Honor 200 Veterans During “Honor 200” Event
Do you know a veteran who has served honorably and whose contributions have gone above and beyond the call of duty? The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) and the Illinois Bicentennial Committee are partnering on an “Honor 200” event which will publicly recognize the work of 200 courageous veterans who live in Illinois. The veterans will be honored at a major celebration of statehood that will be held at the United Center in Chicago on December 3, 2018.

Nominations are now being accepted. If you would like to submit a nomination, please use this link to access the documents. All nominations must be submitted by July 31, 2018. Completed nomination packets should be mailed to:

Illinois Depart of Veterans’ Affairs
George Dunne County Building
69 West Washington, Suite 1620
Chicago, IL 60602-3013

Illinois Loses 88,000 People During Economic Recovery
The U.S. Census’s ongoing study of American population growth and movement patterns indicates that Illinois’ population is shrinking in size. The Land of Lincoln has about 88,000 fewer people than in 2013. Should these trends continue, Illinois will be on track to relinquish at least one and possibly two congressional districts after the 2020 census. Illinois currently has 18 U.S. representatives, down from 26 as recently as 1953. Illinois’ shrinking population is attributed to high taxes, disproportionate non-tax burdens on employment such as workers’ compensation and the cost of medical care, and an increasingly aggressive eagerness by other states to develop a pro-business climate. A study in 2016 by the nonpartisan Paul Simon Institute found that nearly half of the Illinoisans surveyed expressed a desire to leave Illinois. For many other states, including neighboring states such as Iowa and Wisconsin, this percentage is below 10%. 

Chicago Makes the Cut to Top 20 in Amazon’s HQ2 Search
On Thursday, January 18, Amazon released a list of 20 cities and metro areas, including Chicago, that meet the criteria set forth by the company for the location of a second national headquarters. In late 2017, Amazon asked cities in North America to submit plans and proposals to initiate a major expansion. The stated criteria for selecting a location for potential expansion included a city within an urban area with more than one million people and within 45 minutes of an international airport. The presence of mass-transit infrastructure was described as strongly desirable but not essential. The firm stated that it was their intent to create a research, development, and logistics management complex that could support as many as 50,000 jobs. Other major cities on the list included Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City and northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. and the Capital Beltway.

Trustees Approve Fourth Consecutive Tuition Freeze at University of Illinois
The tuition freeze, now in its fourth year, reflects efforts made by the University of Illinois trustees and system to limit cost increases and make it possible for in-state residents to afford to attend the state’s flagship university. As a result of the freeze, Illinois residents accepted for admission at the three universities that form the University of Illinois system will pay $12,036 a year at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), $10,584 at Chicago (UIC), and $9,405 at Springfield (UIS). The tuition freeze continues to provide relief for many in-state students attending the three campuses of the University of Illinois. However, the freeze does not affect other costs of enrollment at UIUC, UIC, and UIS. Costs relating to housing, meals, student fees, and education-related expenses such as textbooks continue to increase.

New Law Increases Penalties for Repeat Gun Offenders
The Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act went into effect January 1. Enacted with support from law enforcement and prosecution professionals, the new law doubles the sentencing guidelines for offenders found guilty, for a second time, of illegal possession of a firearm. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), the lead House sponsor of SB 1722, hailed the new law upon its effective date. I was proud to support this legislation that increases penalties for repeat offenders.

In addition to the unlawful use of a weapon language, SB 1722 also expands the use by first-time firearm offenders of the First Time Weapon Offender Program. Leader Durkin and the General Assembly are fighting to increase penalties for serious gun offenders, many of them gang members, while at the same time providing a second chance to first-time gun offenders who undergo a serious program of rehabilitation and behavioral change. Under SB 1722, the Director of the Illinois State Police is authorized to create a multi-jurisdictional Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force to further study violent and gang-related crime and make additional recommendations for legislative action.
State Representatives Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) and Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) have asked the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to hold a local public hearing to gather testimony from Johnsburg and Antioch residents who would be affected by a massive sewer and water rate hike proposed by Utilities, Inc.

“My office has been inundated with calls and emails from constituents that would be affected by this increase, which I’m told would be the third rate increase for water and sewer since 2009,” said Reick. “These people, many of whom are living on fixed incomes, have asked us to help facilitate a local platform where they can come and provide testimony on how this latest rate increase would affect their family budgets, and for some, their ability to remain in their homes.”

In 2009, Utilities Inc. serviced the affected area at a monthly rate of $5.14 and consumption rates of $3.14 per 1,000 gallons. If the latest request is approved by the ICC, those customers would then have to pay a rate of $35.03 per month with consumption rates of $11.08 per 1,000 gallons; a 353% increase in water/sewer service costs in just eight years.

“Considering the Consumer Price Index has only risen 13 percent since 2009, increasing the cost to residents again, whether on a fixed income or not, by more than 350 percent for a necessity like water is extreme,” said Wheeler. “Residents have the right to public hearing, at the least, before another increase is put into effect, particularly given the dramatic increase in rates already over the past decade.”

Both legislators offered to help coordinate the meeting. To read the joint letter to the ICC, click here.
In a solid victory for the citizens of McHenry County, Governor Bruce Rauner issued a full veto today to HB 171, which would codify in state statutes powers granted to specific county board chairmen with regard to appointing members to standing committees.

“I spoke out against this bill when it was discussed on the floor of the House of Representatives, and urged the Governor to veto it after it was approved by the General Assembly,” said Reick. “The bill was written to specifically apply to McHenry County, in spite of the fact that in 2012 county voters voted 2:1 against a referendum that would expand the powers of the leader of the McHenry County Board. Today the Governor sided with the 75,010 McHenry County voters who resoundingly defeated the idea of an all-powerful County Board Chairman. Voter intent was heard and respected by Governor Rauner today.”

In his veto message to the General Assembly, Rauner condemned the practice of codifying in state law carve-outs and special solutions that only apply to certain counties and that respond to specific local concerns. “Passing state law on such specific question of local authority undermines local control and the ability to create rules as elected Board’s may deem appropriate,” said Rauner.

The Governor went on to say, “Questions concerning the balance of power within local governments can be most appropriately reconsidered by local voters. Just as the citizens of a county can vote via referendum on whether their county adopts an executive form of government, so too should they be able to determine the appropriate power balance in question in this bill.”

When HB 171 was delivered to Rauner for final action, Reick launched a petition drive that was signed by more than 100 citizens who asked the Governor to veto the bill. “All the credit goes to the citizens who saw HB 171 for what it was: a pure power grab; and who responded by urging a full gubernatorial veto,” said Reick, who delivered the petition signatures to the Governor’s office. “This was a good example of how a few voices can make a big difference in government. The message that McHenry County wants a county board chairman with limited powers was heard, and Governor Rauner responded appropriately. I appreciate his full veto.”

HB 171 can return to the House and Senate for an attempted veto override, but a 2/3 vote in each chamber is required. The November House vote on HB 171 was 63-48-1, and in an override, 71 votes will be needed.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) announced today that $17,381 in school library grant money will soon be flowing to schools located in the 63rd Legislative House District.

The School District Library Grant Program is designed to help provide more library books and materials for students attending public schools in Illinois. The state legislature has authorized up to a $.75 per pupil expenditure for qualifying schools. The grant award is based on funds appropriated by the General Assembly and the official enrollment as of the previous September 30th of a school district.

“These grants will help put books into the hands and students and will go far in assisting with teaching and learning in northern McHenry County,” said Reick. “The schools up here are hurting, and any assistance the State can provide with the delivery of educational tools is appreciated.”

Specifically, the following grants will be processed by the Secretary of State’s Office next week and then forwarded to the Comptroller’s office for payment:
  • Harvard CUSD #50: $1,865.25
  • Alden-Hebron Community Consolidated Unit #19: $750.00
  • Johnsburg CUSD #12: $1,359.00
  • Riley Community Consolidated School District #18: $750.00
  • Marengo-Union Community School District #165: $750.00
  • Marengo Community High School District #154: $750.00
  • McHenry CCSD #15: $3,262.50
  • McHenry Community High School District #156: $1,669.50
  • Nippersink School District #2: $845.25
  • Richmond Burton CHSD #157: $750.00
  • Woodstock CUSD #200: $4,629.75
“As a former public school teacher and administrator, I know our school libraries are very important in helping students learn and prepare themselves for the future,” said Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian, Jesse White. “Illinois was the first state to implement a school district grant program for libraries, and I am pleased that we can continue to provide them with some of the financial resources they need to produce well-educated students.”
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) will be holding mobile office hours next week on Monday, January 22, from 6:00-8:00 PM at the Woodstock Public Library, 414 W. Judd Street in Woodstock.

“I enjoy these outreach events because they provide me with an excellent opportunity to connect with the people I represent in Springfield,” said Reick. “I look forward to talking one-on-one with constituents so I can learn about the issues that are important to them. I can also help constituents with issues they may be having with state agencies.”

Reick will personally be staffing the event. No appointment is needed, and the event is open to all residents who live in the 63rd Legislative House District.
January is National Blood Donation Month, and the recent cold weather has added an additional strain to an already-low blood supply. Each unit of blood that is donated can save up to three lives, and while approximately 60 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, fewer than five percent of the eligible public actually donates. Click here to find the location of an upcoming blood drive year you.

To be eligible to donate blood in Illinois, donors must:
  • Be 17 years of age or older (16 year-olds may donate with parental consent)
  • Be in good health on the day of the donation
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds
  • Be free of cold and flu symptoms
  • Present a photo ID with a birth date
  • Not have a history of Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C at any age
As 2017 came to an end, the U.S. Census announced its end-of-year U.S. state population estimates. These numbers indicate that Pennsylvania has once again passed Illinois to regain its position as the U.S. state with the fifth largest population. Both states have more than 12.8 million residents.

Census end-of-year estimates are based upon statistical analyses of population trends and are not based on actual physical counting. The U.S. Constitution requires the Census to physically count all Americans once every ten years, with the next true census set to be taken in 2020. Households will receive paper forms in the mail to fill out and send in, with census takers physically fanning out to visit households that do not return the forms.

The end-of-2017 Census announcement marked a reversal from the late 1990s, when Illinois (the 6th largest state in 1990) passed Pennsylvania (the 5th largest state in 1990, as it is again in 2018). Illinois was #5 in the 2000 and 2010 censuses. Both states have had almost stable populations for the past thirty years.
Illinois’ new Invest in Kids scholarship program — which gives low- to middle-income students opportunities to attend non-public schools that best meet their educational goals — attracted more than $36 million in pledged contributions on Tuesday, Jan. 2, the first day the state began accepting applications, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced today.

Taxpayers can contribute up to $1.3 million to eligible organizations and receive an income tax credit equal to 75 percent of their approved contributions. The state caps total yearly contributions at $100 million.

“When we unleash the power of private-sector investment incentives like Invest in Kids, great things are possible,” Rauner said. “Within its first hour of going live, more than one-third of all Invest in Kids contributions have been allocated for the 2018 tax year. This outpouring of generosity is truly a testament to the many Illinoisans who believe in offering students and their families a choice in their education.”

Taxpayers wishing to contribute to Invest in Kids may apply online through MyTax Illinois<https://mytax.illinois.gov/_/>, the Illinois Department of Revenue’s free online account management program.

Individuals and businesses must apply to the Illinois Department of Revenue to obtain Contribution Authorization Certificates that permit them to make authorized contributions to one of the approved scholarship granting organizations. Those organizations, in turn, provide scholarships for eligible Illinois students to attend qualified non-public schools in Illinois. The application process ensures equal access to the $75 million in tax credits available each year.

For more information on the Invest in Kids income tax credits, including bulletins, FAQs and a list of approved scholarship granting organizations, visit Investinkids.illinois.gov.
Warming centers are available throughout the state to help Illinois residents fight cold temperatures during this record-setting cold weather. Click here to search for a warming center near you.