House Bill Deadline Passes; Budget Talks Take Center Stage
The deadline for approval of bills in their chamber of origin was Friday, April 27. Members of the House are in their home districts this week, and when we return to the Springfield on Tuesday, May 8, we will turn our attention to Senate Bills that successfully advanced out of that chamber while the Senate begins looking at House Bills. Budget discussions will also start to take center stage as we approach our May 31 adjournment date. With adjournment now just one month away, it is unconscionable that the General Assembly has not yet fulfilled its legal and constitutional obligation to adopt a revenue estimate. Even more distressing is the fact that the General Assembly waits until the last month of session to even begin the budget process. It’s the most important job that we have, but we spend months either considering fluff bills that do nothing but add to our fiscal mess or we’re out of session altogether. It’s utterly unconscionable.

On Thursday I joined Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) filing a resolution in support of adopting a revenue estimate in order to begin legitimate budget discussions for Fiscal Year 2019. HJR 124 adopts a revenue estimate of $37.672 billion for fiscal year 2019, based on the estimate provided by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA). COGFA is a well-respected non-partisan organization that provides the General Assembly with reliable data on which we can make good decisions. I have complete faith in their revenue estimate of $37.67 billion and urge the House and Senate to adopt the estimate without further delay. Here’s what state law has to say about revenue estimates: 
The House and Senate by joint resolution shall adopt or modify such estimates as may be appropriate. The joint resolution shall constitute the General Assembly’s estimate, under paragraph B of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution, of funds estimated to be available during the next fiscal year (25 ILCS 155/4(a)) 

Subsection (b) of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Illinois also speaks to this requirement:
Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.
ICC to Host Local Hearing on Proposed Utilities, Inc. Rate Hike

The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) is hosting a public hearing on Monday, May 7 to gather public input about a water rate hike proposed by Utilities, Inc. The hearing will be held at Johnsburg High School, 2002 West Ringwood Road in Johnsburg and begins at 7:00 PM. The proposed rate increase would affect many residents of the Johnsburg area. 

Earlier this year Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) and I sent a letter to the ICC requesting the hearing after we were contacted by many residents who said they have had their rates increased several times over the last decade.

The current rate hike, if implemented, would be the third rate increase for water and sewer since 2009 for these people. The constituents who contacted me, many of whom are living on fixed incomes, asked me 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.

Representative Steve Reick Serves as Leading Republican Voice on Bill to Allow Emergency Firearms Restraining Orders
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers has responded to incidents of mass gun violence across the nation with new legislation that would provide the courts with the ability to remove firearms from mentally distraught individuals while protecting the civil liberties and constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners. The version of HB 2354 that came to the House from the Senate in March represented an extreme overreach into the rights of lawful gun owners. As soon as that bill arrived, I contacted the sponsor and asked to collaborate with her on improvements to the bill. For the last six weeks I was a leading Republican member of a negotiation team for a rewrite of HB 2354 which was filed in Springfield on Thursday. I am also a Chief Co-Sponsor of the new bill. 

The common thread with most recent acts of mass gun violence is that there were warning signs. In almost every instance there were clues- comments made to others or behaviors that sent up red flags. With the passage of HB 2354, family members or law enforcement would have the legal means to get guns out of the hands of mentally distraught people. Equally as important, law-abiding gun owners would not be faced with another legislative mandate that diminishes their rights because of the actions of a small number of troubled individuals who commit criminal acts.

There’s a mental health component of these violent crimes that cannot be ignored. Rather than passing legislation that infringes upon the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners, we need to turn our attention toward mental health issues that allow some people to use their firearms to harm others. Click here to read more about the details of this bill.

Representative Steve Reick Helps Lead Legislative Effort to End Illinois Teacher and Substitute Teacher Shortage
My office has been working with a retired teacher from Woodstock who was named one of the top ten educators in the state during his tenure. This individual has found the process to become a substitute teacher to be tedious and extremely expensive. Today Illinois faces a serious teacher and substitute teacher shortage, and this year I am serving as a Chief Co-Sponsor of legislation that aims to address this growing problem.

HB 5627, which received unanimous approval in the Illinois House last week, includes several provisions that seek to relieve the teacher and substitute teacher shortage in Illinois by making it easier for educators coming into Illinois from other states to obtain licensure and restructuring substitute teacher licensure requirements. HB 5627 would provide for the following:
  • Full reciprocity of out-of-state applicants for an Illinois Professional Educator License, which would allow out-of-state licensed educators to teach in Illinois without meeting additional requirements 
  • Makes numerous changes to the Substitute Teaching License law to ease the process for out-of-state licensed teachers and retired teachers with lapsed licenses to work as substitute teachers 
  • Eases requirements for the timing of completion of professional development 
  • Retired educators could work in school districts through June 30, 2020 a total of 120 paid days or 600 paid hours each school year without infringing on earned pension benefits 
  • A short-term substitute teaching license would be established for individuals who hold an associate’s degree or have earned at least 60 hours toward a degree from an accredited institution of higher education 
These are excellent changes that should ease the process for those who would like to teach in Illinois schools. The standards remain high for the caliber of individual we would entrust to our public school classrooms, but much of the red tape and expense is removed. The bill has now moved to the Senate for consideration.

Rep. Reick Champions Legislation to Ensure Fair Maps in IL

There is overwhelming bipartisan support in Illinois for fair maps. Ensuring fair maps may very well be the most important thing we can do as lawmakers to restore integrity and true democracy to our election process. This year I am co-sponsoring two measures that seek to take the legislative map-drawing process out of the hands of politicians and ensure a fair and transparent method for creating legislative districts and maps. This graphic is very telling. In Iowa, political influence has no part in creating their map. In Illinois, the opposite is true. Which map looks fairer?

HJRCA 46 would provide for the creation of an independent legislative redistricting commission, which would lead a detailed review process of maps submitted by any Illinoisan who would wish to suggest a map. The commission, appointed equally by the four legislative leaders from the Republican and Democratic caucuses, would provide the public with necessary data and tools with which to create map proposals. A multi-faceted scoring rubric would be used to rank all submissions with higher scores generated by maps that keep municipalities and counties together and which are compact in nature. The three highest-scoring maps would be brought to the House and Senate, where a three-fifths majority vote would be required for passage of one of the three maps. In the event that consensus is not reached, the highest-scoring map would be certified by the Secretary of State and become law.

This legislative solution takes political influence out of the equation and allows citizens and the commission to drive the process. Most importantly, HJRCA 46 takes into account previous fair maps proposals that have been deemed unconstitutional by the courts, and addresses those specific points in a manner that should withstand a court challenge. HJRCA 46 retains and repurposes the current constitutional participants in the mapping process (redistricting commission, General Assembly, Secretary of State) in order to conform with Illinois court decisions about citizen-led map initiatives.

In addition to HJRCA 46, I’m also co-sponsoring HR 995, which expresses support for independent redistricting reform and advocates for a non-partisan map-making process for the upcoming redistricting cycle. Both proposals would apply to redistricting beginning in 2021 for the elections to be held in 2022. I have posted an online petition for those who oppose gerrymandered legislative maps and support a fair maps process, and would encourage all residents to sign it.

Reick Welcomes Local Residents to Springfield for Lobby Days
Over the last few weeks the Capitol has been filled with various groups who came to Springfield to talk to lawmakers about the issues and causes that are important to them. I enjoyed welcoming students from the Future Farmers of America (FFA) to the Capitol, and also had a nice time talking with local citizens who were in Springfield for Environmental Lobby Day and in support of Faith in Place. 

Governor Rauner Announces $16 Million Federal Grant to Fight Opioid Abuse
The grant money will be paid through the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to medical service providers who help fight opioid abuse and provide treatments States hit by opioid abuse are getting help from Congress through the 21st Century Cures Act.

The abuse of opioid drugs, including heroin and fentanyl, played a role in the deaths of an estimated 2,000 Illinois residents in 2017. Much of the grant money is earmarked for new treatment and recovery services, including medication-assisted treatment. Medication-assisted treatments for opioids include limited allocations to patients of medications that reduce withdrawal symptoms, such as methadone and buprenorphine. Persons recently released from prison or county jail, who are diagnosed as being at risk for recidivism, will be offered treatment options. Some of the grant money will be used to strengthen enforcement of the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program, the State program to monitor and enforce the prescription status of opioid painkillers.

The grant will supplement efforts already underway to make universal the first responder access to naloxone, the opioid agonist that if administered in a timely manner can save the life of a victim who is in an overdose situation. In its ongoing outreach to paramedic forces and other first responders, IDHS has learned that funds like these have trained nearly 18,000 responders to administer naloxone.

Veterans to be Honored
The Illinois Bicentennial Commission, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), has announced an initiative to honor selected veterans from throughout Illinois. The “Honor 200” initiative authorizes Illinoisans to nominate a friend or neighbor who is: (a) a veteran of the U.S. armed forces, and (b) exemplifies the meaning of selfless service, courage, and compassion. Illinoisans who want to participate in the selection process are invited to submit nominations to IDVA no later than Tuesday, July 31. The nomination must include the nominee’s DD214 proof of honorable discharge, and should also include a written summary of the nominee’s life achievements. The nomination form contains guidance categories to set forth these achievements, including military service dates and a list of the nominee’s military awards and decorations. The “Honor 200” Illinois veterans will be honored on Illinois’s birthday, December 3, 2018. 

Illinois Top 200 Survey Names Wrigley Field as Illinois’ Top Building
Participants in the Illinois Bicentennial’s Top 200 survey were asked to pick their favorite building in Illinois, and the winning choice was Wrigley Field, the century-old Major League Baseball park that became the home of the Chicago Cubs in 1916. After many generations of mixed results, the storied Friendly Confines became the home of the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. Other Illinois buildings were also supported by survey participants. Coming in second was a building owned by the people of Illinois, Springfield’s Dana-Thomas House, which contains artistic motifs that celebrate Illinois’s ecology and landscapes, and is fitted with more than 100 pieces of Wright-designed furniture, lights, and art glass. The Wilmette Baha’i Temple, Chicago’s Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and Chicago’s Robie House were honored with selection slots #3 through #5.                 

Happy Tax Freedom Day! This year in Illinois, taxpayers had to work from January 1 through April 29 (119 days!) to pay their combined, federal, state and local tax burden for the year. When you go to work tomorrow, you finally get to keep the money you earn. Just look at where we rate as compared to our neighbors.
Legislation that aims to address the teacher and substitute teacher shortage in Illinois received unanimous support in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) was a Chief Co-Sponsor of the bill.

HB 5627 includes several provisions that seek to relieve the teacher and substitute teacher shortage in Illinois by making it easier for educators coming into Illinois from other states to obtain licensure and restructuring substitute teacher licensure requirements.

“I’ve been working with a retired teacher from Woodstock who was named one of the top ten educators in the state during his tenure, but he has found the process to become a substitute teacher to be tedious and extremely expensive,” said Reick. “Former teachers would make excellent substitute teachers, but for some reason the substitute teacher requirements for retired teachers are much more stringent and involved than the requirements for any other individual who holds a college degree in any field of study.”

HB 5627 would provide for the following:
  • Full reciprocity of out-of-state applicants for an Illinois Professional Educator License, which would allow out-of-state licensed educators to teach in Illinois without meeting additional requirements 
  • Makes numerous changes to the Substitute Teaching License law to ease the process for out-of-state licensed teachers and retired teachers with lapsed licenses to work as substitute teachers 
  • Eases requirements for the timing of completion of professional development 
  • Retired educators could work in school districts through June 30, 2020 a total of 120 paid days or 600 paid hours each school year without infringing on earned pension benefits 
  • A short-term substitute teaching license would be established for individuals who hold an associate’s degree or have earned at least 60 hours toward a degree from an accredited institution of higher education 
“These are excellent changes that should ease the process for those who would like to teach in Illinois schools,” Reick said. “The standards remain high for the caliber of individual we would entrust to our public school classrooms, but much of the red tape and expense is removed.”
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) joined Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) today in filing a resolution in support of adopting a revenue estimate in order to begin legitimate budget discussions for Fiscal Year 2019.

“It is our constitutional duty to taxpayers across Illinois to spend within our means – something we have not done in decades here at the Capitol,” Durkin said. “The rejection of certifying a revenue estimate in Springfield is not acceptable and is legislative malpractice. We owe it to Illinois taxpayers to take this first step in finally balancing the state’s checkbook and putting Illinois on the right track towards fiscal stability.”

House Joint Resolution 124 adopts a revenue estimate of $37.672 billion for fiscal year 2019, based on the estimate provided by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA).

“COGFA is a well-respected non-partisan organization that provides the General Assembly with reliable data on which we can make good decisions,” said Reick. “I have complete faith in their revenue estimate of $37.67 billion and encourage the House and Senate to adopt the estimate without further delay.”

According to Reick, a revenue estimate is required by state law:
The House and Senate by joint resolution shall adopt or modify such estimates as may be appropriate. The joint resolution shall constitute the General Assembly’s estimate, under paragraph B of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution, of funds estimated to be available during the next fiscal year (25 ILCS 155/4(a))
It is also required by Subsection (b) of Section 2 of Article VIII of the Constitution of Illinois:
Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is responding to incidents of mass gun violence across the nation with a bill that would provide the courts with the ability to remove firearms from mentally distraught individuals while protecting the civil liberties and constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners. The amendment to HB 2354, which includes both Republican and Democrat lead sponsors, was filed in Springfield today.

“The common thread with most of these acts of mass gun violence is that there were warning signs,” said State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), a Chief Co-Sponsor of the bill and leading member of the bipartisan group that drafted the bill. “In almost every instance there were clues- comments made to others or behaviors that sent up red flags. With the passage of this bill, family members or law enforcement would have the legal means to get guns out of the hands of mentally distraught people. Equally as important, lawful gun owners would not be faced with another legislative mandate that diminishes their rights because of the actions of a small number of troubled individuals who commit criminal acts.”

Reick continued, “There’s a mental health component of these violent crimes that cannot be ignored. Rather than passing legislation that infringes upon the constitutional rights of lawful gun owners, we need to turn our attention toward mental health issues that allow some people to use their firearms to harm others.”

Through HB 2354, family members or law enforcement could petition the court for an emergency firearms restraining order, and the case must be heard as soon as possible but in a timeframe not to exceed 14 days. Those petitioning for an emergency order must show probable cause that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing injury to themselves or others by owning or having access to firearms. If probable cause is established at the hearing, the court will issue an emergency firearms restraining order and may issue a warrant directing law enforcement to search the respondent’s property and seize his/her firearms. At that point, the Illinois State Police (ISP) will have the authority to suspend or revoke the respondent’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card and concealed carry license and the respondent will have to relinquish those cards to the ISP.

“The probable cause element was an important point of negotiation in this bill,” said Reick. “Initial language for obtaining a firearms restraining order only required reasonable cause. I felt we needed stronger language in place to ensure the law would not be misused.”

If an emergency firearms order of protection is issued, a full court hearing would need to occur within 14 days, at which time a determination would be made regarding a six-month firearms restraining order. Whereas proof of probable cause would trigger an emergency order, the six-month firearms restraining order would require clear and convincing evidence, a higher standard of proof. “Again, ‘clear and convincing’ is an important distinction,” added Reick. “If we are going to put a six-month order in place, the evidence must be overwhelming. In every step of the process, my goal was to keep the provisions very targeted so that lawful gun owners are protected.”

Other elements of the bill that were negotiated by Republicans include the right of the respondent to petition the court to transfer his/her firearms to a person who does not live at the same address and who is lawfully able to possess firearms, and assurances that upon the expiration of any firearms order of protection, the FOID card and concealed carry license would be returned to the respondent without delay. Additionally, if the allegations are not proven at the full hearing, the record of the case would be immediately expunged, so as not to do any harm to an innocent respondent, and strict penalties for perjury would apply to those who would make false statements in a petition for a firearms restraining order.

“The language of this bill is the product of weeks of bipartisan discussions and negotiations,” Reick said. “As is the case with any negotiation, no one walked away having received everything they would have liked, but we all agree we have a solid piece of legislation here that would add an important new layer of protection for Illinoisans and could serve as a model for other states.”

Click here to hear Rep. Reick speak about the bill in a radio interview.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) has posted an online petition for those who oppose gerrymandered legislative maps and support a fair maps process.

“There is overwhelming bipartisan support for fair maps in Illinois,” said Reick. “Adopting a fair maps system could very well be the most important thing we could do as lawmakers to restore integrity and true democracy to our election process. According to a Paul Simon Institute poll, 72% of Illinoisans support fair maps, and as a legislator I am committed to doing everything I can to make fair maps a reality.”

Reick is co-sponsoring two measures this year that seek to take the legislative map-drawing process out of the hands of politicians and ensure a fair and transparent method for creating legislative districts and maps. HJRCA 46 would provide for the creation of an independent legislative redistricting commission, which would lead a detailed review process of maps submitted by any Illinoisan who would wish to suggest a map. The commission would provide the public with necessary data and tools with which to create map proposals. A multi-faceted scoring rubric would be used to rank all submissions with higher scores generated by maps that keep municipalities and counties together and which are compact in nature. The three highest-scoring maps would be brought to the House and Senate, where a three-fifths majority vote would be required for passage of one of the three maps. In the event that consensus is not reached, the highest-scoring map would be certified by the Secretary of State and become law.

He is also co-sponsoring HR 995, which expresses support for independent redistricting reform and advocates for a non-partisan map-making process for the upcoming redistricting cycle. Both proposals would apply to redistricting beginning in 2021 for the elections to be held in 2022.

Click here to sign the fair maps petition.
State Representative Steve Reick has signed on as a leading Chief-Co-Sponsor of legislation that would take the General Assembly map-drawing process out of the hands of politicians and allow the people of Illinois to submit map proposals for consideration by an independent redistricting commission.

“There is overwhelming bipartisan support for fair maps,” said Reick. “A recent Paul Simon Institute poll indicates that 72% percent of Illinois’ citizens believe gerrymandered maps are wrong because they allow partisan politicians to draw maps that favor members of their own political party and all but guarantee continued control. HJRCA 46 takes politics out of the process and improves the integrity of our elections. Most importantly, this legislation takes into account previous fair maps proposals that have been deemed unconstitutional by the courts and addresses those points in a manner that should withstand a court challenge.”

The constitutional amendment seeks to amend the Legislature Article of the Illinois Constitution by replacing the current method for redrawing Senate and House districts with the creation of an independent redistricting commission. The commission, appointed equally by the four legislative leaders from the Republican and Democrat caucuses, would score maps submitted for consideration using a detailed rubric.

“HJRCA 46 would direct the redistricting commission members to provide the public with necessary data and tools with which to create map proposals,” Reick said. “The maps would be scored using a multi-faceted rubric and the three top-ranked map proposals would be brought to the House and Senate, where a three-fifths vote would be required for passage of one of the three maps. In the event an agreement is not reached, the Secretary of State would certify the best-ranked redistricting map proposal and it would become law. This legislation ensures a transparent, objective and fair process that allows the citizens of Illinois and an independent commission to drive the process; not politicians looking to protect their seats in the General Assembly.”

If approved, the Constitutional Amendment would apply to redistricting beginning in 2021 for the election that is held in 2022.

In addition to HJRCA 46, Reick joined all members of the House Republican Caucus on Wednesday in filing HR 995, which expresses support for independent redistricting reform and advocates for a non-partisan map-making process by the upcoming redistricting cycle.
On Wednesday, members of the House of Representatives approved HB 4237, which proposes to offer taxpayers an opportunity to receive a tax incentive in exchange for making a charitable contribution toward public education in Illinois. The sponsor called his bill an Illinois workaround for recent changes to federal tax law which limit tax deductions, but State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), a tax attorney for 35 years, spoke against the bill, claiming it would not withstand IRS muster. Click the image above to watch Reick's floor debate.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and other House Republicans on Tuesday to announce the filing of HR 975, a measure that states opposition to a proposed progressive income tax on Illinois residents.

“The General Assembly cannot continue spending money frivolously and expect Illinois taxpayers to pick up the tab with more tax increases like this progressive income tax proposal from the Democrat Party,” said Durkin. “It is our constitutional duty to protect our constituents, and we will remain firm as a caucus on blocking any progressive tax measures.”

According to Reick, there are currently two progressive income tax proposals pending in the Senate and one proposal pending in the House. “In the 63rd District we are in the unenviable position of sharing our northern border with the State of Wisconsin, said Reick. “We have a better view than most of people fleeing our state.”

Reick pointed to a recent WalletHub study that indicated that Illinois already has the highest effective state and local tax burden in the nation, and said a progressive income tax is not the solution to Illinois’ financial problems. “The one thing Illinois actually does right is its flat income tax system,” Reick said. “Making taxes become a tool rather than a bludgeon to the taxpayers of this state will bring people back, create jobs and make us all better off.”

Click here to watch the press conference.



Members of the Illinois House of Representatives recognized the 100th anniversary of the McHenry County Home and Community Education (HCE) organization on Monday with the passage of an honorary House Resolution sponsored by State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock).

McHenry County formed its first homemakers group in April of 1918 with a purpose of providing ongoing research-based educational programs to the communities in the county. The official name of the organization changed many times over the last 100 years, but the group has always been fondly known simply as the “McHenry County Homemakers.”

Upon its establishment in McHenry County, 300 women came together and viewed the organization as an important source for knowledge in important areas such as how to be a better homemaker, raise the quality of their lives and the lives of their families, and contribute to the community. In 1924 the group assumed responsibility for organizing 4-H Clubs and was involved in the effort to have every farm and small town in McHenry County enjoy safe running water systems in their homes. The Homemakers were also active in the push to have each McHenry County farm have electricity in both the home and the barn.

Click here to read the resolution.