On May 29 the family of one of Woodstock's greatest community volunteers traveled to Springfield as Harlow "Bud" Swartout Jr. was recognized through an honorary House resolution sponsored by State Representative Steve Reick. In attendance for the reading of the resolutions were Bud's daughter Nancy Lawson, her husband Bernie Lawson, their son Ethan Lawson and their daughter Sarah Lams.

Click here to view a video of Reik's floor comments.

Click here to read the resolution.

Citizens from Illinois’ 63rd Legislative House District are invited to join State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) and local tax assessment experts on Wednesday, June 6 for a free seminar on understanding the property tax assessment process and learning how to appeal property tax assessments. The event will be held from 6:30 PM until 8:00 PM in the 2nd Floor Conference Rooms at the McHenry County Administration Building, 667 Ware Road in Woodstock.

Joining Reick at the informational session will be McHenry County Chief Assessment Officer Robert Ross and several township assessors who service taxpayers living in the 63rd District. “At a time when many homeowners feel they are being taxed out of their homes, it is important that they understand the assessment process and know what remedies are available to them,” said Reick. “It’s my pleasure to bring these tax assessment experts together to explain how tax bills are created and outline the process to follow if a taxpayer believes they are being over-assessed.”

After a presentation and facilitated questions, attendees will have an opportunity to ask specific questions to a panel of township assessors representing most townships within the 63rd District.

For more information about this free event, please contact Representative Reick’s office at (815) 880-5340.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) is sending legislation to Governor Bruce Rauner that clarifies dental coverage so that dentists are better able to follow up if payment issues arise.

SB 2851 would require dental insurance cards to include specific information that identifies the insurance coverage is part of health benefit plan offering dental services or a dental plan subject to regulation by the Department Insurance. “Because there are different types of dental plans available, dentists who perform dental care services often don’t know who to contact when payment is delayed or rejected,” said Reick. “The new card data would provide dentists with information so they would know up front if a payment is supposed to be coming straight to the dentist or if the check would be sent to the patient who would then be responsible for paying the bill.”

According to Reick, the idea for the legislation was brought forward by the Illinois State Dental Society. With unanimous support in the both the House and Senate, SB 2851 now moves to Governor Rauner for final action.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) has received wide, bipartisan House support for legislation that eases the process for school districts to fill vacancies on boards of education when no one from the school district has expressed an interest in serving.

According to Reick, some school districts find it difficult to fill positions on their boards of education. Currently, when no one steps up to serve, the board members appoint an individual to fill a vacancy. SB 2900 provides school districts with an additional tool to ensure school board positions are filled. “Especially in rural districts, this is often a significant problem,” said Reick. “Given the impact on tax bills that are tied to school district operations, it has become necessary for the General Assembly to step in and help ensure these boards are operating with full membership.”

Through SB 2900, if a school board is forced to fill a vacancy due to a lack of available candidates, the board would then, by resolution, submit a referendum question to voters at the next general election that would allow for the at-large election of a board member from within the boundaries of the school district.

“Obviously, the best scenario is for school boards to be comprised entirely by individuals who meet the residency requirements for the office,” Reick said. “But in the instances when that is not possible, this bill provides a valuable tool to help fill vacancies.”

SB 2900 received unanimous approval in the Senate in April, and now moves to Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk for his signature.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) has received the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Award for Conservative Achievement for his voting record in 2017.

The Foundation scored every State Representative and Senator according to their votes on 23 key bills, and Reick earned an 88% approval rating. Click here to view the Foundation report. The 23 bills that were scored can be found on pages 12-13, and Reick’s individual scoring can be found on page 16.

“I am a strong advocate for conservative values and my voting record reflects that,” said Reick, who is serving his first term in the Illinois General Assembly as the Representative for the 63rd District. “It is an honor to be recognized for the votes I took in this area and I appreciate this recognition from the American Conservative Union Foundation.”

According to the Foundation, the overall average score in the Illinois House of Representatives was just 46%, with House Republicans recording an average score of 80% and House Democrats recording an average score of 19%.
By a vote of 80-32-1, the House of Representatives today struck a balance between civil liberties and Second Amendment rights and improved public safety by approving a method by which family members or law enforcement can seek an emergency firearms restraining order to remove firearms from individuals posing an immediate threat to themselves and/or others. State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), an avid supporter of gun rights, was a leading Republican negotiator of the language in the bill. He is also a Chief Co-Sponsor.

“Our Second Amendment rights are under threat- not because of random gun violence, because statistics tell us that acts of random gun violence are going down in this country,” said Reick. “What’s going to destroy the Second Amendment is the public outrage that comes when we see senseless mass shootings like we saw in Parkland, in Texas, and in other locations around our country. The people who did those shootings gave off signals. They let people know that danger was imminent. Family members see that and need tools to help them separate their loved one from their weapons during their time of urgent need.”

Through HB 2354, family members or law enforcement can petition the court for an emergency firearms restraining order. There then must be a hearing as soon as possible but no later than 14 days requesting a six-month restraining order at which time the respondent will have the right to attend and respond. The standard of proof for an emergency order is 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 found, the court will issue an emergency firearms restraining order and shall 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 the respondent’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card and concealed carry license.

If an emergency firearms order of protection is issued, the respondent is guaranteed the right to a full hearing, at which time it must be proven by clear and convincing evidence that the person poses a danger to him/herself or others. If the allegations are not proven at the full hearing, the record of the case is expunged, so as not to do any harm to an innocent respondent. Strict penalties are also written into the bill that provide for penalties of perjury for any individual who would falsely swear out a petition for a firearms restraining order.

“I believe this negotiated bill is the best of its kind in the nation,” said Reick. “I fully expect it to become the national model. It includes strong civil liberty and Second Amendment protections while responding to the sad reality that mentally unstable people will and do use their guns to harm themselves and others. It was a privilege to help write this bill.”

HB 2354 now moves back to the Senate for reconsideration. If approved, it will be sent to the Governor for final action. Click here to listen to Reick’s floor comments about the bill. Click here to listen to Reick’s response to the NRA’s last-minute decision to oppose the bill and comments by a colleague that question the court’s right to interfere.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) is joining Governor Bruce Rauner in announcing that Harvard has been chosen as one of 327 “Opportunity Zones” approved by the U.S. Treasury. The Opportunity Zones program encourages long-term investment and job creation in low-income areas of the state, by allowing investors to re-invest unrealized capital gains in designated census tracts.

According to Reick, the Harvard parcel is bordered on the north by the Illinois-Wisconsin state line, on the west by the McHenry-Boone County line, on the east by IL Route 14, and on the south by IL Route 173. “This parcel in Harvard is ripe for job growth and economic opportunity,” said Reick. “I am pleased to see that Governor Rauner shares that opinion and included this tract of land in his final recommendation to the U.S. Treasury.”

Established by the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones present an opportunity for private, tax-free investment in low-income areas with economic need, benefitting residents living in the zones and private investors. Through the selection process, Governor Rauner was eligible to nominate 25% (327) of the state’s 1,305 qualifying low-income census tracts as Opportunity Zones.

“Illinois is the epicenter of commerce in the Midwest and, as such, our people and our businesses are uniquely positioned to leverage the state’s assets into enterprise and job creation,” Rauner said.

To determine the most effective tracts for nomination, a three-phase approach was implemented to identify need and potential, adequately represent the entire state, and account for public input. Phase one involved need-based indexing depending on factors like poverty rates, specifically those among children, unemployment rates, crime rates and population.

Phase two and three were used to further identify the 327 tracts Illinois could nominate under the federal program guidelines. To ensure a statewide benefit, each county with qualifying tracts received at least one zone and towns and cities across the state were limited on the number of zones included.
The McHenry County Department of Transportation has imposed a weight restriction on the Johnsburg Road bridge over Dutch Creek between Route 31 and Spring Grove Road. New limits are 32 tons for single-unit vehicles and 37 tons for vehicles with three or more axles.
Supporters of independent redistricting (fair maps) in the State of Illinois have once again been denied an opportunity to vote on whether or not the map-making process for Illinois should be removed from the hands of politicians. The deadline for putting such a measure on the November 6 ballot was Sunday, May 6.

Article XIV of the Illinois Constitution requires a minimum six-month window between when a constitutional amendment ballot referendum is approved by three-fifths of both chambers of the General Assembly and the next General Election. Consequently, there will be no “Fair Maps” referendum on the November 6 ballot this year.

State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), who co-sponsored two pieces of fair maps legislation this year, said the lack of legislative action signals “business as usual” in Springfield. “The controlling party in Springfield has no interest in instituting a fair and transparent process for the drawing of legislative districts,” said Reick. “It is just one more example of politics trumping good policy in our state. There is overwhelming bipartisan support for fair maps, yet those in charge of bringing a fair maps initiative to the floor of the House and Senate for a vote chose to ignore the public’s support. Instead, Democrat leaders from both chambers decided it was more important to keep control of that process for their own political gain.”

Reick is a Chief Co-Sponsor of HJRCA 46, which would provide for the creation of an independent legislative redistricting commission that 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, and 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.

He is also a co-sponsor of 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 have applied to redistricting beginning in 2021 for the elections to be held in 2022.

Reick posted an online petition for those who oppose gerrymandered legislative maps and support a fair maps process, and encourages all Illinoisans who support fair maps to sign it.
This week a few House Republicans got together and put together a short video which explains their opposition to a proposal floated by House Democrats that Illinois move to a progressive, or graduated income tax system. They sell this as a "tax on the rich," but in reality, their proposal attacks middle class Illinoisans who are already paying some of the highest taxes in the nation. Rep. Steve Reick is one of the lawmakers featured in the video.
Last week State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) received a check in the mail representing interest earned on back-pay that was withheld from lawmakers during the budget crisis last year. On Tuesday, Reick returned that check to the Comptroller.

The Illinois Prompt Payment Act (30 ILCS 540) provides that if a payment is not made to a vendor within 90 days of receipt of a proper invoice, an interest penalty of 1% of any unpaid amount will accrue for each month, or on a prorated basis. Vendors range from small private contractors to larger entities such as not-for-profit groups, local school districts, public universities, the corrections system and the Regional Transportation Authority. As Reick learned last week, it also comes into play when lawmakers are not paid on time.

“With a backlog of bills approaching $7 billion, I was surprised to receive an interest check in the mail from the Illinois Comptroller,” said Reick. “I didn’t ask for this check, I don’t need this check, and I don’t want this check. The State of Illinois certainly needs this money a lot more than I do.”

Upon returning to Springfield on May 8 for the remaining weeks of the spring session, Reick took the check to the second floor of the Capitol, walked in to the Comptroller’s office, and signed the interest check back over to the State of Illinois. “Sending these checks to lawmakers was just silly,” Reick said. “I am not aware of any legislator who requested interest to be paid on pay checks that were delayed during the budget impasse.”
Legislators Return for Final Weeks of Session
Lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday to begin the final 3 ½ weeks of the spring session. During this time we will consider Senate Bills that successfully passed out of that chamber and affirm or reject Senate amendments made to House bills we previously approved earlier this year. Budget discussions will become more intense as the May 31 adjournment date draws nearer. I will be serving as Chief House Sponsor of some Senate Bills that are now beginning to work their way through the House committee process. I will keep you apprised of the status of these bills as they clear the steps of the approval process.

$158,000 in Library Grants Coming to 63rd District
We are very fortunate in the 63rd District to have wonderful community libraries. I am pleased to announce that $158,000 in state-sponsored per capita grant money has been approved for libraries serving the 63rd Legislative House District. The Public Library Per Capita Grants Program was established to assist public libraries to improve and increase library services within their service areas. Grant amounts of up to $1.25 per person served are available, on an annual basis, to all Illinois local public libraries through an application process. 

Libraries serving the 63rd Legislative House District that will receive funds include:
  • Harvard Diggins Library for $11,808.75 
  • Johnsburg Public Library District for $15,526.25 
  • Marengo-Union Public Library District for $17,416.25 
  • McHenry Public Library District for $52,528.75 
  • Nippersink Public Library District for $13,985.00 
  • Rural Woodstock Public Library District for $15,767.50 
  • Woodstock Public Library for $30,962.50
Since 1979, this annual grant program has provided funding to support the day-to-day operations of Illinois’ public libraries. According to the Secretary of State’s office, most libraries have chosen to use the money to fund library materials, programs and personnel.

Celebrate Agriculture in Illinois by Entering the Cream of the Crop Photo Contest
Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs is offering children ages 8-18 an opportunity to capture the beauty of Illinois agriculture through the 6th Annual Cream of the Crop Photo Contest. Contest winners for ages 8-13, 11-14 and 15-18 will have their photos featured on new marketing materials for the Ag Invest program. Their work will also be prominently displayed at the 2018 Illinois State Fair, DuQuoin State Fair, and the State Capitol. The entry deadline for this contest is June 26, 2018. For more information about this competition, please visit www.creamofthecropcontest.com, call (217) 558-6217, or email aginvest@illinoistreasurer.gov.

Reick Details Changes to Firearms Restraining Order Legislation
As you may know, I’m currently serving as a Chief Co-Sponsor of legislation that would allow family members and law enforcement to petition the court for a firearms restraining order for individuals who they believe are in imminent danger of causing harm to themselves or others due to their access to guns. When HB 2354 arrived back in the House after being amended in the Senate, the bill represented an extreme overreach into the rights of lawful gun owners, and did not provide protections for the respondents. I worked closely with the Democrat sponsor of the bill for six weeks to change the legislation into something I could support. Click here to view a video explanation of many of the changes I helped author. This chart itemizes many of the changes that add protections to law-abiding gun owners.

Mark Your Calendar for Summer and Fall Events
My staff and I have planned several free outreach events for the summer. Please make note of the following: 
  • June 6 (Wednesday): Understanding Your Property Tax Bill: 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM, McHenry County Administration Building, Upstairs Conference Rooms A&B, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock 
  • June 28 (Thursday): Senior Resource Fair: 10:00 AM until 12:00 Noon, Johnsburg High School, 2002 W. Ringwood Road, Johnsburg 
  • August 18 (Saturday): Document Shredding Event: 9:00 AM until 12:00 Noon, Behind the Reick Legislative Office, 1072 Lake Avenue, Woodstock 
Please visit my website at www.repstevenreick.com often for additional information about these and other upcoming events.

House Democrats Push for Another Tax Increase
On May 2, I served as a substitute member of the House Revenue Committee, as we considered HR 1025, an initiative sponsored by House Speaker Mike Madigan that supports the concept of a “progressive” or graduated income tax in Illinois. I made it clear through my comments that I was vehemently opposed to changing our tax structure in this way. The ultimate vote fell strictly along party lines, with no House Republican committee members voting for the controversial proposal. While the “progressive income tax” approval was framed by its proponents as an abstract debate over the hypothetical desirability of amending the State Constitution to permit such a tax, proponents of higher taxes and greater spending were quick to respond to the appearance of HR 1025 as an opportunity to demand more money. In a white paper with a release date apparently timed to coincide with the vote on HR 1025, a liberal advocacy organization used the initiative to call for a net tax increase of $2 billion per year. Illinois House Republicans characterized the resolution as naked political partisanship. 

The nonpartisan Tax Foundation led a response published on Thursday, May 3. The Foundation pointed out that the tax rates charged in Illinois, particularly taxes on Illinois income, sales, and real property, are already significantly higher than the total taxes charged by neighboring Midwestern states, and enactment of a new tax structure and higher taxes would worsen this disadvantage suffered by Illinois and its workers.

The total incomes earned by all Illinoisans, and the total amounts charged and collected by all of the units of our State and local governments, are both known numbers. In Illinois, state and local taxes take up 9.3% of our entire collective State income. For our six neighboring states – Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin – this number is 8.0%. The Illinois public sector already charges 1.3% more than the public sectors of our six neighboring states for the privilege of residing in, working, and earning money in Illinois. By no coincidence, these six states are increasing the sizes of their populations, job count, and housing markets much faster than is Illinois at this time.

Top 200 Historic Sites Chosen in Informal Poll
The Illinois Top 200 Project turned this week to top historic sites. Illinois residents were asked to choose a top Illinois site via an informal online poll. The winning choice was Lincoln’s New Salem, the open-air heritage site operated by the Historic Preservation Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Located in Central Illinois, New Salem was the home of Abraham Lincoln during the formative years of the future president’s young manhood. Here he kept store, sorted mail, and studied law in preparation for his future career. 

Other leading candidates included the Pullman National Monument on Chicago’s Far South Side. A reminder of Illinois’ industrial and railroad heritage, the Pullman Monument contains many buildings from the 1880s. In northern Illinois, the John Deere home and blacksmith shop in Grand Detour pays tribute to Illinois inventiveness and craftsmanship. Lincoln’s Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Southern Illinois, U.S. Route 66, the Old State Capitol, Fort de Chartres, Fort Massac, and the President Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home rounded out the top ten sites honored.

Hotline and Network of Legal Services Launched to Assist Veterans and Service Members
The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) is 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.
With winter finally in the rear-view mirror, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Gov. Bruce Rauner are encouraging all drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts to be extra cautious as more bikes start hitting the roads.

Rauner joined motorcycle safety advocates and officials from IDOT this week to kick off Motorcycle Awareness Month and IDOTs annual Start Seeing Motorcycles Campaign. “I’m an avid rider myself,” Rauner said. “I know how important it is for all of us to be aware of who’s on the road with us. Just last week, a good friend of mine, a veteran, was seriously injured when a pick-up truck didn’t see him. He’s still in the hospital today. We're asking everyone to stay focused and check their rearview mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes. We all have a part to play when it comes to keeping our roads safe.”

Although motorcycles represent 3% of total vehicle registrations in Illinois, they account for 15% of traffic fatalities. There were 1,097 traffic fatalities in Illinois in 2017 – 162 were motorcyclists, eight more than 2016, according to preliminary data.

During the riding season, “Start Seeing Motorcycles” banners and yard signs will be on display throughout the state, reminding the public to always stay alert for motorcycles. All riders are urged to take precautions to ensure they stay visible to other motorists. By wearing the appropriate protective gear, getting regular maintenance checks and taking advantage of IDOT’s free motorcycle safety courses, they make the roads safer for themselves and other drivers. A motorcycle can easily be hidden behind other vehicles so all other motorists are advised to avoid distractions and be on the lookout at all times.

“Warmer weather means more bikes on the road and more interaction between motorcyclists and other vehicles,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “The number of fatalities and injuries involving motorcycles is heading in the wrong direction. That’s unacceptable. By staying alert and extra vigilant, we can begin to reverse these trends.”

Start Seeing Motorcycles is made possible by the teamwork among IDOT, the Illinois State Police, Gold Wing Road Riders Association, A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education (ABATE) and other organizations that promote motorcycle education, awareness and safety

“Riding motorcycles safely is just as important as driving cars safely,” said Illinois State Police Director Leo P. Schmitz. “All of us have a responsibility to do our part to ride and drive safely. We want to remind motorcyclists of riding dangers, practicing safe riding habits, ensuring they are operating a safe vehicle having the correct classification on their driver's license We are also asking drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”

Visit startseeingmotorcycles.org for more information on IDOT’s free motorcycle training and safety programs.
State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) announced today that $158,000 in state-sponsored per capita grant money has been approved for libraries in the 63rd Legislative House District.

The Public Library Per Capita Grants Program was established to assist public libraries to improve and increase library services within their service areas. Grant amounts of up to $1.25 per person served are available, on an annual basis, to all Illinois local public libraries through an application process.

“Community libraries in McHenry County are a tremendous resource,” said Reick. “I am pleased to know that a portion of this year’s per capita library grant funds will be channeled toward libraries right here in the 63rd House District.”

Libraries serving the 63rd Legislative House District that will receive funds include:
  • Harvard Diggins Library for $11,808.75 
  • Johnsburg Public Library District for $15,526.25 
  • Marengo-Union Public Library District for $17,416.25 
  • McHenry Public Library District for $52,528.75 
  • Nippersink Public Library District for $13,985.00 
  • Rural Woodstock Public Library District for $15,767.50 
  • Woodstock Public Library for $30,962.50 
Since 1979, this annual grant program has provided funding to support the day-to-day operations of Illinois’ public libraries. According to the Secretary of State’s office, most libraries have chosen to use the money to fund library materials, programs and personnel.
State Representative Steve Reick is currently serving as a Chief Co-Sponsor of legislation that would allow family members and law enforcement to petition the court for a firearms restraining order for individuals who they believe are in imminent danger of causing harm to themselves or others due to their access to guns. Reick was a leading Republican voice in negotiating the language of the bill. In the video above, Reick explains how the bill was changed through those negotiations. The chart below also itemizes many of the changes that add protections to lawful gun owners.