Capitol Update 5-24-16

This is the final week of our regularly-scheduled session and there’s much important work yet to be completed – most notably, agreement on a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2017.  Budget talks are continuing behind the scenes with the legislative leaders and governor now re-engaged, so it can be done.

This week I will also be working to get legislation approved to go to committee that would re-open the state museum near the Capitol. The museum is important to our state’s history and to our local jobs base, and if it is not reopened by July 1 it may lose accreditation. We can’t allow that to happen.

Leaders meet to discuss budget negotiations, but many obstacles remain

Last week, the four legislative leaders met with Governor Rauner for only the second time this year. With the budget clock ticking down to the final days of our scheduled legislative session, leaders agreed to deputize lawmaker working groups, including key members of the House Republican Caucus, to discuss issues to be included in a budget agreement. The Illinois budget process has been stalled by an impasse that has now gone on for nearly 11 months.
Illinois began operating without a constitutional balanced budget to control spending on July 1, 2015, and is now the only state not to have a budget for the current fiscal year. We must work together in the coming days to get a responsible budget framework in place for the new fiscal year that starts July 1st.  it’s a daunting task, but not an impossible one.

Illinois moving closer to achieving REAL ID compliance

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office is upgrading security features to the Driver’s License/ID card design and expanding the central issuance process for driver’s licenses and ID cards to all applicants. With implementation of these changes, Illinois has moved closer to achieving full REAL ID compliance which is a federal mandate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

By the end of July, applicants visiting Driver Services facilities will no longer be issued a new permanent DL/ID card at the end of the application process. Instead, they will leave the facility with a temporary secure paper driver’s license, which is valid for 45 days and will serve as their DL/ID for driving purposes and proof of identification.

Meanwhile, the applicant’s information will be sent to a centralized, secure facility in Illinois. After fraud checks have been conducted to ensure the applicant’s identity, a higher quality, more secure DL/ID will be printed and sent via U.S. mail within 15 business days to the applicant’s address. For more information, visit the Caucus Blog here

Seed Library bill passes

Last week the House unanimously passed Senate Bill 3130, a measure aimed at preventing
government from interfering with seed libraries and seed sharing in Illinois. 
There are a couple dozen seed libraries operating in Illinois, including our local seed library at the Public Library in Chatham. The ability to save and share seed is important to food sovereignty (cultural heritage), biodiversity, and food security. By sharing, people ensure that, even if they have a crop failure, someone else nearby may be successful.

In the District…

Special thanks to Adam Bailey and Sam Snell for inviting my family out to their farms to “help” and learn more about the planting season this past weekend.  As many farmers are planting soybeans right now in the 99th district, it is always important to keep in mind that agriculture is the number one industry in our state.