Senate Week in Review: Jan. 21-25, 2019
McHenry, IL. -- A major issue with the state’s Automatic Voter Registration program is raising questions about the integrity of Illinois' elections. Meanwhile, as the Illinois General Assembly gears up for the spring session, and the process of filing new legislation begins, Senate Republicans continue to push for fair political maps. Locally, I had the privilege of participating in an Eagle Scout ceremony recognizing the accomplishments of a special young man ...
McHenry, IL. – In the wake of federal indictments, raids and elected official resignations, a special legislative panel heard testimony during the week on how to address ethics and lobbying legal loopholes. In other news, January is Human Trafficking Awareness month in Illinois, an effort to combat the exploitation of hundreds of Illinois children each year, and the Illinois State Police are hiring. Locally, there are free admission days at the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum ...
McHenry, IL. -- During the week, a Senate committee considered a possible end to the controversial use of seclusion rooms in public schools, which in many cases are used as calming rooms and are student initiated at times.
In other news, Illinois’ population decline continues to be a cause for concern as Illinois enters a new decade with nearly 160,000 fewer residents. Also this week, the state’s Comptroller announced that her office will no longer help cities collect fines for red-light camera violations, and the annual Chicago Boat Show highlights a significant part of our local economy.
McHenry, IL – This is the final installment of a three-part look at new laws taking effect January 1. Illinois’ new laws for 2020 cover everything from recreational cannabis sales to ensuring children are receiving adequate healthcare ...
McHenry, IL. – No politics or government news in this edition of my weekly column. We’ve had enough of both for 2019. I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a meaningful holiday season, and hope you are able to spend time with family and friends ...
McHenry, IL -- As people throughout Illinois prepare to ring in a new year, the Senate Republican Caucus is continuing to highlight new laws that will take effect as the clock strikes midnight on January 1. The new laws kicking off 2020 cover everything from protecting children under DCFS care to safeguarding individuals’ privacy and personal information. Also, I visited Crosby Elementary School, met with a princess and toured the Easter Seals facility on Chicago’s southwest side.
McHenry, IL. -- As 2019 comes to a close and we prepare for a new year, several notable laws take effect January 1 that Illinois residents may want to know about. Also, in this report, a look at some important local events ...
McHenry, IL. -- A recent report ranks Illinois at the bottom of the 50 states for fiscal transparency, and as a new decade looms, lawmakers must commit to improving the state’s system of drawing legislative boundaries to limit undue influence from politicians and special interests ...
McHenry, IL. – We’re going to take a break from politics in this latest edition of my column to focus on something far more important to our lives: Thanksgiving for all the gifts, blessings and opportunities we have as citizens of this great country. Let’s go back in time to October 3, 1789 when President George Washington issued this Proclamation designating November 26, 1789 as a national day of Thanksgiving:
Crystal Lake, IL… Residents looking for a convenient way to obtain services from the Secretary of State’s Office are encouraged to stop by their Mobile Unit at Algonquin Township on Tuesday, December 3. State Senators Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), Don DeWitte (R-St. Charles), and Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry) are teaming up to bring the SOS Mobile Unit to Crystal Lake as a convenience to residents ...
McHenry, IL. – The public is invited to meet with Senator Craig Wilcox on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 for ‘Conversations Untapped’ at Rush Creek Distilling in Harvard ...
Springfield -- The fall Veto Session came to a close during the week with the final days’ main focus firmly on combating the ethics problems currently plaguing the state. Also during the week, a pension consolidation measure cleared the General Assembly ...
“Ethical scandals in both chambers of our Capitol, and elsewhere in Illinois politics, has shaken the confidence of Illinois residents. The recently-proposed solution of a partisan ethics commission to ‘talk about’ reforms is not enough..."
McHenry, IL. – In this report, good news for public safety in Woodstock, Harvard and Crystal Lake, completing the Nippersink Creek Aquatic Restoration Project, a visit to West Elementary School in Crystal Lake and a report on my fall Teleforum Townhall. Meanwhile, I am heading back to Springfield to conclude the fall Veto Session and I think it’s time for lawmakers to get serious about ethics reform ...
Springfield, IL. – During the first week of the fall Veto Session, ethics was the dominant issue garnering most of the attention of legislators and the Media. Also, a controversial anti-Second Amendment proposal may appear to be on hold for now, but I recommend vigilance. In other news, the Senate approves a bill capping the cost of insulin, a must-have medication and treatment for diabetics ...
Springfield – The Senate Republican Caucus took action today to restore public trust in an honest and ethical state government. At a press conference in the Capitol’s blue room, members unveiled a legislative proposal to ensure independent investigations of members of the General Assembly ...
McHenry, IL – The Capitol is getting ready for the return of the Legislature for the upcoming fall veto session, during which lawmakers generally take actions on bills vetoed by the Governor, the Illinois Department of Transportation unveiled an ambitious $23.5 billion transportation construction and Illinois’ opioid abuse crisis is the focus of a special Senate Committee.
Meanwhile, we held successful local events including a Property Tax seminar October 15 and Medicare seminars October 22 and 24. Plus, the state improves educational opportunities for both students and teachers ...
McHenry, IL. – In this report, you’ll find the final details of my summer survey, school visits, and a State Police phone scam warning. There’s also still time to honor your veteran loved one. In other news, the Illinois Lottery added two instant games to its lineup to raise money for breast cancer awareness and for homelessness ...
McHenry, IL. – A cost of living report on McHenry County and a tax burden report about Illinois top the news in this latest column. Plus, additional results from my summer survey. Elsewhere, Illinois’ agriculture industry recently inked a deal to sell more than $2 billion in corn and soybeans to Taiwan and harvest season is underway across the state.
In other news, we had some great local events on Medicare and Identity Theft, with more events planned. I also spent time as Principal for a Day at a local school and took a tour of the Stratton Lock & Dam. Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Human Services is stepping up efforts to address drug addiction, with an emphasis on opioids and the state’s heating assistance program opens for enrollment applications ...
McHenry, IL. -- To remember our veterans, tell their incredible stories, and honor their legacy and sacrifice this upcoming Veterans Day, State Sen. Craig Wilcox encourages families to submit a tribute and photo of their loved for the Wall of Honor at the State Capitol ...
McHenry, IL. -- A one-time tax amnesty program is being offered to delinquent taxpayers beginning October 1. Also during the week, members of the Property Tax Relief Task Force continued to meet in hopes of addressing Illinois’ onerous property tax burden.
I also want to take note of Constitution Day, as we celebrated the 230th anniversary of the greatest document of self-governance in the history of the world. And, I've included initial findings from my summer newsletter survey in this report ...
McHenry, IL. -- Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, recreational marijuana sales will be legal in Illinois. With less than four months to go before the new law takes effect, dispensaries have several regulations to abide by, such as taking part in health and safety training, before opening their doors.
Also, in this report, is an update on an issue covered in last week’s column regarding the state’s most recent financial report. Additionally, I spoke at Mercy Harvard Hospital on the 18th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks to highlight the dedication and sacrifice of our first responders ...
McHenry, IL. -- New laws protecting children from secondhand smoke and allowing allow craft distilleries to deliver and sell their products directly to merchants have recently become law.
In other news, an estimated $69 million in federal aid is being sought for flood damages across the state, and new reports give mixed reviews on Illinois’ economic outlook ...
McHenry, IL. -- A number of bills sponsored by Senate Republican lawmakers were signed into law during the week, including measures expanding youth hunting, shining light on ADA violations, seeking to repurpose a state facility, and increasing pedestrian safety. Also during the week, the Illinois Gaming Board is seeking public comment on Illinois’ sports wagering and; attendance at this year’s State Fair was up dramatically.
Locally, it was a great honor to present U.S. Military medals and badges to Korean War Veteran Don Voigt, I went behind the scenes at a local Metra station, and Olde Tyme Baseball at Central Park in Grayslake ...
McHenry, IL – Some good news to report about job creation, new laws dealing with sexual assault and cancer funding, and back-to-school words of caution from the State Police highlight this report. Also, the Lake County Farm Bureau held an important event for legislators throughout the region ...
Springfield, IL. – Senate Republican Committee assignments were announced for the new 101st General Assembly, warming centers can provide help managing the predicted bitterly cold weather across the state and it’s tax filing season.
I’ll be a member of one of the Senate’s two major budget committees, in addition to serving as a member on the Energy and Public Utilities and Human Services Committees. I will also continue my role as a member of the Labor, Transportation and Veterans Affairs Committees while also serving as the Republican spokesman on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Important Committee Assignments
Agriculture is Illinois’ number one industry. I’m pleased to be part of the leadership on a committee that is so important to the economic lifeblood of our state. The Senate has two committees that handle budget requests from state agencies, departments and offices. I’ll be a member of the Appropriations I committee. The state’s poor fiscal condition is well-known. We have a responsibility to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and not add to the debt that eventually will have to be paid by every man, woman and child – when they become taxpayers as adults.
The Senate’s Energy and Public Utilities Committee will consider legislation that impacts every Illinois citizen: reliable and affordable electric and natural gas power. Illinois has tremendous energy resources. Our coal reserves are among the largest in the nation and domestic oil exploration – through new, high-tech developments – offers promise to meet our future energy needs and economic prosperity through job creation.
The Senate Transportation Committee could play a significant role in the coming months. There’s a lot of talk in Springfield about a capital construction plan that includes roads, bridges and other public transportation needs. As a state in the heart of the country, Illinois is a crossroads for interstate, rail and air traffic. A quality transportation system is an important part of our overall economic health.
As a 24-year career officer (Colonel, retired) with the U.S. Air Force, continuing my role on the Veterans Affairs Committee means a lot to me. One of the main responsibilities as a commanding officer is the welfare of the people I commanded. Illinois members of the military continue to return home as overseas combat winds down. Our committee can play a role in their health and prosperity as they transition back to civilian life.
I’ll be a member of these committees during the 101st General Assembly, which will meet over the next two years. The committees are part of the legislative process that provides public hearings for witness testimony and a more thorough debate on issues and proposed new laws before they reach the full Senate for final consideration.
DeKalb County Farm Tour
I want to thank the Illinois Pork Producers and Steve and John Ward for the great tour of their Old Elm Farms in Sycamore on Jan. 22. I saw a tremendously successful hog operation and discussed issues affecting their industry. Pork production in Illinois provides a huge economic impact to our state. With about 2,000 hog farms, our farmers rank fourth in the nation for pork production. It’s an industry that provides more than 10,000 jobs and contributes nearly $2 billion annually to the state’s economy.
Warming Centers Provide Relief
Some of the coldest temperatures of the winter season are predicted over the next week in Illinois. Designated warming centers are located throughout Illinois. Warming centers are listed alphabetically, by county, at https://www2.illinois.gov/services/GOV/warming-center.
According to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, there have been 664 cold-related deaths in Illinois over the last ten years (2008-2017).
New Legislation Introduced
While the new legislative session has yet to begin in earnest, there are already 75 new legislative measures filed with the Senate, while in the House of Representatives, 484 proposals have been filed for consideration. Over the next several months, the legislation will be heard by dozens of committees – in each chamber – before final votes are taken, most of which occur in May.
New legislation is assigned to committees, based on subject matter. Each committee will hold one or more public hearings, hear testimony – for and against the proposals – before taking an initial vote. Once a proposal wins committee approval, it moves on to the respective chambers for additional debate and approval. The Illinois General Assembly has a detailed explanation of the legislative process on the “How a Bill Becomes a Law” webpage.
Lawmakers return to the State Capitol Jan. 29. Senate Committee hearings are already scheduled.
Income Tax Filing Begins
Both the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) begin accepting 2018 individual income tax filings on Jan. 28. Illinois taxpayers can file their Forms IL-1040 for free using the IDOR’s website MyTax.Illinois.gov. Federal income tax filers can use www.irs.gov/freefile to find the IRS Free File software product that matches their situation.
According to IDOR, state taxpayers can use the state website to make payments, check the status of their Illinois Individual Income Tax refunds using the Where's My Refund? link, and look up their Illinois-Personal Identification Numbers, amounts of any estimated tax payments they have made, and (when necessary) amounts reported on Form1099-G.
More than six million individual Illinois income tax returns were filed in 2018 with 86 percent of them filed electronically. IDOR anticipates direct-deposit refunds will be issued approximately four weeks from the time an “error-free, electronically-filed return” is submitted. The filing deadline to submit 2018 individual state and federal income tax returns is April 15.