Taxes
•    “Tax rollback day” approaches.  Under the terms of Illinois’ largest-ever tax increase law, P.A. 96-1496 (SB 2505) Illinois income taxes paid by individuals and corporations are scheduled to be partly (not completely) rolled back on January 1, 2015.  Under the terms of the tax-hike law, passed by legislative Democrats and signed by Gov. Quinn, the income tax paid by Illinois residents on their individual income is scheduled to be partly rolled back from 5.00% in calendar year 2014 to 3.75% in calendar year 2015 and following years.  The corporate income tax rate is scheduled to be partly rolled back from 7.00% to 5.25% at the same time.  The new rates created by this rollback are supposed to remain in place for 10 years, until December 31, 2024, when a second rollback cycle is supposed to take place.

Flu Season
•    Flu season hits Illinois with medical warnings.  Infectious disease specialists point out a gap between the strains of flu protected against by each fall’s flu vaccine and the strains that actually hit the United States.  The Associated Press and its partner, the Northwest Herald, reported an increase in flu-related hospital admissions on Saturday, December 13.  The Department of Public Health reports that 115 of these patients have been admitted to intensive care treatment units.  Cases of flu often need to be monitored with special care when the victim or potential victim is already facing other long-term or acute health challenges. 

Persons with infectious diseases are encouraged to stay away from public places, including schools, workplaces and especially health facilities.  The Chicago Tribune reported climbing absentee rates at Illinois primary and secondary schools on Wednesday, December 17 as parents withdrew pupils from classes and activities.  Persons who have been vaccinated will continue to be partly protected from this year’s flu threat.   
Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner – Inauguration, Budget
•    State’s chief executive position to change hands on Monday, January 12, 2015.  The office of Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has unveiled their inauguration website.  Events, to be held on Sunday, January 11 and on Inauguration Day, will be held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, the Lincoln Presidential Library, and the Old State Capitol. 

The swearing-in ceremony itself will be held at Springfield’s Prairie Capital Convention Center on Monday, January 12.  Attendees at the space-limited facility are requested to be present at 11:00 a.m.  In addition to Rauner, Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, Secretary of State Jesse White, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Treasurer-elect Mike Frerichs will take their oaths of office. 

It is expected that the ceremony will include a moment of silence in honor of the late Comptroller-elect Judy Barr Topinka, and that Governor-elect Rauner will be granted the opportunity to appoint a new Comptroller soon after taking the oath.  
Illinois Comptroller – Succession
•    Quinn appoints Stermer Comptroller; Rauner to appoint for full term.  The incumbent and recently-reelected Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka passed away on Wednesday, December 10.   A legal consensus calls for her office to be refilled in stages.  In the first stage, urgently required to carry on essential State cash flow business, departing Gov. Pat Quinn named longtime aide Jerry Stermer as temporary Comptroller on Friday, December 19 to serve the remaining days of Topinka’s first term.  Stermer will voluntarily step down as Comptroller on January 12, 2015.

The second stage of replacing Topinka will cover the four-year term for which she was elected in November 2014, starting on January 12, 2015 (the inauguration day for Illinois statewide elected officials).  The Constitution has given Governor-elect Bruce Rauner the right to make an appointment during this four-year period.  The newly-appointed Comptroller will have the heavy responsibility of supervising the State’s money during a time of unprecedented demands on the cash flow of the State.  Topinka revealed, before her death, that the State’s total of unpaid bills had climbed above $6 billion (Monthly Money Matters).
Judy Baar Topinka – biography
•    State Comptroller passes away in office; veteran elected official is remembered by both parties. Judy Baar Topinka, a lifelong resident of historic Riverside, Illinois, passed away on Wednesday, December 10.  The incumbent State Comptroller had just been reelected by popular vote to serve a second term in office; she would have taken her oath of office alongside Governor-elect Bruce Rauner on Monday, January 12.

Praise flowed in honor of Topinka’s memory from leaders of both political parties, aware that Topinka had been the most senior member among Illinois’ elected statewide officials.  First elected to statewide office in 1994 as the state Treasurer, Topinka temporarily stepped down in 2006 following an unsuccessful run for Governor.  The veteran executive then again sought statewide office in 2010 as state Comptroller, easily winning election to a four-year term in a new office.  Topinka was completing this term when she died this week.
"I was very saddened to learn of the passing of Judy Baar Topinka. Judy was an exceptional leader for our state. She paved the way for many women like me to become involved in the political process in Illinois, and her commitment to sound fiscal management will be sorely missed." 

A personal note:
•    With my first veto session under my belt, I wanted to take a moment to give you a personal note on the state of affairs in Springfield with this weeks ‘Week in Review.’ The first week of veto session was largely procedural and passed without much fuss. However, the second week contained much more excitement and unfortunately some very controversial bills were forced through the legislature on party-line votes by the majority party.

Thanks to the efforts and concerns of so many of you, the education funding bill, Senate Bill 16, was not called for a vote and will likely be reevaluated in the upcoming 99th General Assembly, hopefully providing for a more transparent and equitable process. Sadly, Senate Bill 172 was passed, which makes it deliberately more difficult for the trained professionals with our County Clerk’s office to do their jobs and preserve the integrity of the election process. This bill was passed on a party-line vote and demonstrates the worst of Chicago politics following the results of this year’s election, subverting the ability of Governor-Elect Rauner to be involved in the process. In addition, a party-line vote also passed on another unfunded mandate to all of us Lake County taxpayers. Senate Bill 3075, a bill that was brought at the behest of special interest, increases the costs of jury trials by more than six-times. Lake County anticipates costs to increase by an estimated $500,000, the last thing we needed to help steer our economy in the right direction and relieve the heavy burden already on the back of property taxpayers. Further details on this legislation, and much more, is below so I hope you will read on.

While veto session may have ended on a sour note, we can look forward to a change in direction in the new year. Governor-Elect Rauner does have an uphill battle to right the financial shape of Illinois, but I look forward to working with him and my colleagues to pursue the fiscal responsibility we greatly need to bring back Illinois. – Sheri Jesiel, State Representative

SPRINGFIELD – Today Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) joined with her colleagues to in the Illinois House of Representatives to pay tribute to her predecessor JoAnn D. Osmond. This summer, Osmond brought to a conclusion a career in public service that spanned more than 30 years of service. Osmond was honored with House Resolution 1394 for her dedication to public service.

“I’ve said on many occasions how grateful I am to JoAnn for her service to the 61st District and how I hope to carry on in the big shoes she has to fill,” said Jesiel. “JoAnn has spent her life serving the needs of others, whether it was as member of the Illinois House of Representatives, in charity, volunteering her time, or being a loving mother, grandmother, mentor, and friend to so many, myself included. I know that all of my colleagues and I wish her a very happy retirement.”
General Assembly – Veto Session
•    General Assembly prepares for second week of veto session.  The second week of veto session is scheduled to take place immediately after Thanksgiving.  The three days of active session will take place on Tuesday, December 2 through Thursday, December 4.  Issues to be discussed could include regulation of the ridesharing industry, the State school aid formula, and extension for one year of the Illinois Medical Practice Act.

These are all existing issues with established legislation before the 98th Illinois General Assembly’s fall veto session.  Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has signaled that he would like to work separately with the newly-elected 99th General Assembly on new problems facing the State that have appeared during and after the November election.  House Republicans in the 99th General Assembly will be led once again by Leader Jim Durkin (R-Burr Ridge).
General Assembly – veto session
•       Illinois legislature convenes for first week of “veto session.”  By constitutional law, the lawmakers must gather in November to consider vetoes by the Governor while addressing any pressing issues of public concern.  In all, eleven House committees held meetings to look at these bills and issues. 

This week they were joined by Sheri Jesiel of Winthrop Harbor, a new member who enjoyed her first session day in Springfield (http://www.thecaucusblog.com/2014/11/jesiel-attends-first-springfield-session.html) as the appointee to serve out the term of retiring Representative JoAnn Osmond.  The second week of veto session is scheduled to take place immediately after Thanksgiving (http://ilga.gov/house/schedules/2014_Veto.pdf).

SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) attended her first session in the Illinois House of Representatives this week. Jesiel was welcomed to the chamber by her new colleagues and immediately took up her duties of the veto session concerning legislation vetoed by Governor Quinn this summer.

“I would like to thank my colleagues for their warm welcome to the chamber,” said Jesiel. “JoAnn Osmond was a wonderful Representative for the 61st District with big shoes to fill. I hope to carry-on in her foot-steps, and that of her husband Tim before her, in bringing sensible, fiscally responsible leadership to Springfield for the sake of the residents of the 61st District.”

Jesiel was appointed to represent the 61st District following the retirement of former State Representative JoAnn Osmond in July. While Jesiel was appointed to the fill the temporary void left by Osmond’s retirement, she was elected to a full term this fall to represent the 61st District in the upcoming 99th General Assembly that will convene this January.
Budget – Medicaid
•    House Republicans again push to impose limits on the rate of Medicaid growth.  Medicaid patient headcounts and expenditures are shooting up nationwide. This pattern is partly due to the federal Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), which encourages the states to expand and enlarge their individual Medicaid programs.  In 2012, 72.2 million American residents – more than one-fifth of the nation’s population – were covered by Medicaid for at least one month.  In their story this week, “Reversing the Medicaid Tidal Wave in Illinois”, The Caucus Blog describes the national numbers.

Led by Deputy House Minority Leader Patti Bellock, Illinois has tried to begin to move in the opposite direction.  Illinois Medicaid patient headcounts, already high by nationwide standards when the Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010, were set to go even higher.  Bellock pushed the General Assembly to enact a new Medicaid reform package in the 2012 spring session.  Faced with taxpayer anger, many lawmakers joined with Bellock to enact key elements of the package into State law.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has provided an FAQ to answer questions related to the Ebola virus. The Department will continue to keep the public informed of preparedness efforts here in Illinois as they develop.

Please click HERE to read the FAQ and a link to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for further information.
ZION – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) joined fellow members of the Zion Station Community Advisory Panel (ZCAP) in presenting their quarterly report to area residents this week, updating the public on progress as the decommissioning of Zion Station remains on schedule.

ZCAP is a volunteer, non-regulatory body formed to enhance open communication, public involvement and education on Zion Station decommissioning activities. Comprised of representatives selected from legislative, business and community groups, ZCAP is required to meet quarterly, or on an as-needed basis, but no fewer than two times a year. Meetings are open to the public with a public comment period included.
GURNEE – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) has joined a number of her colleagues in the Illinois House to support House Resolution 1276. The resolution, which has over 40 sponsors so far, calls for members to oppose Senate Bill 16, which seeks to shift education pension costs from the state to local schools. The effect of which would lead to even higher property taxes as school boards seek to meet the demands of higher funding needs.
“For several years now the state has been delinquent in its obligation to the pension system,” said Jesiel. “Instead of focusing on managing budgets more responsibly, the state is once again trying to pass the burden on to local property taxpayers. Residents should not be forced to sacrifice more of their hard earned paychecks because of the failings of political leaders.”
On Monday, October 27, 2014, every veteran visiting The Anti-Cruelty Society at 510 North LaSalle Street in Chicago during regular business hours to find that special four-legged companion to add to their family will have their adoption fees waived thanks to a generous donation from Fih Third Bank (all standard adoption requirements apply).
The Illinois Tollway has announced that I-Passes are on sale from October 1 through December 31, 2014. The cost to open a new I-PASS account is reduced to $30. This includes a $10 deposit and $20 pre-paid toll amount. This offer is only available by calling 1-800-UC-IPASS (1-800-824-7277) -- and is not available online or at Jewel-Osco store locations.
The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal is currently seeking qualified applicants for various positions within the agency; including three in the Chicago area. If you or anyone you know may be interested, please click HERE for complete job listings and online application.
Announcement from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)
 
Every year, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning offers a high school leadership development program called Future Leaders in Planning (FLIP).  The program is for students interested in learning about regional planning needs and what can be done to solve them. The deadline for applications is next Monday, September 22. 

GURNEE – In one of her first actions upon taking office on July 2, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) indicated she would decline state pension benefits provided to members of the Illinois General Assembly. An accountant by trade and fiscal conservative, Jesiel said her decision reflects a personal commitment to fiscal discipline and her conviction that being entrusted as an elected official should be a public service and not an incentive for personal financial enrichment.

GURNEE – Residents of the 61st District wishing to turn in an old U.S. flag and exchange it for a new one may bring their used flag to the district office of State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) now through Wednesday, September 10, 2014 in honor of 9/11 remembrance. Area residents that are not constituents of 61st District may also bring their flags in for proper disposal.

Rep. Jesiel is sponsoring the U.S. Flag Exchange and Disposal Program through her district office as a way to provide area residents with the ability to honor our nation by having their old flags properly disposed of. Residents of the 61st District can obtain a new U.S. flag to display or keep at their home or office, while supplies last. Non-district residents may also bring in old flags for proper disposal, while veterans may receive a new flag even if they do not have one to exchange. The program is free of charge and provided at no cost to taxpayers.

“With the anniversary of 9/11 approaching, what better way to express your pride in being an American than to fly our nation’s flag at your home or business to show support for our troops serving overseas, and to honor the memory of the first responders and those who lost their lives on that fateful day,” said Jesiel. “I hope local residents will take advantage of this opportunity to honor our nation.”

Rep. Jesiel’s District Office is located on the lower level of the Warren Township Center at 17801 W. Washington Street, Gurnee, IL 60031. For further details contact Rep. Jesiel’s Legislative Aide Kelly at 847-855-9600.

GURNEE – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) sat in on her first meeting with the Illegal Gun Trafficking Task Force last week following her recent appointment to the Task Force by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Westchester). Given the scourge of illegal gun violence that has plagued the city of the Chicago in recent months, and fear that it may spread to suburban communities, the efforts of the task force have become ever more pressing.

“The fear that violence due to illegal gun trafficking may spread beyond the confines of Chicago is a sad reality we must consider,” said Jesiel. “We know that Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the nation, and I think it will be vital that the task force delve into the ways in which we currently utilize these laws on the basis investigation, conviction, and penalization. There won’t be a simple answer, but we must ensure the violence associated with illegal gun trafficking doesn’t spread to our suburban communities or lead to the unnecessary targeting of law-abiding citizens. I look forward to working with the state police and the task force to find ways to deal with this troubling issue.”

The state police have highlighted on numerous occasions that the straw-purchasing of guns, 60 percent of which occur in other states, is the primary method that unregistered guns are getting into the hands of those determined to commit crime. According to statistics from the City of Chicago, twice as many illegal guns are recovered in Chicago compared to Los Angeles, and seven-times the number of New York City. Additionally, Chicago has the highest number of gang members per capita of any major U.S. city. This, and other factors, has led to the Governor’s decision to send the state police into Chicago to assist the Police in an effort to stop the violence.

GURNEE – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) held her first annual recycling fair at Viking Middle School in Gurnee this past Saturday. The event offered recycling and donation for a number of items ranging from electronics to clothing and was a big hit with local residents.

“I’m pleased that so many residents took advantage of this occasion to clear-out their closet in a responsible and helpful way,” said Jesiel. “While the electronic recycling was a big hit, it was great to see so many donations to the Goodwill, U.S. flags collected for proper disposal, and old cell phones turned in to the Lions Club to be reused.”

The event featured electronic recycling, clothing donation, used U.S. Flag collection, battery recycling, and also keys, eyeglasses, and hearing aids recycling. Collecting vendors included, American Legion Post 771, the Goodwill Store, the Gurnee Lions Club, and Vintage Tech Recyclers. Jesiel said since the event was so successful she looks forward to hosting it again in the future.

GURNEE – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) is inviting residents of the 61st District to join her for her first annual recycling fair to be held at Viking Middle School in Gurnee. The event will offer recycling and donation for a number of items ranging from electronics to clothing.

“This event is a great opportunity for residents to properly dispose of items like old electronics or flags that often sit around collecting dust because nobody knows the right place to recycle them,” said Jesiel. “In addition, it will be a great opportunity to help those in need with donations of clothing or furniture to Goodwill. I hope residents will take advantage of this occasion to clear-out their closet in a responsible and helpful way.”  

The event will feature electronic recycling, clothing donation, used U.S. Flag collection, battery recycling (all but car batteries), and also keys, eyeglasses, and hearing aids recycling. For a comprehensive list of recyclable items, please visit www.sherijesiel.com. Collecting vendors include, American Legion Post 771, the Goodwill Store, the Gurnee Lions Club, and Vintage Tech Recyclers.   

            WHO:             State Representative Sheri Jesiel
                                    Constituents of the 61st District

            WHAT:           Recycling Fair

            WHEN:          Saturday, August 2
                                    9a.m. to Noon

            WHERE:        Viking Middle School
                                    4462 Old Grand Ave.
                                    Gurnee, IL
GURNEE – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) is inviting residents of the 61st District to join her for coffee and snacks at a series of upcoming “Java with Jesiel” events to be held around the district. The purpose of these events is to be a meet and greet opportunity for constituents to discuss with Jesiel what issues facing the state are most important to them.

“We are facing a number of issues in Illinois, notably how to solve our state’s ever worsening fiscal insolvency, which impacts far more than just how large the budget deficit is,” said Jesiel. “While dealing with the budget is a major concern, there is a multitude of other issues we as a state need to address, some known and others less so, which is the purpose of these meet and greet events. I believe it is essential that when I’m in Springfield my efforts reflect the needs and concerns of my district. The best way to do that is to speak directly with people.”

Three “Java with Jesiel” events will be held in the coming weeks in Antioch, Gurnee and Zion. Constituents are encouraged to come prepared talk about what issues they feel state government should be tackling and their ideas on ways to deal with those issues.

            WHO:             State Representative Sheri Jesiel
                                    Constituents of the 61st District

            WHAT:           “Java with Jesiel” meet & greet

            WHEN/WHERE:

Monday, July 28                      Tuesday, July 29                                 Monday, August 4
7:30 to 8:30 a.m.                     6:30 to 7:30 p.m.                                 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.
Café Book                               Grandwood Park                                  It’s All Good Coffee & Espresso
395 Lake St., Antioch             Community Center                              2780 Sheridan Rd., Zion
                                                36630 N. Hutchins Rd., Gurnee

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Rep. Sheri Jesiel met with veterans during the Traveling Veterans Assistance Commission at Warren Township Center. She was also introduced to a number of local seniors by Warren Township Supervisor Sue Simpson as they began to arrive at this past Wednesday’s senior pot luck lunch. 






Gurnee…Legislation formally recognizing the international definition of dyslexia, which was sponsored by former State Representative JoAnn Osmond (R-Gurnee), was signed into law by the Governor last week.  Under the new law, the Illinois State Board of Education will now recognize dyslexia as a learning disability and allow students who suffer from dyslexia to receive the extra help they need.  Current State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor), who was recently appointed to replace Osmond, called this new law a landmark piece of legislation for education in Illinois and a fitting example of the exceptional work done by Representative Osmond.

“For years parents of dyslexic children have been fighting to get their children the extra help they need to succeed in school, and for years they have hit road block after road block,” said Rep. Jesiel.  “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of JoAnn Osmond, dyslexia will for the first time be formally recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education and the road blocks will finally be torn down.  We must ensure that all children receive a world class education and that no one is left behind simply because they learn information a little differently than other kids.”

Dyslexia is the most common form of reading, writing, and spelling difficulties and it is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 students suffer from some degree of dyslexia.  Previously, schools were allowed to adopt their own rules to recognize dyslexia; however, due to budgetary constraints and a lack of understanding of dyslexia, few schools provide dyslexia specific services. 

“I was extremely honored to carry this legislation on behalf of the children and parents that deal with dyslexia everyday of their lives,” said Osmond.  “This recognition will open the door to a wealth of resources for both teachers and students.  Fewer than half of the states recognize this condition, limiting the educational potential of millions of children. It gives me great pride that Illinois is taking a leading role for such an important matter.”


GURNEE – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R – Winthrop Harbor) has signed onto a letter with several other state and local officials concerning the future of the Waukegan coal plant. The plant was recently bought by New Jersey-based NRG Energy. The letter sought to welcome NRG to the community in addition to encouraging the development of a thorough plan for the future of the plant and the retention, and potential growth, of the existing workforce through new energy initiatives.

“Over the past several years a multitude of industrial jobs have been lost in our state, leaving many people without meaningful and reliable work,” said Jesiel. “We have the potential for a vibrant energy industry in Lake County and that’s why it is essential to work with NRG Energy. Working with NRG will not only ensure the development and growth of a vibrant energy economy, but also allow for the retention and expansion of workforce for communities across the county.”

The letter states: “We encourage you to provide our communities with certainty on a long-term plan for the coal plant and to engage stakeholders in Lake County in a transition process to explore meaningful opportunities for retraining of the workforce at the plant as well as revitalization of the site with an eye toward creating local jobs and an on-going tax base.”

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