•    “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).