GURNEE – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) is partnering with Cell Phones for Soldiers and asking residents of the 61st District to help troops call home by donating gently-used cellular phones. Although the military landscape is ever changing, as many as 200,000 troops are serving in the United States military overseas around the world. By donating to Cell Phones for Soldiers, residents can provide a lifeline for America’s bravest. Jesiel’s office at 17801 W. Washington St. in Gurnee will be accepting phones all May.

During the month of May, Military Appreciation Month, Jesiel is highlighting the program to show the support of the community for active-duty service members and veterans. “We are very lucky to have so many men and women that willingly serve and protect our freedom,” said Jesiel. “Many of us have cell phones we no longer use that are in great shape; why not donate them to help a soldier in need call home?”

Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded in 2004 by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist at the ages of 12 and 13. The charity has since provided more than 213 million minutes of free talk time to servicemen and women stationed around the world through its calling card program, Minutes That Matter. Funds raised from the recycling of cellular phones are used to purchase prepaid international calling cards. On average, Cell Phones for Soldiers distributes 3,000 calling cards each week to bases around the world, care package programs, deployment ceremonies, and VA hospitals.
From left to right: Director Kreiger, Rep. Jesiel and Commissioner Magiera
SPRINGFIELD - Zion Park District Officials, Sheryl Magiera and Marilyn Krieger, joined Rep. Sheri Jesiel in Springfield yesterday to discuss issues facing Zion and Illinois' Park Districts. Jesiel enjoyed the opportunity to welcome them to Springfield and discuss what she can do on the state level to help Park Districts better serve their communities.

Marilyn Krieger is the Zion Park District Executive Director, while Sheryl Magiera serves as a Commissioner and Treasurer on the Park Board.
State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) recently attended an informal event sponsored by Catholic Charities Meals on Wheels. The event provided information pertaining to the Meals on Wheels program as well as presented an opportunity for Jesiel to participate in food preparation and meal delivery.

“Working alongside the men and women who prepare and deliver meals daily emphasized how important the Meals on Wheels program is; and how great the need is in our communities,” Jesiel said. “Whether someone is an employee or a volunteer, each plays an important role to this organization’s livelihood and success.”

Catholic Charities provides services to those in the community in need of assistance. One of many ways they serve the community is by providing meals for those who are homebound. Meals on Wheels will prepare a noon meal for those who are unable to do so themselves due to physical or mental difficulties.
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) passes bill to promote government efficiency with full House support.

In what has become an all too rare occasion in Springfield, members of the Illinois House voted unanimously last week to advance legislation that removes a duplicative process in state government. House Bill 4115 allows the Departments of Agriculture (IDOA) and Department of Human Services (IDHS) to provide service station information in one location on the IODA’s website. A link to IODA’s list will then be placed on the IDHS website, rather than both needing to maintain full lists on their websites.

Governor Bruce Rauner announced on Tuesday, April 21 that he will soon start an infrastructure Listening Tour (dates and locations here) in which the Governor will talk to local leaders in at least 30 separate Illinois communities to hear their needs for additional help in maintaining vital local infrastructure. At the same time, Illinois House budget working groups will be meeting on FY16 budget challenges, including issues of public infrastructure.

Deteriorating roads and bridges are expected to be a particular focus of the Governor’s tour and Illinois House discussions. Current projections, based on existing trends on motor fuel consumption and taxes paid, have looked at the current six-year Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) planning program. Current trends indicate that by the end of this six-year program 40 percent of Illinois highways, and one in seven Illinois bridges, will be in unacceptable condition.

SPRINGFIELD – State Representatives Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor), Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein), and Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) have joined with other elected officials from Lake and McHenry Counties to sponsor and pass legislation in the Illinois House to bring greater efficiency to county and local governments. Illinois has more layers of government than any other state in the United States, creating one of the most burdensome property tax scenarios nationwide. House Bill 229, which passed the House today, allows for duplicative bodies of government to be dissolved. This initiative has already been utilized in DuPage County to great effect.

“County officials and residents in both Lake and McHenry Counties have been frustrated by so many overlapping units of government for a long time,” said Wheeler. “We’ve seen how helpful this efficiency initiative has been in DuPage County and I’m very pleased we will now be able to benefit from it in Lake and McHenry Counties as well.”

HB 229 grants authority to Lake and McHenry Counties to pass ordinances, which may be ratified by referendum, to remove certain units of local government that perform the same duties as other units of local government, or lack appropriate accountability. The purpose of this is to increase efficiency in local government and help lessen the heavy tax burden already on the backs of families in Lake and McHenry Counties. In addition to being supported by a number of local leaders in both counties, it is also supported by the Better Government Association, Illinois Association of County Board Members, the Illinois Association of Realtors, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

Representatives Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) and Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake), Wheeler of the neighboring 64th District, are sponsoring House Resolution 404 in an effort to reexamine the impact of PARCC testing on Illinois. The resolution also calls on the State Board of Education to be more transparent about the implementation and use of PARCC. Jesiel and Wheeler have been joined in this call by several other General Assembly members.

Under the Common Core State Standards, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has been implemented as a means to evaluate student success in core instruction areas. However, the rollout of PARCC encountered a number of problems because the rules for the testing changed on numerous occasions in the days and weeks just before it was to be administered. This is why the resolution also calls on the State Board of Education to better communicate the process and the rules governing the testing in addition to asking the Governor to reevaluate the contract for PARCC.

The Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Mandate Reform, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, continued to hold meetings this week dedicated to the cause of reduction of burden on Illinois local governments. At a hearing in Carbondale on Monday, April 13, Sanguinetti and her colleagues continued to learn that many of these burdens are caused by mandates imposed on local governments and school districts from Springfield.

The General Assembly may well be asked, before the end of the 2015 spring session, to look at specific legislative proposals aimed at reducing these burdens. These proposals could include not only mandate reductions, but also suggested changes on local governmental labor-management relations and the consolidation of specific units of local government into efficiency-sized units.

The two weeks in mid-April ending on April 24 are the weeks set aside for floor action and final passage of House bills out of the House of Representatives. In many cases, including the fourteen House Republican members who are serving their first full terms, this is a time of intense participation in the lawmaking process as final questions are asked and answered, a bill is debated on the floor, and the final roll call taken that decides whether the bill will survive and be sent to the state Senate for further action.

House members spent long hours on the House floor this week. 444 bills had been advanced from House committees and placed on the chamber’s calendar for possible final action. The Illinois House streams live audio and video feeds of its floor action to the general public.     

HB 208 designates pumpkin pie as the official State pie of Illinois. The bill was approved by the House on Thursday, April 16 by a vote of 108-3-2.

In discussion on the bill, Representative Keith Sommer told his colleagues of the importance of the traditional American dessert to his home town. A canning plant or “cannery” in Morton, Illinois specializes in the washing, peeling, mashing, cooking, and additional processing of fiber-rich pumpkin pulp into the raw material for pie-making. The University of Illinois reports that this plant, combined with the work of area purchasers of whole pumpkins for transport and sale, mean that approximately ninety percent of the pumpkins grown in the United States for commercial sale are cultivated in the region of Peoria, Illinois.

Local soil that is simultaneously rich and sandy, washed down the Illinois Valley by melting glaciers, creates ideal farmers’ plots for pumpkins. The slogan of the Village of Morton is “The Pumpkin Capital of the World.”

The 16th president was shot in the head by an assassin on April 14, 1865 in Ford’s Theatre, Washington, and died on the following day. Lincoln’s assassination, which took place less than one week after the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army, marked the end of the Civil War and the start of a period of national mourning and reconciliation.

The Illinois House has a unique perspective on Abraham Lincoln; this legislative chamber was Lincoln’s first political home and elected position. The future President served central Illinois in the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th General Assemblies, starting in 1835 and ending in 1842. These were key years in the history of Lincoln’s home town of Springfield, as the aggressive advocacy of Lincoln and his colleagues was decisive in the selection of the Sangamon River community to be Illinois’ permanent state capital. The “Old State Capital,” which still stands in Springfield’s central city, was built in response to Lincoln’s urgings. A legislator’s desk, believed to be Lincoln’s, has been re-installed in the chamber and is seen by tens of thousands of visitors annually.

SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) passed her first major piece of legislation in the Illinois House of Representatives this week. The legislation, House Bill 2822, creates the Human-Trafficking Task Force Act. The task force will examine the traumatic impact that human-trafficking is having in Illinois and offer solutions by June of 2016 as to how the state of Illinois can counter this surprisingly prevalent practice.

“Although many of us don’t realize it, human-trafficking occurs right under our noses each and every day in many of our communities,” said Jesiel. “While there are many initiatives under way around the country and Illinois that seek to curtail human-trafficking, many challenges still remain. This legislation allows for a thorough examination of how the perpetrators are circumventing current law and recommend better methods so that we as a state can stop this heartbreaking practice and rescue the thousands impacted by this everyday in Illinois.”
University of Illinois index shows significant improvement trend. The Illinois Flash Index, a tabular reduction of Illinois economic numbers and trends published by the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs, rose to 107 in March. The Institute’s Fred Giertz credited Illinois employers with reducing the State’s jobless rate to 6.0% in February. As a momentum indicator, the Flash Index often uses the most-recent figures from previous months to show the momentum of key sectors within Illinois’ economy.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. To address increases in the sexual exploitation of youth, the Lake County Sheriff's Office is hosting a public safety forum entitled Technology and Pornography - Keeping Youth Safe on Friday April 24, 2015 at the CLC's C-005 Auditorium in Grayslake from 8:00 a.m. to noon.

Guest speakers include Dr. Mary Anne Layden, Director of Education for the Center of Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Liz Yore, former special counsel for Harpo Studios and former general counsel at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Detective Chris Covelli, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Cyber-crimes task force.

Only five days after the end of the Civil War, President Lincoln was fatally shot on the night of April 14, 1865. He died the following day, April 15. Following these tragic events, the newly-reunited United States combined in an emotional event of mourning and national reconciliation that was encapsulated in the westward progress of Lincoln’s funeral train. The Springfield-based Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has worked with other entities on a series of observances to mark the anniversary of the assassination.

The wisdom of SOFIA will be shared with science teachers at a free workshop at the College of Lake County scheduled in conjunction with Lake County Astronomy Day on April 25. NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors Marcella Linahan (Carmel High School) and Lynne Zielinski (Yerkes Observatory/National Space Society) will report on their trip aboard NASA's SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) aircraft.

In addition to describing how NASA astronomers use the SOFIA telescope to see beyond the visible light spectrum into infrared, the two will demonstrate several hands-on classroom activities related to infrared light that can be used in any elementary or high school science classroom. The goal of these activities is to help students understand how scientists explore the universe using infrared light so as to enhance student interest in and curiosity about space science.

Illinois helps U.S. Navy prepare for launch of new submarine. The capital ship, which will be called the “U.S.S. Illinois” when it enters commissioned service, is in the final stages of being fitted out on the East Coast and is expected to be launched later in 2015. Chicago business leaders are helping train two key members of the crew – the culinary specialists who will man the submersible boat’s tiny galley.

Physically slightly smaller and with smaller crews than the armored battleships that were once the backbone of the U.S. Navy, an attack submarine like the “U.S.S. Illinois” is in some ways even more heavily armed. A crew of 145 to 150 men will sail on a six-month tour of duty, much of which will be spent submerged. Modern technology even allows submarines to communicate with naval headquarters while deep under water. Although the “Illinois” is only 370 feet long, the “silent service” believes that American submarines serve as the ultimate deterrent to potential enemy action.

Seeking to utilize its globally-ranked standing in materials research and development, the University of Illinois this month finalized plans to oversee the construction of a new medical school adjacent to its primary Champaign-Urbana campus. The plans were described on Sunday, March 22 by the USA Today.

Responding to researchers who see increasing challenges and opportunities in biomedicine, the University of Illinois sees the new medical school as a way to bring together the College of Engineering and the clinical resources of the nearby Carle hospital-and-health-system. The University’s trustees repeatedly assured staff and affiliated professionals at their existing medical school, the University of Illinois College of Medicine, that the decision did not signal any diminution of their support level for the existing UIC school, which is organized around a traditional urban teaching-hospital model and is affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago.