191 new laws take effect January 1, 2017. Here is a preview of 26 new laws that may be of interest to Illinoisans:

Social media right to privacy
Public Act 99-610, House Bill 4999
Amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to make it illegal for an employer or prospective employer to request or require an employee or applicant to access a personal online account (such as Facebook) in the presence of the employer. It is also illegal to request or require that an employee or applicant invite the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account of the employee, or applicant, or join an online account established by the employer.

Employee Sick Leave Act
Public Act 99-841, House Bill 6162
Under the new law, employees may now use personal sick leave benefits for purposes dealing with a child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent or step parent. The employee can use such time as may be necessary on the same terms that employee would use the time for their own illness or injury.

Traffic stop education
Public Act 99-720, House Bill 6131
Students taking drivers education courses will now be educated on safe procedures to follow during a traffic stop by law enforcement. The lesson will include such tips as remaining calm and keeping one’s hands in view at all times and will also educate drivers on their rights when in the presence of law enforcement.
Attendance at the Springfield, Illinois 2016 State Fair dropped by more than 13% on a year-to-year basis. While severe weather events – heading by a flood-level cloudburst on the night of a key scheduled musical concert – were blamed for part of the attendance shortfall the overall numbers indicated growing problems with bringing in fair-going customers and exhibitors this year. Springfield fair attendance fell from 411,547 in 2015 to 357,409 in 2016.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture, which operates the Illinois State Fair, has begun an 80,000-recipient survey exercise. A wide variety of selected Fair attendees are being sent online questionnaires intended to gather data about their State Fair visit. Questions include requests for data on potentially controversial subjects, such as the recent hike in State Fair admission ticket prices. People who get the survey will be asked to rate various facets of the State Fair experience, including exhibits, entertainment, and food. Respondents will also be asked to help the State Fair understand how many miles people travelled to attend the Fair, how many tickets were bought by a household, and whether a ticketholder also visited the Fair on a different day.
In the wake of an investigative-report series published by the Chicago Tribune that uncovered serious problems in some Illinois group homes for the developmentally disabled (DD) population, the General Assembly convened a joint committee to hold a hearing on the issue. More than 1,300 cases of abuse and neglect were uncovered by the series of news stories. Meeting on Tuesday, December 13, the committee heard from agency Director James Dimas, who described work being done by him and his top aides to understand the size of the scandal and improve enforcement of living conditions in Illinois DD group homes.

IDHS is required, under law, to supervise 3,000 licensed private-sector DD group homes throughout Illinois. These homes shelter approximately 12,000 persons with intellectual and developmental challenges, often in an extended-family setting. The treatment provided to persons in this category ranges from thoughtful, high-quality care to abuse and neglect. In some cases, DD group home caregivers are overwhelmed by the challenges of taking care of persons with two or more separately diagnosed disabilities.
The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) will be hosting two household chemical waste disposal events at their Gurnee facility located at 1311 N. Estes Street Gurnee, IL 60031 in January. Appointments are required for these two FREE events on Saturday, January 14 and Monday, January 23, 2017.

Click here to schedule an appointment

Collections are for residential waste only. No business waste will be accepted. All SWALCO collection events are FREE for Illinois residents ONLY.
The ratings from Washington, D.C.-based Leapfrog were published on Tuesday, December 6. Chicago-based Illinois teaching hospitals included the University of Chicago Medical Center; top suburban hospitals included Elmhurst Memorial Hospital in Elmhurst and the Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora; and “Top Rural Hospitals” included Richland Memorial Hospital in downstate Olney, Illinois.

The Leapfrog Hospital Survey compared hospitals’ performance on national standards of patient safety, quality, efficiency, and management structures that reduce improper treatments and doctor-patient errors. The Survey ranked Illinois first in the U.S. Midwest in terms of the number of top hospitals within the state. California, the top-ranked state, had 25 top-ranked hospitals, and Florida had 11. All other states were ranked in single digits.
The Champaign-Urbana geological think tank will study and develop technologies to enable the continued burning of fossil fuels in Illinois and around the world. Concerns have been raised about the emission of carbon dioxide when oil, gas, coal, and other fuels are burned, but geologists have long known that it is possible to gather carbon dioxide generated by fixed sources of energy (such as power plants) and inject them deep into the earth. The technology, called carbon “sequestration,” could be used to make it more attractive to burn coal and other fossil fuels for future energy.
With the “stopgap” six-month budget for the first half of FY17 scheduled to expire on December 31, pressure is being placed on key Illinois officials to develop a budget agreement. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Governor Bruce Rauner, and other leaders were meeting almost daily in Chicago. Key issues include cash flow for State spending areas covered in the “stopgap” budget. Renewed appropriations are required if these areas are to get funding in January 2017 and following months. However, no agreement has yet been reached.

Pressure for a budget deal is being driven by the deteriorating financial condition of the State. The Comptroller’s office indicated that Illinois had, as of Tuesday, December 6, piled up a backlog of unpaid bills totaling more than $10.6 billion. These include both bills that are actually in the Comptroller’s office awaiting payment and bills that are in the various State agencies and have not yet been forwarded to the Comptroller.
State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) joined Warren Township Assessor Charlie Mullin, staff and residents for the Township's annual Christmas party.

SB 2814, which parallels a recent law passed in New York State, contains a cross-subsidization program for electric markets across Illinois to support the continued operations of two nuclear power plants in Clinton and Cordova, Illinois (“Quad Cities”). Due to ongoing operating losses, Exelon had previously announced plans to close the Clinton plant in 2017 and the Quad Cities plant in 2018. One underlying theme of the legislation is the preservation of important carbon-free generating capacity for Illinois to meet power demands in the future.

As a result of passage of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, 1,500 direct jobs were saved at the Clinton and Quad Cities plants, with a total of more than 4,000 jobs impacted. In addition to the jobs saved, keeping Illinois’ nuclear plants in operation will prevent large increases in energy prices. Closure of the plants would have had a detrimental effect on electric rates, on the reliability and capacity of the grid, and on jobs and economic activity. The Illinois Commerce Commission had studied the effects of nuclear plant closures and in almost every scenario, rates would increase across the state. A report released in November by leading Illinois business organizations, including the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, indicated that preserving the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants will save Illinois businesses and consumers over $3 billion in electricity costs over the next ten years.
         Secretary of State Jesse White today unveiled new Illinois license plates that are more reflective and safer. The current plates are being replaced because a manufacturer's error causes them to lose their luster and rust. As the license plates’ reflectivity diminishes with age, it impacts law enforcement’s ability to quickly and accurately identify license plate numbers.
        The new plates, in addition to being more reflective and longer lasting, are completely redesigned with a half portrait of Lincoln on the left and a background silhouette featuring the Chicago skyline and the state capitol dome.
        The plates will be provided to drivers free of charge. The Secretary of State's office will begin mailing out new plates to the owners of the state's oldest plates and gradually replace all the plates in circulation at an expected cost of $5 million a year. The replacement program will begin this January with plates that were manufactured in 2000 and 2001. Secretary White said the long term goal of this gradual effort was to ensure that no license plate is on the road that is more than 10 years old. Vehicle owners will be notified by mail if they qualify for the new plates.  
         Motorists who are not up for replacement may still request a new license plate at www.cyberdriveillinois.com for a replacement fee of $29. Owners are encouraged to recycle their old plates by taking them to a Secretary of State facility and disposing of them in the tamper-proof bin.

The College of Lake County (CLC) recently held a "soft opening" for its new Science and Advanced Technology Building on the Grayslake Campus. The ceremonial ribbon cutting was meant to show appreciation to legislators, including State Representative Sheri Jesiel, for their advocacy efforts in garnering the state funds necessary for the building's completion. 

Construction of the energy sustainable new building is expected to be fully complete in early 2017. Representative Jesiel and others were able to secure $28.3 million from the Illinois Capital Development Board for the project. 

The building will primarily serve science programs by providing advanced chemistry, biology, engineering and sustainable technology laboratories including a mechatronics and engineering laboratory as well as four laser and photonics laboratories. These new laboratories are expected to help CLC produce a more hands-on, workforce ready STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduation field.
State Representative Sheri Jesiel joined Dr. Matt Mayer as Principal for a Day at the Kenneth Murphy School in Beach Park

Governor Bruce Rauner has announced a new council to promote economic growth and job creation. The Illinois Competitiveness Council, which will review all agency rules and regulations, will help by cutting the overly burdensome bureaucratic red tape which Illinois citizens and businesses must deal with.

The goal of the council is to save Illinoisans at least $250 million in direct license fee costs over the next decade, and save Illinois taxpayers and business owners at least 4 million pages in paperwork. It will work to ensure current regulations are up to date and relevant to today’s industries and practices; ensure the language in rules are easy to understand; reduce the amount of unduly burdensome requirements on businesses, social service providers, and citizens through both time and cost; and ensure there is a clear need for the regulation.

The Council will be comprised of a representative of each of Illinois’ regulatory state agencies. Illinois citizens are encouraged to talk directly to the Council and a website has been set up where they can report burdensome red tape they are familiar with.  
Illinois has set a goal to increase the proportion of adults in Illinois with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60% by the year 2025. College Changes Everything is a movement started by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) to help further that goal. 

The U.S. Department of Education has moved up the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process, and students are now able to file their applications beginning on October 1st. Since the FAFSA will be available at the same time students will be completing their college applications, ISAC has labeled October as College Changes Everything Month, essentially combining the activities of College Application Month and Financial Aid Awareness Month. 

As part of this effort, the University Center of Lake County is collaborating with multiple partners to host a series of financial aid workshops in high schools, colleges, libraries, and nonprofit organizations. Every workshop will be held in a computer lab so that students and families can electronically submit their 2017-18 FAFSA. The FAFSA is required to access any federal student aid and to access the State of Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) funds. Many colleges and universities also rely on FAFSA data to determine eligibility for the institution’s own financial aid funds. Some financial aid is awarded to eligible students on a “first-come, first-served” basis so students are encouraged to send in their FAFSA application ASAP. 

2016 Lake County sessions:

State Representative Sheri Jesiel visited Westlake Christian Academy in Grayslake on Thursday September 29th and spoke to students of various ages about being a State Legislator. Rep. Jesiel took questions from engaged and interested students in a senior year government class on the current issues facing the state. The students were excited to speak with Rep. Jesiel and hear about how the topics they are studying are actually applied in Illinois. “It is great to see future citizens asking smart questions about what is happening in government,” Rep. Jesiel said. “The decisions we make in Springfield will impact their future and I hope that more students become interested and get actively involved in government.” 

The Illinois General Assembly took action this spring to expand the ways that young citizens can get involved in elections, which is intended to increase their participation in the democratic process. A new law allows 17-year-olds, who will be 18 by the general election, to sign and circulate petitions, vote in primary and local elections and serve as election judges.
Rep. Jesiel then spoke with a second grade class on much less serious matters. In addition to explaining her role as a State Legislator, she took votes from the class on pizza versus ice cream to explain about rules and how voting works. 

Antioch, IL… A law signed last month by Governor Rauner created the Human Trafficking Task Force to study the growing impact that human-trafficking is having in Illinois and offer solutions by June of 2017 as to how the state of Illinois can strengthen its efforts to fight the problem and help its victims.  State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) has been leading the fight in Springfield to combat human exploitation and was the chief sponsor of the bill to create the task force, House Bill 2822.

 “I feel strongly about this issue, which is why I worked hard to get this task force created and I look forward to finding solutions by serving on it,” Rep. Jesiel said. “Right now there are lapses in Illinois' laws and practices that have left us with no set method on how to handle these victims who often have no family or support system. The task force will examine the ways that all levels of law enforcement and social services can work together to both help current victims and prevent new victims of this terrible crime.”

"Human trafficking” is a euphemism used to describe the forced movement or confinement of human beings.  Most, but not all, of the victims of human trafficking are girls or women, and most, but not all, are trafficked for purposes of sexual exploitation.  The National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which operates a nationwide hotline (1-888-373-7888) to report cases of human trafficking, reports that since 2007 they have received 130,485 reports of human trafficking throughout the United States. In some cases, more than one person is being victimized. The Center further discloses that 3,646 cases of alleged human trafficking have been reported to it so far this year throughout the U.S., including 94 cases from Illinois, which is on pace to exceed last year’s 122 reported cases. 

The bill to create the task force was a major piece of legislation championed by Rep. Jesiel in her first term in the Illinois House of Representatives. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has appointed Rep. Jesiel, along with Representatives Barb Wheeler (R- Crystal Lake) and Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) to serve on the task force.
State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R- Winthrop Harbor) was recently given a "Guardian of Small Business" award by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The NFIB is Illinois' leading small business association, representing 11,000 businesses across the state. Every two years the organization scores legislators based on key small business votes they take in Springfield. Rep. Jesiel received the award for her 83% positive voting record. 

 “As major sources of job creation, ingenuity, and services, small businesses are and will continue to be essential any state’s thriving economy.” Rep. Jesiel said. “It’s an honor to be recognized for my record of support and I am committed to fighting for our struggling small business community and future entrepreneurs.”

The State as a whole receives poor marks in the area of small businesses. A recent small business survey from Thumbtrack found that Illinois got Fs in overall friendliness, ease of starting a business, employment, labor and hiring, tax code and licensing. Illinois was second to last among the 50 states, with Connecticut ranking as the worsts. This is the third year in a row Illinois has received a failing grade from Thumbtack surveys.

Illinois small businesses make up 98% of all Illinois businesses and employ nearly have of the workforce. Last year, Illinois grew at an annual rate of 1.6% which was slower than the overall US growth rate of 1.9%.
As part of the recovery from the 2008 market crash, real estate values have increased much faster in some parts of the United States than in Illinois. As of March 31, 2016, approximately 8% of all U.S. house owners (4 million homeowners) owes a mortgage debt that is greater than the market value of the property, something known as as being “underwater.”  In Illinois, 14.4% of all homes remain under water, the 3rd-highest under-water state in the U.S. Under-water homeowners have two pathways to recover positive equity in their homes: firstly, by continuing to pay off the mortgage in times of market stability, they can reduce the debt down to a level that is lower than the market value; and secondly, they can work with their neighbors to increase community standing and achieve a positive rate of return on the market value of their home.  
          The  I-Refi program, from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), is aimed at homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than the home itself is worth.  Since August 1st eligible homeowners, have been able to apply for admission to the “Hardest Hit” program.  Residents and families helped by the program could see a reduction in the amount of unpaid equity remaining on their mortgages.
        The Illinois program is being backed by $45.7 million in U.S. Treasury funding.  It is projected that 1,800 homeowner applicants will successfully apply for admission to the program and will get debt-reduction assistance of approximately $25,000 per home.  To qualify, applicants must owe at least 10% more than the value of their home, up to $50,000.  Despite being under water, they must have been current on making mortgage payments for at least the past 12 months; and must live in the home. Previous recipients may not apply.
  • You can qualify for up to $35,000 in federal assistance by applying for the Illinois Hardest Hit Program here
  • You can learn more about I-Refi and get up to $50,000 in federal assistance here
  • You can also get help obtaining a fixed rate mortgage at At Home Illinois

Gurnee Park District and District 56 held a ribbon cutting for the new River Trail School playground. The playground was built through a partnership between the park district and school district.

The Illinois State Board of Elections was recently breached by unknown, possibly Russian, hackers. The board became aware of the breech on July 12th. The foreign hacks were made public by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cyber Division on Monday, August 29th. 

The Board doesn’t yet know exactly whose information was accessed, it can only say with certainty that almost 700 voter records were viewed and it is possible the number could be as high as 86,000Hackers could have obtained the name, address, and date of birth of voters as well as a telephone number or email address if provided when the voter registered.  Once those individuals have been identified, they will be notified as the law requires.

The ISBE currently does not believe the access changed any of the data within the database or moved the dials on any of the ways the Board tries to monitor and enforce election law.  For example, the Election Code requires disclosure of a wide variety of contributions to campaign committees and the ISBE keeps databases of these disclosures.

The office of the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security said that the Secretary has contacted state election officials, presumably including Illinois officials, to offer help in building or reinforcing “firewalls” around state election commission data.  

If at any time a voter suspects they are a victim of identity theft, he or she may contact the Illinois Attorney General’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1-866-999-5630 or 1-877-844-5461.
The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Office of Energy Assistance recently announced that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities beginning September 1, 2016.

LIHEAP and the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program are funded as part of the stopgap funding plan signed into law by Governor Rauner.

LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low-income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households. Applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. These agencies will begin accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis from the elderly and people with disabilities starting on September 1, 2016.

Springfield, IL… The State of Illinois has taken an important step forward in the fight against human trafficking. A new law sponsored by State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) creates the Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force to study the issue.

House Bill 2822 stipulates that the task force examine the traumatic impact that human-trafficking is having in Illinois and offer solutions by June of next year as to how the state of Illinois can counter this horrible crime. The task force will develop a plan to address human trafficking through increased data sharing, establishing policies to work with non-profit groups, increasing public awareness, and evaluating methods to protect the rights of victims and promote their safety. It will consist of members of the General Assembly as well as a representative from the Chicago Regional Human Trafficking Task Force and the Director of the State Police.

“This so-called ‘modern slavery’ is unacceptably prevalent in Illinois and is irreparably harming the lives of our citizens,” Rep. Jesiel said. “These are daughters, sons and even parents who live in our own communities.  Even though we rarely hear about it, we need to draw attention to this growing problem to reduce and ultimately eliminate the exploitation of very real people. The task force will serve to find ways to rescue victims and prevent the crime.”

Internationally human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry with millions of victims and their families impacted each year. More locally, Chicago is seen as a national hub for human trafficking, given its role as a major convention city.

Governor Rauner signed HB 2822 in to law over the weekend. Appointments to the 14 member task force are expected soon.

Springfield, IL… A new law from State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) will help to ensure that all officers are prepared to properly answer a domestic violence call. The crafting of House Bill 5538 was inspired by the research and personal experience of a domestic violence survivor in Rep. Jesiel’s district. 

“This bill will help to ensure that police are able to handle the delicate situation of domestic violence cases with the care and insight they need,” Rep. Jesiel said. “The goal of this legislation that enhances officer preparedness is to prevent the further victimization of those who have been abused.”

Current law mandates training in domestic violence for new recruits, but this training is minimal and does not require continuing education or more in depth training for law enforcement on the subject. HB 5588 requires law enforcement agencies to educate recruits and officers every five years with a particular focus on the psychology of abusive relationships, looking beyond the physical evidence and evaluating competing claims from both parties.

“It’s important that officers know more than just the procedural steps of what to do so they can effectively evaluate and respond to these sensitive calls,” Rep. Jesiel continued. “Officers and victims alike will benefit from a better understanding of the psychology of an abusive relationship so they can analyze things that may be going on behind what can be carefully crafted facades.”

The bipartisan bill passed both chambers unanimously and Governor Rauner signed the bill over the weekend during First Responders Day at the state fair.

Gurnee, IL…. State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) hosted a free workshop for women and girls last night. The class was a lesson in learning avoidance tactics, self-defense misconceptions, offensive techniques and defensive escapes. 

It was taught by the nonprofit group, One Light Self Defense. The One Light mission is to prepare people, especially women, to avoid, face, and heal from physical violence. One Light has taught about 100 free self-defense workshops and trained about 2500 people in the United States. In addition to conducting self defense classes across Illinois, One Light travels to Africa to teach girls and new trainers who can continue their mission once they leave. Thousands of dollars of donations from workshops have been donated to Women At Risk International, a charity that helps victims of human trafficking, to use towards their emergency and safe house funds.

Throughout her time in the General Assembly, Rep. Jesiel has worked on legislation in Springfield to advance and protect women. This past spring she passed House Bill 2822 to create a human trafficking task force. The task force will examine the traumatic impact that human-trafficking is having in Illinois and offer solutions as to how the state of Illinois can partner with other agencies to counter this prevalent practice of human exploitation.

IDVA Announce Schedule Changes
The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs representatives have reduced their hours at the Lovell Federal Health Care Center to Tuesday and Thursday only. However, the Veterans Assistance Commission is open Monday through Friday at Lovell, Bldg. 133, Rm 112 and at their Waukegan Office located at 20 S. Martin Luther King Ave from 8am-4pm.  Office hours on Saturday in Wauconda at the American Legion are by appointment only. Please call 847-377-3344 for an appointment or information.

SWALCO Household Chemical Waste Events
On Saturday, August 13th and Monday, August 22nd you can make an appointment for one of these events at the SWALCO facility located at 1311 N. Estes Street in Gurnee. Collections are for residential waste only. Click here to schedule an appointment. Items you can bring to a collection include: CFL bulbs, unwanted prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and supplements (people and pets), household cleaners, gasoline, garden chemicals, pesticides, oil-based paints and varnishes, etc.

NCICG Announce Grant Opportunities:
North Central Illinois Council of Governments recently announced two grant opportunities:
Spirit of Blue Foundation Safety Equipment and Training Grants
The Spirit of Blue Foundation is dedicated to protecting law enforcement agencies on all levels by ensuring access to equipment and training.  By working with corporate sponsors, the foundation has provided grants that have served a variety of law enforcement needs including, but not limited to trauma kits, ballistic vests and helmets, the purchase of a new K9, and dialogue training to aid officers in interacting with minority youth.  For more information about the foundation and this grant, please visit their website.

Arts Engagement, Cultural Planning, and Design Projects Grant
The National Endowment for the Arts is accepting grant applications to fund collaborative projects between non-profit cultural organizations and local governments. The projects must address community priorities such as public safety, health, blight and vacancy, environment, job creation, equity, local business development, civic participation, and/or community cohesion. Projects may include arts engagement, cultural planning, and design projects. The goal of the grant program is to improve the livability of communities through creative placemaking. Local governments and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for up to $200,000 in funding. For more information, click here.

A letter to the editor by State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor)

I had the delightful pleasure of spending an evening at the Zion Township’s Summer Program Celebration last week. If you don’t know anything about what is happening with this group of student workers and their leader/mentors, you should.

This dinner and program was the culmination of a summer of work and mentoring of 34 students who were selected and placed by the Lake County Jobs Center. Some students were assigned to outdoor work projects that assisted the community with clean-up and repair; others were assigned to work with local partners which included the Zion-Benton Library and Northpointe Resources.
Illinois pays the second highest average rate in property taxes in the country and within Illinois, Lake County residents are forced to pay some of the highest property taxes. State Representative Jesiel, acknowledging the hardships families are facing with rising property taxes despite declining home values, hosted a property tax appeal seminar Tuesday night. Local residents were given the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the steps in appealing their assessments and property tax bill. The event was co-hosted with Benton Township Assessor, Jennifer Litewski, who provided important information about the assessment process. Rep. Jesiel also heard from frustrated residents and gave an update on the efforts in Springfield to freeze and even lower property taxes across the State. 
Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers. Recently, constituents have seen a surge of these phone scams as scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other alarming things. Scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill to con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via a phishing email. Scammers often alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

Protect Yourself
Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam as the IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:
  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

For more information on scams and protecting your personal identity, please read through this powerpoint from the Illinois Attorney General's office.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently announced that it will provide the College Board’s SAT exam at no cost to all public high school juniors during the 2016-17 school year. The SAT will replace the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test as the high school state and federal accountability exam in Illinois. Both the SAT and PARCC tests align with the Illinois Learning Standards, but the SAT provides scores that can be used for college admissions purposes. 

Illinois students have traditionally taken the ACT college entrance exam. However, when deciding which testing company to use, ISBE found that the SAT is more closely aligned with state learning standards and will cost less to administer statewide. 

The decision was heavily influenced by the recent listening tour conducted by ISBE, feedback from school districts, and the state’s current budget climate.
The listening tour and school administrators found overwhelmingly that equitable access to a quality college entrance exam was essential in providing future opportunities to all students. Parents, teachers, and administrators also stressed that the amount of testing time and the number of assessments administered to students need to be reduced. By providing the SAT to all juniors during the school day, instead of PARCC, the state can eliminate redundancy and maximize the value of student testing time.

Elementary and middle school students will continue to take the PARCC assessment. PARCC results provide educators with data that may be used to provide individualized support to students to ensure they are on the right path to succeed in college and careers. 

Chicago, IL… Shortly after the announcement from Governor Rauner about the formation of a bipartisan commission dedicated to reforming the school funding formula, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) was appointed to sit on the committee. The 25 person committee chaired by Secretary of Education, Beth Purvis, will meet monthly and hear from invested, knowledgeable parties from around the state and country. 

“It is an honor to be appointed to serve on what will be an important factor in ensuring a bright future for all children in Illinois,” Rep. Jesiel said. “I look forward to working collaboratively with my colleagues to secure a more efficient and evidence based funding formula that will give every student in Illinois a quality education regardless of zip code. Like Governor Rauner, I am committed to seeing the State do more to support education. We need to fix the formula and creatively devote state resources to help take the burden off of local property tax payers.”

A report from the commission will be presented to the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly by February 1 of next year with the goal of having Springfield take action in time for the 2017-2018 school year.

Late last year Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office would suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. Many Illinois residents have complained about no longer getting the letters and then facing penalties for late sticker-renewal actions. 

Last week the House and Senate voted to waive vehicle sticker delinquent registration renewal supplemental late fees if no warning was mailed. The waiver is only effective if the Secretary of State has not previously mailed a motor vehicle license sticker-renewal notification to the affected motor vehicle owner. 

The supplemental late-fee waiver bill was approved by the House on Thursday, June 30. The House vote on HB 4334, as amended, was 111-0-0. As the Senate had previously approved the final language of the bill, the House vote marked the final legislative step necessary to send the measure to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner for final action.

To sign up for an online renewal reminder, click here.
Springfield, IL... The House and Senate today passed a stopgap funding plan meant to serve as a bridge to a more comprehensive balanced budget for Fiscal Year 17. Senate Bill 2047 provides a full year of funding for elementary and secondary education, road construction, federal programs and other non-General Revenue Fund (GRF) programs for both fiscal years 2016 and 2017. It also includes GRF money to cover utilities, food and medical services at state prisons, mental health centers, veterans’ homes and other 24 hour care facilities as well as critical human services not being paid under consent decrees or court order until the end of the year.

“While it is regrettable that it took so long to come to agreement, I'm pleased that bipartisan compromise won out before it was too late,” Rep. Jesiel said. “As we’ve seen over the past year, compromise is possible if both parties are serious and committed. This bill will ensure that schools have the resources they need for the entire year and that critical state operations and services can continue through the end of the year.”

For fiscal year 2017 operations, the total package is $50.6 billion. This includes $8.6 billion in general funds primarily for K-12 education, $33.6 billion in other state funds and $8.4 billion federal funds. K-12 education will receive more than a $520 million increase compared to FY16 to fund schools at 100% of the foundation level for the first time in seven years. This bipartisan agreement will ensure vital state services remain open and operating while the Governor and the legislature continue to work on a full year balanced budget with reforms that will help grow our economy.

Jesiel continued, “The bills we passed today are far from a panacea for Illinois’ budget and financial problems. What we have passed today is a Band-Aid for a very large wound. We should take today to acknowledge the success of passing this bipartisan effort, but get back to it tomorrow. Now is not the time to take the foot off the gas pedal, we should use this momentum to forge ahead on a full, balanced and constitutional state budget.”

SB 2047 now heads to the Governor who is expected to sign it immediately.

The University Center of Lake County will hold a free Open House on Wednesday, July 13 from 6 - 8 pm at the University Center's Grayslake facility. It will showcase the 130 academic programs from 20 Illinois institutions available in Lake County for adults who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree, earn a graduate degree or pursue professional certificates.  It will also include a half-hour workshop for prospective students who may have concerns about balancing school, work, and family life called "Mapping Your Return to School".

WXLC will be broadcasting live from the Open House until 7:30, so prospective students can stop by to meet an XLC radio personality and to try their hands at winning some immediate financial aid from the WXLC cash machine.
State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) is hosting a free document shredding event on Saturday, June 25 in Beach Park. The event will be held at Beach Park Middle School, 40667 N. Green Bay Road in Beach Park from 9am to noon.

“For anyone wishing to dispose of sensitive documents you can’t safely put in the trash anymore, this is a great opportunity,” said Jesiel. “My staff and volunteers will be available to unload documents and have them immediately shredded.”

Please note the limit of two bags per car: 

"Nothing is more important to the residents of Illinois than a bi-partisan agreement on a balanced budget. I’m dissatisfied and disappointed that the progress toward compromise was dismantled as the minutes ticked down to the end of regular session tonight.

Realistic opportunities to produce a solution existed; unfortunately, the will to pursue and enact them did not. For months, groups have been working on solutions; for months, the process was delayed in order to force a last-minute vote. We should have been able to produce and vote on a constitutionally-required balanced budget tonight. Illinoisans deserve better."
During the House floor debate on Friday with only 4 days left in the regular session, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) stood up to join House Republicans in calling for a commitment towards a budget solution and compromise.

Republicans noted that given the limited time remaining during the regular session, the House should remain in session through the weekend and allow the bipartisan budget working groups to craft a compromise.

House Republicans held a press conference immediately following the vote on an appropriation plan that spends $7 billion more in revenue than the state has coming into its coffers.

"Instead of waiting for recommendations from the bipartisan budget working groups, the Speaker decided to drop a 500-page budget that overspends by $7,000,000,000 at 4:30 this afternoon," said a frustrated Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor). "We had all of 90 minutes to review."

Read more in the Caucus Blog.