Watershed efforts in Lake County are an important topic that may be of interest to many area residents, municipal and county leaders. To learn more on what these important efforts are, GFWC Zion Woman’s Club invites all interested residents, businesses, city officials, county leaders or others to join them at their meeting to hear Angela Larsen of The Alliance for Great Lakes speak on this topic on April 4, 12:30 pm, at Grace Missionary Church Fellowship Hall (lower level), 1415 27th Street, Zion.

For additional information, please contact Club President, Regina Orawiec, at (847) 445-6444 or visit: www.zion.gfwcillinois.org.
State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) has joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and more than 20 House colleagues to offer comprehensive pension reform legislation. House Bill 4027 would provide significant savings for taxpayers to address Illinois’ unsustainable $130 billion unfunded pension liabilities. The legislation is modeled after legislation introduced in a bipartisan manner in the Senate.

House Bill 4027 includes:
  • Senate President John Cullerton’s “consideration model” that would require members of TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, and CTPF to exchange their Tier 1 COLA for the right to have future raises to be counted as pensionable, or keep their COLA and sacrifice future raises as pensionable. This concept previously received union support by the We Are One Coalition;
  • Closes new member participation in the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS); 
  • Offers Tier 1 TRS, SURS, SERS and GARS employees the option to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan; 
  • Creates a voluntary Tier 3 Hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plan for new Tier 2 employees under TRS, SURS, and certain SERS members who do not participate in Social Security.
“Pension reform is essential to solving Illinois’ long-term financial problems,” said Jesiel. “Through this legislation, we can achieve short-term savings of $2.25 billion to help close the current budget deficit and put us on a path to address the unsustainable $130 billion unfunded pension liabilities that are driving residents out of Illinois every day. The bill is consistent with bipartisan legislation in the Senate and the Governor is prepared to sign it. I hope Speaker Madigan will work with us to take this important step toward a balanced budget.”
The Chief County Assessment Office and Lake County Township Assessors Association offer help to senior citizens ages 65 and older who want to complete the 2017 Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Application for taxes payable in 2018 as well as assistance to taxpayers who may qualify to apply for other homestead exemptions. Attend an upcoming outreach session where residents can work one-on-one with a staff member to complete the necessary forms. The Senior Freeze Application is due by July 7. View Upcoming Outreach Sessions.
A statewide survey on drug threats was commenced in April 2016 by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (CJIA). CJIA asked a sample of police chiefs and county sheriffs to identify the drugs in their jurisdictions that they saw most frequently trafficked. Eighty-three chief law enforcement officers responded to the questionnaire. In results published this week, the police chiefs identified heroin and prescription drugs (many of them opiate painkillers) as the most-frequently-trafficked substances within their jurisdictions. The illegal sale of these drugs is a criminal offense under the Controlled Substances Act.
Members of the House Republican Caucus called on House Democrats to respect the wishes of Illinoisans by allowing redistricting reform, HJRCA17, to be called for a vote immediately.

HJRCA 17 would allow voters to decide, by statewide referendum, to amend the Illinois Constitution to create the Independent Redistricting Commission for the purpose of drawing legislative districts. A poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute last fall found that 72% of voters, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, supported the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative district maps.

Members noted that redistricting reform is directly tied to the state budget and the failure of having unbalanced budgets for more than 10 years.
The Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation directing the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of the Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). The resolution (HR 34) sponsored by State Rep. Charlie Meier was introduced in light of the abuse and neglect which took place throughout the state in group homes for the developmentally disabled dating back to 2011.

The tragic reports of abuse and neglect came to light thanks to the Murray Parents Association’s work with the Chicago Tribune, sparking an investigation by the newspaper, then followed by the Tribune publishing its story earlier this year titled “SUFFERING IN SECRET: Illinois hides abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities,” in which the newspaper “identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and determined at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years.”
Last week, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) passed two pieces of legislation through the Illinois House to streamline Illinois’ regulatory process. House Bills 3272 and 3273 give greater adjustability to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to administer the Lake Michigan commercial fishing program.

“It is no secret that Illinois’ regulatory system is in critical need of reform,” said Jesiel. “These pieces of legislation help mitigate the restrictiveness of the regulatory system by giving the Department of Natural Resources more flexibility. Through these changes, IDNR will be able to more effectively address changing biological and economic conditions that impact the Lake Michigan commercial fishing program and avoid the bureaucratic red tape that so often holds things back in Illinois.”

Under House Bill 3272, IDNR will have the ability to update the commercial methods permitted to take fish in Lake Michigan based on changing economic and biological factors without requiring new legislation from the General Assembly. This change will allow the department to be much more responsive to changes posed by shifting lake conditions.
The Office of the Comptroller reported this week that Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills has reached $12.8 billion, representing $1,000 for each of the 12.8 million men, women and children who call Illinois home.

Money owed by the State and awaiting payment includes monies to Illinois health service providers, institutions of higher education, providers of social services, and many other program service providers. The last full Illinois General Assembly budget expired on June 30, 2015, and the last partial Illinois budget ceased to operate on December 31, 2016. The Illinois General Assembly is currently debating budget action for FY18, starting July 1, 2017. Challenges facing Illinois budgeteers include a pattern of flat Illinois tax revenues, reflecting few new jobs created, and rising Illinois spending commitments, particularly commitments relating to medical services provided under Medicaid and other programs.
In an effort to make state government and the legislative process more accessible to Illinois residents, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) is providing a link to translate the Illinois General Assembly website, www.ilga.gov, into various different languages.

The Illinois General Assembly website contains legislator profiles, full text of all legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and State Senate, live audio and video feeds of legislative session and committee hearings; as well as a wide variety of other legislative information and support services.

Please click any of the links below to translate the Illinois General Assembly website into your preferred language:

Spanish         Español
Arabic          عربي               
Hindi           हिन्दी      
Chinese (Simplified) 中文简体               
Chinese (Traditional) 中文繁體                
Japanese        日本語 
Korean          한국어             
Russian         Русский 
French          Français    
German        Deutsch             
Italian            Italiano           
Polish             Polski        
Greek             Ελληνικά 
In recognition of International Women’s Day last week, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) spoke of the pervasive impact of human trafficking in Illinois and called on her House colleagues to help raise awareness to end this form of human exploitation.
The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County will be hosting two household chemical drop-off events at their facility located at 1311 N. Estes Street Gurnee, IL 60031.

Saturday, March 11th, 2017 and Monday, March 27th, 2017

APPOINTMENTS ARE REQUIRED for Household Chemical Waste Events located at the Gurnee Facility to ensure safety & efficiency. Collections are for residential waste only. No business waste will be accepted. All SWALCO HCW Collection Events are FREE for Illinois residents ONLY.
Are you a developer, business, municipality, local agency, or resident that lives or works in Lake County? If so, you're encouraged you to attend an Open House on March 15, to provide feedback on proposed changes and revisions to Lake County ordinances that may affect you.

Several Lake County Departments are reviewing and updating ordinances, and you are invited to join them for an open house to review the changes, provide feedback and ask questions. They are bringing each of these departments together in one spot so that customers and stakeholders can get all of the information you need in one stop.

Please attend one of these meetings, or submit comments through the Ordinance website.

Two Open House Sessions Available:
Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Times: 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. OR *4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Location: Lake County Division of Transportation, 600 Winchester Road, Libertyville
Advanced placement courses and exams, which are familiar to Illinois honors high school students, are courses that are meant to signal the ability of a student to master collegiate-level education in a variety of fields. Many colleges and universities will accept AP test results as a partial substitute for hours of course instruction. AP test results can make the difference, for some students, between graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in four years versus requiring five years or more to complete the required course work for a degree.

State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith announced Illinois’ AP numbers and national standing on Friday, February 24. Almost 40% of Illinois’ 2016 high school graduating class took AP tests prior to graduation, with 64% of this subset passing their test. This success rate meant that an unprecedented one-quarter of the 2016 Illinois graduating class earned potential college credits from this pathway. This 25% number was a sharp increase from 14% for ten years earlier. School districts throughout Illinois are encouraging their pupils to take AP courses and exams. Superintendent Smith’s announcement was based on new nationwide Class of 2016 information from the College Board, the consortium that operates and oversees the Advanced Placement system.
In another move intended to discourage the payment of tolls in cash, the Illinois tollway authority plans to remove the familiar plastic bucket cones into which motorists can throw coins. The cones, which are posted on tollway cash pay lanes, feed coins into electromechanical coin-counting machines. They will be replaced by new electronic touch screens that will accept credit cards, bills, and coins.

The new pay screens will be more convenient for many users than former pay lanes that required exact change in coins. However, many Tollway users have mounted small I-PASS transponders in their cars and they no longer pay cash tolls to the highway agency. This switchover will not affect I-PASS users. The Tollway Authority prefers I-PASS use because of administrative costs of handling cash as opposed to electronic payments. On Monday, February 27, the Authority told the press that they still had 100 coin-counting cones deployed on their network of highways, mostly at unmanned tollway exit ramps.