A communication from State Rep. Mike Tryon:
In my travels in and around McHenry and Kane Counties, I am often asked,
“How come you legislators aren’t getting anything done?”
In my response I tell people that success and progress do not always come in the form of approved legislation.
Sometimes our achievements have more to do with the legislation we stop or defeat.
Especially when in the superminority, often times our biggest job is to stand firm for taxpayers and stop costly and irresponsible legislation from becoming law.
The importance of this role was never more evident as it was during Fiscal Year 2016, when Republicans stood together to stop several Democrat initiatives that would have continued Illinois’ tradition of unbalanced budgets, irresponsible spending and tax hikes.
Taxpayers benefitted this last fiscal year when Republicans did the following:
- Defeated the Democrat FY17 spending plan ($7 billion out of balance) that would have raised personal income tax rates to more than 5.5%;
- Sustained a veto of the Democrats’ FY16 unbalanced budget ($4 billion out of balance);
- Blocked repeated attempts by the Democrat supermajority to force a $3 billion tax hike on Illinois families to fund additional generous perks and benefits for unionized government employees;
- Blocked a Democrat attempt to bailout Chicago Public Schools with an additional $400 million in taxpayer funds; and
- Linked the June 30 bridge funding plan to comprehensive, constitutional pension reform.
It is estimated that by standing together for taxpayers during FY16, the people of Illinois were able to keep at least $7 billion more of their hard-earned money in their own pockets.
Moving ahead into FY17, Republicans will continue to be vehemently opposed to tax-and-spend initiatives that have brought our State to the brink of insolvency, and will instead advocate for sensible reforms and fiscal sanity to finally stabilize our State.
Secretary of State’s Office Uses new Process for Drivers’ License Renewals
One key change, mandated by the federal government, is an end to the traditional practice of presenting each driver with a new drivers’ license on-site when the renewal procedure is completed.
The federal REAL ID law requires all new 50-state drivers’ licenses to be manufactured in guarded, secured facilities. In Illinois, starting in summer 2016, drivers who successfully renew their licenses at a Secretary of State Driver Services facility will get their old licenses back with a hole punched through them, accompanied by an additional 45-day paper slip of successful renewal. The punched hole will signify that the old license is on course to lose its validity, but will remain temporarily valid throughout the 45-day period.
The driver should carry both the old license and the paper slip, which when carried together will be a valid drivers’ license for up to 45 days.
Meanwhile, the information gathered in the Secretary of State Driver Services facility will be transmitted to a central location where a new, secure driver’s license will be printed and stamped.
The new license will contain various features intended to increase the security of the license and further reduce potential counterfeiting. The new license should be mailed to the driver within 15 days, and once received should be carried and used. The old license with a hole in it will no longer be valid.
The Secretary of State’s office is also on course to impose additional security requirements upon first-time applicants for a standard drivers’ license, starting on July 1, 2017. First-time applicants will be required to present a U.S. passport, a certified copy of their birth certificate, or immigration documents that demonstrate proof of legal residence in the U.S. These are all requirements that are being imposed on all U.S. states by the federal Department of Homeland Security pursuant to implementation of the post-9/11 REAL ID Act.
Illinois Solar Energy Installations Rose 75% in 2015
The rate of annual increase indicated increasing acceptance of solar panels in Illinois. The now-familiar installations are typically installed on roofs or other raised platforms. A solar panel will generate electricity whenever photons are striking the panel, including on cloudy days.
“Net metering” technology enables a building equipped with solar panels to feed electricity into an electrical grid on sunny days and to draw power down during periods of time when the sun is dim or absent.
Covering activity in Central Illinois, a reporter for the Peoria Journal Star talked with a solar energy consultant and client. The businesses had collaborated to plan and install a $62,500 solar panel array on a rooftop in downtown Peoria.
Aided by state and federal tax credits, the project was expected to generate a positive return in less than five years.
One challenge facing adopters of “renewable energy” infrastructure is that on a typical 24-hour cycle, the periods when renewable energy are not being produced tend to be commonly shared by everybody across the geographic area.
At certain periods of time, none of these pieces of renewable-power infrastructure will be feeding net-metered power into an electrical grid.
Periods of solar night, or wind calm, make the solar panels go dark and cause the wind turbines to stop spinning. Operators of traditional utility infrastructure often point out that in order to meet their franchise mandates to provide reliable power on a 24/7 basis, they typically must maintain almost all of the fossil-fuel energy infrastructure that they would have maintained had solar and wind power not existed.
Cook County Judge Takes First Step to Strike Down “Independent Map” Amendment
The proposed constitutional amendment was spearheaded to give voters an opportunity to vote on whether to reform the way Illinois legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years.
The amendment, if presented to the voters and adopted, would erase the political procedure currently used to draw these maps and create a new nonpartisan process in its place. The new process is intended to produce a map that is not “slanted” in favor of one political party or the other.
Opponents of the proposed constitutional amendment filed a lawsuit in Cook County circuit court, demanding that voters not be permitted to vote on the measure and that it be barred from appearing on the November 2016 ballot.
Their lawsuit won a victory in Cook County circuit court on Wednesday, July 20. In her decision in the case of Hooker vs. Illinois State Board of Elections, Judge Diane Joan Larsen cited several constitutional concerns as fatal flaws in the amendment and ordered that it be struck from the ballot. The Supreme Court will hear the case in an expedited manner.
Illinois’ Marketing to Travelers Concentrates on Small Businesses
The new “Illinois Made” campaign encourages visitors to come to Illinois to enjoy our homegrown and craft products. The $65 million appropriation, being distributed through the Illinois Office of Tourism, is funded through taxes on hotel and motel room rentals. Selections of featured local businesses arecoordinated by local tourism bureaus.
The first round of “Illinois Made” featured products and tourism experiences features Funks Grove maple syrup, tapped and boiled down from a historic grove of sugar maple trees south of Bloomington-Normal. The confectionary product, which the Funk family has called “sirup” since 1824, is sold from a roadside store near the I-55 exit of Shirley, Illinois.
$15 Million Plan to Rebuild Illinois Executive Mansion to Rely on Private-Sector Fundraising
The Lincoln-era stately home, located near the State Capitol in central Springfield, has been the home of Illinois governors since 1856.
The mansion last saw major renovation work in 1971 and no longer conforms to current legal and building-code requirements for security, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, energy conservation, and many other checkoff areas. There have been serious incidents of pipe bursts and roof leaks in recent years.
Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner last week unveiled a $15 million plan that would encompass a major rebuild of the mansion and its grounds. The renovation and rebuilding, if implemented, would improve access to a section of the mansion to the public. The public section of the mansion would include a visitor orientation center and a gallery space for the celebration of Illinois works of art. At the same time, a private wing of the mansion would be renovated to provide actual living space for governors of Illinois and their families.
The Diana Rauner plan is expected to be entirely funded by the private sector. The Illinois Executive Mansion Association, a 501(c)(3) entity, is currently engaged in the active raising of funds to commence the first phase of the project. Approximately $4.5 million has been raised so far.
Live Auction of Unclaimed Property to be Held at Illinois State Fair
The Treasurer’s office announced plans for a live auction of unclaimed property at the 2016 Illinois State Fair. Proceeds from the auction will be placed in trust for the owners, should they ever turn up. Unclaimed properties escheated to the State include contents from safe deposit boxes and storage lockers. If no rent is paid on these safe places, the custodian is required to turn the contents over to the State Treasurer. The State Treasurer by law is custodian of unclaimed property in Illinois. In theAugust 20 State Fair auction, 21,500 unclaimed items will be sold in 255 lots. Classic sports memorabilia to be sold include a pair of new 1997 Air Jordan shoes and a rookie baseball card featuring Hall of Fame member Ernie Banks.