Six Years Prison for Heroin Delivery

From the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office:

PATRICK MILTON SENTENCED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS FOR DELIVERY OF HEROIN

Patrick D. Kenneally, McHenry County State’s Attorney, announces that, Patrick Milton, 30, was sentenced to six years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for one count of Unlawful Delivery of a Controlled Substance (Heroin), a Class 1 Felony.

On or about August 30, 2017, Patrick Milton delivered heroin to Jessica Chapman who then delivered heroin to another which resulted in the death of that person.

The case was investigated by members of the McHenry Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Michael Combs and Kyle Bruett of the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Reick Reports

From State Rep. Steve Reick:

Death of A.J. Freund Spurs Calls for Major Reform
Illinois’ at-risk children are supposed to be looked after by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). When these children are injured or killed, Illinoisans deserve answers and solutions, and for too long we’ve been given neither. The most recent incident involves the tragic death ofA.J. Freund. A.J. lived in Crystal Lake and his body was found wrapped in plastic about a mile from my Woodstock home.

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Last Friday, Representative Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa), Senator Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry) and I met with three high-level officials from DCFS in my Woodstock office. We had a preliminary discussion about identifying the gaps in the system that allowed this boy’s repeated warning signs of abuse to fall through the cracks, and talked on a broad level about policy solutions that could prevent future tragedies. The DCFS officials were told in no uncertain terms that we will do whatever is necessary to improve processes and outcomes for youth in crisis in our state. This was the first of what will be many meetings which I intend to result in substantive changes to this agency.

Auditor General Issues Scathing Report on Audit of DCFS
Illinois’ Auditor General issued a scathing report this week that outlined how DCFS consistently failed to follow its own policies for investigating cases of abuse and neglect from 2015-2017. During the audit period, which included 221,341 investigations involving 358,545 children, 102 children with prior DCFS contact ended up dead. In addition to the startling numbers throughout the report, the audit showed that investigators in many cases were slow to make initial contact with possible victims and abusers. The audit also pointed to a failing hotline system where a majority of those leaving a message on the hotline might not have received a timely callback. Despite a federal consent decree that set maximum caseloads for DCFS workers, the auditor found that close to 80% of the investigators had caseloads that exceeded maximum levels.

The audit report is a timely document that will help us with our own deeper investigation into what happened, why it happened, and how we can prevent future deaths. Click here to access the audit report summary, and click here to access the full report.

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House Republicans Host Successful Graduated Income Tax Forum in McHenry County
Thank you to everyone who braved the unexpected snow storm on April 27 and attended the graduated income tax town hall meeting I hosted with Representatives Tom Weber (R-Lake Villa), Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) and Allen Skillicorn (R- East Dundee) in Lake in the Hills. We were joined by tax expert Andrew Nelms of Americans for Prosperity, and after a short PowerPoint, we took questions from a very engaged audience.

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The flat income tax guarantee is one of the things that Illinois gets right. Today, if lawmakers want to raise income tax rates, they must raise them on everyone. If they wish to provide relief to lower and middle-income taxpayers, that can be done by providing greater exemptions and credits to those folks without changing the rate structure. By removing the flat rate and implementing a graduated rate structure, lawmakers would be able to impose higher taxes on more and more people by manipulating brackets and rates as they increase state spending. If this initiative makes it to the ballot, I hope Illinoisans think long and hard about whether they can trust legislators to set responsible rates and hold their spending to what is affordable through those rates.

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McHenry County’s Patrick Kenneally Testifies to Benefits of Rep Reick’s Bail Reform Act Opt-Out Bill
Last week I was joined in Springfield by State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally for a subject matter hearing on legislation that would allow some Illinois counties to opt-out of the provisions of Illinois’ new Bail Reform Act. The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Criminal Committee held the hearing to gather information about the bill, but because the hearing was subject-matter only, no vote was taken to advance or reject the legislation. For larger initiatives such as this, a subject matter hearing is often the first step of the political process.

I filed HB 221 earlier this year, but was told the legislation would not move during the current session. The bill would allow any county with a population of less than 3,000,000 to exempt itself from the provisions of the Bail Reform Act if the county board adopts a resolution for that purpose.

The author of the Bail Reform Act was well-intentioned, but as this new law was implemented it became very clear that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to pre-trial justice reform. Provisions that are working well in Cook County are actually having a negative effect in McHenry County and other suburban and downstate areas.

Mr. Kenneally spoke about shortcomings in the new Act that have had unintended consequences in most areas outside of Cook County. He told committee members the provisions of the Bail Reform Act make it increasingly more difficult for his office to fight the opioid epidemic because it puts opioid abusers back onto the streets after they have detoxed in jail but before they have accessed services to address the addiction.

Senate Democrats Advance Graduated Income Tax Package
Illinois Senate Democrats have passed a graduated tax package out of the Senate that would increase taxes by more than $3.5 billion per year. The Senate tax package includes four pieces of legislation. The four-piece package is tied together, meaning all of the bills must pass or none of them takes effect. The bills include:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
SJRCA 1, which was approved along party lines with all 19 Senate Republicans voting “no,” would remove the flat income tax requirement from the Illinois Constitution and provide that the General Assembly would set income tax rates. As I discussed above, our flat tax structure is an important taxpayer protection, which, if removed, would provide legislators with a much easier method by which they could raise taxes in the future. The Constitutional Amendment would not enshrine actual rates, thus eliminating any protections from tax hikes beyond year one.

GRADUATED INCOME TAX
Senate Bill 687 (approved 36-22) contains the new graduated income tax rates/brackets. In some cases, the rates are even higher than what was proposed by Governor Pritzker just two months ago. As approved, the Senate proposal raises the top income tax rate to 7.99% from 7.95% in Governor Pritzker’s proposal and kicks in for individual filers with income over $750,000 and joint filers with income over $1 million. The highest 7.99% tax rate would apply to all income. You can look at this as merely a “teaser rate”, because given the current appetite for spending in Springfield, it won’t be enough. The Governor has said that the measure will add $3.25 billion to revenue in its first year, but based upon the bills we’ve passed just this term, that money’s already been spent. The rates that we’re going to be asked to vote on as part of this package of bills will have to be raised, by a large amount and soon.

ESTATE TAX REPEAL
Senate Bill 689 (approved 33-24) would repeal the Illinois estate tax. This repeal is contingent upon passage of the graduated tax amendment. According to COGFA’s FY20 estimate, repealing the estate tax would reduce state revenue by approximately $300 million. This is merely a sop to get Republican support.

CONDITIONAL PROPERTY TAX FREEZE
Senate Bill 690 (approved 36-18) would provide property tax relief beginning in 2021, based upon the condition that the State fully funds K-12 education as called for in the evidence-based funding model passed in the last General Assembly. This would require $350 million annually under the new funding formula and approximately $300 million for mandated categorical payments. If these education funding requirements are met, property tax rates for school districts would be frozen for the coming year and every year thereafter in which the State meets the full funding requirement. This freeze doesn’t address the fact that we still have the highest property taxes in the nation, nor does it recognize that the current funding formula doesn’t address ongoing increases in local school spending, such as labor contracts.

Pension Crisis is Key Reason Why Graduated Income Tax is Not the Solution
Illinois’ biggest problem is its debt. The backlog of bills is huge, but it pales in comparison to our pension debt. Today about 25% of the state’s general revenue is earmarked for pensions, and that number increases sharply in the coming years. Simply put, there’s no way that any change to the income tax structure will accommodate increasing pension obligations and the state’s primary responsibility to fund essential state programs and services for vulnerable populations.

The Governor is on record as saying he’ll allocate $200 million per year of the tax increase toward the debt, but that amount doesn’t come close to addressing the true costs of current pensions. It doesn’t even cover the annual increases in pension contributions called for under current law.

Do we need tax reform? Absolutely. But this isn’t the way to do it. We need a global review of our entire tax structure with an eye toward creating a tax system that moves in the direction of our economy, which requires us to look at not only income taxes, but all sources of revenue: sales taxes, motor fuel taxes, user fees and property taxes. We also need to change the mindset where most legislators automatically think that taxes is the only way to increase revenue. As I’ve repeatedly said, our job is to create conditions where businesses can add jobs and grow the economy. By doing that, we can increase revenue in the only way that is truly sustainable.

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Measure to More than Double Motor Fuel Tax Advances out of House Committee
On Thursday, the House Revenue & Finance Committee advanced a measure that would pump $2.44 billion into a capital plan through large increases to the motor fuel tax and to vehicle registration costs and fees. An identical bill was also filed in the Senate.

As presented, House Amendment #1 to HB 391 calls for:

  • A 25-cent increase in the motor fuel tax (from 19 cents to 44 cents per gallon)
  • A 30.5-cent increase in the diesel fuel tax (from 21.5 cents to 52 cents per gallon)
  • A $50 increase in the registration fee for passenger cars (from $98 to $148)
  • A $30 increase in Drivers’ License fees (from $30 to $60)
  • A $982.50 increase in the annual registration fee for electronic cars (from $17.50 to $1,000 per year)

I am aware of the importance of maintaining our roads, bridges and other infrastructure and recognize that it has been more than a decade since we’ve had a capital bill to fund these key projects. Here locally there is no project more important than safety and capacity improvements to Route 47.

I serve on the Revenue & Finance Committee and several members expressed concerns over the plan to more than double the motor fuel tax and the other registration and fee increases. While the bill cleared the committee in a 9-6 vote, discussions are ongoing and additional amendments are expected if/when the bill reaches the House floor. In its current form I could not support the bill so I voted against advancing it out of committee.

Reick Co-Sponsors Legislation to Require Supermajority Vote to Raise Income Taxes
Earlier this week I joined about 30 of my House Republican colleagues in sponsoring HJRCA 34, which would mandate 2/3 approval from lawmakers to raise income taxes on Illinoisans. The legislation would become especially critical if the effort to eliminate Illinois’ flat income tax is replaced by a graduated tax system.

HJRCA 34 would provide an important layer of protection for taxpayers because it would make it harder for legislators to raise the income tax. While a supermajority vote is needed to change the Constitution for a graduated tax structure, once it is in place only a simply majority vote would be required to raise the rates.

MCCD Considering Cutting Budget at 2 PM Monday Meeting

With the rejection of its budget by the Finance Committee of the McHenry County Board, the Trustees of the McHenry County Conservation District will meet Monday at 2 PM at the MCCD headquarters on Route 14 northwest of Woodstock:

In compliance with the Open Meetings Act, this is to inform you that a Special Call meeting of the McHenry County Conservation District Board of Trustees has been scheduled for Monday May 13, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. at the Brookdale Administrative Offices for the purpose of reconsideration of the Ordinance #19-959 FY 2020 Budget and Appropriation.

The Brookdale Administrative Office is located at 18410 US Highway 14, Woodstock, Illinois. Please contact the District office for more detailed directions at (815) 338-6223 X1234.

22-Year Old Man Killed on Bay Road

From the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department:

Sheriff’s Office Investigating Fatal Two-Vehicle Crash

A 23-year-old Zion man was killed and a 56-year-old Gurnee man sustained minor injuries after a two-vehicle crash in unincorporated McHenry early Saturday morning.

At 12:09 a.m., on May 11 th, 2019, Sheriff’s Office Deputies, Lakemoor Police, and McHenry Township Fire and Rescue personnel responded to the scene of a two-vehicle crash in the 300 block of West Bay Road in unincorporated McHenry Township.

Bay Road, McHenry

Preliminary investigation indicated that a 2004 Nissan Sentra, driven by the 23-year-old man, was traveling eastbound on West Bay Road.

A 2017 Toyota Sienna, driven by a 56-year-old man, was traveling westbound on West Bay Road.

For unknown reasons the Nissan entered the westbound lane of traffic and struck the Toyota head-on.

The driver of the Nissan was extricated by McHenry Township Fire and Rescue and flown to Advocate Condell in Libertyville where he was pronounced deceased.

The driver, and sole occupant, of the Toyota was transported by ambulance to Northwestern Hospital in McHenry with minor injuries.

Airbags deployed in both vehicles and the driver of the Toyota was wearing his seatbelt.

It is unknown at this time if drugs or alcohol played a factor in the crash.

The investigation is ongoing by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office Major Crash Investigation Unit and the Lake County Coroner’s Office.

House Republicans Summarize Last Week in Springfield

TAXES

Durkin: “We have the money to balance the budget without new taxes.” On Wednesday, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, along with Deputy Leaders Dan Brady and Tom Demmer, held a press conference to reiterate the need for bipartisan negotiations to pass a balanced Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

In light of this week’s announcement that April revenues were up by $1.5 billion and that FY20 estimated revenues were revised upwards by $800 million, Leader Durkin announced that we have the money to balance the FY20 budget without new taxes. Durkin’s full remarks follow:

For the first time in years, we are here to report great news for Illinois taxpayers. 

Some of you might recall, though it seems Speaker Madigan has already forgotten, that last year after bipartisan negotiation between Republican and Democrat members in the House and Senate, we were able to enact an FY19 budget that was not only balancedbut will likely be running a surplusby the end of the year. 

Furthermore, projections are showing that this year’s tax receipts will be the HIGHEST they have ever been in our state’s 200-year history. 

All of this is clear evidence of what I have always preached: when Democrats invite Republicans to the table and respect our priorities, we will work together in good faith and come to agreements that help move our state forward. 

And because of our bipartisan work last year, Governor Pritzker was able to move off his misguided and short-sighted approach to balancing the FY20 budget by artificially lowering our obligations to the state’s pension systems.

What’s even better is that taxpayers can now be reassured that Governor Pritzker and his Democrats repeated call for more and more of their hard-earned money to balance the budget is unnecessary. 

Work with the Republican caucus and we will help you balance the FY20 budget too, all without raising taxes. 

The numbers are clear – WE HAVE THE MONEY TO BALANCE THE BUDGET WITH NO NEW TAXES AND NO TAX INCREASES.

There is no more need to talk about raising taxes on bags or cigarettes or businesses or the middle class.

There is certainly no reason to even be considering a graduated tax now. 

The desperate pleas for more taxes have rung hollow in Illinois for years, and now taxpayers know the truth. 

We have the money to balance the budget without new taxes.

With only 18 days left of session, we must start working NOW to craft another truly balanced budget, with no new taxes or increases, that will continue projecting our state towards fiscal stability.

Morrison Files Amendment to Protect Taxpayers From Future Tax Increases. State Representative Tom Morrison filed a new constitutional amendment this week requiring a supermajority vote in the House on any future income tax increase proposals. HJRCA 34 will require two-thirds approval from lawmakers in order to move forward. 

“I filed this amendment to do right by Illinois taxpayers,” said Rep. Morrison. “This legislation is a necessary safeguard to ensure that it will be harder to raise additional taxes or increase the existing ones. We cannot continue allowing unchecked tax increases to pass through the General Assembly, and this step will provide the protections our taxpayers deserve.”

Rep. Morrison has been a staunch opponent of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s push for a graduated income tax and seeks to protect Illinois businesses and the middle class. While a supermajority vote is needed to actually change the Illinois Constitution for a graduated tax structure, only a simple majority is currently required to once again increase taxes on Illinois families and businesses.

The Democrats have already changed their rates since their initial proposal, and Rep. Morrison believes that they will continue to raise taxes to feed their agendas of increased spending.

Rep. Morrison’s amendment was filed Tuesday and already has 30 co-sponsors in the House.

House Democrats advance $2.4 billion in tax and fee increases to fund transportation infrastructure. On Thursday, Democratic members of the House Revenue & Finance Committee advanced an amendment (on a partisan roll call) to the full House that would raise the gas tax and related fees by $2.4 billion to fund transportation infrastructure needs. 

House Amendment #1to HB 391contains language proposed by Local 150 to provide funding for “horizontal” capital, i.e. roads and bridges. This legislation is identical to HB 3233Senate Amendment #1, which is Local 150 language. It is important to note that these bills have not been negotiated or agreed to by all parties involved and do not represent a finalized capital infrastructure funding plan.

The major revenue components contained within HB 391 include increasing the motor fuel tax by 25 cents (a 132% increase) and increasing vehicle registration fees by $50 (a 51% increase). Together with the other tax and fee increases outlined below, HB 391 would bring in approximately $2.4 billion in annual funding for transportation infrastructure.

BUDGET

COGFA reports $1.5 billion increase in April revenues. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan revenue-monitoring arm, works with the Illinois Comptroller, the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Illinois State Lottery, and other State agencies to check on money coming in and report to budget lawmakers on whether it is keeping up with projections. Numbers for April 2019 were published on Friday, May 3.

The April revenue numbers showed good State cash flows in the areas of individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, and State sales taxes. Total general funds revenues came in at almost $6.8 billion in April, an increase of almost $1.7 billion (a $1.502 net increase) from the $5.1 billion paid into State general-funds coffers one year earlier in April 2018. More than half of this overall year-over-year increase, $1,068 million, consisted in increased payroll withholdings, electronic payments, and checks paid by Illinois individual income taxpayers. COGFA staff believes this increase is likely a one-month-only phenomenon attributed to changes in federal tax law: these changes affected April 15 reconciliation-deadline payments made as part of tax year 2018 filings.

However, in a letter to lawmakers dated May 7, 2019, the Directors of the Department of Revenue (IDOR) and the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) indicated that net tax receipts are indeed up by $1.5 billion dollars in the comparative months of April and that this caused them to revise their FY20 revenue estimates upwards by $800 million. The Directors recommended that these additional revenues be dedicated to the State’s statutory FY20 pension payment, as opposed to the $865 million pension underfunding that was part of the Governor’s proposed FY20 budget.

CHILDREN

Harsh criticism of DCFS after death of 5-year-old A.J. Freund. Calls for reform of the troubled Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) deepened this week after the agency released new case records. The Freund case, which was an active case file during the child’s final months, show that A.J. had previously gone to an Illinois emergency room. In December 2018, the boy told an emergency room (ER) physician that “maybe” he was being beaten by his parents. Under Illinois law, ER caregivers are mandated reporters of child abuse to DCFS, and this caregiver followed the law and reported the probable abuse. Even after this report was made, DCFS allowed A.J. to remain with his family.

When allegations are made against the parents or guardians of a possibly abused child, DCFS faces a serious dilemma. It is an ugly act to intervene in the life of a family and take steps to separate parents from their children. In the words of page 3 of DCFS’s Mandated Reporter Manual, “the investigation of abuse or neglect is necessarily very intrusive into family life. The state must exercise its authority cautiously and appropriately in order to respect the rights of parents.” In this case, aware of the dilemma, key DCFS personnel kept an open case file and waited for more evidence to turn up. In April 2019, the body of young A.J. Freund was located in a shallow grave.

FLOODING

Serious high water levels affect many sections of Downstate Illinois.Rainwater runoff into the Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers is straining many river levees and causing damage to riverfront properties. In Peoria, the Illinois River crested nearly 10 feet above flood stage, threatening the city’s historic central-city park and riverfront. The Illinois River was closed to all shipping and boating this week by the U.S. Coast Guard, the federal agency with life-safety responsibility over all navigable waterways. Falling water will allow the River to reopen.

In the Metro-East area adjacent to St. Louis, where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers come together, high water is threatening the region’s water-intake facilities. Mandatory water conservation measures have been issued for customers of Illinois American Water in Belleville, East St. Louis, Granite City, and other Metro-East communities. 

GAMBLING

Sports betting push. Illinoisans could soon get the chance to place bets on sporting events, including sporting events that are being played at the time the bet is made, under legislation presented to the Illinois House on Wednesday, May 8. The proposed Sports Wagering Act would give a variety of private businesses with expertise in taking bets the opportunity to seek licenses and to team up with online identity-managers to open sports betting books. The new industry, and its customers, would pay taxes on its betting activity to Illinois.

Various entities told the Illinois House this week that they could help implement a new sports betting law. Representatives of teams in three of America’s major sports leagues told an Illinois House committee this week that they could provide near-instantaneous, accurate online data to sports bookmakers; in return, they want the Illinois industry to pay them a mandatory royalty fee. Online identity-managers would like to help existing participants in the gaming industry, including racetracks, riverboat casinos, and video gaming terminal operators, to set up online identities and start taking sports bets. Sports betting has become a subject of intense discussion during the final weeks of the 2019 General Assembly spring session.

HOLOCAUST

House Republicans join observers at annual Springfield remembrance service. The annual event pays tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. Called Yom HaShoah, the springtime day of observance includes a remembrance service held in many locations throughout the world. For the Illinois General Assembly, the Yom HaShoah observance is held, by tradition, at the Old State Capitol in Springfield. Mourners gathered there on Thursday, May 2 for the ceremony.

Yom HaShoah includes not only the continued memorial awareness of the Holocaust, but also the lighting of candles as a celebration of life. The Old State Capitol ceremony conformed to the observance’s requirements. One traditional element of Yom HaShoahis the speaking of testimony by one or more Holocaust survivors. As the world moves toward the 2020s, the children and grandchildren of survivors are being asked to speak out. 

LAW ENFORCEMENT

New tactic to enforce construction work zone law. Illinois law imposes enhanced fines and penalties upon speed-limit violations and other acts of unsafe driving within construction work zones. Despite this law, violations continue. State Police troopers this week announced a plan, “Operation Hard Hat,” to operate vehicles disguised as construction-crew equipment. The “construction workers,” who may be dressed in plain clothes, will be able to witness and stop unsafe drivers. The increasing percentage of police vehicles that are light trucks makes this tactic possible.

Under current state law, a first-offense speeding ticket in a construction zone will draw a $375 fine. A second offense can bring a 90-day suspension of the guilty driver’s license, plus a fine of up to $1,000. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has posted an informational sheetfor drivers to consult for reminders on safe driving in and around work zones.

PENSIONS

Annual report on State-managed pensions estimates unfunded liabilities of almost $137 billion. As part of its responsibilities, the General Assembly’s COGFA arm conducts an annual review of the financial condition of the five State of Illinois-managed pension systems, including the systems that underwrite the pensions paid to Illinois public school teachers, state government workers, and Illinois public university professors and personnel. COGFA’s most recent report audits the financial condition of these state retirement systems as of June 30, 2018.

Illinois’ public-sector pension systems continue to be characterized by a state of serious unfunded liability. With global prudent-investment interest rates continuing to be very low, the pension systems cannot use their existing assets to grow their money into funds sufficient to make the legally required payouts to vested employees. Unfortunately, as of June 30, 2018 after application of prudent actuarial projections regarding future interest rates, these existing assets could only cover 40.2% of these future liabilities. COGFA estimates that the five pensions systems will, collectively, be $136.8 billion in the red at the close of business of FY19 on June 30, 2019. Based on future interest rates, this unfunded-liability situation could be even larger than the amount estimated.

Sheriff Offers Tips to Prevent Robbery

From the McHenry County Shariff’s Department:

Theft/Burglary Prevention- Criminals have been targeting unlocked homes and vehicles

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office reminds residents that with the warmer months here not only are we out enjoying the weather, so are others such as thieves and burglars.

Criminals have been targeting unlocked homes and vehicles.

Here are some helpful tips and ideas:

•Establish a nightly routine to make sure your vehicle and home is locked up.
•Do not leave value items in your vehicle, and if you do, make sure they are out of sight.
•If you are selling items like a lawnmower, dirt bike, or ATV do not leave them outside overnight.
•Record serial numbers and take photos of valuable and sentimental items.
•Install security cameras.
•Check security cameras already installed to make sure they are working and that nothing is obstructing their view.
•Outdoor lighting is important so make sure any burnt out bulbs are replaced.
•Install mo tion detection lights in dark areas.
•Trim your trees and bushes to prevent criminals from using them as a hiding spot.
•If you will be away from your home for an extended period of time please remember to have the post office hold your mail. 
•Do not advertise on social media that you are gone. Save those posts and pictures for after you return home. 
•Leave lights and a television on while you are not home. This gives the impression that someone is home. 

Contact your local police agency and inquire if they have a vacation house watch program, which the Sheriff’s Office does offer.

These types of crimes can happen to anyone, any day of the week, at any hour of the day.

These are some tips and suggestions to help you not be a victim. If you see something, say something.

McHenry County residents can report suspicious activity at 815-338-2144.

Wilcox Reports

From State Senator Craig Wilcox:

Senate Week in Review: May 6 – 10, 2019

Springfield, IL. – Controversy surrounding Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to legalize recreational cannabis dominated the news during the week, while a MAP grant expansion proposal that could cost current college students tuition assistance also generated headlines.

In other news, kudos go out to the 5th Grade Class from Prairiewood Elementary for their technology exhibit at the Capitol.

Controversial Recreational Marijuana Bill Unveiled

Gov. Pritzker and Democrat sponsors of Senate Bill 7 unveiled their proposal making it legal for adult residents, 21 years of age and older, to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrated cannabis.

People would also be allowed to grow five plants in their homes if the plants are secured within their residences.

The plan also contains a provision to expunge the criminal records for people convicted of certain drug offenses.

While this particular idea has been discussed for some time, SB7 takes the idea further, allowing expungements for drug offenses that would still be crimes even if the bill becomes law.

While individuals would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis under the proposed law, convictions for possession of up to 500 grams – currently a felony – would be eligible for expungement. The Administration admits the new law could lead to the expungement of up to 800,000 drug convictions.

There is also real concern over how marijuana legalization will impact the desire and necessity for drug-free workplaces at thousands of employers across the state.

In addition to the multiple tens of millions of dollars tax revenue proponents say the state will gain from legalization, opponents have also raised concerns about the negative societal and health costs associated with legalization.

Fewer Dollars Maybe Available for College-bound Students

Legislation passed by the Senate May 8 expanding eligibility for the state’s Monetary Award Program – known as MAP – could mean fewer dollars than ever for families and students looking for help to make college more affordable.

House Bill 2691 would allow non-citizen students and those who fail to register for Selective Service to be eligible for the college grant program.

According to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, expanding the pool of MAP grant recipients to include these groups could increase the cost of the program by $9 million per year, leading to more than 3,000 fewer grant awards.

In the last two fiscal years combined, nearly 174,000 students were denied grants because of a lack of funding.

Under current law, non-U.S. residents who live in Illinois and pay taxes in Illinois can attend an Illinois public university at lower, in-state tuition costs. 

Undocumented students are currently ineligible to receive federal student aid, Pell grants, and state-based financial aid.

The Senate passed the bill on a vote of 35 to 15. House Bill 2691, already approved by the House, now heads to the Governor.

State Budget Work Proceeds

While much of the news coming out of Springfield these days is about legalizing recreational marijuana, pro-sports gambling or raising taxes, work quietly continues on a new state budget, scheduled to take effect on July 1 of this year.

One of the most important jobs legislators have is passing a balanced state budget. The budget is a basic function of state government. And, under Illinois’ Constitution, it’s required to be balanced.

I am a member of the Senate Appropriations I Committee, one of two legislative committees whose primary responsibility is providing assessment of state budget proposals. We hear budget requests from state agencies and departments, and constitutional offices.

We’ve been meeting weekly and likely will continue to meet several more times during the remaining three weeks of the spring session. Hopefully, the new budget will respect the taxpayers and meet constitutional requirements for government spending that equal government tax collections.

Local School Shines During Tech 2019

Prairiewood Elementary School, from Woodstock Community Unit School District 200 was among more than 100 schools showcasing classroom technology and how it’s used during Tech 2019.

I met and talked with teacher Jen Bigler and her fifth grade class on May 7. They had a great exhibit: “Explore. Educate. Engineer!”

This annual event is a great way to show legislators how technology is integrated in the typical school day and its contributions to education. Today, technology is a key component in a quality education. In District 200, more than 4,000 students have access to school-issued devices in grades K – 8.

Keep In Touch/Stay Informed

There are several ways to keep in touch with me. You can call my district or Capitol offices: 815/455-6330 or 217/782-8000 and you can email me at [email protected].


Check out my legislative website at www.senatorwilcox.com. There is a contact tab at the top of the page. I also post news from the Capitol and you can sign up for my free newsletter, connect with state government agencies and resources. I also have an extensive list of sites veterans can use to connect to employment, education and service records.

Slot Machine Locations in McHenry County

Commenter Mark looked up which towns have how many slot machines in McHenry County on the way to asking if the new recreational pot legalization bill would allow such spots to sell marijuana as well:

So would a legal expansion of marijuana bring to McHenry County?

Next to impossible to predict, but here’s what the expansion of video gaming brought McHenry County.

This is a breakdown by municipality of the 244 licensed gaming establishments in McHenry County:

Algonquin: 14

Bull Valley: 1

Cary: 14

Crystal Lake: 22

Fox River Grove: 9

Harvard: 18

Hebron: 4

Holiday Hills: 1

Huntley: 11

Island Lake: 2

Johnsburg: 12

Lake in the Hills: 13

Lakemoor: 3

Marengo: 13

McCullom Lake: 2

McHenry: 44

Oakwood Hills: 1

Port Barrington: 2

Prairie Grove: 2

Richmond: 13

Ringwood: 2

Spring Grove: 11

Union: 3

Wonder Lake: 6

Woodstock: 21

Grand total: 244

source: Illinois Gaming Board

Video Gaming > Lists of Video Gaming Applicants & Licenses > Comprehensive Lists of Applicants > Licenses Applicants

igb.illinois.gov/VideoLists.aspx

++++++++

In general, unless the establishment is a truck stop, the business must have an on-premise liquor license to become a licensed video gaming establishment in Illinois.

An on-premise liquor license allows consumption of alcohol on the premises.

+++++++++

Does the proposed marijuana legislation allow these facilities to obtain a license to sell and / or use marijuana products on the premises?

One could smoke dope, drink beer, and play video poker in the same buildin

AJ Continues to Help Drive Tribune Reporting

Yesterday, throughout Illinois there was reporting on an audit Department of Children and Family Services.

The DCFS Audit was worse than one could image.

Today, the Chicago Tribune focuses on caseload problems.

Nothing seems to have changed significantly since I was State Representative in the later 1970’s when a teenage girl died in a Uteg Apartment fire after being chained to a bed when her mother went out.

Although state law then (and now) said that caseworkers must visit within 24 hours after a complaint has been made, Crystal Lake Police Chief Sam Johns told me that a complaint had been filed in the case thirty days before the fire.

Neither the caseworker nor the supervisor were fired.

It’s Always All About Jacks Franks

Below is the headline from the Northwest Herald the day after the McHenry County Board decided to send Valley Hi rebate checks to a majority of taxpayers:

Apparently the lack of Jack Franks’ name in the headline about the action he initiated bothered him, even though his smiling face was just below.

Clues are

  • the robocall Franks apparently financed with campaign funds and
  • the tax bill insert below containing his name twice

Franks Robocalls to Impress Folks about Valley Hi Rebate

Here is what one Friend of McHenry County Blog heard in a phone call identified as come from “State Representative:”

Hi this McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks calling with some wonderful news.

The county board recently voted to give all homeowners who claim a homestead exemption and paid their property taxes in 2018 a rebate of about 30% of what you paid into the county for it’s extension of your tax bill.

Notices have been sent with your property tax bill with directions of how to apply.

Again this is County Board Chairman Jack Franks. Thank you

Dems Transportation Tax Hikes Will Affect 100%

The big hype from Governor JB Pritzker and the legislative Democrats are that 97% of folks will not have their income taxes raised.

The higher income taxes will bring in over $3 billion.

The higher gas taxes and license fees will extract $2.4 billion.

And pretty close to 100% of Illinois residents will notice the hikes.

Here is State Rep. Allen Skillicorn’s take:

Licenses, Taxes and Fees…Oh My!

Crystal Lake, IL – Another beautiful spring day in Illinois and another tax for Illinoisans.

As the Tribune reported today,

“The legislation, introduced this week by Democratic Sen. Martin Sandoval of Chicago, would more than double the state’s gas tax to 44 cents a gallon, double the driver’s license fee to $60 and raise the vehicle registration fee to $148.

“The driver’s license fee is now $30; the vehicle registration fee is $98. It also would significantly hike the registration fee for electric vehicles, from $17.50 to $1,000.” [Emphasis mine].

State Representative Allen Skillicorn (R-Crystal Lake) stated, “In light of the recent report from the Comptroller’s office that April revenues were $1.5 billion higher than expected, it appears that the legislation to ‘significantly hike’ gas taxes and licensing fees is unnecessary and one might even say punitive if enacted.”

Skillicorn continued, “I commend Governor Pritzker for stepping back from a bad idea in the form of a pension holiday when the data from the Department of Revenue estimates that next year’s tax collections increased by $800 million.

“Let’s give the Trump economic recovery and the enactment of serious reforms, such as amending the pension clause, a try instead of passing more taxes and fees that crush Illinois families.”

More Time Card Analysis for Anna May Miller

Reprinted from Illinois Leaks with permission:

Algonquin Township Road District Time Card Tuesday #14

BY KIRK ALLEN ON MAY 7, 2019 • ( LEAVE A COMMENT )

McHenry Co. (ECWd) –

If you are new to our Time Card Tuesday series we urge you to catch up by first reading part 12345678910, 1112, and 13. As pointed out in our last article, it is abundantly clear, whoever was managing payroll has some explaining to do.

This series brings us into the fourth payroll period for 2015 and as suspected, the time cards are plagued with what appears to be extra overtime not worked and regular time padded, both of which garnered significant extra pay. Date of this coverage is for 2/12/2015 to 2/25/2015.

This payroll period is mysteriously missing a couple of time cards so we can only analyze five working days during this period. 

You would think with only five days applicable to the payroll comparison there would be nothing to see, but sure enough, math becomes a problem for whoever is putting these time cards together.

We find once again, vacation time showing up on time cards but not on the Payroll record and being taken during a restricted time frame under the Employee Policy Manual.

This has proven to be a consistent pattern with Ms. Miller’s time cards.  This pay period she records 4 hours of vacation time but as you can see from the payroll record, there was no vacation time paid out

Considering we have missing time cards we have no way of knowing if the vacation was lumped into the Regular pay as has been done in the pas

By recording vacation time as regular time it leaves the door open for it to be used again unless there is some other method being used for tracking vacation, which to date we have not found for 2015.

Even more interesting is the fact a day with only 4.5 hours worked, 2/23/2015, there is an entry for 1 hour of overtime. 

How does one get an hour of overtime when the time card only shows 4.5 hours? 

That nets an extra $45.00

On February 13th, 2015, the time card reflects a start time, no lunch, and no stop time

How does one get paid for 8 hours of work when there is no record of when she stopped work? 

Most auditors would look at that and insist on documentation supporting the hours worked. 

This appears to be 8 hours of regular pay, $240.00, with no record of when the person stopped work.

The payroll record reflects $371.25 in Overtime pay (8.25 hrs) however the regular pay only shows 74 hrs. 

According to the policy manual overtime is only paid when there are 40 hours worked. 

Considering there are missing time cards there is no way to pin down which week had 40 hours of work so we could determine if the overtime was valid.

Of the five days on the time cards for this period we can review, we find it odd that the regular hours on three of them show as 9 hours instead of 8.

February 24, 2015, the total hours worked according to the time card is 9 hrs regular time and 1 hour overtime for a total of 10 hours. 

However, the actual math points to only 9 hrs and 25 minutes worked.

At a minimum, using regular pay figures, this nets an extra 35 minutes of pay at $30.00 an hour, or $17.40

February 25th, 2015 the total hours worked according to the time card is 9 hrs regular time and 1.5 hours overtime for a total of 10.5 hours. 

However once again, the actual math points to only 9 hrs and 35 minutes worked.

Using the same regular pay figures as above, this nets an extra 55 minutes of pay at $30.00 an hour, or $27.60

The following appear to be overpayments as outlined above.

  • $240.00 in regular pay even though no stop time on time card -2/13/2015
  • $45.00 in overtime while only working 4.5 hours of regular time – 2/23/2015
  • $17.40 in extra pay due to bad math
  • $27.60 in extra pay due to bad math.

The total for these 4 days appears to point to an extra $330.00 in pay.

With $330.00 extra during only these 4 days, the running total of extra pay now appears to be $22,887.61.

As we have said multiple times, the McHenry County State’s Attorney had these very time cards but we do not know if he ever evaluated them for the type of discrepancies we are seeing against the actual payroll record

This matter is currently in the hands of the Appellate Prosecutor and we are awaiting an update on the status.

While we work towards wrapping up this series we ran a total for the overtime paid to Anna May Miller for 2015, which was 264.81 hours, for a total of $11,916.45. 

It will be interesting to see what the actual math works out to be for that same year.

Stay tuned for next week’s Time Card Tuesday series.

You can download the time cards at this link or view below as well as the payroll record at this link.

Illegal Aliens Would Be Able to Serve as University of Illinois Trustees?

From State Rep. Allen Skillicorn:

U of I student trustees may be illegal aliens

SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Allen Skillicorn (Crystal Lake-R) strongly opposes the Democratic Politicians in Illinois who want to give illegal aliens full voting rights as trustees on the University of Illinois board.

Senate Bill 172 came about because a potential student trustee was an “undocumented immigrant” and was ineligible to become a trustee because he or she could not meet all three proofs of residency.

So let’s see if I have this right. Out of almost 86,000 students attending one of the three University of Illinois institutions, 3 student trustees couldn’t be found that could show proof of three criteria: Illinois residency for at least the previous six months; a current, valid Illinois driver’s license; and a valid Illinois voter registration? Maybe there exists an even greater problem regarding the composition of the U of I student body than I had thought.

I don’t find it unreasonable to require that a State University system funded by taxpayers have as student trustees, people that actually are legal Illinois residents. Also, doesn’t a legally binding vote cast by a person with an “illegal” status present a bit of a conundrum?

If we go forward with granting the full fiduciary responsibility of voting as a trustee on the board of a State University without proof of citizenship, the next logical step for the State could be to grant voting rights to all illegals.

Why are the citizens of Illinois treated with such disregard? They are already forced to pay for the public education of illegal persons with their hard earned tax dollars. Now voting on the budget and spending of those tax dollars would be freely offered up to a person who may not even be a citizen of the state or our nation.

SB172 could be up for a formal vote in the State House this week or next. This bad idea has already passed the State Senate with both Republicans and Democrats voting yes. Here’s a list of the Senators who voted for this morass:

Defenders Garage Sale This Week

From the Environment Defenders of McHenry County:

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS’ SPRING GARAGE SALE is MAY 9-11

Woodstock, IL – May 6, 2019–The Environmental Defenders will hold its annual Spring Garage Sale Fundraiser from Thursday, May 9 through Saturday, May 11 at Algonquin Township Highway Department from 9AM to 4PM. Location is 3702 Route 14 in Crystal Lake (next to MCCD’s The Hollows.)

WE NEED YOUR ITEMS!

In preparation for the sale, The Environmental Defenders will be taking donations of gently used items of all sorts.

Drop-off dates for donated items are: May 5 through 8. Drop-off times are Sunday 2PM to 5PM and Monday thru Wednesday 10 AM-3 PM.

What type of things will be accepted? Just about anything that is clean and re-sellable, with a few exceptions:

no monitors or TVs, no baby carriers or cribs, no large appliances or upholstered furniture. No clothing this year or stuffed animals. Small appliances & electronics must be in working order.

Email [email protected] or call 815-338-0393 with any questions.

Founded in 1970, The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the environment. The group provides the
community with educational programs and volunteer action through committees, including Waste Reduction & Recycling, Transportation, Water & Natural Resources Protection, Single-Use Plastic Reduction, Education,
Fundraising and Membership. Donations and membership are encouraged and are tax-deductible as charitable contributions. For more information, visit www.mcdef.org or through Facebook at facebook.com/Environmental Defenders or call 815-338-0393, Monday-Friday, 10 am-4:30 pm.