Latest News

Colleges and Universities Receive Emergency Funding through Bipartisan Stopgap Measure
A stopgap measure that allows Illinois’ universities and community colleges to remain open during the budget impasse was approved by the Illinois House Friday morning. The legislation also provides funding for one semester of Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants.

Through an amendment to SB 2059, $600 million in existing Educational Assistance Fund (EAF) money will be utilized to provide short-term funding for schools that face an uncertain future due to the General Assembly’s inability to pass a budget. The emergency funding measure will fund operations through the start of September, when next year’s tuition payments arrive. While the obvious best solution would be a balanced budget that included adequate funding for higher education, this amendment to SB 2059 will provide a critical lifeline to our community colleges and universities. It represents the kind of creative solutions that can be reached through bipartisanship while a full budget solution is reached.

While each public four-year institution will receive an allocation that will see them through the end of August, the Illinois Community College Board will receive a lump sum of $74,142,300 to disperse to struggling community colleges across the state. “I am pleased to see funding for community colleges included in this stopgap measure,” Hays said, “because these two-year colleges provide vital educational services to a great number of Illinois citizens.”

The Senate also approved the bill on Friday and it was signed into law Monday morning by the Governor. Meanwhile, Comptroller Leslie Munger issued a statement Friday afternoon, saying she will begin sending money to the community colleges and universities, and allocate money for MAP grants right away.

Bipartisan Bill Sets New Standard for Health Insurance Networks in Illinois
Few things are more sacred than the relationship between a physician and a patient, and having a dynamic in place where a physician’s network status can change without notice can have catastrophic financial and emotional consequences for patients. For that reason I was proud this week to serve as the Chief Co-Sponsor of new, bipartisan legislation that establishes new standards for adequacy, accessibility and transparency of all health insurance plans sold in the state. HB 6562 would require insurance companies to file specific information with the Illinois Department of Insurance before marketing any health plan, including details about the professionals and institutions covered by the plan, and a requirement that “in-network” physicians and hospitals be located a reasonable distance from insured people’s homes. Perhaps most important, this bill requires insurance companies to let insured people know in a timely manner when a physician or care facility is no longer in-network. Especially in rural areas where we already drive close to an hour to receive medical care, these new provisions add a much-needed new layer of consumer protection.

Local School Groups Visit Capitol
I always enjoy visiting with constituents when they come to Springfield, and last week several school groups from Vermilion County spent a day touring the State Capitol in Springfield. Shown in these photos are two groups of students from the First Baptist Christian School in Danville with School Director Stephanie 
Tidwell, and a group from the Danville Area Community College’s Adult Area Education Classes with their Director Laura Williams. If you have a school or other group that will be visiting Springfield, please let my Springfield office know so that we can schedule time for a visit. You may reach that office at (217) 782-4811.

Vehicle Emissions Test Notices Resume
Drivers of motor vehicles in several areas of Illinois are required by federal law to get their cars and trucks tested for compliance with emissions standards. The vehicle owner must present proof-of-testing as part of the documentation submitted at the time the motor vehicle’s sticker is scheduled to expire. The tests must be performed on a rolling schedule tied to the age of each vehicle, and there is an official list of test centers authorized to perform the emissions tests.

Until December 2015, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) routinely sent out friendly notices of vehicle emissions testing deadlines to motor vehicle owners. The notice cycle was suspended at that time due to the State’s budget crisis, leading to widespread protests. The IEPA has announced they have renegotiated the terms of their notice mailing process with their testing system private partner, and notices of duty-to-perform 0.5 million vehicle emissions tests are now in the process of being mailed out. The notices cover vehicles due for emissions tests during a three-month period starting on March 1, 2016 and ending on May 31, 2016. Mailings resumed on Wednesday, April 6.

A separate suspended mailing program by the Secretary of State’s office to vehicle owners to remind them to renew their vehicle license stickers and purchase new ones has not been resumed. Vehicle owners will continue to be responsible to renew their vehicle license stickers on their own and will pay penalties if they fail to do so. The Illinois House recently approved HB 4334, which would temporarily suspend the delinquent registration renewal fee when it is being charged and collected under these circumstances. That bill is now pending in the Senate.

Hays Community College Bill Clears House; Now Being Considered in the Senate
Common sense legislation that assists community colleges with data collection practices was sent to the Senate this week after passage in the House last week. HB 6009 provides relief to community colleges by reducing data redundancy and eliminating data collections that are not vital to the goals established by the Illinois Community Colleges Board (ICCB). It also removes sections of the Community College Act that are outdated, and clarifies the coordination of specific responsibilities between the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and the Community College Board.

By cleaning up the laws, our community colleges can be more efficient. For example, in 2015 the ICCB approved 95 different locally-funded projects and leases, including a one dollar land purchase. These people don’t need to be spending their time micromanaging projects that are being funded locally.

“Visit Champaign County” Group Visits Springfield to Promote Tourism
It was my pleasure to visit with Jane DeLuce, President and CEO of Visit Champaign County and a group of leaders from that wonderful organization. This valuable organization was created in 1982 as the official tourism destination, marketing and management institution for Champaign County. They work hard to market Champaign County’s events and unique features to promote tourism and the positive impact it has on the local economy.






State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) will join Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) on Monday, May 2 for the dedication of a stretch of Route 1 between Westville and Georgetown as Sgt. Kenneth R. Nichols Jr. Memorial Highway.

Nichols was killed during service to his country in 2009, and in December the General Assembly approved legislation memorializing him. The dedication ceremony will be held on May 2 at 10:00 AM at the Georgetown Township building on Route 1.

“I had had the pleasure of meeting Sgt Nichols’ father and family last year, and I look forward to the dedication ceremony that honors this brave soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country,” Hays said.

Nichols grew up in Chrisman and graduated from Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School. He died on December 1, 2009 when his unit was attacked by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. At the time of his death, Nichols had served for four years in the U.S. Army.

“Through this highway designation, Sgt. Nichols’ memory will live on forever and will serve as a reminder for us all that we have brave men and women locally who have answered their call to serve so that we may all enjoy our freedoms.”
A stopgap measure that allows Illinois’ universities and community colleges to remain open during the budget impasse was approved by the Illinois House Friday morning. The legislation also provides funding for one semester of Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants.

Through an amendment to SB 2059, $600 million in existing Educational Assistance Fund (EAF) money will be utilized to provide short-term funding for schools that face an uncertain future due to the General Assembly’s inability to pass a budget. Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin), who represents students and employees from the University of Illinois, Danville Community College and Parkland Community College, said the emergency funding measure will fund operations through the start of September, when next year’s tuition payments arrive. “While the obvious best solution would be a balanced budget that included adequate funding for higher education, this amendment to SB 2059 will provide a critical lifeline to our community colleges and universities,” said Hays. “It represents the kind of creative solutions that can be reached through bipartisanship while a full budget solution is reached.

While each public four-year institution will receive an allocation that will see them through the end of August, the Illinois Community College Board will receive a lump sum of $74,142,300 to disperse to struggling community colleges across the state. “I am pleased to see funding for community colleges included in this stopgap measure,” Hays said, “because these two-year colleges provide vital educational services to a great number of Illinois citizens.”

The Illinois Senate indicated it would consider the bill right away and Governor Rauner said he will sign it if it reaches his desk. The official House vote on the amended bill was 106-2.
State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catilin), along with State Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) announced in Springfield today the filing of new legislation that will protect Illinois patients by establishing standards for adequacy, accessibility and transparency of all health insurance plans sold in Illinois.

HB 6562, the Network Adequacy and Transparency Act, will require health insurers to develop networks of health professionals, hospitals and facilities that meet the needs of the patients enrolled in their insurance plans. It will also require insurers to maintain up-to-date directories of in-network professionals and facilities, and communicate with patients about changes to their networks. Hays and Harris are carrying the bill the House; Holmes will carry the bill in the Senate.

H.B. 6562 also protects those who have had the same insurance for years, ensuring continuity of care even when their preferred physician is no longer in-network. “This legislation will help protect pregnant moms, families whose kids need highly specialized care, and people undergoing treatment for severe conditions like cancer from suddenly losing their doctor on short notice and having to scramble just because insurance companies decided to drop or limit providers,” said Harris.

“Living in a rural area shouldn’t prevent you from having access to top-quality health care,” added Hays. “Gaps in health plan networks mean patients can get stuck driving for hours to get the care they need. We’re putting a stop to that. It’s up to the insurance company offering coverage in an area to meet their obligations to patients by maintaining a robust provider network.”

Insurance companies will be required to file specific information with the Illinois Department of Insurance before marketing any health plan, including details about the professionals and institutions covered by the plan, the ratio of health care professionals to plan beneficiaries, procedures for ensuring beneficiary access to care if not enough in-network professionals are available, and more.

“This consumer-driven legislation will establish important protections for patients when they lose access to their physician by no fault of their own,” said Holmes. “Patients, particularly those with medically complex or life-threatening conditions should not have to worry about interruptions in their care.”

To hear more from Rep. Hays about this bill, click here.
A bill sponsored by State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) which would pave the way for video gaming at the Tilton Rumshine Distillery received wide bipartisan support in the Illinois House on Wednesday.

HB 4325 would add distilleries to the list of locations where video gaming is allowed in Illinois. “In Vermilion County, we have a distillery that operates under a specialized license that allows them to only serve and sell liquor they distill on site,” said Hays. “When the owners redesigned the interior of the building last year, a video gaming space was set aside. Unfortunately, since their specific niche was not accounted for in the video gaming law their application for machines was rejected.”

Today, licensed establishments that pour and serve alcohol on the premises can apply for a license to host up to five video gaming terminals, and Hays believes it was an oversight that distilleries were not included in the initial video gaming bill. “These are law-abiding business owners who only want to be given the same consideration as everyone else,” Hays said. “By closing this loophole we are allowing all of these types of establishments to be treated equally.”

HB 4325 will now move to the Senate for consideration.
Video gaming would soon be allowed at a small Vermilion County distillery if a bill sponsored by State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catilin) is approved in the General Assembly.

HB 4325, which received unanimous approval on Thursday by the House Executive Committee, would amend Illinois’ Video Gaming Act to add distilleries to the list of locations where video gaming is permissible. “This bill is very narrow in scope, and was filed as a direct result of the Rumshine Distillery and Bar’s inability to offer video gaming to its patrons,” said Hays. “I believe it was more of an oversight than anything else that craft distilleries were not included in the definition of licensed establishments where video gaming is allowed.”

Under current law, licensed establishments that pour and serve alcohol for consumption on the premises have a right to apply for a license to serve as the host location for up to five video gaming terminals that would be operated by a separately licensed terminal operator. “HB 4325 simply closes that inadvertent loophole and clarifies the right of a licensed craft distiller to apply for a video gaming location license.”

The Rumshine Distillery and Bar opened in Tilton, IL in 2013 as Vermilion County’s first craft distillery where a variety of liquors distilled on site are served and sold. With the approval of the Executive Committee, Hays’ bill now moves to the House Floor for a full debate and vote.
Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) has successfully moved a bill that would assist local community colleges with data collection practices out of a key House committee.

HB 6009 provides relief to community colleges by reducing data redundancy and eliminating data collections that are not vital to the goals established by the Illinois Community Colleges Board (ICCB),” said Hays, the Chief Sponsor of the bill. “It also removes sections of the Community College Act that are outdated, and clarifies the coordination of specific responsibilities between the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and the Community College Board.”

Specifically, HB 6009 would accomplish the following:
  • IBHE’s master plan for higher education would include input from the ICCB
  • Community college performance metrics would be adopted by the ICCB
  • The requirement for IBHE approval of non-instructional capital improvements and the creation of new community college districts would be eliminated
  • An outdated financial reporting system would be eliminated
  • Community college districts would report administrator and faculty salaries and benefits to the ICCB rather than to the IBHE
  • The requirement for the ICCB to approve community college funded construction projects, purchases or leases of sites, buildings, equipment, machinery or land and installment loan agreements would be eliminated (the ICCB would still approve all projects using State funds)
  • Sections of Community College Act that are outdated and refer to programs that were never funded would be eliminated
“By cleaning up the laws, our community colleges can be more efficient,” Hays said. “For example, in 2015 the ICCB approved 95 different locally-funded projects and leases, including a one dollar land purchase. These people don’t need to be spending their time micromanaging projects that are being funded locally.”

HB 6009 now moves to the House floor for a full debate and vote.