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On Thursday, December 1, lawmakers left Springfield after the conclusion of the 2016 veto session. While legislators from both sides of the aisle were able to work collaboratively to come to agreement on a comprehensive energy bill, Representatives and Senators left the Capitol without addressing the state's most pressing issue-the lack of a budget.

Representative Chad Hays was interviewed before leaving town, and expressed his disappointment in House Speaker Mike Madigan's decision to send everyone home rather than stay in Springfield until a budget agreement could be reached.

A stopgap budget expires on December 31, and lawmakers are not scheduled to return to Springfield until Monday, January 9.

Click here to listen to Hays' interview.
New Illinois Competitive Council Review of Agency Rules/Regulations Should Find Millions in Savings for Illinoisans by Cutting Through Red Tape
This week Governor Bruce Rauner announced a comprehensive plan to promote economic growth and job creation by cutting the red tape in Illinois. He signed Executive Order 16-13 to review all agency rules and regulations by the newly-created Illinois Competitiveness Council. The Illinois Competitiveness Council will be comprised of a representative of each of Illinois’ regulatory state agencies. Its goal 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.

In addition, the Illinois Competitiveness Council will look for recommendations to improve Illinois’ licensing environment to promote job growth and job creation. Currently, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has more than a million active licenses in more than 200 license categories, however for nearly a third, IDFPR has issued fewer than 100 licenses. The growth of these licenses has increased 184 percent in the last 20 years.

Kentucky, Indiana, Colorado, and Massachusetts have all successfully reviewed their rules and cut red tape to give their citizens a more competitive advantage over Illinois citizens. Burdensome and unnecessary regulations, policies and licensing requirements disproportionately impact small businesses, particularly minority-owned businesses.

In order to have the greatest impact, the Illinois Competitiveness Council is seeking input from the public on which rules and regulations are the biggest hindrance to people and businesses. Anyone can submit feedback to cut the red tape at www.illinois.gov/cut.

Hays Addresses Tourism Professionals at Fall Conference in Champaign
It was a treat last week to speak to an impressive gathering of tourism professionals at the Illinois Council of Convention & Visitors Bureaus at their annual fall conference in downtown Champaign. I’m pictured here with Cory Jobe, Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism; Jeanne Cooke, Executive Director of the Danville Area Visitors & Convention Bureau; and Jayne DeLuce, Executive Director of Visit Champaign County. Thanks to Jayne and her team for being such hospitable and gracious hosts.
Industry Hotline Offers Insurance Assistance
The Illinois Insurance Hotline is a free and valuable resource available to help Illinois residents make informed decisions about insurance-related issues. The Hotline is a non-profit industry-sponsored outreach that can answer basic questions, provide educational materials and offer direction for more intricate questions about property, casualty, life or health insurance. Residents can reach the Hotline by phone or email for guidance on a wide range of topics, including company contact numbers, financial ratings, complaint records, state mandates, options following a cancellation or non-renewal, the claim settlement process and more. You can contact the Illinois Insurance Hotline by phone at 1-800-444-3338, or by email at insurancehotline@illinoisinsurance.org. The Hotline is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM.

Hays Participates in Ceremony to Place Memorial Marker at Maplewood Cemetery
Earlier this month it was an honor and a privilege to participate in a ceremony placing the official American Legion marker for Sgt. Clyde Maham. Clyde served in the United States Marines in World War I, and fellow Marine George Heyworth recently came across the marker at an antique store. Determined to return it to its rightful place, George researched the individual and organized a beautiful ceremony at Maplewood Cemetery in Rantoul.

Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs Event Set for October 22
Surveys of prescription drug abusers tell us that a majority of those with opioid addictions started by stealing unused prescription medication from friends and family. The Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) has taken action to educate Illinois physicians and the public on ways to curb this epidemic. Last week, in partnership with ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company, ISMS distributed more than 11,000 kits promoting the importance of disposing of unused medications. The disposal kit contains information for doctors and patient materials highlighting the importance of proper disposal and what should be done with unused medications. The kit is also accessible for free download by anyone at www.isms.org/Take-Back. The ISMS has also teamed up with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to promote its semi-annual Drug Take-back day on October 22. 

This Take-back initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Help combat the opioid epidemic and keep your family safe by disposing of unused medication properly. The Vermilion County Sheriff’s Office at the Vermilion County Courthouse, located at 7 N. Vermilion Street in Danville, will serve as one of several safe disposal locations on October 22, from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. You can find other participating locations for the October 22 event at this link.

Federal Government Confirms Illinois is Moving Toward Compliance with REAL ID Act
Compliance, or movement toward compliance, is required for a state ID card (such as a driver’s license) to be seen as adequate identification for federal security purposes, such as entering an armed forces base or the boarding area of an airport. Illinois is one of 14 states that have been officially ruled as out of compliance with the 2005 federal law. Congress enacted, and former President George W. Bush signed, the REAL ID Act after the events of September 11.

Under the terms of the federal law, applicants for a drivers’ license or official ID equivalent are required to present a variety of official documentation to confirm and re-confirm their legal status within the United States. In addition, the drivers’ licenses or equivalent state documentation must be produced in physically secure facilities and must comply with a series of federal mandates intended to reduce and eliminate counterfeiting. The eventual goal is to bring the 50 states’ drivers’ licenses closer to the level of identification and security that are imposed upon applicants for a U.S. passport. After a ten-year transition period, the federal government has begun to impose penalties upon the residents of states that remain out of compliance with the REAL ID Act.

The General Assembly responded to federal compliance issues in spring 2016 by enacting new legislation (SB 637) intended to move toward compliance with the REAL ID Act. Under this legislation, the offices of the Illinois Secretary of State are no longer allowed to print out and distribute plastic drivers’ license cards. Starting in summer 2016, Secretary of State employees who have undergone criminal background checks are now allowed to collect information from an Illinois resident. The State employee will then send digital information over a secure phone line to a facility in a secure location. The new drivers’ licenses, which are mailed to their recipients, are similar to the old drivers’ licenses in some ways and different from them in others. They contain features that are difficult to counterfeit.

Under the new legislation and technology, Illinois has now been re-ruled to be 84% in compliance with the REAL ID Act. This status will be valid until October 10, 2017. During the 12-month period preceding this deadline, Illinois drivers’ licenses and ID-card equivalents will be viewed as adequate to enter federal security-secured areas, such as federal facilities and airport boarding areas. The Department of Homeland Security is warning Illinois and 13 other states that they must take further actions in spring 2017 in order to move closer toward complete compliance with the REAL ID Act. Eight other states, including Kentucky and Missouri, have been ruled noncompliant with the REAL ID Act. Their residents could face identification-related sanctions as soon as January 30, 2017.

UIUC is now the Seventh-Largest Public University Campus in the U.S.
The 44,880-student enrollment figure for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reflects the number of students who have accepted enrollment or re-enrollment at UIUC and are taking classes in the 2016 fall term. Growing demand for the university’s historically STEM-oriented curriculum has made the University of Illinois’ flagship campus a highly desirable place of study for students worldwide. In 2016, 7,600 freshmen students enrolled in UIUC for the fall term.

Many professionals associated with the campus and its infrastructure report that UIUC enrollment is at or near physical capacity. The university’s future expansion plans include areas outside core college education, such as online education and graduate schools. For example, the new Champaign-Urbana-based Carle Illinois College of Medicine will train physicians at teaching-hospital locations affiliated with, but separate from, the current campus.

Corn Harvest Passes 50% Mark
With continued dry weather in much of Illinois, farmers have reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the statewide corn harvest is more than 50% complete. As of Tuesday, October 11, 62% of the Illinois corn harvest was in. This progress in Illinois contrasts with rain-hit Iowa, where muddy fields have prevented full output from farm harvest machinery and where the harvest is only 19% complete. Soybeans mature later in Illinois than corn, and if a farmer is growing both, the protein-rich crop is likely to be harvested second in line. The Illinois bean harvest was reported to be 39% complete as of the end of last week.
Hays Receives Perfect Score in Independent Review of Votes that Affect Illinois Small Businesses
Did you know that 98% of the businesses in our state are small businesses? These are the people who have the ability to put Illinoisans back to work, and as lawmakers we must support their efforts. In acknowledgement of votes taken in 2015-2016 that affect these primary job creators, last week I was named a “Guardian of Small Business” by the Illinois branch of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). 

Honorees were chosen based on their votes on 11 key bills during the 99th General Assembly. The bills included: HB 6162, SB 2964, HB 3887, HB 1285, SB 162, HB 1287, SB 2933, HB 4036, SB 11, HB 5576 and HJRCA 26, and lawmakers who received an 80% or higher rating received the award.

Kim Clark Maisch, State Director of NFIB/Illinois, had this to say about my support of the small business community: “Representative Hays’ 100% voting record on key small business issues demonstrates his strong commitment to our state's job creators. He has stood up time and again and fought for the rights of small businesses and their ability to keep their doors open in a state that isn't known for being friendly to business.”

NFIB/Illinois includes over 11,000 small business members from across the state. A link to a summary of the 11 key business bills and an overall tally and ranking of all Illinois State Representatives and Senators can be found at: http://www.nfib.com/pdfs/Illinois-Voting-Record.pdf.

Fall Harvest Begins amid Forecasts of Bumper Crops
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which monitors corn and soybean yields and production in Illinois and other states, has issued an optimistic forecast as Illinois farmers begin to cut and bring in their 2016 corn crop. The federal prediction is that Illinois growers will bring in 2.3 billion bushels of corn from 11.5 million acres planted, a yield of approximately 200 bushels per acre. This 200 bushels/acre figure would tie the record posted by Illinois farm operators in 2014. The 2.3 billion bushel figure for total production would be Illinois’ second-largest corn crop ever, just behind 2014.

After the corn comes in, farmers with bean fields will work to cut and harvest their soybeans. The current USDA predictions for Illinois look at the state’s farmland producing a harvest of 600 million bushels of the protein-rich legume, reflecting a projected yield of 61 bushels per acre. Both figures, if achieved, would be Illinois records. Yields were held back one year ago, in 2015, due to wet field conditions and other suboptimal weather patterns. While some parts of Illinois experienced heavy rain in the summer of 2016, the precipitation tended to come down in a sequence that allowed fields with drainage tiles to shed excess moisture. Dry weather will become even more important as the harvest continues. The Illinois corn harvest was 9% complete as of Sunday, September 18.

State of Illinois gets Improved Grade on Information Technology Implementation
The grade was awarded by the nonpartisan Center for Digital Government, which surveys the 50 states and rates their status on digital technology issues. As a result of its responses to the 2016 Digital States Survey, Illinois was upgraded from C+ in 2014 to B+ in 2016. The Center for Digital Government’s journal affiliate, “Government Technology,” credited the new Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (IDIT) for sparking much of the upgrade. Before the creation of IDIT in early 2016, each State department had its own information technology division. In many cases, departments ran and stored their data on non-compatible or even unique software; in a few cases, the software programs used to perform specific State government tasks were decades old.

In his executive order creating the new Department, Governor Rauner directed 38 separate State departments to begin transferring responsibility over their data processing functions to IDIT, which was directed to use its new functionality to develop compatible software, sharply increase the ability of computers in different State departments to talk to each other, and move the State’s data processing from a traditional, centralized model based on 20th-century mainframes to the cloud-based dispersed data processing technology of the 2010s. “Government Technology” reports that Illinois’ reliance on cloud-based data processing is moving from close to 0% in 2015 to 3% in 2016. Further progress is expected to yield 28% cloud-DP by 12/31/17, and 70% by 12/31/18.

Circuit Court Judge Issues Medical Cannabis Order Favoring Patients with Chronic Pain Conditions
The decision, if allowed to stand, would add “chronic pain” to the list of 34 conditions that qualify a patient to seek a cannabis dispensary card. Under the Illinois medical cannabis pilot program, a patient must be diagnosed with an eligible health condition and receive a go-ahead from that patient’s longtime health care provider before the patient can apply to the Department of Public Health for a medical cannabis registry identification card.

Patients with cannabis cards have the right to enter an Illinois dispensary and purchase medical cannabis. Health conditions that make a patient eligible to apply for a medical cannabis card include cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), rheumatoid arthritis, severe fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A small number of growers’ permits and dispensary permits have been distributed to the private sector to operate highly secure facilities throughout Illinois. The Cook County circuit decision, handed down on Wednesday, September 21, is subject to appeal by the Attorney General and is not yet law.
In acknowledgement of votes taken in 2015-2016 that affect Illinois small businesses, State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) has been named a “Guardian of Small Business” by the Illinois branch of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Hays scored a perfect 100% in an NFIB review of his voting record.

Honorees were chosen based on their votes on 11 key bills during the 99th General Assembly. The bills included: HB 6162, SB 2964, HB 3887, HB 1285, SB 162, HB 1287, SB 2933, HB 4036, SB 11, HB 5576 and HJRCA 26. Lawmakers who received an 80% or higher rating received the award.

According to Kim Clark Maisch, State Director of NFIB/Illinois, Hays is a true champion of small business across Illinois. “Representative Hays’ 100% voting record on key small business issues demonstrates his strong commitment to our state's job creators,” she said. “Representative Hays has stood up time and again and fought for the rights of small businesses and their ability to keep their doors open in a state and isn't known for being friendly to business.”

Hays said it was an honor to be recognized for his voting record in support of Illinois’ small businesses. “The men and women who start and run small businesses are the primary job creators in Illinois,” said Hays. “These are the people who have the ability to put Illinoisans back to work, and as lawmakers we must support their efforts.”

NFIB/Illinois includes over 11,000 small business members from across the state. A link to a summary of the 11 key business bills and an overall tally and ranking of all Illinois State Representatives and Senators can be found at: http://www.nfib.com/pdfs/Illinois-Voting-Record.pdf.
Frustrated with the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision that found the Independent Maps Coalition’s fair maps proposal unconstitutional, State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) is partnering with Republican State Representative Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) to push a new fair maps initiative that allows citizens to draw legislative maps with the guidance of a non-partisan commission.

“Everywhere I go I hear from Illinois citizens who feel their voices are being silenced on the issue of fair maps,” said Hays. “The people want to elect their legislators; they do not want majority party legislators to draw maps that all but remove the public’s voice in who represents them.”

Through HJRCA 60, filed Tuesday in Springfield, issues brought forth in the Supreme Court ruling are addressed. A commission as outlined in the Constitution would provide tools and necessary data to citizens to help them create a map that meets Constitutional requirements, and then the commission would rank the citizen maps according to a defined scoring rubric. The top three ranked maps would then be forwarded to the General Assembly for up or down votes on each proposal. Members of the House and Senate would be prohibited from making any changes to the citizen-created maps that came to them. In the event that consensus is not reached on one map, the Secretary of State would step in and certify the map with the highest rubric score.

“One of the main issues that led to the unconstitutional ruling by the high court is the make-up of the commission,” said Hays. “HJRCA 60 keeps the formation of that commission identical as outlined by the Constitution, but changes its function from actually drawing the map, to providing the information needed for citizens to draw a Constitutionally-sound map. It gives the people of Illinois the primary voice in map creation, and if successful, would end partisan control of the map-drawing process once and for all.”

Both Fortner and Hays believe the wording of this legislation falls within the guidelines set forth in the legislative article of the Illinois Constitution. If approved by the General Assembly and implemented, the new mapping process would apply to the redistricting that will take place in 2021, and would affect the boundaries for the election in 2022.
Hays Named “Friend of Agriculture”
It was such an honor recently to receive the Illinois Farm Bureau “Friend of Agriculture” award. Agriculture is by far our State's #1 industry and Champaign and Vermilion Counties are home to some of the best producers and most fertile soil on planet earth. Efforts that support agriculture are very important to me and as a legislator I am committed to helping those in the agriculture industry with their goal of improving food production practices and ensuring a plentiful and safe food supply.

Hays Meets with DACC Current and Past President
On August 29 it was a pleasure to meet with new Danville Area Community College President Dr. Stephen Nacco and retiring DACC President Dr. Alice Jacobs. We discussed the importance of adequate state funding for our community colleges and other state-funded institutions of higher learning and how I could advocate on their behalf in Springfield. In this picture, I’m shown with Dr. Jacobs, DACC Board Chair Dave Harby and Dr. Nacco as they graciously present me a framed copy of the wonderful news story when I was named the "DACC Distinguished Alumni". It is a distinction that I will always cherish.

Hays Signs On as Chief Co-Sponsor for New Attempt at Legislative Fair Maps
When Illinois’ highest court voted 4-3 against a citizen-led effort to put a Fair Maps proposal on the November ballot, people all over the state were upset because they felt citizen voices were being silenced. While there will not be a Fair Maps referendum question on this year’s November ballot, this week I signed on as a leading sponsor of a new initiative that takes into consideration the comments of the Supreme Court Ruling and seeks to change the map-drawing process in a way that is fair to citizens and respectful of Constitutional mandates. If successful, HJRCA 60 could end partisan control of the map process once and for all.

HJRCA 60, filed Tuesday by Republican State Representative Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago), would grant the citizens of Illinois significant input into legislative mapmaking. Whereas today the majority party draws maps that protect their incumbents and their majority status, this new amendment would allow citizens to draw boundaries based on a list of Constitutional requirements. Through HJRCA 60, a non-partisan commission would provide tools and information to citizens to ensure maps align with mandates set forth in the Constitution. Once citizens have created draft maps, the commission would rank those maps according to a defined scoring rubric. After the maps have been scored, the top three maps would be brought to the House and Senate, where lawmakers would vote up or down on the proposals with hopes of reaching agreement on one map. Lawmakers would not be able to amend any of the maps. If no consensus is reached on a map, the Secretary of State would certify the map that had the highest rubric score.

If approved and implemented, the new map process would take effect with the redistricting effort of 2021 for legislative elections in 2022. I look forward to working with Representative Fortner on this important initiative.

Governor Nears Completion of 2016 Bill Signings
The General Assembly passed 443 bills in the first half of calendar year 2016, and more than 90% of these bills have now been signed into law. Of the forty bills vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner, 30 are total vetoes and ten are amendatory vetoes. The Constitution of Illinois gives the General Assembly one shot at accepting the Governor’s amendatory vetoes or overriding his amendatory and/or total vetoes. Acceptance of an amendatory veto requires a simple majority in both houses, while overriding a Governor’s veto requires a three-fifths majority in both houses. Actions on vetoes are a traditional focus of the General Assembly’s fall veto session. The veto session will be held on the third and fifth weeks of November. 

New Laws Expand Hunting and Fishing Opportunities in Illinois
Included in the list of bills signed into law this year are four initiatives that expand hunting and fishing opportunities for Illinoisans. On “Conservation Day” at the Illinois State Fair this year, Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law the following bills:
  • Senate Bill 2410 expands the youth license program to include trapping. People younger than 18 may apply for a license, and must be accompanied by an adult age 21 or older who also has a valid state trapping license.
  • House Bill 5788 adds catfish to the list of fish that can be taken by bow fishing, or the use of specialized archery equipment to shoot them.
  • House Bill 4604 allows for permits to take bobwhite quail, chukars and gray partridge on public hunting grounds.
  • Senate Bill 3003 allows the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to offer free landowner hunting permits for deer and turkey as long as the landowner has at least 40 acres. The bill also combines the application for deer and turkey into one, and requires the IDNR to hold a youth turkey season for two consecutive weekends instead of the current one weekend.
IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal said in a statement that the new laws will “help our conservation efforts and will allow a new generation to develop a love for the great outdoors here in Illinois.”

LIHEAP to Accept Applications for Low Income Energy Assistance Program
The state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) began accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities on September 1. 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 accept applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents must bring all required documentation when applying for assistance, including:
  • Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day income period beginning with the date of the application.
  • A copy of their current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly). 
  • A copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information. 
  • Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members. 
  • Proof that their household received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Aid to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (AABD); or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services. 
A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,485; a two-person household up to $2,003; a family of three can earn up to $2,520; and a family of four can earn up to $3,038. For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administering agencies and additional information about the program, go to www.liheapIllinois.com, or call the energy assistance toll-free hotline at (877) 411-WARM.

Motorists Urged to be Aware of Sharp Penalties for Passing a Stopped School Bus
With the start of the new school year, school buses are once again a familiar sight in morning and afternoon hours. Significant penalties exist in law for the act of passing a stopped school bus with flashing lights and extended stop-sign arm. Traffic must remain stopped until the lights have stopped flashing and the stop-sign arm withdrawn. In addition to fines imposed by the local court, the Secretary of State is instructed by law to suspend, for three months, the driving privileges of a licensed driver who violates this law. A Secretary of State hearing officer may, but is not required to, grant restricted-driving privileges to a driver whose license is under suspension for this offense. These penalties apply to traffic going in both directions on any road narrower than four lanes. On a four-lane road with at least two lanes of traffic moving in the opposite direction to the bus, only motorists going with the bus are required to stop. 

New Concussion Guidelines Affect Coaches and Players in Contact Sports
High School football season is well underway across Illinois, and this year new concussion guidelines, adopted by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), are in place to help reduce the frequency of concussions in contact sports. One key feature of the new guidelines is a requirement that student-athletes be tested and monitored during contact-sports activities. The oversight activities are meant to diagnose concussion events as fast as possible.

The guidelines also require that, once a student-athlete is found to have sustained a concussion or suspected concussion, they must undergo further monitoring and testing prior to being asked to resume their studies or authorized to return to a playing field. Once diagnosed, they will not be able to play again until a doctor has granted explicit permission for them to do so. The new concussion guidelines will be enforced, in each school, by the concussion oversight teams that each Illinois school that plays sports is now required to have. The guidelines followed passage of the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act, a 2015 law that asked the IHSA, licensed Illinois athletic trainers, and other professionals and educators to come together to develop a new program for reduction of sports concussions starting in the 2016-17 school year.

Twelve Human Service Agencies Discussing Medicaid Revamp
One of the causes of Illinois’ budget crisis is the compounding cost of the State’s Medicaid program. Medicaid, the family of programs that provides reimbursements for medical treatments provided to many persons with challenged personal or income standing, spends billions of dollars every year. It is an “entitlement” program, which means that the General Assembly cannot easily enact legislation to cut the cost of the program. Most of its beneficiaries have a right, under federal law, to many of the services that the Illinois Medicaid program provides to them.

Some of the costs of Illinois Medicaid are covered by the federal government. One of the features identified by the Rauner administration are growing gaps between what Illinois could apply for in Medicaid aid and the reimbursements in fact received by the State. Next week, the Rauner administration will hold hearings in Springfield and Chicago on an interdepartmental proposal to close some of these gaps. Advocates believe that adoption of the Rauner plan could create standing for Illinois to apply for $2.7 billion in additional federal Medicaid funds over a five-year period. Features of the proposal include improved housing services for persons whose health concerns are deemed to put them at risk for becoming homeless and pre-release services for prisoners.
Hays Joins Dignitaries and DACC Leaders to Discuss Community College Funding
Earlier this month I joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and officials from Danville Area Community College for a frank discussion about the future of higher education funding. As a strong advocate of community college systems in our state, I recognize how blessed we are in this area to have such a well-managed community college in DACC that is staffed with a strong faculty and has excellent leadership. We discussed Illinois’ challenges, but all agreed that as budget discussions move forward, it is imperative that these systems receive equitable funding. 

Tourists Spent $37 Billion in Illinois in 2015
The new numbers come from the Illinois Office of Tourism, which monitors visitor spending in Illinois as a way of gauging a return on investments for the money from hotel/motel taxes spent to promote Illinois to out-of-staters. Estimated expenditures by tourists in Illinois were $37 billion in 2015, up an inflation-beating 2.6% from 2014.

According to the Office of Tourism, an arm of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, tourism generated an estimated 10,000 new Illinois jobs in 2015. Job creation is featured in the Office of Tourism’s “Illinois Made” campaign for 2016, a multimedia promotion that centers on the attractive opportunities for visitors to buy goods and services produced by Illinois craftspeople and small businesses.

Governor Signs Bills Honoring Gold Star Families, Increasing Services to Illinois Veterans
Governor Bruce Rauner recently took action on several bills as part of Veterans Day at the 2016 Illinois State Fair. The bills strengthen Illinois’ commitment to our veterans and their families by providing needed assistance and honor to those who have sacrificed so much for our country and our state.

Two of the bills support the families of our Illinois veterans. HB 4389, sponsored by Rep. Steven Andersson, designates the day after Gold Star Mother’s Day as Gold Star Family Day to be observed throughout Illinois as a day to honor and commemorate the families of men and women who gave their lives while serving with the armed forces of the United States.

HB 4432, sponsored by Rep. Don Moffitt, allows a child in any grades 6 through 12 to be absent from a public school for the purpose of sounding “Taps” at a military honor funeral held in Illinois for a deceased veteran. Read more about HB 4389 and HB 4432.

HB 4627, sponsored by Rep. Mike Tryon, allows veterans to begin their college education upon discharge regardless of how the calendar year lines up. Read more about HB 4627.

HB 4344, sponsored by Rep. Mark Batinick, creates the Heroes Way Designation Program Act. It is a way to honor servicemembers who were killed in action by allowing a relative to apply to have an honorary sign with the name of the servicemember erected along designated Illinois roads.

Hays Visits Aunt Martha’s Clinic in Danville
This month I had an opportunity to tour Aunt Martha’s Clinic in Danville with Congressman John Shimkus. We had a nice conversation with clinic leaders about the health care and dental services they provide to a diverse population of area residents. Their team-based approach to improving the health and well-being of their clients and patients is inspiring, as they frame their delivery model around their core values of excellence, diversity, collaboration, innovation, commitment and passion.

Current Rate of Traffic Deaths show Fatalities Mounting to Projected Eight-Year High in 2016

Based on current statistical trends, more than 1,000 people will be killed on Illinois roads and highways in 2016. The dismal number is attributed by traffic experts to higher speeds, with speed limits up to 70 mph on many sections of Illinois limited-access highways. An increase in the total number of Illinois miles driven and a larger number of younger drivers are also blamed.

The 1,000-death projection is based upon the 629 Illinois traffic deaths that had been logged as of Friday, August 12 by the National Safety Council, a private-sector entity that works with local law enforcement and health providers to track accidents and injuries nationwide, including motor vehicle incidents. The Council has, in the past, played a key role in injury-reducing changes to motor vehicle law, including mandatory child restraints and a standardized law to identify and sanction persons who drive under the influence.

New Private Foundation will Cooperate with State of Illinois to Preserve Threatened Fairgrounds
A private foundation has been created to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure that supports Illinois’ largest summer gathering, the Illinois State Fair. The 104th District will have a voice in the decisions being made, and one of my constituents, George Czapar of Urbana, was chosen by the Governor to serve on this foundation board.

With an estimated $180 million in deferred maintenance costs, the more than 190 buildings of the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and the DuQuoin State Fair in Southern Illinois’ DuQuoin will require massive rebuilding to maintain a safe and secure fairgoing experience. Electrical, paint, plumbing, roofing, and structural repairs must be done on buildings that were built as long ago as 1892.

Governor Bruce Rauner led the push to create the new Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation. Established by private-sector leaders of the agricultural community, the foundation will raise private funding and coordinate the revitalization and improvement of both fairgrounds. It is expected that large donors may receive recognition for their generosity in the form of sponsorship opportunities that will be seen by the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to the Fairs and their grounds. Creation of the Foundation was the culmination of a push to save the State Fairgrounds led by Rep. Tim Butler and by former Rep. Raymond Poe, both of Springfield. Former Rep. Poe is currently the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the State agency with overall responsibility over the State fairgrounds and state fair infrastructure.