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Governor Bruce Rauner today signed legislation that will ensure the transition to classrooms is made easier for out-of-state teachers moving to Illinois. State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, a co-sponsor of the bill, and State Representative Terri Bryant joined the governor at Carbondale Community High School for the bill signing.

“This bill is about teachers, jobs and opportunities,” Governor Rauner said. “We are clearing a better pathway to the classroom for teachers who have moved to Illinois and ensure they can focus on the important job they do, which is educating our children. It’s time to build on this success story and work together to pass a balanced budget and changes that will lead to new jobs and stronger schools to put Illinois back on the right path.”

SB 2912 makes it easier to transfer an out-of-state teachers’ license to Illinois by streamlining the process. The Illinois State Board of Education can now grant an Illinois license to teachers with comparable out-of-state licenses. The bill also reduces several burdens on people trying to become substitute teachers.

“Investing in our teachers is a critical component to ensuring all children in Illinois are healthy, safe, and well educated, so that by the time they turn 25 they are in good paying, high-quality careers,” Secretary of Education Beth Purvis said. “Lifting these burdens will allow experienced educators quicker access to the classroom without compromising on quality.”

“Illinois has a teacher shortage, especially in underserved areas. Additionally, we struggle to retain a healthy pool of substitute teachers,” said State Senator Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville), who was a bill sponsor. “Teaching licensure reciprocity will hopefully enable us to bring some of our best and brightest minds back to Illinois from our surrounding states. Many times our youth travel to bordering states to begin their careers; we are encouraging them to come back home and teach our future generations.”

"The statewide substitute teacher shortage has had an adverse impact on local schools, especially in southern Illinois," State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) said. "By reducing certificate fees, allowing individuals with four-year degrees to apply for substitute teacher certificates, and cutting red tape for out-of-state applicants, SB 2912 helps expand the pool of potential substitute teachers for schools statewide."

This bill helps address Illinois regional teacher shortage and substitute teacher shortage by making it easier to obtain a teaching license if a teacher holds an out-of-state license. In addition, it reduces the fee to obtain a substitute teaching license and lifts some of the burdens retired teachers faced if they wanted to return to the classroom to sub for a teacher.

“I am deeply appreciative of the General Assembly and the Governor for working with the State Board of Education to address the statewide substitute teacher shortage,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “The bill signed into law today streamlines the process for becoming a licensed teacher in Illinois, without lowering standards. Our goal and the goal of superintendents across the state is to ensure classrooms are led by qualified individuals every single day. We must continue to think creatively and be open to adapting in order to meet the needs of all students.”

“I want to commend Governor Rauner for signing SB 2912, and the General Assembly for passing it with bipartisan support,” said Carbondale Community High School Superintendent Steve Murphy. “Attracting, developing, and retaining Highly Effective Educators for Illinois schools are one of the pillars of Vision 20/20, and SB 2912 provides common sense solutions addressing the statewide shortages in teachers and substitutes. Not a week goes by at CCHS when we don't require administrators or other support personnel to cover classrooms because of a lack of qualified substitute teachers. Teacher and substitute shortages impact Illinois students and families, and I commend our leaders in Springfield for working together to provide solutions that benefit our schools and communities.”

"Schools have been asking for more flexibility to hire qualified teachers and substitute teachers so that they can offer our children the best education possible,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “This measure will help districts deal with a dire shortage of substitute teachers, while enhancing residents' local control of their schools.”

“Anything we can do to make things easier for teachers who move to Illinois to get into the classroom as soon as possible is incredibly important,” State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) said. “This new law will also benefit rural districts that oftentimes have a difficult time finding experienced substitute teachers. Most importantly, our students will benefit the most from this new law as it ensures more qualified teachers are in our classrooms.”

“These commonsense changes to the state’s licensure system will make it easier and more attractive for qualified teachers to seek work in Illinois,” said State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles). “I believe this new law will help reduce the shortage of teachers in a number of Illinois communities, as well as the shortage of substitute teachers across the state, which many schools have been grappling with. This will be particularly helpful in rural areas, which have been hit hard by this shortage, and our border communities, which have seen qualified teachers seeking placement in neighboring states.”

"A shortage of teachers and substitute teachers has been a real problem in some parts of the state,” said State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin). “This new law eliminates much of the red tape and bureaucracy that out-of-state and retired teachers face, and streamlines the process so we can do a better job of having highly qualified teachers in our classrooms.”

“This commonsense law will help address the current teacher shortage in our state,” said State Rep. Bob Pritchard (R-Sycamore). “In a recent survey, 60 percent of participating schools reported they are having trouble filling certain teaching positions. This act allows teachers who have comparable training in another state to work in Illinois and help prepare our students for promising futures.”

"Today's action is a good step toward addressing the shortage of substitute teachers in Illinois while also reducing burdensome regulations on those who want to teach," said State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield). "This was a top issue for school administrators from my district and I applaud the Governor's action on this bill."

On January 1, 2017, 191 new laws will take effect in Illinois. Be aware of what’s coming so you can be in compliance. Watch below to learn about some of the more noteworthy laws coming your way on January 1st.


Hays Participates in Inaugural Catlin Parade of Lights
On November 27 I joined hundreds of people from Catlin and the nearby area for the Inaugural Catlin Parade of Lights. This new event, which was themed “An Old Fashioned Christmas,” featured several colorful floats. The parade originated at Salt Fork High School and proceeded to the Village Hall. After the parade we enjoyed the annual lighting of the community Christmas Tree. I’m sure this event will grow in popularity as this new tradition takes hold in Vermilion County.

Illinois House Approves Constitutional Amendment for Lame-Duck Tax Increases
During our recent veto session in Springfield, I voted in favor of an initiative that would give Illinois voters the power to make it more difficult for lawmakers to raise taxes during a so-called “lame duck” session of the Illinois General Assembly. The amendment, if approved by the state Senate and adopted in the 2018 general election, would increase the voting margin required to increase an income tax rate or a sales tax rate during any lame duck session of the Illinois General Assembly. The General Assembly, under current law, can enact lame duck tax hikes by simple majority in both houses. If HJRCA 62 were to become law, the margin would increase to three-fifths – the same supermajority as is currently required to increase State general-obligation debt, approve amendments to the Constitution of Illinois, and approve amendments to the federal Constitution of the United States. Lame duck sessions are sessions after Election Day when retiring legislators are still in office. The Thursday, December 1 vote by the House to approve HJRCA 62 was 84-18-2. The Senate has not taken action on this measure.

Champaign County First Delegation Visits Lawmakers in Springfield
It was certainly a pleasure to meet with representatives from Champaign County First while in Springfield on November 30. Representative Bill Mitchell and I met with the group and discussed how we as legislators could assist with economic development in Champaign County. Champaign County First is a united countywide effort to identify projects and/or initiatives that, when successfully completed, will greatly benefit the citizens of Champaign County; spur economic development; and improve the quality of life in Champaign County. Champaign County First partners are committed to advocating on behalf of the identified projects at the local, state and/or federal level with one voice in order to transform Champaign County. Champaign County First is a partnership between the Chamber and the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation.

U.S. Department of Energy Grants $10.1 Million to Illinois State Geological Survey
The Champaign-Urbana geological think tank will study and develop technologies to enable the continued burning of fossil fuels in Illinois and around the world. Concerns have been raised about the emission of carbon dioxide when oil, gas, coal, and other fuels are burned, but geologists have long known that it is possible to gather carbon dioxide generated by fixed sources of energy (such as power plants) and inject them deep into the earth. The technology, called carbon “sequestration,” could be used to make it more attractive to burn coal and other fossil fuels for future energy.

The Illinois State Geological Survey has been asked to evaluate the feasibility of injecting more than 50 million metric tons of CO² into geological strata deep under Illinois. The study will build on previous core drillings and other empirical research that shows that much of central and southern Illinois lies on top of beds of impermeable shale. Hypothetically, carbon dioxide could be injected into or beneath the shale and would never come back to the earth’s surface.

Illinois House Posts Schedule for 2017 Spring Session
The newly-elected and re-elected members of the Illinois House will convene in Springfield on Wednesday, January 11, to take the oath of office. House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office has posted a session calendar for the House to follow when we introduce new bills next spring and debate them in committee and on the floor. The House will also consider bills sent over from the state Senate. The spring session is scheduled to end on Wednesday, May 31. 

In addition to the session work of the new 100th General Assembly, the 99th General Assembly may well have a few last things to do in January.  Two lame duck session days have been posted on the schedule for Monday, January 9, and Tuesday, January 10. It is not yet known for what purposes these days will be used.      

When we all take our oath of office on January 11, 15 Republicans who were not on the November 2014 ballot will be taking their oaths as members of the 100th General Assembly. Of these new members, five took their seats in the soon-to-be-completed 99th General Assembly as appointees following the departures of their predecessors. All five of them were elected last month to full terms in their own right. These five are:
  • Avery Bourne (95th District, south-central Illinois). Representative Bourne is a law student and a specialist in issues of agriculture and rural law enforcement. She serves on Illinois House committees that deal with issues involving agriculture, consumers, counties, transportation, vehicle safety, and veterans.
  • Tim Butler (87th District, Springfield area). Representative Butler is an experienced hand at constituent issues from his services as district chief of staff to two members of the U.S. Congress.  He serves on House committees that deal with issues involving the environment, tourism, roads, and vehicle safety.
  • David Olsen (81st District, central DuPage County). Representative Olsen is a skilled professional in financial investing and trading. He serves on House committees that deal with issues involving community colleges, schools, criminal law, public utilities, and renewable energy.
  • David Welter (75th District, northeastern Illinois). Representative Welter is the former chairman of the Grundy County Board. He serves on House committees that deal with issues involving agriculture, appropriations/public safety, schools, charter schools, energy, criminal law, restorative justice, and special needs services. 
  • Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (99th District, Springfield area). Representative Wojcicki Jimenez is a former journalist and Statehouse spokesperson. She serves on House committees that deal with issues involving agriculture, State universities, business and occupational licenses, economic development, and international trade and commerce.  

 In addition to these five now-experienced new members with committee assignments, 10 completely new House Republican members – representing districts from McHenry County on the Wisconsin border to Williamson County in far southern Illinois – will take their seats as the Springfield voice for their respective communities.  

Illinois Department of Transportation Shares Winter Driving Tips
A brief streaming video from IDOT includes warnings suitable for snow and ice conditions. Factors to keep in mind include the need to drive defensively when driving near snowplowing machinery, likely spots for road ice appearance and buildup, and items to be carried in a motor vehicle during winter. A standard winter survival-supply kit for winter driving will include blankets, a first-aid kit, reflectors, an ice scraper for windshields, jumper cables, and a cellphone. Motorists should keep in mind that not all sections of Illinois have continuous, seamless cellphone service.

Firearm Season Deer Harvest Down 8.5% in 2016
Although the late-season harvest numbers have not come in, the main firearm weekends are over. Tag numbers reported by licensed hunters to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) indicate that the number of deer taken this fall was down significantly from 2015. IDNR reports that firearm-season tag numbers were down 8.5% in fall 2016, from 86,847 deer in 2015 to 79,429 this year. Late-season deer activities will include a muzzle-loading weekend in December, an antlerless-only season in specified counties in late December, and the archery deer season through mid-January.

Annual Christmas and Holiday Display Available for Public Viewing
This year’s annual Christmas and Holiday display dedication ceremony was held on Tuesday, November 29 in the Capitol rotunda. The two-story tree, nativity scene and other items provide some much-needed positive holiday spirit during these difficult days for our State. The display is open to the public during normal business hours throughout December at the Capitol, located at 301 S. 2nd Street, Springfield. Area singing groups often volunteer to sing over the noon hour during the holiday season. If your holiday travels bring you near Springfield, please try to find time to see the display in the rotunda.
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.