Rep. Hays' Summer Legislative Report

Typically, this time of year my staff and I put together an End of Session Report that is printed and distributed to my constituents. Since session has extended into the summer, this year I thought I would send out the report electronically, and then distribute a more comprehensive report later in the year.

This year’s legislative session brought together a Republican Governor and a legislative chamber filled with new faces. Illinois voters spoke last fall choosing a governor that promised to turn Illinois around, and while it would seem much hasn’t changed in Springfield by reading the news, I can tell you first hand that things are certainly different.

The people of Illinois want bipartisanship, compromise and shared policy-making. Here locally, that is happening. I have partnered on numerous occasions with my local Democrat Senator Bennett in challenging the status quo. For example, this spring Senator Bennett and I worked together to bring enhanced 911 funding and service to Champaign and Vermilion Counties while protecting land lines for senior citizens.

Unfortunately, our legislative leaders haven’t learned the same lesson, and right now Illinoisans are paying for it. We’re in a budget battle of epic proportions, which may threaten the shutdown of much of state government. But in this instance, it isn’t anything like the last two government shutdowns that saw Democrat leaders fighting a Democrat Governor.

This time the struggle has been challenging on both sides of the aisle. Despite substantial political gamesmanship and theater, I remain committed to moving our state forward. This hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe that if we can survive these next few months, Illinois will be stronger for it. We will no longer have unbalanced budgets. There won’t be higher taxes and revenue without reform. There won’t be rampant waste and abuse of our state’s bureaucracy.

And with checks and balances in place, we may just make some progress.

So I remain hopeful that positive change will come from these struggles as I spend the summer months traveling throughout my home district. And as the situation develops, I will keep you informed. If you would like updates throughout the summer please go to my website at and sign up for my newsletter.

Please know it is my honor and pleasure to serve you, and if I or a member of my staff may assist you, do not hesitate to call my Danville office at (217) 477-0104 or contact me through the web form on my web site at

With no Budget Agreement, Session Continues into Summer
After walking away from bipartisan budget working groups put together by Governor Bruce Rauner for the purpose of negotiating a balanced FY16 budget, the majority party pushed through a budget they admitted was unbalanced by close to $4 billion. In fact, in a press conference where he announced their intentions, House Speaker Mike Madigan said, “We will publicly acknowledge that we don't have the money to pay for this budget." Counting on an increase in revenue to fill the $4 billion budget hole, the passage of the bills and subsequent veto by Governor Rauner has set the stage for a summer showdown between a Governor who does not want to explore new revenue until cost-saving and waste-reducing reforms are enacted, and majority party leadership that has balked at Rauner’s recommended reforms and is insisting that new revenue is the only answer to closing the gap in spending. It is going to be a very interesting summer.

Rep. Hays Advocates for Danville Casino
This year I was named to a bipartisan gaming expansion working group in Springfield. The group, which includes four Senators and four State Representatives, split equally between the Republican and Democrat caucuses, deals specifically with the issue of expanding the gaming industry in Illinois. As an overwhelming number of constituents from this area have expressed support for a casino in the Danville area, I continue to make sure Danville remains an important part of our committee discussions.

Specifically, I am advocating that a license for a Danville Riverboat Casino be included in any gaming expansion proposal that is brought forward for legislative consideration. The economic impact a Riverboat Casino would have on this region would be tremendous. That impact would not be limited to revenue generated by a casino. There would be a significant number of temporary construction jobs followed by several hundred full-time jobs. As unemployment numbers are still unacceptably high here, this is a real opportunity to put a lot of people back to work. Secondary revenues would also be realized. A Danville casino would attract out-of-town guests who would eat at our restaurants and stay at our hotels.

District 104 Road Improvements Underway
You may have noticed some significant road construction projects in two key areas of the 104th Legislative House District. The repaving projects on Interstate 74 between Route 49 and the Oakwood Exit (Exit 206) at Oakwood, and on State Route 45 between Rantoul and Thomasboro are both the results of a large capital bill I supported last year. These projects, while inconvenient for motorists right now, will eventually be wonderful improvements for these well-traveled roads in the area. Looking ahead, I would expect to see the continued repaving of I-74 from the Oakwood Exit all the way to the Indiana state line to be a part of a future capital bill.

Rep. Hays Appointed to Ethics Commission
It was an honor this year to be appointed to serve on the bipartisan and bicameral Legislative Ethics Commission. This panel includes four State Representatives and four Senators, split equally between Republicans and Democrats. The commission is charged with upholding State ethics laws, and we hold hearings at the request of the Legislative Inspector General when possible ethics violations are discovered. In a state with an unfortunate history of corruption, it is a great honor and responsibility to be charged with upholding ethics in the Illinois State Legislature. I hope my involvement on this important commission helps in changing the culture in Springfield so that one day the public can once again trust their elected officials.

Environmental Bill Protects Mahomet Aquifer
The General Assembly responded this year to public concerns about plans for the Clinton Landfill to store toxic hazardous waste at its Dewitt County Landfill. I am a Chief Co-Sponsor of HB1326, which seeks to amend the Environmental Protection Act by prohibiting the disposal of certain kinds of hazardous waste at the Clinton Landfill. Since runoff from the landfill leads to the Mahomet aquifer, the provisions of the bill would prevent potentially toxic material and carcinogens from entering the nearby aquifer, which provides drinking water and agricultural irrigation for roughly 500,000 residents in 14 Central Illinois counties. Currently, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) regulates the manner in which certain waste items must be disposed of and where those items are accepted, but the regulations have no prohibition on manufactured gas plant waste and polychlorinated biphenyl waste as long as the PCB contaminant is under 50 parts per million. The bill has been approved in both the House and Senate and as of this date is awaiting the signature of the Governor.

Page for a Day Program Offers Youth a Glimpse into IL House Activity
The General Assembly offers a legislative page program that allows local children an opportunity to spend a day on the House of Representatives’ floor. If you live in the 104th Legislative House District and have a child who would like to experience their state government through the eyes of the legislators, please contact my Springfield office at (217) 782-4811 to schedule a visit. Similarly, if your family or school group is traveling to Springfield during a time when the House is in session, please call and let my office know so that arrangements can be made for a personal visit.

Resolutions Honor Locals for Service
In honor of his valiant service during which he made the ultimate sacrifice, the House of Representatives voted unanimously in March to designate the rest areas on Interstate 72 East and West at mile post 152 between Champaign and Decatur as “Sargent Myron G. Deckard Memorial Rest Areas.” Sargent Deckard was shot and killed in the line of duty in June of 2001 while transporting a prisoner along I-72 from Macon County to Vermilion County. He was a valued member of the Vermilion County Sheriff’s Department for 32 years, and I was honored to file House Joint Resolution 16 on behalf of his family. By honoring his memory through naming these rest areas after him, his heroic efforts will endure forever.

The next time you drive along Route 150 between Danville and Champaign, look for the placard near the Stony Creek Bridge that honors my predecessor, former State Representative Bill Black. Through my House Joint Resolution 17, the Stoney Creek Bridge is now named after Representative Black, who was instrumental in ensuring the bridge is safe for travels. As those of us who travel Route 150 regularly know, that bridge has always been widely traveled and for a long time it was a dangerous and narrow passageway for larger vehicles. There was also significant traffic including school buses, students, faculty and parents in connection with Oakwood High School, so the Representative’s work toward improving that stretch of road is very much appreciated.

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