Legislative Update: February 6, 2016

Hays Recognized for Pro-Business Votes in General Assembly
This week I was honored to learn that I received a perfect score from the Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA) for votes I took in 2015 that affect business and technology.

Lawmakers in the House were judged on their votes on 12 different bills. It was my pleasure to join with manufacturing, technology and economic development leaders in east central Illinois to bring the jobs of tomorrow to our area.

When announcing my perfect score, TMA President Steven Rauschenberger said, “Representative Hays’ voting record shows he understands and supports middle class opportunities in Illinois. Manufacturing jobs are some of the best paying jobs in Illinois, and Representative Hays has consistently supported public policy that encourages manufacturers to stay, grow and relocate to Illinois.

Hays Co-Sponsors Bills to Provide Funding for Higher Education
In an effort to ensure that Illinois’ colleges, universities and community colleges receive the funding needed to continue educating students during the budget impasse, I recently co-sponsored legislation that would provide critical dollars to institutions that have not seen a dime in state revenue this fiscal year.

HB 4539’s enactment would be contingent upon the passage of a second piece of legislation, HB 4521 (Durkin), the Unbalanced Budget Response Act. HB 4521 would provide the Governor with emergency spending power and a significant amount of latitude to assist with managing the state’s finances during the ongoing budget stalemate. Whereas other higher education funding proposals on the table have called for funding our institutions of higher learning without identifying a revenue source, this package would provide the Governor with the latitude to manage this crisis. Unfortunately, Speaker Madigan chose to shelve our legislation and instead push through Democrat-sponsored legislation that promised funding for community colleges and MAP grants, but provided no funding source. Governor Rauner has suggested he will veto any higher education funding bill that lands on his desk which does not provide for a funding stream.

Hays Signs on as Chief Co-Sponsor of Procurement Reform Bill
This week I joined other lawmakers from the House and Senate to introduce pivotal legislation that will reform the state’s procurement practices and result in significant savings for Illinois taxpayers. Today’s procurement practices are bad for vendors, bad for providers, and ultimately bad for taxpayers. A 2009 law, as well-intentioned as it may have been, actually more than tripled the amount of time it takes to complete a Request for Proposal, adding more than $500 in costs to the process. HB 4644 would completely overhaul our procurement system, and deliver better outcomes and better value for taxpayers.

Specifically, HB 4644 would:
  • Increase flexibility and efficiency by:
    • Allowing state agencies to create a pre-qualified pool of vendors
    • Allowing cooperative purchasing, enabling the state to “piggyback” on the procurements of other states and services from Illinois businesses
  • Create a “Buy Illinois” preference for buying supplies and services from Illinois businesses
  • Revise the current, burdensome Chief Procurement Officer structure
  • Require an audit of procurement every two years by the Auditor General while allowing the AG to perform surprise audits on the agencies to ensure laws and statutes are being followed
To hear more about this bill, click here.

Hays Participates in Community Events Around the 104th District
On January 26 I was thrilled to participate in the Balloons Over Vermilion press conference and official kick-off for this summer’s return of a community hot air balloon event. Set for July 15-16, our area skies will be filled with beautiful hot air balloons as part of a festival that will be held at the Vermilion Regional Airport north of Danville. My sincere gratitude and appreciation is extended to the Julius W. Hegeler II Foundation, which has graciously stepped forward and donated $100,000 as the title sponsor of the event. At this time it is expected that approximately 30 hot air balloons will fill our skies during the two-day event.

On January 29, a great time was had by all at a fundraising basketball game for the Danville YMCA, which was held at halftime of a Danville Riverhawks game. I’m pictured here with the “Dream Team,” and the great and very talented kids from the YMCA. Yes, the kids ran us off the floor.

Preliminary Damage Assessments Underway from December-January Flooding
On Thursday I learned that State officials were in the area this week to survey the damage caused by the flooding between December 23 and January 13. I’m told the review will extend into the weekend, with an anticipated completion date of February 8. Once the completed documentation is submitted, the information will be reviewed so that a determination can be made whether the state meets the threshold for a declaration of a federal disaster. Typically, we do not meet the threshold for federal aid for these weather events, but I am pleased to know that Vermilion County is being surveyed for damage. Illinois has until February 12 to submit a request for the federal disaster designation from the President.