Winger's Weekly Wrap-up

Property Tax Relief
Rep. Christine Winger votes for property tax relief. In April, Rep. Christine Winger voted for legislation to freeze property taxes in Illinois. She cast a yes vote for HB 696, legislation that would prohibit local governments from raising property taxes without first asking voters through a referendum.  House Bill 696 passed in the House and now awaits a hearing in the Senate Subcommittee on Special Issues.

Leaders meet to discuss budget negotiations, but many obstacles remain. The four legislative leaders met with Governor Rauner for only the second time this year on Tuesday, May 17. The leaders agreed to deputize lawmaker working groups, including key members of the House
Republican Caucus, to discuss specific issues relevant to an agreement. The Illinois budget process has been stalled by an impasse that has now gone on for nearly 11 months. Illinois began operating without a constitutional balanced budget to control spending on July 1, 2015, and is now the only state not to have a budget for the current fiscal year.

Many issues stand in the way of a durable agreement to craft a constitutional balanced budget for Illinois in FY17. After the meeting, Leader Durkin urged the negotiators to achieve agreements on questions that involve the status of collective bargaining labor-management relations within local governments, public-sector pension reforms, and workmen’s compensation reforms. Many House Republicans believe that lack of progress on these issues has become a very serious threat to future job creation and future tax revenues in Illinois. Current statistics show that Illinois’ economy is generating few if any new private-sector jobs. Our state’s unemployment rate, as of April 2016, has grown 0.7% over the level six months earlier in October 2015, and our state’s most recent 6.6% jobless rate is now 160 basis points higher than the 5.0% unemployment rate for the U.S. economy as a whole.

Pet Rescue Fair
A huge supporter of pet adoption and the humane treatment of animals, Rep. Christine Winger sponsored several pieces of legislation this year to protect animals and is hosting a Pet Rescue Fair to promote pet adoption.

If you've been thinking about adopting your next pet please join us at this family-friendly event on June 18 in Bartlett to meet adoptable pets and talk to pet experts. Here are the details:

Pet Rescue Fair
Saturday, June 18, 2016
12:30 p.m. to 3:00 PM

James "Pate" Philip State Park
2054 W. Stearns Road
Bartlett, IL

Participating rescues & shelters include:

Gambling – Fantasy Sports
Discussion of legal, regulated daily fantasy sports betting. The recreational/wagering activity uses the ability of sports fans to put together hypothetical composite “teams.” Participants on sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel can turn to the Internet to register a screen name and back the ability of their “teams” to perform various sports feats. Bills such as Senate Amendment #2 to HB 3655 would explicitly legalize daily fantasy sports betting in Illinois, subject to various strict regulations. These measures are currently being considered by the Illinois General Assembly as the May 31 adjournment deadline approaches. The Illinois Senate voted in favor of HB 3655 on Thursday, May 19; the Senate vote of 32-22-1 continued the discussion and debate in Springfield on this issue. A motion has been filed, however, to hold the bill in the Senate and to delay returning it to the House for final General Assembly approval.

Several U.S. states, such as the neighboring state of Iowa and the populous state of New York, have taken steps to ban the operation of daily fantasy sports websites within their state. In the states where daily fantasy sports are explicitly banned, major sports betting websites face legal penalties for overseeing activity from computers located in the forbidden states. Websites such as DraftKings and FanDuel will not consciously take bets from these locations. The Illinois Attorney General has issued an opinion that daily fantasy sports betting activities fall foul of overall Illinois laws against illegal gambling. If this opinion is upheld through further legal action and, in the absence of legislative action, Illinois could join the list of states where this type of activity is discouraged or forbidden.

Two large gray areas in the discussion of daily fantasy sports betting activity in Illinois are: (a) the effect that legalization – if enacted – would have on existing gaming activities, such as casino riverboats and tavern video poker; and (b) the effect that strict regulation, if enacted, would have on casual neighbor-to-neighbor sports activities, such as weekend fantasy football leagues. These are questions that are being asked as discussion of this issue moves forward in Springfield.

Jobs – 6.6% Unemployment Rate (April 2016)
Jobless rate increased again in April. The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported this week that the State’s unemployment rate had risen marginally by 0.1% in April, from 6.5% to 6.6%. With continued recession-level joblessness in Illinois, the Prairie State continues to support fewer jobs than the number of people who were working here more than 15 years ago in September 2000. Furthermore, Illinois unemployment numbers have increased 0.7% over the most recently-measured six-month period, from 5.9% in October 2015 to 6.6% in April 2016.

Illinois added a net of 5,400 new jobs to its paycheck workforce in April 2016, a marginal number that increased the total number of available Illinois jobs by less than 0.1%. Continued strength in professional and business services (up 7,600 jobs in April 2016) was held back by net weakness in other sectors of the Illinois economy, including construction, financial activities, and other services. Illinois is one of only three states that have not regained the employment levels enjoyed during the 2000s.

Security – REAL ID Act
Illinois moving closer to achieving REAL ID compliance. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office is upgrading security features to the Driver’s License/ID card design and expanding the central issuance process for driver’s licenses and ID cards to all applicants. With implementation of these changes, Illinois has moved closer to achieving full REAL ID compliance which is a federal mandate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

By the end of July, applicants visiting Driver Services facilities will no longer be issued a new permanent DL/ID card at the end of the application process. Instead, they will leave the facility with a temporary secure paper driver’s license, which is valid for 45 days and will serve as their DL/ID for driving purposes and proof of identification. The temporary, secure paper driver’s license or ID card will contain a photo and the basic information that appears on the permanent driver’s license or ID card. In addition, the facility employee will return the old DL/ID card back to the applicant after punching a hole in it.

Meanwhile, the applicant’s information will be sent to a centralized, secure facility in Illinois. After fraud checks have been conducted to ensure the applicant’s identity, a higher quality, more secure DL/ID will be printed and sent via U.S. mail within 15 business days to the applicant’s address.

“These changes are necessary for Illinois to be REAL ID compliant,” said White. In addition, the changes further enhance our efforts to protect Illinoisans from fraud and identity theft.” The upgraded driver’s license and ID card contain a variety of enhanced security features that take advantage of new developments in technology.”

For purposes of air travel, DHS states that it will accept the temporary document in conjunction with the old DL/ID to board an aircraft until the permanent card arrives in the mail. Illinois joins 39 other states that have moved to centralized production of DL/ID cards. This includes heavily populated states like California, Texas, and New York – as well as Illinois’ neighboring states.

For more information on Illinois’ REAL ID compliance efforts, please visit The Caucus Blog.

Summer in Illinois – State Fair
Concert tickets go on sale. A full lineup of concerts will once again be presented at the 2016 Illinois State Fair on August 12th through 21st. Artists will include Jake Owen, Melissa Etheridge and Kiss, and the closing concert will feature ZZ Top and Gregg Allman. Tickets will go on public sale through Ticketmaster on Saturday, May 21st, and will go on sale directly at the Fairgrounds on Monday, May 23rd.