Winger's Weekly Wrap-up

Gambling – Scratch-Off Lottery Tickets
Rep. Christine Winger introduces resolution calling for investigation and audit. Recent investigative reports have revealed that many “scratch-off” tickets for Illinois State Lottery games are pulled from public retail store counters and shredded before the prizes printed on the tickets have been awarded. In response to these reports, Rep. Christine Winger has sponsored HJR 26, which asks the Office of the Illinois Auditor General to audit the ticket-sale cycle and report to the General Assembly, no later than January 31, 2018, on whether buyers of Illinois game tickets are getting the prizes promised.

Energy – Smart Meters
Smart electric meters quadruple in American Midwest. The “smart meter” devices are different from traditional electric meters in that they also possess a telecommunications link with the supplier of electric power. The smart meter is constantly telling the utility how much electricity the customer is using, enabling the supplier to better plan for demand spikes. The need for redundant generating capacity, especially on hot Midwestern days, is a key element driving the need of Illinois power suppliers for additional generating capacity and higher electric rates. In addition, the use of smart meters increases the usability of generating capacity that cannot turn “on” and “off,” such as solar power and wind power.

A report published this week in Midwest Energy News indicates significant progress in placing smart electric meters across the interconnected electrical grid that supplies power to customers in the U.S. Midwest. The number of Midwestern smart meters has increased from 2.2 million in 2010, when this technology was in its infancy, to 10.2 million such meters in use by 2015. States leading this trend, with more than 1.5 million new smart meters each, were Illinois and Michigan.

General Assembly – House Bills Filed
Deadline this week to file new House bills for 2017 spring session. As of Friday, February 10, 3,826 House bills had been filed by members of both parties. After the bill filing deadline, House committees will have six weeks to look at these measures and make determinations on which of them to send to the House floor for full consideration and debate. In some cases, the bills will be amended in committee; a bill is often changed and improved between when it is filed and when it is approved by both houses and signed into law. The deadline for House committee action will be March 31.

Transportation – Vehicle Registration Notices Illinoisans may soon see advertising in vehicle registration reminders. Under State law, owners of motor vehicles registered in Illinois must take the initiative to renew their registration every year. Traditionally, the Office of the Secretary of State has mailed out annual reminders to vehicle owners to remind them to complete the form and mail payments. The renewal notice program costs approximately $450,000 in annual postage costs. Due to Illinois’ budget crisis, these reminders were recently suspended over a period of time starting in October 2015. This suspension created significant concerns among Illinois motorists who missed the reminder notices.

The Secretary of State’s office renewed mailing the reminders in 2016, but to do so they utilized temporary funding that has since expired. With a renewal of the October 2015 situation on the horizon, the office has offered a new proposal: a pay-for-itself registration renewal reminder program funded by advertisers. The State of Illinois’ mailing list of 9.6 million renewal notices is a valuable resource that could be monetized to create operating funding for the program.

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