Budget negotiations continue as clock ticks down to May 31 deadline. With less than a week left before the scheduled end of session, the House and Senate continue to work on budget negotiations with the hope of passing a balanced budget by the end of May.

Both houses of the General Assembly adjourned for the weekend and are scheduled to return on today for Memorial Day session. Negotiations continue as the “budgeteers” work towards an agreement on a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2019.

Gov. Rauner announces certification of 327 Illinois Opportunity Zones. Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced that 327 Opportunity Zone census tract recommendations submitted by the State of Illinois have been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. These zones cover more than 85 counties throughout the state and aim to support the future of Illinois through economic growth and investment.

To determine the most effective tracts for nomination, a three-phase approach was implemented to identify need and potential, adequately represent the entire state, and account for local input. Phase one involved need based indexing depending on factors like poverty rates, specifically those among children, unemployment rates, crime rates and population. These standards highlight the goal of the program in Illinois which is to cultivate potential within disadvantaged communities and invest in our future generations across the state.


Governor Rauner proposes major public safety package to reinstate death penalty and extend 72-hour wait to all guns. Gov. Bruce Rauner has asked the Illinois General Assembly to reinstate the death penalty for mass murderers and those who kill law enforcement officers.

The proposal is part of a precedent-setting public safety initiative that the Governor unveiled in an amendatory veto (AV) of House Bill 1468 which also urges legislators to:

· Extend the 72-hour waiting period for delivery of all gun purchases in Illinois.
· Ban bump stocks and trigger cranks.
· Authorize restraining orders to disarm dangerous individuals.
· Make judges and prosecutors more accountable by making them explain – on the record why charges are reduced in plea agreements for violent offenders in gun cases.
· Free up local revenue to hire resource officers and mental health workers to help intervene and prevent student violence before it occurs.

Rauner’s changes to HB 1468 create a new category of homicide called “death penalty murder.” It would apply to offenders 18 and over that prosecutors charge with killing peace officers or two or more people without lawful justification.

The Governor’s proposal was redrafted as Floor Amendment #1 to SB 2580 and has been referred to the House floor for consideration.
Shelby County Opportunity Zone
State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) reported that Governor Bruce Rauner announced 327 Opportunity Zone Census tract recommendations submitted by the State of Illinois have been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. These zones cover more than 85 counties throughout the state and aim to support the future of Illinois through economic growth and investment.

“Opportunity Zones have been approved in Douglas, Edgar, Moultire & Shelby Counties,” Rep. Halbrook stated. “These areas are in desperate need of jobs, benefiting individuals and communities. This is a great opportunity to bring jobs and investments into east Central Illinois.”

To determine the most effective tracts for nomination, a three-phase approach was implemented to identify need and potential, adequately
Edgar County Opportunity Zone
represent the entire state, and account for local input. Phase one involved need based indexing depending on factors like poverty rates, specifically those among children, unemployment rates, crime rates and population. These standards highlight the goal of the program in Illinois which is to
Moultrie County Opportunity Zone
cultivate potential within disadvantaged communities and invest in our future generations across the state. Phase two and three were used to ensure a statewide benefit and each county with qualifying tracts received at least one zone and towns and cities across the state were limited on the number of zones included.
Douglas County Opportunity Zone

Established by the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones present an opportunity for private, tax-free investment in low-income areas with economic need, benefiting residents living in the zones and private investors. 1,305 qualifying low-income census tracts were available for selection, of which only 25% could be nominated by the Governor for inclusion in the program.

For more information on Opportunity Zones visit
Pictured (l-r) are Annie McClellan, Media Specialist, Valerie Kalagian, Instructional Technology Coordinator, senior student Kaitlynn Snelling, senior student Atticus Harris, and Rep. Brad Halbrook
On Thursday, State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) welcomed students and educators from Sullivan Community Unit School District #300 to the Capitol for TECH Day 2018. In addition to seeing the State Capitol, the students and staff also spent time observing the House in Session as they conducted legislative business.

"I continue to be impressed by the advances in technology and I am impressed with how quickly our young people are able to understand and utilize these technological advances,” commented Rep. Brad Halbrook, a member of the Government Consolidation & Modernization Committee. “It is good to have the opportunity to learn about how technology is being utilized in schools and hear about their future needs,” Halbrook added.

This is the 18th year that students have been bringing their projects to the Capitol. Tech 2018 organizers say over the years, Illinois has seen a number of students take elementary and junior high technology products and develop them into skills and talents that took them into college and a career. It is estimated that over the next decade, there will be as many as a million more technology jobs than there are people to fill them.
Map provided by GoogleMaps
State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) announced the passage of House Joint Resolution 104, naming a portion of Interstate 57 in Champaign as the ‘Congressman Tim Johnson Highway.’

“I am proud to sponsor this resolution,” said Halbrook. “For the entirety of his legislative career in both Springfield and Washington, Congressman Johnson represented Douglas County which I now represent. Even now, Tim continues to be known and admired by residents of my district.”

The resolution now moves to the Illinois Senate. The portion of Interstate 57 named will be from Interstate 74 on the north to the Curtis Road exit on the south. Johnson was instrumental in obtaining funding for the Curtis Road interchange in his time in Congress.

“Congressman Johnson served on the Transportation committee for all of his twelve years in Washington,” said Halbrook. “While in Springfield, he was also highly regarded for his concern for infrastructure needs in his district. It’s appropriate that his name be remembered by the state on a portion of a federal highway.”

Tim Johnson was first elected to the legislature in 1976 and served until 2000. He was elected Congressman in 2000 and served until his retirement in 2013.
Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz is urging Illinois firearms owners to file paperwork early as the first wave of the 10-year Firearm Owners Identification cards come due for renewal.

"We expect tens of thousands of renewal applications to come in over the next few months," Schmitz said. "We recommend gun owners get their renewal applications in at least one to two months in advance so we have adequate time to process them and get a new card out before expiration."

More than 50,000 FOID cards are due for renewal between June 1 and Aug. 1. The General Assembly amended state law in 2008, allowing FOID cards to be valid for 10 years. The timing of the law change creates a glut of renewals this summer.

FOID card applications involve state and federal background checks, as well as review of the database from the Illinois Department of Human Services to confirm that applicants have not been in a mental institution in the past five years. The Illinois State Police oversees the FOID card system and issues the cards that are needed to buy or possess a firearm or ammunition.

State Police already have sent renewal notices to people whose cards will expire June 1.

Applicants can visit the ISP's Firearm Services Bureau website at ispfsb.com to renew online. The cost of the card is $10. Applicants must be Illinois residents and include their Illinois Drivers License or State ID card number. Applicants under the age of 21 must have a parents' signature on the application.

Anyone who needs assistance with FOID card renewal, and those who prefer paper applications, can call 217-782-7980 and select menu option 0.

Applicants should make sure the name and address on FOID applications match the records on file for them at the Secretary of State's Office, otherwise the renewal process will be delayed.

To read the full article by Doug Wilson at the Herald-Whig, click here.
Pictured (l-r) in the Illinois House Chamber Gallery are Rep. Brad Halbrook, Troop 2119 members Abigayl Ray, Kiersten Reasor, and Hayleigh Clemmons and Troop Leader Andrea Ray of Philo. (Not pictured were Troop Leader Christine Clemmons and future Girl Scout Harliegh Clemmons.)

State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) was visited by local Girl Scout Troop 2119 from Philo last week during ‘Girl Scout Day.’ They participated with Girl Scouts from around Illinois in a march and rally at the State Capitol building.

“Not everything can be learned in the classroom. I am always pleased to see young people take an interest in their government and learn how democracy works,” said Rep. Brad Halbrook, a member of both the Cities & Villages Committee and the Counties & Townships Committee. “Programs like this help teach young women about civic responsibility and how to make a difference in the world. These kinds of opportunities can empower these girls to become leaders for their community later in life.”

This special day at the Capitol has been a learning experience for thousands of Girl Scouts since it first began in 2004. Girl Scouts are working to let everyone know that the organization is so much more than selling cookies. Girl Scouts help girls and young women learn to believe in themselves, learn to believe in their dreams and learn how to make those dreams a reality.

State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) reported that his legislation to clarify the ‘Open Meetings Act’ has passed the House. The changes include special meetings and emergency meetings of public boards and will require the same from subsidiary bodies of the public body. All must post agendas and minutes the same as regular meetings of the public body.

“The idea for this correction to the Open Meetings Act came from local people who work with a variety of public bodies and have seen actions taken that people did not know about,” said Rep. Brad Halbrook, a member of the Government Transparency Committee. “When the taxpayers are put on the hook for the cost of the public body’s actions, they need to have the right to know about and attend these meetings to be heard in favor or opposition to all proposals.”

The changes to the Open Meetings Act would require that a public body that has a website maintained by a full-time staff to post the agenda and notice of meetings for both the governing body and all subsidiary bodies of the public body. The failure of a public body to post on its website notice of any meeting or the agenda of any meeting shall not invalidate any meeting or any actions taken at a meeting, and provides that such provision shall apply unless the failure to post notice was the result of bad faith on the part of the public body.

Allows a court to declare null and void any final action taken at a meeting in violation of the Act, regardless of whether or not the meeting was a closed meeting. Provides that a court shall (rather than may) assess against any party, except a State's Attorney, reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred by any other party who substantially prevails in any action brought under specified provisions of the Act. Also, there is a provision requiring a court to consider the degree to which the relief obtained relates to the relief sought when determining reasonable attorney's fees.

House Bill 4583 passed out of the House this week and now heads to the Senate.
Pictured (l-r) State Senator Chapin Rose, Trent Moore, David Falk, Cindi Reed, and State Rep. Brad Halbrook.

Thank you to the pharmacists who traveled to the State Capitol recently to testify about the medicaid reimbursement rate disparity. We need to keep the market competitive to keep pharmacies in our rural areas of the state to provide for the health care needs of our residents.
British Consul General John Saville with
Rep. Brad Halbrook on the floor of
the Illinois House of Representatives.

Mr. John Saville was appointed Her Majesty’s Consul General for Chicago in November 2017. The British Consulate General in Chicago maintains and develops relations between the UK and the USA.

"I look forward to working with the Consul General to promote economic opportunities between our countries," said Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville).

Mr. Saville joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1981 and has had a range of Diplomatic Service appointments including as Deputy Head of Mission in Cuba and as High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam. His most recent appointment was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The Consul General is the senior UK official in a Consulate General, which is a subordinate office to the Embassy or High Commission, usually located in another major city. The Consul General represents the UK government and is typically responsible for consular, visa and trade activities in their city or region.

Our work involves dealing with a wide range of political, commercial, security and economic questions of interest to the UK and this region of the United States. We also provide consular assistance to British nationals in our region.

Find out more on our USA and the UK news page.

We provide services to British nationals living in and visiting Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

You can access UK government services while in the USA.

Task Force recommends building state-of-the art
facility at Quincy Veterans Home

SPRINGFIELD (May 1, 2018) – The Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force, created by Governor Bruce Rauner to analyze infrastructure needs and develop key strategies on how to improve the health and safety of residents at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy (IVHQ), has submitted a final report to the Governor and General Assembly.

“This report encompasses months of research and dialog around the needs facing our veterans of today and for generations to come,” said Erica Jeffries, Director of the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs and Chair of the Task Force. “The recommendations offered will support residents at the home in Quincy and provide a template for veterans’ housing across the state.”

The Task Force provided four recommendations for continued remediation efforts at the home and notes that “anything less than complete reconstruction will fall short” of its full support. The recommendations include:

  • Building a new, state-of-the art skilled nursing care facility that could house up to 300 residents.
  • Constructing a new, underground water loop that feeds existing buildings and new construction.
  • Develop an alternate water source and make improvements to the existing water treatment facility as necessary.
  • Purchase and renovate the closed, off-site nursing facility to provide a safe and comfortable temporary living environment for up to 180 IVHQ residents. The facility could hold up to 90 residents permanently.

The estimated cost of complete reconstruction is between $202 and $245 million dollars, which requires the approval and appropriation of the General Assembly.

“Legislators from both sides of the aisle have promised to put financial support behind our efforts to rebuild this home and take care of the veterans who have served our country,” Governor Rauner said. “Our number one goal is to protect our heroes. We’ve already taken significant steps to reduce the risks of Legionella at the home and we look forward to working with the General Assembly to put stronger protections in place.”

The Task Force report also put forth the following legislative initiatives that will expedite the process on rebuilding the campus and protecting Illinois’ heroes for generations to come.
  • Pass SB 3128, which will extend the sunset date for the Design Build Act (30 ILCS 537/5) and permit CDB to use the design-build delivery method on public projects. 
  • Pass SB 667, SB 3127, and SB 3144, which will allow the state to access federal reimbursement funding for capital projects. There is currently more than $12 million in the fund, with an additional $4 million expected in the near future.  The bills have cleared the Senate and are currently awaiting action in the House.
  • Increase thresholds for financial disclosures in the Illinois Procurement Code. Section 50-35 of the Procurement Code (30 ILCS 500/50-35) requires financial disclosures from all vendors and subcontractors with a contract over $50,000 prior to work beginning on a project.  Waiting for compliance from vendors and subcontractors can slow the project start time.  Increasing the threshold for financial disclosure requirements form $50,000 to $250,000 can help expedite the projects referenced in this report. 

  • Modify the Veterans Affairs Act, granting licensing and control of off campus buildings to ensure continuity of care for residents who are housed at the off-site nursing facility.

“We are working with the General Assembly to draft language for the legislative initiatives and look forward to passage by the May 31st deadline,” said Michael Hoffman, senior advisor to the governor. 

The report is available here, on the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs website.