Capitol Update 1-11-16

237 New Laws Effective this New Year

On January 1, 2016, 237 new laws took effect. Some of the laws scheduled to take effect include deterring 911 prank calls, adding missing senior citizens to the Amber Alert, banning the sale of powdered caffeine to minors, protecting senior citizens from estate scams, and designating Pumpkin Pie as the official state pie of Illinois. A summary of each new law can be found here.

Menard and Sangamon Counties Declared State Disaster Area for Flooding

On January 5, Governor Rauner declared Menard and Sangamon counties state disaster areas after heavy rains caused several rivers and waterways to surge to record or near-record levels.

A state disaster declaration makes a wide variety of state resources available that can help communities respond and recover from flooding. Such resources include sandbags, sand, pumps, trucks, inmate crews and other assistance to ensure public safety.

The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield was activated Dec. 28 to coordinate the state’s flood response and has operated since that time to coordinate deployment of state personnel and resources to help communities protect public health and safety.

Local Government Consolidation Task Force Issues Final Report to Governor
On Thursday, Illinois Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti presented Governor Rauner with the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force’s final report. The report makes 27 recommendations for streamlining local government, empowering communities and saving taxpayer dollars. 
I am currently reviewing the report, I look forward to learning more about what has been proposed by the task force and debating these issues during the upcoming session. According to the US Census of Government, Illinois has more local units of government than any other state in the nation at 6,963. Illinois also has the second-highest effective property tax rate in the nation.

State Extends Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines
As requested by Governor Rauner, the Illinois Department of Revenue will waive penalties and interest for taxpayers who cannot file or pay on time as a result of the December 2015 and January 2016 floods. The waiver applies to taxpayers in the 23 disaster declared counties for payments or returns due between December 23, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

Taxpayers who opt to mail their deferred returns and payments should write Flood – December 2015 on the outside of the envelope in red ink and on the top of each page of the tax filing, so the account can be updated and handled appropriately. Filers using MyTax Illinois or electronic filing methods are instructed to refer to the Illinois Department of Revenue’s website: Tax.Illinois.Gov. For questions, the Illinois Department of Revenue has set up a mailbox dedicated to those impacted by the floods at: REV.DisasterRelief2015@illinois.gov.

The 23 declared disaster counties include: Alexander, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Clinton, Cumberland, Douglas, Iroquois, Jackson, Jersey, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Menard, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Randolph, Richland, Sangamon, St. Clair, and Vermilion.

House Not Back Until January 27
The House is scheduled to reconvene on Wednesday, January 27 at 11:30 a.m. Listen LIVE here.

In the News
The Impact of No State Budget Continues – WCIA TV; January 1, 2016
Budget Impasse Continues – WAND TV; January 4, 2016
Representative Tim Butler on Flooding and Consolidating Government – WTAX 1240AM; January 5, 2016
Explore the 87th
I joined Governor Rauner in Petersburg the 
morning of January 3rd to check on the flood wall which 
kept the flood waters away from much of the community.
Started the New Year with Governor Rauner
at IEMA on January 1 for a briefing on the
statewide flooding situation.

All 23 counties in Illinois affected by the flooding
can relate to this photo. A special thanks to all the
volunteers and first responders working hard to
protect our communities during The Flood of 2015.

Pictured yesterday with the Commander
of the Illinois Air National Guard, Brigadier
General Ronald E. Paul. I was thrilled to
attend the activation ceremony for units of the
Air Operations Group, 183rd Fighter Wing,
Illinois Air National Guard.