Legislative Update: March 6, 2017

Winter Survey Offers Residents Opportunity to Weigh In on Key State Issues

My first legislative survey was recently mailed to households in the 63rd District, and I’m already receiving responses. In addition to the paper format, the survey can also be found at http://www.ilhousegop.org/2017reick. It’s no secret that difficult votes are coming, and I need to have a solid understanding of my constituents’ priorities and expectations. The survey includes 11 multiple choice questions and an open response area where additional concerns can be shared. I will read every survey that is returned or submitted, and can’t wait to see the final results. Survey responses will be accepted through April 15 and results will be published in late April or early May. If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please use the link above and let me know how you feel about Illinois’ most pressing issues.
Rep. Steve Reick Urges House Colleagues to Legislate without Fear of Losing the Next Election
As new lawmakers, we’re told the best way to learn the legislative process is by watching veteran legislators navigate bills through committees and present them on the House floor. We’re told to do much more listening than speaking. I broke “radio silence” last week, and shared with my colleagues my observations regarding the first several weeks of session. In short, I urged all Representatives- Republican and Democrat- to start legislating without fear of losing their next election.
I’ve been disappointed by some of the conduct shown on the floor of the House during the first several weeks this year. I sat back in disbelief a few weeks ago when an hour was spent railing against the new President’s federal immigration policy, an issue over which Illinois legislators have no authority. I also was disappointed on another occasion when the Governor was disrespected by some on the Democrat side of the aisle as he entered the House Chamber to present his budget address. That display by a few reflected upon us all, and did nothing but reinforce our reputation as an unserious body which is allowing our state to slouch toward insolvency.

Illinois has 118 House members who represent very diverse constituencies, and in addition to our district-specific initiatives, I believe we were all were sent to Springfield to do three fundamental things:

1. Find a way to fund education so that all children have the best opportunities for success in a manner that relieves the property tax burden

2. Enact constitutionally-sound pension reform

3. Approve a balanced budget

There are 118 of us in the House, and if enough of us choose to legislate without the fear of losing the next election, we can make those things happen. You may watch my floor comments here.

Reick Makes Legislative Visit to Harvard Senior Center

Last week I had a very enjoyable visit with about 20 seniors at the Harvard Senior Center. I provided a very brief update about the budget impasse and other issues affecting the State of Illinois, but spent most of the time answering questions from a very intelligent and engaged group of constituents. It was a wonderful event and I intend to return to the center before the end of the spring session to provide another update.

Reick 2017 Legislative Agenda Features Tax Code Reforms
I have worked for more than 35 years as a tax and real estate attorney. During this time I have dealt with provisions in Illinois law that I believe are overly burdensome for Illinois residents and families and hope that my experience can facilitate some much-needed reforms that will provide some real tax relief while also simplifying processes for taxpayers.

This year I filed a comprehensive legislative agenda that touches on many areas of improvement for our state, but a specific focus has been placed on fixing areas of the tax code that I believe are sorely in need of reform. Some of those bills include:

  • HB 380: Seeks to amend the Illinois Estate and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Act by bringing Illinois law in line with processes used by the other 49 states in the nation. Generally speaking, the changes I’m proposing would lower the amount of death taxes owed for most Illinoisans.
  • HB 2576: Would add a county designation to all individual income tax forms. This simple change could provide a great deal of benefit for those who study the movement of Illinoisans from county to county within the state.
  • HB 3013: Would provide property tax relief to Illinoisans over the age of 65 who have a federal adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less. 

Other bills included in my 2017 agenda include:

  • HB 376: Based on levy issues tied to our own Valley Hi Nursing Home, this bill would provide county board members with the authority to suspend a tax line levy amount for nursing home purposes, so that surplus funds can be spent down with no future levying penalty.
  • HB 377: Protects business owners who lawfully allow concealed carry on their property by prohibiting any municipality from suspending, revoking or refusing to renew a business license for a business that allows concealed carry.
  • HB 378: Improves transparency and accountability by requiring the General Assembly to adopt a joint House-Senate resolution affirming that a rule associated with a new law represents an unfunded mandate handed down to local taxing districts.
  • HB 379: Would require each public university in Illinois to submit to the Board of Higher Education a study of the costs of making available online four of the university’s most popular degree programs. 
  • HB 3708: Adjusts the notification period required for written notice to be mailed to any teacher who is losing their job due to a school board decision to decrease the number of teachers employed by a district.

In addition to serving as the Chief Sponsor for these bills, I have signed on as a Chief co-sponsor or as a co-sponsor of 22 additional bills. As is the case for every legislator, not all of my bills will reach the House floor for full consideration. But I am committed to working in a bipartisan fashion to move as many of my bills to the floor as possible this year.

Reick Tapped to Serve on Influential Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education Committee

I have always been outspoken about the need to fundamentally change how we fund education in Illinois. I’m happy to report that for my first term in Springfield I’ll be serving on the influential Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education Committee. This committee has a direct impact on critical areas of state spending and I look forward to having a role in shaping the area of the budget that deals exclusively with funds that will be allocated for K-12 Education. With education having such a huge impact on local property taxes, it’s obvious that we have to do something to bend the cost curve of education downward by completely revising the way we pay for it.
In addition to the Appropriations Committee for K-12 Education, I’ll also be serving on the Elementary & Secondary Education: Curriculum and Policies Committee. This is already proving to be an interesting assignment, as the Republicans and Democrats who serve on this committee vet bills that seek to make changes to the educational curriculum delivered to students. Unfunded mandates and the toll they take on taxpayers is an issue that is very important to the taxpayers of District 63, so I am pleased to have an opportunity to weigh in on these issues as bills make their way through the committee hearing process. My other committee assignments for the 100th General Assembly include the Labor Committee, the Economic Justice Committee, and the Restorative Justice Committee.