The Reick Report: October 29, 2018

Rep. Reick Addresses Spike in “Failure to Appear in Court” Cases in McHenry County
The safety of your family is very important to me, so when I learned that several suburban counties recently experienced a significant spike in the number of accused people who are out on bail have failed to appear in court, I called McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally and asked if he had seen a similar uptick in bail jumping here in McHenry County. Upon learning that he had indeed seen an increase in instances of failure to appear in court here, I signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor of legislation that addresses this problem.

HB 5980 seeks to amend the Bail Reform Act (P.A. 100-0001) to help ensure that those charged with crimes actually appear in court when required to do so. The new Bail Reform Act that took effect in Illinois on January 1 of this year was part of a national movement to improve the pre-trial justice system in this country. While that Act includes some beneficial provisions, one specific change has disincentivized defendants from showing up for court dates. The new law stipulates that failure to appear offenses are imposed at one Class lower than the original crime for which a defendant is charged, and often judges are not sentencing offenders to jail time for skipping bail. Under these new bail guidelines, an increasing number of defendants would rather take their chances and flee justice than appear on court-mandated dates to face their charges. This is unacceptable.
Proposed changes to the Bail Reform Act include:

  • Individuals who are out on bail and fail to appear in court would be charged with a “failure to appear” offense of the same Class (instead of the next lower Class) of the original crime with which he/she has been charged
  • “Failure to Appear” offenders would not be eligible for probation for bail jumping

In my conversation with our State’s Attorney, I learned of another unforeseen negative consequence of the Bail Reform Act. Evidently, the new bail provisions reduce the County’s ability to fight the current opioid epidemic. Mr. Kenneally explained that an opioid abuser, if released from jail on bond, will continue to use opioids and, if necessary, commit crimes to fund their habit. Releasing opioid abusers early and before they are required to access services also increases their risk of an overdose. He pointed to two recent overdose cases that involved two opioid abusers who were released on bond after only a few weeks in jail due to the Bail Reform Act. While in jail, their opioid tolerance was reduced. After being let out and with reduced tolerance, they overdosed and died. I will continue to work with States Attorney Kenneally to address his additional concerns with bail provisions in in the Bail Reform Act.

Reick Joins Local Elected Officials and Business Leaders at Council of Governments Event

Last week I joined several McHenry County Mayors and Village Presidents, other elected officials and county business leaders for the McHenry County Council of Government’s (MCCG) October meeting in McCullom Lake. Representatives from McHenry County’s Department of Emergency Management presented valuable information about emergency preparedness, storms, active shooters and other emergency situations. The meeting was hosted by McCullom Lake Village President Marilyn Shepit and the Village. I’m shown in this photo with Gary Overbay.
Fall Harvest Moves toward Completion
Relatively dry, cool conditions suitable for machine fieldwork mean that more than three-quarters of Illinois’ field crops are in the bins. As of the week ending on Sunday, October 21, the Illinois corn harvest was estimated to be 82% complete, the bean harvest was 74% complete, and the sorghum harvest was 82% complete. Corn was in the bin at a rate much in advance of the 2017 harvest; by this time one year ago, the corn harvest was only 60% completed. Illinois farmers are also running ahead of this year’s nationwide averages. As of the same day nationwide, the U.S. soybean harvest was only 53% complete. These figures were generated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and were released on Monday, October 22. While the harvest continues, I urge motorists to slow down in rural areas and be aware of farmers moving machinery on our public roads.
Metra Holds Line on Fares in 2019 Proposed Budget
Metra recently proposed a 2019 operating budget of $822 million. I was pleased to see no fare increases included in the proposal. Metra also posted a proposed 2019 capital budget of $185.6 million, which falls far short of its needs. With aging infrastructure and equipment, Metra did note additional funding is needed.
Eight public hearings on the proposed budget have been scheduled. The McHenry County public hearing will be held Thursday, November 1 from 4:00-7:00 PM at the Crystal Lake City Hall, located at 100 W. Woodstock Street. Comments on the proposed budget can also be emailed to, faxed to 312-322-7094 or mailed to the Assistant Secretary to the Metra Board, Room 1300, 547 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL, 60661. Comments must be received no later than November 6. All comments received will be presented to Metra’s Board of Directors prior to voting on the final budget in November 2018.

Illinois Unemployment Rate Matches Record Low
The recent 4.1% unemployment figure reported by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) matches the lowest number ever posted for this figure, a widely-cited index of economic health and activity in Illinois. Preliminary data, which is subject to revision as more numbers come in, indicates that nonfarm payroll total employment increased in the Land of Lincoln by 2,800 jobs in September as opposed to August 2018. The same figure, when counted on a year-to-year basis (September 2017 to September 2018) showed a net gain of more than 50,000 nonfarm payroll jobs.

September 2018 job creation was especially strong in education, construction, and manufacturing. The Illinois manufacturing economy created an estimated 2,300 net new jobs in September 2018 alone, and created 14,600 new factory jobs over the past 12 months. It should be noted, however, that the Illinois manufacturing sector is not as dominant as it was in February 1999, the last time our State’s unemployment rate was 4.1%. Illinois’ overall job universe has adjusted over the past two decades. In line with overall worldwide trends towards automation, many Illinois jobs have moved from factories to offices and service-related employment opportunities.

Mobile Office Hours Tour Continues in 63rd District

My mobile office hours tour will continue on Monday, November 19 at the McHenry Library and on Wednesday, December 5 at the Harvard-Diggins Library. Both events will be held from 10:00 AM until noon and no appointment is necessary. Stop by and say hello when my mobile office hours are taking place near where you live, and if you have an issue you’d like to discuss, my staff and I will be available to listen and help. Of course, I am always available to meet with constituents at my Woodstock office. If you would like to discuss a legislative issue, please call my office at (815) 880-5340 to set up an appointment.
McHenry County Conservation District Named “Best of the Best”
Congratulations to the McHenry County Conservation District for receiving a “Best of the Best” Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts. I was happy to present an honorary certificate to Dave Kranz and Elizabeth Kessler during a recent visit to Glacial Park.
State Sells $250 Million in Build Illinois Bonds
Proceeds from the largely tax-free debt offering will be used to finance capital infrastructure investments. No new taxes will be required to pay off the bonds, which will mature in equal stages from 2019 until 2043. The Build Illinois Bond Act sets aside a slice of revenues from existing sales taxes to service the bonds. Prior to using money from its sales taxes for day-to-day operating purposes, the State has pledged to its bondholders that it will use a portion of this sales tax money for long-term capital investment.

Many investors see Illinois sales tax revenues as a relatively secure revenue source, and despite the State’s overall fiscal challenges the bonds were rated several significant notches above the “junk bond” level. S&P Global Ratings rated the new issue at AA-, and Fitch Ratings rated the issue at A-. The bonds were sold to Wall Street investors on Tuesday, October 16. Money from the debt issuance will be used for long-term investments such as roads, bridges, and educational infrastructure.

Veterans Honored by Bicentennial Commission

The announcement marked the climax of the “Bicentennial HONOR 200” recognition process, in which Illinois residents were asked to submit the names of veterans of the U.S. armed services who are their neighbors and who are key leaders in their local communities. Nominators were asked to describe how these veterans have continued their lives of service as members of their hometowns and neighborhoods. The process concluded with the naming of 200 Illinois veterans of special honor. The named guests will be invited to the state’s flagship birthday celebration on December 3, 2018 at the United Center in Chicago. They will represent more than 50 of the 102 counties of Illinois, from Chicago in the north to Carbondale in the south. The Bicentennial Commission unveiled the list of honor on Thursday, October 25.