Senator Bush

June 1, 2013

Dear Friends,

 

As many of you know, the Illinois Senate and the House adjourned late in the evening May 31 – without passing any pension reform legislation. If I am this angry, I can only begin to imagine how disappointed you must be.

 

Many of us watched with heavy hearts as session wound down on May 31, and we realized the Speaker of the House would not allow pension reform to get done.

 

For those of you who enjoy the details, here is a brief chronology:

• Jan 9– Freshman class of legislators is inaugurated, serves notice to leadership they want pension reform done this session
• Jan 10 – May 8th, 2013 – Successful negotiations finally occur
• May 9 – Illinois State Senate passes negotiated, bipartisan pension reform 40-16 (Senate Bill 2404)
• May 10 – Senators wait for pension reform with known bi-partisan support to be called in the House
[In the days that follow, House colleagues admit in conversations with Senators that SB 2404 would pass the House with bipartisan support]
• May 13 – 17 – Senators wait for any debate on SB 2404 in the House
• May 20 – 24 – Senators continue to wait for any debate on SB 2404 in the House
• May 27 – 29 – Senators are sure there would HAVE to be debate on SB 2404 in the House before session ends
• May 30 – Senators make final public plea for the House to call SB 2404 for a vote
• May 31 – Early Friday evening, Speaker Madigan adjourns the House with the Senate still in session and still waiting for the pension bill to be called

 

The fact that 2404 was not voted on smacks of tired Springfield politics and is simply inexcusable. Illinois’ credit rating has suffered for it, and so has our reputation. I have called the governor and urged him to bring us back for a special session, with a commitment to keep us there until we can come to an agreement on pension reform.

 

*LATEST UPDATE: Late last week, the governor heeded my advice to get lawmakers back to the Capitol to continue debating pension reform. A special session of the General Assembly will convene on June 19. I sincerely hope the governor will listen to us and support a responsible plan that recognizes, rather than demonizes, hard-working teachers, public sector employees and retirees.*

 

END-OF-SESSION ROUND UP

 

Concealed Carry

 

On the final day of regular session, I voted for and aided in the passage of concealed-carry legislation. The passage of this legislation was a product of six months of hard work and compromise, and brings us one step closer to providing concealed carry to the residents of Lake County. The bill now waits for the governor’s signature.

 

Responsible Budgeting

 

Senator Bush with a class of studentsLast year, those that took profits on stock sales created unanticipated revenues for the state. Because of this, we were able to allocate $876 million in 2013 and $650 million in 2014 to pay down overdue bills. Because the governor’s budget called for disastrous cuts to K-12 education, the unanticipated tax revenues allowed us to restore K-12 education funding to 2012 levels and not cut it even further. Additionally, there is no cut to school transportation in our budget, as was also originally proposed by the governor. We were also able to hold the line on General State Aid by adding $155 million above what will be spent in the current state budget. And finally, we collectively fought for and restored full funding to the Local Government Distributive Fund.

 

While I understand that our fiscal crisis is severe, I strongly opposed any attempts to balance our state’s finances on the backs of children, local governments or those most in need.

 

Fracking

 

This session also saw the passage of fracking regulations in Illinois. For those who are not already aware, “fracking” refers to high-volume oil and gas drilling that is especially effective in Southern Illinois.

 

Although I preferred a moratorium on fracking until a final Illinois Environmental Protection Agency study is released in 2014, I am pleased that the bill that passed includes some of the strictest protections and environmental safeguards in the country. These protections will help us conscientiously encourage an industry that will provide extraction jobs and low-cost energy to Lake County refineries and manufacturing plants. Fracking also requires steel tube and pipe, which could enhance the Illinois steel industry and put steelworkers around our area back to work.

 

Energy

 

We were also able to pass legislation that creates the Offshore Wind Energy Economic Development Policy Task Force. The task force will report back with an analysis and evaluation of opportunities for renewable offshore wind energy. It is my hope that success with wind energy will aid in a cleaner and greener Illinois for generations to come.

 

The Economy

 

Senator Bush presents a billIn hearings I attended across the state, the message we heard over and over again was that Illinois needed a strategic statewide economic development plan. This idea spurred on legislation to create a public-private partnership tasked with forming such a plan. Lake County used a similar concept to great success, creating jobs through a public-private partnership called Lake County Partners. House Bill 1544 will help Illinois replicate Lake County’s successes by putting our own business leaders in the driver’s seat of our state’s strategic business plan. I truly believe a unified plan written in cooperation with the public and private sectors will create new business opportunities and sharpen Illinois’ economic development agenda. It would help set state economic development policies and strategies, giving the state clear, measurable goals for future economic success.

 

Election Reform

 

The General Assembly passed a package of election reform changes that do a number of important things, such as allow absentee voters to register online. As a whole, I was a huge proponent of the reforms. Unfortunately, the bill included a provision that created a five-member Lake County election commission to effectively take over the election duties of the county clerk’s office.

 

This piece singled out Lake County for a separate and unrelated unilateral change in the elections process, without our constituents’ consent. In my mind it was unneeded interference with local government and potentially wasteful duplication. Despite my “no” vote, the bill passed both houses and is currently in the governor’s hands.

 

Gaming Expansion

 

The Senate passed a gaming expansion bill on May 1. I voted "no," because this particular gaming bill diverted almost all its revenue to special interests. It is simply a continuation of the culture that I vowed to fight when I came to Springfield. If we are to pass gaming expansion in Illinois, it needs to be done responsibly – which means taking the revenue generated from gaming and directing it to education funding and debt relief. Although the legislation passed the Senate without my support, it has since stalled in the House of Representatives.

 

IN THE DISTRICT

 

Everyone knows we live in tough economic times, but for many who are currently without employment, these times are especially painful. Knowing where and how to look for a job is often the first step on the path to recovery.

 

Early in July my office will be partnering with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, among others, to host a job fair for the residents of the 31st District. The fair will be free and open to all residents. More details to follow in my next newsletter.

 

Another terrible consequence of the economic downturn is an exponential increase in the number of home foreclosures – Lake County currently ranks fourth in the state. This is a crisis for every affected homeowner and family member.

 

Fortunately, there are many organizations that can help bring relief to homeowners affected by foreclosure. In July we will be partnering with the Illinois Attorney General’s office and other active groups to host a Mortgage Relief Workshop in the 31st District. As before, details will come in my next newsletter.

 

Thank you to all who have called and emailed thoughts and concerns over the past few months. I very much appreciate your input. Please know that you may contact me at any time (www.senatormelindabush.com) with all state or district matters.

 

Sincerely,
Senator Bush
Senator Melinda Bush
31st District – Illinois

 

 

District Office

34121 US Highway 45, Suite 224 • Grayslake, IL 60030

847-548-5631 (Phone)

 

Springfield Office

M122 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-7353 (Phone)

 

www.SenatorMelindaBush.com/

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Senator Bush

September 20, 2013

Dear Friends,

 

I hope this note finds you well. Now that our summers have flown by and we’re heading towards our busy fall seasons, I wanted to take some time to update all of you on our efforts in Springfield and in Lake County. From advocating for education funding reform to hosting a job fair in the 31st District, we prefer there is never a lull in the work that we do.

 

EDUCATION FUNDING ADVISORY COMMITTEE

 

Sen. Bush in committeeDue to overall state budget constraints, a bipartisan group of state Senators and I have created an Education Funding Advisory Committee charged with taking a hard look at all aspects of education funding and disparity in Illinois. I write this to you having just returned from our second official meeting.

 

There is no question that our schools have a funding problem. For years, Illinois has been unable to fully fund its required contribution to our public school system. While this is disgraceful, I believe it is only a symptom of the larger problem – how we fund our education system in Illinois. Read More

 

PENSIONS

 

As the pension conference committee moves closer to a final recommendation, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a brief update.

 

I know that many people are as frustrated as I am at the length of time it’s taken to reach a pension reform compromise. As much as I would have preferred the House of Representatives simply call SB 2404 for a vote back in May, the fact remains that they did not. Since May, the conference committee members have carefully deliberated all suggestions through a thorough and credible actuarial evaluation of every proposal. Read More

 


WATERCRAFT SAFETY COMMITTEE

 

Sen. Bush in Watercraft Safety HearingIn the last week of August, the Senate held its first Watercraft Safety Committee hearing in Lake County. As a member of the Committee I am exploring common-sense solutions to current boating and waterway safety challenges.

 

The committee heard testimony from a number of industry professionals, as well as boaters and business owners on the Chain of Lakes in Lake County. Based on this initial hearing it appears residents are primarily interested in policies that balance safety concerns with the ability of residents to fully enjoy the Chain of Lakes. Suggestions include: Read More

 

IN THE DISTRICT

 

TOWN HALL

 

Town HallIn July, more than 40 district residents joined me for an evening of candid conversation about the issues facing the State of Illinois and Lake County. We participated in a back-and-forth discussion on a broad range of topics, including pension reform, highway construction, college affordability and gaming expansion. Read More

 

JOB FAIR

 

In collaboration with the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the Jobs Center of Lake County and over 40 employers, my office hosted a job fair in August that nearly 350 Lake County residents attended. Thanks to the hard work of all involved, we were able to provide instantaneous ‘best fits’ between job-seekers and on-site employers.

 

As folks made their way through the crowded gymnasium, they handed out a total of 443 resumes to potential employers, which led to 154 on-the-spot hires and 178 total job offers. Read More

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

At the end of September, we will be continuing our program of monthly “coffee stops” – where you can visit a nearby coffee shop and sit down with me to discuss issues that are important to you.

 

Zion Coffee Shop Stop – the It’s All Good Café
Saturday, September 28th
10-11:30am
2708 Sheridan Road, Zion, IL 60099
Please continue to check our website for information on two important future events:
- Lake County Mortgage Relief Fair
- Lake County Affordable Care Act Presentation and Workshop

 

SPECIAL RECOGNITION

 

This summer, our office was fortunate to have two of the most impressive young people I have ever worked with serve as members of our communications team – Natalie Aguilar (Round Lake Beach) and Alejandra Mesa-Martinez (Waukegan). Both young ladies were an inspiration to our team, and will be greatly missed as they return to school for their Fall semesters.

 

Natalie Aguilar is beginning her first year as a law student at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Alejandra Mesa-Martinez is finishing her final year at Stanford University in California, where she is studying to be a mechanical engineer.

 

We wish you all the best in the coming school year!

 

WRAP-UP

 

Thank you to all who have called and emailed thoughts and concerns over the past few months. I am proud to represent you, and promise to continue to do my best for the good of Lake County and all of Illinois. You are encouraged to contact me at any time with any state or district matters.

 

 

Sincerely,
Senator Bush
Senator Melinda Bush
31st District – Illinois

 

 

District Office

34121 US Highway 45, Suite 224 • Grayslake, IL 60030

847-548-5631 (Phone)

 

Springfield Office

M122 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-7353 (Phone)

 

www.SenatorMelindaBush.com/

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Category: E-Newsletters

Senator Bush

November 25, 2013

Dear Friends,

 

I hope this note finds you well. With the General Assembly’s fall session having come and gone, I wanted to update all of you on our efforts in Lake County and in Springfield. With a new session year upon us, I am also eager for your input. Please take a moment to complete my 2014 legislative survey so that I can continue to do my best representing you and your needs in our capitol city. I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season!

PENSIONS

 

In the beginning of December, I cast a vote against the most recent version of pension reform, Senate Bill 1. I continue to be disappointed by this process and would like to take a few moments to elaborate on why I cast my vote.

 

The ‘pension reform solution’ reached by the pension conference committee was meant to be a compromise between both parties and both chambers. Unfortunately, it is my belief that this pension bill fails to address the one bi-partisan requirement that we have stressed since the beginning of pension reform negotiations — that is, fair treatment for those who were already retired.

 

Through numerous pieces of legislation and meetings with stakeholders, like many of my colleagues I have held fast to a position that in addition to the dire fiscal component of pension reform, there is a dire human component that cannot be ignored. READ MORE

 

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

 

Sen. Bush at signing ceremonyOn Wednesday, November 20th, in front of thousands of supporters, the governor signed the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. The act made Illinois the 16th state to award legal marriage status and corresponding federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples.

 

Illinois continues to stand for human rights and fairness, assuring all of its citizens that they have equal protection under the law. Once again this state is on the right side of history. Click here to hear more about my thoughts on marriage equality. READ MORE

 

EDUCATION FUNDING ADVISORY COMMITTEE

 

Education CommitteeThe Advisory Committee on Education Funding has now met four times. We have heard testimony from the Illinois State Board of Education regarding the current state funding formula for school districts and the inequity involved in the distribution of state and local funds.

 

The committee has also looked to other states for solutions to our education funding problems. We will be wrapping up our work in January and will present our findings to the General Assembly in February. If you would like to help reform education funding in Illinois, please sign my petition here.

 

DECODING DYSLEXIA

 

Dyslexia MeetingThis past summer, I began meeting with local parents from Antioch and Grayslake that were concerned about Dyslexia awareness in our schools. During fall session, I had the pleasure of hosting a meeting at the State Capitol with these parents, staff from the Governor’s Office and the Illinois State Board of Education to discuss policy-driven ways to help schools identify Dyslexia sooner. Stemming from these meetings, I introduced and passed legislation identifying the last week in October as Dyslexia Awareness Week in Illinois.

 

That was just a start. In the coming weeks, Decoding Dyslexia and the Illinois State Board of Education will continue a series of meetings that will determine what policy changes are needed.

 

As many of you know, I talk a lot about how important it is to reach out to your legislators – and how some of the best legislation is borne of those conversations. Thanks to concerned parents who never quit, and Lake County legislators willing to listen, we have the best chance we have had in years of improving the lives of those with Dyslexia. This is a great reminder to all of us that civic participation is the backbone of our democracy. READ MORE

 

 

IN THE DISTRICT

 

FORECLOSURE PREVENTION

 

Even though our economy is improving, Lake County continues to have one of the highest foreclosure rates in the State of Illinois.

 

In collaboration with the Attorney General and the Lake County High Schools Technology Campus, our office co-sponsored a foreclosure prevention event on November 2. Nearly 50 families in our area received mortgage relief assistance at the event. Experience shows that when homeowners faced with foreclosure meet face-to-face with their lenders and foreclosure-prevention experts, good things can happen. If you were unable to attend the event but are interested in more information on foreclosure prevention, please call the Attorney General’s Homeowner Helpline at 1-866-544-7151 for assistance.

 

It’s important to remember that help is available, but many times people wait until it is too late. If you, or someone you know, is falling behind on their current mortgage payments, please call the Attorney General’s Homeowner Helpline today – don’t wait until it is too late.

 

HOMETOWN AWARDS

 

Hometown AwardsDuring the last week of fall session, Governor Quinn held his annual Hometown Awards Ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield.

 

At the ceremony, the governor recognized elected officials and volunteers from Round Lake Beach for their contributions and dedication to their village.

 

The Village of Round Lake Beach celebrated its 75th anniversary of incorporation in 2012. The Village Board commemorated the occasion with various community activities and celebrations. READ MORE

 

LIHEAP REGISTRATION

 

With the cold weather now upon us, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) registration has officially opened for all income-eligible households. LIHEAP can provide a one-time benefit to eligible households to be used for energy bills. The amount of the payment is determined by income and household size. Funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis until they are exhausted. For questions on the LIHEAP program or to determine eligibility, please visit the North Shore Gas website.

 

TORNADO ASSISTANCE

 

On November 17, tornadoes devastated a number of communities in Illinois. While we sympathize with those who lost loved ones or suffered property damage, we can also lend a helping hand in the aftermath of this horrific tragedy. The Salvation Army has established a way to give immediately; you can contribute by texting STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation. Find out more ways to help here.

 

HELPING HANDS

 

Lake County provides many ways to give or receive assistance over the holidays.

 

You can visit www.findhelplakecounty.org and search simple words like “clothing,” or “food,” to get contact information for agencies across the county.

 

You can also visit the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s website for agency lists and information about fighting hunger.
How to volunteer, or donate food and / or money
Comprehensive list of Northern Illinois agencies and food pantries

 

Thank you to all who have called and emailed thoughts and concerns over the past few months. I am proud to represent you, and promise to continue to do my best for the good of Lake County and all of Illinois. I encourage you to contact me at any time with any state or local matters.

 

 

Sincerely,
Senator Bush
Senator Melinda Bush
31st District – Illinois

 

 

District Office

34121 US Highway 45, Suite 224 • Grayslake, IL 60030

847-548-5631 (Phone)

 

Springfield Office

M122 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-7353 (Phone)

 

www.SenatorMelindaBush.com/

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020414 js 0450rSPRINGFIELD – As the foreclosure crisis spread over the last few years, the unincorporated areas outside of cities and towns became home to more and more abandoned properties.  Businesses closed their doors and warehouses, storage facilities and industrial buildings were deserted.

This week, Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) began to move legislation that would give Lake County the ability to collect the cost of bulldozing or refurbishing an abandoned property when that property is eventually sold.

 “Cities and towns have always been awarded this right, but counties have not,” Senator Bush said.  “This plan simply gives counties the same ability to reclaim the funds that they’ve previously invested in keeping citizens safe from dilapidated properties.”

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Natural Disaster Tax Credit

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Contact Me

Springfield Office:
124 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-7353

District Office:
10 N. Lake St., Suite 112
Grayslake, IL 60030
Phone: (847) 548-5631