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The term ‘Gold Star Family’ was first coined after World War I.  Americans would fly a flag in their windows bearing blue stars for every family member serving in the military. The star would be changed to gold for any family members lost in the war.

To this day, Gold Star families are still remembered throughout the country for the sacrifice: losing one of their immediate family members during their time of military service.

While Gold Star families are not a formal organization, several organizations emerged over the last decade representing Gold Star family members. Having an official day to honor the families who gave the ultimate sacrifice is extremely important in giving unified support for the entire family that has given so much to protect and serve our country.

Today, House Bill 4389 was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner, establishing Gold Star Family Day in Illinois. This day will serve as a remembrance and recognition of the entire family of servicemen who died serving their country. It is an extension of Gold Star Mother’s Day and will be observed in Illinois the day after Gold Star Mother’s Day, which is the last Sunday of September each year.

Representative Steve Andersson was proud to have his bill officially signed into law by Governor Rauner, giving military families the honor and recognition they truly deserve here in Illinois and across the country.

“Losing an immediate family member in wartime is extremely difficult,” said Andersson. “This designation serves to honor the ultimate sacrifice the entire family makes for the country. No one has given more than the Gold Star families who have lost their loved ones.”

Several other states have a designated day to observe Gold Star Family Day, and this law ensures the day will also be recognized in the State of Illinois.
Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) and Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) are hosting a free document shredding event.

The event is on Saturday, August 13, from 9 a.m to noon at the Sun City Del Webb Fountain View Center in Huntley, 12940 Del Webb Blvd.

Sen. McConnaughay is pleased to open up this event to the community, as it presents benefits from both a safety and environmental standpoint.

“Shredding not only adds a barrier of security for your personal documents, making them unrecoverable, but the company then recycles the shreds to be used again — preventing further waste in our landfills,” she said. 

The members  encourage all area residents to attend and bring up to two bags of important documents that need to be properly shredded and destroyed.

“Over time, we collect many paper documents with sensitive and important information,” said Andersson.  “Properly destroying these documents is extremely crucial to protect you and your family from fraud or identity theft. This event is an easy and free way to ensure your information is kept private.”

If you have any questions about the upcoming event, please contact Rep. Andersson Office at (630) 457-5460 or Sen. McConnaughay’s office at (847) 214-8245. 

Representative Andersson recently discovered that four residents had unclaimed cash available to them in the State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division. Andersson’s staff worked to track down and contact the residents about their money. Each of these four constituents had over $10,000 in ICash monies, the total amounting close to $50,000.

ICash is a program that allows the Illinois State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division to connect Illinois residents with their unclaimed property. In the last 2 years, the Illinois Treasurer's office has returned over $2,750,000 in unclaimed property to the rightful owners.

The Treasurer’s office has found that 1 in 4 residents who search for property end up finding something, and that the average payout is around $2,000. To find out if you have unclaimed property, and learn how to claim it click here.

You can also contact Representative Andersson’s District Office at (630) 457-5460 for questions about ICash or if you need any help claiming property.
This week, Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office has reinstated the mailing of vehicle registration reminder notices to Illinois drivers. The stopgap budget that was recently passed and signed into law by Governor Rauner allots the necessary mailing funds to the Secretary of State’s office so the reminders can again be sent out. Due to the budget impasse, mailed reminders were halted in an effort to save the state money. Now, to offset the costs of the mailings, White is drafting legislation allowing his office to offer advertising space on the mailings.

White called these reminders an essential tool for the public, to ensure their vehicles are in good standing and that the licenses get renewed on time. Without mailed reminders, White felt it placed an unfair burden on Illinois drivers.

In the absence of mailed renewal reminders, Illinois residents were encouraged to sign up for emailed notifications. During this time more than 2.3 million people registered for emailed reminders. It is still encouraged for the public to sign-up for email notifications to further reduce mailing costs. You can sign up for emailed notifications here.
House Bill 4371, which allows water authorities to be dissolved by referendum should voters determine them to be unnecessary, was recently signed into law by Governor Rauner. Rep. Andersson sponsored this voter empowerment initiative to give residents the opportunity to dissolve local water authorities should they choose.

“It is important to eliminate unnecessary aspects of government, and give the voters the power to do so,” said Andersson. “I have found some of the existing water authorities to be inactive, and there is no reason to have them. Yet, before this bill became law there was no way to legally dissolve them. This puts the decision in voters’ hands, and allows residents to make the right call for their community.”

The dissolution of a water authority would be by referendum, and any money available after said dissolution would be given to the townships and counties in the area.

House Bill 4371 became effective after it was signed into law on July 29th, 2016.
A spend first mentality and the unwillingness to compromise from the Democrat majority in the House made presenting and passing a balanced budget agreement extremely difficult this legislative session. Yet, the renewed emphasis by Governor Rauner and House Republicans to advocate for the taxpayers, urging a bipartisan compromise for a responsibly funded budget—one the taxpayers deserve—ultimately succeeded when House Republicans defeated the Democrat supermajority’s $40 billion spending plan: a $7 billion underfunded budget that would have raised personal income tax levels over 55% to pay for the shortcomings.

The end of regular session in May brought the passage of this unbalanced budget, one that was largely vetoed by the Governor, setting the state up for a year of very public funding crises in every area from lottery winners to state universities. Stopgap budget plans for higher education and human services provided temporary funding, but were by no means solutions to the ever present fiscal problem.

At the close of the fiscal year, a stopgap budget agreement was secured which brought necessary funding for education, human services, and many of the state’s biggest needs. Senate Bill 2047 was passed and signed by Governor Rauner on June 30th, authorizing money to flow on July 1st, the first day of the new fiscal year.
As the fiscal year came to a close, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 2047, a bi-partisan education funding bill and stop-gap budget agreement.

Senate Bill 2047 provides $75 million in funding for early childhood education, and a statewide equity grant for the poorest school districts.  In doing so, the bill prioritizes education funding and represents a historic investment in education by funding schools at 100% foundation level for the first time in seven years. 

Specifically, the stopgap funding plan provides $1 billion to higher education, in addition to the already allocated $600 million for FY16, and also includes $151 million for MAP grants.  The bi-partisan compromise also provides $742 million in critically-needed funding for human service providers.  The plan also made state infrastructure a priority by funding $3.4 billion to the pay-as-you-go road program, which will ensure more than 800 active transportation projects continue keeping 25,000 workers on the job.

In response, State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) released the following statement:

“Today’s agreement was a huge step in moving past an 18 month budget impasse.  While this is not a full budget, it appropriates funds for our state’s biggest needs—and most importantly, it moves our State forward beyond the impasse.  This stopgap is vital for Illinois to continue to operate and gives our taxpayers certainty that the state’s services can continue.  This agreement has made funding education a priority.  Schools will open on time and have essential resources for the entire school year. It guarantees critical state operations and services continue- providing for those in our state that need it the most. 

“While we must do far better moving forward, today was a significant improvement where we stood accountable for our taxpayers and found genuine compromise.  Ultimately bi-partisan negotiations prevailed and we ended the fiscal year with an agreement, which is the next step in moving toward a balanced full year budget.”