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Governor Bruce Rauner recently issued a proclamation calling for lawmakers to return to Springfield this week to continue working on the state budget. Under the Illinois Constitution, the Governor is authorized to call for special session by filing a proclamation with the Secretary of State’s Office.

In doing so, lawmakers head back to the Capitol and are expected to be there from Wednesday, June 21st and work through June 30th, which is the fiscal deadline. Should an agreement be reached before the deadline, the remaining special session days will be cancelled.

Prior to the Special Session announcement, Representative Steve Andersson hosted a public town hall meeting in his 65th District to get input from area residents on their ideas for possible solutions to the budget crisis. You can also hear more of Andersson’s thoughts on the budget in this video.

“We need to be back in Springfield to get back to work and finish the job,” said Andersson. There is no time to waste; our residents deserve to have a balanced budget with the necessary reforms that will provide for the future of the state, our families, and our children. I am ready to continue to work in compromise to pass a real balanced budget.”

As the budget stalemate has continued, it has had devastating effects on social services, higher education, families, seniors, and students across Illinois. In Springfield, the General Assembly will begin considering legislation that can help pass a balanced budget that includes spending caps, productive reforms, and tax relief to Illinois residents.
State Representative Steve Andersson hosted a successful emergency town hall meeting last night with residents in his 65th district. The event was open to all area residents, and drew a full crowd to the Geneva Park District.

In the first portion of the town hall, Rep. Andersson gave a presentation with current facts and figures relevant to the state budget. 

The Representative’s remarks gave a greater understanding to the magnitude of the budget crisis and how Illinois got to this point. 

With the budget impasse reaching its third year, and the current backlog of unpaid bills topping $14 billion, Andersson called this event an “emergency.” He recognizes the sense of urgency needed to come to a balanced budget agreement, as the lack of a state budget that has left social services, higher education, and many more agencies struggling without funding.

Andersson wanted to host this town hall to explain the budgeting process in the General Assembly, but most importantly to get input on possible solutions from residents. Every person in the room had an opportunity to ask the Representative a question, and he took time to consider every opinion.

“It was incredibly valuable to hear diverse opinions tonight and receive all the thoughtful input from area residents. I have a renewed sense of purpose as we prepare to head back to Springfield in the coming weeks,” said Andersson.

At several points throughout the night, Rep. Andersson stressed the need for compromise as the only way to come to a budget agreement in the House of Representatives, and Andersson remains committed to working with lawmakers in Springfield to do so.


State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) will be hosting an emergency town hall to ask for input from area residents on the state budget.

The Representative’s town hall is an opportunity for dialogue, where Andersson hopes to discuss the end of spring legislative session, but also facilitate productive conversation about the current fiscal crisis and the budget.
The event is free and open to the public, and the Representative encourages all area residents to attend to share their thoughts.  “Illinois is in a state of emergency,” said Representative Andersson.  “I am looking to engage with the community to hear their thoughts, answer questions, and actively work towards finding a solution to our state’s biggest problems.”

Andersson has urged for action in the House of Representatives and asked for compromise between lawmakers to reach an agreement before the close of session in Springfield.  The upcoming town hall is what he calls, “an effort to help move Illinois forward and find a solution that benefits residents and provides for the future of our state.”


For questions about the upcoming event or for more information, please contact Rep. Andersson’s district office at (630) 457-5460.
The House of Representatives adjourned on May 31st, the last day of spring legislative session without a balanced budget in place. The final day of spring session is the state’s budget deadline, which left little room for lawmakers to find an agreement—having heard minimal budget bills in the weeks leading up to the end of session.

Instead, the budget deadline has been extended, and lawmakers will continue to meet through the coming weeks to find an agreement to pay down the massive backlog of bills and help move Illinois forward.

Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) expressed his dismay with the lack of urgency and inaction on the state budget:

“I am frustrated that more time will pass as Illinois residents, service agencies, and higher education institutions continue to suffer as the impasse carries on,” said Andersson. “Our state is left with more uncertainty now than ever. It is my hope that as we continue to meet during the summer we will be productive in our debates, and pass a budget that our taxpayers deserve.”

Throughout legislative session this year in the House of Representatives, Andersson has encouraged bipartisan compromise to provide solutions to some of Illinois biggest challenges—including one to the budget impasse, which today has reached its 703rd day.

The House of Representatives will resume session with the renewed fiscal year deadline of June 30th.

Today we honor the fallen men and women who bravely fought to defend our freedoms. These servicemembers selflessly gave their lives so that we can continue to live freely. We recognize this sacrifice today, and never forget all that was given.

At the end of the Civil War, Americans were left with the weight of how best to memorialize the 625,000 soldiers who perished on both sides of the conflict. Originally known as Decoration Day, this special day became a federal holiday in 1971 and is now recognized on the last Monday in May every year.

Across this country Memorial Day is celebrated in various ways, through parades, ceremonies, family gatherings and memorials, all of which serve to honor those who died in service to the United States of America. In the nation’s capital, a special ceremony is held every year at Arlington National Cemetery, where an American flag is placed at each grave. At the Cemetery, the President or Vice President of the United States typically places a wreath on the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,’ which holds the remains of a World War I fighter.

The Illinois lawmakers in the House of Representatives also honored Memorial Day in the House Chambers on Thursday May 25th with a recognition ceremony during legislative session. The Gettysburg Address was read to members through a House Resolution, and individual Representatives read the names the names of servicemembers that died in the line of duty in the last twelve months, who are from their districts. It was a meaningful ceremony that began with the Presentation of Colors, and ended with a bagpiper playing on the House floor.

This holiday is a constant reminder of the sacrifices that were made to guarantee our freedoms that we enjoy on a daily basis. Today and every day we remember these heroes. To those who courageously gave their lives, and to those who continue to fight today to protect our freedoms . . . thank you!
State Representative Steve Andersson has launched his third annual summer reading program. This year’s theme calls for all the Super Readers in PK-5th grade to participate and read at least ten books of their choice this summer.

For the third year, Andersson has again held this program to continue to motivate students in his 65th legislative district to keep reading during the summer. “Students who read continue to learn, even when they are out of school, which can help prevent any learning loss typically experienced in the summer months,” said Andersson. 


Andersson hopes even more students will participate this year, as the program has continually grown each year it is offered. “The summer reading program is a fun way to encourage students to read, and do so at their own pace,” said the Representative. Students who submit their completed reading forms by August 18th are invited to a special party in the fall, where Rep. Andersson looks forward to meeting all the super readers in the area, celebrating their hard work, and discussing their favorite books!

The program brochure can be found here, which includes additional information and instructions. Should you have any questions, contact Rep. Andersson’s district office at (630) 457-5460.
State Representative Steve Andersson recently hosted a page for the day in Springfield. The Page for the Day program allows students to visit the House of Representatives and help serve their Representative on the House floor during legislative session in Springfield.

Andersson’s Page, Elyssa Jamaludin, is part of The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program. Elyssa is from Malaysia but currently living in Rep. Andersson’s district while attending Geneva High School. Each scholarship recipient of the YES program is required to complete several enrichment activities in cultural diversity, government and community service. Elyssa visited the Springfield capitol and served as a Page to learn more about state government and the General Assembly in Illinois.

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program is a public diplomacy effort to help foster meaningful opportunities for youth exchange. It was launched after 9/11 as an initiative of the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the U.S. Department of State to display a commitment to building bridges between citizens of the U.S. and countries around the world, especially those with large Muslim populations.

Since its start in 2003, the program has involved 10,000 participants. It is a fully funded program by the U.S. Department of State, and has available scholarships for secondary school students ages 15-17. You can find out more about this program here.
State Representative Steve Andersson passed legislation this week that will make guidelines on farmer’s markets uniform throughout the State of Illinois.

The legislation addresses vendor complaints regarding the reasonableness of local health departments’ fees and sanitation provisions for state-wide farmers markets. HB2820 calls for the Department of Public Health to work with the Farmers’ Market Task Force to adequately address these issues.

The bill will help remedy any challenges facing market vendors, and seeks to implement safe, fair, and consistent regulations for the entire state. It would be the role of the Department of Public Health to develop and implement uniform regulations to be used throughout Illinois.

Rep. Andersson has found that there are various rules for vendors depending on the location of the farmers market, and these widely differ throughout Illinois. “Farmer’s markets are a great addition to communities throughout the state. This legislation will help solve the challenges that face the vendors, to help keep these markets successful and vibrant for both vendors and residents in the state.”

The bill will help prevent any further problems from arising by creating uniform regulation, and ensures more regularity so that every vendor has the same opportunity no matter where in the state they are located.

House Bill 2820 passed in the House with wide support from lawmakers and will move forward to the Senate.
Protecting the identity of our residents, and ensuring personal security is extremely important for the overall well-being of Illinoisans and longevity of our state. Identity theft has been on the rise for years and remains a top complaint received by the Illinois Attorney General each year.

In fact, throughout 2016, the Office of the Illinois Attorney General received 2,387 complaints received relating to fraud and 2,391 related to identity theft.

There have also been several complaints within the 45th District received by the Geneva Police Department. This year the Department announced a new online scam and warned residents of computer tampering and online fraud schemes from residents. Police urge residents to be aware of any suspicious online behavior, and want to remind residents to not open unknown emails, attachments or click on pop-up messages.

If you have questions or concerns about a potential scam, contact the Geneva Police Department at (630) 232-4736 and ask for Officer Chuck Parisi in Crime Prevention.

There are simply measures you can take to proactively protect you and your family and prevent fraud or identity theft from hurting you or your family:
The Illinois I-Cash program seeks to reunite Illinois residents with their unclaimed property. This program is an initiative of the Illinois Treasurer’s Office, who is the custodian of any unclaimed property in the state. Unclaimed property can be anything from lost bank accounts, insurance policy proceeds, or forgotten safe deposit boxes—all of which is surrendered to the state if it cannot be returned to its owners after five years.

According to the Illinois State Treasurer, Michael Frerichs, thousands of items are surrendered each year. Consequently, Frerichs recommends checking the I-Cash database every six months. There is no cost to checking your information in the I-Cash system, and it is important to ensure you don’t have any unclaimed property under your name.

In the last fiscal year the Treasurer’s Office returned a record setting $155 million in forgotten cash and stock, the largest sum in the program’s 55 year history.

State Rep. Steve Andersson’s District Office has worked diligently to track down constituents who have unclaimed assets through the I-Cash system. “My office has helped several residents claim money and assets that they didn’t realize they even had,” said Andersson. “This is a good program that helps put money back in the hands of its rightful owners.”

While some may be weary of using the online database due to the recent surge in identity fraud and online scams, residents can rest assured this is secure system and an official program in the state of Illinois created to help Illinois residents.

Rep. Andersson encourages all area residents to search the I-Cash database for unclaimed property. Should you have any questions about the I-Cash system, or if you need help navigating the online database, contact Rep. Andersson’s district office at (630) 457-5460.
Landmarks Illinois is a membership based non-profit organization that works to persevere authentic and historic buildings and structures throughout the state. Through its advocacy, the organization provides free guidance, practical and financial resources, and access to strategic partnerships to accomplish its preservation goals.

This week, the organization held a special event in Springfield to reveal their annual list of the Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois. Since 1995 the organization has released an annual list to call attention to threatened historic sites in Illinois.

State Representative Steve Andersson spoke at the event on behalf of the Historic Preservation Caucus of the 100th General Assembly. Like the work of Landmarks Illinois, Andersson, along with the Caucus’ bipartisan group of legislators, advocates for and supports efforts of historic preservation throughout the state. The Representative spoke to Landmark Illinois’ organization’s history of preserving significant and meaningful places in Illinois—preserving 256 landmarks over its 45 year advocacy.

At a challenging time for the State, maintaining and investing in real estate and infrastructure is difficult, especially when funding is limited and there is no state budget. Consequently, this year’s list includes several city, county and state owned structures.

One building on their list includes the James R. Thompson Center. While the General Assembly is currently considering the sale of this building—through HB500—Illinois Landmarks is advocating for the preservation of this building. While the organization supports the sale of the building, it opposes the destruction of the structure due to the building’s architectural importance in Illinois’ history.

Landmark Illinois’ list hopes to preserve the state’s character and heritage in a special way. You can find the full list of the Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois here.



Representative Steve Andersson was recently named Legislator of the Year by the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD). This award was given to three state legislators this year to recognize their work in the Illinois General Assembly on behalf of parks throughout the state. 

Andersson was honored at the 2017 IAPD/IDPR Soaring to New Heights Conference Awards. The Representative was further recognized for his participation in IAPD legislative awareness events, and for his efforts to help advance park and recreational opportunities in Illinois. Andersson continually advocates for local control while opposing unfunded mandates—which are consistently important to the legislative platform of the IAPD.

The IAPD reviews countless pieces of legislation every year to weigh the potential impact bills can have on park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation, and special recreation agencies throughout Illinois. This year, the IAPD will track roughly 350 bills that can affect member agencies with their passage in the General Assembly.

Rep. Andersson filed several pieces of legislation in the 100th General Assembly that are instrumental to the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) Legislative Platform:

House Bill 776 ensures that the terms of park commissioners remain staggered in instances where the sizes of park boards are reduced from 7 to 5 members.

House Bill 766 removes from production executable programs or source codes used to store and access electronic data processing records from the Freedom of Information Act, so that a person using these programs and source codes cannot access privileged and confidential documents

House Bill 3626 provides any person seeking to address public officials in an open meeting shall be allowed to do so at least once per meeting, voiding any rule limiting a person to speaking no more than once in a given number of days.

These bills are just a few of the top priorities of the IAPD, and are supported by the organization as they continue through the legislative process in Springfield.
State Representative Steve Andersson recently presented House Bill 2591 to the State Government Administration Committee in the House of Representatives. This is an extremely complex piece of legislation that would create the Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act to overhaul the court fee system and ultimately reduce the large number of fees paid by citizens in court.

This bill was brought forward to Rep. Andersson and Rep. Elaine Nekritz who both served on the Statutory Court Fee Task Force. The Task Force’s work over the course of two years helped create the parameters of this legislation.

Current law allows courts to impose various fees and different fee schedules for criminal and traffic assessments. Andersson’s bill would consolidate these into a single Act through HB2591, and change the assessments to different rates. This change would streamline the process, making it easier to navigate and more transparent. Court fees have escalated over the years, and this bill would ensure that the fees could be reduced to more reasonable levels. Lastly, the bill provides for a waiver system for lower income individuals, to reduce the severe and often long term impact these fines can have on those from on the lower end of the socio-economic scale.

Representative Andersson has worked diligently with colleagues, proponents and opponents to the bill in order to find the best way to change current law. “Due to the complex nature of this legislation, I am committed to continuing to work on this legislation to pass a good bill. The changes proposed to the current law would make for a more efficient process, one that is more transparent and works to relieve any undue burdens placed on citizens by hefty court fees,” said Andersson.

Rep. Andersson stressed the difference in this bill between fees and fines. This legislation would affect fees distributed by the courts through the clerical process, something that varies between court systems and is separate from fines required to be paid and specific to offenses committed.

Witnesses were called to testify in Committee on behalf of the bill. A proponent of the bill, explained the impact of court fees, and provided meaningful testimony on just how large the impact is on those who have trouble paying fees. Below is a video from the Committee hearing where you can view more remarks from Representative Andersson on the bill.

 
House Resolution 43 was recently adopted in the House of Representatives.  This resolution was filed by Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva), to recognize the importance of pork and bacon in the State of Illinois.

About two years ago bacon was declared a Carcinogen by the World Health Organization.  The report by the WHO stated that eating too much processed meat, such as bacon, would lead to a higher risk of cancer.  Rep. Andersson felt that this declaration was unfair, especially to an industry that has contributed much to Illinois, and HR43 was created as a result.

The Pork Industry is instrumental to the state’s economy, contributing $1.8 billion and generating more than $170 million in taxes annually.  Pork Producers have also provided over 10,500 jobs in Illinois through production, suppliers, transportation and processing.   For Rep. Andersson, the importance of this industry and their product, and the value it brings to the state’s economy needed to be recognized.  Andersson, along with 17 other co-sponsors in the House, solidified their support and recognition of the importance of pork and bacon in Illinois.

This resolution was originally filed in October of 2015, but was finally adopted and celebrated in the House of Representatives, where bacon was also served.


In an effort to make state government and the legislative process more accessible to Illinois residents regardless of their national origin or spoken language, below are the links to translate the Illinois General Assembly website, www.ilga.gov, into any one of dozens of different languages.

The Illinois General Assembly website contains legislator profiles, full text of all legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and State Senate, live audio and video feeds of legislative session and committee hearings; and a wide variety of other legislative information and support services.

Please click any of the links below to translate the Illinois General Assembly website into your preferred language:

Spanish Español

Arabic عربي

Hindi हिन्दी

Chinese (Simplified) 中文简体

Chinese (Traditional) 中文繁體

Japanese 日本語

Korean 한국어

Russian Русский

French Français

German Deutsch

Italian Italiano

Polish Polski

Greek Ελληνικά

Swedish Svenska

You can translate the Illinois General Assembly website into as many as 57 different languages using any of the above links.
Today Governor Bruce Rauner gave his annual Budget Address to a special joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives of the 100th General Assembly. The budget remains the biggest challenge to the state of Illinois, with the current impasse reaching almost its second year, and a backlog of unpaid bills climbing to $11.3 billion.

In his Address, the Governor acknowledged the difficult position the state is in, but also noted significant progress that has been made through bipartisan compromise in the Senate. He presented specific parameters needed in a balanced budget plan, and stressed the importance of coming to an agreement that benefits both tax payers and job creators. The Governor also emphasized job creation as the cornerstone for economic growth, something for which the budget must account for.

State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) appreciated the Governor’s optimistic tone in presenting his budget plan, especially Rauner’s emphasis on working together with both sides of the legislature toward a compromise.

“The Governor has presented a budget to us with the necessary reforms to help make Illinois competitive again—and benefit our taxpayers,” said Andersson. “He has given us parameters on what is acceptable to bring necessary change to our state, and this will help guide us as we navigate the difficult decisions ahead. Now it is our job as legislators to pass this budget, end this impasse, and do what’s right for our state.”
Representative Steve Andersson was recently named to the following committees in the House of Representatives for the 100th General Assembly:

· Appropriations-General Services

· Business Incentives for Local Communities

· Industry and Code Enforcement

· Judiciary-Civil

· Mental Health

· Museums, Arts, and Cultural Enhancement


Rep. Andersson was named to these committees by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, and was also named the minority spokesperson for three of his six committees: Business Incentives for Local Communities Committee, Judiciary-Civil Committee, and Museums, Arts, and Cultural Enhancement Committee. Serving as the Republican Floor Leader during debates in the General Assembly, Andersson will extend his reason, diplomacy, and understanding of the law in his special role on these committees.

The Representative will be able to use his professional expertise as an attorney most notably as a member and minority spokesperson of the Judiciary Civil Committee. He has practiced municipal law for over two decades and is looking forward to using his experience in serving on this committee for the second time.

The Judiciary Civil Committee will hold its first hearing of the 100th General Assembly on February 8th, to begin reviewing legislation and the 10 bills that have already been assigned to this committee.
The Conference of Women Legislators (COWL), a not-for-profit organization and a bipartisan coalition of women legislators in the Illinois General Assembly, recently announced their 2017-2018 Scholarship Award Program. Their scholarship program is offered annually, and was created to promote economic independence, community service and leadership development for women who choose to continue their college degrees.

The scholarship award is $2500, and is available for full and part time students. Applicants are required to enroll in an Illinois accredited college or university for a minimum of six credit hours. In addition to academic achievement, the scholarship committee also considers volunteer or paid community service work in determining scholarship recipients. Particular consideration is given to women who have shown leadership through community service opportunities.

The scholarship fund is made available through fundraising by COWL, with the goal of assisting women whose education was interrupted due to family concerns, economic problems, or other obligations. Deserving women wishing to continue their undergraduate degrees are encouraged to apply!

Applications must be postmarked by March 15, 2017. Awardees will be notified of the decisions by April 15, 2017. More information on the scholarship program and application process can be found on the COWL website: www.cowlil.com.
Today the grand opening of the Aurora St. Charles Senior Living was celebrated with a special ceremony and ribbon cutting. The new senior housing center will provide healthy and affordable homes for seniors in the community.

Formerly serving as St. Charles Hospital, many of the historic Art Deco aspects of the building were preserved as it was converted. Some of the original design features that were preserved include the terrazzo and stone floors in common areas, oversized windows in each residence and 9 foot ceilings throughout the building.

The preservation and repurposing of this building was a challenging project that took much collaboration amongst local, state, and federal government entities, not to mention various community partners. The vision and common understanding of the overall project united the many hands in its work, which was successfully completed in a year.

Representative Steve Andersson serves as a chairman on the Historic Preservation Caucus in the General Assembly, and was honored at the event for working with state legislators to pass a law extending the River Edge Historic Tax Credit program. The program provides tax relief to developers in Aurora, Elgin, Peoria, Rockford and East St. Louis who seek to rehabilitate old properties for modern use, and has allowed for millions of dollars in development in downtown Aurora.

This tax credit was integral in making the senior living project a reality. Andersson attended the ceremony as a key note speaker to discuss the importance of historic preservation and express the positive impact this building has in the community. As a strong supporter of historic preservation, Andersson said that “there are so many different ways that we all succeed when a project like this comes to fruition.” He continued to note the positive effects this project had in creating jobs in the community, stimulating business growth, and helping senior residents in the area.

While the project created much positivity, it is also a reminder of the past. “This is an uncertain time,” said Andersson. “With that uncertainty, we are in danger of forgetting our past. We need to remember our history, and a building like this is a great reminder of that.”

Rep. Andersson also presented Aurora Mayor Robert O’Connor with a Certificate of Recognition from the Illinois House of Representatives, to acknowledge the grand opening of Aurora St. Charles Senior Living, and a job well done.

Today, Governor Bruce Rauner addressed the 100th General Assembly for his annual State of the State remarks. In this special joint session of the Illinois House of Representatives and the Senate, Governor Rauner noted the many accomplishments the state has made with significant improvements to education funding, ethics reform, job creation, and criminal justice reform. While much more work lays ahead for state lawmakers, Rauner encouraged legislators to continue this momentum to solve Illinois’ biggest challenges.

State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) echoed the Governor’s optimism about the future of Illinois, should the General Assembly work together to overcome the challenges ahead:

“There is much more work to be done, and as legislators, this opportunity to continue to make positive change for Illinois is critical to providing a better future for Illinois,” said Andersson.

Rep. Andersson is hopeful that solutions to the state’s biggest issues can be accomplished through bipartisan compromise. Andersson added that he is ready to work for systematic change, which he believes is essential to passing a balanced budget. “For Illinois to move forward, we must accept the challenges in front of us and find good, honest, and transparent solutions for all residents in Illinois.”


HR46 was presented and debated in the Illinois House of Representatives today, which contains the House Rules for the 100th General Assembly and guidelines for the legislative process.

The resolution was met with vigorous debate, led by Representative Steve Andersson.

Representative Andersson questioned the fairness of the Rules, and expressed the need for more transparency in the Rules process. Andersson repeatedly stressed the need for full and fair debate in the House, not only for legislation but to give every member in the House of Representatives an equal opportunity for their bills’ consideration.

Andersson found the current Rules as presented in HR46 to be unjust, restrictive, and lacking the necessary public transparency that Illinois residents deserve. Andersson opposed the House Rules, and you can see more of his floor remarks on the resolution in the video below:

 

With 63 members of the House voting yes and 53 voting no, HR46 was adopted.
At a recent meeting, one of my colleagues took the chance to apologize to the rest of the House Republican Caucus by saying: "I am sorry. Most of you have no idea what it is like to truly be a state representative, because every two years more of your rights and responsibilities are stripped away by the speaker's House Rules."

We are supposed to be a representative democracy, where all Illinois residents from every House district are represented equally. Unfortunately, that is not the case in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Every two years, the people of Illinois elect representatives from 118 districts across the state to serve as their voice in Springfield. Once sworn in, these representatives have the opportunity to take two important votes.

The first is to elect a speaker of the House, which typically goes to the leader of the majority party.

The second important vote, which occurs two or three weeks later, is to adopt a set of procedural rules to govern the House for the subsequent two years.

For 32 of the last 34 years, those rules have been drafted in a manner that consolidates control with one individual - Speaker Michael Madigan - allowing him to circumvent our representative democracy and make the House subject to the power of one.

For example, the speaker has authority over what bills are called for a vote and when. Rank-and-file members receive little or no notice and therefore don't have the ability to prepare for amendments to legislation that are about to be debated in a committee or legislation that will be considered for passage on the House floor. When considering that at any given moment there are hundreds upon hundreds of bills ready to be called for a vote, no one, including our constituents, benefits with these surprise or unplanned votes.

In addition, House committees can only be called with the consent of the speaker, meaning that the Democratic members serving as committee chairmen, each earning an additional stipend for their work, can't even convene their own committees when they deem fit.

Another example is the requirement to discharge a bill from the tightly-controlled Rules Committee.

The Rules Committee is controlled by three of the speaker's most loyal stalwarts who operate under his direction and can be removed by him at any time. This committee is important because the rules require that all legislative measures be immediately assigned to this committee when filed. Nothing may advance any further through the legislative process unless the Rules Committee approves it.

Needless to say, nothing gets through Rules Committee without the speaker's blessing, unless a discharge motion is successfully filed. This requires support from three-fifths majorities of both Democratic and Republican Caucuses. If you do the math that means it requires 72 votes, not 71, to simply discharge a bill from the Rules Committee, making it easier to override a veto than to discharge a bill from Rules.

The most egregious component of this, however, is that rulings of the speaker on such a motion may not be appealed. So, even if the requirements of the rule were met for the discharge of a particular bill, the speaker could, without cause, rule the motion out of order. No member can question this and it cannot be overturned.

There are other examples, many of which make Illinois an outlier when compared to other states, which prove that we owe it to those we represent to take a stand and restore the House as a true representative democracy.

The speaker is the speaker. It's his right to propose his own rules, just as he has for 32 of the past 34 years that he has been speaker. But that doesn't mean we have to support them.

Democratic members have spoken out publicly on the need for changes to the way the Illinois House operates, calling for a more open and transparent process. This is their chance to demonstrate their commitment to making positive change on behalf of all Illinois families.

We have the opportunity to return representative democracy to the people by rejecting Speaker Madigan's rules and making reforms to restore fairness that will allow legislators of both parties, to advocate for the people of their districts. I hope that when it comes time to vote, Democrats and Republicans will stand together and say, "Enough is enough," and oppose Speaker Madigan's rules. Let's return power back to the 118 members of the House and break the power of one.
GENEVA – State Representative Steve Andersson was appointed to the post of House Republican Floor Leader today, making the Kane County legislator the 51- member minority caucus’s point person during daily floor debates in the Illinois House of Representatives for the historic 100th General Assembly to be sworn in on Wednesday.

In making the appointment, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin lauded Representative Andersson’s leadership qualities: "Steve Andersson’s legal background, calm demeanor and keen ability to get to the heart of important policy questions make him ideally suited to become our next Floor Leader,” Durkin said. “Representative Andersson, although only a sophomore legislator, has earned the confidence and respect of his colleagues to serve in this important role on our leadership team.”

"Springfield needs less gridlock and more consistent good-faith efforts to find common ground,” Representative Andersson said. "I am grateful to accept this appointment as Floor Leader for the House Republican Caucus, a role that I will maximize to facilitate discussions amongst legislators of both parties in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect to find solutions to the common challenges that face the families we are privileged to serve, regardless of what part of the state we hail from. There is, after all, so much more that unites us than divides us. Becoming Floor Leader will allow me to highlight that.”