Legislative News from Rep. Grant Wehrli

Taking Steps to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads, and the media coverage continues to escalate, many people are anxious about the uncertainty of what is happening. They’re wondering if the virus will come to their communities, how they can protect themselves and their families, and how they can prepare if the situation disrupts the normal course of daily life.

Large events, including this weekend’s Naperville St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the City of Naperville Mayor’s State of the City address scheduled for the 16th, are being cancelled, and some schools and universities are temporarily moving to remote, on-line learning. It is expected that more cancellations of large events will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

There is a lot of conflicting information out there. For now, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends several common-sense preventative measures to help prevent the spread and to help people avoid contact with the virus. Additional information direct from the CDC is available here. I’ll also be posting CDC updates on my web site at repwehrli.com.

Little Friends Inc. Presents Highest Award for Community Service to State Rep. Grant Wehrli

Little Friends is a pillar of the community that makes Naperville a wonderful place to call home. On March 7, my wife Sharon and I joined approximately 580 donors, supporters and volunteers of Little Friends for their primary fundraising event of the year, the Little Friends Benefit Auction. By the end of the evening, more than $600,000 was raised to support their mission of ensuring their clients lead fulfilling lives in the community- regardless of challenge. The generosity and giving spirit of our community never ceases to amaze me.

This local 501 (c) 3 organization, founded in 1965, supports children, adults, and families with developmental disabilities and autism throughout eight counties and over 50 school districts in northern Illinois and Indiana. Over time, Little Friends has grown into a multi-faceted human services agency operating three schools, vocational training programs, community-based residential and respite opportunities, and the Little Friends Center for Autism. Little Friends serves almost 950 people each year.

As part of the evening’s agenda at the benefit, Little Friends President & CEO Mike Briggs presented me with the Dottee Krejci Award for Distinguished Service. It is a distinct honor to receive a service award named after a true pioneer in the delivery of services to the developmentally disabled and to those with autism. Dottee Krejci saw a need in our community, and responded. She worked tirelessly to create a framework where children and adults with challenges could live, work, learn and thrive. She was the founding director of Little Friends, and it’s a privilege to receive an award that bears her name.

Since my election to the General Assembly nearly six years ago, I have always been a strong voice in Springfield when it comes to adequate pay for caregivers and ensuring budget funds are channeled toward facilities that provide services for vulnerable segments of the population. I also created a Developmentally Disabled Task Force that meets quarterly in the 41st District to discuss issues and concerns, and to brainstorm ways that I can seek legislative solutions to the many challenges this segment of the population faces.

Mark Your Calendars Now for Women’s Self Defense Class and Other Upcoming Free Events

Thank you to everyone who stopped by my mobile office hours at the Nichols Library on March 6. My staff and I are putting the finishing touches on a few upcoming events, including a Women’s Self Defense Class that will be held on the campus of North Central College on Tuesday, April 7. From 6:00 – 9:00 PM, experts from One Light Self-Defense will work with adult women on self-defense, distraction and awareness tactics, including lessons on what to hit, how to release a hold, and ways to be aware and avoid potentially dangerous situations. The class will take place in the Wentz Science Center’s Stevenson Hall on the 2nd floor, 131 S. Loomis Street in Naperville.

While this is a free class for adult women (mothers are welcome to bring their teenage daughters), voluntary donations will be collected for Family Shelter Service, a local organization that assists women and families in crisis. Suggested donations include hand towels, wash cloths, bathroom cleaner and laundry detergent. Voluntary monetary donations for Family Shelter Service will also be accepted.

RSVPs are required for this event. To RSVP, please call my district office at (630) 696-4160.

Other upcoming community outreach events include:

  • April 15: Tax Day Town Hall: 7:00 PM, 95th Street Library, 3015 Cedar Glade Rd, Naperville
  • April 16: Open Topics Town Hall: 7:00 PM,Warrenville Municipal Building, 28W701 Stafford Place, Warrenville
  • August 22: Children’s Health & Safety Expo: 9:30 AM – 12:30PM, Frontier Sports Complex, 3380 Cedar Glade Rd, Naperville

Additional outreach events are always being added to the calendar, so please visit repwehrli.com often to remain up to date on these and other free events.

Naper Settlement Receives $571,000 State Grant

One of the many treasures in this area is Naper Settlement. Established in 1969, this parcel, located at 523 S. Webster Street in Naperville, includes a 13-acre collection of 30 historical buildings and structures from the Naperville area. I’m pleased to announce that Naper Settlement/Naperville Heritage Society recently received a grant totaling $571,863.13 to help pay for a recent renovation project that included the replacing of the 40-year-old electrical grid that supplies power throughout the museum campus. Receipt of this money was a long time coming. It was initially awarded in June of 2014, but delivery of the funds was disrupted in 2015 during the budget impasse. Earlier this month the check finally arrived. Learn more about this local gem by clicking here.

Democrats Refuse to Consider Reversal of 555% Hike in Small Trailer Fees

This year I am a leading sponsor of legislation that seeks to reverse a 555% increase in the registration fees people who own small trailers must pay. The increase, which takes small trailer fees from $18 to $118, was hidden in the recent capital bill that was rushed through the General Assembly on session’s final day.

Democrats used procedural loopholes to dodge transparency and vetting requirements for the capital bill. In this instance, Democrat leaders took a Senate Bill, stripped the original language from it and added completely new text. Then the transparency rules for posting and for committee vetting were waived, and the bill came straight to the floor for a vote. No one had time to fully digest everything that was in that bill. I voted against the bill when it came to the House floor on June 1.

The new bill, HB 3851, seeks to reduce the trailer flat weight tax for maximum loads up to 3,000 pounds from $118 back down to its former rate of $18. HB 3851 was assigned to Speaker Mike Madigan’s House Rules Committee on October 17 of last year, but recently it was moved to a subcommittee, signaling that the bill will not be heard or considered this year. Governor Pritzker has included $40 million from these new trailer fees in his proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

CBC 2 News recently covered this issue. Click here to watch that news clip.

Joint Commission on Lobbying & Ethics Reform Looks to March 31 Report Filing Deadline

I am currently serving on a Joint Commission on Lobbying & Ethics Reform, and the bipartisan and bicameral panel has met several times since December. So far we have reviewed and dissected the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act, the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act, the Lobbyist Registration Act, the Public Officers Prohibited Activities Act, and elements of the Illinois Procurement Code. We have heard testimony from a variety of stakeholders regarding best practices in other states, and gathered input for how we can improve the public’s trust in State government.

Written into the legislation that created the commission is a mandate that the group report its findings and recommendations no later than March 31 to the General Assembly, Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Comptroller and Secretary of State. This deadline is just over two weeks away, and I fear this commission will follow the lead of so many other task forces and commissions that either failed to file a final report, or filed a report that led to no legislative action or remedies. I will be pushing for the completion of our work and submission of our findings and recommendations by the mandated March 31 deadline.

Naperville American Legion Post 43 to Offer Scholarships

Naperville’s American Legion Post 43 is accepting applications for $5,000 in scholarship money that will be awarded to up to two upcoming Class of 2020 high school graduates. The scholarship funds will be paid directly to any technical school or degree granting college or university within the United States upon confirmation of enrollment.

Visit this link to view the eligibility requirements and selection criteria:
https://drive.google.com/…/1NM3l-LZgupViXXE-vhtHCGAw0…/view…

Send all required material and supporting documentation to:

Scholarship Committee
American Legion Post #43
P.O. Box 4
Naperville, IL 60566

Wehrli Welcomes Local Students as Honorary Pages in Springfield

I always enjoy when local families visit Springfield. Last week I was able to host two local students through the “Page for a Day” program. Camden and Maddie Kirchgessner both got to experience the House of Representatives up close and in action from the floor during bill debates. Both of these students attend All Saints Catholic Academy in Naperville.

If your family has plans to visit the Capitol while the legislature is in session, please let my Springfield secretary know so I can say hello. And if your child would like to participate in the Page for a Day program, my secretary can help make those arrangements. My Springfield office can be reached at (217) 782-6507.

House Republicans Call for Audit & Suspension of Automatic Registration after Latest “Error”

In light of yet another “programming error” related to Illinois’ Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) system, this week House Republicans called for a thorough audit and suspension of the system until problems are resolved. The latest problem with the system while on the Secretary of State’s watch has caused more than 1,100 valid voter registrations to be wrongly coded as opting-out instead of being registered. 

House Republicans first called for action at the end of January when the first revelation that 574 self-identified non-citizens were mistakenly registered to vote. U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis joined House Republicans in that call and several public hearings have since been held, but no action to put the AVR program on hold has been taken by the Governor or the Democrat led General Assembly. In February, HB 5224 was filed to suspend the AVR program until the problems with the system are corrected. This week HR 827 was filed to call for a thorough audit to be conducted by an outside, independent auditor. 

This week’s wrongful rejection of 1,152 valid voter registrations is unacceptable, and the latest in a series of problems that warrant the temporary suspension of AVR until all issues are resolved. Access to fair and free elections is a fundamental right, and there should be zero margin for error. The rollout of AVR has been plagued with problems and it’s time for the General Assembly to intervene.

Besides the original problem with non-citizens being registered to vote and this most recent revelation about the improperly coded 1,152 valid voter registrations, the Secretary of State’s Office also forwarded the information of some 4,700 16-year-olds through the AVR system to the State Board of Elections for pre-registration. Fortunately, the Board of Elections rejected most of those before they were registered.

House Republicans Continue Call for Action, Introduce Property Tax Reform Package

House Republicans continued their call for property tax relief at a Springfield press conference last week and unveiled a new legislative package to provide property tax relief to struggling homeowners. The House Republican Caucus continue to take the lead on the issue after the Democrat-led Property Tax Relief Task Force failed to present any viable solutions to this crisis.

The first installment of property tax bills in Cook County have already come due and tax bills in counties throughout the state will be due over the next few months, yet zero reform measures have been advanced by the House Democrats this session.

In all, House Republicans have filed more than twenty pieces of legislation comprehensively addressing property tax relief that range from local pension reform, mandate relief, and increased transparency to consolidation and resource sharing among local governments to drive down costs. A list of legislation is available here.

IL Census Count Begins This Week

This week homes across Illinois will begin receiving invitations to fill out the 2020 census. I would like to remind you what the census is, and why it is essential. Residents will receive an invitation to respond online to the 2020 census between March 12 and 20.

Mandated by the United States Constitution, the census is a count of the United States population that takes place every ten years. The 2020 Census will be the 24th census conducted since 1790.

Billions of dollars in federal funding that is based on census numbers go to schools, hospitals, roads, public safety, and other vital programs each year. Not only is participating in the census required by law, but a complete count is important to ensuring your community has funding for these resources.

Click here for links that provide additional information about the upcoming census.