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Independent Maps Referendum Thrown out by Illinois Supreme Court
The 4-3 decision, which fell along partisan lines, found that the Independent Maps amendment to govern the way Illinois draws its lines for General Assembly seats should not appear on the November 2016 ballot. The decision, which cannot be appealed to any higher panel, will make it impossible for Illinoisans to speak out on the process used to elect members of the Illinois General Assembly.

Three members of the Supreme Court, speaking out in dissent, strongly criticized the majority decision. Justice Robert Thomas labeled the decision a “nullification” of plain language of the Constitution allowing the voters the right to circulate petitions to amend that article of the State’s fundamental law that governs the organization and operation of the General Assembly. This limited initiative right was inserted in the Constitution of 1970 as a common-sense response to the likely conflicts of interest to be faced by future General Assemblies when looking at questions involving the Legislative Article of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court majority, led by Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, said that Illinoisans can circulate a petition to change the way that Illinois legislative districts are mapped whenever they want to do so, but the Supreme Court will not advise them in advance of what the language on the petition should say if the amendment is to be drafted properly; and the Supreme Court reserves the right to throw out any language that it likes if it believes that the language has been drafted improperly. Persons who commented on the Supreme Court decision were left puzzled as to what kind of recourse is provided by current case law to voters who are not satisfied with the current system of drawing legislative maps in Illinois.

Governor Signs Key Tryon Bills into Law
During the summer months, the Governor takes action on the hundreds of bills that were approved during the previous spring legislative session. I was successful this year in passing some very good legislation that will have a positive impact on the people of the 66th Legislative District. A few of those bills that were recently signed into law include:
  • SB 2806 (Public Act 99-0663): Doubles the fines for motorists who attempt to cross railroad tracks while the gate is down or lights are flashing. The new law is an attempt to reduce injuries and deaths at railroad crossings. In 2015, motorists who ignored rail road crossing signals and/or gates were involved in 140 rail crossing collisions which resulted in 24 fatalities and 79 injuries.
  • SB 2186 (Public Act 99-0890): Requires school districts and their school boards to adhere to the zoning requirements of the municipality, county or township where the pertinent part of any new building, structure or addition is built. This new law was created as a direct response to the bleacher fiasco between Crystal Lake South High School and the City of Crystal Lake.
  • HB 4627 (Public Act 99-0806): Requires each public state university to establish an admissions process in which honorably discharged veterans are permitted to submit an application for admission as a freshman student enrolling in the spring semester if the veteran was on active duty during the fall semester. This law responds to an incident where a Crystal Lake veteran was denied admission to the University of Illinois at Chicago as a freshman starting school during the second semester because the school only allowed freshman to start school in the fall semester.
Tryon Chosen to Chair Bipartisan, Bicameral Commission on Administrative Rules
For these final months of my final term in the Illinois General Assembly, I will be serving as the Republican Spokesperson and Co-Chair of the State’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).

I was appointed to this key role by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and am replacing former JCAR Co-Chair Ron Sandack, who resigned from the General Assembly at the end of July.

JCAR is a bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislative oversight committee that oversees the rule-making process by state agencies, making sure proposed rules abide by the original intent of lawmakers. The commission is composed of 12 legislators who are appointed by the legislative leaders of the House and Senate, split equally between Republicans and Democrats. It is co-chaired by one member from each political party.

Algonquin Native to be Honored with Resolution Sponsored by Tryon
When lawmakers return to Springfield in November, one piece of legislation we will consider is an honorary resolution, HR 1390, congratulating Algonquin native Evan Jager for his silver-medal-winning performance in the 3000-meter Mens Steeplechase in Rio. Jager, a graduate of Jacobs High School in the heart of District 66, was a standout distance runner during high school. After just one year at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he began training professionally, and came in 6th place in the 2012 London Olympics in the steeplechase. On August 17, Jager took second place with a time of 8:04.28, the second-fastest time in Olympic history for the event. Congratulations Evan, and I look forward to presenting your honorary resolution in November. You can read the resolution here.

ACA Rates soar for Obamacare Customers in Illinois
The Illinois Department of Insurance announced this week that Illinois residents and households who buy individual health insurance on the Get Covered Illinois ACA insurance exchange will face major increases next year. Rates for a typical health insurance plan are set to increase by an average of 43%.

The rate increases follow a major shakeout in the Illinois ACA marketplace, with co-op Land of Lincoln Health liquidating its coverage rolls and for-profit giants Aetna and United Healthcare withdrawing from the market. Remaining participants in the Illinois ACA exchange face less competition and will be able to dictate more terms to potential patients and health care providers. Rate increases could be especially high in Downstate Illinois, where much of the effects of this shakeout are concentrated. For example, ACA customers in the Metro-East could see “silver-plan” increases as great as 70%. According to the Department of Insurance, patients in eight Illinois counties are going to find that only one insurance firm will be willing to sell ACA-compliant policies to them.

Enrollment for Winter Heating Assistance Program Opens on September 1
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance on Thursday, September 1. The program makes heating bill payments on behalf of households.

September applications to the program are welcome from seniors and persons with disabilities who meet the income guidelines included in the program. Persons with income challenges who are eligible for LIHEAP through other pathways, such as households with young children and households that have had their utility services disconnected, will be asked to wait until a second series of application opportunities opens staring October 1.

The LIHEAP program is operated by the Office of Energy Assistance within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Illinois residents who need guidance on whether they are eligible for the program, or who wish to apply for admission to the program, should contact the Office of Energy Assistance. In many cases, applicants will be asked to make a contribution toward the total energy bill under the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program within LIHEAP.

Walgreens Sets up Safe-Disposal Bins
Both law enforcement and environmentalists have expressed concerns about the safe disposal of prescription pharmaceuticals. These chemicals are, in some cases, controlled substances that are prescribed only to patients that have conditions that warrant taking them. In other cases, prescription pharmaceuticals are being disposed of in ways that can pollute the environment and cause human hazards. In a few cases, some over-the-counter pharmaceuticals may fall into this second category.

In some cases, people do not know what to do with old and unused pharmaceuticals. The most common example of this situation involves drugs that have expired and should no longer be safely taken for the purpose for which they were prescribed. Other examples include the contents of a medicine cabinet of a person who has died or moved to a care facility. Too often, drugs like these are thrown into the standard waste stream; in a few cases, they may be resold on the street.

Walgreens has taken steps to install more than 500 “Safe Medication Disposal” kiosk bins in drugstores across the U.S., including 45 bins in Illinois. The kiosk bins will offer friends and family members of persons who no longer need their drugs a safe place to dispose of the special waste. The automated bins will create an opportunity for the secure removal of dangerous drugs, such as opiate painkillers, from a household that no longer needs them. Both prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) medications may be disposed of in the bins.
Legislation filed in response to the costly bleacher battle between the City of Crystal Lake and District 155’s Crystal Lake South High School was signed into law on Thursday by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Sponsored by State Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) in the Senate and State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) in the House, Senate Bill 2186, signed into law as Public Act 99-0890, requires school districts and their school boards to adhere to the zoning requirements of the municipality, county or township where the pertinent part of a building, structure, or addition is built. The bill further states that municipalities will make efforts to streamline the zoning process and ensure that any fees or costs tied to the review will be reasonable and not burdensome.

The new law seeks to clarify in the statutes the exact elements of local law that must be followed when schools engage in building or land improvements. In 2013, District 155 constructed a new set of home bleachers near the Crystal Lake South football field, and the new bleachers sat only 41 feet from neighboring property lines. Crystal Lake zoning ordinances require a 50-foot setback. The bleachers and press box were also of a size and height that would require zoning variances from the city. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which affirmed lower court decisions that school districts are subject to local zoning laws.

“This law echoes what the court already decided,” said Sen. Althoff. “But most importantly, it clarifies a gray area in the school code and lays down a clear path for future construction and developments.”

“Even though the City of Crystal Lake and District 155 ultimately reached an agreement, taxpayers for both bodies were left on the hook for the cost of both sides of the legal battle,” said Rep. Tryon. “Moving forward, school districts and municipalities will now have a clear roadmap for working together on these types of projects.”



The provisions of the bill took effect immediately upon the bill’s signing.
When Crystal Lake resident Sam Kruse was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps last year, all he wanted to do was begin his college studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. But rather than enroll for fall classes, he was told that a university rule and strict admissions deadlines meant he would have to wait a full year to become a student.

After hearing the Kruse family’s story, State Representative Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) went to work and closed the college admissions loophole in a bill that was signed into law on Sunday by Governor Bruce Rauner. “Sam’s parents explained to me that their son’s college admission was rejected first because he had missed the fall applications deadline, and then for spring because UIC only allowed freshman students to start school in the fall term,” said Tryon, Chief Sponsor of HB 4627. “This is an honorably discharged member of our military who answered a call to serve his country. Upon these people’s return from active duty, we need to be doing everything we can to ensure their successful transition back into civilian life.”

The new law, known as Public Act 99-0806, requires each public state university to establish an admissions process in which honorably discharged veterans are permitted to submit an application for admission to the University as a freshman student enrolling in the spring semester if the veteran was on active duty during the fall semester. “This is common sense legislation,” Tryon said. “Our honorably discharged military personnel have a level of maturity that would more than compensate for any college transition issues. Furthermore, by increasing educational opportunities for those serving in the armed forces, we are helping these men and women reach their full potential when they return from service.”

According to Kruse, UIC eventually did make an exception for his specific case, and he started school and did well during his first semester. However, they were unwilling to change their policy for all returning servicemen and women. “I applaud the efforts of Representative Tryon, (Senate Sponsor) Senator Althoff and the Governor for ensuring that veterans are treated with the respect they deserve after serving their country,” said Kruse. “In my case, my experience in serving in the Marines more than prepared me for college life.”

HB 4627 received unanimous support in the House and Senate and its provisions take effect immediately.
State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) will finish his final term in the Illinois General Assembly serving as the Republican Spokesperson and Co-Chair of the State’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).

Tryon was appointed to the key role by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and is replacing former JCAR Co-Chair Ron Sandack, who resigned from the General Assembly two weeks ago. “JCAR is a very important committee and I have every confidence that Mike will do a great job watching out for the taxpayers of Illinois,” said Durkin. Prior to being elevated to the position of Co-Chair, Tryon was an appointed member of the committee.

JCAR is a bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislative oversight committee that oversees the rule-making process by state agencies, making sure proposed rules abide by the original intent of lawmakers. The commission is composed of 12 legislators who are appointed by the legislative leaders of the House and Senate, split equally between Republicans and Democrats. It is co-chaired by one member from each political party.

“It is quite an honor to be chosen by Leader Durkin for this important committee,” said Tryon, who is retiring in January after serving 12 years in the House of Representatives. “As legislation is approved and agencies create rules for implementation of new laws, our job as a non-partisan group is to ensure that the rules reflect the true intent of the law as it was discussed in the House and Senate and signed by the Governor.”

JCAR meets regularly in Springfield from January through May and in Chicago during the summer and fall months.
With the opening ceremony for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro just a few hours away, here in District 66 we have a hometown hero who is fighting for Gold in track and field as a 3000 meter steeplechase runner.

Four years ago, Algonquin native and Jacobs High School Graduate Evan Jager took sixth place in the London Olympic Games, and this year he is a favorite to medal and perhaps win Gold. While at Jacobs, Evan won three individual state championship titles and one relay title as a distance runner. Evan went on to attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he had brief, but great success, before becoming a professional distance runner.

It wasn’t until 2012 when Evan was introduced to the steeplechase, a distance running event which features hurdles and water hazards. He quickly rose to the top of this event and is the current American record holder in the 3000 meter steeplechase. When he placed sixth in the 2012 Olympics in London, it was remarkably only the seventh time he had run the steeplechase.

At this year’s United States Olympic Trials for track and field, Evan took first place with a time of 8:22:48. He will be looking to beat that time as he faces the always-talented Kenyan runners.

The networks of NBC will be providing coverage of this year’s Olympic Games, and Evan’s first race will be broadcast live at 9:50 AM on the morning of Monday, August 15, with the finals scheduled for 9:50 AM on Wednesday, August 17. To view a complete schedule of Olympic events on the various stations affiliated with NBC, click here.

Friends and family of this local track star will host watching parties at Buffalo Wild Wings in Algonquin on Randall Road during each of Evan’s races. Whether you watch Evan on NBC or at the viewing party at BWW, I hope you’ll join me in wishing Algonquin’s Evan Jager the very best as he pursues his dreams of attaining Olympic Gold.

Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that his office has reinstated the mailing of vehicle registration reminder notices to Illinois drivers. To offset the cost of the mailings, White is drafting legislation allowing his office to offer advertising space on the mailings. In addition, White is urging the public to sign-up for email notices to further reduce mailing costs.

The Secretary of State’s office discontinued mailing reminders in October 2015 due to the lack of funding as a direct result of the state budget impasse. The stop-gap budget recently passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor allows White’s office to reinstate the notices.

“The notices are an essential tool for the public to be sure their vehicles are in good standing and avoid paying late fees and fines resulting from tickets issued by law enforcement,” White said. “The driving public paid the price for the budget impasse and it proved to be an unfair burden. With the funds from the stop-gap budget the notices will resume. In addition, we are reducing the number of mailings and seeking alternative funding sources for the postage costs.”

“Although we are now able to reinstate mailing the vehicle registration reminder notices, I continue to strongly urge motorists to sign up for email reminders,” said White. “Saving taxpayer dollars is always a priority of our administration.”

White noted that more than 2.3 million people have registered for the email notification, 800,000 of which signed up since October 2015.

Vehicle owners can sign up for email notifications by visiting the Secretary of State website, www.cyberdriveillinois.com. To register for the program, vehicle owners will need their assigned registration ID and PIN, which can be found on their current vehicle registration card. If that information is not available, they can call the Secretary of State public inquiry division at 800-252-8980 to obtain the Registration ID and PIN.

The one-time registration process will allow vehicle owners to receive a series of three email notices per vehicle each year highlighting the upcoming vehicle expiration date.
Motorists who attempt to cross railroad tracks while the gate is down or lights are flashing will see fines doubled under legislation signed into law Thursday by Governor Bruce Rauner.

Sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) and in the House by State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake), SB 2806, now known as PA 99-0663, seeks to deter those who ignore the signals and cross tracks while oncoming trains approach. “Illinois ranked second in the nation last year with regard to rail crossing fatalities, and it is my hope that these new, steeper fines will make motorists think twice before making the foolish decision to cross railroad tracks when it is unsafe to do so,” said McConnaughay. “It was a pleasure to work with Metra on this life-saving legislation.”

Through the provisions of SB 2806, fines will be doubled to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses of failing to stop at least 15 feet from the closest rail when an electric or mechanical signal device is activated or a crossing gate has been lowered, or when an approaching train is plainly visible.

“Drivers need to take the warning signals seriously when it comes to train tracks,” said Tryon. “The number of deaths and injuries sustained at railroad crossings is alarmingly high in Illinois, so doubling the penalties for infractions should help reduce injuries and fatalities.”

According to Metra, which worked with McConnaughay and Tryon on the legislation, in 2015 motorists who ignored rail road crossing signals and gates were involved in 140 rail crossing collisions which resulted in 24 fatalities and 79 injuries. Illinois currently has the second-largest rail system in the nation, with more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 10,363 public highway crossings.

SB 2806 does not increase fines for pedestrians crossing the track when signals and gates are activated. However, Metra officials have pledged to work with lawmakers on future legislation that addresses that problem.