Dear Neighbor:

The House of Representatives ended the fall veto session this week and are scheduled to return in January. An overview of the major bills discussed over the past few weeks of the fall veto session is included in this e-newsletter, including the widely-discussed issues of pension reform, corporate tax breaks, and human services funding. As always, I welcome your feedback as the legislature continues to work on these and other important issues.

In other exciting legislative news, on November 15 the second phase of the 2010 law allowing adopted persons born in Illinois to apply for copies of their original birth certificates went into effect. After working on this legislation for 14 years, I was honored to share the day with adoptees from across the state and the many people who worked tirelessly to pass this law. Restoring this civil right to a quarter of a million Illinois adoptees has long been a priority for Illinois adoptees and has been a personal highlight of my career. Individuals interested in learning more about this law, including those wishing to apply for their original birth certificate, should visit www.NewIllinoisAdoptionLaw.com.

I also encourage you to help me go "Green by 2013" and reduce my office's paper consumption - forward this newsletter to your friends and neighbors and encourage them to sign up. In trying to make information more accessible, we just launched our newly improved website at www.StateRepSara.com. It is still a work in progress and I welcome your suggestions on how we can improve it to be more beneficial for 12th District residents. You can also stay up-to-date by adding me on Facebook for state news and neighborhood updates.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can ever be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Sara Feigenholtz
State Representative
12th District

  • In the News
  • Veto Session Update
  • 12th District Satellite Office Hours
  • Coffee & Conversation - December 7 & January 5
  • Tax Assistance for Military Personnel
  • Winter Weather Preparedness
  • Shop Local
  • Community Events

  • Veto Session Update

    Utility Rate Hikes:
    The General Assembly approved two bills that would make it easier for electric utility companies to raise rates on consumers. I voted against House Bill 3036 and against the override of the Governor's veto of Senate Bill 1652. Despite my opposition votes, Senate Bill 1652 was overridden and House Bill 3036 has been sent to the Governor with veto-proof majority support. These bills would allow electric utility companies to raise rates annually in exchange for Smart Grid technology. While I believe that Illinois' electric infrastructure needs modernization, I was very concerned by the lack of consumer protections in this particular bill that would ensure adequate third party oversight of any potential increase in rates.

    The legislature approved legislation last spring to expand gaming in Illinois. The Governor vetoed that bill and indicated that he would support a scaled-down version. During veto session, the legislature considered a compromised bill that removed 7,050 slot machines from the original bill, removes machines in Chicago airports and improves oversight through the Illinois Gaming Board and General Assembly. These efforts did not have the support needed to pass and negotiations are likely to continue through the new legislative session.

    Pension Reform:
    Measures to reform the state's pensions system were introduced to the legislature again. Senate Bill 512 would have created a new system with three options for current state employees moving forward:

    1) Employees could choose between a reduced benefits plan (the "Tier 2" benefits currently in place for employees hired after January 1, 2011 as a result of legislation passed in 2009), or
    2) Employees could keep their current benefits plan and pay an increased employee contribution, or
    3) Employees could transition to a 401k-style plan.

    The version of Senate Bill 512 considered during veto session was slightly different than last year's version that many residents are more familiar with. Under the amended bill, employees choosing the first option (Tier 2 benefits) could see their employee contribution percentage raised by up to 2 additional percentage points in 2015. Increases after 2015 or more than 2% would not be allowed.

    Senate Bill 512 did not come up for a vote in the House or Senate and at this time does not appear to have the support needed to pass. This will, without a doubt, continue to be a top issue when the legislature reconvenes in January.

    The legislature passed House Bill 3813 to target abuse of the pension system. Employees would no longer be able to collect a public pension while taking a leave of absence to work in the private sector. The employee would have to continue contributing to the system during their leave and their pensionable salary would be based on what they received prior to taking leave. House Bill 3813 will be sent to the Governor for approval.

    Speed Cameras:
    Senate Bill 965 allows cameras to document and ticket speeding violations within one-eighth of a mile of a school or park. In school zones, the cameras can operate Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Near city parks, the cameras can operate from one hour before park opening to one hour after park closing. Speeding violations between 6 and 10 miles per hour over the limit are subject to a $50 fine and speeding violations 10 or more miles per hour over the limit are subject to $100 fines. Revenue generated will be used for school safety, transportation and after school programs. The bill now heads to the Governor for his consideration. If signed into law, Chicago City Council could approve cameras after July 1, 2012.

    CME Tax Breaks:
    Senate Bill 397 contains the tax incentive packages for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and Sears. Of the $250 million in tax breaks, at least $100 million would have been dedicated for CME and Sears. Although the bill passed the Senate, the House overwhelmingly rejected it with only 8 votes in support. Negotiations may continue, but it is not clear when or if similar tax incentive proposals will be brought to the legislature.

    Unemployment Insurance:
    The economic downturn and ongoing unemployment has left the state's unemployment insurance fund drained and in debt of more than $2 billion. Senate Bill 72 allows the fund to borrow to close the debt gap and restructures the way businesses pay into the system. Many business owners will actually pay less in unemployment insurance and could be a huge boost for some of our own local businesses. Senate Bill 72 was signed by the Governor.

    Human Services Funding:
    The FY12 budget passed in the spring was a bare-bones budget that implemented significant cuts in mental health, homelessness, substance abuse treatment, and services for the disabled. Service providers in our community are struggling to keep their doors open and provide invaluable services to our neighbors. The legislature approved Senate Bill 2412 to shift funding for these services and correct some the errors in the FY12 budget.

    The re-allocated funding includes $4.7 million in restored grants for emergency and transitional housing for the homeless and $28 million in substance abuse treatment.

    The bill also includes $30 million in grants to community mental health providers that was erroneously left out of the state budget last year.

    The bill funds the state facilities that had previously been threatened with closures, including three mental health facilities (Tinley Park, Rockford and Chester), until June 30, 2012. This gives providers and patients time to safely transition into community based settings and gives lawmakers appropriate time decide how to best proceed with closures and ensure that no patient's care is disrupted in the process. Although this bill will preserve most jobs for mental health facility workers, it does not include a pay raise. Funding from this bill will go into direct services.

    12th District Satellite Office Hours

    As a part of my efforts to increase government accessibility for 12th district residents, my office is hosting special monthly satellite office hours in the 43rd and 46th wards. Staff will be on hand to help residents with state issues and answer questions about state government. Appointments will not be necessary. Thank you to Alderman Cappleman, Alderman Smith, and their staffs for helping us make this service available to 12th district residents!

    46th Ward satellite office hours
    First Tuesday of each month
    9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    Office of 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman, 4544 North Broadway
    First satellite office hours: Tuesday, December 6
    Join me on December 6 from 2:30 - 4:00 for a meet and greet session, coffee, and pastries!

    43rd Ward satellite office hours
    Second Tuesday of each month
    3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    Office of 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith, 2523 North Halsted
    First satellite office hours: Tuesday, December 13
    Join me on December 13 from 4:30 - 6:00 for a meet and greet session, coffee, and pastries!

    Coffee & Conversation - December 7 & January 5

    coffee dec

    coffee jan

    Tax Assistance for Military Personnel

    The Illinois CPA Society CPAs for the Public Interest offers free federal and state tax assistance and guidance to deployed or recently deployed Illinois military personnel and their families. For eligibility requirements and more information, visit www.icpas.org/militarytaxrequest. For more information contact Jill Wiles Wolf at (800) 993-0407 or wilesj@icpas.org.

    Winter Weather Preparedness

    With winter (and the array of weather conditions that come with it) just around the corner, it is a good time to review winter weather preparedness measures and services available.

    Winter Storm Preparedness Guide: The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) teamed up with the National Weather Service (NWS) and American Red Cross to develop the Winter Storm Preparedness Guide and provide winter weather safety tips. IEMA and NWS also recommend stocking up on emergency preparedness kits for homes and vehicles with items ranging from batteries to non-perishable foods. Visit www.ready.illinois.gov for more information on emergency preparedness.

    Parking Restrictions: The city's overnight winter parking ban went into effect on December 1. On streets affected by the ban, parking is restricted between 3:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. until April 1, 2012 and is in effect whether or not there is snow on the ground. A map of the overnight parking ban can be found here. In the 12th District, Cannon Drive south of Diversey is affected by this ban, but many of our main roads are only affected by the 2" snow ban. A map of the 2" snow ban can be found here.

    City Warming Centers: City warming centers operate between December 1 and March 1 or when temperatures are below 32 degrees. Hours are generally 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Additional locations and extended hours may be announced when needed. The city warming center closest to the 12th district is located at 4740 North Sheridan. As always, you can call 311 to locate additional warming centers or to request a well-being check for a friend, family member or neighbor.

    City of Chicago Weather Relief: Sign up for alerts through the Extreme Weather Notification System and you will be notified when dangerous weather conditions exist. Sign up online.

    Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): LIHEAP helps low income households with home energy costs. For more information or to learn how to apply, visit the US Department of Health and Human Services website.

    "Share the Warmth": Share the Warmth is administered by the Community and Economic Development Association and helps low-income natural gas customers by providing matching grants for heating bills. More information can be found here.

    Shop Local

    Consider shopping local this holiday season and keep your hard-earned dollars in our community. The 12th district is home to countless unique boutiques, shops, and restaurants. Visit a local chamber of commerce to find exactly what you need this holiday season!

    Business Partners, the Chamber for Uptown

    Central Lake View Merchants

    Lakeview Chamber of Commerce - "Shop Lakeview" and get $50 in Shop Lakeview dollars when you spent $300 - visit their website for more details!

    Lake View East Chamber of Commerce - LVECC is offering a $50 gift card when you spend $300 at LVECC businesses through their 15th annual Giver's Gift Program - visit their website for more details!

    Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce

    Northalsted Business Alliance - Purchase a Northalsted Holiday gift card online and get an additional 20% added value for free!

    Old Town Merchants & Residents Association

    Community Events

    Alderman Michele Smith, Open House
    Monday, December 5
    6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
    2523 North Halsted

    Join Alderman Smith and staff in breaking-in their new office at this holiday open house.

    1230 School Street Playlot Fundraiser
    Wednesday, December 7 4:00pm - 7:00pm Mystic Celt, 3443 N. Southport Avenue Please bring your family and join your friends for a fun night out of burgers, raffle prizes and more! Mystic Celt will generously donate 40% of all sales between 4:00 - 7:00 pm to the future School Street Playlot. Please mention that you are with the School Street Playlot group. To make reservations, please call Alison at 312.867.7717 For more information on this project, please call 773.935.9555, email schoolplaylot@gmail.com or visit schoolplaylot.com.

    Chicago Department of Transportation, Streets for Cyclying Plan 2020 Open House
    Saturday, December 10
    10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
    23 East Madison

    The City of Chicago is embarking on this plan to identify a network of bicycling facilities that will ensure all Chicagoans, from children riding to school to senior citizens riding to the grocery store, feel safe and comfortable riding their bike on the city's streets. We want your input! Come tell us how to improve your bicycling experience, where improvements are needed, and what would encourage you to bicycle in Chicago! Three additional public meetings will be held later this winter. Like us at www.facebook.com/StreetsForCycling2020 for additional meeting information.

    Hawthorne Neighbors, Holiday Party
    Sunday, December 11
    3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    Old Chicago Inn, 3222 North Sheffield

    Save the date for the Hawthorne Neighbors' holiday party. Donations for the Lakeview Pantry will be accepted and tours of the Inn will be available. RSVP to innkeeper@oldchicagoinn.com.

    South East Lake View Neighbors, Monthly Meeting
    Monday, December 12
    7:00 p.m. -95:00 p.m.
    Wellington Avenue Church, 615 West Wellington

    South East Lake View Neighbors (SELVN) is the local neighborhood organization encompassing the area bounded by Diversey, Halsted, Belmont, and the lake. All residents, associations, and businesses are welcome to join. General meetings are open to everyone to attend. You must be a member in good standing two weeks prior to a meeting in order to vote.

    The Lakeview Chamber, Lakeview Citizens Council, and East Lakeview Neighbors, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party
    Tuesday, December 13
    6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
    Trader Todd's, 3216 N. Sheffield

    The Lakeview Chamber of Commerce, Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, Lakeview Citizens Council and East Lakeview Neighbors are hosting this holiday party for members of these organizations and their guests. Tickets purchased in advance online and RSVPed by December 9 are $10 and tickets purchased at the door are $25. Guests are also asked to bring a canned food item for the Lakeview Pantry.

    In the News

    Riverside Suburban Life
    October 12, 2011
    Governor, agencies ask lawmakers to restore millions to state budget

    New York Times
    October 21, 2011
    Mental Health Advocates Face an Uphill Battle

    Chicago Tribune, Letters to the Editor
    October 21, 2011
    Schedule that mammogram

    Press Release
    October 21, 2011
    Workshops Help Senior Citizens Learn About Transit Issues, Scam

    October 23, 2011
    Rita, Feigenholtz praise Quinn, Emanuel McCormick Place labor deal

    Grab Magazine
    October 25, 2011
    Rep. Feigenholtz Announces Food Drive and Volunteer Event to Benefit Lakeview Pantry

    Weiss Memorial Hospital, Health for Life Blog
    October 26, 2011
    Medical Home: Weiss unveils new Radiation Oncology Unit, bringing Health for Life to Uptown

    Peoria Journal Star
    October 29, 2011
    Finke: Hiatus to be spent balancing budget Lawmakers to meet this week to figure out how to forestall layoffs, closures

    Lakeview Newspaper
    November 2011
    Lake View YMCA Going Smoke-Free

    Lakeview Newspaper
    November 2011
    Rep. Feigenholtz Announces Food Drive and Volunteer Event to Benefit Lakeview Pantry

    Lakeview Newspaper
    November 2011
    Workshops Help Senior Citizens Learn About Transit lssues, Scams

    Chicago Now
    November 2, 2011
    Temperatures dropping. Will the state restore funding for homeless shelters?

    Press Release
    November 2, 2011
    Rep. Feigenholtz Sides with Consumers on Utility Rate Hike Legislation

    Skyline, Letters to the Editor
    November 2, 2011
    Feigenholtz helps adoptees open past

    Addison Press
    November 5, 2011
    Budget, gambling, pensions top state lawmakers' to-do list

    Press Release
    November 7, 2011
    Budget, Pension Reform Top Resident Concerns at Rep. Feigenholtz Coffee Session

    Illinois Statehouse News
    November 8, 2011
    Medicaid payments to hospitals to take longer

    Press Release
    November 9, 2011
    Quarter of a Million Illinois Adoptees Born After 1946 May Begin Requesting Original Birth Certificates on November 15th

    November 11, 2011
    Illinois adoptees will have access to birth parents' names

    Evansville Courier & Press
    November 12, 2011
    Illinois law opens access to biological parents

    Chicago Sun-Times
    November 14, 2011
    Birth certificates of Illinois adoptees available starting Tuesday

    ABC 7
    November 15, 2011
    Law to allow adoptees to apply for birth certificates

    ABC 7
    November 15, 2011
    Ill. adoptees can now get birth certificates

    Lake County News-Sun
    November 15, 2011
    Adoptees seek birth certificates under new Illinois law

    Chillicothe Times Bulletin
    November 15, 2011
    Adoptee requests for original birth certificates accepted for the first time today

    WBEZ 91.5
    November 15, 2011
    Adoptees seek out their original birth certificates

    WUIS - My Source for News
    November 15, 2011
    Adoptees Can Now Request Birth Certificates

    Chicago Tribune, Voice of the People
    November 15, 2011
    New adoption law

    Chicago Sun-Times, Letter to the Editor
    November 16, 2011
    Unlocking adoption secrets

    Roscoe View Journal
    November 16, 2011
    Celebrate National Adoption Day By Getting Your Original Birth Certificate

    November 16, 2011
    Lawmakers to consider facility closures after Thanksgiving

    Rockford Register Star
    November 17, 2011
    Letter: New law for Illinois adoptees

    State Journal-Register
    November 18, 2011
    Letter: Good news for adoptees

    Press Release
    November 18, 2011
    Workshop Helps Local Business Owners Lower Utility Bills and Access State Loans

    ABC 7
    November 19, 2011
    Fall food drives fill growing need in Chicago area

    Windy City Times
    November 23, 2011
    OPALGA honors its own, civil-union advocates at gala

    Review Atlas
    November 29, 2011
    Lawmakers reprieve facilities targeted for closure

    Chicago Tribune
    November 30, 2011
    City homeless services restored

    November 30, 2011
    Mayor Rahm Emanuel praises lawmakers for $4.3 million boost to homeless shelters

    November 30, 2011
    Feigenholtz: We focused Illinois budget priorities on the needs of the 99%

    Illinois Issues Blog
    November 30, 2011
    Lawmakers say budget deal fixed mistakes

    phone: (773) 296-4141