Veto session begins; returning missing medals

House back in Springfield for fall session
On Tuesday the fall “veto session” of the General Assembly got underway. This is the brief, annual meeting of the House and Senate to consider taking action on any bills which the Governor might have vetoed over the summer. Sometimes new issues can arise which need to be dealt with before the regular session convenes in January.

On Wednesday, some of the Governor’s vetoes were successfully overridden in the House. Among the vetoes overridden were bills dealing with the classification of paramedics as fire fighters and a bill to require the entire General Assembly to consider certain waiver requests under the School Code, rather than only a panel of General Assembly members. Thursday morning we passed legislation extending two TIF districts for Hoopeston.

The House took two other important actions this week, approving resolutions to honor local fallen heroes. A portion of U.S. Route 45 in Iroquois County will be named for Firefighter Dana Schoolman of the Ashkum Township Fire Protection District, who gave his life thirty years ago this month while responding to an emergency call. Illinois State Route 116 between Roanoke and Metamora will be designated the “SPC Phillip J. Pannier Memorial Highway,” in honor of Specialist Phillip Pannier of the U.S. Army, a graduate of Roanoke-Benson High School who gave his life for our nation while serving in Iraq in 2008. I hope that these designations will serve as a reminder of the service and sacrifice that so many have made for our freedom and our safety.

The House will be back in session during the week after Thanksgiving for the final three scheduled days of the fall session. The newly-elected 101st General Assembly will be sworn in on January 9.

Returning missing medals
On Sunday we honored those who served by celebrating Veterans Day. But some Illinois veterans appear to have not received honors which they earned. The Illinois State Treasurer’s office is trying to locate the owners of more than 100 military medals which are in that office’s custody until their rightful owners can be found. Some of the medals date from as far back as the Civil War, but others are much more recent.

So far, the Treasurer’s office has returned six Purple Hearts to veterans who had lost them, and they are trying to return the others as well. For more information on these medals and the efforts to find their owners, visit the Treasurer’s website at or call 1-800-961-8303.

How much do we owe? 
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,299,700,584 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be approximately $130 billion.

Winter weather preparedness week
Ice, snow and frigid temperatures have arrived early this year, just in time for the National Weather Service’s (NWS) annual Winter Weather Preparedness Week. Winter weather affects every part of our lives: at home, at work and school, as well as on the road. The NWS has put together a list of tips for winter weather safety in all these different venues.

Before setting out on a drive, make sure your car is in good working condition, including keeping your gas tank as full as possible. Keep a storm kit in your car, making sure to include blankets and extra clothing, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, non-perishable food and matches or a lighter. Always check the road conditions before you set out, and never leave your motor running in an enclosed space.

At home, a person should have a well-stocked emergency kit, which takes into consideration the needs of every member of the household, including infants or persons on medications. Have an emergency heating source (and fuel) in the event that you lose power, but also be aware of the safety precautions to take with the use of a generator, fireplace or space heater. Insulating doors and windows or installing storm doors and windows are good practices for keeping your home warm.

Information on road conditions throughout the state can be obtained from the Illinois Department of Transportation at, or by calling 1-800-452-4368.

Pre-K funding reform
I was very proud to have Milford School Superintendent Dr. Dale Hastings and his wife Michelle visit us in Springfield this week to testify before the Senate Education Committee on how Pre-Kindergarten programs are funded and how they need to change. Dr. Hastings provided a very good presentation on this important issue. I will be keeping an eye on this legislation as it works its way through the Senate.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Next week we will pause to recognize all that we have to be thankful for. I hope that you and your family will have a very joyous celebration, and that those who are traveling to join with family and friends will do so safely.

I will be back with another update from the Capitol on Friday November 30.

Did You Know?
Barbed wire, which would revolutionize farming and ranching in the American west, was invented by an Illinoisan. On November 24, 1874, Joseph Glidden of DeKalb received a patent for barbed wire, though legal battles would last for years. Glidden’s invention helped close off ranches in the west, keeping cattle on the rancher’s property, and set the stage for larger farming operations throughout the Midwest. Glidden became wealthy, and donated the land that became Northern Illinois University.