For over a decade, our state spending has been greater than the tax revenue we’ve taken in. Our state constitution required our budgets to be balanced, but instead of “balance,” the General Assembly used fund transfers and short-term borrowing to conceal over-spending. To the outside observer, those accounting tricks made it look like there was sufficient incoming revenue to cover the outgoing expenditures. But the whole scheme was a lie.

Essentially, when the credit card bill came due, we didn’t pay it off: we kept spending too much, and just transferred our balance to another card. The problem wasn’t on the income side, either. Our tax revenue has been generally healthy, enough to fund a proper state government. Had the General Assembly told the various special interests in Springfield, “no more,” we would have spent plenty of money, just not more money than we had coming in.

Predictably, Speaker Mike Madigan and his supporters disagree with this assessment. They were in charge for that decade of over-spending, because Madigan drew the legislative maps for the General Assembly, ensuring Democratic super-majorities in the House and Senate.

But that all changed in 2015, when the new governor came into office. He, along with the Republicans in the General Assembly, said “enough.” Enough to the over-spending, the tricks, and the lies. We found ourselves in a deep, deep hole—and the only way out of a hole like this is to first stop digging.

We’ve essentially been at a stalemate ever since. For the past year and a half, our state has operated without a budget: the spending of the state has instead been made through court orders, consent decrees, and short-term, limited legislation.

The four legislative leaders and the governor have met a couple times since veto session ended on December 1. The governor offered to Madigan that he was willing to consider a tax increase to cover the budget hole, but only if significant reforms can be made, to create jobs and clean up state government. However, Madigan responded publicly that they should do the budget first before talking reforms. So, the governor replied asking Madigan what his budget proposal was. The answer: “we’re working on it.” At that point, the governor said he’d call the next meeting as soon as Madigan’s proposal is ready. That was two weeks ago.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been part of several meetings of the reform working group, which is currently focused on worker’s compensation cost reduction. Manufacturing companies regularly tell me that our worker’s compensation costs are the highest in the Midwest, making us less competitive for jobs in that field and others.

Yet, you can tell that there’s no great willingness to compromise in these meetings. Agreements are few and far between, limited primarily to minor issues that the parties should agree on anyway.

I won’t sugarcoat it for you: Springfield is a very dark place. But when things are darkest, the light shines brighter. Here’s hoping that the Christmas story in some way rubs off on our state’s elected officials. May they see the Light emerging out of the darkness and embrace the grace and peace of Christmas. And then, with that inspiration, deliver a brighter future to the people of Illinois.

In the Breen household, we are having a wonderful time preparing for “Baby’s First Christmas.” May you and your family be blessed with the full measure of Christmas joy!
This past week concluded the General Assembly’s veto session, and tensions were high in Springfield. I saw reasons both for hope and for dismay in the proceedings. On the hope side, the legislative leaders and the governor successfully hammered out an energy bill. That bill will keep two of our state’s six nuclear plants from going offline, along with bringing back into Illinois hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy spending that had been sent out of state.

The initial version of the energy bill was bloated, spending way too much money and suffering under the weight of pork projects for various interest groups. Without major changes, that bill was dead on arrival—but the stakes of failure were high. Without action by Springfield, the plants shut down, taking 10% of our state’s energy capacity offline and driving our electric rates through the roof, along with putting 4200 Illinoisans out of work and delivering a $1.2 billion blow to our state’s economy. But the governor and his staff set to work with the legislature and affected parties, driving a tough bargain on the bill. The governor demanded a guarantee that the plants would stay open at least ten years, removed the various costly special interest giveaways, and imposed strict caps to ensure residents and businesses don’t overpay for electricity. And after vigorous debate, the measure passed on close votes in both the House and Senate, with a commitment for the governor’s signature.

At the end of the day, not everyone got what they wanted in the energy bill, nor was the bill perfect. But in the face of certain catastrophe, the legislature and executive branch came together and rapidly negotiated a complex bill, to provide energy security to the people of Illinois. The way I see it, if you change the subject from “energy” to “budget,” this looks a lot like a model for the two parties to come together for a tough, principled, and swift compromise for a balanced budget.

Since I serve on the House Energy Committee, I was a leading speaker in favor of the final version of the bill on Thursday. During my comments, I spoke about the rate hikes that would become necessary if the two nuclear plants were shuttered. You may watch a video of my floor comments here.

Now, while the parties were coming together to avert the energy crisis, there was cause for dismay. You may recall that, back at the end of June, the parties agreed on a stopgap budget, to put off the tough negotiations until after the pressure of the November election passed. Well, since the election, the governor has asked for meetings with the legislative leaders, but there doesn’t appear to be much urgency or substance emerging from them.

And this past week, Senate President John Cullerton repudiated a pension reform agreement, which was part of the foundation for the stopgap deal in June. As part of that deal, the General Assembly agreed to pay this year’s “normal cost” for Chicago teacher pensions (similar to the way the state pays the normal cost for suburban teacher pensions), but only if the parties came together to put in place pension reform that would benefit the whole state. That meant the General Assembly passed a bill to provide $215 million to the Chicago teacher pension fund—the theory being that the City of Chicago would push its legislators to negotiate and vote for statewide pension reform, so as not to lose the money for its own pension fund. The money for Chicago pensions was “held” until the end of the year, with the understanding that the governor would veto the measure if no agreement was reached on pension reform. The terms of the deal were known by all legislators and widely reported in the press.

That’s why everyone in the Capitol was shocked on Thursday when President Cullerton claimed to the media that there was no deal—no strings attached to the $215 million payment from state taxpayers—and that the governor should just sign the bill and send the money to Chicago to bail out its pensions. In response to Cullerton’s denial of the well-understood agreement, the governor vetoed the bill a few hours later.

Negotiating a budget package isn’t just about drafting language—it requires trust. Trust that the other side will keep their agreement to support certain reform measures at a later date, trust that moneys appropriated will be spent as promised down the road, and the like. This latest breach of trust may prove a significant barrier to reaching compromise on a balanced budget and reforms to fix our state.

As we close this General Assembly, it’s one step forward, and one backward. Here’s hoping in the new year that the successful step forward, for compromise, will help the parties to heal and repair the step backward, the breach of trust. The stakes are too high and the harm to our state too great to continue without a balanced budget.

Rep. Breen and Senator Nybo Host Successful “Support Our Troops” Drive for Overseas Military
This week on Monday, December 5, we boxed up the donations made throughout the month of November during our “Support Our Troops” drive, with the members of VFW Lilac Post 5815 and its Ladies Auxiliary. In all, about 25 large boxes filled with items will be sent to overseas troops. People were extremely generous this year with their donations, and everything will now be separated into individual care packages that will be sent to overseas troops before or near Christmas. I am still collecting names and addresses for our local deployed military, so if you have a loved one currently serving away from home, please contact my office at (630) 403-8135 to share the information.

Illinois House Approves Constitutional Amendment
The amendment, if approved by the state Senate and adopted in the 2018 general election, would increase the voting margin required to increase an income tax rate or a sales tax rate during the so-called “lame duck” session of the Illinois General Assembly. I voted in favor of this amendment. The General Assembly, under current law, can enact “lame duck” tax hikes by simple majority in both houses. If HJRCA 62 were to become law, the margin would increase to three-fifths – the same “supermajority” as is currently required to increase State general-obligation debt, approve amendments to the Constitution of Illinois, and approve amendments to the federal Constitution of the United States. Lame duck sessions are sessions after Election Day when retiring legislators are still in office. The Thursday, December 1 vote by the House to approve HJRCA 62 was 84-18-2. The Senate has not taken action on this measure.

Madigan Supermajority Fails on Veto Overrides
The primary purpose of Veto Session is the reconsideration of bills that received a partial or full veto by the Governor during the spring session. During this year’s spring session, 2,231 House Bills, 1,233 Senate Bills and 1,327 Resolutions and Constitutional Amendments were filed. Of those, 443 were approved by both chambers and sent to the Governor. He signed 403 of them and issued a partial or full veto to 40 pieces of legislation. Of the bills that were brought back for a veto override attempt, just one bill, SB 440, received the supermajority vote required to override the Governor’s veto. (SB 440 amends the Chicago Police and Firefighter Articles of the Pension Code to address Tier II survivors’ annuity and issues related to cost-of-living adjustments, widow annuities and other death benefit provisions.)

Annual Christmas and Holiday Display Available for Public Viewing
This year’s annual nativity scene dedication ceremony was held on Tuesday, November 29 in the Capitol rotunda. A two-story tree, nativity scene and other items provide some much-needed positive holiday spirit during these difficult days for our State. The display is open to the public during normal business hours throughout December at the Capitol, located at 301 S. 2nd Street, Springfield. Area singing groups often volunteer to sing over the noon hour during the holiday season. If your holiday travels bring you near Springfield, please try to find time to see the display in the rotunda. 

The House and Senate are both scheduled to return to the Capitol on Monday, January 9 for two days of lame duck session, prior to the swearing in of the 100th General Assembly on Wednesday, January 11.

Illinois lawmakers approved a comprehensive energy bill on Thursday that will allow nuclear energy plants in Clinton and in the Quad Cities to remain operational as part of a broad package of measures that support clean energy in the state.

SB 2814 was approved by a 63-38 vote in the House, and State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) was a leading House Republican speaker in favor of the bill. Breen, who holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and sits on the House Energy Committee, spoke to the rate hikes that would become necessary if the two clean energy plants were shuttered, and to the bipartisanship and compromise that led to the agreed language that Governor Rauner said he would support.

Click here to watch Breen’s comments during the debate on the bill.



Today in Springfield the House of Representatives approved a comprehensive energy bill that will allow nuclear energy plants in Clinton and in the Quad Cities to remain online. In response to the 63-38 vote in the House, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) has issued the following statement:

“I am pleased with the passage of SB 2814 today. Every study available indicated that shutting down our nuclear plants in Clinton and in the Quad Cities would have spiked electricity rates in Illinois by multiple hundreds of millions of dollars. This bill represents an insurance policy for the people of Illinois, ensuring the viability of those nuclear plants while capping rate increases for residents and businesses. Keeping these plants online will help us keep the promise that, when Illinoisans flip a light switch, their lights will turn on, no matter how harsh the weather conditions—from 100-degree heat to the polar vortex.”

“There are also numerous other efficiency measures in this bill, and for folks in the 48th District, they should see lower rates next year from those efficiencies. Moreover, we currently spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on renewable energy credits, but the majority of that money goes out of state. This bill will bring those hundreds of millions of dollars back into Illinois, which will necessarily improve our state’s economy.”

“This bill also shows the people of Illinois that the General Assembly can compromise when there is the willingness to do so. House members on both sides of the aisle came together, with the Governor and his staff, to successfully negotiate a complex bill during a short time-frame. It’s now time for us to come together and negotiate a balanced budget.”
State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) recently surveyed constituents within Illinois’ 48th Legislative House District. Close to 200 individuals responded to the survey and the results indicated clearly that citizens favor term limits for legislators and statewide office holders, structural reforms to be enacted before any tax increase and decreased spending across the board as a budget balancing tool.

“I appreciate folks’ willingness to share their views in our annual survey,” said Breen. “These results show that the residents of the 48th District want to see commonsense reforms, spending discipline, and term limits from Springfield. I will vigorously voice those views during the upcoming term of the General Assembly.”

With regard to whether legislators and/or statewide office holders should be subject to term limits, an overwhelming 81% reported being in favor of term limits for legislators and statewide office holders, while an additional 6% favored term limits only for legislators and another 3% favored term limits only for statewide office holders. Just 8% of the respondents said they were not in favor of term limits, and 2% of those taking the survey skipped the question.

When asked if structural reforms should be implemented before a tax increase is considered, 86% of those who completed the survey said yes to reforms before taxes. Only 8% said reforms should not precede a tax increase, while 5% reported being undecided and 1% of the respondents skipped the question.

“I’ve worked hard to advocate for both term limits and structural reforms for our state over the past two years,” Breen said. “These survey results strengthen my resolve to increase those efforts for the next two years.”

The majority of those who took the survey also said they would favor an across-the-board percentage decrease in funding for all budget line items, as a way to help balance the budget. 55% of the respondents answered in favor of the across-the board reductions, while 29% did not want any spending reductions. 14% of the people who participated in the survey reported they were undecided on the issue, and 2% skipped that question.

Similarly, when given the options of reforming how services are provided, cutting services and raising taxes as tools for balancing the budget, 52% of the respondents said reforms should take place first, while 33% said that reducing the level of services should be the first course of action. 15% of those who took the survey recommended raising taxes as their first choice for balancing the budget.

Those who completed a survey were also invited to provide additional, open-ended comments. “As I reviewed the surveys, it was not surprising to read that many of my constituents want bipartisanship in Springfield and simply want lawmakers to do their job,” said Breen. “I share their frustration and believe an agreed budget is possible. I am very willing to do this, and I have spoken to many colleagues from the other side of the aisle who also want to solve this budget crisis for the long term.”
Our first week of veto session was cut short by one day last week when House Speaker Mike Madigan decided to cancel a scheduled session day we had on our calendars for Thursday, November 17. While we did take action on some Senate bills, resolutions, and vetoed items on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was disappointed by the Speaker’s decision to send us home while we still have no budget. We will return to Springfield the next week on Tuesday, November 29 to complete our veto session work.

Breen Investigating Oakbrook Mall Red Light Camera Approval; May File Legislative Fix
Like many of you, I was shocked to learn that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently issued a permit for the installation of red light cameras near Oakbrook Mall at the intersection of IL Route 83 and 22nd Street. I have been a long-time opponent of these cameras, which have become much more about revenue than about motor vehicle safety. I am working with other lawmakers and with local officials to determine if the General Assembly can, and should, intervene.

In March, IDOT denied the camera request, but officials said at the time that additional information could be submitted for consideration. Subsequently, a May letter stated the location would be approved pending the proper permit from IDOT. IDOT issued the permit on October 28 and the Village of Oakbrook Terrace, which controls the intersection, now has 180 days to complete the red light camera installation. Officials from neighboring Oak Brook, which have opposed the installation of the camera from the beginning, claim they were not notified of the new approval, and learned of the issuance of the permit from IDOT and not from the Village of Oakbrook Terrace. As lawmakers look further into this issue, I will keep you updated.

Legislative Survey Results Show Clear Preference for Term Limits, Controlled Spending and Balanced Budgets
I want to thank everyone who took the time to complete my 2016 Legislative Survey. The survey was included in the Legislative Report that was mailed to District 48 households over the summer, and it was also available through my legislative web site. Several hundred surveys were completed and the results are as follows:

Do you think legislators and/or statewide office holders should be subject to term limits?
Do you agree that structural reforms must be implemented before taxpayers are asked to provide additional revenue to support State services?
Would you support an across-the-board equal percentage decrease in funding for all line items to help balance the budget?
In general, there are three methods that can be used alone or in combination to balance the Illinois State budget (reform how services are provided, cut services, and raise taxes). What is your first choice of action that you believe should be used to balance the Illinois budget?
Those who completed a survey were also invited to include additional comments. As I reviewed the surveys (yes, I read every one of them), it was not surprising to read that many of you want bipartisanship in Springfield and simply want lawmakers to do their job. I share your frustration and believe an agreed budget is possible if rank and file lawmakers put partisanship aside and work together. I am very willing to do this, and I have spoken to many colleagues from the other side of the aisle who also want to solve the budget crisis once and for all. Unfortunately, Speaker Madigan is not interested in implementing even the simplest of reforms that would put our State on a path toward fiscal health, and raising taxes without controlling or reforming irresponsible spending practices is not an option for Republicans.

Still Time to Participate in “Support Our Troops” Drive
This month, Senator Chris Nybo and I are partnering with the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for our second annual “Support Our Troops” collection drive. Items collected throughout the month of November will be delivered to military personnel serving overseas near or before Christmas.

The legislative office I share with Senator Nybo at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 105A in Lombard is a drop-off location for items to be donated. Donations will be accepted through November 30th during normal business hours of 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

We would also like to send care packages specifically to local soldiers from the area (IL Senate District 24 or IL House District 48). Friends and family with loved ones from the area who are currently serving in the military are encouraged to contact my office at (630) 403-8135 with their names and addresses.

Recommended items to be included in the care packages include: 
  • Books, magazines, crossword and word search puzzles, coloring books, colored pencils, dominoes, checkers or chess games
  • iTunes Gift Cards, headphones/ear buds, DVD movies or television shows, small video games, international calling cards 
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Kleenex, lotion, toothpaste/toothbrush, shampoo, soap, female hygiene items, shaving cream, razors 
  • Beef jerky, powdered drink mix, coffee, granola or protein bars, trail mix, dry snacks, mixed nuts 
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, air fresheners 
  • Footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and frisbees 
Because the items will be mailed, aerosol cans/containers, food items that could melt or spoil and fragile items cannot be accepted.

Happy Thanksgiving!
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I would like to thank the residents of the 48th Legislative House District for allowing me to serve in the General Assembly. It is the honor of a lifetime, and a privilege to help shape policy to improve the lives of Illinoisans. I hope you all are able to spend time with friends, family and other loved ones during this long Thanksgiving weekend. 

Next week lawmakers will return to Springfield for the conclusion of veto session, and then we will return to finish out 2016 in our home districts and prepare for the inauguration of the new, 100th Illinois General Assembly on January 11, 2017.
On the first day of veto session this year State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) had a very special guest join him on the House floor. Matthew Elijah Breen was adopted by the Representative and his wife Margie after his birth in Virginia on August 9. The new family spent the first two weeks of Matthew’s life in Virginia while they waited for the interstate adoption paperwork to clear before they were able to bring him home to Illinois. Mom, Dad and Matthew all all doing very well.
This has been the most unique political campaign season of our lifetimes. But with the election now over, lawmakers are refocusing their efforts on addressing Illinois’ most pressing problems. In the 48th District, I was reelected to serve for a second term. I sincerely appreciate the trust placed in me, and I will continue reaching across the aisle to find common ground on the important problems facing our state.

Tomorrow, lawmakers return to Springfield for the fall veto session. During this year’s spring session, 438 substantive bills were approved by both chambers of the General Assembly and reached the Governor’s desk for final action. Of those 438 bills, 24 received a total veto, and nine received an amendatory, or partial, veto from the Governor. Veto Session is the time when we will reconsider many of these bills and possibly consider other legislative issues that remained unaddressed during the spring session, such as the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Act Tax Credit program, which that will expire in December without General Assembly action.

According to the Governor’s office, many of the bills that received vetoes this year sought to add new spending to the Illinois budget, while other bills were deemed as duplicative or unnecessary, and still others included language that the Governor felt was harmful to taxpayers. I have spent the days leading up to veto session reviewing the vetoed bills and the reasoning behind each veto.

Tuesday’s election will significantly change the landscape in Springfield in 2017, as the House Republican caucus saw a net gain of four seats and the Senate Republicans a net gain of two seats. The gains in the House are extremely significant. By reducing the House Democratic caucus membership from 71 to 67, House Speaker Mike Madigan will no longer have a veto-proof majority. While the Speaker will still hold a majority for the next General Assembly, he will no longer be able to rely solely on his caucus to override gubernatorial vetoes. The significance cannot be overstated. For the first time in many years, when the new General Assembly is sworn in on January 11, all paths toward bill approval and overall progress must rely on bipartisanship and compromise. In particular, the temporary stopgap spending bill the General Assembly approved in June will end at the conclusion of this calendar year. The rationale for the delay in reaching a full balanced budget was Senate President John Cullerton’s assertion that compromise could not be reached until after the election. With the election over, it’s time to get the budget balanced and Illinois turned around.

Breen Partners with Senator Nybo for Second Annual “Support Our Troops” Drive
This month, Senator Chris Nybo and I will partner with the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for our second annual “Support Our Troops” collection drive. Items collected throughout the month of November will be delivered to military personnel serving overseas near or before Christmas.

The legislative office I share with Senator Nybo at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 105A in Lombard will serve as a drop-off location for items to be donated to U.S. troops. Donations will be accepted through November 30th during normal business hours of 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

We would also like to send care packages specifically to local soldiers from the area (IL House District 48 or IL Senate District 24). Friends and family with loved ones from the area who are currently serving in the military are encouraged to contact my office at (630) 403-8135 with their names and addresses.

Recommended items to be included in the care packages include: 
  • Books, magazines, crossword and word search puzzles, coloring books, colored pencils, dominoes, checkers or chess games 
  • iTunes Gift Cards, headphones/ear buds, DVD movies or television shows, small video games, international calling cards 
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Kleenex, lotion, toothpaste/toothbrush, shampoo, soap, female hygiene items, shaving cream, razors 
  • Beef jerky, powdered drink mix, coffee, granola or protein bars, trail mix, dry snacks, mixed nuts 
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, air fresheners 
  • Footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and frisbees 
Because the items will be mailed, aerosol cans/containers, food items that could melt or spoil, and fragile items cannot be accepted.
Voting is underway throughout the Land of Lincoln. As folks here go to the polls, they’re seeing a state government that is spending more than it takes in, and it was recently announced that Illinois’ general fund is expected to be nearly empty by the end of the month.

Due to the lack of action by the General Assembly majority to adopt a balanced budget, Comptroller Leslie Munger has stated that general fund payments into the pension systems will have to be delayed. Leslie Munger has the herculean task of trying to juggle the state’s inadequate moneys, to ensure payments for the most vital government services. She stopped regularly paying General Assembly members earlier this year, instead putting their checks on the same payment schedule as the small businesses who provide services to the state.

Let’s just say that Leslie is not popular right now among the political class in Springfield—every time I go to an event where there are legislators from the other side, they gripe about not getting their money on time! That was Leslie’s point: local nonprofits and small businesses are waiting a year or more to be paid, and she felt that legislators would better understand the pain that their inaction has caused, if those legislators had to experience the same delayed payment schedule.

We’re also facing a tougher environment for jobs and economic growth in Illinois, compared to the rest of the country. We lost another 800 manufacturing jobs this month, and across all sectors, we’re almost 40,000 jobs below where we were in 2000. And that’s with 500,000 more people living in Illinois today, as compared with 2000.

I’ve written here about the possibility for compromise and reform in Illinois—whether it’s getting property taxes under control, so folks aren’t forced out of their homes, or reducing our worker’s compensation costs, which are so high that they keep existing companies from hiring more workers and new companies from starting or moving here in the first place.

But all that compromise and reform work is on hold, pending the outcome of this election. These issues are in your hands now. You get to choose who you want to send to Springfield to work on those reforms.

Some elected officials on the ballot will be more willing to work together on reform, and some will be less willing. Some want taxes to go up without any changes to government, and some believe that we first have to tighten our belts before looking at additional taxes. Some believe that things in state government are just fine and will fix themselves, and some believe that the risks to the health and well-being of our state have never been higher.

These are the stakes in our state elections. Voting is one of the most blessed duties—and awesome responsibilities—of citizens in a free republic. It’s now your turn to decide: choose wisely!
This November, State Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) and State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) will partner with the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for their second annual “Support Our Troops” collection drive. Items collected throughout the month of November will be delivered to military personnel serving overseas near or before Christmas.

“Supporting our troops is as easy as buying some of the suggested items the next time you’re in the store, and bringing them to our legislative offices. Your thoughtfulness will mean so much to the men and women who are a long way from home, especially during the holiday season,” Nybo said. “Rep. Breen and I want the brave young men and women who serve in our military—now and in years past—to know how much we appreciate their leadership and their commitment to freedom.”

The Nybo/Breen legislative office at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 105A in Lombard will serve as a drop-off location for items to be donated to U.S. troops. Donations will be accepted from November 1-30 during normal business hours of 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

“This local collection drive provides us with a meaningful way to show our deep appreciation for our troops and their dedication to protecting our freedoms,” said Breen. “Our care packages are one small way of honoring and hopefully easing the great sacrifices of these brave men and women.”

The legislators would also like to send care packages specifically to local soldiers from the area (IL Senate District 24 or IL House District 48). Friends and family with loved ones from the area who are currently serving in the military are encouraged to contact the Nybo/Breen office with their names and addresses.

Recommended items to be included in the care packages include: 
  • Books, magazines, crossword and word search puzzles, coloring books, colored pencils, dominoes, checkers or chess games 
  • iTunes Gift Cards, headphones/ear buds, DVD movies or television shows, small video games, international calling cards 
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Kleenex, lotion, toothpaste/toothbrush, shampoo, soap, female hygiene items, shaving cream, razors 
  • Beef jerky, powdered drink mix, coffee, granola or protein bars, trail mix, dry snacks, mixed nuts 
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, air fresheners 
  • Footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and frisbees 
Because the items will be mailed, aerosol cans/containers, food items that could melt or spoil and fragile items cannot be accepted.

For more information about the collection drive, or to leave contact information for a specific member of the service, call Sen. Nybo’s office at (630) 969-0990 or Rep. Breen’s office at (630) 403-8135.
New Illinois Competitive Council Review Agency Rules/Regulations to Find Millions in Savings for Illinoisans by Cutting Through Red Tape
Last week Governor Bruce Rauner announced a comprehensive plan to promote economic growth and job creation by cutting the red tape in Illinois. He signed Executive Order 16-13 to review all agency rules and regulations by the newly-created Illinois Competitiveness Council. The Illinois Competitiveness Council will be comprised of a representative of each of Illinois’ regulatory state agencies. Its goal is to save Illinoisans at least $250 million in direct license fee costs over the next decade, and save Illinois taxpayers and business owners at least 4 million pages in paperwork. It will work to ensure current regulations are up to date and relevant to today’s industries and practices; ensure the language in rules are easy to understand; reduce the amount of unduly burdensome requirements on businesses, social service providers, and citizens through both time and cost; and ensure there is a clear need for the regulation.

In addition, the Illinois Competitiveness Council will look for recommendations to improve Illinois’ licensing environment to promote job growth and job creation. Currently, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has more than a million active licenses in more than 200 license categories, however for nearly a third, IDFPR has issued fewer than 100 licenses. The growth of these licenses has increased 184 percent in the last 20 years.

Kentucky, Indiana, Colorado, and Massachusetts have all successfully reviewed their rules and cut red tape to give their citizens a more competitive advantage over Illinois citizens. Burdensome and unnecessary regulations, policies and licensing requirements disproportionately impact small businesses, particularly minority-owned businesses.

In order to have the greatest impact, the Illinois Competitiveness Council is seeking input from the public on which rules and regulations are the biggest hindrance to people and businesses. Anyone can submit feedback to cut the red tape at www.illinois.gov/cut.

Breen to Partner with Senator Nybo and Local Group for “Support Our Troops” Campaign
Beginning November 1, I will once again be partnering with Senator Chris Nybo and the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for a “Support Our Troops” holiday collection drive. Items collected will be delivered before or near Christmas.

Our shared legislative office at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 105-A in Lombard will serve as a drop-off location for items to be donated to U.S. troops serving overseas. Donations will be accepted throughout the month of November during normal business hours of 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Senator Nybo and I would also like to send care packages specifically to local soldiers from the area (IL Senate District 24 or IL House District 48). Friends and family with loved ones from the area who are currently serving in the military are encouraged to contact our office with their name and address. You may reach my office at (630) 403-8135.

Recommended items that can be included in the care packages include: 
  • Books, magazines, crossword and word search puzzles, coloring books, colored pencils, dominoes, checkers or chess games 
  • iTunes Gift Cards, headphones/ear buds, DVD movies or television shows, small video games, international calling cards 
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Kleenex, lotion, toothpaste/toothbrush, shampoo, soap, female hygiene items, shaving cream, razors 
  • Beef jerky, powdered drink mix, coffee, granola or protein bars, trail mix, dry snacks, mixed nuts 
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, air fresheners 
  • Footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and frisbees 
Because the items will be mailed, aerosol cans/containers, food items that could melt or spoil and fragile items cannot be accepted.

Industry Hotline Offers Insurance Assistance
The Illinois Insurance Hotline is a free and valuable resource available to help Illinois residents make informed decisions about insurance-related issues. The Hotline is a non-profit industry-sponsored outreach that can answer basic questions, provide educational materials and offer direction for more intricate questions about property, casualty, life or health insurance. Residents can reach the Hotline by phone or email for guidance on a wide range of topics, including company contact numbers, financial ratings, complaint records, state mandates, options following a cancellation or non-renewal, the claim settlement process and more. You can contact the Illinois Insurance Hotline by phone at 1-800-444-3338, or by email at insurancehotline@illinoisinsurance.org. The Hotline is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM.

In Latest Sale of Illinois Bonds, Interest Rates Rise Again
The newest sale of Illinois general obligation (GO) bonds was completed on Thursday, October 13. It drew a picture of worsening yields and interest-rate obligations for the debt-beleaguered State of Illinois. In the process that led up to last week’s bond sale, debt underwriters negotiated in the marketplace with potential lenders on the interest rate Illinois would have to pay as the price for selling its package of bonds. When the sale process was complete, Illinois taxpayers learned that their BBB-ranked State government would have to pay a premium of 200 interest basis points (2.00%) in interest over the rates paid by borrowers which have achieved the coveted triple-A (AAA) rating. AAA-rated borrowers include the neighboring state of Indiana.

The risk premium paid by Illinois and its taxpayers this week was a sharp upturn from the 1.62% risk premium quoted in the last Illinois debt sale. These numbers signaled a further weakening of Illinois’ financial position relative to other U.S. units of government. Illinois has now operated for more than 15 months without a full-year budget. Continued growth in the State’s backlog of unpaid bills (more than $8.9 billion as of Wednesday, October 12) is leading to growing pressure on the State’s credit rating and perceived standing as a debtor.

Federal Government Confirms Illinois is Moving Toward Compliance with REAL ID Act
Compliance, or movement toward compliance, is required for a state ID card (such as a driver’s license) to be seen as adequate identification for federal security purposes, such as entering an armed forces base or the boarding area of an airport. Illinois is one of 14 states that have been officially ruled as out of compliance with the 2005 federal law. Congress enacted, and former President George W. Bush signed, the REAL ID Act after the events of September 11.

Under the terms of the federal law, applicants for a drivers’ license or official ID equivalent are required to present a variety of official documentation to confirm and re-confirm their legal status within the United States. In addition, the drivers’ licenses or equivalent state documentation must be produced in physically secure facilities and must comply with a series of federal mandates intended to reduce and eliminate counterfeiting. The eventual goal is to bring the 50 states’ drivers’ licenses closer to the level of identification and security that are imposed upon applicants for a U.S. passport. After a ten-year transition period, the federal government has begun to impose penalties upon the residents of states that remain out of compliance with the REAL ID Act.

The General Assembly responded to federal compliance issues in spring 2016 by enacting new legislation (SB 637) intended to move toward compliance with the REAL ID Act. Under this legislation, the offices of the Illinois Secretary of State are no longer allowed to print out and distribute plastic drivers’ license cards. Starting in summer 2016, Secretary of State employees who have undergone criminal background checks are now allowed to collect information from an Illinois resident. The State employee will then send digital information over a secure phone line to a facility in a secure location. The new drivers’ licenses, which are mailed to their recipients, are similar to the old drivers’ licenses in some ways and different from them in others. They contain features that are difficult to counterfeit.

Under the new legislation and technology, Illinois has now been re-ruled to be 84% in compliance with the REAL ID Act. This status will be valid until October 10, 2017. During the 12-month period preceding this deadline, Illinois drivers’ licenses and ID-card equivalents will be viewed as adequate to enter federal security-secured areas, such as federal facilities and airport boarding areas. The Department of Homeland Security is warning Illinois and 13 other states that they must take further actions in spring 2017 in order to move closer toward complete compliance with the REAL ID Act. Eight other states, including Kentucky and Missouri, have been ruled noncompliant with the REAL ID Act. Their residents could face identification-related sanctions as soon as January 30, 2017.
In the wake of the scandal at the College of DuPage, the General Assembly demanded an independent audit of the books and practices at COD. When the College’s Board of Trustees turned over after the 2015 election, the new board members agreed to the audit. Almost a year-and-a-half later, the auditor’s 253-page report has now issued, painting a detailed picture of government bureaucrats run amok.

They ignored and flaunted relevant laws and policies put in place to protect taxpayer dollars. Over half the purchases reviewed by the auditor were made in a “no bid” manner—and even when bids were properly solicited, administrators didn’t follow the Illinois laws that ensure transparency in awarding contracts. On top of that, the former Board of Trustees didn’t regularly evaluate the college president, who has since been fired by the new board, despite policies requiring annual reviews. Nor did that former board provide proper oversight over the college’s many millions of dollars in investments of taxpayer moneys.

The audit also highlighted the excessive compensation and severance paid to the former college president by the old board, almost double that of any other community college president in Illinois.

But the real story here is how this audit even came to be, because the audit of COD had to be approved by the COD Board itself—and when that vote was taken in April 2015, it was by a bare majority, 4-3. The only reason the audit demanded by the General Assembly happened was because three new board members were elected (to join the lone reformer on the old board). These three are the reason you and I are now able to see an independent, detailed review of the various issues at the College.

You should remember the names of these three brave public servants: Deanne Mazzochi, a mom from Elmhurst and leader of the group, Frank Napolitano of Bartlett, and Charles Bernstein of Wheaton. They had nearly no elected service, but they took on the local political establishment and won the three open seats on the COD Board, in an incredible upset. And the “reward” of their victory was to take on the herculean task of cleaning up a college mired in scandal. These board members are true public servants, serving in an unpaid role as trustees to save a community gem, our beloved College of DuPage.

I get to see the best and the worst of public officials in Springfield, and sometimes it’s disheartening: you wonder if, for the sake of turning Illinois around, there are enough good people out there, willing to serve for the public interest and not to line their own pockets. I take great inspiration from these reformers at COD, newcomers to politics who stepped forward to run for and serve during a time of crisis. While I’m singling out Deanne and her compatriots, there are folks like them at every level of Illinois government—but we need more!

You may find yourself in a place where you are able to run for office. It’s certainly not easy, nor is it always fun. Unless your definition of “fun” is knocking on the doors of thousands of complete strangers in rain, snow, sleet, and hail! But if your skills, ability, and family situation allows you that opportunity, maybe you are being called to serve. Either way, you can support honest, ethical, and thoughtful candidates for office.

When those candidates come to your door, please give them encouragement, even if you disagree with their politics. I can give you many examples in my own involvement where a kind word or a friendly face at the door propelled me onward, to continue knocking on doors and reaching a few more folks, despite the rain, snow, or freezing cold. And if you like the person and their policies, then go ahead and put up a yard sign, volunteer to help, and tell your neighbors and friends about them. By your efforts—whether supporting those who run for office or running yourself—you can help ensure that our community, our county, and our state are the kinds of places where our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren can live, grow, and prosper.
On Saturday, September 24, more than 100 taxpayers from the 48th Legislative House District attended a free property tax forum in Glen Ellyn that was sponsored by State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard). Those in attendance learned about the tax assessment process and how to challenge an assessment that is believed to be inaccurate.

Breen was joined at the event by Milton Township Assessor Chris E. LeVan, York Township Assessor Deanna Wilkins and York Township Assistant Assessor Fred Beno.
Together they spoke to residents and explained the process that ties the value of their homes to the eventual tax bill that arrives in their mailboxes. The community leaders also outlined the steps required for appealing an assessment and took questions from audience members.

“It was a pleasure to partner with these local experts for this successful forum,” said Breen. “The procedure utilized to create assessments and tax bills is confusing, and I was glad to offer a program where people could learn about the process and have their questions answered.”

Click here to view the Power Point presentation that was used during the forum.

Click here to view a video of the presentation.


It is my pleasure to present to you my 2015-2016 Legislative Session Report. My staff and I prepared this report for you, to give you an in-depth look at the 99th General Assembly and to ask for your feedback in the enclosed survey.

These are truly challenging times, but as you will see in the enclosed pages, we had some key successes this year. You may access the report by clicking here.
In acknowledgement of votes taken in 2015-2016 that affect Illinois small businesses, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) has been named a “Guardian of Small Business” by the Illinois branch of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Breen scored a perfect 100% in an NFIB review of his voting record.

Honorees were chosen based on their votes on 11 key bills during the 99th General Assembly. The bills included: HB 6162, SB 2964, HB 3887, HB 1285, SB 162, HB 1287, SB 2933, HB 4036, SB 11, HB 5576 and HJRCA 26. Lawmakers who received an 80% or higher rating received the award.

According to Kim Clark Maisch, State Director of NFIB/Illinois, during his first term in the Illinois General Assembly, Breen has emerged as a true champion of small business. “Representative Breen’s 100% voting record on key small business issues demonstrates his strong commitment to our state's job creators,” she said. “Representative Breen has stood up time and again and fought for the rights of small businesses and their ability to keep their doors open in a state and isn't known for being friendly to business.”

Breen said it was an honor to be recognized for his voting record in support of Illinois small businesses. “The men and women who start and run small businesses are the primary job creators in Illinois,” said Breen. “During my time in the Illinois House, I’ve tried to foster a competitive business environment by reducing unnecessary regulations on small businesses and promoting market-driven public policies.”

NFIB/Illinois includes over 11,000 small business members from across the state. A link to a summary of the 11 key business bills and an overall tally and ranking of all Illinois State Representatives and Senators can be found at: http://www.nfib.com/pdfs/Illinois-Voting-Record.pdf.
My wife Margie and I are pleased to announce that we are now the parents of a beautiful baby boy, Matthew Elijah Breen! It has been a difficult path over the past three years, and we had several near misses over that time: even one where we’d loaded up the car with baby items and found out along the way that the birth mom had changed her mind. Throughout, Margie and I have been privileged to have folks throughout the area thinking about us and praying for us.

All those prayers were answered this past August 9th, when our little Matthew burst into the world, 700 miles away in Virginia. We were blessed to be there to meet him soon after he was born, and we spent the first two weeks with Matthew in a hotel room in the Cavalier State, waiting for the interstate adoption paperwork to clear.

You’d laugh if you watched us navigate all the “first-time-parent” cliché moments, from the first sponge bath for the squirming, screaming little guy, to the blurry-eyed cleaning up of his 3 a.m. diaper explosions. And we’ve both been awed at those quiet times late at night when we each realize that we’re no longer (just) “Aunt Margie & Uncle Peter” but now “Mommy & Daddy.”

Probably the toughest part of a new baby is learning to operate on very little sleep. I turned 40 last week: the all-nighters and near-all-nighters are a lot tougher now then they were when I was in my 20’s. I also get varied reports from friends and family on whether the sleeplessness gets any better—as one experienced mom told me, “you won’t sleep soundly again till he moves out of the house!”

The other part you don’t fully realize, until baby arrives, is that every carefully crafted plan you had is out the window. Baby is now in charge of the schedule!

This column is generally about politics and policy, and briefly on that point, I was reminded by a friend that we’ve brought a baby into Illinois at a time when many folks are leaving, all because of a government that has severely damaged our economy and communities. But if you really want to view the most compelling reason to fix our state, look at a brand new baby, bursting with potential and growth. We can’t pass on a corrupt and broken government to these little ones, and we can’t in good conscience load them up with tens of thousands of dollars in debt—all before they’re even potty-trained!

Finally, I’d like to say something about our adoption experience, because it seems that adoption is one of the most misunderstood institutions in modern America. In our case, we’ve gotten to know the birth mom and her family well, and we remain in regular contact with them. Our birth mom, faced with a unique and challenging situation, carefully reviewed her options. She reviewed many hundreds, if not thousands, of profiles of potential adoptive parents, and she chose us to be the parents of her baby boy. We visited before the birth, and she was able to see our joy at becoming parents, and we know that she found strength and comfort in that joy.

And the circumstances of our adoption are not unique. Many birth moms today choose a more “open” adoption, and there are many thousands upon thousands of couples just waiting to be chosen to become parents. So, if one of your family members or friends finds themselves in a difficult or untimely pregnancy, you can feel confident in recommending that they consider adoption, as a positive and viable option for them.


In our case, we’re just over the moon about our little Matthew, and we can’t imagine our lives without him.
Citizens of Illinois’ 48th Legislative House District are invited to join State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) and local tax assessment experts this Saturday, September 24 for a free seminar on understanding the property tax assessment process and learning how to appeal tax assessments. The 1 ½-hour event will be held from 9:30 AM until 11:00 AM in the Clayton Room at the Glen Ellyn Civics Center, 535 Duane St, in Glen Ellyn.

Joining Breen at the informational session will be Milton Township Assessor Chris E. LeVan and York Township Assessor Deanna Wilkins. “I hear regularly from citizens who say they are overtaxed, and while many claim they would like to file an appeal, they don’t know where to begin because they find the process overwhelming,” said Breen. “It is my pleasure to bring experts together so that residents can gain a better understanding of the assessment and appeals process, and know what remedies are available to them.”

Due to space constraints, RSVPs are requested. If you would like to attend the property tax assessment seminar, please RSVP by calling Rep. Breen’s office at (630) 403-8135.
In response to the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision that found the Independent Maps Coalition’s fair maps proposal unconstitutional, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) is partnering with what he hopes will be a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers on a Constitutional Amendment that would allow citizens to draw legislative maps with the guidance of a non-partisan commission.

“People everywhere are outraged with the 4-3 Supreme Court decision which removed the fair maps initiative from the November ballot,” said Breen, a Chief-Co-Sponsor of the new legislation. “Citizens want to weigh in on this reform and twice now they have been denied their opportunity to vote on it.”

Through HJRCA 60, filed this week in Springfield, issues brought forth in the Supreme Court ruling are addressed. A commission as outlined in the Constitution would provide tools and necessary data to citizens to allow them to create a map that is entirely nonpartisan and meets Constitutional requirements, with the citizen-drawn maps ranked according to an objective scoring measure. The top three ranked maps would then be forwarded to the General Assembly for an up or down vote, with no changes from legislators allowed. In the event that consensus is not reached on one of the three maps, the Secretary of State would step in and certify the map with the highest score.

“HJRCA 60 gives citizens the primary voice in mapmaking. It works within the confines of the legislative article of the Constitution and offers structural and procedural changes that take the map-drawing

responsibilities out of the hands of partisan lawmakers,” Breen said. “It responds to issues identified by the state’s highest court as unconstitutional and would end political gerrymandering of legislative maps. Every Illinoisan who cares about fair elections will win under this nonpartisan measure.”

If approved and implemented, the provisions of HJRCA 60 would be utilized during the next redistricting effort that will occur in 2021 and affect the 2022 elections.
In the coming days my 2015-2016 Legislative Report should land in District 48 mailboxes. This document provides citizens with an in-depth look at the last year and a half of activity in Springfield, and an overview of legislation I have passed so far during my first term in the General Assembly.

A legislative survey is included in this mailing, and I hope you will take the time to fill it out and return it to my Lombard office. The survey is also available on line at this link. I will read every survey, so I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Governor Signs Several Key Breen 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 eight bills, each of which will have a positive impact on the people of the 48th Legislative District. These new laws include: 
  • HB 5684 (Public Act 99-0646): Curbs “pension spiking” for local government employees who are part of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). Pension spiking occurs when longtime public employees who have accrued large balances of unused sick and vacation time are allowed to transfer those days into pre-retirement cash payments. The new law requires that, before any potential pension spiking payment can even be considered, a local unit of government must provide a full public disclosure of exactly how a retiring employee’s salary would be affected by the payment. 
  • HB 5683 (Public Act 99-0714): Closes a loophole in the Open Meetings Act (OMA) and improves government transparency by extending the timeframe for citizens to file suit when they believe an OMA violation has occurred. It is common practice for a citizen who believes an OMA infraction has taken place to first contact the Attorney General’s office for an opinion. If the AG’s investigation into the allegation takes more than 60 days, and a non-binding opinion is issued, the period of time for a suit to be filed will have expired. This new law ensures that citizens can go to court to seek justice for 60 days after the decision by the AG’s office is issued.
  • SB 2174 (Public Act 99-0695): Requires appointed members of government boards of public universities and colleges to complete professional development and leadership training. Appointed board members will have to show proof of taking at least four hours of training within two years of beginning their service, and within every two years of service thereafter. 
  • HB 5930 (Public Act 99-0652): Improves efficiency and reduces cost by allowing electronic communication instead of requiring mailed paper correspondence between an employer and the state of Illinois to check the license of a certified nurse’s aide. 
  • SB 2286 (Public Act 99-0565): Expands our current laws as they relate to posting requirements for our state’s human trafficking hotline. SB 2286 would ensure that notices would be posted to ensure that employees of hotels and motels have the resources they need to get them out of a trafficking situation.
  • SB 2512 (Public Act 99-0625): Improves outcomes for kids in the Department of Children and Family Service’s care to keep those kids out of shelters and in family homes, by requiring judges to ask parents/guardians to provide the court with a list of all known names, addresses, and telephone numbers of living adult relatives who could possibly care for the child who requires placement.
  • SB 2524 (Public Act 99-0659): Amends the Illinois Identification Card Act to remove the current $10 fee for a first state identification card for children who are wards of the state. These kids are already our state’s responsibility, and proper identification will help them better participate in society.
  • SB 3047 (Public Act 99-0858): Ensures the proper tax treatment of innovative cancer treatments, to keep them taxed at the same 1% rate as prescription drugs and other medical devices, instead of the much higher consumer product tax rate. SB 3047 specifically protects cancer treatments recognized by the FDA as “Class III” medical devices.
Illinois Supreme Court Boots Fair Maps Proposal from November Ballot
In a 4-3 vote on Thursday, Illinois’ highest court affirmed a ruling by a Cook County judge that a voter referendum seeking to change how the state draws legislative district maps was unconstitutional. With no other judicial recourse available, the issue will not appear on the November ballot. The 4-3 vote by the justices fell along party lines.

Today, politicians from the majority party draw maps that favor incumbents from their party and all but guarantee the continuation of their majority status. The citizen-led and bipartisan Independent Maps coalition gathered more than 563,000 signatures on petitions seeking a fair and non-political process, calling for an 11-member commission to be in charge of drawing maps.

Chief Justice Rita Garman and Justice Robert Thomas issued stinging statements that articulated their dissent of the decision. Here are excerpts from both statements:

Justice Thomas
“The Illinois constitution is meant to prevent tyranny, not to enshrine it.”

“Today a muzzle has been placed on the people of this State, and their voices supplanted with judicial fiat. The whimper you hear is democracy stifled. I join that muted chorus of dissent."

"When the Reporter of Decisions sends out the majority's disposition, he should include a bright orange warning sticker for readers to paste over Article XIV, Section 3, of their personal copies of the 1970 Constitution reading, ‘Out of Service.’”

Chief Justice Garman
"I write separately to express my concern with the impact of the majority’s conclusion on the future of redistricting in Illinois. Article XIV, section 3, was included in our constitution to provide the people of this state with the power to act in situations where it is against the legislature’s self-interest to do so. Redistricting is clearly such an issue. Those elected have an incentive to draw maps that will help them remain in office."

You can read the ruling here.

Breen to Host Free Property Tax Forum in September
If you went into sticker shock when you opened your most recent tax bill, you are not alone. On Saturday, September 24, I’m inviting residents of the 48th District to join me for a free property tax seminar, aimed at helping citizens better understand their tax bill while learning how to appeal a property tax over-assessment. The session will take place from 9:30 AM until 11:00 AM in the Clayton Room at the Glen Ellyn Civics Center, 535 Duane Street, in Glen Ellyn. At the event, I’ll be joined by Milton Township Assessor Chris E. LeVan and York Township Assessor Deanna Wilkins. Folks who attend will gain a better understanding of an often misunderstood process, along with learning about the tools you need to challenge your assessment, if it is too high. RSVPs are appreciated for this event. To RSVP please contact my office at (630) 403-8135.

ILHEAP to Accept Applications for Low Income Energy Assistance Program
The state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities on September 1. LIHEAP and the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program are funded as part of the stopgap funding plan signed into law by Governor Rauner. LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low-income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households. Applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. These agencies will accept applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents must bring all required documentation when applying for assistance, including: 
  • Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day income period beginning with the date of the application.
  • A copy of their current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly). 
  • A copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information. 
  • Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members. 
  • Proof that their household received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Aid to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (AABD); or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services. 
A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,485; a two-person household up to $2,003; a family of three can earn up to $2,520; and a family of four can earn up to $3,038. For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administering agencies and additional information about the program, go to www.liheapIllinois.com, or call the energy assistance toll-free hotline at (877) 411-WARM.

Governor Signs Bills Honoring Gold Star Families, Increasing Services to Illinois Veterans
Governor Bruce Rauner recently took action on several bills as part of “Veterans Day” at the 2016 Illinois State Fair. The bills strengthen Illinois’ commitment to our veterans and their families by providing needed assistance and honor to those who have sacrificed so much for our country and our state.

HB 4389 designates the day after Gold Star Mother’s Day as Gold Star Family Day to be observed throughout Illinois as a day to honor and commemorate the families of men and women who gave their lives while serving with the armed forces of the United States. HB 4432 allows a child in any grades 6 through 12 to be absent from a public school for the purpose of sounding “Taps” at a military honor funeral held in Illinois for a deceased veteran. HB 4627 allows veterans to begin their college education upon discharge regardless of how the calendar year lines up. HB 4344 creates the Heroes Way Designation Program Act. It is a way to honor servicemembers who were killed in action by allowing a relative to apply to have an honorary sign with the name of the servicemember erected along designated Illinois roads. I’m proud to support initiatives like these, to support our veterans and their families, especially those who have given “the last full measure” in service to our country.
With the Friday signing of State Representative Peter Breen’s (R-Lombard) SB 3047 by the Governor, innovative and life-saving cancer treatments will now be taxed at the same rate as prescription drugs and most other medical devices.

Under the new law sponsored by Breen in the House and Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) in the Senate, cancer treatment items that were previously taxed at the normal consumer product tax rate will now be taxed at only 1%, like prescription drugs and other medical devices. Specifically the law lowers the taxes on cancer treatment devices classified by the Federal Drug Administration as Class III medical devices.

“SB 3047 corrects a loophole in the law that had cancer patients paying too much in taxes for the equipment they need to battle their disease,” said Breen. “The provisions took effect immediately upon the bill’s signing, so that those involved in cancer treatment can experience immediate relief in the tax rate applied to the medical devices.”

According to Breen, Class III medical devices had been taxed at a rate of 6.25% like most other consumer goods, but with the change in statute, the cost of obtaining the equipment will be considerably lowered. “These medical devices have been recommended for use by cancer patients’ physicians as part of their treatment plan, and it made no sense that they were being taxed at a rate that was more than five times higher than other physician-prescribed items,” said Breen.

Click here to here more from Breen on this legislation.
Illinois’ Open Meetings Act (OMA) now includes stronger protections for citizens to remedy open meetings violations, thanks to bipartisan legislation sponsored by State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) that was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner on Friday.

HB 5683, signed into law as Public Act 99-0714, closes a loophole and improves government transparency by extending the timeframe during which citizens who file OMA grievances with the IL Attorney General’s office can seek remedy in the court system. Before hiring an attorney, it is common for citizens to bring their grievance to the Attorney General’s office for an opinion as to whether a violation to the OMA has occurred. “Folks were deprived of their day in court under the prior open meetings law,” said Breen. “Often, the Attorney General’s investigation of an open meetings complaint would take longer than the 60-day deadline for a citizen to go to court. This new law will now ensure that the clock for court action doesn’t start until after the Attorney General issues her ruling on an open meetings complaint.”

A bipartisan initiative, Breen worked with Democrat and Republican representatives from across the state to secure unanimous support for the bill in the House. Republican State Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) carried the bill in the Senate, where it also received unanimous support.

According to Breen, the need for the bill was brought to light as a result of a situation involving an OMA violation at the College of DuPage (COD), when a local resident asked the AG office to issue an opinion on the legality of a vote by the former COD Board of Trustees to extend the contract of then-COD President Robert Breuder.

“The Attorney General’s office agreed that a clear violation had occurred and they issued a reprimand to the board members who ignored the provisions of the Open Meetings Act,” Breen said. “But since that decision was issued more than 60 days after the challenged action, the citizen was unable to go to court and get that employment contract voided. Taxpayers in DuPage and surrounding counties are now having to pay the price for that costly and illegal contract.”
Legislation sponsored by State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) that shines a light of transparency on efforts to saddle taxpayers with additional public pension liabilities was signed into law this past week by Governor Bruce Rauner.

HB 5684, signed into law as PA 99-0646 addresses the practice of pension spiking, which occurs when public employees in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) who have accrued large balances of unused sick and vacation time are allowed to convert those days into early pre-retirement cash payments. The payments artificially raise the employee’s pensionable income, which can lead to much higher pension payments than expected upon retirement.

“Pension spiking hurts everyone, taxpayers and public employees alike,” said Breen. “These pensions are paid for entirely by local residents, often through their property taxes. Our pension liabilities are already at unsustainable levels across the state, and every abuse of the system must be rooted out, exposed, and stopped.”

Through the new law, local government boards will now be required to hold an open meeting and take a public vote, after full disclosure of exactly how a retiring employee’s pension would be affected before any potential pension spiking payment can even be considered. “The provisions of this law will shine a bright light for taxpayers and should curb or end this budget-busting practice at the local government level,” Breen said. “This is a taxpayer protection initiative that received wide bipartisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly.”

The new law takes effect immediately.
In response to a series of financial abuses and irresponsible decisions that occurred at the College of DuPage (COD) in recent years, appointed members of governing boards of public universities and colleges will now have to complete professional development and leadership training, thanks to legislation sponsored by State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) that was signed into law on Friday.

SB 2174, now known as Public Act 99-0695, requires appointed board members to show proof of taking training within two years of beginning their service and within every two years of service thereafter. The Illinois Board of Higher Education will oversee the training mandate, and topics to be covered will include:
  • public university and labor law
  • contract law
  • ethics 
  • sexual violence on campus 
  • financial oversight and accountability 
  • audits, and fiduciary responsibilities of a member of a governing board 
“College of DuPage is located in my representative district, and based upon the actions of the former COD board majority, I felt strongly that the General Assembly needed to put some requirements in place that will ensure that our public servants have a working understanding of issues related to their service,” said Breen. “These new training requirements will help protect taxpayers, students, and parents from mismanagement of the money they send to institutions of higher learning.”

SB 2174 was part of a comprehensive reform package that responded to repeated reports of abuse and misuse of taxpayer dollars at Illinois colleges and universities. “These trustees manage very large budgets and make decisions that have significant impacts on college students,” Breen said. “Making sure they have proper training in key areas of law, ethics, and finances will improve outcomes for all of our colleges, community colleges and universities.”