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Illinoisans may soon be able to carry their hunting licenses electronically if legislation proposed by State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) passes through the General Assembly. This bill, House Bill 3093, has passed through the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee and heads to the House for a full vote this week.
 
This proposal, to allow an electronic version or the physical copy of the license, was drafted in response to the increased number of people who are taking pictures of their license and displaying it on their phone.
 
“There is an increasing demand to go paperless and adapt to new technology,” said Bourne. “This change that will allow Illinoisans the convenience of carrying these licenses electronically if they choose. License holders will be able to take a picture of their license and keep it on their phone instead of having to produce the physical license while hunting.”
 
The passage of HB 3093 would also enable the Department of Natural Resources to proceed in the development of a smartphone application to display these licenses.  IDNR has been looking into this technology for the convenience of license holders.  
Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) co-sponsored legislation, House Bill 643, to reject the automatic Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase for legislators set to take effect for Fiscal Year 2018.  HB643 passed out of the Illinois House this week on a vote of 98-3 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Bourne co-sponsored similar legislation every year since taking office to reject COLAs. “Given our lack of budget and the record debt that Illinois has accumulated through years of mismanagement, raises should clearly be off of the table,” said Bourne.

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics releases data used to determine the amount of the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) that is applied to member salaries and is used to determine the amount of increase, this year it is calculated at 2.1%.

If the General Assembly and the Governor do not enact a law prohibiting payment of the COLA, this amount will automatically become part of the salary to which members are entitled and paid, even if funding for the salaries and COLA is not appropriated.  This automatic compensation was created by SJR 192 through an act of the 86th General Assembly.  The last Legislative COLA were funded in FY07. 
Representative Avery Bourne is holding her annual art contest for kindergarten through 8th grade students who live or learn in the district. The contest takes place through the month of March, coinciding with National Youth Art Month. The deadline for entry is March 31st with the winners to be announced on April 5, 2017. 
 
Artwork must be made from any 2-D medium (i.e. pen, marker, etc.) on 8 ½ X 11 paper and should be the sole work of the entrant. The theme of the work should be Illinois. Examples of Illinois themes include but are not limited to: the state bird, the state flower, the state moto, or famous Illinoisans. Entrants are asked to write the title of the artwork, their name, grade, and school on the back of their work.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will be selected for Kindergarten-4th grade and 5th grade-8th grade. The first place winners in each group will have the opportunity to spend the day with Representative Bourne at the Statehouse and all winners will go on a tour of the Capitol building. Winning artists will be recognized in the House Chambers and then have their work displayed in Rep. Bourne’s office.

“This contest is a great way to recognize the artistic talents of our students and I look forward to seeing the results,” said Bourne. All artwork is to be turned into Representative Bourne’s office at 301 N. Monroe in Litchfield by the March 31st deadline. If you have any questions about the contest please call Bourne’s office at (217)324-5200.
 
Representative Avery Bourne, (R-Raymond) co-sponsored House Bill 771, which was unanimously approved by the Illinois House of Representatives on Thursday. The bill allows volunteer firefighters to purchase tires through at a discounted rate - the same price as the State’s purchasing contract.

“This legislation is a common sense way to way to provide cost savings for our volunteer firefighters,” says Bourne. “Not only do these men and women give their time and expertise, they respond in their own vehicles. This bill will help mitigate the cost of the extra wear and tear on their tires.”


Over 70% of the firefighters in Illinois are volunteer firefighters, the vast majority of which do so at a personal cost. Many volunteers use their private vehicles to respond to emergencies for the benefit of their communities. House Bill 771 is an effort to reduce the personal cost of the state’s volunteer firefighters.

Under this bill, if authorized by the fire chief of the fire department, any regularly enrolled volunteer fire fighter may purchase 4 vehicle tires every 3 years through their fire department or municipality's joint purchasing contract. This bill awaits passage in the Senate.

Representative Bourne attended the 2017 West Central Illinois Agronomy Day on Tuesday, February 14 at Lincoln Land Community College in Litchfield, hosted by the University of Illinois Extension.

The conference featured six researchers who discussed the latest developments in crop sciences, as well as challenges facing farmers in 2017. Herbicide resistance, crop rotation management to prevent disease, and the uncertainties of the commodity markets were major topics of discussion at this year’s event.
A St. Clair Judge has denied Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s controversial motion today to end state employee pay without a budget in place. Madigan’s motion would have ended payment to state employees beginning February 28th, 2017. After hearing of the announcement, State Representative Avery Bourne released the following statement in response:


"This decision today, to continue state employee pay, reinforces how inappropriate Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s actions were to stop state employee pay. I am glad that the court decision protects state employees and their families and will avert a government shutdown. However, we cannot rest on this decision alone. To ensure that state employees and their pay are never used as pawns in these political games again, I urge my colleagues in the House to debate and vote on our permanent, bipartisan solution to make state employee pay a continuing appropriation."

 
Rep. Bourne is sponsoring House Bill 2803, in response to Attorney General Madigan’s motion, which would make continuing appropriation to state workers a permanent change. It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

This week, the Illinois House of Representatives returned to Springfield and began legislative hearings for the new 100th General Assembly. Members of the House and Senate were given their committee assignments prior to this week’s start of hearings based on their areas of expertise and previous legislative experience.

State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) was appointed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) to serve on the following committees in the Illinois House: Aging; Agriculture and Conservation; Appropriations-Elementary and Secondary Education; Elections and Campaign Finance; and Judiciary-Civil. Additionally, Bourne was appointed to serve on the Legislative Research Unit, the chief general research agency for the Illinois General Assembly.

“I thank Leader Durkin for choosing me to be a standing member of these committees and I look forward to working with members of both parties to advance policy to improve this great state,” said Rep. Bourne. “My appointment to the committee that advances legislation for education funding comes at a time when changes to the education funding formula are imminent and desperately needed, so I am grateful for this opportunity. School funding reform is something that I have been working for since first taking office.”

In 2016, Bourne was appointed to the House Education Funding Task Force and the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission to work on a bipartisan statewide solution to funding disparities within the public education system. At the beginning of the month Rep. Bourne and her colleagues in the Commission submitted their recommendation to the General Assembly and Governor Rauner. Governor Rauner and a number of Legislators have stated that the outdated funding formula must be replaced and are committed to doing so this session.
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) filed House Bill 1787 today that would make state workers’ salary payments a continuing appropriation, guaranteeing payment during a budget impasse. This measure would keep workers paid and prevent a government shutdown.

This has become a particularly urgent issue due to Attorney General Lisa Madigan filing a motion in court to end payment to state employees beginning February 28th, 2017. In response, there has been talk of a similar bill that would provide for a short term appropriation for state worker salaries. However, a stop gap appropriation would be a temporary fix and would leave state worker pay vulnerable to future attacks. This proposal is a long-term solution to the problem of state worker pay being held hostage in a larger political fight.

“This legislation will prevent state worker pay from being used as a political pawn. Families across Illinois rely on the vital services provided by our state agencies. Before I arrived in the General Assembly, legislators chose to make their pay a continuing appropriation which guaranteed their pay with or without a budget. However, those legislators did not afford those protections to state employees. This legislation will keep state worker pay out of the political games that are too often played in Springfield.”

If enacted, this legislation would be effective immediately. Bourne previously co-sponsored similar legislation in the 99th General Assembly that was not allowed a committee hearing. Representative Bourne and her colleagues are calling on the House of Representatives to take up this issue as soon as they return to the Capitol next week.