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Springfield – With clocks springing forward this week, a local lawmaker wants to make daylight saving time the year-round standard for Illinois.

State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) has introduced House Bill 1562, which provides that daylight saving time shall be the year-round standard time of the entire state. Mitchell said the idea came to him from an editorial published last year by the Decatur Herald & Review decrying the time change and the physical adjustments people must make when they gain or lose an hour.

“The time change has a negative impact on people and messes with their circadian rhythms,” Mitchell said. “There are several studies that demonstrate the health benefits and improved economic activity associated with daylight saving time. With more daylight in the evening hours, people will go out and shop. In terms of crime, there’s less crime because there are more daylight hours in the evening.”

According to research, in the days following the change to daylight saving time, rates of heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries increase slightly – likely the effect of people’s bodies being forced to adjust to the missing hour of sleep. Workplace productivity, meanwhile, tends to decrease. A 2007 study showed that people’s circadian rhythms never really adjust to the daylight saving shift.

Representative Mitchell said that some of his constituents have asked him to get rid of the time change. Their concerns led to an informal poll on the subject, which found that most people would like to have an extra hour of sunlight in the fall and winter months.

“I want to be clear that my legislation does not get rid of daylight saving time,” Mitchell added. “It simply makes daylight saving time the standard year-round. No more springing forward or setting our clocks back in the fall.”

HB 1562 has been assigned to the House Executive Committee.

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Decatur – With the State’s Child Care Assistance Program running out of funds to pay child care costs, State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) is introducing an accountability and oversight reform package to protect the future of the program.

Mitchell introduced his reform proposals at Kids-N-Fitness daycare in Decatur Tuesday.

“I’m pleased to be here at Kids-N-Fitness to announce my Child Care Assistance Program accountability and oversight reform proposals,” Mitchell said. “My legislation urges the Illinois Auditor General to audit this program and will help ensure that working people receive the child care assistance they need to support their families.”

The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) provides payments to child care providers for services provided to low income, working families. The FY15 State budget passed by legislative Democrats and signed by former Gov. Pat Quinn deliberately underfunded CCAP costs by approximately $300 million. CCAP is currently out of funds to pay child care providers for the remainder of FY15.

“I believe Governor Rauner will announce a plan to restore child care funding during his budget address tomorrow,” Mitchell said. “While I still need to see the specifics, I intend to support the Governor’s effort to protect CCAP. My message today isn’t just about more money but a better way to spend the limited taxpayer resources we have.”

Representative Mitchell’s CCAP reform package includes legislation to require regular audits of the program, establish asset value tests for participating families, require proof of legal residency in Illinois, and include the father’s identification when applying for the program.

“Recently, I was made aware that some of our local daycare centers have children listed as being part of the program who have never shown up at these daycare centers,” Mitchell said. “Nobody knows who or where these children are. By requiring regular audits of the State’s child care program, we will be able to cut down on fraud and misuse of our tax dollars and ensure that funds are going to those truly in need.”

Springfield... Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his first State of the State Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday.

State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) applauded the Governor’s focus on job creation, property tax relief and improving education.

“Governor Rauner made it clear that he wants to partner with legislators on an agenda to reform Springfield and get Illinois working again,” Mitchell said. “I appreciated his focus on issues that I have supported for many years, such as increasing education funding, merging the offices of Comptroller and Treasurer, and hiring more prison guards to reduce overtime costs. I will strongly support helping working families here in Illinois.”

Representative Mitchell added that the State’s budget crisis will be dealt with in the Governor’s upcoming budget address and ongoing budget negotiations this spring.

“Certainly, my focus is on dealing with our fiscal crisis,” Mitchell said. “We have a $6 billion hole in the budget that will require some very difficult decisions to be made. Welfare spending is eating up our budget and I believe we have to pass strong welfare reforms to get that under control. And we have to cut wasteful spending. Get rid of the state planes, merge the Comptroller and Treasurer, and fund our shared priorities first. That’s how we’ll fix this mess.”

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Decatur – State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) will be focusing on education and energy policies in the new 99th General Assembly, as Illinois House committee appointments were announced over the weekend.

Representative Mitchell, an Assistant Republican Leader in the House, landed several key committee posts, including Republican Spokesperson of the new Elementary & Secondary Education: Licensing Oversight Committee.

“As the ranking Republican on this important committee, I look forward to continuing my advocacy for quality education, great teachers and excellent schools for Illinois families,” Mitchell said.

With the future of the Clinton Power Station in question, Rep. Mitchell was pleased to be named to several critically-important committees, including Public Utilities, Energy and Environment.

“The Clinton power plant is a major economic engine for Central Illinois,” Mitchell said. “Families throughout the area depend on it for good-paying jobs and our schools and other units of local government receive significant tax revenues from the plant. I will be working with Exelon, along with federal and state officials, to ensure the continued safe operation of the Clinton nuclear plant.”

Illinois’ 11 nuclear units and 6 stations produce 48 percent of the state’s electricity. According to Exelon, the Clinton Power Station produces enough electricity to power 1 million homes. The plant is the largest employer in DeWitt County, providing nearly 700 jobs at an annual payroll of $54 million and generating $13 million in tax payments.

Representative Mitchell was also appointed to serve on the House Special Committee on Health & Healthcare Disparities. Mitchell represents the 101st House District, which includes all or portions of Champaign, DeWitt, Macon, McLean and Piatt counties.

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Decatur – With the State of Illinois facing another multi-billion dollar budget deficit, a Central Illinois lawmaker is reiterating his opposition to the use of taxpayer funds for the proposed Obama Presidential Library in Chicago.

With the new General Assembly returning to Springfield next week, State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) is urging fellow lawmakers to not spend State funds on the Library.

“My message is simple: just say no to taxpayer funds for the Obama Library,” Mitchell said.  “Illinois is broke. We’re facing a $6 billion budget shortfall. But some of the Chicago politicians want to spend $100 million in State funds on the Obama Library. This is an outrageous waste of taxpayer dollars which should be rejected by the legislature.”

Chicago media outlets reported earlier this week that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was working with community leaders to set aside historic parkland in the city to build the Obama Presidential Library and Museum. The land transfer ordinance would carve up one of two parks that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Last year, Representative Mitchell sponsored House Resolution 1118 in opposition to a proposal that would spend $100 million in taxpayer funds to help build the Obama Library in Chicago.

House Bill 6010, sponsored in the previous General Assembly by Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), would have appropriated $100 million from the Capital Development Fund to the Capital Development Board for the construction of a presidential library and museum dedicated to the legacy of President Barack Obama. 

Representative Mitchell believes private funds should be used to build the library.

“The last two presidents used private donations to build their libraries,” Mitchell said. “President Obama has proven himself to be a prolific fundraiser over the years. Let his foundation raise the money needed to bring the Obama Library to Chicago. I am adamantly opposed to using taxpayer funds for this library, especially at a time when Illinois can’t pay its bills.”
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Decatur… With Amazon announcing plans to bring 1,000 jobs to Illinois, State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) is urging the online giant to consider locating in Decatur.

“Amazon is one of the premier online retailers,” Rep. Mitchell said. “Landing one of their distribution centers in Illinois is very good news. But what’s lost in these discussions is the urgent need to create good-paying jobs for working families in areas with high unemployment. Decatur has the transportation infrastructure and the skilled workforce to compete for Amazon’s siting. I am urging state officials to push Decatur as a prime location for this new facility.”

The Decatur metropolitan area had a September 2014 unemployment rate of 7.9%, well above the state and national averages. Decatur has been plagued by high unemployment due to the loss of manufacturing jobs over the past two decades.

According to news reports, Amazon officials have not decided on a location in Illinois but will begin site visits soon. Representative Mitchell wants the State to promote Decatur as a great location for Amazon’s new facility.

“I am encouraging Amazon to come to Decatur to see our infrastructure capabilities and highly-skilled workforce we have ready to get to work,” Mitchell said.
Decatur… A Central Illinois lawmaker believes the State’s misplaced spending priorities are hurting local school districts.

State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) held a press conference Thursday at Parsons Elementary School in Decatur where he highlighted examples of pork-barrel spending that is leading to state spending cuts to local schools.

“The State budget approved by Democrats this year is riddled with pork for Chicago,” Mitchell said. “There’s a $50 million bailout of the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund and $35 million to build a school in Speaker Madigan’s district. Another $10 million is going to renovate a long-closed theatre owned by a Chicago promoter. These are just a few examples of wasteful spending in the Democrats’ unbalanced budget.”

Recent reporting by local media indicated that the tentative budget for Decatur schools showed that operations will be down by about $2 million. For the third year in a row, the State of Illinois is prorating general state aid to schools at 89 percent of the full entitlement. Rep. Mitchell described the negative effect this proration is having on local schools.

“Decatur schools lose $4.7 million in state aid under the 89 percent proration,” Mitchell said. “Mt. Zion loses nearly $700,000. Instead of blowing hundreds of millions in tax dollars on Chicago pork projects, the General Assembly should be using that money to fully fund general state aid for schools throughout Illinois. There’s only so much money to go around. Anytime Chicago gets a bigger piece of the pie, Downstate loses.”

Representative Mitchell pointed out other areas of wasteful spending in the unbalanced State budget, including $50 million for health insurance for illegal immigrants and $7 million for state planes to fly Governor Quinn and other officials back and forth from Chicago to Springfield.

“The Chicago politicians that control state government have their priorities all wrong,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to cut all the wasteful spending and pork out of the budget. That money should be going to fund our schools, senior services and infrastructure. Downstate legislators from both parties need to work together to fight for our fair share of State tax dollars.”