Welcome!

Welcome!

I’m State Representative Jack Franks. I represent the 63rd District in the Illinois House of Representatives, which includes the Northern and Western portion of McHenry County. As a third-generation resident of McHenry County, my top priority is to fight on your behalf in our state’s capitol.

On this site, you will find information about my stances on public policy issues, upcoming events and recent news. You can also contact me directly by clicking here. Democracy works best when citizens participate in the process, so please let me know your thoughts on how we can work together get Illinois back on the right track.

Since I took office, your support and ideas have been invaluable, and together we have changed Illinois for the better. From shining a bright light on corruption and government wrongdoing, to fighting for better schools and a lower tax burden, your input has made a difference. But, there is still so much to be done.

Our state needs serious budget and ethics reforms and we must make government function more efficiently. In my next term, I will continue fighting for the things you and I both believe in: a friendlier business climate, lower taxes, and sensible, transparent spending.

Thanks again for visiting my website.


 


 

LATEST NEWS

 

 

 

Critic dubs Metra’s $1.3M tab for Clifford exit ‘indefensible’

September 4, 2014 - Politics Early & Often

Metra’s total tab to bid adieu to former CEO Alex Clifford and deal with the fallout was $1.3 million — just over half of that for outside lawyers and crisis consulting, officials revealed Thursday. One critic called the ultimate tab “indefensible,” but new Metra Board Chairman Martin Oberman said the suburban commuter rail agency has since taken steps to avoid a repeat of the messy episode. The Metra board’s June 21, 2013 decision to pay Clifford up to $871,000 to resign with eight months left on his contract ignited a firestorm of criticism. The fine print showed the golden handshake included retroactive as well as future raises over as long as a 26-month period. Afterwards, six board members... READ MORE

House Republicans blast Quinn's new insurance tax

September 4, 2014 - Crain's Chicago Business

Complaining they were “misled,” Illinois House Republicans are asking Gov. Pat Quinn not to enforce a significant new business tax they helped create a few months ago."There's anger,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said in an interview. “People are upset.” he co-chaired earlier this year on business tax reform issues. “It's going to be very difficult to trust the administration in the future when they seek a technical change.” Spokesmen for the Department of Insurance and the governor did not have an immediate... READ MORE

DNR: Cheaper hunting, fishing licenses unavailable until Oct. 1, says refund will be offered

August 27, 2014 - Northwest Herald

Chuck Lemker of Crystal Lake was looking forward to purchasing hunting and fishing licenses at a reduced price this month. He should have been able to starting Aug. 1 when Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law House Bill 4329, which allows Illinois' senior residents to obtain hunting and fishing licenses at a reduced cost of $1, and various stamps for free. Much to the 81-year-old's dismay, though, the reduced fee was not available when he tried a couple days after Aug. 1 to purchase a license online. “The bottom line is although the bill was signed by the governor Aug. 1, we still don't have an effective law,” Lemker said Tuesday. Although the law is in effect, the system is not yet ready, according to the Department of Natural Resources. “Changes to the system started back in late-April, early-May as soon as it became clear the bill would be passed,” spokesman Chris Young said. “However, there are an awful lot of systems that had to be reprogrammed and tested. … It's just taking a while. Systems have to be... READ MORE

Metra chair: Firm should temporarily act as chief audit officer

August 25, 2014 - Politics Early & Often

After two unsuccessful candidate searches, the Metra board is expected to hire an experienced public sector auditing firm for up to $330,000 to temporarily assume the new “reform” role of chief audit officer and other tasks. A search by Metra’s human resources department, as well as one by professional search firm Krauthamer & Associates, so far has failed to uncover “the right person” for a job board members feel is crucial to Metra’s reform efforts, Metra Board chairman Martin Oberman said Monday. Of the final round of seven or eight candidates interviewed by board members since April, some turned out to be “not interested;” others did not have the right “credentials” or “seasoning,” Oberman said. “I’ve seen the candidates. They are not bad people. They are just not the right person for the job,” Oberman said. “This is a very senior position. You want them to have respect in the organization. You don’t just hire someone with an accounting degree after their name... READ MORE

A tiny step toward smaller government

August 25, 2014 - Herald Review

Gov. Pat Quinn quietly signed a bill last week that takes a small step toward giving taxpayers a chance to reduce the number of local governments in Illinois. A really small step. Almost too small to notice. Quinn signed House Bill 5785, which gives the most obscure units of local government the power to eliminate themselves. We don't want to diminish the efforts of Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, who has worked tirelessly to trim the state's nearly 7,000 units of local government. With these governmental units banding together and using tax dollars to lobby against their elimination, any step is worth noting. The new law would allow the boards of taxing districts such as cemetery, civic center, port, waste disposal, street lighting, water authority and a few other districts to either consolidate into a neighboring district or have their... READ MORE

Metra chair: Firm should temporarily act as chief audit officer

August 25, 2014 - Chicago Sun-Times

After two unsuccessful candidate searches, the Metra board is expected to hire an experienced public sector auditing firm for up to $330,000 to temporarily assume the new “reform” role of chief audit officer and other tasks. A search by Metra’s human resources department, as well as one by professional search firm Krauthamer & Associates, so far has failed to uncover “the right person” for a job board members feel is crucial to Metra’s reform efforts, Metra Board chairman Martin Oberman said Monday. Of the final round of seven or eight candidates interviewed by board members since April, some turned out to be “not interested;” others did not have the right “credentials” or “seasoning,” Oberman said. “I’ve seen the candidates. They are not bad people. They are just not the right person for the job,” Oberman said. “This is a very senior position. You want them to have respect... READ MORE

Local agencies can consolidate if they choose

August 25, 2014 - My Suburban Life

SPRINGFIELD – A new law makes it easier for local government bodies to consolidate or eliminate themselves. Gov. Quinn signed a bill earlier this month that enables local taxing bodies to join rather than continue operating as separate entities. Before the law was passed, local units of government had no authority to absorb, combine or eliminate other units of government. Now, a majority vote from a particular entity’s board will allow for consolidation or discontinuation of various units for the sake of efficiency, fiscal practicality or logistical purposes. State Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Barrington, helped State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston sponsor the bill in the Senate. Duffy said this legislation could help reduce the growing cost of government in the Land of Lincoln. “There’s just too many bodies taking money from people,” Duffy said. “This will at least give local entities the opportunity to reduce the tax burden of the residents of the state.” Biss said local control leads... READ MORE

State portal still doesn’t include local gov’t salaries

August 24, 2014 - Northwest Herald

Tryon agreed that CMS should move to add the local government salary data. He agreed with Franks that CMS has a tendency to inflate costs, and said the cost of creating the portal came in far under its initial estimate when lawmakers were advancing Tryon’s bill. “I think a transparent government is what everybody wants. When you look at the investment that every unit of government has made in [information technology] and computer systems, this should be a relatively easy job for anybody to do,” Tryon said. State law already requires local governments to post online the annual salaries of all employees whose total compensation exceeds $75,000. About this series “No More Excuses” is the Northwest Herald’s ongoing series of stories about the public’s right to know in Illinois. What it means State lawmakers... READ MORE

Tuition-Free College?

August 23, 2014 - Alton Daily News

llinois will look at the possibility of allowing students to go to state colleges tuition-free—at least until they graduate. The newly signed legislation will have the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) study “pay it forward” options for attending college. “What that means is to allow students to go to university tuition-free and then pay back after they’ve got a job and take a portion of their salary to pay it back,” State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) said. Franks says he is concerned about the cost to the state, which is part of the reason why his legislation called for a study before potentially implementing that kind of program. He expects ISAC to issue its recommendations by the beginning of 2015.... READ MORE

State Agency Breaking The Law, Not Being Disciplined

August 22, 2014 - My Suburban Life

SPRINGFIELD - If you disobey the law, you could get in trouble. But, it's a different story for state agencies. Central Management Services was mandated by law in 2012 to expand a state employee database to include city employees. But, they don't have the money to do it. So, they haven't. "I don't believe not having enough money gives you an excuse not to abide by the law" says Emmanuel Woods, an upset taxpayer. In a statement CMS says, "At the time of this bill's hearing, CMS's preliminary estimate of the upfront cost of implementation was $480,000 and ongoing annual costs were $240,000 after year one." Lawmakers like Representative Jack Franks who sponsored the legislation says money was never mentioned during the drafting of the bill. Resident Amber Francis says she too doesn't have a strong budget, but that doesn't stop her from staying within the law. "If I drive my vehicle without having insurance - if I can afford it or not - I still have to scrape together enough money to be able to be within the law... READ MORE

Bill prompted by Woodstock police scandal signed into law

August 20, 2014 - The Woodstock Independent

A bill proposed in the wake of controversy over the alleged conduct of a Woodstock Police Department sergeant was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn Aug. 15. State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, said the legislation he introduced in February that increases the penalties for “grooming” minors may have helped to prosecute Sgt. Charles “Chip” Amati, who in 2013 was accused of sending a text message to a 12-year-old girl asking her for “sexy pictures.” At the time, prosecutors said that message didn’t constitute criminal behavior. “It was such an outrageous situation where law enforcement felt like their hands were tied by the way the law was written,” Franks said. “It didn’t give them an opportunity to charge or punish him, if those allegations were true.” House Bill 5290, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, stiffens the penalties for grooming minors, a term used to describe the act of connecting with children in order to sexually abuse or exploit them. Under the new... READ MORE

OUR VIEW: What do we want? Less government

August 20, 2014 - The Times

THE ISSUE: Quinn signs government consolidation law OUR VIEW: Citizens need to pick up the cause of smaller government Advocates for political reform in Illinois have long targeted the state's obscenely large number of government bodies as ripe for increased efficiency and, hopefully, reduced taxpayer expense. The state has nearly 7,000 taxing bodies, "by far the highest number per capita in the nation," according to Reboot Illinois. According to Census data, California, with a population exceeding 37 million, has 4,425 government units, or 11.88 per 100,000 people. The No. 2 state, Pennsylvania, has 4,897 government units for its 12.7 million residents, a rate of 38.55 per 100,000. IIllinois' per capita rate is 54.57 per 100,000. Florida manages 1,650 government units for 18.8 million people — a rate of 8.78 per 100,000. But perhaps at long last Illinois' number will begin... READ MORE

Local governments can now consolidate if they so choose

August 19, 2014 - Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — A new law makes it easier for local government bodies to consolidate or eliminate themselves. Monday, Gov. Quinn signed a bill that enables local taxing bodies to join rather than continue operating as separate entities. Before the law was passed this week, local units of government had no authority to absorb, combine or eliminate other units of government. Now, a majority vote from a particular entity’s board will allow for consolidation or discontinuation of various units for the sake of efficiency, fiscal practicality or logistical purposes. State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, was one of two Senate co-sponsors of the legislation. He said local control leads to better results. “I don’t think this bill is a silver bullet for all of our problems,” Biss said. “But it is a good step toward... READ MORE

The most exciting places in Illinois

August 19, 2014 - Reboot Illinois

Although Illinois struggles with a crippling pension crisis and corruption, it’s still an awesome place to live. To highlight the fun side of living in Illinois, real estate blog site Movoto.com made a list of the top 10 most exciting places in Illinois. Movoto made the list by ranking the 100 most populous cities in Illinois, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, on the following criteria: Most nightlife and live music venues per capita Most active life options per capita Fewest fast food venues per capita Highest percentage of non-fast food restaurants Highest percentage of residents ages 18 to 34 Please note these were the same 100 places used to rank the most boring places in Illinois... READ MORE

Quinn signs bill allowing some governments to consolidate

August 18, 2014 - Northwest Herald

A bill that gives some of the state's most esoteric and obscure units of local government the power to eliminate themselves is now law. House Bill 5785, sponsored by Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, empowers these governments to consolidate or vote themselves out of existence if they so choose. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill on Monday. Franks has called the bill a step in the right direction toward paring down Illinois' almost 7,000 units of government, by far the most of any state. "While it is imperative that we continue to work to reduce the size and scope of state government, we can also provide residents with meaningful tax relief by identifying opportunities for consolidation and increased efficiency at the local level," Franks said in a statement. The new law allows the boards of such eclectic taxing districts as cemetery, civic center, museum, port, waste disposal, street lighting, water authority and other districts to either consolidate into a neighboring district... READ MORE

Gov. Pat Quinn pulls plug on contract with Northstar Lottery Group

August 16, 2014 - Rockford Register Star

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn is pulling the plug on the private manager hired to increase sales of the Illinois Lottery. With Northstar Lottery Group consistently failing to meet the sale goals it promised when it won the contract to manage the lottery, Quinn said it was time to end the arrangement. The story was first reported by Crain’s Chicago Business. “The administration has had serious concerns with Northstar’s performance,” said Quinn spokesman Dave Blanchette in a prepared statement. “The governor demands every state contractor be held accountable for their performance. The governor’s office has directed the lottery to end its relationship with Northstar. The state is in the process of finalizing a path that will allow the lottery to move on, improve profits and increase funding for education and economic development across the state.” Blanchette said he could not... READ MORE

State to dump private Illinois Lottery manager

August 15, 2014 - Crain's Chicago Business

The bumpy marriage between the state and the private company that operates the Illinois Lottery is ending in a divorce. Gov. Pat Quinn's office confirmed to me today that it is ending its contract with Northstar Lottery Group LLC to operate the $2 billion-a-year lottery system, seven years earlier than scheduled. It is not yet certain whether the separation will be voluntary by both parties, but a decision to end the contract has been made. "The governor's office has directed the lottery to end its relationship with Northstar," gubernatorial spokesman Grant Klinzman said in an email that he later verified in a brief phone conversation. "The administration has had serious concerns with Northstar's performance. The governor demands every state contractor be held accountable for their performance." The relationship between Northstar and the Illinois Lottery went south almost immediately after the 10-year contract was... READ MORE

Quinn dismisses lottery management firm

August 15, 2014 - Chicago Tribune

Gov. Pat Quinn has fired the private company that runs the Illinois Lottery after it fell nearly a half-billion dollars short of revenues it promised to raise for the state during the first three years of its 10-year contract. It’s not clear whether the state will negotiate a mutual agreement to separate from Northstar Lottery Group or will simply terminate the contract for consistent profit shortfalls. But a spokesman for the governor said the decision to cut ties was made due to “serious concerns” about the firm’s performance. “The governor’s office has directed the Lottery to end its relationship with Northstar,” Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman said in an email. “The state is in the process of finalizing a path that will allow the Lottery to move on, improve profits and increase funding for education and economic development across the state... READ MORE

OUR VIEW: Who will answer as lottery again falls short?

August 13, 2014 - The Times

THE ISSUE: Lottery firm misses its goals — again OUR VIEW: Quinn must be accountable for this sour deal The deal to privatize the Illinois Lottery looked shaky from the start, and as the years pile up the data only makes it appear worse. The Chicago Tribune reported the gory details on its website Tuesday afternoon: For three years running, Northstar Lottery Group fell short of profit goals. Meanwhile, "its parent companies continue to be paid more each year to provide games and services." To give credit to Northstar, its preliminary year-end data shows a net profit of $738 million for the fiscal year ending June 30. But that's less money than it made in either 2012 or 2013, and it's well short — almost $250 million short — of its 2014 goal. "After three years, Northstar is about $480 million behind what it... READ MORE

State agency is ignoring salary database law

August 13, 2014 - Daily Herald

An Illinois law requiring the state to keep a salary database of most local government employees is being disregarded because no money was ever appropriated to pay for it. Department officials claim they didn't have to create the database because they were not given funding. Some lawmakers say they were never told it would cost anything, maintain there is no additional cost and are upset they were never notified the law was being ignored. "The statute indicates it was 'subject to appropriation,'" said Alka Nayyar, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, which was charged with creating the database. "I don't believe the General Assembly appropriated the funds required to implement the additions" to the Illinois... READ MORE

Firm hired to run Illinois Lottery has failed to hit profit goals for 3rd straight year

August 12, 2014 - Chicago Tribune

For the third consecutive year, the private firm hired run the Illinois Lottery has failed to bring in the profits it promised to raise for the state, even as its parent companies continue to be paid more each year to provide games and services. According to a Tribune review of preliminary year-end data, Northstar Lottery Group posted a net profit of $738 million – nearly a quarter billion less than it pledged to bring in for the 2014 fiscal year, which ended June 30. The figure is less than the company raised for the state in the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years after it became the first private company in the nation to take over day-to-day operations of a state lottery. After three years, Northstar is about $480 million behind what it committed to bring into the state’s coffers, prompting one of the company’s harshest critics to renew questions about why Gov. Pat Quinn has not fired the company.... READ MORE

Purple Heart monument to be unveiled Thursday

August 4, 2014 - Northwest Herald

WOODSTOCK – After roughly seven months of preparation and planning, a Purple Heart monument signifying McHenry County's appreciation for wounded veterans will be unveiled Thursday. Enabled by a March proclamation declaring McHenry County the first Purple Heart county in Illinois, the two-sided monument will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Thursday – national Purple Heart Day. The event will be held at the monument's location, at the main entrance of the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock. Behind the efforts to make the event special is Marine veteran Richard Young and his wife, Monica. Having started the process in January, Monica Young said she expects the event to be memorable. "I have a feeling it's going to be a very tearful day for everyone," she said. An Air Force T-34 flyover will mark the beginning of the ceremony and a Huey helicopter will hover nearby during a salute to the monument... READ MORE

UPDATE: New law today lowers fishing license fees for seniors

August 1, 2014 - McLeansboro Times Leader

CARTERVILLE — Illlinois governor Pat Quinn today visited Crab Orchard Lake in Southern Illinois to sign a law that reduces sport fishing and hunting license fees to $1 for Illinois residents over 75 years of age. Today’s action is part of Quinn’s agenda to help more older adults enjoy recreational opportunities in Illinois, according to a press release issued by his office. “Illinois’ older adults who hunt and fish have supported these natural treasures for a lifetime,” Governor Quinn said. “It is time to honor them for their commitment to Illinois’ hunting and fishing opportunities by making it easier for them to renew their licenses.” House Bill 4329, sponsored by State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) and State Representative Jack Franks... READ MORE

County Board takes first step in reorganization debate

July 24, 2014 - Northwest Herald

WOODSTOCK – The newly created McHenry County Board Reorganization Committee spent portions of its first meeting Thursday looking anything but organized. Debate over its task – examining whether the County Board should have fewer members representing more districts – took all kinds of wild turns, including such esoteric topics as terrorists shooting at power transformers and the Lake in the Hills Fen, as members threw ideas at the wall to see what would stick. In its defense, the nine-member committee was thrown together in haste to determine whether voters should weigh in via advisory referendum, and the deadline to put it on the Nov. 4 ballot is three weeks and one County Board meeting away. But while the committee is moving forward with planning for a possible change to the County Board's structure, it decided that putting an advisory referendum on the November ballot without doing its due diligence would be unwise. And given that the next opportunity to make such changes is seven years away after the... READ MORE

Targeting legislative leaders

July 21, 2014 - Chicago Tribune

While we're waiting for the courts to decide whether the people of Illinois will get to vote on a constitutional amendment to limit the terms of state lawmakers, let's ponder a related question: What if we just term-limited Mike Madigan? A more circumspect version of that question has appeared on the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute's statewide voter poll in three of the last five years. Would you favor or oppose a proposal to limit how long legislators could serve in leadership positions - such as Speaker of the House or President of the Senate - before they stepped down to let other legislators lead... READ MORE