on Thursday, October 20, 2016
Kids with food allergies are often left out of trick-or-treating fun since most candy is off limits to them. The Teal Pumpkin Project helps make sure all children will come home on Halloween night with something they can enjoy. It just takes one simple act: offering non-food treats, such as glow sticks or small toys, as an alternative to candy.
If you wish to participate, please print out the sign below and tape it to your door. This will alert families with children who have food allergies that this is a safe trick-or-treating home.
· Teal Pumpkin
Last year, households from all 50 states and 14 countries participated. This is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all trick-or-treaters.
Click here to learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project.
on Tuesday, October 18, 2016
This 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.
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 email@example.com. 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 this 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.
on Monday, October 03, 2016
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is encouraging schools throughout the state to participate in the 20th Annual International Walk to School Day this week, on Wednesday, October 5th. Organized by the Partnership for a Walkable America, Walk to School Day in the USA began in 1997 as a one-day event aimed at building awareness for the need for walkable communities. In 2000, the event became international when the UK and Canada (both of which had already been promoting walking to school) and the USA joined together for the first International Walk to School Day.
In the USA and Canada, International Walk to School Day galvanizes visibility for walking and bicycling to school. Over time, this event has been part of a movement for year-round safe routes to school and a celebration – with record breaking participation - each October. Today, thousands of schools across America and in more than 40 countries worldwide celebrate walking to school every October. Last year 129 Illinois schools hosted official events, and this year 170 schools have registered an official walk event. You can find a list of participating schools at http://www.walkbiketoschool.org.
FAFSA Applications Now Open for 2017-2018 School Year
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the key to securing federal, state and institutional (through a college or university) aid for college. From the Pell Grant to the MAP Grant, work-study opportunities and federal student loans, filing a FAFSA is the first step for eligible students who wish to receive financial assistance with their college education. Whereas the FAFSA has always been available beginning in January of each calendar year, a recent change now moves that timetable back so that now the FAFSA is available on October 1 of each year.
Because some financial aid is awarded to eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis (especially MAP Grants), students seeking assistance are encouraged to file their FAFSA as soon as possible. Resources are available to help students and families navigate the process. For additional information, visit www.isac.org/calendar to view a list of workshops and events or call 1-800-899-4722 to reach the agency’s call center.
Illinois Observes First Gold Star Family Day
Ceremonies in recognition of Illinois’ first Gold Star Family Day were held at the Illinois State Capitol on Monday, Sept. 26. Gold Star Family Day honors the families of U.S. service personnel who have died in combat or as a result of combat-related action. The first annual Gold Star Family Day was created by HB 4389, a bill I was proud to support. It was signed into law in August 2016 as P.A. 99-803. At the ceremony, bill sponsor State Rep. Steve Andersson spoke about the importance of this day for Illinois and thanked the families of the fallen servicemen and women for all that they have given.
Global Insurance Firm opens North American Headquarters in Schaumburg
The Swiss-based global firm, which specializes in industry-oriented property/casualty insurance, chose Chicago’s northwest suburbs as its 783,800-square-foot headquarters location. Zurich North America marked the official opening of its headquarters campus on Wednesday, Sept. 28 with a photographic tour of the new facility. The new headquarters is located less than 15 miles from O’Hare International Airport.
The firm states that they currently insure at least part of the operations of 90% of all of the Fortune 500 companies, generating nearly $1.3 billion in positive economic impact for Illinois. Their new Zurich site is opening at a time of substantial changes in the traditionally staid property/casualty insurance industry, with a substantial shift in focus toward multi-faceted risk engineering, risk management, and alternative logistics solutions.
Six-Member Civil Jury Law Overturned
A law enacted in late 2014 (I was a ‘no’ vote on the bill), reduced the maximum size of Illinois civil juries from 12 to 6. Approved by largely partisan roll calls in the General Assembly and signed by former Gov. Quinn, the law was described as a way to make the civil courts more efficient. Part of the money saved by reducing the sizes of juries would have been allocated to a pay increase for jurors, but even after the increase the maximum pay for each juror under this new law would have been only $50/day.
Opponents of the controversial measure, including most Republicans, pointed out concerns that the Constitution does not allow the sizes of juries to be changed by statute. They also shared concerns that the measure had been advocated by powerful trial attorneys who were using the law as an additional opportunity to enlarge their control over Illinois circuit courts. The Illinois Supreme Court struck down P.A. 98-1132 last week, ruling it unconstitutional. The high court’s vote was 5-0, with two judges recusing themselves. The decision was handed down on Thursday, Sept. 22.
Police Work with New State Law, Produce Instructional Video for Drivers’ Education
A new law passed by the General Assembly in spring 2016 asks students taking drivers’ education courses to learn safe procedures to follow during traffic stops. The new law will by fully implemented in the 2017-18 school year. Many school districts are already including safe-police-stop procedures in their instructions to young and probationary drivers.
The Central Illinois Film Commission is working on a new instructional video demonstrating safe and unsafe police/driver interactions. After production and post-production work, the video is expected to be distributed to high schools before the end of calendar year 2016. The video, which is being produced in Springfield, is being supported by the FBI, local NAACP leaders, and representatives of local law enforcement.
The 23-minute video will describe and demonstrate the importance of remaining calm, keeping one’s hands in view at all times (usually by putting them on the steering wheel), and pre-notifying the officer when moving one’s hands (typically to uncover documentation such as a driver’s license or insurance card). The video will also describe the rights that citizens have when in the presence of law enforcement.
In 2015, two million traffic stops were reported by police to the Illinois Department of Transportation – approximately 1 stop for every 6 Illinoisans. The new 2016 traffic-stop-education law, HB 6131, was approved unanimously by both houses of the General Assembly and signed into law as P.A. 99-720.
on Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Representative Sullivan Named “Guardian of Small Business” by Non-Partisan, Independent Group
Did you know that 98.2% of Illinois’ businesses are small businesses? These businesses and the entrepreneurs who create them are the drivers of the Illinois economy, and as a State Representative I feel it is our job to support them.
Last week I was pleased to be named a “Guardian of Small Business” for votes I took in the House of Representatives in 2015-2016. This is the third time I have been recognized for my voting record in this area, and in an independent review of my voting record on bills that affect small businesses in the 99th General Assembly, I earned a perfect score of 100%.
The award, given every two years by the non-partisan National Federation of Independent Business/Illinois (NFIB), judged lawmakers on our votes on 11 key bills over the last two years. 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.
As legislators, we must do all we can to ease the regulations that impede our small businesses from growing and expanding. These are the people who have the ability to put Illinoisans back to work. With unemployment numbers in Illinois still lagging behind neighboring states, I am committed to doing what I can to improve our economy. You can read a summary of the 11 key business bills and view an overall tally and ranking of all Illinois State Representatives and Senators at: http://www.nfib.com/pdfs/Illinois-Voting-Record.pdf.
Illinois Payroll Drops by 8,200 Jobs in August
In spite of efforts by some lawmakers to support our job creators, Illinois posted a significant drop in jobs last month. The monthly jobs and unemployment report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showed a 30-day of 8,200 in Illinois’ seasonally-adjusted nonfarm payroll jobs. This key employment number declined from 6,016,900 in July 2016 to 6,008,700 in August.
More than one-half, or 4,400, of the new job losses were posted by the manufacturing sector. The making and supporting of goods assembled or packaged in factories now accounts for less than one-tenth of Illinois’ total nonfarm payroll jobs. In August 2016, 568,400 workers labored in or around Illinois factories, less than 9.5% of Illinois’ total employment of 6.0 million. Parts of the August job losses posted by Illinois in manufacturing, construction, mining and other sectors were made up by continued job growth in leisure, hospitality, professional services and business services. These sectors have done well in past months in Illinois and continued to add new jobs in August 2016.
The overall unemployment rate dropped in Illinois in August 2016 from 5.8% to 5.5%. Much of the decline was attributed to “discouraged workers” dropping out of the labor force or leaving Illinois entirely. Approximately 20,000 Illinois residents dropped out of the labor market in August 2016. Illinois’ unemployment rate continued to be significantly higher than the nationwide unemployment rate of 4.9% for the same month. The IDES jobs report was released on Thursday, September 15.
Coat Drive and Sale Kicks Off September 30
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Libertyville thrift store is seeking new or gently used coats and jackets for a coat sale Friday, Sept. 30, through Sunday, Oct. 2. All coats, while supplies last, will sell for $3 each regardless of brand, size and style. Proceeds from the sale will go to the thrift store emergency voucher program, which provides individuals and families in Cook and Lake Counties with clothing, furniture, or other goods at no charge in a confidential and dignified way. Coat donations can be dropped at 1125 S. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville. The society is funded through community donations and net proceeds from its thrift stores, which operate with all donated materials. Visit http://svdpchicago.org/ for store hours and contact information.
Explorer Applicants Wanted
The Lincolnshire Police Department is seeking people between the ages of 14 and 21 to join its Explorer program. Participants learn about law enforcement. For more, email Sgt. Jamie Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
on Monday, September 19, 2016
The award, given every two years by the non-partisan National Federation of Independent Business/Illinois (NFIB), judged lawmakers 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, Sullivan has always shown strong support of small businesses. “Representative Sullivan’s 100% voting record with the NFIB indicates his willingness to fight on behalf of small businesses in Springfield,” she said. “He truly understands how government intervention keeps small business from thriving and creating jobs.”
Sullivan said it was an honor to be recognized for his support of the Illinois business community. “As legislators, we must do all we can to ease the regulations that impede our small businesses from growing and expanding,” said Sullivan. “These are our primary job creators; they are the people who have the ability to put Illinoisans back to work.”
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.
on Monday, August 29, 2016
The 4-3 decision, which fell along partisan lines, found that the Independent Maps amendment to govern the way Illinois draws its lines for General Assembly seats should not appear on the November 2016 ballot. The decision, which cannot be appealed to any higher panel, will make it impossible for Illinoisans to speak out on the process used to elect members of the Illinois General Assembly.
Three members of the Supreme Court, speaking out in dissent, strongly criticized the majority decision. Justice Robert Thomas labeled the decision a “nullification” of plain language of the Constitution allowing the voters the right to circulate petitions to amend that article of the State’s fundamental law that governs the organization and operation of the General Assembly. This limited initiative right was inserted in the Constitution of 1970 as a common-sense response to the likely conflicts of interest to be faced by future General Assemblies when looking at questions involving the Legislative Article of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court majority, led by Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, said that Illinoisans can circulate a petition to change the way that Illinois legislative districts are mapped whenever they want to do so, but the Supreme Court will not advise them in advance of what the language on the petition should say if the amendment is to be drafted properly; and the Supreme Court reserves the right to throw out any language that it likes if it believes that the language has been drafted improperly. Persons who commented on the Supreme Court decision were left puzzled as to what kind of recourse is provided by current case law to voters who are not satisfied with the current system of drawing legislative maps in Illinois.
State Board of Education Listening Tour to Stop at Mundelein High School
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has scheduled a second series of listening tours to meet with members of Illinois communities to ask for input on the state’s draft plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Citizens can learn about the plan and provide their input at Mundelein High School, 1350 W. Hawley Street in Mundelein, on Thursday, September 15 from 4:30-6:30 PM. The draft plan will also be posted on line this week at isbe.net/essa. Citizens who cannot attend the hearing are welcome to provide comments by emailing email@example.com.
ACA Rates soar for Obamacare Customers in Illinois
The Illinois Department of Insurance announced this week that Illinois residents and households who buy individual health insurance on the Get Covered Illinois ACA insurance exchange will face major increases next year. Rates for a typical health insurance plan are set to increase by an average of 43%.
The rate increases follow a major shakeout in the Illinois ACA marketplace, with co-op Land of Lincoln Health liquidating its coverage rolls and for-profit giants Aetna and United Healthcare withdrawing from the market. Remaining participants in the Illinois ACA exchange face less competition and will be able to dictate more terms to potential patients and health care providers. Rate increases could be especially high in Downstate Illinois, where much of the effects of this shakeout are concentrated. For example, ACA customers in the Metro-East could see “silver-plan” increases as great as 70%. According to the Department of Insurance, patients in eight Illinois counties are going to find that only one insurance firm will be willing to sell ACA-compliant policies to them.
Governor Rauner signs Firearms Trafficking Bill to help Protect Communities from Gun Violence
Governor Bruce Rauner signed HB 6303 into law this week to strengthen laws against gun trafficking in Illinois. The bill enhances penalties for firearms trafficking and aims to reduce the growing gun violence epidemic. This will help keep our kids and communities safe by allowing our law enforcement agencies to take action on those who are trafficking guns. HB 6303 makes it a felony for a person who has not been issued a FOID card to bring firearms into the state with the intention of selling or delivering them. Furthermore, if the individual trafficking in gun sales has previously been convicted of an unlawful use or delivery of a firearm, gunrunning or firearm trafficking, they will face even stiffer penalties. It is important to note that this bill does not take guns out of the hands of anyone that safely and legally has or carries a firearm. It exempts FOID card holders specifically for that reason. The bill is designed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and off our streets.
New Laws, Executive Order Helps 16,000 Kids
The laws and executive order are oriented towards 16,000 children under the legal care and supervision of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). It is the universal goal of youth authorities, when a child needs a guardian, to select an adult relative or friend from the child’s background, but this is not always possible. In some cases, a court assigns guardianship over a young person or pre-adult to the State of Illinois. Young people in this category were traditionally called “wards of the state,” and one of the effects of this policy change will be to request that people in this standing now be called “youth in care.” Gov. Rauner signed the executive order on Friday, August 19.
The Youth-in-Care executive order was signed in conjunction with the Governor’s signing of a package of bills dealing with adoption and child welfare issues. For example, HB 5665, sponsored by Rep. Christine Winger, was signed as part of this package. Aimed at normalizing the lives of young people in foster-care settings, HB 5665 gives caregivers the right to grant or not grant permission to a child to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities. Examples of group activities for which parental or quasi-parental permission is necessary include sleepovers, church camps, and scouting camps. Prior to the passage of HB 5665, the caregivers had to get a signoff from DCFS personnel in order to be able to grant quasi-parental permissions of this type. HB 5665 was signed into law as P.A. 99-839.
Enrollment for Winter Heating Assistance Program Opens on September 1
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance on Thursday, September 1. The program makes heating bill payments on behalf of households.
September applications to the program are welcome from seniors and persons with disabilities who meet the income guidelines included in the program. Persons with income challenges who are eligible for LIHEAP through other pathways, such as households with young children and households that have had their utility services disconnected, will be asked to wait until a second series of application opportunities opens staring October 1.
The LIHEAP program is operated by the Office of Energy Assistance within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Illinois residents who need guidance on whether they are eligible for the program, or who wish to apply for admission to the program, should contact the Office of Energy Assistance. In many cases, applicants will be asked to make a contribution toward the total energy bill under the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program within LIHEAP.
Walgreens Sets up Safe-Disposal Bins
Both law enforcement and environmentalists have expressed concerns about the safe disposal of prescription pharmaceuticals. These chemicals are, in some cases, controlled substances that are prescribed only to patients that have conditions that warrant taking them. In other cases, prescription pharmaceuticals are being disposed of in ways that can pollute the environment and cause human hazards. In a few cases, some over-the-counter pharmaceuticals may fall into this second category.
In some cases, people do not know what to do with old and unused pharmaceuticals. The most common example of this situation involves drugs that have expired and should no longer be safely taken for the purpose for which they were prescribed. Other examples include the contents of a medicine cabinet of a person who has died or moved to a care facility. Too often, drugs like these are thrown into the standard waste stream; in a few cases, they may be resold on the street.
Walgreens has taken steps to install more than 500 “Safe Medication Disposal” kiosk bins in drugstores across the U.S., including 45 bins in Illinois. The kiosk bins will offer friends and family members of persons who no longer need their drugs a safe place to dispose of the special waste. The automated bins will create an opportunity for the secure removal of dangerous drugs, such as opiate painkillers, from a household that no longer needs them. Both prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) medications may be disposed of in the bins.
Two Bills Signed into Law to Fight Against Human Trafficking
Gov. Rauner signed both bills into law on Sunday, August 21. HB 2822 creates the Human Trafficking Task Force to look into and discuss recommendations for reducing Illinois incidents of human trafficking. The Task Force has been asked to report its findings no later than June 30, 2017.
SB 3007 will speed up the process of granting victim status to persons who have undergone human trafficking, reducing barriers to the provision of medical benefits for these individuals.
Human trafficking refers to the involuntary importation of persons into the United States and into Illinois for purposes of exploitation, typically sexual exploitation or labor exploitation. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), a private-sector reporting center, counted 122 human-trafficking cases in Illinois in 2015. In the first half of 2016, 94 additional cases were reported by or through NHTRC, marking an intensification of patterns of human-trafficking activity in Illinois through June of this year. The Resource Center operates a 24/7 toll-free hotline, at 1-888-373-7888, to report allegations of human trafficking.
on Monday, August 22, 2016
Motorists should expect delays and should allow some extra time through this part of Mundelein. Everyone should also pay attention to flaggers and signs in the work zones, and to obey posted speed limits to avoid costly fines.
Click here to find details on other construction projects in IDOT's District 1. Updates on the impacts to traffic are available at www.travelmidwest.com.
New Private Foundation will Cooperate with State of Illinois to Preserve Threatened Fairgrounds
A private foundation has been created to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure that supports Illinois’ largest summer gathering, the Illinois State Fair. With an estimated $180 million in deferred maintenance costs, the more than 190 buildings of the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and the DuQuoin State Fair in Southern Illinois’ DuQuoin will require massive rebuilding to maintain a safe and secure fairgoing experience. Electrical, paint, plumbing, roofing, and structural repairs must be done on buildings that were built as long ago as 1892.
Governor Bruce Rauner led the push to create the new Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation. Established by private-sector leaders of the agricultural community, the foundation will raise private funding and coordinate the revitalization and improvement of both fairgrounds. It is expected that large donors may receive recognition for their generosity in the form of sponsorship opportunities that will be seen by the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to the Fairs and their grounds. Creation of the Foundation was the culmination of a push to save the State Fairgrounds led by Rep. Tim Butler and by former Rep. Raymond Poe, both of Springfield. Former Rep. Poe is currently the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the State agency with overall responsibility over the State fairgrounds and state fair infrastructure.
Tourists Spent $37 Billion in Illinois in 2015
The new numbers come from the Illinois Office of Tourism, which monitors visitor spending in Illinois as a way of gauging a return on investments for the money from hotel/motel taxes spent to promote Illinois to out-of-staters. Estimated expenditures by tourists in Illinois were $37 billion in 2015, up an inflation-beating 2.6% from 2014.
According to the Office of Tourism, an arm of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, tourism generated an estimated 10,000 new Illinois jobs in 2015. Job creation is featured in the Office of Tourism’s “Illinois Made” campaign for 2016, a multimedia promotion that centers on the attractive opportunities for visitors to buy goods and services produced by Illinois craftspeople and small businesses.
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.
Two of the bills support the families of our Illinois veterans. HB 4389, sponsored by Rep. Steven Andersson, 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, sponsored by Rep. Don Moffitt, 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. Read more about HB 4389 and HB 4432.
HB 4627, sponsored by Rep. Mike Tryon, allows veterans to begin their college education upon discharge regardless of how the calendar year lines up. Read more about HB 4627.
HB 4344, sponsored by Rep. Mark Batinick, 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.
New Illinois Law Extends Tax Assessment Formula for Wind Turbines
Illinois wind turbines are now a familiar sight throughout many parts of Downstate Illinois. The state’s attractiveness as a potential location for wind farm investments was enhanced by a law passed in 2007 that creates a formula for local property tax assessors to use in assessing wind turbine arrays. At the beginning of this year, the assessment law applied to assessment years through 2016, creating potential uncertainty for new Illinois wind farm investment in 2017 and following years.
Rep. Tom Demmer took action this spring to protect Illinois’ status as a place for long-term wind infrastructure investment. SB 2612 extends the life of the current wind power assessment formula and methodology for another five years, through assessment year 2021. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday, August 16.
Current Rate of Traffic Deaths show Fatalities Mounting to Projected Eight-Year High in 2016
Based on current statistical trends, more than 1,000 people will be killed on Illinois roads and highways in 2016. The dismal number is attributed by traffic experts to higher speeds, with speed limits up to 70 mph on many sections of Illinois limited-access highways. An increase in the total number of Illinois miles driven and a larger number of younger drivers are also blamed.
The 1,000-death projection is based upon the 629 Illinois traffic deaths that had been logged as of Friday, August 12 by the National Safety Council, a private-sector entity that works with local law enforcement and health providers to track accidents and injuries nationwide, including motor vehicle incidents. The Council has, in the past, played a key role in injury-reducing changes to motor vehicle law, including mandatory child restraints and a standardized law to identify and sanction persons who drive under the influence.