Welcome back to school! I hope everybody had terrific summers and are enjoying the new school year. In theme with our return to school, September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. The 97th District and surrounding areas have great libraries to explore and sign up for a library card. Reading can take you to new places, so if you don’t have a library card, take time to sign up for one this month.
September is also a time when we welcome the fall season and say goodbye to summer unofficially with Labor Day, and officially with the autumnal equinox. Illinois is fortunate to be located in spectacular nature during the fall season and has several destinations for 97th District residents to spend a fall getaway! Find 8 Illinois Fall Adventures from Enjoy Illinois online here.
Feel free to reach out to my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (815) 254-0000 if you have any questions or would like assistance with state issues!
Illinois Financial Update
Illinois’ Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund has a deficit of more than $4 billion. This deficit is money owed to the U.S. Treasury. The Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) at the University of Illinois examined the reason for this deficit, being the consequence of a UI policy prior to the pandemic. This policy handed out benefits without saving enough money to continue paying out these benefit levels in the event of severe recession or downturn. Additionally, when COVID hit, Illinois was hit harder and posted higher unemployment numbers.
Inexcusably, much of the $4 billion was paid out to people who didn’t qualify for benefits. The Auditor General estimated the UI system may have paid out as much as $1.9 billion to fraudulent accounts during the pandemic.
On the business side of things, CNBC proclaimed North Carolina as “America’s Top State for Business.” Working within the same rating matrix, CNBC ranked Illinois 19th among the 50 states. Pushing the Prairie State down in the rankings were low marks for its economy (44th of 50) and business friendliness (40th of 50). Illinois scored better on infrastructure (3rd of 50) and education (6th of 50).
Many Illinois School Districts Will Refrain from Teaching Controversial New Sex Education Standards
The standards that are recommended to local schools by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) but not mandatory, are seen by many parents as poorly drawn for talking to children in a non-family context.
The National Sex Education Standards were developed outside of Illinois by a coalition of professional panels. Written with an eye towards what the drafters saw as diversity and social equity, these standards include for grades 3-5, students should “explain common human sexual development and the role of hormones (e.g. romantic and sexual feelings, masturbation, mood swings, timing of pubertal onset).” They should also “describe…the potential role of hormone blockers on young people who identify as transgender.”
For grades 6-8, students should “list at least four methods of contraception that are available without a prescription (e.g. abstinence, condoms, emergency contraception, withdrawal)” and “describe…pregnancy options, including parenting, abortion, and adoption.” Those students should also “define vaginal, oral, and anal sex.”
Remarkably, this legislation says course instruction and material should be age appropriate! Many Illinoisans see subjects of this sort as highly inappropriate in the context of talking to children, particularly in a non-family setting such as a classroom.
State Announces $15 Million Expansion of Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced a $15 million expansion of the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program to increase training opportunities, expand the talent pipeline, and boost diversity in the construction industry and building trades. The Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program launched in 2021 with the goal of increasing diversity and access to apprenticeship programs. The deadline to apply for the Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program NOFO is September 27th, 2022. Additionally, DCEO will be hosting a series of informational webinars. Additional information and registration links can be found here.
Grant Program & Loan Program Application Periods Open for First Responders
Applications are now open for the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Small Equipment Grant Program. OSFM will award $1.5 million to eligible Illinois fire departments and ambulance services for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment. All interested departments should send an application to OSFM electronically or postmarked no later than November 30th, 2022.
Fire Departments and Protection Districts across Illinois can apply for interest free loans for fire trucks through the Illinois Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program. Applications must be electronically submitted or postmarked no later than October 31st, 2022. You can find more information online here.
Protect First Responders: MOVE OVER
In the latest violation of the Move Over/Scott’s Law, an Illinois State Police trooper was injured and hospitalized. The collision occurred on August 12th on I-355 and was the fifteenth violation of the Move Over Law upon a State Police squad car so far in 2022. The trooper was hospitalized with injuries.
The Illinois State Police urges ALL Illinois motorists to pay attention and move over when approaching any stationary vehicle on the side of the road. This is intensified for first responders, especially first responder vehicles that have their lights flashing on active duty (such was the case in the 355 incident). Violations of Scott’s Law can result in substantial fines and restrictions of driving privileges. Furthermore, a violation of Scott’s Law that causes injuries or death is a Class 4 felony (1 to 3 years in State prison).
New Legislative Inspector General Describes Role
Appointed in February, LIG Michael McCuskey says his role is to serve as a watchdog, not a prosecutor. By statute, the LIG is a fully independent part of the General Assembly system. McCuskey indicated in an interview in August that he wants to move on to a new paradigm of investigation and law-enforcement referral within his office. He added that his office has received 40 complaints so far this year about alleged conduct by General Assembly members and their staff, has investigated them all, and has found that none show serious wrongdoing.
Snap Inc. Settlement Announced
This settlement refers to alleged biometric misuse of information gathered from Illinois residents by Snapchat. The allegation is that Snapchat’s funhouse Lens function collects biometric information about its users’ identities and facial features. Although the recipients see the snap for a limited time, it’s alleged that digital information about each image is placed in Snapchat’s electronic vaults, and the actual and altered images live on forever. The allegation claimed that Snapchat’s Lens violated the Illinois Biometric Information and Privacy Act, a State law that aims to protect the digital privacies of Illinois residents. Snap Inc. continues to deny the charge, but agreed to pay a $35 million settlement.
Illinois Throwback: Learn More About Illinois History
- TBT: Up from the ashes: As the last raindrops struck the smoldering embers of Chicago on October 10, 1871, the city’s civic and commercial leaders were confronted with one of the greatest challenges any community can face.
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