Better care for impaired young people; new partner for Illinois Lottery

Conor’s Law will train law enforcement to better ensure safety of impaired young people
Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed SB 2185 into law. The bill, also known as Conor’s Law, is legislation that requires law enforcement agencies to develop policies for how they will handle arrests of intoxicated young people, including how the agency will care for them and what attempts they will make to contact a responsible adult. This new law is meant to ensure the safety of impaired underage individuals by keeping them from harming themselves or others.

The legislation gets its name from Conor Vesper, a 20-year old college student from Macoupin County in southwestern Illinois who was arrested for drunk driving and then committed suicide hours later. Vesper was the valedictorian of his class at Staunton High School and was an active campus leader at Carlinville’s Blackburn College, where he had earned a full ride scholarship. He was arrested for DUI, posted bail and was released. But then hours later he drove home and took his own life. Blackburn plans to memorialize Vesper with an honorary degree at its graduation next spring.

By requiring proper training for law enforcement on the appropriate responses to those under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Conor’s Law will also contribute to the safety of the surrounding community. This law will help reduce the opportunity for young people to engage in acts of self-harm, suicide, or the endangerment of others.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Avery Bourne and passed the House 108-0 back in June.

State selects new private partner for Lottery
After years in which the ticket sales for the Illinois Lottery have stagnated, the state has now selected a new private-sector partner to try and re-energize the games. Governor Rauner pledged to increase the productivity of the Illinois Lottery’s draw games by contracting with the private sector. Back in 1974, when the Illinois State Lottery was first created, it was entirely a public-sector enterprise. However, as more states instituted lotteries, their experience suggested some better practices. One of these was the finding that the aggressive selling of lottery game purchasing opportunities, especially through stores and sales on the Internet and by mobile app, can be better done by executive salespeople whose compensation is determined by marketplace standards. These private businesses also have expertise in developing new ideas for scratch-off tickets, new retail-counter displays, and innovative advertising to sell more tickets in existing games.

The selection of Camelot Illinois was announced in late September. Over the 10-year life of the contract, approximately $2.2 billion in ticket-printing expenses, sales expenses, and management fees are expected to be taken in by Camelot Illinois. The firm is an experienced multinational gambling holding company which already has some experience operating lotteries. Camelot Global operates the United Kingdom’s national lottery and the state lotteries of four other U.S. states.

Legislative survey still open
Earlier this year I rolled out a legislative survey on my website. In the six months since then, a few things have changed on some of the major issues facing our state, and some others have not. One thing that has not changed is my interest in hearing your opinions on the matters the General Assembly must address. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to go to to fill out the survey and leave any other input you might have concerning Illinois government. Thank you for your input.

How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $15,809,391,857 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is estimated to be more than $100 billion.

Just for the sake of comparison: three months ago, on July 6, when the tax increase which I voted against was enacted, our unpaid bill backlog stood at $14.7 billion. In spite of Illinoisans now having to pay more in taxes, our amount of unpaid bills has actually increased by more than a billion dollars.

Illinois’ O’Hare International Airport named world’s best connected megahub
One of the things job creators look for when choosing a new location for their business is the transportation infrastructure of the area under consideration. In the case of large multi-national corporations searching for sites for large facilities with thousands of jobs, they often consider the nearest international airport and its ease of access to markets around the world. This is one factor thought to be in Illinois’ favor in its efforts to attract the Amazon headquarters and its 50,000 potential new jobs to our state.

The air travel firm OAG counted 270,000 possible flight connections within a busy six-hour window in August 2016. The quarter-million figure counted not only flights out of O’Hare but also additional locations reached by airports served by these flights.  Flights to other “megahub” airports such as Atlanta, Dallas, Denver and Charlotte accounted for many of these indirect connections.

These are the kinds of advantages Illinois has, and the kind of advantages we could be making the most of if we could just reform our state government to be more attractive to job creators.

House returns to session October 24
The House and Senate will be back in session for the fall veto session beginning October 24. The fall session is traditionally a time for the legislature to re-convene and review any legislation which the governor might have vetoed during the summer. During the summer, the House came back into session to deal with some of the major bills which were vetoed earlier this year, while some others still remain. There have been a handful of bills vetoed which we could see action upon. It is also possible that new legislation could be brought up for action, but because bills require more votes to pass in the fall, the usual practice is for new legislation to be held until the regular spring session starts up in January.

This year’s fall session is scheduled to last for three days in late October and three days in early November. Both houses will reconvene for the spring session sometime in January.

Did You Know?
The first recorded airplane flight in Illinois occurred on October 16, 1909, when Glenn Curtiss flew a plane named the Golden Flyer at the Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero. The flight reached an altitude of 60 feet and lasted for 40 seconds.