Budget address next week; remembering fire safety

Budget address coming up
The House was in session for some routine business this week, mostly committee hearings which will start moving legislation out to the floor. The next big event on the House calendar is the Governor’s budget address, which will be next Wednesday. The Governor told us in his State of the State address last week that he would be submitting a balanced budget proposal during his remarks.

State Fire Marshal urging fire safety

Illinois had 21 fire fatalities in January, which is equal to a quarter of the total for all of last year. The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is encouraging Illinoisans to protect their homes and families from fire and to practice fire safety. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the winter months tend to have more house fires than any other time of the year, so now is the time to be aware of fire dangers and to remember what to do in the event of a fire.
Among the steps the Fire Marshal is urging Illinoisans to take are such measures as testing smoke alarm batteries at least once a month and changing the batteries twice a year. The same is true for carbon monoxide detectors. You should have at least two ways out of your home in case of an emergency. Remember to turn off space heaters or other portable devices when you leave a room or go to bed for the night, and never use an extension cord with an electric heater. Those portable heaters should be kept at least three feet away from any flammable material.
OSFM and the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance have launched a free program to install smoke alarms in cooperation with local fire departments. For more information, visit https://www.ifsa.org/programs/alarms.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $8,676,431,679 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.
Close of final deer harvest yields tally of 147,500 animals
The final numbers are in for this year’s Illinois deer harvest. This year’s deer harvest total, as counted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), climbed by about 3,200 deer from last year. These numbers include figures from all the Illinois deer seasons: shotgun weekends, archery months, muzzleloading periods, youth deer hunting times and the non-standard seasons which are meant to harvest antlerless deer and to take deer in those regions of the state where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected.
Deer hunters reported their harvest numbers to IDNR, which monitors Illinois deer populations.  The largest numbers once again came from counties in western Illinois. Hunters took more than 4,000 deer in Fulton County southwest of Peoria, with an equal number being taken in Pike County southeast of Quincy.

Dwight pastor visits Illinois House chamber
Every session day, the House session begins with the same process: call to order, invocation, Pledge of Allegiance and the attendance roll call. Guests of many different faiths from all around the state are selected to lead the invocation each day. This week, Pastor Victor Randle, Jr., of the New Life Church in Dwight was the guest pastor who offered the invocation before the House session on Tuesday. It was an honor to have a pastor from my district lead the House in its invocation.
“The Illinois Chronicles” to be published this month
As part of the ongoing celebration of Illinois’ bicentennial this year, an extensive history of the state is being made available. The Illinois Chronicles is a hands-on teaching aid and resource which includes a five-foot-long foldout timeline of the 200 years of Illinois history since statehood. The book is written in a news-like style with articles which describe long-ago events, such as the rise of Abraham Lincoln, in a contemporary setting. Stories about other colorful figures from Illinois history can also be found throughout. The book was produced in collaboration between the private sector and Illinois leaders in teaching and history, including executives at the State Board of Education and the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  The book will be published later this month.
Did You Know?
Abraham Lincoln left Illinois for Washington D.C. on February 11, 1861, after delivering his Farewell Address at the local train station in Springfield. “To this place, and the kindness of these people I owe everything,” the President-elect said. He would not return to Springfield until after his death in the spring of 1865.