Saluting Blake Kinnett; Helping those with cancer

Vermilion County honors Blake Kinnett
Monday afternoon a community event was held at Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin High School to honor Blake Kinnett, a local student who has been courageously fighting a battle with adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD. It was my honor to present Blake and his family with a resolution from the House of Representatives recognizing his courage, and to talk about legislation in the upcoming General Assembly to promote testing and awareness about ALD, which currently has no cure. BHRA Principal Brent Rademacher put together a great event for a great cause.

It was very moving to stand up with Congressman John Shimkus, Senator Jason Barickman, State Line Riders President Mark Grogran and so many members of the community to let Blake and his family know that they do not face this challenge alone. Legislators presented resolutions and Mark Grogan presented the Kinnett family with a flag flown over the State Capitol in Springfield and the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC.

It has been inspiring to see not only the bravery with which Blake has fought this disease, but also the incredible kindness and generosity of the support his family has received from their friends and neighbors in the Alvin and Bismarck communities. These are the kinds of things that remind us why our area is such a great place to live and raise a family.

New laws include help for cancer treatment
More than 200 new laws will take effect on January 1, 2019. One of them is House Bill 4821, a bill which would help cancer patients avoid having to jump through hoops to satisfy an insurance company. Under the law, patients with stage four advanced metastatic cancer will be able to proceed to the treatment they require, instead of having to try other treatments first just in order to satisfy their insurer. It will help those with cancer get directly to the treatment they need, rather than detouring to something else just because their insurer requires it.

House Bill 4476 will also become law on January 1, and it will increase the safety of police officers and save the state some money while doing so. Under this new law, if a person is cited for a petty offense, they will no longer be required to sign the citation. The State Police supported this change because they believe that it will keep officers safer if they no longer have to get a signature from someone they have just cited. They also informed us that it costs ten cents for every sheet of paper required for a violator’s signature. Since they issued over 150,000 paper citations in the most recent year for which records are available, that small savings will add up.

Another bill that will become law with the new year is House Bill 1671, legislation to ensure better treatment for police dogs. The Police Service Dog Protection Act will require law enforcement agencies to get an annual medical examination by a licensed veterinarian for their animals. They will have to be vaccinated against rabies. The departments will also have to equip vehicles which transport these animals with a heat sensor to monitor the internal temperature of the vehicle.

How much do we owe? 

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,624,148,753 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $9.6 billion. 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 subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be approximately $130 billion.

Holiday travel
Click here for this month’s survey question: how far do you plan to travel for the holiday season this year? Wherever your travels take you, please remember to be safe! For highway road conditions in Illinois, visit or call 1-800-452-4368.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I hope that you and your family have a very joyous Christmas season, and a wonderful New Year. I will be back with another update from the Capitol on Friday January 4.

Did You Know?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, in the most recent Census of Agriculture (2012), Illinois farms produced 65,937 natural Christmas trees, ranking us 19th in the nation. Oregon came in first with over six million trees. In total, the United States produced over 17 million Christmas trees that year.