Guidelines for re-opening child care; Important work left undone

Guidelines released for re-opening child care facilities

Another small step forward in the drive to re-open Illinois from the stay-at-home orders will be taken this weekend when many child care centers are allowed to open their doors once again. Some have been open for the children of essential workers, but now that many more Illinoisans are returning to work, many more child care centers will be opening for their families.

Long before coronavirus, cleanliness in child care facilities was an essential concern. The current emergency just reinforces its importance. In the guidance issued by state agencies for child care providers, the agencies remind operators that, “the current pandemic requires many new procedures and policies to protect the health of children, staff and their families.”

“To date, Illinois has not seen significant transmission of COVID-19 in child care settings, which is encouraging evidence that child care can be provided safely,” the guidance continues. It is reassuring to know that public health officials believe our children and grandchildren will be safe in these settings, but that they are still taking steps to ensure their continued health. Click here to read the full set of guidelines from all four involved state agencies.

Good legislation not considered in special session

The legislature met for four days last week to pass a budget and some other legislation. Some of the bills were related to the coronavirus outbreak, some others had a more indirect connection. Unfortunately, the House also missed an opportunity to pass some very good legislation which was proposed.

A series of bills were proposed in the spring session to reform our state’s property tax system, but they were not called up for discussion or a vote. These reforms included everything from help for first-time homeowners to reducing costly mandates on school districts. Illinois has the highest property taxes in the nation. These reforms deserved a discussion.

Another piece of legislation which I co-sponsored and wanted to see voted upon was House Joint Resolution 123, which would have removed the proposed graduated income tax increase from the fall ballot. I co-sponsored this legislation because I feel that it is wrong to hit our small businesses with a tax increase at this extremely difficult time when so many of them are barely hanging on. Recovering from this pandemic and the shutdown is going to require small businesses to have some kind of certainty about investing for the future. The possibility of a tax increase will only make this daunting challenge even harder. Our resolution to protect them should have gotten a vote.

Bills I sponsored to create tax breaks for hiring student interns, to create land banks to help revitalize many of our towns, and to fight pollution through carbon sequestration did not get called for a vote. The House also failed to act on many other proposed reforms, including on ethics, redistricting, pensions and our child welfare system which was the subject of much scrutiny earlier this spring. I am sorry to report that the House left much important work undone when it adjourned for the summer.

More news from around the state

The latest news from the Department of Public Health

Weekly COVID-19 deaths decline for the first time during pandemic

Illinois announces $7.3 million investment for SBDCs to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19

Remember not to flush cleaning wipes: No Wipes Down the Pipes

Department of Veterans’ Affairs launches Operation Rising Spirit

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at dph.sick@illinois.gov.

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).