Committee investigating Madigan; Metro-East mitigation

Petition filed for special investigating committee to look into Madigan allegations

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has filed a petition to have the House form a special investigating committee to look into the Deferred Prosecution Agreement entered into between federal prosecutors and the utility ComEd. The prosecutors implicated House Speaker Michael Madigan in a bribery scheme, though Madigan has not been charged. Leader Durkin said that, “Given the facts admitted by ComEd for its nine-year long scheme to bribe Speaker Madigan, the Illinois House of Representatives must do its job and conduct a thorough investigation.” He went on to say that it is not his intention to interfere with any ongoing federal investigation.

Under the House rules, a special investigating committee may look into allegations against a House member and recommend disciplinary action. Such committees have been convened on a few occasions in the last few years, most recently in the case of former Representative Luis Arroyo who was charged with bribery in 2019.

As cases rise, more mitigation efforts take place in Metro-East

The Metro-East region, those Illinois counties in the area surrounding St. Louis and its suburbs, have continued to see a rise in coronavirus cases. The area includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties. Additional restrictions were put in place in that area in August, but the numbers continued to go up. Now another round of restrictions has been enacted to try and stop the spread of coronavirus in those counties. The region averaged a positivity rate of 9.6% over the days preceding the announcement. By contrast, the region which contains Woodford and Livingston counties has a 7-day positivity rate of 6.8% and the region containing Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties stood at 2.0%

In the affected region, indoor service at bars and restaurants is prohibited until the numbers improve. Restaurants and bars which offer outdoor service must close from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. and tables must be six feet apart with multiple parties at one table not allowed. Meetings, social gatherings and events are limited to 25 guests or 25% of the overall room capacity. Indoor visitation at long-term care facilities was already prohibited under the earlier restrictions in the area. The restrictions will remain in place until average positivity rates decrease to 6.5% over a 14-day period.

This is a good reminder to keep washing hands, covering faces and avoiding crowds. To read the full report from the Department of Public Health, click here.

How our colleges are handling the pandemic

Classes are beginning at colleges and universities around the country, and the challenges of keeping students safe have never been greater. Join me at 5 p.m. on Thursday September 10 for a Facebook live discussion about what the start of the college year is going to look like. My guests will be Eureka College President Dr. Jamel SC Wright and Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement Michael K. Murtagh. Visit my Facebook page for more information.

Investigation into abuse at long term care facilities

An investigation is underway into long wait times for examinations of claims of abuse and neglect in Illinois long-term care facilities during the pandemic. The Department of Public Health is claiming that Illinois’ Bureau of Long-Term Care failed to expeditiously process complaints during the spring. A former federal prosecutor, A. Courtney Cox, has been appointed to review these cases and determine what action to take.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,311,253,894 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.6 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 more than $137 billion.

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you and your family have a very happy and safe Labor Day weekend! Like so many other holidays this year, things will be very different, but we can still enjoy this traditional last weekend of summer while we thank those who have worked so hard to build our communities and our nation. Be sure to stay safe as you celebrate the weekend, whether it is around a grill, on the water or the highway. And as with everything else this year, please remember your social distancing and other measures to stay safe from the coronavirus.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

In Chicago visit, Dr. Birx raises alarm over growing COVID-19 positivity rates in parts of Illinois

Fauci warns Illinois, six other states to be on alert over Labor Day

Officials warn of scams related to contact tracing

September is National Preparedness Month

Construction paused where possible for Labor Day weekend

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).