Action needed on FOID cards; Illinois’ regional unemployment

Calling for action on FOID cards

This week I sent a letter to Governor Pritzker calling for action to reduce wait times for Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) cards. My office has received many emails and phone calls from concerned constituents who have been waiting weeks or even months for their FOID card applications to be approved, and these delays are unacceptable.

I recently spoke with Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly and shared with him our concerns around the length of time it takes to complete an application review. These delays have made it harder for local citizens to purchase firearms or ammunition. This is not due to any mistake or wrongdoing on the part of the applicant. It is due to administrative delays at the agency processing their paperwork. Government needs to do better! I am looking forward to the Governor’s reply and to seeing changes in this system to better protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.

A closer look at Illinois’ unemployment numbers

Unemployment in Illinois has gone down since the peak of the pandemic closures back in the spring, but we still have a long way to go. The state currently has an unemployment rate of 10.9%, which is an improvement on the 16.4% rate we had back in April. One year ago unemployment in Illinois stood at just 4.0%.

Looking at the different metro areas of the state, however, there is some good news for our region. While unemployment in the Chicago region stood at 12.6% and Rockford came in at 11.3%, the metro areas nearest our district looked better. The Bloomington area had the lowest unemployment of any area in the state, 7.2% and Champaign was not far behind at 7.4%. Peoria stood at 9.6%. These numbers all represent improvements from the worst of the pandemic, but show that we still have a long way to go.

New grant available for agriculture businesses

Smaller meat and poultry plants as well as livestock producers are now eligible for business recovery funding from the Illinois Department of Agriculture. A total of $5 million in funds set aside from the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program are available to help these businesses with losses from the pandemic. Applications are being accepted until October 31. You can find out more about the new Livestock Management Facilities Grant Program by clicking here.

Meeting the new DACC Vice President of Academic Affairs

I was glad to meet with Dr. Natalie Page, who is the new Vice President of Academic Affairs at Danville Area Community College. Among those joining us at the meeting was State Representative Mike Marron who also represents parts of Vermilion County. It was an excellent conversation as we heard about Dr. Page’s hopes and dreams for the future of DACC. I wish her the best of luck.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,463,589,897 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $5.9 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.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

COVID-19 resurgence mitigation measures to take effect in northwestern Illinois on Saturday

Drive-up flu shot clinics in Livingston County

Department of Public Health issues Halloween festivities guidance

Illinois announces U of I research park recipient of SBA FAST grant

Department on Aging urging older Illinoisans to get their flu shot

Nominate an outstanding school board member for the Burroughs Award

Illinois Department of Labor launches ‘Back to Business Illinois’

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).