Reimagining Illinois; Another bill out of committee

House Republicans call to “Reimagine Illinois”

This week the House Republicans introduced a package of bills entitled “Reimagine Illinois,” a wholesale effort to make the changes in state government to end the culture of corruption, restore responsible fiscal leadership, grow jobs and opportunities and ensure public safety. These changes are long overdue and they give us a path forward from decades of bad policies and mismanagement in Illinois.

As part of this far-reaching reform effort, House Republicans introduced dozens of bills touching on the topics listed above. I am proud to be the sponsor of five of these pieces of legislation. House Bill 2532 addresses the backlogs in the FOID card processing system by removing the requirement that the card be renewed every ten years. House Bill 3006 would direct the State Police to create a single card that would serve as both a FOID card and a Concealed Carry License should the applicant be eligible for both under existing law.

To better collect data and understand the implications of the changes which were recently made to the bail system, House Bill 3642 creates a statewide data collection system and standardized data metrics system. Two other bills deal with protecting public safety through improving our law enforcement recruiting and training processes. House Bill 3643 creates a recruitment division within the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board, and House Bill 3747 protects that board from patronage and undue political influence.

You can read the full plan, including the legislation addressing corruption, fiscal reform and job creation by visiting reimagineillinois.com.

Perjury bill advances out of committee

This week another of my bills passed out of committee and headed to the House floor for consideration. House Bill 2533 would extend the statute of limitations for perjury so that those who lie on the witness stand will be more likely to face consequences. The idea came to my attention thanks to the efforts of Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy.

A few years ago a murder case was overturned in Vermilion County when a witness admitted to lying under oath, but only after the statute of limitations had expired and he could not be prosecuted for his crime. As a result of his perjury, an innocent person was convicted and a guilty person remained at large. My bill would give authorities more time to prosecute those who lie under oath and would help prevent wrongful convictions. It passed the Judiciary-Criminal committee unanimously.

Federal stimulus funds to Illinois

The latest stimulus bill to pass through Congress has made additional funding available to Illinois to the tune of just over $13 billion over the next four years, with $7.5 billion going to the state and $5.5 billion for local governments. The legislation authorizes the funds to be spent on response to the COVID-19 emergency, including its economic effects, and also allows for infrastructure investments like water, sewer and broadband.

The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget has indicated that a share of the funds directed to state government will go to pay back the $4.2 billion in borrowing that has taken place over the past 12 months. The federal legislation also extended the pandemic unemployment assistance program through September 6 for the 205,000 Illinoisans claiming benefits under that program. Illinois received $275 million for vaccine distribution.

St. Paul Lutheran Fish Fry

It’s been great to see so many of our local get-togethers back in action after missing out on so much during 2020. A big thank you goes out to the St. Paul Lutheran School on Woodworth Road in Iroquois County for putting on a great drive-thru fish fry! The food smelled great – even with the mask on! This is an important cause. Thank you to everyone for the wonderful support.

More road improvement funds made available to local governments

A third installment of transportation funds has been released for safety improvements throughout Illinois. These funds are being provided to all five counties in our district and to dozens of townships and municipalities in each of those counties. In total, $250 million has been released by the state for these transportation projects.

This funding, made possible by the bipartisan 2019 infrastructure improvement bill, will go to fix up our roads and bridges and other transportation needs of our area. It keeps our motorists safe and helps our local businesses and area farmers, as well as creating construction jobs.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $5,660,476,972 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $7.8 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 $141 billion.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health reports one more death in Vermilion County

Vaccine eligibility to expand April 12; State announces bridge to Phase 5 of re-opening

Lawmakers want role in spending federal stimulus money

Treasurer touts $1 billion in earnings, says money helps avoid tax increases, cuts

Health officials say more vaccines needed throughout the state

Illinois launches call center to bridge digital divide and assist with vaccine appointments

DNR launches new outdoor recreation licensing and campground reservation platform

To get all the latest news and information from every Illinois state agency, visit the state’s newsfeed website at https://www2.illinois.gov/news. There you will find the latest press releases from state agencies. If you want to receive updates only from the agencies you select, you can sign up to receive state agency news alerts by going to https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/gov/pages/communicationsoptin.aspx and signing up for e-mail news updates.

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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).