Another unfair, partisan redistricting map passed
The House and Senate met on Tuesday to make changes to the redistricting plan which was rushed through the legislature in the spring. Unfortunately the new map has the same underlying problems as the previous version.
Like the map that was rammed through on a party-line vote in the spring, this map was drawn by politicians in a back room with no transparency and no public input. At the last minute some sham hearings were thrown together – with very little notice and very little publicity – to go through the motions of soliciting comments from the public. Then the comments were ignored. The map was revealed and voted upon just hours later. It once again passed on a party line vote.
After breaking his pledge to veto an unfair partisan map back in June, Governor Pritzker will now get another chance to keep his word and veto this partisan gerrymander.
A court challenge filed in June is ongoing, so we will see what the courts have to say.
Two more Bennett bills become law
It is always great when an energetic group of students and teachers get together to present a good idea for legislation: especially when that legislation makes it all the way through the process. House Bill 3928 was an idea from a group of students and their teacher at Pontiac Township High School to help better conserve Illinois’ natural lands. The bill would set up a task force with the goal of finding ways to conserve 30% of our land by the year 2030. We call it the 30-by-30 task force. After passing both houses unanimously it was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on Friday.
The Governor has also signed House Bill 656 which I sponsored to help improve the safety of passengers on motorcycles. This bill came about after a suggestion from law enforcement here in our district as a way to increase safety for children who are passengers on motorcycles. I was glad to have the support of ABATE and many Illinois motorcyclists when this bill passed the House and Senate this spring. It too was recently signed into law.
Firehouse study law enacted
Another bill which was recently signed into law was House Bill 3763, a bill to require a response-time study be done before any fire district can be dissolved or a firehouse closed. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Dan Swanson who represents a rural district in northwestern Illinois. He was concerned that the consolidation of fire districts or the closure of fire stations was leading to longer response times in rural areas and potentially endangering lives. Under this new law a study would have to be conducted to determine the effect on response times which any such closure or consolidation would have.
Unemployment continues its slow decline
Illinois’ unemployment rate continued its gradual decline in July, dropping by another 0.1% to a rate of 7.1%. The number of non-farm jobs went up by 35,400 for the month. The largest gain was once again in the Leisure and Hospitality sector of the economy which continues its rebound from the difficult days of the shutdowns last year. More than 7000 jobs were added in Educational and Health Services.
Overall our unemployment rate remains higher than the national average which stands at 5.4%. Nationally unemployment went down by half a percentage point compared to June. One year ago Illinois unemployment stood at 12 percent.
Carbon capture task force starting to come together
Earlier this summer the Governor signed my legislation to create a carbon capture utilization and storage task force to study the feasibility of storing carbon emissions deep underground as a way to cut down on air pollution. This week I was honored to be appointed as a member of the task force that will do this important work. Once our task force begins its monthly meetings we will have until December 31, 2022, to submit a report to the Governor and the General Assembly with our findings.
The Prairie Research Institute (PRI) is testing and evaluating part of our district to see if our geology is suitable for carbon capture, storage and usage processes and technology. These processes are already being used in Decatur and can be seen as a bridge to clean energy. The machine shown here is sending out underground waves that help determine the kind of rock we have in the area. The U.S. Department of Energy is conducting over 25 related projects all over the state of Illinois.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,016,016,509 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $7.1 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.
Happy Labor Day!
I hope that you and your family have a very happy and safe Labor Day weekend.
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