Around the district; new application for state universities

Touring the 106th District

With the legislative session wrapped up for the year I have had the opportunity to travel around the district visiting with our small business owners, first responders and community leaders to find out how they have been doing as we approach the end of the year. It is always good to hear their thoughts and concerns.

After 40 years of serving the public, Carl and Marlene Shipman of Hoopeston have handed over the reins of Pizza King in Hoopeston. They have touched the lives of many families in the community and beyond with great food and a wonderful place to catch up. Thanks to the Shipmans and to Hoopeston Chamber CEO Valarie Hinkle for setting up a recognition event at Pizza King. Best wishes to Bill and Jennifer Lind, and their son Will, who are the new owners.

I recently had lunch with Watseka Fire Chief Kenneth Baier and Firefighter Tom Sandeno at Shorty’s in Watseka. We had a great conversation about the issues affecting the fire service in particular and first responders in general. I appreciated their time and all that they and all of our firefighters do for our communities.

It was great to attend the Gibson Area Chamber lunch meeting at the Sandtrap to hear about upcoming community and activity plans for Christmas from Mayor Dan Dickey and other community leaders. Thank you to President Bill Kirby and the Chamber for your great leadership. This has been a challenging year in Gibson City as the recovery from the summer flood continues. We are lucky to have such dedicated and energetic local leaders.

Common application for Illinois’ state universities

Applying for Illinois’ 12 state universities just got a little easier thanks to the rollout of a common application for admission. The Common App allows prospective students to easily and quickly apply or start the transfer process to any state university in Illinois.

Schools will still maintain their existing application system, but the app makes it easier for students to apply to several different schools using the same application. The Common App has additional features, including letting students make their request for a fee waiver. More than 400,000 such waivers were granted in the 2019-2020 school year through the Common App.

Students who need assistance with applications for college or for financial aid can find help from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission at

Legislation passes to license midwives in Illinois

During the fall veto session the House passed legislation which would offer full licensure to recognize midwives as health professionals. In so doing, Illinois joins 35 other states in licensing midwives as certified professionals. Midwives are often chosen by healthy mothers as an alternative birthing process that does not involve hospitals, but instead can allow for home-births or use of a specialized birthing center.

Welcome Jackie!

I would like to introduce the newest member of our team: Jackie Lynch. Jackie is a senior at Watseka Community High School who is interning in my Watseka office this semester. These are certainly very interesting times to be getting an up-close look at state government. I extend Jackie a very warm welcome and wish her all the best in her academic endeavors.

Thank you to our Veterans

This week we celebrate Veterans Day and say thank you to all those who have served our great nation. Every day we live in peace and freedom because brave, selfless Americans answered the call and served our country. We must always remember their sacrifice and that of their families. We should also be mindful of those who are currently serving far from home and their families as well. Thank you to our veterans and our servicemembers for all that you have done and all that you continue to do for our community and our nation.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,926,133,705 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

World War II veteran from Southern Illinois credits farm upbringing for keeping him alive

Illinois Conservation Foundation accepting applications for 2022 Conservation Achievement Scholarships

Gas prices could stabilize as holidays approach; Illinois fuel tax burden among highest

Illinois General Assembly has the chance to act on meaningful ethics reform

Redistricting lawsuit to be heard in early December

Reopening of Illinois Rental Payment Program delayed a month