New bills; New district

Introducing many bills this spring session

With the start of the new year and the spring session I have introduced several bills which I will work to pass before we adjourn.

House Bill 4329 would allow an Illinois business to claim a tax credit for hiring up to five high school or college student interns. This would encourage businesses to hire interns and it is a great way to help young people get their foot in the door of the job market and gain some real-world workplace experience.

To try to improve the ethics climate in Springfield I have introduced House Bill 4458 which prohibits any legislator from becoming a lobbyist until they have been out of office for at least two years. Some of the ethics scandals of the past few years have involved legislators who were also working as lobbyists. Legislators should not be able to leave office one day and immediately begin lobbying their former colleagues the next.

I am continuing to work on House Bill 3637, which I introduced last year in an effort to improve the way we award construction grants to our local school districts. This bill has a bipartisan group of co-sponsors and we are working together to get a final draft. House Bill 3573 passed the House 99-0 last year and is awaiting action in the Senate this year. It would allow a school district to utilize a remote learning day instead of an emergency day in their school calendar.

A couple other noteworthy bills this year are House Bill 4327 and 4328 which create new tax credits for Illinois. The credit in HB 4327 would be for licensed Illinois wine manufacturers and craft brewers for costs related to the purchase of crops used in the manufacture of beer or wine that are grown and harvested in Illinois. HB 4328 would create a tax credit of $500 for each individual who serves as a volunteer firefighter or volunteer EMS.

I will keep you posted on the progress of these and other bills I am introducing this spring.

So what will the new district look like?

Over the past several months I have updated you on the passage of new legislative district maps by the General Assembly. These new district maps are required every ten years to reflect the changing populations as revealed by the Census. The districts must be equal in population so it is necessary to redraw them when we get new population figures. A series of court challenges were filed, but those did not result in any changes to the maps, which are now final. So how will the new 106th District look under the new maps?

The current district stretches from the Indiana border west to the middle part of Woodford County, taking in four other counties along the way: Ford, Iroquois, Livingston and Vermilion. Under the new map, the 106th will still include Iroquois and all but the southern edge of Ford. The eastern half of Livingston County will remain in the 106th district, going as far as Dwight and Fairbury, but not including Pontiac. Additional territory was added to the district in northern McLean County and in areas north of the current boundaries in Grundy, LaSalle and Will counties.

Vermilion and Woodford counties will be part of different districts under the new map. Vermilion County and the southern edge of Ford County will be part of a district which wraps around Champaign and extends south to the Mattoon-Charleston area. Woodford and western Livingston will be in a district which stretches from just north of Bloomington up along the Illinois River almost to the area around Starved Rock State Park.

To review the new district and the entire statewide map, please click here.

Opposing House Bill 2769

This week I heard from several constituents asking me to vote No on House Bill 2769, legislation concerning microstamping of firearms. I voted No on this bill in committee and nothing in the proposed amendment has done anything to cause me to change my mind. If it comes up on the House floor this spring I intend to vote No.

Legislation to strengthen Illinois pension system passes committee

House Bill 4292, legislation to extend a pension reform proposal known as the “Batinick Buyout” for its original sponsor State Rep. Mark Batinick of Plainfield, unanimously passed the House Personnel & Pensions Committee last week. The legislation would authorize additional funding and extend the successful “Batinick Buyout” program for state pensions. The plan offers retirees more flexibility with their pensions and helps the state save taxpayer money.

The legislation now moves to the House floor for further consideration.

Visit to Eureka schools

I was glad to visit the Eureka school district earlier this week. I attended classes, talked with administrators, teachers and students. Thank you to Superintendent Bob Bardwell, teacher Deb Bertschi, IEA rep Chad Jordan, teachers Melissa Monk, Allison Ferguson, Jerry Prina and many others for helping to make this day be a wonderful, insightful experience.

I greatly appreciate sharing and listening to students and teacher talk about values, challenges and opportunities to make our school system better. Our administrators, faculty, staff and students are amazing. As we work through several issues we understand that we need to support each other while also finding ways to continue moving ahead. We live in a very competitive world, more so than ever before. God bless you in your efforts to take the next step and the next and the next. It is vital to our future!

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $2,913,103,805 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $4.7 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.

Did You Know?

Four current United States Senators were born in Illinois: Republicans Bill Cassidy (La.) and Rick Scott (Fla.) and Democrats Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Jacky Rosen (Nev.). New York leads the nation in Senators’ birthplace with seven. Pennsylvania is the only other state in which more current U.S. Senators were born than Illinois (five), but Michigan and Mississippi join with Illinois in having four. There are seven states in which no current U.S. Senator was born.

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