SAFE-T Act repeal efforts; Increases in gaming revenue

Sign the petition to repeal the SAFE-T Act

Early last year Illinois enacted a bill known as the SAFE-T Act which was advertised as criminal justice reform. In reality, it has made it harder for police officers to do their jobs and made it easier for criminals to be released back out onto the streets. On January 1 Illinois will end cash bail for most offenses. This means that the number of crimes for which a person can be held in jail between arrest and trial will be greatly reduced. Persons arrested for some serious crimes could be released almost as soon as they are arrested.

The bill was opposed by almost every law enforcement group in the state, and I agreed with them. I voted No because I believe this will make Illinois less safe. Lawsuits have been filed by state’s attorneys throughout the state trying to halt the law, and we are still working to bring about change through the legislative process.

But we need your help. The only way to generate enough pressure to force changes is to show that there is public demand for stopping this law before it takes effect on January 1. Click here to sign our petition calling for the repeal of the SAFE-T Act.

We need to stop this dangerous law and start over, this time involving and listening to our law enforcement officers and state’s attorneys. We need to be taking action to make Illinois safer, not less safe.

Illinois gaming activity sharply increases

A recent report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability found that gaming activity in Illinois has increased sharply in the past year. This is important to state government because the gambling industry is heavily taxed by the state and provides substantial revenue for schools, capital reinvestment and the state’s general revenue fund. Legal gambling in Illinois includes licensed casinos and video gaming terminals, but also licensed sports wagering and the Illinois State Lottery.

Illinois saw a 38.2% rise in tax revenue from gambling, amounting to a $1.88 billion gain to the state treasury. It is not likely that Illinois will be able to sustain this size of gain, as it was largely due to the diminishment of the COVID-19 pandemic and the re-opening of most wagering facilities over the past year.

In 2019 Illinois authorized six new casino licenses throughout the state, and development of some of those casinos is already underway. Some other aspects, like horse racing, are in decline.

Supporting Summer in the Park

As I have done in the past, I give part of my monthly salary to groups that help impact the community. This time, I am donating part of my monthly salary to Director Deanne McIntyre and the nonprofit “Summer in the Park” program that provides a wide-variety of activities for kindergarten through junior high students in June and July.  Thank you for all you do to help the community! God Bless you!

Livingston County Conservation & Agriculture Expo

Big kudos to the Livingston County’s Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Farm Bureau for hosting the Livingston County Conservation & Agriculture EXPO Wednesday! There were over 720 students, 45 classes and 35 different programs and activities. Students learned more about soils and erosion, water quality, forestry, agriculture commodities, farm and home safety, and wildlife habitats. Mr. David Stokes talked about the biodiversity and habitats that can be found in our backyards.

The day featured wonderful programs and activities. Thank you Debbie, Becky, Chuck, Chris and the entire team that put this together. These students will not long forget what they saw and learned on Wednesday. Well done!

Western heat wave could boost Illinois pumpkins

Illinois leads the nation in pumpkin production, and pumpkin farming is an important part of our central Illinois economy. This year Illinois pumpkins could take on a little bit more importance as high temperatures in California have reduced the pumpkin crop of that part of the country. Pumpkins do not typically do well in sustained temperatures of over 90 degrees; the kind of weather which California faced for parts of this growing season, but which Illinois saw much less of.

The result of this weather could be greater demand for Illinois pumpkins in the western United States. While this is good news for Illinois pumpkin farmers, it could also lead to higher prices for our jack o’ lanterns and pumpkin pies later this fall.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,741,854,776 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $3.7 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 $137 billion.

Did You Know?

The rotunda of the Capitol building in Springfield has seen many uses over the years. It has been the scene of many protests and rallies, but also concerts, banquets and festive occasions. Three Governors, Shelby Cullom, John Tanner and Adlai Stevenson have lain in state in the rotunda following their deaths. The statue in the center of the rotunda is named Illinois Welcoming the World, and is an exact replica of the statue which greeted visitors to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

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