If you missed my townhalls over the last few weeks, I’d like to catch you up on some things happening around the state and in the district.
Free Shred Truck Event
I am partnering with Shark Shredding to host a free shred truck in the parking lot of my district office at 11032 W Lincoln Highway. The event will take place on Saturday October 15th from 9 to 11am. Drivers are asked to follow signs and bring their vehicles up to the truck where volunteers will be available to unload documents. No more than two boxes of shreddable documents will be accepted from each vehicle and the event is rain or shine. This is a great opportunity for constituents to safely and securely dispose of sensitive documents as a way to help prevent identity theft.
Over the summer I was appointed to the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory council. The SPAC advises the Governor on legislation and compiles data on incarnation rates, their financial cost, and how to improve the state’s criminal justice system through reform. The sentencing council is an important part of the State’s revitalized push for criminal justice reform.
I was also named a “guardian of small business” by the National Federation of Independent Business for my 100% positive voting record on small business legislation in Springfield.
Lockport State Museum Reopens
The Illinois State Museum/Lockport Gallery is located inside the Norton Building, a Lockport limestone multi-use building constructed about 1850 in Will County adjacent to the then-strategic Illinois and Michigan Canal. The museum, which was closed for 12 months due to Illinois state budget issues, reopened on September 24th and houses rotating exhibits featuring the art and visual culture of Illinois.
Latest Unemployment Numbers
Illinois’s most recent jobs report showed an unemployment rate from 5.8% to 5.5%, however it also showed a 30-day drop of 8,200 in Illinois’ seasonally-adjusted nonfarm payroll jobs. More than one-half, or 4,400, of the new job losses were posted by the manufacturing sector. Much of the unemployment percentage decline was attributed to “discouraged workers” dropping out of the labor force or leaving Illinois entirely. Approximately 20,000 Illinois residents dropped out of the labor market in August 2016. The nationwide unemployment rate was 4.9% last month.
New Commissions/Task Forces Take Fresh Look at Issues
Over the summer, through new laws and executive orders, Governor Rauner has put in motion new groups to study important Illinois issues:
The 14-member Human Trafficking Task Force will hold hearings and report to the General Assembly by June 30th on ways and means to address the growing problem of human trafficking across Illinois. The number of reported cases so far this year in Illinois is on pace to beat last year’s numbers.
The School Funding Reform Commission, created in July, has been hard at work meeting over the last few months and is currently discussing an evidence based model that looks at the staffing required for the number and needs of students in the school. Illinois is last nationally in the percent of funding the state provides per student and has the biggest gap in funding per student from one district to another across the state. The evidence based model determines the resources (funding) to ensure that students are growing in their learning and can succeed in life after school. It defines best practices based on research for things like class sizes, teacher training and coaching, counseling and technology.
Governor Rauner also jump started the bicentennial celebration planning with the creation of a new office and the addition of new commission members. These groups will be working in conjunction with the private sector to raise funds and organize local celebrations across the state. Illinois’ 200th birthday will be December 3rd, 2018.
Driver’s Ed Updated
A new state law has added mandated elements of the drivers’ education courses taken by many young adults, which will now include instructions on what to do if the driver is stopped by law enforcement. Standard instructions on how to respond when “Being Pulled Over By Law Enforcement” typically advise the driver to be courteous, unemotional, and helpful to the officer. Law enforcement professionals often supplement this general advise with instructions that a pulled-over driver keep his or her hands in view at all times, avoid any sudden movements, and stay in or get out of the car upon request.
Family Sick and Bereavement Leave Expanded
The new Child Bereavement Leave Act requires Illinois employers with 50 or more employees to grant up to 10 days (two work weeks) of unpaid leave to eligible full-time employees who have lost a child. The leave most be preceded by 48 hours of notice, except in emergency situations, and most be completed within 60 days after the child’s death. In many cases, Illinois employers are choosing to voluntarily pay workers who take bereavement leave.
A separate bill, the Employee Sick Leave Act, concentrates on employers who voluntarily provide their employees with paid sick leave. It expands the permissible use of this sick leave to cover time needed to care for the employer’s immediate family members, including parents-in-law and grandparents.