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Update from the Capitol 8/5/2019

Monday, August 05, 2019 - Posted 9:12:28 AM by Rep. Tom Bennett

As always, you can contact me via webform at, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106 (Watseka). Thank you for the honor of serving as our district's representative in Springfield.

Name added to State Police Memorial Wall

In a ceremony held in Springfield, the family of Trooper Brooke Jones-Story unveiled the addition of her name to the list of state police officers inscribed at the Illinois State Police Memorial Park. The ceremony followed the death of Trooper Jones-Story on March 28, 2019 on U.S. Highway 20 near Freeport, Illinois. She had been conducting a traffic stop, and was hit by a heavy truck driver who had failed to observe the "Move Over" law. This law requires drivers to move over, or sharply slow down, in order to avoid endangering a first responder who is on or next to a working highway.

As a response to Jones-Story's death in the line of duty, and as a response to the deaths of other first responders, this spring we enacted new legislation to sharply increase traffic penalties for failure to obey the "Move Over" law. Please be careful out there, and please move over for stopped police or emergency vehicles!

Property Tax Relief Task Force Poised to Get to Work

On Thursday the Governor signed legislation officially impaneling the newly formed Property Tax Relief Task Force. Property taxes are one of the biggest financial burdens our families face, and I am very pleased to have been appointed to serve on this new Task Force to work on real solutions.

The Task Force is comprised of members of both legislative chambers and both political parties and will get down to work quickly. Our initial report on how we can provide property tax relief will be presented to the Governor and the General Assembly in 90 days.

In addition, I was appointed this week to the new School Construction Task Force that will over the next several months review the School Construction Law and research the needs for capital improvements in schools throughout the state.

Governor Signs Legislation Improving Patient Access to Prescribing Psychologists

Illinoisans living in rural or under served parts of the state will have better access to quality mental health services thanks to another piece of legislation just signed into law: PA 101-0084. The legislation improves the licensing process for psychologists who want the ability to write prescriptions. It expands the list of educational settings where clinical work can be done and should increase the number of prescribing psychologists who enter the workforce and help ease our shortage of mental health professionals in many parts of our state.

The new law also adds prescribing psychologists to the list of health care professionals who can provide telehealth services to Illinoisans, which will be especially helpful to families in rural areas.

June 2019 unemployment rate drops in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Employment Security report for June 2019 indicates that the jobless rate dropped in the most recent 30-day period, decreasing from 4.4% in May to 4.3% in June. This approaches the 4.0% level that is usually taken to indicate "full employment."

There was a net increase of 11,400 Illinois jobs during the month, with new jobs concentrated in leisure, hospitality, trade, transportation, utilities, professional services, and business services. People seeking new opportunities in these and other job areas may utilize Illinois Job Link to match their resumes with posted job offers from more than 10,000 Illinois employers.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $6.055 billion in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago (fiscal period ending August 31, 2018), the backlog stood at $7.5 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 approximately $133 billion.

Did You Know?

Did you know the ice cream "sundae" was named in Evanston, Illinois? Some in the town were uncomfortable with residents' habit of hanging around the soda fountain on Sunday, so they passed an ordinance prohibiting the selling of ice cream sodas on Sunday. Ingenious confectioners and drug store operators obeying the law, instead served ice cream topped with flavored syrup without the soda. Facing new objections to naming the treat after the Sabbath they simply changed the spelling of "sunday" to "sundae."