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Update from the Capitol 12/17/2021

Friday, December 17, 2021 - Posted 9:16:15 PM by Rep. Tom Bennett

Tom Bennett

Storm disaster proclamation includes portions of our area, help available

IEMAlogo.jpgResidents of Ford, Iroquois, Livingston and Woodford counties are among those Illinoisans covered by the state's disaster proclamation due to last weekend's severe storms. Those in the affected counties who need assistance from state agencies may visit the virtual Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) for helpful information and resources.

Some local residents might remember an in-person MARC which opened for a few weeks following the flooding in Gibson City earlier this year. If a similar in-person center opens in our district, that announcement would come in the near future. In the meantime, these services are currently available online for anyone in immediate need.

More new laws set to take effect January 1

Last week I told you about some of the more than 200 new laws which will be taking effect with the start of the new year. This week I want to highlight a few more that might be of interest.

Reducing fees on trailers

Back in 2019 the fees for registering trailers in Illinois jumped up to $118. This very large fee increase had an immediate negative effect on Illinoisans in a wide variety of ways. This year I was proud to support legislation which would roll that fee increase back. Starting January 1 the trailer registration fee will fall to $36.

Children's lemonade stands free from regulation

A while back a young girl in Illinois had her lemonade stand shut down by a local public health agency. In response, the General Assembly earlier this year passed legislation that would exempt children's lemonade stands from being regulated by state law. The bill was nicknamed Hayli's Law in honor of the young lady who had her stand closed down and who inspired the change in state law.

E-learning for senior driver safety classes

Illinoisans over the age of 55 may now use e-learning for certified driver safety training classes rather than having to attend an in-person classroom. Secretary of State-approved accident prevention courses will now offer their 8-hour instruction through either an in-person classroom or an e-learning setting if the student prefers. This change allows seniors to safely and comfortably access the driver safety instruction they need to stay safe on the road and also gives drivers a chance to reduce their vehicle insurance costs.

State Constitution Day

Illinois just celebrated its 203rd birthday a couple of weeks ago, but did you know our first state Constitution was actually approved much earlier, on August 26? Under new legislation which takes effect January 1, August 26 is designated as Illinois Constitution Day to be observed throughout the state as the day our first state Constitution was ratified. This is a good opportunity to teach our students about the proud history of our great state.

Visiting with students in Clifton

Clifton_Central.jpgI was grateful for the opportunity to talk about Springfield and state government with Rebecca Swigert-Fenton's senior class at Clifton Central High School a few weeks ago. They are an excellent group of students and they asked great questions. Thank you Rebecca for all that you do for your students, the school and the community.

Talking public safety with State Police Director Brendan Kelly

Teleforum.jpgWe had a great telephone town hall meeting last week with Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly and thousands of residents of the 106th district. We discussed a number of topics including many of the responsibilities of the Illinois State Police, opportunities and requirements for joining the force, Scott's Law, FOID cards and much more.

I was glad to hear Director Kelly talk about the progress that has been made in bringing down the backlog of FOID and CCL applications and renewals and the efforts the ISP is making to improve their process. Thank you to Director Kelly and to everyone who listened in and offered questions. The ISP is a great organization supporting and protecting the people of Illinois.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $5,136,563,504 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $7.0 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.

Merry Christmas and a very happy new year!

Christmas.jpgFrom all of us in our district offices to everyone in the 106th district, we are grateful to serve and wish all a very Merry Christmas! May 2022 bring new opportunities, joy and hope. I hope that everyone has the opportunity to spend the holiday in the company of family and friends.

I will be back with another update from the Capitol on Friday January 7.

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Thomas Bennett