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Update from the Capitol 8/5/2022

Friday, August 05, 2022 Posted by Rep. Tom Bennett
Tom Bennett

Embattled DCFS director grilled by Legislative Audit Commission over massive failures

Since December, nine children have died under DCFS' watch. Meanwhile, DCFS Director Marc Smith has been held in contempt of court 12 times for failing to place children in state care appropriately. Last week, Director Smith and DCFS staff appeared before the bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission to answer for troubling missteps outlined in recent State audits of the agency. According to CBS 2 Chicago and other media reports, Smith was grilled by legislators over the agency's massive and repeated failures to protect children under its care.

Several audits of the department reveal glaring problems: In 98% of cases, DCFS was unable to provide home safety checklists and 100% of employees and contractors had no receipt or acknowledgement of DCFS policies.

I and fellow House Republicans have repeatedly called for Director Smith's resignation and a complete restructuring of DCFS. Thus far, those calls have gone unanswered by Governor Pritzker and his administration.

llinois State Police changes FOID card "clear and present danger" standard

The presumption, under Illinois law, is that most persons who apply for an FOID card, required to purchase and possess a firearm,  ought to get one.  Exceptions include the authority granted to the State Police not to issue an FOID card to any person who is a "clear and present danger" to others.  "Clear and present danger" is a legal term that can be expanded or shrunk; and the State Police have now expanded the definition of "clear and present danger" to prevent likely dangerous individuals from receiving a FOID card to purchase firearms.

Rather than defining  "clear and present danger" as involving an actual, impending, or imminent threat of substantial bodily harm to themselves or another person, the new standard adopted will allow any violent, suicidal, or assaultive threat, even if not immediate or imminent, to stop the issuance of an FOID card.

The new State Police language was adopted by emergency rule, which means that it is already in effect. 

Vermilion County Health Department receives the 2022 Bronze Innovative Practice Award 

According to Health Department officials, the award celebrates developing innovative programs to meet the needs of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The designation as a Bronze Innovative Practice demonstrates a high level of program innovation and reflects collaboration, adaptability, and program resilience.

In January of 2021, the Vermilion County Health Department began holding COVID-vaccination clinics in its office, but there were limits on the number of people who could be served in the building, so the Department began looking for additional locations to better serve the community. Ultimately, the health department held  vaccination clinics at the Fischer Theatre, Danville Area Community College, at the airport, at community centers, at schools, at churches, and at workplaces. 

Bravo to the Health Department Employees for their hard work and innovation!

Illinois unemployment at 4.5%, higher than national average

The Department of Employment Security (IDES) has published preliminary Illinois unemployment-rate numbers for June 2022.  Unemployment was 4.5% in June, below recent pandemic-affected levels but significantly higher than comparable unemployment rates published in neighboring states in the same month.  In addition, the 4.5% Illinois unemployment rate was 90 basis points higher than the U.S. national rate of 3.6%.

Compared to the pandemic-affected June 2021 jobs picture, overall Illinois nonfarm employment was up by 245,700 jobs statewide.  The Leisure and Hospitality sector, which includes restaurants and other places that sell prepared food, led the way by creating 79,900 net new jobs over the twelve-month period.  The high-paying Professional and Business Services sector created 51,100 new Illinois jobs.

However, job creation was even healthier in states around Illinois, with many of these states noting record-low unemployment numbers.  In Indiana, the June 2022 unemployment rate was 2.4%; in Iowa, 2.6%; in Kentucky, 3.7%; in Missouri, 2.8%; and in Wisconsin, 2.9%.

Find out if you are eligible for individual income tax or property tax rebates

You may be eligible for a one-time individual income and property tax rebate available to taxpayers who meet certain requirements. Rebates are expected to be issued beginning the week of September 12. To find out if you are eligible, visit: https://www2.illinois.gov/rev/ programs/Rebates/Pages/ Default.aspx

More information is here: https://www.nbcchicago.com/ news/local/illinois-income- and-property-tax-rebate-how- to-know-if-youre-eligible/ 2904323/

How much do we owe?

As of  this writing, the State of Illinois owes $2,065,353,687 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $3.8 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.

Sales Tax Break on school supplies runs August 5 - 14

Friday, August 5th officially starts a state sales tax rollback on school supplies. Illinois shoppers will be able to purchase school supplies for reduced costs through Aug. 14. Retailers will reduce the state sales tax to almost 1.25%, down from 6.25% for 10 days as parents, students, and teachers make their annual back-to-school supply purchases.  More information is here:

https://www.sj-r.com/story/ news/education/2022/08/02/ five-things-to-know-about-the- illinois-school-tax-rollback/ 65388212007/?utm_campaign=snd- autopilot

Did you know?

From 1923 to 1969, the official state language of Illinois was not English but "the American Language"?

Take the Reimagine Illinois Economic Opportunity Survey!

What do you think is the most important issue preventing access to good-paying jobs and opportunities in Illinois?  Let your voice be heard. Take our Economic Opportunity Survey at:  www.ILHouseGOP.org/ economic_opportunity

Tom Bennett

Thomas Bennett
State Representative Tom Bennett