McHenry, IL – If you were one of the millions of Illinois impacted by the 2017 Equifax data breach, you could be eligible for a cash payment. Meanwhile, Illinois is dealing with its own data breach involving watercraft owners. In other news, Woodstock is home to a fabulous educational gem for students and families, a visit with local realtors and it’s summer Fair season.
Restitution coming for Illinois victims of Equifax data breach
An estimated 5.4 million Illinoisans were impacted by the Equifax data breach two years ago. The credit monitoring company is now settling a federal lawsuit, which is expected to be approved by a federal judge. Equifax has created a website (https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/) for consumers to see if they qualify for any benefits, which can include a $125 payment or free credit monitoring, or even up to $20,000, depending on how much time someone took to address identity theft. Equifax has announced that the company will pay a total of $425 million in restitution, including more than $7.3 million for Illinoisans. The benefits will not be distributed or available until the settlement is officially approved by the court.
Illinois Watercraft owner data breach
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recently suffered a data breach of its own involving Illinois watercraft owners. Active watercraft registration data is routinely posted to the Illinois Open Data Portal, which is controlled by the state’s Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT). However, according to DoIT, from April 4-8 and from April 29-May 1 of this year, watercraft registration records containing personal information were inadvertently uploaded to the State of Illinois Open Data Portal.
Personal information included full names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. The portal is accessible to the public. The agency says there’s no reason to believe this access resulted in any personal information being misused, but they recommend placing a fraud alert, credit freeze or credit lock with the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Under U.S. law, you are entitled to receive one free credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus. You can also request a copy of your credit report from each bureau. For more information, call toll-free 877-322-8228 or visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
Now law: Lindenhurst Sanitary District legislation
House Bill 3369, signed into law July 19, permits the Village of Lindenhurst to dissolve the Lindenhurst Sanitary District Board and transfer the board’s power to the Village, including its taxing powers. This idea is an initiative of the Village of Lindenhurst to dissolve an unnecessary special district that is largely contained within the Village. The Village plans to fully dissolve the district when its debts are paid off. It’s a good-government bill eliminating an unnecessary taxing body and extra layer of government. HB3369 was introduced in the House this spring by Rep. Tom Weber.
Challenger Learning Center at Aurora University
I recently had the chance to tour the Challenger Learning Center (CLC) at Aurora University, which by the way, is in the process of transitioning to Olson Elementary School in Woodstock. What a local gem! Since the CLC began operating and educating our children in 2001, more than 150,000 students have taken part in the Center’s educational programs. The Challenger Learning Centers program was created following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. Two years prior, NASA announced its Teacher in Space Project connecting the science of space exploration, mathematics and science with elementary school students across the country by conducting mock space missions. The Challenger Learning Centers continue the commitment to science and technology education while honoring the memory of the Space Shuttle astronauts who died, including elementary school teacher Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian astronaut. The CLC in Woodstock was Illinois’ first Challenger Learning Center. Students from Woodstock’s Clay Street School were the first to “fly” the “Rendezvous with a Comet” mission on September 18, 2001. Today, the mission simulation is about NASA’s exploration of Mars. The CLC also offers summer camps and monthly family science nights. Check out their website: https://www.challengerillinois.org/
Heartland Realtor Organization
On July 25, my Senate colleague Dan McConchie and I visited with members of the Heartland Realtor Organization (pictured left). We discussed property taxes and their impact on home sales and Illinois’ public pension problem. Hopefully, a proposed Property Tax Relief Task Force, approved by the Legislature in late May will provide some answers to sky-high property taxes. The bill (SB1932) needs the Governor’s signature to become law.
Wallet Hub, the online personal financial website, noted earlier this year that Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the nation, based on property tax bills for median home values. Statewide public hearings are part of the Task Force effort. I’m looking forward to participating in those hearings. Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady appointed me to the panel in anticipation of its creation.
It’s well known that public pension systems in Illinois are woefully underfunded, which is bad news for taxpayers who ultimately are responsible for making the pension systems solvent. There are 667 government pension systems (local and state) in Illinois, according to the Illinois Policy Institute think tank. The underfunded debt for the five state government systems alone is estimated to be more than $133.5 billion, according to Illinois’ Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
McHenry County Fair July 30 through August 4
The 2019 version of the McHenry County Fair is under way in Woodstock with open and junior livestock shows, horse shows, a talent contest, antique tractor pull and many other activities including a carnival and live entertainment. This is the 71st year for the McHenry County Fair. The Fair’s official website – https://www.mchenrycountyfair.com/ – has a lot of information about fair events and activities, and you can purchase tickets online.
Lake County Fair
The Lake County Fair was held from July 24 through July 28 in Grayslake. Among the highlights were livestock shows, demonstrations and talent competitions, a monster truck show and motocross, a queen pageant, live entertainment and a demolition derby.
Illinois State Fair begins August 8
The 2019 Illinois State Fair gets underway Aug. 8 in Springfield. The 11-day event, which brings hundreds of thousands of people through its gates, celebrates agriculture, the state’s number one employer and driver of the state’s economy.
The fair features livestock shows, harness racing, carnival rides, a wide variety of live music and entertainers, and dozens of food and product vendors from across the state.
The Illinois State Fair runs Aug. 8-18. Admission is $10 for adults on Fridays and Saturday, and $5 all other days; $3 for senior citizens (60+); and free for kids (0-12). For daily schedules and lists of vendors, competitions, attractions, and the Grandstand lineup, check out the Illinois State Fair website.
Having fun with our vets
July 20 was an awesome day hanging out with our vets on “TLS Get Wet with a Vet” day.
Special thanks to TLS Veterans, Laura Franz & Chad Miller, Cabana’s on the Chain, Gary Johnson, Watertower Marina and Keith Carpenter for hosting veterans for a Fox River ride and lunch.
It was a great day with perfect weather and beautiful water.