Senate Week in Review: August 19 – 23, 2019

McHenry, IL – Some good news to report about job creation, new laws dealing with sexual assault and cancer funding, and back-to-school words of caution from the State Police highlight this report. Also, the Lake County Farm Bureau held an important event for legislators throughout the region. 

Illinois Jobs Are Up
According to the
Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), unemployment in Illinois fell one-tenth of one percent to 4.2 percent in July as Illinois businesses added 78,000 jobs. All fourteen metro areas of the state saw improvement. 

It appears the improving national economy continues to impact Illinois in a positive way. President Donald Trump’s policies, including tax cuts and deregulation, have helped deliver a 50-year best unemployment rate, record low unemployment for African Americans, Hispanic Americans and women, and millions of new jobs nationally.

The signs we see in Illinois are good news. Illinois has had a difficult time fully recovering from the so-called Great Recession a decade ago. State tax increases and rules and regulations on employers have likely contributed to our sluggish recovery. I hope some of the new legislation passed and signed into law this year, such as the increase in the minimum wage and prohibiting employers from fully interviewing job applicants, won’t undo the positive trend moving forward. 

Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking System Signed into Law
A new law providing survivors of sexual assault more transparency during the processing of their rape kits was signed into law on Aug. 16. 

Senate Bill 1411/PA 101-0377 came out of the work of the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission and requires the Illinois State Police to establish a statewide sexual assault electronic tracking system. Under the new law, sponsored by Sen. Dan McConchie, survivors will have access to real-time updates about the status of rape kits, providing vital transparency to the process of investigating these serious crimes. The new system must be operational no later than one year after becoming law. 

Funding Pediatric Cancer Research with new License Plate Decal
Illinois motorists will have the opportunity to support pediatric cancer research thanks to a newly signed law.
Senate Bill 946/PA 101-0372 allows the Illinois Department of Human Services to issue a decal for pediatric cancer awareness. 

Funds from the sale of the decals will go to the University of Illinois’ Cancer Center for pediatric cancer research. The decals will have an original issuance fee of $25 with $10 directed to the Pediatric Cancer Awareness Fund. Thereafter, the decals will carry a renewal fee of $25 with $23 directed to the Pediatric Cancer Awareness Fund. The balance of the fees goes to the Secretary of State Special License Plate Fund. 

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Steve McClure, in memory of Johnny Wade of Jerseyville, Illinois who passed away from cancer at the age of eight. 

ISP Cautions Motorists – New School Year Begins
The Illinois State Police are reminding the public to be aware of school buses, crosswalks, and children walking or riding their bikes to school, as students across Illinois head back to school. 

In school zones, the speed limit is 20 miles per hour from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days when children are present. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in a crosswalk, and when a school bus is stopped with its lights activated and stop sign extended, drivers must stop their vehicle before reaching the bus or they could face a $150 fine and a three-month driver’s license suspension. 

Also, under a new law that took effect on July 1, Illinois now has stiffer penalties regarding the use of hand-held devices behind the wheel. First-time incidences of driving while operating a handheld mobile device now count as a moving violation and a driver using a hand-held device while a car is in drive could face a $75 fine. 

Lake County Farm to Table Dinner
It was a great time at the Lake County Farm Bureau Farm to Table dinner for legislators August 21 (pictured left). I met a lot of wonderful people and made new friends. The object of the event was to impress upon elected officials the value of agriculture in Lake County and the rest of the state. 

What legislators do in Springfield, and D.C. for that matter, has great potential for help or harm when it comes to Illinois agriculture. 

As the minority Spokesman on the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am committed to supporting and protecting the economic well-being of agriculture, Illinois’ number one industry, which has an economic impact of $19 billion! Agriculture employs more than one million Illinois workers throughout the entire food and fiber system and our state ranks among the top states in the export of agricultural commodities, with $8.2 billion worth of goods shipped to other countries. (Pictured right is Rep. Tom Weber, Lake County Farm Bureau Exec. Dir. Greg Koeppen and Sen. Craig Wilcox)

I want to thank Lake County Farm Bureau executive Director Greg Koeppen and his staff for a great event, Yarc Farms for hosting and the Beelow Farms, Double Y Cattle Company, Didier Farms, Krueger’s Vegetable Farm, Culver’s Grayslake, Tighthead Brewing Company and Glunz Family Winery for the delicious food and beverages. 


Craig Wilcox

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