Senate Week in Review: August 26 – 30, 2019

McHenry, IL. — A number of bills sponsored by Senate Republican lawmakers have been signed into law during the week, including measures expanding youth hunting, shining light on ADA violations, seeking to repurpose a state facility, and increasing pedestrian safety. Also during the week, the Illinois Gaming Board is seeking public comment on Illinois’ sports wagering and; attendance at this year’s State Fair was up dramatically. 

Locally, it was a great honor to present U.S. Military medals and badges to Korean War Veteran Don Voigt, I went behind the scenes at a local Metra station, and Olde Tyme Baseball at Central Park in Grayslake. 

New Law Expands Youth Hunting
Young hunters throughout the state will have greater opportunity to tag a deer thanks to an expansion of youth hunting that has been signed into law. 

A new pilot program that expands the existing three-day, youth-only hunting season state wide is created by House Bill 3623/PA 101-0444. The new law will allow young hunters to obtain apprentice hunting permits in multiple years instead of expiring after one season with no renewal. 

Making ADA Violations Public
Legislation aimed at providing transparency regarding public buildings that are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law this week. Senate Bill 1090/PA 101-0537 will require the Illinois Attorney General to publicly post data on ADA violations. 

There are no current collection or reporting requirements concerning complaints about physical access violations. This new law intends to provide the public with more information to increase accountability and ensure that every disabled person has equitable access to facilities across the state. 

Repurposing State Facility
A new state task force seeks to find a renewed purpose for the Tamms Correctional Center, a major state prison in southern Illinois that was closed in 2013. 

House Bill 210/PA 101-0499 creates the Tamms Minimum Security Unit Task Force, which will be charged with studying redevelopment options for the shuttered 220-acre, 21 building complex including the potential to use the center for vocational training center for the Illinois Department of Corrections. 

Currently, the shuttered facility is a financial drain on state resources, but proponents of reopening it believe it could be redeveloped for other uses – boosting job creation and economic development in an economically struggling region of the state. 

The Task Force is required to submit its findings to the Governor and the General Assembly by Dec. 31, 2020. 

School Safety Bill Becomes Law
Illinois schools will now have the option to install low-cost intruder barriers in classrooms to protect against armed intruders, under a new law. 

Senate Bill 1371/PA 101-0548 allows school districts to use door-locking mechanisms that attach to the door and are lockable and unlockable from the inside of the classroom. The mechanisms must be unlockable from the outside by a key or tool given to police and fire departments so they can continue to act to protect those barricaded inside. 

‘Mason’s Law’ Signed into Law
Drivers who don’t display appropriate caution in a crosswalk could face a one-year suspension of their license once the recently signed “Mason’s Law” takes effect on July 1, 2020. The new law aims to make sure pedestrians can cross streets safely and that those who endanger the lives of people using crosswalks, many of whom are school children, are held accountable. 

House Bill 2383/PA 101-0470 requires a one-year suspension of an individual’s driver’s license if they commit a right-of-way violation at a crosswalk or a crosswalk in a school zone that results in bodily harm or death. 

The legislation was filed in response to the death of Iroquois resident Mason Knorr, who was killed in a traffic crash when a semi failed to obey a posted stop sign. 

Public Comment Sought on Sports Betting
A new law expanding legalized gambling includes betting on sports. Before the state creates the rules for wagering on sporting events, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) is seeking public comment. 

In a statement released Aug. 27, IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter said, “This public comment period is an important step in a process to ethically and expeditiously establish a regulatory framework to allow sports wagering in Illinois.” 

The sports wagering public comment period will be open for 30 days from Aug. 27 to Sept. 27. Comments can be submitted by emailing the Gaming Board at Additional details about the sports wagering law are available at the IGB website:

State Fair Attendance
Attendance at this year’s Illinois State Fair (Aug. 8-18) was up by 37 percent over 2018, and the event had its most successful year in five years, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture. 

Preliminary figures released by the Department indicate 508,901 people came through the State Fair gates to enjoy livestock shows, harness racing, carnival rides, and national entertainment at the Grandstand and dozens of food and product vendors from across the state. The agency reports more parking passes were sold than during the previous 17 State Fairs, and there were 50 additional vendors this year compared to 2018. 

On the Local Scene:
August 27 –
An interesting look behind the scenes at the Western Ave Metra station near the Ukrainian Village area with Metra’s Rich Oppenheim, including the 1930’s-era A2 Interlocker controls that keep the trains moving day and night and activate the track switches (pictured left). These controls are a remarkable piece of ingenuity. Think about the design and function of this hands-on controller that is still an integral part of rail traffic 87 years after it was installed. An amazing operation.

In addition to a visit at the A2 Tower, there was a tour of the maintenance yard at Western Ave. and the mechanical shop at 47th Street. Lots of talented machinists and technicians keep the Metra trains in working order. In 2018, Metra provided transportation for more than 76 million riders. Thanks

August 24 –
Lived a little sports history during the week by attending the “Olde Tyme Baseball” game at Central Park in Grayslake (pictured right).

The game between the Grayslake Athletics and the McHenry Independents was enjoyed by a nice size crowd who were not only treated to how the game was played in the late 19th Century, but also the slang terms typical of the day: “Laid the willow on that onion” and “Wasn’t that a corker?” The Independents held off a furious Athletics final inning rally to win 11 to 10. 

August 31 –
What a great way to end the week by presenting Korean War Veteran, Don Voigt, with four medals and two badges for his honorable, and combat wounded service to our nation (pictured left).

A well-deserved Purple Heart will hopefully be officially approved in the near future.

It was an honor to present the awards to a real American hero in front of his family and friends in Johnsburg. 


Craig Wilcox

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