Legislative News from Rep. Avery Bourne

Carlinville Receives Rebuild Illinois Grant for New Police Department Building

Congratulations to the City of Carlinville! The City of Carlinville is going to receive a $250,000 buyer’s grant through the Rebuild Illinois program. Helping to facilitate this grant was one of my top priorities for this current General Assembly, and I’m glad to know this project will move forward. At a time when there are pushes to strip our law enforcement of essential resources, I will continue to push for our law enforcement and first responders to get the important resources and training they need to keep our communities safe.

With receipt of the grant, the City of Carlinville will purchase the Frontier Communications property at 225 N. Broad Street in Carlinville for use by the police department. While the existing Carlinville Police Department building includes just 2,800 square feet, the new property will more than double the department’s space, with 6,800 square feet. The new building will be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and provide better conditions for staff, officers, and the public.

IDES Launches New Callback-Only System for Unemployment Claims    

My office has received more than 200 calls from constituents who have not been able to secure unemployment benefits owed to them, or get questions answered about their benefit. Legislative offices all across the state are expressing similar dealings with frustrated Illinoisans.

Last week, we did see some changes at IDES, as a new director was named and a new system was put in to place. We have yet to see if these changes will mean better service for those waiting for their unemployment benefits. 

On July 9, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) implemented a “callback only” model as a temporary solution to effectively honor the order in which callers attempt to reach the call center for assistance. This new model will be in effect for the following call centers: Claimant Services Center (800-244-5631), IllinoisJobLink.com (877-342-7533), Benefit Payment Control (800-814-0513) and Employer Hotline (800-247-4984). The new system, in theory, will prevent long wait times or multiple call-backs by those needing help. 

When you call IDES, it is important that you select the appropriate numeric option that best describes the reason for your call. This ensures that you will be served in the order that we receive your call. You will be called back Monday through Friday. Call back hours are as follows:

  • Claimant Services Center: 7:30 AM -7:00 PM
  • IllinoisJobLink.com, Benefit Payment Control and Employer Hotline: 8:30 AM-5:00 PM

You can only have a single pending callback scheduled in the system at a time. The call you receive from IDES should display on Caller ID as 800-244-5631 under normal circumstances. In certain cases, this number could be blocked by your phone carrier. It is important that you answer the phone when the callback is made. If you miss your callback, IDES staff will attempt to leave you a voicemail. They will call you again shortly after the first attempt. If you cannot be reached after the second attempt, you will be required to contact the call center to schedule another callback. 

Taxpayer Groups Announce Opposition to November 2020 Graduated Tax Referendum

Business groups came together last week to express concerns about the proposed graduated income tax amendment that will appear on this year’s November ballot. The Illinois Farm Bureau, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and the Technology and Manufacturing Association announced their intent to form a consortium to develop public awareness about the consequences of the referendum proposal. The proposed amendment cannot be passed unless it gets either a majority of the entire November electorate, or three-fifths of the voters who specifically vote on the referendum question.   

Still Time to Participate in Rep. Avery Bourne’s “Summer Reading Road Trip” Program

There is still time for kids in grades K-5 from the 95th House District to participate in my 2020 summer reading program. Participants of this year’s “Summer Reading Road Trip” will earn a certificate of achievement from the House of Representatives and free ice cream if they read eight books between by August 14.

District 95 encompasses all or parts of Christian, Macoupin, Montgomery and Madison Counties, and includes 49 different municipalities. To participate in the program, K-5 students should read any eight books of their choice over the summer, with books of 150 pages or more counting as two books. Once the reading goal has been reached, the summer readers should submit their completed reading list in one of the following three ways:

  • Print out the Summer Reading Road Trip flyer, available at RepBourne.com (from the “Resources” tab click on the summer reading program link), fill it out, and mail it to Rep. Bourne’s office at: 106 E. Columbian Boulevard North, PO Box 38, Litchfield, IL  62056
  • From the summer reading program link on the website, fill out and submit the Google form
  • E-Mail your name, address, phone number, and books completed to bourne@ilhousegop.org

For more information about this program, please call Bourne’s office at (217) 324-5200, or email the office at Bourne@ilhousegop.org

CARES Act Money to be Distributed; Municipalities Ask for More Discretion

“CARES Act” community-grant money, appropriated by the federal government, is slated for distribution through the states to local governments to help communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But new standards, proposed by the Pritzker administration as emergency administrative rules without public comment, sharply restrict the discretion of local governments on how to spend their share of CARES Act money, especially for Downstate Illinois communities like those in the 95th District. The federal CARES Act assumes that local communities will have discretion to use these moneys to help themselves based upon the unique circumstances of each community, but the new statewide Pritzker emergency rules impose a one-size-fits-all mandate upon how CARES Act community grant money can be spent. The Illinois Municipal League (IML) has expressed its concern about the new Pritzker-administration emergency rules. The new rules were promulgated by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

$250 Million in Federal Funds Headed to Illinois Hospitals

In May, I joined Republicans and Democrats in supporting legislation (SB 2541) for a new Hospital Assessment Program. The Hospital Assessment Program is a $3.8 billion program that will bring in over $250 million additional federal dollars to the state. The program consists of $450 million in additional funding for hospitals since the last assessment four years ago. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) worked with the General Assembly and stakeholders to distribute funding in a manner that increased funding to all hospitals in Illinois, while prioritizing hospitals that serve a high number of Medicaid patients. All rural hospitals in our area including Staunton, Hillsboro, Carlinville, Pana, Taylorville, and Litchfield will receive additional funding. Governor JB Pritzker signed SB 2541 into law on July 7.
 
The legislation helps make the Medicaid program more responsive to the needs of individual members on where to seek care. Funding is also reserved to improve access to health care services, including diagnostic and treatment services, in under-resourced communities across the state. Payments to hospitals will be more transparent and the billing system will be simplified for some services like laboratory tests performed by hospitals.

Illinois Drivers’ Licenses and Vehicle Registration Extended until November 1, 2020

The extension was announced this week by the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State.  The extension covers: (a) drivers’ licenses, (b) restricted driving permits issued to drivers who are driving under supervision, (c) non-driving personal identification cards issued by the Secretary of State, and (d) vehicle registration papers.   

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Secretary of State closed offices in mid-March.  Many of the offices have since re-opened, but are only operating under conditions of severe social distancing.  Furthermore, there is now a significant document backup. The Secretary of State’s Department of Driver Services issues more than 8.5 million Illinois drivers’ licenses and more than 3.0 million non-drivers’-license photo ID cards.

Under this extension, Illinois Secretary of State vehicle-related and ID-related documents will continue to be temporarily valid until the extension date. The extension will enable the Secretary of State’s personnel, and their customers, to continue to work together to try to clear the backlog.