Legislative News from Rep. Avery Bourne

There’s Still Time to Participate in 2020 Census

As you probably know, the 2020 census is currently taking place. Completing the census for every household helps ensure that our federal taxpayer dollars return to our area in the highest amounts possible. If you haven’t completed your census form yet, there’s still a small window of time. The census deadline has been extended to September 30, 2020. You can submit your census information by mail, by phone, or by computer.

An accurate census count is very important in determining federal funds, grants and other financial support that comes to states, counties and communities. When you fill out the census, you are making sure your community gets its fair share of more than $675 billion per year in federal funds. These census-driven funds go to schools, hospitals, roads, and other important programs that help our communities thrive.

When companies are deciding where to build stores, offices and factories, they look at census data. When everyone participates in the census, developers have a full and accurate picture of a community and that can translate to new jobs and greater economic opportunity. At the federal level, population figures from the census help determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets.

Avery Bourne Named Champion of Free Enterprise by Illinois Chamber of Commerce

I’m proud to announce that I was recently named a Champion of Free Enterprise, an award given by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce to legislators who have made special contributions to the defense of free enterprise, and the furtherance of policies that promote job growth and economic opportunities for Illinoisans.

The Illinois Chamber rated all members of the 101st General Assembly based on legislators’ votes on the key business legislation as determined by staff and the Illinois Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee. The Champion of Free Enterprise Awards are given biennially to members with Illinois Chamber ratings averaging 85% or higher over the previous two General Assemblies who have demonstrated their commitment to legislation that frees the entrepreneurial spirit. I earned a rating of 95%.

The votes in the Senate and House are selected based on their impact on the business community. None of the bills used in the report are weighted, as there was an adequate number of bills voted on during this General Assembly. Click here to view the scoring metric for all members of the House and Senate.

September Traveling Office Hours Scheduled for 95th District

I enjoyed meeting with constituents as my staff and I resumed our traveling office hours in August. Our next event is set for Tuesday, September 1, so I hope we have another good turnout. Upcoming traveling office hours are scheduled on the dates below:

Traveling Office Hours for the month of September include:

Tuesday, September 1
10:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Carlinville City Hall
550 North Broad Street

Tuesday, September 29
10:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Congressman Rodney Davis’ Office
108 West Market Street
In the US Bank Building on Floor 2R

For more information about these events, please contact my office at Bourne@ilhousegop.org, or at (217) 324-5200.

House Republicans Urge Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform to Reconvene Immediately

The last time the bipartisan and bicameral Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform met was March 5. Even though most panels, boards and commissions have resumed meeting via online platforms or in person with safety precautions in place, the Joint Commission on Ethics has been dormant for almost six months.

Under the cloud of the massive federal investigation into Illinois political corruption, the work of this commission is vital if we are ever going to address ethics in a substantive way. Last week the Republican House and Senate members who serve on the commission held a press conference and demanded the group reconvene and complete their bipartisan work. Only July 23, the four Republicans sent a letter to the co-chairs of the commission asking that the panel reconvene and finish their work, which includes agreeing on policy recommendations and approving a final report. No meeting was set for a full month after the letter was received.

Shortly after the August 24 press conference, the Democratic co-chairs announced that a final report would be issued in the coming weeks. I asked my House Republican colleagues who serve on the commission if a meeting has been set to finalize their work, and was told there has not. It appears that the majority party is once again going to exclude Republicans from providing input with regard to policy recommendations and the group’s final report. It’s incredibly disappointing that on an issue as important as ethics reform, that members of the majority party are still playing political games. It only strengthens the importance of a full, special session on ethics reform.

University of Illinois Develops Faster, Safer Saliva Test for Coronavirus

University of Illinois researchers have developed “Shield T3,” a new coronavirus test procedure that provides quick, accurate results.  A team of chemists and engineers developed a saliva-based test strip procedure that enables a single lab to test 10,000 individual samples per day, with minimal risk to lab personnel. The success of the U of I saliva test was confirmed when the procedure received emergency full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this month.

House GOP Questions Pritzker Move to Vacate Patronage Ban amid Madigan/ComEd Scandal

In a recent court filing, Governor Pritzker is seeking to vacate a set of court decrees that seek to prevent politically motivated hiring, as well as politically motivated firings or other punishments against public employees, known as the Shakman decrees. Against the backdrop of one of the largest patronage scandals in the history of the state involving House Speaker Michael Madigan and ComEd, a group of House Republicans held a press conference questioning Pritzker’s move.

The Shakman decrees consist of three federal court orders issued as a result of a class-action lawsuit filed by Michael Shakman against the Democratic Organization of Cook County. The decrees, issued in 1972, 1979 and 1983, prohibit politically motivated firings, demotions, transfers or other punishments of government employees. It is also unlawful to take any political factor into account when hiring public employees, except for positions such as policymaking. These decrees are binding on more than 40 offices statewide, including the Governor’s office. 

Despite the Governor’s push to vacate the decrees, the court-appointed monitor for the state’s hiring practices, Noelle Brennan, reported earlier this year that Pritzker’s administration still has not completed a comprehensive employment plan to address the issues protected by the decrees. In fact, she said the administration began restricting communication between her staff and state agencies.

Drivers’ License Expirations Extended by Full Year for Seniors 75 and Over

The expiration date for valid driver’s licenses held by Illinois drivers who are 75 years of age or older has been extended for a period of one year past the licenses’ current 2020 expiration date. As a result, drivers age 75 and older with a 2020 driver’s license expiration date do not need to visit a facility to renew their driver’s license until shortly before their birthday in 2021. There are approximately 147,000 drivers age 75 and over with expired or expiring driver’s licenses in 2020. Letters are being sent to drivers that qualify for this extension.

All other expiration dates for driver’s licenses/ID cards and license plate stickers have been extended until Nov. 1, 2020. As a result, expired documents will remain valid until Nov. 1 so customers under age 75 do not need to rush into Driver Services facilities, especially during hot weather. The public is urged to consider using online services when possible instead of visiting a facility due to heavy customer volume. Customers who can conduct business online may go to www.cyberdriveillinois.com to take advantage of online services – such as renewing license plate stickers – from the comfort of their own home. People who conduct online transactions will avoid waiting in line at a facility.

Central Illinois Counties to get Overlay Area Code in 2021

The announcement applies to all phone numbers located within the “217” area code.  Starting in March, new phone numbers in the current “217” area may be assigned telephone numbers starting with the three digits “447.”   After the February 2021 transition takes place, all calls within the current 217 area code will have to be dialed using ten digits.

The move, performed by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) in cooperation with the telecommunications industry, is a response to the pending exhaustion of seven-digit numbers within the “217” zone. The ICC issued a public service announcement to remind people of this change, which has been pending since August 2006. Local telephone users will be able to use ten-digit numbers starting on Saturday, August 29. From August 2020 until March 2021, the switchover will be voluntary, and will be mandatory thereafter.