Legislative News from Rep. Avery Bourne

Bourne Earns Perfect Rating from IL Farm Bureau

Did you know that one of every four Illinoisans works in the agriculture industry? The best way to improve Illinois’ financial standing and economy is to support those who provide jobs in our communities and drive our state’s economy. I’m proud to announce that I was recently named a “Friend of Agriculture” by the Activator Program of the Illinois Farm Bureau. I received a 100% score for votes taken in 2019-2020 that affect the agriculture industry in Illinois. The award was based on each legislator’s voting record in the 101st General Assembly on issues facing the farming community. There were 11 bills considered under this year’s voting criteria, including legislation on the minimum wage, the gas tax, the graduated income tax, and legislation affecting ethanol plants and the department of labor.

I’m shown in this photo with Christian County Farm Bureau members Mathew Heberling, Darrick Fleming, and Melissa McMillan. In existence for 102 years, the Christian County Farm Bureau is one of the oldest bureaus of its kind in the United States. 

Traveling Office Hours Set for Oct. 26 in Taylorville, Nov. 10 in Carlinville

As you may know, I hold traveling office hours twice each month. I attend these office hours as my schedule permits, but a member of my staff is always available to help constituents with any issues they are having with state agencies. This includes FOID Card, Concealed Carry License, and unemployment insurance issues. No appointments are needed, so just stop by at the location most convenient for you. Please note, my next traveling office hours events are scheduled for:

Tuesday, October 26                                                 Tuesday, November 10
10:30 AM – 1:00 PM                                                    10:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Congressman Rodney Davis’ Office                        Carlinville City Hall
108 West Market Street                                             550 North Broad Street
US Bank Building on Floor 2R                                  Carlinville
Taylorville

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

Hillsboro Library Receives Library Construction Grant

The Hillsboro Area Public Library is one of four Illinois libraries that recently received a grant through the Secretary of State’s Public Library Construction Grant Program. The capital plan that provides the grants was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in 2019. In the most recent $2.6 million outlay of grant money, the Hillsboro Public Library will receive $643,186. The funds will be used toward a $1 million project to convert a former bank building into a library to replace the current, over 100-year old library.

Rep. Avery Bourne Champions Legislation to Help Families with Remote Learning Costs

As families continue to navigate at-home or hybrid learning, I am proud to co-sponsor legislation to assist families with unanticipated costs incurred due to remote learning for children. HB 5834 creates an income tax credit for parents and legal guardians of school-age students for educational expenses that result from remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible expenses include additional computers, printers, internet routers, tutors, learning facilitators and certain childcare expenses. Additional tax credits would be extended to teachers with children, since these teachers report to their schools while children are required to engage in online learning off-site. I’ll be pushing for the bill’s passage during the upcoming fall veto session in November.

State Police Launch CheckPoint Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking System

Based on legislation I was proud to sponsor and support, the Illinois State Police have launched a new statewide sexual assault tracking system that will bring victims of rape some valuable peace of mind. The “CheckPoint” system provides survivors of sexual assault with the ability to monitor the status of their case evidence throughout the process, from collection at the hospital, through law enforcement pick-up and submission to the forensic lab, and ultimately to the State’s Attorney’s office where final results are received. To ensure privacy, the system will use unique case numbers and passwords to limit access to survivors and law enforcement.

Legislation from 2017 (HB 528) created the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, and the panel studied and presented recommendations for the best way to implement an electronic evidence tracking system. The group’s recommendations were then brought forward in legislation (SB 1411) that was approved in 2019. Implementation of this tracking system is a great step toward addressing issues with rape kits. There is still room for improvement, specifically with addressing the backlog of rape kits, but the new online tracking system provides a new layer of transparency and accountability for those seeking justice after being victimized.

Special Investigating Committee Chairman Halts Committee Meetings until After Election

As you may know, a Special Investigating Committee (SIC) is currently looking into the conduct of Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. The bipartisan committee is investigating any role the Speaker may have had in a nine-year bribery scheme, where Commonwealth Edison admitted it traded jobs, money, and a seat on the ComEd board to friends of Madigan in exchange for favorable action on controversial energy legislation. After deliberately “slow-walking” the work of the committee for the last two months, SIC Chair Chris Welch (D-Hillside), announced last week that the committee will not meet again until after the November 3 election.

Governor Pritzker and members of Madigan’s own party have said he needs to explain himself and testify before this committee, but it is becoming clear that the three Democrats who serve on the SIC are protecting the Speaker and are shielding him from having to testify. Following Chairman Welch’s announcement, the three Republicans who serve on the SIC held a press conference to denounce the decision. The following day House Republican Leader Jim Durkin held his own press conference, and reiterated that the Special Investigating Committee has a duty and obligation to investigate the admitted facts in the ComEd Deferred Prosecution Agreement and Speaker Madigan’s involvement as Public Official A in the bribery scandal. He also said that Governor Pritzker and House Democrats need to either demand that Madigan testify, or demand the Speaker’s immediate resignation. I agree with Leader Durkin’s opinion on this matter. Illinoisans deserve a clear, expedient and fair process into this investigation. The committee needs to resume its work, and Chairman Welch needs to stop delaying the process.

Drivers’ License Deadlines Further Extended; No Extension for Vehicle License Plates

Due to challenges Illinois drivers are having with renewing expired driver’s licenses, the Secretary of State has announced a further extension to the renewal deadline. Expired driver’s licenses and non-driver personal ID cards will now remain valid  until February 1, 2021.

The small decal stickers that Illinois drivers attach to their motor vehicle license plates to show that the car has been licensed are separate from drivers’ licenses. These car license plates and decal stickers were only extended until November 1, 2020. Since most of these transaction are already done online or by mail, COVID-19 is not changing the way these stickers are purchased and delivered.

Secretary of State and IL Treasurer Announce Extended Waiver of E-Check Payment Processor Fee

The Illinois Secretary of State and IL Treasurer have partnered with National Cash Register (NCR) to remove the e-check payment processing fee through the remainder of 2020. Since the payment processor fees were first waived on May 5, the number of transactions conducted online and paid with e-checks have nearly tripled compared to the same period in 2019. The e-check payment processor fee will be waived for the following online services:

  • renewing a vehicle registration
  • obtaining a duplicate driver’s license or ID card
  • renewing a driver’s license with the Safe Driver Renewal program. 

Visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com for more information.

Early Voting Underway Across Illinois

Locally, early voting is now available at the County Clerks’ offices. Through Oct. 19, early voting is limited to the clerks’ offices, but on Oct. 19 early voting will be expanded to several other locations. Information about early voting can be found at the following links:

Christian County Voting Information

Macoupin County Voting Information

Montgomery County Voting Information

Madison County Voting Information

Business Interruption Grants Available for Agriculture Businesses

Over the past 6 1/2 months, meat and poultry plants across the country have been impacted by the pandemic, as reduced sales resulted in a slowdown of processing livestock and forced many Illinois farmers to incur additional costs. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) has announced the availability of $5 million in business recovery funding for livestock producers and small meat and poultry plants suffering interruptions as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The new funding opportunity is part of the state’s Business Interruption Grants program (BIG), which leverages federal CARES Act money to help small businesses statewide offset losses incurred in connection to COVID-19. Online applications are available now through October 31, 2020 at https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/agr/Animals/Pages/Livestock-Management-Facility-Grants.aspx.

Harvest Time Begins in Illinois

Relatively sunny, dry weather sped the combines out into the fields this week.  As of the week ending on Sunday, October 4, the Illinois corn crop was 89% mature and ready for harvest, but as of that day only 26% of the corn was in the bins.  More than half of the harvest-ready corn was still out on the stalks at the beginning of this week, and it was time to start bringing it in.  Almost three-quarters of the corn field operators were reporting a good crop, with 58% of the acreage described as “good” and 15% as “excellent.”  Condition in the soybean fields were equally positive (75% good or excellent), and 25% of the beans had been harvested.

The Illinois crop figures are the product of weekly reports generated by farmers who are in electronic contact with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The USDA compiles these reports into a weekly summary for Illinois and the other major farm states.