Upcoming Youth Firearm Deer Season
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is sharing information about the upcoming Youth Firearm Deer Season taking place in a matter of weeks.
From October 10 to October 12, the Youth Firearm Deer Season will be open to hunters who have not reached their 18th birthday prior to the opening date of the season.
To participate, eligible residents and nonresident youths must purchase a $10.50 Youth Firearm Either-Sex Deer Permit. Youth Deer Permits for all open counties will be sold over-the-counter from DNR Direct license vendors beginning August 4 until the end of the season.
The statewide-issued permit is valid on private land, with landowner permission, or on public land sites open to the Youth Firearm Deer Season. Eligible youth hunters must also obtain a current, valid hunting license unless exempt.
As of 2020, permits for youth hunting will no longer be county-specific. Youth permits allow the holder to hunt in any of the open counties in the state, on property where permission to hunt has been given from the property owner.
Shooting hours for youth season are half-an-hour before sunrise to a half-an-hour after sunset.
Click here for more information about supervision requirements or to learn more.
How to Vote by Mail
For this year’s 2020 election, many Illinoisans are choosing to cast their ballots by mail rather than going to the polls in November. Below is some helpful information should you want to request a vote by mail ballot.
WHO MAY APPLY FOR A VOTE BY MAIL BALLOT:
- Any qualified elector of the state of Illinois who is properly registered to vote.
- Registered or non-registered members of the U.S. Armed Forces while on active duty, members of the Merchant Marines, and/or U.S. government employees serving outside the U.S., as well as their spouse and dependent(s) who expect to be absent from their county of residence on Election Day.
- Registered and non-registered citizens of the U.S. temporarily out of the country, and their spouse and dependent(s) of voting age when residing with or accompanying them who maintain a precinct residence in Illinois.
- Any State or federal employee (and their spouse) who had a voting residence in the precinct at the time they entered employment, but who now reside elsewhere due to State or federal employment, may retain their voting rights in that precinct.
FOR A VOTE BY MAIL BALLOT:
Voters must obtain a vote by mail application from their election authority, in-person or online, to request a vote by mail ballot. Upon receiving the application, the voter completes, signs, and then returns it to the election authority.
WHEN TO APPLY?
Vote by mail applications can be submitted 90 days through 5 days prior to the election.
If submitted by mail outside the U.S. an application must be made:
- Not less than 30 days prior to the election to receive full ballot or;
- Less than 30 days prior to the election to receive a federal ballot only
VOTING BY MAIL BEGINS:
- Military and overseas: 45 days prior to the election
- Everyone else: 40 days prior to each election
Please be sure to contact your local County Clerk's office for more information.
Veterans in the Fire Service Day
The Illinois Fire Service Institute is offering a unique, no cost professional development program to veterans interested in serving as a member of the fire service.
As part of their 3rd annual Veterans in the Fire Service Day, US Armed Forces veterans are invited to register to attend a day of hands-on, live fire training activities on Oct. 11.
The Veterans in the Fire Service Day will offer two training schedules for students.
Veterans interested in learning more about a career in the fire service will engage with an elite group of IFSI instructors, many military veterans, who will introduce essential firefighting skills.
Meanwhile, attendees currently working in the fire service industry will engage in live fire conditions, working cooperatively with IFSI instructors.
There is no cost to attend and free lodging will be provided for attendees. Registration is required as space is limited. Click here to learn more or to register for the event.
Dry Weather Continues as Harvest Season Closes in
While some farmers in Southern and South-Central Illinois are beginning to harvest the first acres of their 2020 corn and soybean crops, producers in Central and Northern Illinois continue to wait while dry weather grips their areas.
According to the most recent data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), most of the Northern half of the state is considered to be in either abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions. NASS rates 57% of the crop acres in Illinois as being short or very short on topsoil moisture.
The report also rates 23% of the Illinois corn crop as mature, with most of those acres in Southern Illinois, where harvest is just getting started. So far, none of the soybean crop is rated as mature.
According to the agency, corn crop quality is holding steady from the previous week, with 70% of the acres rated as good or excellent. Soybean quality is dropping somewhat however, with 68% of beans rated as good or excellent, compared to 72% during the previous week. Both crops are rated substantially higher than the 2019 crops were at the same time.
As the deadline for the 2020 Census approaches at the end of this month, State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is working to ensure that constituents have every opportunity to be counted in this process.
The Census is mandated by the United States Constitution and is a count of the United States population that takes place every ten years.
The Census helps the Federal Government collect important data such as population, race, and gender. It also plays a large role in how the government allocates funds to our communities. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding is distributed based on Census data.
Because of its importance, Sen. Plummer's office will be offering constituents an opportunity to fill out the 2020 Census during the upcoming Vandalia Farmers Market on Sept. 12.
Come out between 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and my staff will be set up at 310 West Gallatin Street to help residents complete the 2020 Census.
Reservations are highly recommended and interested participants can call 618-283-3000 to reserve their time slot.
Social distancing guidelines will be followed and masks are required.
September is National Preparedness Month in Illinois
Aimed at encouraging emergency planning efforts and awareness, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is reminding the public that September is National Preparedness Month.
As residents continue to confront the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, IEMA and local emergency managers are underscoring the need to be prepared for potential emergencies at home, at work and in the community.
During September, residents are encouraged to consider COVID-19 guidelines when evaluating and improving their family emergency plan.
Some helpful planning tips include:
- Make a plan for when a disaster strikes and know which types of disasters could affect your area.
- Build a kit with basic survival items necessary during an emergency and keep them at home, at work and in your car. It is recommended that you include face masks, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in your emergency supply kit to address the current COVID-19 environment.
- Prepare for disasters by practicing drills, walking through procedures and even taking time to prepare a quarantine space in your home with a two-week supply of groceries.
- Teach kids how to prepare for disasters and get them involved in disaster planning. Ready Kids website has a variety of tools and information that can be incorporated into lesson planning for educators statewide.
For more information about emergency and disaster preparedness, visit ready.illinois.gov.
Moratorium on Residential Disconnections Voluntarily Extended by Several Utilities
On Sept. 2, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) announced that several of the state’s regulated electric, natural gas, water and sewer utilities have voluntarily agreed to extend their moratoriums on disconnections for residential customers.
The following companies have agreed to extend their moratoriums until Sept. 30: Nicor Gas, Northshore/Peoples Gas, Illinois American Water, Aqua Illinois, and Utility Services of Illinois. Ameren Illinois and ComEd have agreed to extend their moratoriums through Sept. 10.
Consumer Gas and Liberty Utilities previously agreed to not disconnect customers until six months after the stipulated moratorium period expired, which was on June 26, taking their moratoriums well past September.
On June 18, the ICC approved the landmark COVID-19 utility relief stipulated agreements, which were the result of negotiations between 13 utility companies, consumer advocacy groups and parties. To learn more about the ICC’s response to COVID-19, please visit www.icc.illinois.gov/home/covid-19.
Tax credit details announced for low-income housing program
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) has announced details for the 2021 Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which helps subsidize the acquisition, construction, and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income tenants.
For 9% LIHTC credits, Preliminary Project Assessments (PPA) are due by October 2nd, 2020, and PPA's for 4% LIHTC credits are due by December 31st, 2020.
For more information on the program, click here.
If you haven’t responded to the 2020 Census, you have until September 30 to do so.
Mandated by the United States Constitution, the census is a count of the United States population that takes place every ten years. The 2020 Census will be the 24th census conducted since 1790.
Why should I fill out my 2020 Census?
Not only does the Census help the Federal Government collect important data such as population, race, and gender, but it also plays a large role in how the government allocates funds to our communities.
Every person who fills out the Census accounts for $1,600 a year ($16,000 per decade) in federal funding for your local communities, including schools, hospitals, and fire departments.
How do I fill out my 2020 Census?
This year, for the first time, you can take the census online!
Head to 2020census.gov and enter you Census ID, which you can find in the materials mailed to you. If you don’t have those materials, click the option “If you do not have a Census ID, click here,” and you will be instructed from there.
If you aren't able to fill the Census out online, you can simply fill out and return the mailed materials.
On August 20, State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) joined with several Senate Republican lawmakers to issue a letter to Governor Pritzker regarding continuing issues with the Illinois unemployment system.
In the letter, the lawmakers noted constituents are facing a number of issues when it comes to obtaining unemployment benefits and receiving assistance from IDES. These are long-standing issues that have gone unanswered for over six months.
In an effort to address the continuing issues regarding IDES, Senate lawmakers officially asked Governor Pritzker to reopen the state's unemployment offices to deal with ongoing issues with the system.
The letter follows:
Plummer votes in defense of conservatism
State Senator Jason Plummer is one of only six state senators with an 80 percent or higher voting record on the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Ratings of the States.
Sen. Plummer received the highest rating in the Illinois Senate for his support of conservative principles in range of proposed legislation.
"Currently, Republican lawmakers are in the super-minority in the Senate, but just because our numbers are small doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stand up for our constituents and their conservative values, "said Sen. Plummer. "I am proud to be an advocate for strong conservative principals of our state government."
According to the ACU Foundation, ratings were awarded based on how lawmakers voted on selected bills focused on three area issues:
1) Fiscal and economic: taxes, budgets, regulation, spending, healthcare, and property;
2) Social and cultural: 2nd amendment, religion, life, welfare, and education; and
3) Government integrity: voting, individual liberty, privacy, and transparency.
The average Republican score in the Illinois Senate for Republican lawmakers was 73 percent. The average score of Democrat lawmakers in the Senate was 14 percent.
Local businesses receive hundreds of thousands in relief
Throughout our communities, businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic are receiving the assistance they so desperately need, says State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville).
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has released $46 million in small business grants through the Business Interruption Grant program to 2,655 businesses throughout the state. In the 54th Senate District, $470,000 has been distributed to 29 businesses.
"Our small business community has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and many of our smaller employers are still struggling to this day," said Sen. Plummer. "These grants will hopefully provide much-needed relief to some of our businesses who are working hard each-and-every day just to survive."
Grant amounts range from $10,000 to $20,000 and may be used to help businesses with expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities, and equipment brought on by COVID-19 related restrictions. Businesses that saw property damage and closures due to the recent civil unrest also qualified for these grants.
Click here to see a list of businesses within the 54th District that were awarded grants.
Deadline Extended for those Applying for Nutrition Benefits Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has extended to August 31 the deadline for Illinoisans to apply for nutrition benefits. Eligible applicants are able to receive up to $342 per eligible student in food benefits. To date, around 390,000 students who are currently eligible for the Illinois Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program have not yet applied.
The P-EBT program, which is authorized and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), was created to bring food benefits to all school-aged children who are eligible for free or reduced meals at their schools through the National School Lunch Program.
The P-EBT program has already provided more than $246 million in additional nutrition benefits to more than 730,000 Illinois children. Benefits are calculated using a $5.70 per-day and per-student formula. These benefits apply to households with school-aged children who were eligible for free or reduced meals from March 2020 through June 2020. Eligible Benefit Amounts are:
· $182.40= March & April 2020
· $119.70= May 2020
· $39.90= June 2020
Those who did not receive SNAP benefits last spring are able to submit a simplified application for P-EBT benefits using ABE.Illinois.gov online portal or by completing a paper application, which is available at the IDHS website.
For additional information on the P-EBT program, go to https://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=124142.
New App for Illinois’ outdoorsmen and women
Recently, the Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) announced the launch of a new mobile app for Illinois’ outdoorsmen and women.
The new app called Outdoor Illinois is free and available for both iPhone and Android systems, providing users information in areas of hunting, fishing, boating and camping.
ICF also says that the app can be used to purchase hunting and fishing licenses, find places to hunt and fish, view state and national fishing records, register new boats and renew boat registration, access a list of Illinois state parks, learn more about camping and campsite and shelter reservations, set reminders for upcoming seasons and renewal dates, donate to the ICF and more.
Boat Access Area Development Program accepting applications
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) recently announced they are accepting applications as part of their Boat Access Area Development (BAAD) grant program.
According to IDNR, the grant program provides financial assistance to local government agencies for the acquisition, construction, and expansion and rehabilitation of public boat and canoe access areas on Illinois' lakes and rivers.
In order to be eligible for the grant, local agencies must demonstrate the ability to finance the costs of an approved project prior to receipt of grant funds. The grant program can provide up to 100 percent reimbursement funding assistance on approved development project costs and 90 percent of approved land acquisition costs.
The deadline to apply is Oct. 2, 2020. Interested applicants should visit https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/grants/Pages/BoatAccessAreaDevelopmentProgram.aspx.
IDOT suspends some construction for July 4
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently announced changes to construction operations across the state for the 4th of July holiday weekend.
IDOT has announced that lanes previously closed for construction will reopen, where possible, in an effort to minimize travel disruptions.
Beginning at 3 p.m. on July 2, non-emergency closures will be suspended until 11:59 p.m. on July 5.
Keeping July 4 Safe and Fun for Everyone
As the July 4 holiday weekend approaches, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police are asking that drivers be responsible and drive sober.
As part of their ongoing “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, drivers are encouraged to wear their seat belts, obey the law and do their part to put an end to impaired driving.
To help ensure a safe holiday for all, consider following these tips:
- Ask a sober friend or family member for a ride, call a cab, take public transportation, use a ride-sharing service or stay where you are until you're sober.
- Don't let others with you drive impaired.
- Promptly report impaired drivers to law enforcement by pulling over and dialing 911.
- Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears a seat belt. It is your best defense in a crash.
New Laws Taking Effect July 1
As July begins, some new laws take effect in the state of Illinois. These new laws range from fines for texting while driving, to school curriculum changes and laws to preventing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Below are the new laws you should be aware are taking effect this month:
Seizure Smart School Act (HB 1475/PA 101-50): Creates the Seizure Smart School Act to ensure that current federal laws and regulations regarding epilepsy are more consistently enforced in Illinois schools.
Texting While Driving Accident Fine (HB 2386/ PA 101-90): Provides that when a person violates the state law prohibiting the operation of an electronic communication device while operating a motor vehicle, and the violation results in an accident causing great bodily harm to any person, the operator shall have his or her driver’s license suspended for a period of one year, and shall be assessed a fine of at least $1,000.
Pyrolysis or Gasification Pilot Project (HB 2491/PA 101-141): Allows for the creation of a pilot project for a pyrolysis or gasification facility in Will County or Grundy County.
Sexual Harassment & Discrimination Prevention (SB 75/PA 101-221): Addresses sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, protects hotel and casino employees from sexual harassment by guests, and updates government ethics laws.
LGBT History Curriculum (HB 246/PA 101-227): Requires that, in public schools, the teaching of history must include a study of the roles and contributions of LGBT people. Provides that textbooks authorized under the textbook block grant program must be non-discriminatory as to any characteristics under the Illinois Human Rights Act and must include the roles and contributions of all people protected under the Illinois Human Rights Act.
Civics Mandate (HB 2265/PA 101-254): Mandates one semester of civics education in 6th, 7th or 8th grade. Applies only to public schools.
Dry-cleaning Fees (SB 171/PA 101-400): Increases the fees for dry-cleaning solvents and for licensure of dry-cleaning facilities. Extends the Drycleaner Environmental Response Trust Fund Program until Jan. 1, 2030. Transfers duties of the Drycleaner Response Trust Fund Council to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Human Rights Employer Definition (HB 252/PA 101-430): Amends the Employment Article of the Illinois Human Rights Act. Changes “employer” definition to any person employing one (currently 15) or more employees within Illinois during 20 or more calendar weeks within the calendar year of or preceding the alleged violation. Exempts places of worship from “employer” definition. Adds an effective date of July 1, 2020.
Right-of-Way Violation License Suspension (HB 2383/PA 101-470): Provides that a violation of a right-of- way where an accident causes bodily harm or death at a crosswalk or crosswalk in a school zone shall also include a driver’s license suspension for a period of one year.
IMRF Document Posting (HB 3263/PA 101-504): Directs the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) to post certain documents on its website. Requires municipalities with a website to post a link to the IMRF information on their website.
Dry-Cleaning Fees Trailer (SB 718/PA 605): Makes technical changes to SB 171/P.A 101-400.
License to Work Act (SB 1786/PA 101-623): Creates the License to Work Act which removes provisions from the Illinois Vehicle Code that allow for the suspension of a driver’s license for certain violations. Under this legislation licenses will no longer be suspended for; failure to pay 10 parking tickets, or other fines resulting from certain local vehicle violations; failing to pay 5 tolls or penalties for tollway violations; failing to pay fees to the Illinois Commerce Commission; motor fuel theft; being adjudicated a "truant minor" who is "in need of supervision, addicted, or delinquent;” an offense committed by a juvenile to further the criminal activities of an organized gang involving the use of a driver's license or permit; damaging, removing any part of, tampering with, going into, on or working or attempting to work on a vehicle without authority to do so unless the person exercised physical control over the vehicle such as caught driving; being convicted of criminal trespass to a vehicle if the person was not in actual physical control; being adjudged to be afflicted with of suffering from any mental disability or disease; certain violations of the Liquor Control Act of 1934 if the person was not an occupant of the vehicle.
Government Emergency Administration Act (SB 2135/PA 101-640): Creates new acts and amends several others to provide government with the tools needed to continue serving the people and better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Establishes a commission to advise and review efforts to revive the economy with members appointed by leaders of the four caucuses of the General Assembly. Allows for a study about providing free broadband Internet access to all Illinois residents. Under certain circumstances, allows for remote witnessing and notarization. Gives the Secretary of State the power to extend various expiration dates if there is a statewide disaster declaration based on a pandemic or similar emergency. Changes how museums, aquariums and zoological parks provide free access to the public. Creates a task force to study the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on businesses and the need for changes to business interruption insurance policies. Allows for municipal appropriation deadliness to be extended during an emergency.)
Illinois entered into Phase 4 of reopening plan
Effective June 26, Illinois moved into Phase 4 of Governor Prtizker’s Restore Illinois reopening plan.
In Phase 4, a number of industries will be allowed to expand or resume full operations under approved safety guidance.
Business changes include:
- All manufacturing open with IDPH approved safety guidance
- All employees return to work with IDPH approved safety guidance; Employers are encouraged to provide accommodations for COVID-19-vulnerable employees
- Bars and restaurants will open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
- All barbershops, salons, spas and health and fitness clubs open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
- Cinema and theaters open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
- Retail stores will open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
Additionally, gathering sizes will be increased from 10 people to a maximum of 50 people. Meanwhile, all health care providers, Pre K-12 schools, higher education, all summer programs, and child care will be allowed to open under IDPH approved safety guidance.
Illinois has been in Phase 3 of the reopening plan since May 29. Senate Republicans made repeated calls upon the Governor to revise his reopening plan to adopt a 14-day timeline between phases rather than the arbitrary 28-day timeline originally in place. However, calls from Senate Republican lawmakers went unheard.
Utility Scam Warning
Ameren Illinois is warning customers to be on alert for utility scams who are on the rise in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, Ameren Illinois announced an increase of scam attempts where scammers have attempted to exploit the current health crisis to steal money and personal information from Ameren Illinois customers.
In an effort to protect their customers, Ameren Illinois recommended using the following tips:
- Never give your credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers to anyone who calls, sends an email or comes to your home requesting this information.
- Don't trust anyone asking for immediate payment. Ameren Illinois will never call or e-mail and demand immediate payment. If you suspect that someone is impersonating an Ameren Illinois employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Illinois at 1.800.755.5000.
- Sign up to manage your account online at AmerenIllinois.com where you can immediately check the status of your account.
- Never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shut-off. In addition, never download an app to make immediate payment. Legitimate utility companies don't specify how customers should make a bill payment and always offer a variety of ways to pay a bill. Ameren customers can make payments online, by phone, electronic check, mail or at in-person payment locations.
Ameren Illinois has also provided signs to be aware of with potential scam activity:
- Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell you that your utility bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment isn't made. Typically, the scammer will tell you that a disconnection will occur within an hour.
- Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct you to purchase a prepaid card. The scammer will ask you to return a call for immediate bill payment. When you return the scammer’s call, the scammer asks you for the number on the prepaid card. This allows the scammer to gain instant access to the card’s funds. In addition, scammers may ask you to download an app to make immediate payment, which you should avoid.
- Fake case number and/or fake truck identification number: Scammers are known to record a voice message and use it to trick customers into thinking they've called the utility company. The scammer gives a fake case number and/or fake identification number of a company truck that is in the vicinity of the customer's home.
- Equipment or repair bogus fee: Scammers may call demanding a separate payment to replace or install a utility-related device or meter.
- Overpayment trick: When scammers call claiming that you've overpaid your utility bill and need to provide personal bank account information or a credit card number to facilitate a refund.
- Power restoration rip-off: Scammers may call offering to restore power quickly or in a preferential order for immediate payment
Visit Ameren.com/stop-scams for more information.
Business Interruption Grants (BIG)
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is providing $60 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures. The Business Interruption Grant Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures. DCEO will begin distributing funds to qualifying businesses in early July.
In the first wave of grants, priority will be given to small businesses that have been heavily restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic and are located in DIAs.
Specifically, the program includes support for:
- Businesses in DIAs - $20 million for businesses that are located in a subset of DIAs that have recently experienced significant property damage, providing 1,000 grants of $20,000 each
- Bars and Restaurants - $20 million for bars and restaurants unable to offer outside service, providing 1,000 grants of up to $20,000
- Barbershops and Salons - $10 million for barbershops and salons, providing 1,000 grants of $10,000 each
- Gyms and Fitness Centers - $10 million for gyms and fitness centers that have lost significant revenue due to COVID-19, providing 500 grants of $20,000 each
- In operation for at least 3 months prior to March 2020.
- Demonstrates by eligible costs or losses in excess of the grant amount and may continue to face depressed revenues or closure.
- DIA's are zip codes that exceed a set threshold for COVID cases per capita among residents, and also surpass a threshold for poverty rate among the whole population, among children, or among seniors.
Online license plate sticker renewal notices
The Illinois Secretary of State is encouraging residents to sign up to receive license plate sticker renewal notices by e-mail. Drivers who receive e-mail renewal reminders can renew their sticker online, rather than waiting in line at Driver Services Facilities.
According to the Secretary of State’s website, drivers will need their vehicle registration card or past renewal notice containing their Registration ID and PIN numbers to register.
If vehicle owners do not have a renewal notice or a current registration card, they should call the Public Inquiry Division at 800-252-8980. After obtaining their Registration ID and PIN numbers, they can visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com and go to the “License Plate Renewal Email Notices” under Online Services.
Currently, more than 2.8 million motorists have signed up to receive reminder notices by email. Click here to sign up to receive an e-mail renewal reminder.
2020 Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame
The Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) is accepting nominations for the 2020 Class of the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame.
The 2020 Class of Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who demonstrate service in and commitment to improving conservation efforts and outdoor recreation opportunities in Illinois. The Illinois Conservation Foundation has been honoring inductees into the Outdoor Hall of Fame since 2002.
To nominate an individual for the Outdoor Hall of Fame, click here. The deadline for 2020 nominations is July 8, 2020. For more information, contact the Illinois Conservation Foundation at One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702- 1271, via phone at phone 217-785-2003, or online at www.ilconservation.org
State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) released the following statement after the Democratic-majority voted to pass an out-of-balance budget on May 24:
"The majority party in the Illinois legislature demonstrated a shocking display of callousness at a time when thousands of Illinoisans are out of work and suffering by passing an out-of-balanced budget and creating a $1 billion in new spending. In addition to the increase in spending, Democrat legislators, who refused for weeks to return to the Capitol, elected to pass a budget that contains a pay increase for themselves. It's inconceivable for legislators to standby and accept a pay raise while the people of this state are struggling just to survive. It's things like this that has led Illinoisans to hold their state government in low regard. This was an opportunity, during a time of crisis, to show the people of Illinois that we could be sober-minded and thoughtful by coming together to lay out a reasonable path forward. However, what the Illinois General Assembly has shown is that a majority of its members are content to recklessly borrow, create unsustainable spending, and pad their own pockets at the expense of our taxpayers."
Plummer defends the integrity of elections: Senate Democrats use pandemic crisis to pass extremely partisan bill that enables widespread election fraud
Taking a stand for fair and secure elections, State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) spoke on the floor of the Illinois Senate opposing a dangerous measure which creates numerous loopholes to be exploited within the vote-by-mail program in Illinois.
Senate Bill 1863 is an election omnibus bill which expands the current vote-by-mail program in Illinois by mandating election authorities to send ballot applications to voters who took part in elections in the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.
"It is a shame that during this time of crisis, when there should be unity and people working together, the Senate Democrats have shamelessly passed the most extreme election law in the country," said Sen. Plummer. "Our state government should accept the responsibility of adapting transparent and secure protocols for upholding our voter's rights, not legalizing blatant election fraud."
Sen. Plummer took to the Senate floor to denounce the actions of Senate Democrats for using the COVID-19 to push a partisan agenda that raises numerous concerns for anyone that cares about the integrity of our election process. Plummer noted this new legislation allows votes to be generated from ballots with no signature, ballots with mismatched signatures, ballots that have been tampered with and even allows the potential for people to vote multiple times in one election. He also pointed out that many election authorities around the state that conduct our elections are opposed to the bill, were not consulted on the bill and have been threatened with punitive action if they object to any portions of the bill.
"I have been contacted by a number of election authorities in my District and from around the state, voicing their concerns about this bill," said Sen. Plummer. "Everybody wants robust elections. Everybody wants people to vote. But nobody should want corruption of our democratic process."
Under Senate Bill 1863, a panel of three partisan election judges can conduct reviews of ballots submitted by mail. However, Sen. Plummer points out that this legislation increases the likelihood of abuse within this system and creates more loopholes for unethical actors to exploit.
"After weeks of calling for a return of lawmakers to the Capitol, and while people are hurting across the state, are we standing up to protect our healthcare providers, speaking out against a governor who threatens our law enforcement and small businesses or addressing the current financial crisis? No," said Sen. Plummer. "What we're doing is watching as one party uses this crisis as a cover to advance a shocking election law bill and push a partisan agenda when the citizens of our state are seeking unity and bipartisanship."
Senate Bill 1863 passed the Senate by a vote of 37 to 19 on May 22.
Illinois State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene and defend the constitutional rights and civil liberties of Illinois citizens, currently being violated by the directives of Governor J.B. Pritzker.
"Governor Pritzker's executive orders have effectively transformed Illinois into an autocracy in a matter of weeks," said Sen. Plummer. "The Governor is depriving Illinoisans of their constitutional rights and, when the people seek redress, he is grotesquely using state police power to threaten and intimidate citizens, businesses, and local units of government who dare question or challenge his seized authority."
Eight weeks ago, Pritzker ordered all Illinois residents to remain in their homes and all church services, school and children activities halted. He also demanded that most Illinois businesses close indefinitely.
According to Sen. Plummer, such executive orders are in clear violation of due process of the United States and Illinois Constitutions, as well as the procedural safeguards within the Illinois Department of Public Health Act and Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act.
"Governor Pritzker is acting in complete disregard of all constitutional and statutory safeguards which limits his authority," said Sen. Plummer.
Sen. Plummer contends that these executive orders violate, among other things, citizens’ First Amendment rights to free speech, freedom of assembly, free exercise of religion, as well as their Fifth Amendment rights. The executive orders amount to a taking of property by government without due process of law.
"The process by which Governor Pritzker has handled this crisis is shocking, has shredded the separation of powers, and sets a terrible precedent that must not be allowed to stand. The exclusion of the legislative branch of government during this crisis and the arbitrariness of the governor’s orders have undermined the rule of law," said Sen. Plummer. "The wanton destruction of Illinoisans’ livelihoods by Governor Pritzker’s orders has destroyed jobs and decimated tens-of-billions of dollars of assets while undermining private property rights in our state. The total damage Governor Pritzker has done to families, workers, and job creators in this state is so large as to be currently immeasurable and unfathomable."
Last month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr publicly released a memorandum he sent to his 94 U.S. Attorneys on these issues titled "Balancing Public Safety with the Preservation of Civil Rights." It stated that the U.S. Constitution is "not suspended in times of crisis."
Governor Pritzker’s orders are clear evidence that he believes he can suspend the U.S. Constitution in Illinois.