On Jan. 5, it was announced that $50 million in funding is being released for the first round of matching grants of Illinois’ $420 million statewide broadband expansion. Applicants for the grant are anticipated to include Internet service providers, rural cooperatives, nonprofits and local governments.
Grant responses for the first round of funding can be submitted through April 3, with up to $5 million available per project. Interested applicants can find more information about the Notice of Funding Opportunity at https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/AboutDCEO/GATA/Pages/2366-1333.aspx.
The Rebuild Illinois capital plan has slotted $420 million toward broadband expansion — $400 million for the grant program and $20 million to strengthen the Illinois Century Network. The matching requirements in the grant program will leverage state funds to attract at least an additional $400 million from Internet service providers.
In addition to filling in college basketball brackets, Illinoisans can pick winners for another March tournament that will determine the "coolest thing made in Illinois."
IMA President and CEO Mark Denzler wants to showcase the wide range of items made in the state. He said most people don't realize what all is made in Illinois.
Manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of Illinois' gross domestic product and a $304 billion economic output — the largest of any industry in the state, according to the IMA. More than 592,000 people are employed in the industry.
"We have to attract the next generation of workers to Illinois," Denzler said. "By showing the products and companies that are here, hopefully we can also help provide that next pipeline of workers."
As 2019 comes to a close and we prepare for a new year, several notable laws take effect January 1 that Illinois residents may want to know about.
The new laws kicking off 2020 cover everything from transportation safety and increased traffic penalties, to supporting our military personnel.
Strengthening Scott’s Law
2019 will be a year the Illinois State Police never forget. With three tragic deaths and numerous other incidents causing injuries, 2019 broke records early in the year for the number of accidents involving our State Troopers along Illinois roadways.
The drastic increase prompted the Illinois State Police to ramp up patrols to enforce Scott’s Law, more commonly known as the “move over law,” requiring drivers to reduce speed and switch lanes when approaching an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. As of November 3, 5,860 tickets had been issued for Scott’s Law violations. During the same period in 2018, 738 citations were given.
The General Assembly and the Governor also took the tragic incidents of 2019 seriously and passed several measures into law. Beginning January 1:
• The minimum fine for violating Scott's Law will increase from $100 to $250 for the first violation and $750 for the second violation.
• Those who violate Scott’s Law and cause an injury or death will be charged with a Class 4 felony.
• The Scott's Law Fund will be created to educate motorists on the importance of Scott's Law.
• The Secretary of State will be required to include at least one question about Scott’s Law on the written driving test.
Increased traffic fines
Illinois motorists may want to think twice about disobeying traffic laws next year. Starting January 1, drivers can expect to pay more for passing a stopped school bus and speeding through a construction zone.
House Bill 1873/PA 101-0055 increases the fine for passing a stopped school bus that has its stop arm displayed from $150 to $300 for the first offense and from $500 to $1,000 for the second or subsequent offense. Similarly, Senate Bill 1496/PA 101-0172 increases the fine from $10,000 to $25,000 for failing to reduce speed when approaching a construction zone.
New rules of the road
Some changes are coming about what is not allowed on Illinois' roadways. Beginning January 1, Senate Bill 87/PA 101-0189 will make it illegal for vehicles to have tinted or smoked lights. Law enforcement officials say these lights often make it difficult to see the vehicle.
Also, starting in the new year, Senate Bill 86/PA 101-0297 will add to the current ban on cell phone use while driving by prohibiting drivers from operating a vehicle while also watching or streaming video on a device.
New laws support military personnel, families
Laws supporting members of the military and their families are among those that will take effect January 1.
To make it easier for military spouses to find work in Illinois, House Bill 1652/PA 101-0240 will provide for expedited licensure reciprocity for service members and their spouses. The new law requires professional licenses to be processed within 60 days of the submitted application. Often when military members and their families relocate to Illinois, the process of obtaining a professional license is cumbersome and can take months. The goal of this new law is to help spouses quickly become licensed in their profession in Illinois.
Also starting January 1, veterans seeking to add the “Veteran” designation on their driver’s licenses have another option under the Secretary of State's acceptable forms of proof. In addition to providing a DD-214 or an NA-13038, veterans will now be able to submit a United States Department of Veterans Affairs summary of benefits letter instead.
Veterans will also be offered a wider variety of specialty license plates starting January 1. Senate Bill 944/PA 101-0536 makes the Disabled Veteran license plate and the ISERVE license plate available for motorcycles. Under House Bill 2618/PA 101-0262, veterans can receive one set of any military series license plate for free. Previously, only the Disabled Veterans and ISERVE license plates were offered for free.
New laws impacting the agriculture industry
Farmers will no longer have to pay for certain license plate registration fees beginning in 2020. House Bill 2669/PA 101-0481 removes the $250 fee and size restrictions for a single unit self-propelled agricultural fertilizer implement.
Also beginning January 1, those who sell agriculture products at farmers markets and retail stores have more flexibility in labeling their products as "local." House Bill 2505/PA 101-0258 modifies the term "local farm or food products" to include products processed and packaged in Illinois using at least one ingredient grown in Illinois. Before this law, all ingredients had to be grown in Illinois for it to be considered a “local product.”
There’s more to know before 2020 kicks off! To view a full list of laws taking effect January 1, visit: https://bit.ly/2qI1qGK
Springfield, IL…..State Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) has filed legislation that severely curtails the ability of lawmakers and staff of the Illinois General Assembly from having ownership in, or being compensated by, the gaming industry while in office. Senate Bill 2318, filed by Senator Plummer on Monday, is part of a package of ethics bills Plummer has worked on to address some of the serious conflicts of interest that presently can exist between lawmakers and industries over which they hold significant influence.
“If the average Illinois citizen knew their elected officials were making laws to create and expand protected industries from which they are themselves earning money, they would be disgusted. But that’s what happening and it needs to stop, immediately,” said Plummer. “If we’re going to restore the trust of the people of Illinois in their state government we have to make sure strong and independent voices exist to represent the reform measures that, while maybe not popular among the political class, are common sense and necessary to fix our broken system.”
SB 2318 would specifically bar members of the General Assembly and their immediate family, as well as staff of the General Assembly and their immediate family, from holding an ownership interest in a privately held gaming enterprise or business. It was also bar the same groups of people from holding anything more than a passive interest in any publicly traded gaming enterprise. In addition, the legislation would bar members and staff of the General Assembly and the immediate families of both groups from receiving any form of compensation for services rendered to or employment with any gaming enterprise or business.
“Illinoisans know right and wrong. Their lawmakers should know right and wrong, too,” said Plummer. “In a perfect world, politicians wouldn’t use their positions to profiteer, but Illinois, as we all know, is not a perfect world. Significant ethics reform is badly needed in Springfield and I look forward to working with legislators from across the state and across the political spectrum to address these violations of the public trust and restore confidence in our state government.”
Springfield, IL…State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) and State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) teamed up to urge the legislature to secure state funding to make repairs and improvements to the Kaskaskia Watershed.
“The Kaskaskia Watershed is vital to the economy in southern Illinois,” said Rep. Meier. “These funds will be used to restore and protect the Watershed from further erosion, resulting in the prevention of flooding at Scott Air Force Base and improving the waterway for barges that ship goods down the river.”
The United States Congress established the Kaskaskia Watershed Restoration Act in 2007 and authorized $20 million for critical projects after a Comprehensive Plan is developed. The Comprehensive Plan is stalled due to the lack of financial support from the State of Illinois. Rep. Meier and Sen. Plummer are requesting $300,000 to be included in the upcoming state budget in order to complete the plan and to leverage federal funding to protect the Watershed.
According to Senator Plummer, “Time is of the essence, it’s critical the state allocate much needed funding to protect the Kaskaskia Watershed. It generates over seven million tourists, $162 million from tourism and nearly 560,000 people rely on the Watershed as their primary source of drinking water.”
The Kaskaskia Watershed encompasses 10.2 percent of the State and includes all or parts of 22 counties. The Watershed starts in Champaign County and ends at the Mississippi River in Randolph County, including three authorized Corps projects, Lake Shelbyville, Carlyle Lake, and the Kaskaskia Navigation Project.
Senator Plummer and Representative Meier sponsored identical resolutions that were approved in the spring and fall veto session to help secure state funds for the Kaskaskia Watershed. The resolutions (HR 394 and SR 451) urge all four caucuses and the Governor to consider the Kaskaskia Watershed Comprehensive Plan when creating the upcoming fiscal year budget.
Springfield, IL…..State Sen. Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is sponsoring legislation that aims to protect taxpayer dollars and safeguard local first-responder pension funds.
Senate Bill 2312, filed by Senator Plummer immediately following the passage of pension-consolidation measure Senate Bill 1300, would close a loophole that could endanger the well-managed pension of first responders in many local municipalities.
“I have been saying for years that we must protect taxpayers and get our arms around the pension mess in Illinois. So, yes, I’m a skeptic when those who have fought common sense reform and soaked the taxpayers every step of the way suddenly appear to take some responsibility,” said Plummer. “Unfortunately, the plan passed last week lacked a simple protection to ensure that local dollars can’t ultimately be used to create a system where well-managed pension funds are used to bail-out those that have been poorly managed. My proposal would add this vital safeguard.”
Senate Bill 1300, which is expected to be signed into law, would take the current 649 local police and fire pension boards that are locally managed and put them under the control of two separate boards in Springfield. The Police Investment Board would administer investment functions for local police departments, and the Fire Investment Board would manage investments for local fire departments. It would also combine the assets of these funds into one pool of funds, but with each local fund getting its own share of the return that is proportional to the amount they have invested in the fund.
Sen. Plummer’s legislation would protect these municipal investments by ensuring that no law would prohibit local funds from continuing to receive a proportional share of the return on their investment. Under Senate Bill 2312, should the assets be mixed with the funds of another municipality, the balance of the investments would be returned to their respective municipal pension funds. This protects our first responders and those who have been doing things responsibly.
“Would you want your 401K or retirement savings transferred to some new agency in Springfield, considering their track record?” asked Plummer. “Or would you prefer to have your retirement savings managed at a local level by people you know with a strong track record of competence and financial solvency? I hear the concerns of local police officers and firefighters loud and clear and, frankly, I totally get it.”
Senate Bill 2312 would only take effect if and only if Senate Bill 1300 is signed into law by the Governor and becomes law in the form in which it passed both houses. Currently, Senate Bill 2312 has not been assigned to a Senate committee.
Springfield – State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 2297, legislation that will help restore public trust in an honest and ethical state government.
At a press conference in the Capitol’s blue room, this morning, members of the Senate Republican Caucus unveiled a legislative proposal to ensure independent investigations of members of the General Assembly.
SB 2297, gives the Legislative Inspector General (LIG) the appropriate tools, which the current LIG has suggested, to conduct independent investigations of legislators.
"This past week has been an embarrassment for the State of Illinois,” said Plummer. “We can no longer rely on a system that allows politicians to police politicians. We need real reform to ensure independent investigations. It’s time to take action to regain the trust of the citizens of Illinois.”
Currently, except in cases alleging sexual harassment, the LIG must get advance approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission (LEC) before opening an investigation, or issuing subpoenas. Additionally, if, during the investigation, the LIG discovers wrongdoing that is beyond the scope of, or unrelated to the initial complaint, they have to go back to the LEC to get approval to investigate further.
Under SB 2297, the LIG would be able to investigate complaints against legislators and issue subpoenas without approval from the LEC. By taking legislators out of the process, the bill ensures independence in the investigation of these claims.
“I’m tired of our great state being a national laughing stock when it comes to corruption and good government," said Plummer. I would encourage my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to work with us in a bi-partisan manner to get this done. We return to Springfield in two weeks for the second week of the fall veto session. I would hope we can move this legislation along at that time.”
The Senate returns for the final week of the fall veto session on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Edwardsville, IL……A new law sponsored by State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) will update Illinois law and clarify registration requirements for owners of certain fertilizer spreaders and farm wagon type tank trailers. Similar to combines, these tanks and spreaders are only used a couple months a year for off road use and registration should not be required. This new law takes effect on January 1, 2020.
House Bill 2669/Public Act 101-0481 removes the vehicle registration requirement for specific farm wagon trailers having a fertilizer spreader attachment and farm wagon type tank trailers. The new law also removes the $250 registration fee and existing width and weight restrictions for a single unit, self-propelled agricultural fertilizer spreader.
“This new legislation will help the agricultural community by defining which fertilizer tanks and spreaders are to be registered,” said Plummer. “This is one small step in helping to bring some registration uniformity to our local farm machinery owners and operators.”
Additionally, this new law allows the use of a single unit, self-propelled agricultural fertilizer implement, designed for both on and off road use, equipped with flotation tires used for fertilizer or agricultural chemical and having a width of more than 12 feet or a gross weight in excess of 36,000 pound to be used on Illinois roads.
HB 2669/PA 101-0481, which passed the Senate unanimously, takes effect on January 1, 2020.
The Illinois State Police (ISP) is warning the public of a phone scam that is currently circulating throughout the country. A number of residents have reported to the ISP that they have received a call with a voice indicating the person’s grandson has been arrested or is in trouble. While the caller ID shows that the ISP is calling, ISP wants to make sure the public knows these calls are not coming from them.
Citizens should be aware of this scam, and remember that the Illinois State Police does not ask for personal information and will never call to solicit money on behalf of the Department or ask you to send money for any reason. Citizens are advised to hang up immediately and cautioned to not provide any personal information.
The Illinois State Police encourages those that believe they have been the victim of this phone scam to call them at 217-782-7980, or report information on this scam or different types of phone scams to the Illinois Attorney General’s office at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/about/contacts.html
With Veterans Day right around the corner, State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville) is encouraging constituents to honor the brave men and women who have served our country. Constituents are encouraged to submit a photo and write a tribute to a loved one who has served in the United States Armed Forces to be displayed on the Veterans Day “Wall of Honor” in the Illinois State Capitol from November 4-15.
“I was proud to serve in the United States Navy with some of the best people our Nation has to offer. We should always thank and honor our veterans for their courage and the many sacrifices they made protecting our nation,” said Senator Plummer. “The least we can do is show respect by sharing a photo and story to honor their service in the Illinois State Capitol.”
To honor an Illinois veteran, please submit photos and written stories (max: 250 words) along with the following information: name, military branch (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, Navy) and conflict and/or era served (Afghanistan, Iraq, Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI, Peacetime, other). Military photos are preferred, but not necessary.
Please email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 3. Submissions can also be mailed to Veterans Day Wall, 309 G Statehouse, Springfield, IL 62706. For questions, call (217) 782-7330.
For those who submit a tribute and would like to visit the Capitol to see their loved ones story on display, you can check out this video before you travel to Springfield,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovxa81OwYYA&feature=youtu.be