AROUND THE DISTRICT
Senator Weaver ‘Meets the Press’
On February 14, our team met with media partners throughout the 37th District to provide an update on several issues that are dominating the headlines.
Early in the morning, we were welcomed on two well-known Peoria radio shows – the Roger Monroe Show, and the Greg and Dan Show – and talked about legislation I am sponsoring to reduce prison recidivism. We also talked about redistricting reform and the minimum wage. About an hour later, I was discussing those issues with Jim Taylor at WRMJ radio in Aledo.
Our office enjoys talking with local media about what is going on in Springfield and how it affects us all as citizens. We promote “citizen legislating,” whereby citizens work with us to step up and identify and help solve the problems in our community via the legislative process.
We are fortunate to have qualified members of the press devoted to serving the citizens of our communities.
(Pictured above is just one of our many visits to local media during the last year to let the residents of central Illinois know what is going on in our region and at the Capitol.)
AT THE CAPITOL
Even when the Senate is not in session, there is plenty going on in Springfield.
February 15 was the deadline to file legislation. My staffer Matt has been busy filing legislation and managing our legislative priorities.
It is exciting to note that the Weaver team currently has 40 pieces of legislation.
Last year, we were able to pass 16 bills.
Bills get filed for different reasons. Some bills get filed to provide language we would like to see added to other bills. Some bills are filed to begin educating fellow legislators about potential solutions for the future. We will put our greatest energy behind bills that will reduce government or seek out no-cost or low-cost ways to improve our business climate or help teachers in the classroom.
If you have any ideas for legislation, you can always contact our Peoria office at 309-693-4921 or our Springfield office at 217-782-1942.
We love hearing constituents’ ideas to make Illinois a better place. We call it “citizen legislating” and it works!
Senate Week in Review: February 11-15, 2019
Against our hardest efforts, the House voted along party lines to increase Illinois’ minimum wage despite economic concerns by business and public groups.
A bill has been introduced to streamline local government and protect hard-earned taxpayer dollars; and a state agency is reporting that more people are reaching out for help with their opioid addiction.
While the Senate schedule allowed Senators to be back in their respective districts during the week, the House of Representatives met in the Capitol for three days.
Minimum wage hike heads to Pritzker’s desk
After passing the House on a party-line vote on February 14, a controversial $15 per hour minimum wage is on its way to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk. If signed into law, Senate Bill 1 would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour over six years, and to $13 per hour during the same period for employees younger than 18.
Opponents of the plan noted the vast differences in the cost of living across Illinois. They also raised concerns that the incremental increase could have far-reaching implications for employers across the board, including an increase in annual costs for state agencies, local school districts, human service providers and hospitals.
My concern with this measure is the effect of its one-size-fits-all hourly wage on downstate Illinois. Chicago currently has a minimum wage of $13.00, so an increase to $15.00 is not as big an issue for them over six years. Downstate, those who need opportunities the most will be damaged, as the likely result will be the lowest-skilled workers being dropped out of the bottom of the workforce.
In the workforce, we have seen employees ages 16 to 19 go from being 45 percent employed in the 1980s to being 31 percent employed today. If they are not employed by age 19 and have not learned basic work skills, there is a good chance they will not get into the workforce easily. At $15.00 per hour, these young people will not have the skills that justify an employer hiring them.
Senate Bill 1 was passed by the Senate February 7, also by a party-line vote. Pritzker is expected to sign the measure into law.
Protect taxpayers during consolidation
Senate Bill 1567 would add several key protections for taxpayers during local government consolidation decisions.
Under the current rules, the elimination of one government entity can sometimes put residents from outside its borders on the hook for bills owed. This measure aims to change that.
Key provisions of SB 1567 include:
- Only taxpayers within the dissolving township boundaries are responsible for paying any debt transferred to the county. Protects other county taxpayers.
- Assets of the dissolved township or road district, especially if liquidated, must be used solely for the benefit of residents of the geographic area within the former boundaries of the township. Protects the taxpayers who previously paid the taxes allowing a township to acquire those assets.
- Ensures that counties or municipalities will receive Motor Fuel Tax dollars that were dedicated to a dissolving township based on lane miles. Protects local taxpayer dollars, as part of a dissolved township’s lane mile Motor Fuel Tax account from being redistributed state-wide.
Opioid helpline reaches 10,000 calls
The Illinois Department of Human Services recently announced that the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances has received 10,000 calls.
The confidential, 24-hour hotline is designed to help provide support for people dealing with substance abuse, or their families. The program launched in December 2017.
The number for the hotline is 1-833-2FINDHELP, and can also be accessed online at HelplineIL.org.
Illinois State Fair adding concerts
While the Illinois State Fair, an annual event showcasing what Illinois has to offer, is still six months away, live music fans got an update this week on the musical acts set to perform.
So far, Grammy-winning country duo Dan & Shay are on the schedule for August 11. In addition, acapella group Pentatonix will perform on August 14.
The Illinois State Fair runs August 8-18.
Listen in! The latest news from Springfield is now available in radio podcast format.
My radio podcasts can be found at http://senatorweaver.com/Media/podcasts/.
Other members’ podcasts can be found at https://soundcloud.com/theilsenategop.