Good news this week from the Illinois General Assembly. The first meeting of the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform will be held Monday, Dec. 23, 2019 at the Bilandic Building in Chicago.
The Commission’s report is due on March 20, 2020. This gives us just a few short months to examine the State’s ethics laws, study best practices used in other states, and suggest changes to current law.
I look forward to working on the Commission and I will keep you up to date as meetings are held. My goal as a member of the Commission is to find ways to change Illinois’ ethics laws to clean up state government, fight corruption, and end self-dealing.
Southern Illinois University Makes Change to Admission Requirements – Will No Longer Require SAT/ACT Score
On Friday of this week, Southern Illinois University issued a press release announcing that SIU will no longer require student applicants to provide ACT/SAT scores to be considered for admission.
You can read the entire press release by clicking this link. Here are a couple of important excerpts from the University’s press release explaining the change:
“Research has consistently demonstrated that the most important predictor of college success is the high school grade point average,” Interim Chancellor John M. Dunn said.
“Standardized tests can be a barrier to many students due to cost and demographic factors. We have a responsibility to level the playing field and ensure that every student with potential has an opportunity to study at SIU.”
At SIU Carbondale, applicants with a high school grade point average of 2.75 or above who have met course requirements will be admitted to the university regardless of whether they submit their SAT or ACT scores. Students enrolling for summer or fall 2021 with a 2.75 or above will be eligible for consideration for most scholarships without submitting standardized test scores.
Illinois Sportsmen’s Caucus Donates $250 to Gallatia Bass Fishing Team
On Tuesday, I had the honor of presenting a $250 check to the Galatia bass fishing team on behalf of the Illinois Sportsmen’s Caucus, which supports outdoor youth sporting activities throughout the state. It was great to meet with the Bass Cats! Good luck to you in all you do.
House Republican Week in Review
Fitch Ratings issues watch report on Illinois’ fiscal stability.
The credit rating agency identified Illinois as one of three states that should be closely scrutinized by debt investors in calendar year 2020. Fitch identified potential “changes in credit quality” in Springfield as an element in its continuing belief that Illinois’ finances must be kept under close watch. Fitch’s report, released on Tuesday, December 10, placed Illinois in the same category as Alaska and Kentucky. All three are states with serious budgetary problems, including unfunded pension liabilities.
Progressive advocacy group predicts death of Illinois Basin coal industry.
The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), an advocacy group that calls for “a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy,” released a report this week that projects the termination of Illinois coal mining and burning for energy production. Stating that the “industry will be gone in 20 years,” IEEFA pointed to the ongoing trend among publicly-traded Wall Street power companies to shut down coal-burning power plants. Five major Illinois plant closures have been announced by the industry so far in 2019.
The Illinois Basin is a thick seam of coal spanning the Ohio River underneath sections of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. Illinois mines that tap the Illinois Basin follow a geological trend line from Marissa, in far southern St. Clair County near St. Louis, southeast underneath the Big Muddy River to Galatia in mineral-rich Saline County.
Fund sweeps, interfund borrowing harm ability of State to operate laws paid for by Illinois gun owners.
Residents who want to own guns in Illinois are required to pay a fee and obtain a Firearms Owners’ Identification (FOID) card. Want the right to concealed carry, as provided for by law? Get training, pay another fee, submit a separate set of required documentation, and get a concealed carry license, separate from the FOID card.
Many Illinois gun owners have faced repeated delays and wait times in translating their fees and required documentation (which they have submitted in a timely manner) into the legal documents necessary to own or carry a firearm. The programs that generate these cards are funded by the State Police Firearm Services Fund, which is what State insiders call a “special fund” or “dedicated fund” because moneys in these funds are supposed to be “dedicated” to specific purposes set forth by law.
However, some of the money paid in fees by Illinois gun owners to this fund have been siphoned off in some other direction. In all, more than $13.2 million in Firearm Services Fund moneys was transferred to other programs, including $6.0 million in FY15 and $7.2 million in FY18.
The years in which this money disappeared, FY15 and FY18, coincide with the severest years of the so-called “Illinois budget impasse” of the 2010s, including the impasse’s immediate aftermath. The fund diversions have created another challenge for law-abiding Illinois residents who paid fees, complied with legal requirements, and were then forced to wait for the FOID cards and required documents that they were require to have by law.
Numbers reported for two-segment Firearm Deer Season.
Licensed hunters were invited to use their shotguns in the Firearm Deer Season on November 22 through 24, and again on December 5 through 8. These seasons are separate from the muzzleloader-only window on December 13-15, the archery season through January 19, 2020, and two late-season hunting periods, in designated counties only, for antlerless-only deer and for deer in CWD-affected regions. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has more information on these supplemental deer seasons at their website.
In the traditional prime “deer hunting” season of 2019, the Firearm Deer Season, a preliminary total of 75,349 deer were taken and tagged. This was a drop of 5,608 animals from the nearly 81,000 deer taken in 2018, a decline of 7.0%. All of the 2019 decline was reported from the first half of deer season. The #1 county reporting was southern Illinois’ Randolph County, with 2,253 deer taken and tagged. Deer were taken in 100 of the 102 counties of Illinois, with the exception of largely urban Cook County and DuPage County.
My office in Harrisburg is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. You can reach me any time by calling 618-294-8703 or contact me via my website at www.ilhousegop.org/contactwindhorst or by emailing Windhorst@ILHouseGOP.org
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