Latest News

Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz is urging Illinois firearms owners to file paperwork early as the first wave of the 10-year Firearm Owners Identification cards come due for renewal.

"We expect tens of thousands of renewal applications to come in over the next few months," Schmitz said. "We recommend gun owners get their renewal applications in at least one to two months in advance so we have adequate time to process them and get a new card out before expiration."

More than 50,000 FOID cards are due for renewal between June 1 and Aug. 1. The General Assembly amended state law in 2008, allowing FOID cards to be valid for 10 years. The timing of the law change creates a glut of renewals this summer.

FOID card applications involve state and federal background checks, as well as review of the database from the Illinois Department of Human Services to confirm that applicants have not been in a mental institution in the past five years. The Illinois State Police oversees the FOID card system and issues the cards that are needed to buy or possess a firearm or ammunition.

State Police already have sent renewal notices to people whose cards will expire June 1.

Applicants can visit the ISP's Firearm Services Bureau website at ispfsb.com to renew online. The cost of the card is $10. Applicants must be Illinois residents and include their Illinois Drivers License or State ID card number. Applicants under the age of 21 must have a parents' signature on the application.

Anyone who needs assistance with FOID card renewal, and those who prefer paper applications, can call 217-782-7980 and select menu option 0.

Applicants should make sure the name and address on FOID applications match the records on file for them at the Secretary of State's Office, otherwise the renewal process will be delayed.

To read the full article by Doug Wilson at the Herald-Whig, click here.
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) along with all members of the House Republican Caucus have filed a resolution demanding an independent redistricting reform solution.

“It is unacceptable that partisan politics involved in the map drawing process have skewed years of election results throughout Illinois,” Durkin said. “We are long overdue for an independent map drawing process that will protect voter rights, create a more transparent process and make legislative races more competitive with more qualified candidates running for office.”

House Resolution 995 shows broad support for maps to be drawn without regard to incumbency and partisanship, and allows voters the opportunity to choose a candidate based on the issues and policies most important to them. Legislative district maps are redrawn every ten years based on the newest census results.

“It is clear that people from both sides of the aisle will not be supporting the current protocol of our inequitable and unfair map-drawing process, making now the time to begin working efficiently towards a new solution to a fair and equitable map across the state,” Durkin said. “A new process will give voters the opportunity to have their own say and involvement in ensuring that the new legislative maps fairly represent each district in Illinois.”

According to a poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, 72 percent of Illinois residents, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, support the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative district maps. Based on the current legislative calendar, the deadlines for passage are April 27 in the House and May 3 in the Senate.
Legislation would put Illinois workers back on the job
and is supported by labor and business

Speaking is Marc Poulos, Executive Director at the Indiana, Illinois and Iowa Foundation for Fair Contracting (Operating Engineers Local 150); Rep. Dave Severin (center - left of podium) with leaders from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Manufacturers Association, and fellow legislators to announce the "Blue Collar Jobs Act" at the Capitol.
State Rep. Dave Severin today joined with labor and business leaders and legislative colleagues to introduce House Bill 5864, the Blue Collar Jobs Act, to incentivize construction projects in the state of Illinois and create jobs for the middle class.

"This bill is good for southern Illinois and good for my district specifically where there are too many buildings sitting empty," commented Rep. Dave Severin, a member of the Business Incentives for Local Communities Committee. "This will help businesses that are here now and help those looking to relocate or start up here."

The Blue Collar Jobs Act is supported by both labor and business groups and offers tax incentives to companies making significant capital improvements in Illinois based on the withholding tax paid to construction workers. It does this through the creation of four new tax credits, including:

- High Impact Business construction jobs credit 

- Enterprise Zone construction jobs credit 

- New Construction EDGE Credit 

- River Edge construction jobs credit


“We support prioritizing Illinois construction workers in our state’s economic development toolset through incentives for new construction, expansion, and rehabilitation projects,” said Marc Poulos, Executive Director IN, IL, IA FFC, the labor-management group of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150.

The program will work under the same structure as the current EDGE program:

- Tax credit value is 50% of Illinois income tax withheld of workers covered under the agreement;

- Tax credit value rises to 75% of Illinois income tax withheld of workers covered under the agreement in areas designated to be in an underserved area that meets certain poverty, unemployment, and federal assistance rates;

- Tax credit is issued to the organization that builds, renovates or expands the building just as the EDGE tax credit goes to the company hiring the workers. The tax credit is meant to incentivize the company to construct new buildings or improve existing buildings which can’t be built without the use of Illinois labor.

“The Blue Collar Jobs Act gives growing businesses another reason to make substantial capital investments in Illinois to bring more jobs and opportunities to our state,” said Todd Maisch, President and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

The tax credits only become available after the work has been fully completed. There is no risk to the state for a company not meeting its requirement as the state has already captured the withholding tax prior to the tax credit being issued.

“Helping the middle class is precisely what the Blue Collar Jobs Act does. It sends a message that Illinois is open for business by putting our highly-skilled construction workers to work,” added Rep. Severin.

HB 5864 has been introduced is waiting to be assigned to committee.
Crab Orchard High School "Top Achievers" for 2017-18

Marion High School "Top Achievers" for 2017-18

Marion High School graduate and current Marion Chief of Police, Dawn Tondini,
receives the "Alumnus of the Year" Award from Bill Swinford.


Retired SIU Football Coach Jerry Kill was the guest speaker an talked about setting goals and working hard.
Congratulations to the "Top Achievers" of the graduating seniors from Crab Orchard High School and Marion High School!

The Marion Star (Swinford-Reppert publishers) annually awards the Top 6 graduating seniors from our high schools in Marion and Crab Orchard. Today, there were seven from Marion because of a set of twin sisters who are top achievers. The luncheon ceremony was hosted at the Artstarts House on Van Buren Street, across from the old jail/history museum.

Former Southern Illinois University football coach Jerry Kill was the guest speaker and spoke about setting goals, working hard, listening to parents and teachers, and making good choices in the face of going off to college and being independent.
Click HERE to Vote!



·     Illinois Top 200 survey names Wrigley Field as Illinois’ top building.  Participants in the Illinois Bicentennial’s Top 200 survey were asked to pick their favorite building in Illinois.  The popular choice was Wrigley Field, the century-old Major League Baseball park that became the home of the Chicago Cubs in 1916.  After many generations of mixed results, the storied Friendly Confines became the home of the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.

Other Illinois buildings were also supported by survey participants.  Coming in second was a building owned by the people of Illinois, Springfield’s Dana-Thomas House.  The Prairie Style house contains artistic motifs that celebrate Illinois’s ecology and landscapes, and is fitted with more than 100 pieces of Wright-designed furniture, lights, and art glass.  The Wilmette Baha’i Temple, Chicago’s Willis Tower, and Chicago’s Robie House were honored with selection slots #3 through #5.     
Our children’s education remains a top priority for Illinois House Republicans, which is why they have taken action to address the growing teacher shortage in our state. First and foremost, our members are committed to ensuring highly prepared and effective educators are teaching our children. To do that, Illinois must address the teacher shortage.

Background 
The Illinois State Board of Education said the 2017-18 school year began with about 2,000 unfilled teaching positions across the state.* And a recent survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that school districts were increasingly having difficulty finding qualified candidates to apply for teaching positions.

The results of the survey showed concerns about teacher shortages were more prominent in rural districts in the central part of the state, and substitute teacher shortage concerns were most evident in southern part of the state. The most difficult positions to fill include bilingual, Spanish, special education teachers as well as nurses and school psychologists.

“The reduced candidate pool is likely caused by a combination of factors such as educators leaving Illinois, educators leaving the profession entirely, fewer students enrolled in Illinois approved programs leading to licensure, out-of- state educators choosing not to come to Illinois, and/or out-of-state educators unable to meet Illinois’ licensure standards without substantial delays and additional requirements being met. These issues span across the entire state and are not isolated to rural or urban communities, a particular district type, or geographic location.” **

Legislative solutions
House Republicans have been working closely with educational professionals to devise solutions to increase the number of qualified teachers in Illinois classrooms. Their legislative agenda to address the teacher shortage is outlined below:
  • To address the need for substitute teachers, Rep. Lindsay Parkhurstintroduced legislation establishing a Short-Term Substitute Teaching License. This special provision requires applicants to have an associates degree and allows them to substitute teach in a classroom for a no more than five consecutive days. This provision would allow more qualified individuals to enter the substitute teaching pool.
  • Rep. Bob Pritchard’s measure establishes the Growing Future Educators Program to train qualified high school graduates to become secondary language educators beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. This effort is designed to help meet the need for bilingual and Spanish teachers. 
  • Rep. Pritchard also offered legislation to address the shortage of school psychologists by removing the requirements that those who already hold a valid Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential take additional state-mandated tests for licensure. 
  • To help future teachers complete their education expeditiously, Rep. John Cavaletto submitted legislation that requires Illinois public universities with an educator preparation program to offer those enrolled in it a three-year degree completion program. This is an effort to feed more teachers into the system as soon as possible. 
  • Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer’s legislation will streamline the hiring process for educators at the Illinois School for the Deaf and Illinois School for the Visually Impaired by eliminating the sunset date of which ISD and ISVI employees are exempt from CMS’ grading process.
  • bill sponsored by Rep. Keith Wheeler would eliminate duplicative efforts by state agencies that slow down licensing approval of teachers in the Juvenile Justice System. The provision would eliminate the need for the Department of Central Management Services to verify the State educator license of a teacher employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice if the State Board of Education verifies the license. The bill also ensures that the salary of teachers employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice is comparable to the salary of a teacher employed by a school district in the same geographical area in which the institution or facility is located.
  • In an effort to speak to the shortage of everyday classroom teachers, as well as the scarcity of substitute teachers, Rep. Tom Bennett introduced legislationthat encompasses many of the elements of the previous sponsors and tackles the problem from a number of angles. Among other things it would provide full reciprocity for out-of-state applicants for a Professional Educator License (PEL), thus allowing out-of-state licensed educators to teach in Illinois. Additionally, school districts would be able to hire an individual who already has a PEL or an Educator License with Stipulations to serve as a substitute teacher without that person having to go through the separate application process for a Substitute Teaching License. Lastly, the legislation would adjust the Pension Code to allow retired educators to substitute for more days each year without infringing upon their pension benefits.


Attribution
http://www.whig.com/20180417/teacher-shortage-threatens-harm-to-illinois-education-system#
** http://iarss.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/IllinoisTeacherShortage_12-10-15_kd-2.pdf (pg. 18).

An advertising group in Illinois is providing free advertising space statewide to help promote a new helpline for those struggling with opioids and other substance abuse.

A statement from the state's Department of Human Services says the Outdoor Advertising Association of Illinois has donated some 100 billboards. They will advertise the helpline that offers treatment information for anyone who has questions about opioids and other substances. Several large billboards will appear on tollways.

The Illinois Department of Human Services launched the helpline in December. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's also free and confidential. The number for the helpline is 1-833-2FINDHELP.