Latest News

Wheeler to Sponsor Crystal Lake Art Show that Honors Women in Government
I would like to extend an invitation for everyone to attend an upcoming art show at Crystal Lake’s historic Dole Mansion scheduled for Friday, November 4 from 5:00-8:00 PM. The theme of this exhibit is “100 Years of Women in Government,” and those who attend will be able to view a large collection of featured art which focuses on the emergence of strong women in government roles. People will also have an opportunity to mingle with artists and purchase some of the original pieces of work. A suggested $5 donation will be collected at the door, and those proceeds will support the historic preservation of the Dole Mansion and Lakeside Legacy programs. I hope to see a large crowd at this worthwhile event!

MCC Jobs Fair Draws Large Crowd
Last week Senator Althoff and I partnered with some key McHenry County agencies to host a very successful Jobs Fair that was held at McHenry County College (MCC) on October 21. In addition to MCC, we partnered with the McHenry County Workforce Network and the County’s Economic Development Corporation for the 10:00 AM-1:00 PM event. More than 80 area employers accepted applications and discussed job openings for temporary, part-time and full-time employment opportunities with more than 200 job seekers who attended the fair. Unemployment rates remain unacceptably high in Illinois and we need to be doing everything we can to put people back to work. By bringing together employers who are actively looking to hire good employees, those who attended the jobs fair were able to maximize the efficiency of their job search. Thanks to all who attended, staffed booths and helped make this event such a great success.

Wheeler Serves as “Principal for a Day” at Local Elementary School
This month I had an opportunity to step into the shoes of a school principal and experience a day in the life of a top school administrator. I had the pleasure of spending a day at Community Consolidated School District 46’s Avon Center School in Round Lake Beach, where I was able to connect with students and teachers from a variety of grade levels. The Principal for a Day program is a statewide initiative of the Illinois Principals Association, and the goal of the program is to provide lawmakers with an opportunity to observe, interact and serve for a day at a school within their specific legislative district. It fosters collaboration between legislators and schools and gives us a up-close look at the successes and challenges in our local public schools. Thank you to Avon’s Principal Chris Wolk for the hospitality, and to all of the students and teachers for making my visit a wonderful experience.

New Illinois Competitive Council Review of Agency Rules/Regulations Should Find Millions in Savings for Illinoisans by Cutting Through Red Tape
Last week Governor Bruce Rauner announced a comprehensive plan to promote economic growth and job creation by cutting the red tape in Illinois. He signed Executive Order 16-13 to review all agency rules and regulations by the newly-created Illinois Competitiveness Council. The Illinois Competitiveness Council will be comprised of a representative of each of Illinois’ regulatory state agencies. Its goal is to save Illinoisans at least $250 million in direct license fee costs over the next decade, and save Illinois taxpayers and business owners at least 4 million pages in paperwork. It will work to ensure current regulations are up to date and relevant to today’s industries and practices; ensure the language in rules are easy to understand; reduce the amount of unduly burdensome requirements on businesses, social service providers, and citizens through both time and cost; and ensure there is a clear need for the regulation.

In addition, the Illinois Competitiveness Council will look for recommendations to improve Illinois’ licensing environment to promote job growth and job creation. Currently, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has more than a million active licenses in more than 200 license categories, however for nearly a third, IDFPR has issued fewer than 100 licenses. The growth of these licenses has increased 184 percent in the last 20 years.

Kentucky, Indiana, Colorado, and Massachusetts have all successfully reviewed their rules and cut red tape to give their citizens a more competitive advantage over Illinois citizens. Burdensome and unnecessary regulations, policies and licensing requirements disproportionately impact small businesses, particularly minority-owned businesses.

In order to have the greatest impact, the Illinois Competitiveness Council is seeking input from the public on which rules and regulations are the biggest hindrance to people and businesses. Anyone can submit feedback to cut the red tape at www.illinois.gov/cut.

Teal Pumpkin Project Allows Kids with Food Allergies to Enjoy Trick-or-Treating Fun
For households that participate in trick-or-treating activities, I wanted to bring your attention to a very worthwhile initiative called the Teal Pumpkin Project. Kids with food allergies are often left out of trick-or-treating fun since most candy is off limits to them. The Teal Pumpkin Project helps make sure all children will come home on Halloween night with something they can enjoy. It just takes one simple act: offering non-food treats, such as glow sticks or small toys, as an alternative to candy.

If you wish to participate, please print out the sign below and tape it to your door. This will alert families with children who have food allergies that this is a safe trick-or-treating home.

· Teal Pumpkin

Last year, households from all 50 states and 14 countries participated. This is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all trick-or-treaters.

Click here to learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project, and click here for a list of local Halloween events and attractions.

Industry Hotline Offers Insurance Assistance
The Illinois Insurance Hotline is a free and valuable resource available to help Illinois residents make informed decisions about insurance-related issues. The Hotline is a non-profit industry-sponsored outreach that can answer basic questions, provide educational materials and offer direction for more intricate questions about property, casualty, life or health insurance. Residents can reach the Hotline by phone or email for guidance on a wide range of topics, including company contact numbers, financial ratings, complaint records, state mandates, options following a cancellation or non-renewal, the claim settlement process and more. You can contact the Illinois Insurance Hotline by phone at 1-800-444-3338, or by email at insurancehotline@illinoisinsurance.org. The Hotline is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM.
For households that participate in trick-or-treating activities, I wanted to bring your attention to a very worthwhile initiative called the Teal Pumpkin Project.

Kids with food allergies are often left out of trick-or-treating fun since most candy is off limits to them. The Teal Pumpkin Project helps make sure all children will come home on Halloween night with something they can enjoy. It just takes one simple act: offering non-food treats, such as glow sticks or small toys, as an alternative to candy.

If you wish to participate, please print out the sign below and tape it to your door. This will alert families with children who have food allergies that this is a safe trick-or-treating home.

· Teal Pumpkin

Last year, households from all 50 states and 14 countries participated. This is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all trick-or-treaters.

Click here to learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project.
The sun was shining as a boat full of environmentalists toured the Pistakee Lake Watershed on the Chain O'Lakes. The boat tour was a recap of issues studied through a grant received by Lake County Storm Water Management and the Fox Waterway Agency. The group had been meeting for months looking at the impacts occurring to water quality on the Chain O'Lakes. The group is hoping to receive Federal 319 grant money to provide solutions to improve water quality.

The Pistakee Lake Watershed Tour reviewed shoreline protection situations which impact aquatic plant life. Participants also discussed port of entries within the watershed which cause pollution impacting water clarity. Discussion took place about the importance of wetlands and it was interesting to find out that one acre of wetland equals one million gallons of water. There is great concern about the dwindling acreage of functional wetlands within the Chain O'Lakes area and the sedimentation loads occurring on Grass Lake, which at one time was over 100 feet deep according to the Fox Waterway Agency.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division was encouraged by a new group that was formed recently in Wisconsin called the Sewer Pac, which will be reviewing negative impacts within the Fox River Watershed in Wisconsin which flows directly through the Chain O'Lakes here in Illinois. According Wayne Blake, Chairman of the Fox Waterway Agency, between 50,000 and 70,000 cubic yards of sedimentation is entering the Chain O'Lakes yearly, with a large percentage of that coming from agricultural lands in Wisconsin.

The Pistakee Lake Watershed group toured the lotus beds which were successfully re-established by the Fox Waterway over 20 years ago. After the lotus plants are established it takes seven years for the seeds to germinate to produce new plants. The lotus beds originally grew in this area back in the late 1800's but were killed off from a severe winter. The lotus beds were a large tourism draw because Grass Lake was only one of three areas world-wide where the lotus beds grew. The flowers were cultivated to make fragrant perfume which was sold by local businesses in the early 1900's.

The Pistakee Lake Watershed Group also toured the geo-tube-created island off of Grass Lake Channel. The island was created over 20 years ago, and was made with dredged material. It is a habitat for many endangered species, including the pelicans who nest there when looking for shade. Officials for the Fox Waterway are still looking into creating and recreating islands to put the silt sedimentations back where it came from and creating wetlands which provide a habitat for wildlife. The Fox Waterway Agency also discussed alternatives for dredging containment sites.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is one of three House Republicans who will serve on a newly-created Human Trafficking Task Force in Illinois.

The bipartisan and bicameral task force, created through Public Act 99-0864, will consist of 12 members of the General Assembly, a representative from the Chicago Regional Human Trafficking Task Force and the Director of the State Police or a designee of the Director’s choosing. The group will conduct a study on the human trafficking problem in Illinois and will hold hearings to help develop a state plan to address the growing issue.

“Sadly, Chicago has emerged as a national hub for human trafficking, and incidents of these crimes have also been reported in the suburbs and in downstate Illinois,” Wheeler said. “The National Human Trafficking Resource Center recorded 94 human trafficking cases in Illinois this year through the end of June, and that number is up significantly from cases reported in Illinois last year. We must take bold steps to stop these predators and protect Illinoisans.”

Members of the task force will serve without compensation, and will submit their findings and recommendations to the General Assembly and to Governor Rauner before June 30 of 2017.

“Human trafficking is a very real problem in Illinois and across the United States,” said Wheeler. “I look forward to having in a role in the creation of a statewide plan to address this growing form of abuse.”
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has been named a “Guardian of Small Business” in recognition of votes taken in Springfield during 2015-2016. In an independent review of her voting record, Wheeler scored a perfect 100%.

The award, given every two years by the non-partisan National Federation of Independent Business/Illinois (NFIB), judged lawmakers on their votes on 11 key bills during the 99th General Assembly. The bills included: HB 6162, SB 2964, HB 3887, HB 1285, SB 162, HB 1287, SB 2933, HB 4036, SB 11, HB 5576 and HJRCA 26. Lawmakers who received an 80% or higher rating received the award.

According to Kim Clark Maisch, State Director of NFIB/Illinois, Wheeler showed unwavering support of small business during the 99th General Assembly. “Small business is an extremely important part of Illinois' economic engine, and Representative Barbara Wheeler’s 100% voting record with the NFIB demonstrates her commitment to helping small businesses succeed in a very tough environment,” she said. “Small businesses are our primary job creators, and Representative Wheeler stood up on behalf of these businesses time and time again in her representation of Illinois’ 64th District.”

Wheeler said it was an honor to be recognized for her support of the business community. “There were several bills during this General Assembly that represented an attack on small business owners in Illinois, and as lawmakers who recognize the importance of small business, it was our responsibility to fight these anti-business initiatives,” said Wheeler. “Small business owners are the people who have the power to improve our economy and we need to do everything we can to support them.”

NFIB/Illinois includes over 11,000 small business members from across the state. A link to a summary of the 11 key business bills and an overall tally and ranking of all Illinois State Representatives and Senators can be found at: http://www.nfib.com/pdfs/Illinois-Voting-Record.pdf.
Governor Nears Completion of 2016 Bill Signings
The General Assembly passed 443 bills in the first half of calendar year 2016, and more than 90% of these bills have now been signed into law. Of the forty bills vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner, 30 are total vetoes and ten are amendatory vetoes. The Constitution of Illinois gives the General Assembly one shot at accepting the Governor’s amendatory vetoes or overriding his amendatory and/or total vetoes. Acceptance of an amendatory veto requires a simple majority in both houses, while overriding a Governor’s veto requires a three-fifths majority in both houses. Actions on vetoes are a traditional focus of the General Assembly’s fall veto session. The veto session will be held on the third and fifth weeks of November, straddling Thanksgiving. 

McHenry County Workforce Center Offers Programs and Assistance to Employers and Job Seekers
Last week a member of my staff attended an open house at the McHenry County Workforce Center in Woodstock as part of “Workforce Development Week” in McHenry County. Guests at the open house were able to tour the facility and learn about the variety of programs and services that are available to both employers and job seekers. In addition to their program offerings, the Workforce Center offers a Young Adult Internship Program that caters to individuals between the ages of 14-24, where opportunities for paid internships training and certifications are available. Guests at the event also learned about the McHenry County College Shah Center, which provides services to more than 600 businesses and 9,000 people each year. Those services range from one-on-one counseling for entrepreneurs to custom, on-site employee training classes. The McHenry County Workforce Center is a gem in our community. To learn more about this useful agency and the assistance they can provide, please visit www.mchenrycountyworkforce.com or call them at (815) 338-7100. You can learn more about the Shah Center programs at www.shahcenter.mchenry.edu or by calling (815) 479-7571.

Motorists Urged to be Aware of Sharp Penalties for Passing a Stopped School Bus
With the new school year underway for most Illinois school districts, school buses are once again a familiar sight in morning and afternoon hours. Significant penalties exist in law for the act of passing a stopped school bus with flashing lights and extended stop-sign arm. Traffic must remain stopped until the lights have stopped flashing and the stop-sign arm withdrawn. In addition to fines imposed by the local court, the Secretary of State is instructed by law to suspend, for three months, the driving privileges of a licensed driver who violates this law. A Secretary of State hearing officer may, but is not required to, grant restricted-driving privileges to a driver whose license is under suspension for this offense. These penalties apply to traffic going in both directions on any road narrower than four lanes. On a four-lane road with at least two lanes of traffic moving in the opposite direction to the bus, only motorists going with the bus are required to stop. 

New Concussion Guidelines Affect Coaches and Players in Contact Sports
The new guidelines, adopted by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) according to State law, are aimed at reducing the frequency of concussions in contact sports. One key feature of the new guidelines is a requirement that student-athletes be tested and monitored during contact-sports activities. The oversight activities are meant to diagnose concussion events as fast as possible.

The guidelines also require that, once a student-athlete is found to have sustained a concussion or suspected concussion, they must undergo further monitoring and testing prior to being asked to resume their studies or authorized to return to a playing field. Once diagnosed, they will not be able to play again until a doctor has granted explicit permission for them to do so. The new concussion guidelines will be enforced, in each school, by the concussion oversight teams that each Illinois school that plays sports is now required to have. The guidelines followed passage of the Youth Sports Concussion Safety Act, a 2015 law that asked the IHSA, licensed Illinois athletic trainers, and other professionals and educators to come together to develop a new program for reduction of sports concussions starting in the 2016-17 school year.

LIHEAP to Accept Applications for Low Income Energy Assistance Program
The state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities on September 1. LIHEAP and the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program are funded as part of the stopgap funding plan signed into law by Governor Rauner. LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low-income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households. Applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. These agencies will accept applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents must bring all required documentation when applying for assistance, including: 
  • Proof of gross income from all household members for the 30-day income period beginning with the date of the application. 
  • A copy of their current heat and electric bills issued within the last 30 days (if they pay for their energy directly). 
  • A copy of their rental agreement (if they are renting) showing that utilities are included, the monthly rental amount and landlord contact information. 
  • Proof of Social Security numbers for all household members. 
  • Proof that their household received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Aid to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (AABD); or other benefits, such as Medical Eligibility or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), if receiving assistance from the Illinois Department of Human Services. 
A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income of up to $1,485; a two-person household up to $2,003; a family of three can earn up to $2,520; and a family of four can earn up to $3,038. For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administering agencies and additional information about the program, go to www.liheapIllinois.com, or call the energy assistance toll-free hotline at (877) 411-WARM.

FBI Says Hackers, Possibly from Russia, Sought Entry into Illinois Election Databases
Access from abroad was to databases operated by the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) to monitor and enforce Illinois election law and election results. The foreign incursion included the possible theft of voter-identification data, including parts of voter Social Security numbers, from as many as 90,000 Illinois voters. The ISBE currently does not believe the access changed any of the data within the database or moved the dials on any of the ways the Board tries to monitor and enforce election law. For example, the Election Code requires disclosure of a wide variety of contributions to campaign committees and the ISBE keeps databases of these disclosures. The foreign hacks were made public by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cyber Division on Monday, August 29. The office of the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security states that the Secretary has contacted state election officials, presumably including Illinois officials, to offer help in building or reinforcing “firewalls” around state election commission data.

Moody’s Investors Service Estimates that Illinois’ Bill Backlog Could Grow to $14 Billion
The bill backlog, for Illinois and its creditors, is the volume of monies represented by bills presented to Illinois and not yet paid. Major creditors include providers of health-care services, providers of services such as electricity to state offices, and providers of supplies such as food and clothing to state prisons. The current bill backlog is tracked and frequently updated by the office of Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger. This week, the backlog of unpaid bills hovered above $8 billion.

In a report published Wednesday, August 31, Moody’s analyzed signs that this bill backlog could soon grow even further in size. Chief among these reasons is the lack of a balanced State budget. The “stopgap” spending plan enacted by the General Assembly in June 2016 did not contain revenues to match the appropriated expenditures, and did not provide for many of the expenditures that the State is legally required under existing law to spend before the end of fiscal year 2017 (ends June 30, 2017).

A “structural deficit” exists when growing expenditure mandates, particularly the costs of medical care and pubic-sector worker pensions, are not matched by commensurate growth in any existing State tax or revenue stream; neither existing rates of income taxes, nor sales taxes, nor gambling taxes, nor any combination of the above will raise the required sums of money. Moody’s believes that, absent additional action to balance the budget, by the end of FY17 the State will be $14 billion or more in the red. The difference between the State’s current $8 billion in past-due bills and Moody’s projection of $14 billion at fiscal year’s end reflects the current $6 billion/year structural deficit being faced by Illinois.

Moody’s report included a warning that, absent action by the General Assembly to balance the budget as required by the Constitution, the firm may be forced to further lower the State’s already tottering credit rating. Currently rated at Baa2 by Moody’s, Illinois’ general obligation debt now hovers at only two steps above “junk bond” levels. In terms of its credit rating, Illinois is currently the lowest-ranked among the 50 states.

Twelve Human Service Agencies Discussing Medicaid Revamp
One of the causes of Illinois’ budget crisis is the compounding cost of the State’s Medicaid program. Medicaid, the family of programs that provides reimbursements for medical treatments provided to many persons with challenged personal or income standing, spends billions of dollars every year. It is an “entitlement” program, which means that the General Assembly cannot easily enact legislation to cut the cost of the program. Most of its beneficiaries have a right, under federal law, to many of the services that the Illinois Medicaid program provides to them.

Some, although by no means all, of the costs of Illinois Medicaid are covered by the federal government. One of the features identified by the Rauner administration are growing gaps between what Illinois could apply for in Medicaid aid and the reimbursements in fact received by the State. Next week, the Rauner administration will hold hearings in Springfield and Chicago on an interdepartmental proposal to close some of these gaps. Advocates believe that adoption of the Rauner plan could create standing for Illinois to apply for $2.7 billion in additional federal Medicaid funds over a five-year period. Features of the proposal include improved housing services for persons whose health concerns are deemed to put them at risk for becoming homeless and pre-release services for prisoners.

Implementation of the Rauner proposal will require proof of ongoing cooperation between many different state agencies. In many cases, the agencies will have to standardize their database software in order to share client data on a frictionless basis. The Rauner administration’s ongoing reorganization of Illinois’ data management capabilities is an integral part of this proposal. The General Assembly will, in many cases, have to sign off on individual parts of the proposal. At next week’s hearings on September 8 and 9, twelve separate State agencies will be called on to provide public testimony on their readiness to implement this proposal.
Governor Signs Key Wheeler Bills into Law
During the summer months, the Governor takes action on the hundreds of bills that were approved during the previous spring legislative session. I was successful this year in passing some very good legislation that will have a positive impact on the people of the 64th Legislative District. A few of those bills that were recently signed into law include:
  • HB 5584 (now Public Act 99-0783): This is a consolidation bill that has the potential to save local taxpayers thousands of dollars in property taxes by allowing two Lake County Sanitary Districts to have their duties and obligations absorbed into Lake County operations. Lake County already performs these duties in many areas and has the infrastructure in place to take over the sanitary district duties of these two municipalities at a lower cost to taxpayers.
  • HB 5017 (now Public Act 99-0835): This important legislation allows juveniles under the age of 18 to expunge their records for non-violent offenses in certain circumstances. Criminal records can follow an individual for years past the date of a crime and well past the period of rehabilitation. For juveniles, who often make poor choices before their impulse control mechanisms are fully developed, the long-range consequences can affect their ability to become productive adults. By allowing juveniles to have records of non-violent offenses erased after they have made restitution for their crime, we are truly allowing them to start with a clean slate and make the most of their adult lives.
  • HB 4330 (now Public Act 99-0600): This new law addresses the out-of-control costs of higher education by offering high school students an opportunity to earn college credit if they show high proficiency in a foreign language. Those illustrating the proficiency will be awarded a State Seal of Biliteracy. Students who earn a score of “intermediate high” or better on a State Seal of Biliteracy test will be deemed as having met the foreign language admission requirements at any public community college or university in Illinois and will receive credit for the equivalent college-level courses. According to data from CollegCalc.org, which compares and calculates college costs across the country, using the State Seal of Biliteracy to earn credit for one foreign language class at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would have saved a student $5,553 during the 2014-2015 academic year. 
Tourists Spent $37 Billion in Illinois in 2015
The new numbers come from the Illinois Office of Tourism, which monitors visitor spending in Illinois as a way of gauging a return on investments for the money from hotel/motel taxes spent to promote Illinois to out-of-staters. Estimated expenditures by tourists in Illinois were $37 billion in 2015, up an inflation-beating 2.6% from 2014.

According to the Office of Tourism, an arm of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, tourism generated an estimated 10,000 new Illinois jobs in 2015. Job creation is featured in the Office of Tourism’s “Illinois Made” campaign for 2016, a multimedia promotion that centers on the attractive opportunities for visitors to buy goods and services produced by Illinois craftspeople and small businesses.

Governor Signs Bills Honoring Gold Star Families, Increasing Services to Illinois Veterans
Governor Bruce Rauner recently took action on several bills as part of Veterans Day at the 2016 Illinois State Fair. The bills strengthen Illinois’ commitment to our veterans and their families by providing needed assistance and honor to those who have sacrificed so much for our country and our state.

Two of the bills support the families of our Illinois veterans. HB 4389, sponsored by Rep. Steven Andersson, designates the day after Gold Star Mother’s Day as Gold Star Family Day to be observed throughout Illinois as a day to honor and commemorate the families of men and women who gave their lives while serving with the armed forces of the United States.

HB 4432, sponsored by Rep. Don Moffitt, allows a child in any grades 6 through 12 to be absent from a public school for the purpose of sounding “Taps” at a military honor funeral held in Illinois for a deceased veteran. Read more about HB 4389 and HB 4432.

HB 4627, sponsored by Rep. Mike Tryon, allows veterans to begin their college education upon discharge regardless of how the calendar year lines up. Read more about HB 4627.

HB 4344, sponsored by Rep. Mark Batinick, creates the Heroes Way Designation Program Act. It is a way to honor servicemembers who were killed in action by allowing a relative to apply to have an honorary sign with the name of the servicemember erected along designated Illinois roads.

Summer Readers from District 64 Enjoy Ice Cream Social
As a former school teacher, I recognize the importance of reading in people’s everyday lives. Each summer, in an effort to keep children reading, I sponsor a Summer Reading Club for elementary aged children in District 64. Readers who reach a goal of finishing at least eight books over the summer were invited to an ice cream social that was held last week in McHenry at the Baskin Robins/Dunkin Donuts store. Store manager Naimesh Upadhyaya was our gracious host at the event. Senator Pamela Althoff of McHenry was also able to attend the event and talk with the readers about their new favorite books. As kids settle into their new school year, I hope their love of reading continues to grow!

Current Rate of Traffic Deaths show Fatalities Mounting to Projected Eight-Year High in 2016
Based on current statistical trends, more than 1,000 people will be killed on Illinois roads and highways in 2016. The dismal number is attributed by traffic experts to higher speeds, with speed limits up to 70 mph on many sections of Illinois limited-access highways. An increase in the total number of Illinois miles driven and a larger number of younger drivers are also blamed.

The 1,000-death projection is based upon the 629 Illinois traffic deaths that had been logged as of Friday, August 12 by the National Safety Council, a private-sector entity that works with local law enforcement and health providers to track accidents and injuries nationwide, including motor vehicle incidents. The Council has, in the past, played a key role in injury-reducing changes to motor vehicle law, including mandatory child restraints and a standardized law to identify and sanction persons who drive under the influence.

New Private Foundation will Cooperate with State of Illinois to Preserve Threatened Fairgrounds
A private foundation has been created to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure that supports Illinois’ largest summer gathering, the Illinois State Fair. With an estimated $180 million in deferred maintenance costs, the more than 190 buildings of the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and the DuQuoin State Fair in Southern Illinois’ DuQuoin will require massive rebuilding to maintain a safe and secure fairgoing experience. Electrical, paint, plumbing, roofing, and structural repairs must be done on buildings that were built as long ago as 1892.

Governor Bruce Rauner led the push to create the new Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation. Established by private-sector leaders of the agricultural community, the foundation will raise private funding and coordinate the revitalization and improvement of both fairgrounds. It is expected that large donors may receive recognition for their generosity in the form of sponsorship opportunities that will be seen by the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to the Fairs and their grounds. Creation of the Foundation was the culmination of a push to save the State Fairgrounds led by Rep. Tim Butler and by former Rep. Raymond Poe, both of Springfield. Former Rep. Poe is currently the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the State agency with overall responsibility over the State fairgrounds and state fair infrastructure.