This electronic newsletter is an opportunity for you to learn more about what we’ve accomplished in Illinois government, and how you can get involved. Whether it’s volunteering in a Serve Illinois volunteer project, receiving state services, or learning about new laws and programs, I want to ensure that you know what’s happening in your government.
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Illinois Schoolchildren to Learn Biodiversity, Visit State Parks
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) announced that more than $63,000 in Illinois Biodiversity Field Trip grants have been awarded to schools throughout Illinois, which will allow more than 6,000 students to visit Illinois state parks, museums and other natural resources that they may otherwise not have had an opportunity to visit. Entirely funded by private donations, this competitive program will allow students to visit locations all over Illinois to learn about conservation and nature, and see first-hand what they have been taught in the classroom.
Fairness on Main Street
On March 10, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation that would require all companies doing business in Illinois to collect and remit the legally required sales taxes. House Bill 3659 - the Main Street Fairness Bill - will require all online retailers who contract with an “affiliate” in Illinois to collect sales tax on customer purchases and remit it to the Illinois Department of Revenue. Illinois currently collects sales tax revenue from the more than 20,000 retailers with physical locations in the state. This law is expected to put Illinois-based businesses on a level playing field, protect and create jobs, and help Illinois continue to grow in the global marketplace.
Chicago gets Mass Transit Boost
On March 7, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 1644, which establishes the Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District. The new district will give local officials the tools they need to help build the SouthEast Service Line, a proposed Metra line connecting nearly 20 communities with Downtown Chicago. This line will provide greater access to jobs, reduce highway congestion and enable towns and neighborhoods along the route to pursue transit-oriented developments. In addition, future projects will create jobs and spark economic development while improving quality of life in the southeast suburbs.
Expanded Opportunity for Illinois Small Businesses
On March 2, Governor Quinn announced that employers who hire Put Illinois to Work (PITW) trainees may now qualify for a $2,500 tax credit. In order to qualify, employers must hire PITW workers into permanent positions before June 30. To learn more and register any eligible positions, employers can visit www.JobsTaxCredit.illinois.gov.
Minority Community Voting Rights Protected
On March 7, Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 3976, the Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011, which allows legislative districts to be drawn to create crossover districts, coalition districts or influence districts. This new law protects the voting rights of racial and language minority groups in Illinois by helping prevent a community’s electoral identity from being weakened by being divided into multiple legislative districts. This reform legislation will ensure that racial and language minority groups throughout the state are able to elect leaders that are accountable to their interests and concerns.
Governor’s Prayer Breakfast
On May 11, Governor Quinn will host the 49th Annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. This event is open to the public, and all Illinois residents are invited to attend. This year, the featured speaker will be Pulitzer Prize winning author and distinguished professor Jack Miles, author of GOD: A Biography and CHRIST: A Crisis in the Life of God. The first Governor’s Prayer Breakfast was held in 1963, and has since become an annual tradition of Illinois Governors. The purpose of the breakfast is to reaffirm the role that spiritual faith plays in American life by promoting time honored ideals and to celebrate the spiritual heritage of the people of Illinois. To attend the event, please complete and return the registration form.