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.
If you have ideas for improving any State service, program, or this very newsletter, please click here and let us know.
Protecting Drinking Water
On August 24, Governor Quinn signed three bills that will improve Illinois water systems. House Bill 2056, initiated by students of Pontiac and Antioch High Schools, will create a pharmaceutical collection and disposal system, ensuring the safe disposal of excess medication so that it does not make its way into our water system. In addition, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 3090 which will allow local governments to authorize their city halls and police departments to provide receptacles for used, expired or unwanted pharmaceuticals. House Bill 248 allows the North Shore Sanitary District to supply sustainable, environmentally-friendly wastewater to identified partners in lieu of treated drinking water, thus allowing the municipality to save large volumes of treated drinking water. House Bill 248 became effective immediately. House Bills 2056 and 3090 take effect January 1, 2012.
Purple Paint Law
On August 22, Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 1914 into law. Senate Bill 1914, dubbed the Purple Paint Law, allows landowners or lessees to use purple paint to mark trees or posts on their property to serve as a “no trespassing” notice. The law does not include real property in municipalities with populations exceeding 2,000,000 residents. Until January 1, 2013, landowners must still continue properly convey “no trespassing” notices, in addition to the purple paint. For more information , visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Website.
Military Family Relief Fund
On September 10, Governor Quinn encouraged Illinois residents make donations towards the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund. The Fund is intended to help relieve the financial burdens on families of active service members or Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The tax-deductible donations may be sent to OperationHomefront.org. To date, the fund has distributed almost $13 million to military families in need since then-Lt. Governor Quinn pushed for the law’s passage in 2003.
Job Creation for Education
On September 15, Governor Quinn announced a $27 million Illinois Jobs Now! capital investment for the United Neighborhood Organization’s (UNO) newest charter school. The UNO’s Soccer Academy Elementary school employed 400 residents during construction and is now creating 42 full- and part-time jobs. More than 46 percent of the firms participating in construction are minority-owned while 10.3 percent are female-owned businesses. The school will serve approximately 575 students in kindergarten through eighth grade to help alleviate overcrowding in Chicago’s southwest schools.
Illinois Hardest Hit
On September 15, Governor Quinn announced a federally-funded program to help Illinois homeowners facing foreclosure. The Illinois Hardest Hit program will utilize $345 million in federal funds to assist 15,000 homeowners with mortgage payments. The program allows eligible participants to receive up to $25,000 over 18 months as a 10-year loan to keep mortgages current. There is no fee for the application and it will be administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). For more information, please call the Illinois Housing Development Authority at (888) 873-7405.
Bureau of Consular Affairs Helps Illinois Residents
The United States State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) works with Illinois residents to help ensure essential services both in Illinois and to residents travelling abroad. While abroad, the CA ensures the safety and well-being of residents abroad by providing after-hour duty officers to assist with emergencies. The CA highly encourages Illinois residents to inform the office of their overseas trips by visiting www.travel.state.gov so travelers may be provided with security updates. In addition to travel assistance, the CA also works with families who are interested in overseas adoptions or who have experienced child abduction into foreign lands. Please contact the U.S. State Department for more information if you plan to travel abroad or otherwise seek assistance with international affairs.
Substance Abuse Treatment Programs Grant
On September 13, Illinois was awarded a federal Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) grant of $694,370 that will fund residential, jail-based and after-care drug treatment programs in a correctional setting. The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) facilities will receive funding from the RSAT program to implement treatment programs for inmates. This treatment is limited to offenders nearing the end of their incarceration who will be required to undergo 6 to 12 months of rehabilitation. Any remaining funding will go to support the women’s dual diagnosis program and a substance abuse screening and assessment program.
Health Carrier External Review Act
On August 26, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 224 into law, strengthening the Health Carrier External Review Act which allows consumers to appeal certain health insurance claim denials to independent review organizations. This revised bill amends Illinois’ existing external review law to meet the required consumer protections outlined in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that provide the same rights to consumers whose coverage has been rescinded or denied benefits due to a pre-existing health condition. The law took effect immediately.
2011 Illinois State Fair Success
On August 30, Governor Quinn highlighted the record-breaking success of the 2011 Illinois State Fair, which was themed “We’ve Got a Good Thing Growing.” Attendance increased by 10 percent from last year, with 817,393 fairgoers visiting the event over the 11 day span. The state fair began 158 years ago, and this year’s attendance levels were the highest since 2002. During the fair, Governor Quinn hosted the Governor’s Sale of Champions, the annual auction of prize-winning junior livestock, with proceeds going toward scholarships and the state’s 4-H and Future Farmers of America youth education programs.
Community Health Center Funding
On August 31, Governor Quinn announced $30.5 million from the capital program to build and renovate 14 community health centers throughout Illinois. This project will help the state improve health outcomes for medically underserved communities, reduce healthcare spending, and save taxpayers money. The project, funded through the Illinois Jobs Now! Capital plan, will provide needed healthcare facilities while creating approximately 215 new jobs for Illinois residents.
Veterans Cash Lottery
On September 1, the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) announced $524,925 in grants to help assist Illinois Veterans in nine colleges and various non-profit groups. Participant organizations include, but are not limited to, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Chicago Veterans Economic Development Council, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), among others. Governor Quinn championed the 2006 Veterans Cash lottery, and continues to support projects that aid the Veterans of Illinois.
Illinois-China Business Investments
On September 19, Governor Quinn announced two business agreements during his economic trade mission in Beijing, China. The agreements involving Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) and Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology Co., LTD (Goldwind) advance Governor Quinn’s goal of doubling Illinois exports by 2014. Goldwind will build a $200 million wind farm in Lee County, Illinois. The project will provide 109.5 megawatts of power, and create more than 100 construction and a dozen permanent maintenance jobs in Illinois. ADM based in Decatur, Illinois, has entered into a $100 million sales agreement with Jiusan Oils and Seeds. Under the agreement, ADM will supply Jiusan Oils and Seeds, a manufacturer of soy products based in Harbin, Helongjiang, China, with 180,000 metric tons of soybeans by December 2012.
Federal Grants to Help Illinois Businesses Go Green, Create Jobs (Serg)
On September 7, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Warren Ribley announced more that Illinois was awarded $5 million in federal stimulus funds to help Illinois businesses purchase equipment and retool to expand into the green sector and create jobs. The funding will help five Illinois businesses create and retain nearly 200 jobs. The project cities include Decatur, Rockford, Vernon Hills, Carol Stream and Chicago.
Illinois Film Industry
On September 13, Governor Quinn visited the production set of the new Superman movie Man of Steel to highlight the impact the film industry is having on Illinois’ economy. Illinois’ film industry saw a record $161 million in spending in 2010, a 54 percent increase from 2009, and resulted in more than 8,000 jobs for Illinois residents. Approximately 550 people in Illinois are being hired for Man of Steel alone.
Enhancement of Illinois’ Biotech Industry
On September 22, Governor Quinn announced the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC), an Illinois-based association that represents leading research universities and technology companies like iBIO, an Illinois-based life sciences industry association, and China-based Shanghai Bio Pharmaceutics Association (SBIA) to increase economic opportunities for both regions in the bio-technology field. This agreement will create an important line of communication between the organizations, allow for collaboration among researchers and industry, and open the lines of communication amongst technology parks to increase exports and investment.