Springfield– State Senator Jason Barickman has joined the Republican caucus leadership team as part changes that were made this week following the Sept. 15 retirement of Deputy Senate Republican Leader Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) from legislative office. Also during the week, the Illinois Supreme Court once again affirms that it will not allow Illinois residents to have a voice in how legislative districts are drawn. Meanwhile, Illinois gets a win as IDOC and IDHS team up to help mentally ill inmates and end a long legal battle that predates the current Governor.
Highlighting the state’s need for serious structural reforms, Forbes rated Illinois as the second biggest loser in outmigration, particularly with high-earners and the younger crowd, based on tax data from the last year of the Quinn administration. And the USDA says farmers are heading back to the fields for a bumper crop that may not be that great for their pocketbooks.
RADOGNO APPOINTS BARICKMAN AS SENATE REPUBLICAN WHIP
Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno has appointed Senator Barickman as Senate Republican Whip. Radogno made her announcement as part of a series of leadership changes, which resulted from the resignation of Senator Matt Murphy, which became official on Thursday.
“Jason has been a tremendous leader in our efforts to improve the way we fund schools for all students in Illinois,” said Radogno. “I look forward to utilizing his leadership abilities as we continue our push to reform state government so that it is more efficient and responsive for the citizens of this state.”
Barickman, who has also served in the Illinois House, has become the Senate Republican’s leading voice on education.
“It’s an incredible honor to join Leader Radogno’s leadership team,” said Barickman. “We are going to have some tough decisions ahead in order to get Illinois headed on the right path. I look forward to working with our caucus, as well as with our colleagues across the aisle, on developing the structural reforms needed for a full-year budget that will help improve Illinois’ economy.”
The appointment takes effect immediately.
Other changes to the caucus leadership team include naming Senator Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) Deputy Senate Republican Leader, while Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) moves up to replace Luechtefeld as Assistant Republican Leader.
“There is no doubt we have some tough but important decisions ahead as we fight to restore Illinois to the strong state we all know it should be,” said Senator Radogno. “It’s absolutely imperative that we have the best leadership team in place to be successful in this monumental task.”
Supreme Court refuses to rehear redistricting referendum
After striking down a popular, citizen-driven referendum to change the way Illinois draws its political maps, the Illinois Supreme Court has denied a motion for rehearing the case.
The referendum would have taken the power to draw political maps away from the politicians and created a non-partisan system for fairly drawing district boundaries.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said, “Today’s court decision is very disappointing, but not unexpected. Now that the courts have denied Illinoisans the right to vote on a redistricting referendum in November for the last time, it is up to the General Assembly to address political reform – term limits and independent redistricting – as soon as they convene this fall.”
Senate Republicans have supported legislative attempts to reform the redistricting system, but most genuine efforts have been blocked by Democrat leadership. Earlier in 2016, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly passed redistricting reform proposals, but the Democrat leaders in each chamber refused to take up the other chamber’s bill.
Many statehouse insiders referred to the Democrats’ actions as a thinly veiled attempt to appear sympathetic to the issue while making sure no reforms actually take place.
Departments of Correction and Human Services team up to help mentally ill
The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) recently announced a joint effort to help deliver treatment services to mentally ill inmates. The two agencies have entered into an Intergovernmental Agreement that allows IDOC to use part of the Elgin Mental Health Center (EMHC) as an inpatient mental health treatment facility.
Currently, the EMHC serves as a forensic hospital, which serves patients who may have been found not guilty of crimes by reason of insanity or those who were unfit to stand trial. The new agreement will transform the Jenk and Dix units of the EMHC into a secure mental health facility. The goal is to improve the correctional outcomes of the mentally ill inmates, and improve safety for all inmates, IDOC staff, and the residents of Illinois.
The agreement is also expected to help fast-track a settlement in a years-old lawsuit of mental health care, Rasho vs. Baldwin, which had languished in the courts for seven years.
Forbes rates Illinois 2nd worst for out-migration losses
As further evidence of the need for structural reforms in Illinois, a recent Forbes study shows Illinois as one of the biggest losers in terms of inter-state migration. The article quantifies the financial losses faced by states who are losing residents to other areas. Illinois is ranked as the second worst, trailing only New York. The magazine describes Illinois as a “high tax, high regulation” state and a “low growth disaster.”
The magazine analyzed tax data from 2014, the most recent available, creating an indictment of Illinois’ migration trends during the end of former Governor Pat Quinn’s second term. The author writes that the idea was to create a “snapshot of where Americans are moving now, and, equally important, a breakdown by income levels and age.”
According to the study, New York is the only state losing high-income earners (over $200,000 per year) at a greater rate than Illinois. Looking at all income levels, their data says that Illinois is only gaining 67.2 in-migrants for every 100 people lost to out-migration. The Land of Lincoln also appears to have a hard time holding on to younger residents with the second largest out-migration rate for people aged 26-34.
You can read the full article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2016/09/06/the-states-gaining-and-losing-the-most-migrants-and-money
Dept. of Natural Resources holding public meetings on Chronic Wasting Disease
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will be hosting three public meetings throughout the state to discuss the effect on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) on deer populations and how the agency is battling the disease.
CWD was first documented in Illinois deer near the town of Roscoe in 2002. It is a type of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of deer which has now been found in Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Lake, Ogle, Dekalb, Kane, DuPage, LaSalle, Kendall, Grundy, Will, Livingston and Kankakee counties.
The meeting dates and locations are:
• Wed., September 21 - Community Building, 402 West St., Elizabeth, IL;
• Tues., September 27 - Stephenson County Farm Bureau Bldg., 210 W. Spring St., #3, Freeport, IL;
• Wed., September 28 - Meadowhawk Lodge, Hoover Forest Preserve, 11285 Fox Road, Yorkville, IL
Farmers heading back to the fields
Motorists are encouraged to be aware of potentially heavy farm equipment traffic on rural roads as farmers are beginning their 2016 harvest season.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 42% of Illinois corn is now considered mature, with approximately 3% of corn fields harvested already. Soybeans are quickly ripening as well, with 50% turning color right now.
Farmers are expecting a big crop, and the USDA rates 85% of the state corn crop as good or excellent, with 79% of the soybeans receiving the same ratings.
Their crops likely won’t be worth very much this fall however, with many predicting that prices may drop to levels lower than farmers have seen in 10 years.
On September 14, Senator Barickman met with Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director James Joseph and toured the Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to discuss state disaster response programs.
Senator Barickman also met with the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) Director Hardik Bhatt to get an update on the agency’s efforts to modernize Illinois’ long-ignored tech infrastructure and find out how they are working to make government more efficient and responsive to residents.