I hope you take some time to reflect and can spend time with your family and friends.
Illinois Senate & House Republicans Introduce the People’s Independent Maps Act. Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Senate Republican Caucus Chair Jason Barickman and House Assistant Minority Leader Tim Butler introduced the People’s Independent Maps Act to allow Illinois legislative redistricting maps to be created by an independent commission, rather than politicians.
The People’s Independent Maps Act, Senate Bill 1325, uses identical language from SJRCA 0004, a constitutional amendment for an independent redistricting commission introduced by Sen. Julie Morrison in 2019. That resolution garnered 37 co-sponsors in the Senate including 18 Democrats. A similar independent commission amendment co-sponsored by Speaker of the House Chris Welch passed the House in 2016 with 105 YES votes.
Current Illinois law allows legislators to draw and approve a map by June 30. This legislation would allow legislators to recuse themselves from the map process all together.
The People’s Independent Maps Act:
o Gives the Supreme Court the power to appoint sixteen independent, citizen commissioners to the Independent Redistricting Commission within 30 days of becoming law.
o The makeup of the Commission would be required to reflect the ethnic, gender and racial demographics of the state.
o Party affiliation would be evenly split in addition to members without party affiliation.
o Legislators, state employees and lobbyists are prohibited from serving on the commission.
o The Commission would be required to hold at least 10 public hearings throughout the state before adopting a plan, with at least four hearings after a map is proposed.
o The commission will release a map within 30 days of receipt of the census redistricting data.
o This legislation would only apply to the 2021 redistricting cycle.
Public polls have shown more than 75 percent of Illinois voters support an independent process that puts citizens in control of drawing election districts instead of the politicians.
“The most basic protection against gerrymandering, and the partisan corruption it fosters, is to have a process in place to ensure all citizens are fairly represented,” Butler said. “Establishing an independent commission, removed from partisan politics and subject to public scrutiny is not only logical, but it is overwhelmingly supported by the public. Nearly 600,000 Illinoisans supported an independent commission ballot initiative in 2016. Although Illinoisans were not given the chance to vote for it, there is no reason we can’t create the commission through legislative statute instead. The Governor can prove he was serious about his pledge to support fairly drawn maps by calling on both sides of the aisle to act now.”
Illinois House Republicans, in alliance with nonpartisan entities such as the Better Government Association, are calling for a Fair Map system for Illinois as an essential element of our Reimagine Illinois platform.
DRIVERS LICENSE EXTENDED
Secretary of State extends expiration dates to August 1; encourages use of online service
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has extended the expiration dates of driver licenses and ID cards until August 1, 2021, in a bid to reduce the number of people coming into Driver Services facilities. Many of these offices were closed in the early days of the pandemic but have since re-opened. The extension covers driver licenses and ID cards, but not commercial driver licenses (CDLs) or CDL learner permits.
Secretary White also encouraged Illinoisans to utilize the Secretary of State’s website at www.cyberdriveillinois.com for routine business like purchasing license plate stickers. White’s office says online transactions have gone up by 75% since last summer and encourages use of the service as a way to avoid having to wait in line or make an in-person visit to an SOS facility.
Vaccine availability, virus variants both on upswings. As additional “variants” of the COVID-19 coronavirus continue to spread throughout Illinois and the United States, a wide variety of clinicians are administering a steady stream of vaccination shots to the growing list of Illinoisans who are eligible for the procedure. There are now more than 900 vaccination locations throughout Illinois. In the first wave of vaccinations, limited supplies were offered to persons aged 65 and over and persons with specific eligibility work status. More than 5.0 million shots have already been administered to eligible people throughout Illinois, and vaccinations continue to move forward at a rate of more than 100,000 procedures per day. For most of the vaccine supplies currently available, two shots are required to generate approved levels of immunity.
More vaccine supply is now available in a wide variety of regions throughout Illinois. Steps are now being taken to offer more vaccine appointments, and to increase outreach to eligible people and their families to know they can make an appointment on behalf of themselves or a loved one.
Starting on Monday, April 12, all Illinois residents aged 16 and up will be eligible to make an appointment and receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
McCombie joined the Carroll County Health Department in Chadwick this week at their mass vaccine center successfully facilitated with the help of the Illinois National Guard and many volunteers. 600 residents were able to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine helping to boost our total number of residents vaccinated to 16.92%. Whiteside County notes 15.40%, Rock Island County notes 15.63% and Henry County notes 18.42% vaccinated (per IDPH).
Learn more about nearby sites to get the vaccine here.
Sharp decline in community college enrollments during pandemic. In the fall of 2020, with instruction under pandemic conditions, many courses of community college instruction remained unfilled. Much of Illinois’ higher education instruction switched over from in-person learning to remote online learning. Remote learning was attractive in some educational settings, and less attractive in others. In 2020, community colleges throughout Illinois recorded a sharp decline in enrollments and course signups. Total Illinois “two-year college” enrollment dropped nearly 14% from the fall 2019 term to fall 2020.
The drop in enrollments was of special significance to the community college sector, based on the dependence of many local public college budgets on tuition payments and course fees paid by students. Many community colleges throughout Illinois are facing budget crunches, or are demonstrating a dependence on one-time federal pandemic aid payments. Some community colleges are rethinking their business models. The 2020-21 pandemic could encourage community colleges to further de-emphasize the classroom as the sole place for instruction to takes place, and to continue their moves into workplaces and qualifications-certification job training. Moves of this type are supported by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) and other business groups.
Representative Tony McCombie, Senator Neil Anderson and Representative Dan Swanson virtually met with stakeholders around the region to discuss how to better equip and serve the Quad Cities Workforce. The Health & Human Services Economic Value Consortium presented and discussed what is being done in the Quad Cities. It is critical to have our HHS agencies play an educational role to help folks have access to essential services provided by the work force sector. Their purpose is to expand awareness and clearly identify the direct economic impact and contributions of the HHS sector toward advancement of a strong regional workforce, economic resilience and growth, and community vitality in the Quad Cities Region.
McCombie stated, “as a border district, my counties note some unique differences, but share similar challenges concerning housing, childcare, public services, education, and workforce readiness. There is not a week that goes by that I do not hear from a job creator in district, large or small, which has issues with the securing workforce in our area. As we look forward to the end of this pandemic, we must be realistic about the social and economic impacts of decisions made over the last year”.
April is a busy month for Advocacy – please take some time to recognize a cause!
- National Child Abuse Awareness Month
- National Autism Awareness Month
- National Parkinson’s Awareness Month
- National Volunteer Month
- Sexual Assault Awareness Month
More news from around the state
- Please contact our office for FREE museum passes as you plan your Summer Fun
April 4th – Easter
April 6th – Election Day
April 10th – Colona Community Shred Day, Colona City Hall 10a-12p
April 19 – Savanna Community Blood Drive – learn more here.
April 22nd – Earth Day
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office about any issues with state agencies or programs.
State Representative, District 71