Winger's Weekly Wrap-Up for April 10th



O’Hare Expansion

Representative Winger recently met with the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, Ginger Evans. Alongside fellow lawmakers, Winger attended the meeting to learn more about the O'Hare Airport expansion plan, and the impact on her district.
 
The credit rating agency, Moody's Investors Service, recently labeled the recent O’Hare International Airport expansion plans as a “credit negative.” The project plans to spend an estimated $8.4 billion on expansion and updates, which the credit rating agency believes will increase leverage and airline costs above those of other comparable airports.

A vote by the Chicago City Council to approve the initial spending for the plan has already taken place. That proposal set the initial borrowing for the project at up to $4 billion.

Ongoing Action Against Sexual Harassment and Assault

Members of the Illinois General Assembly, especially female legislators, have begun several separate actions intended to reduce sexual harassment in the Illinois legislature, in Illinois state government, and in the Illinois private sector.

Both the House and the Senate have formed bipartisan Task Forces on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination. As a member of the House Sexual Harassment Task Force, Representative Winger has listened to hours of testimony about cultures of sexual harassment. In one such culture, identified with an Illinois assembly plant owned by the Ford Motor Company, United Auto Workers (UAW) shop stewards have been accused of being sexual harassers and protectors of sexual harassment. A House Resolution was filed, HR 783, which urges a full investigation of the Ford-related allegations.

New laws have been passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Police officers are now required to undergo training to improve sensitivity towards victims of sexual assault. The law requires law enforcement officers to take reports for each allegation of sexual police jurisdiction the alleged incident took place.

Illinois Bicentennial

An open-access poll operated by Illinois bicentennial organizers chose innovations from different centuries of Illinois’ 200-year life. The steel moldboard plow, invented by John Deere, represented the 19th century. The cellphone represents more recent generations of Illinois innovations. Results of the survey were released on Wednesday, April 4.

Many of Illinois’ top inventions have been created or developed at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The world’s first computer-assisted learning system was developed at UIUC in 1960. Fans of classic movies will recognize Urbana-Champaign’s artificial intelligence occupying a key fictional character HAL 9000 in the classic sci-fi film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Prescription Drug Collection

The Illinois State Police (ISP) is teaming up with the Save a Star Drug Awareness Foundation to help decrease prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse.

Governor Bruce Rauner announced last week that five ISP District headquarters across the state will house receptacles for people to drop off their unused and unwanted prescription medications.

Save A Star Drug Awareness Foundation provided the receptacles for initiative. The foundation was created by David and Gail Katz, whose son died in 2007 from an overdose of prescription medication.

People will be able to drop over-the-counter and prescription medications into the receptacles, including controlled substances, pet medications, drug samples, vitamins, liquids and creams. For safety reasons, needles, thermometers, IV Bags, bloody waste and hydrogen peroxide cannot be accepted and should not be deposited into the receptacles.

The initiative is another step in the state’s effort to reduce opioid-related deaths in Illinois by 33-percent in three years.

Multiple state agencies have been working together to combat the opioid crisis and provide the necessary help. Lawmakers on the Opioid Task Force have toured this state and listened to people who are impacted by these dangerous drugs, so they are able to better determine what help is needed. More than 2,200 people have called the Opioid Helpline since its launch in December, and the Prescription Monitoring Program is limiting peoples’ ability to get access to abuse prescription medicines.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid use disorder, call Illinois’ Opioid Helpline at 1-833-2FINDHELP.

First Responders Issue Harsh Warning Against Synthetic Cannabis

As of Thursday, April 5, 81 cases of severe health complications have been reported in Illinois from ingesting synthetic cannabis substances. The complications have included severe bleeding, and the cases have been reported from the Chicago area and from central Illinois. Two of the cases have resulted in deaths.

The synthetic cannabis products are sold or transferred to victims under various names that include “spice,” “K2,” and “fake weed.” The products are mind-altering chemicals that are meant to be consumed through smoking or vaping. In some cases a chemical is soaked into or sprayed onto dried, shredded plant materials that have the appearance of marijuana. In some cases, these mind-altering “fake weed” chemicals are further adulterated by the inclusion of anticoagulants, which are dangerous drugs that prevent blood from clotting. Anticoagulant drugs make up one of the extensively-used family of chemicals used to kill rats and mice.

All forms of synthetic cannabis, if they contain THC or other cannabinol derivatives, are banned in Illinois under Section 3 of the Cannabis Control Act. An exception is provided for validly certified medical patients who have been approved to purchase cannabis extracts from approved dispensaries under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

Quincy Veterans Home Update
The century-old Quincy Veterans facility provides quality-of-life residential care, including specialize nursing care, for Illinois residents who are veterans of the U.S. armed services. A task force is looking into the long-term future of the home, which has a plumbing system that is at the end of or nearing the end of its usefulness. Preliminary findings by the task force ask the State to consider a complete rebuild of the historic facility for $278 million. The sum set forth will construct state-of-the-art nursing facility space for a diverse resident population. Future residents are expected to be living with multiple chronic conditions and disabilities. The preliminary findings were released on Tuesday, April 3. The task force will finalize its findings and recommendations no later than Tuesday, May 1.

March 2018 Revenue Report

The revenue report covers Illinois revenue and fiscal trends for March 2018, with references to comparable numbers generated by the State and its taxpayers twelve months earlier in March 2017. The numbers were compiled by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the nonpartisan budget monitoring arm of the Illinois General Assembly, acting in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Revenue.

The March 2018 numbers continued to show a healthy increase in State revenues over the numbers generated in March 2017, with personal income tax revenues up $334 million (from $1.6 billion to almost $2.0 billion) and corporate income tax revenues up $64 million. Unfortunately, this increase largely reflects the continued impact of the July 2017 State income tax increase rather than underlying growth in Illinois jobs and economic productivity. More than four-fifths, $408 million, of the overall $482 million increase in State general revenues between March 2017 and March 2018 from federal and state revenue sources came from these two income tax revenue lines. While Illinois job numbers continue to slowly increase to new all-time record highs, from a 2016 calendar year average of 6.02 million jobs to a 2017 calendar year average of 6.06 million jobs, this job growth number amounts to less than one percentage point per year.

As with previous months in calendar year 2018 thus far, other State revenue lines showed mixed results. Sales tax revenues increased by $41 million year over year, while revenue from another key general funds source – taxes imposed by the State on Illinois public utility bills – declined by $31 million during the same period. Many Illinois tax revenue lines are flat or in decline, affected by ongoing changes in Illinois consumer spending patterns and behavior. Tax revenues from cigarettes, liquor, and riverboat gambling are examples of this overall picture.

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