For news this week, State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) recently represented Southern Illinois as part of a legislative delegation to visit China, toured a local business seeking to expand operations and hosted his annual Sportsmen and Outdoorsmen’s Caucus for residents.
Bringing Southern Illinois to China, Sen. Fowler recently joined with two of his colleagues from the General Assembly, Representative Hurley and Representative Kifowit, to discuss Illinois’ businesses, opportunities and tourism. Underscoring the many resources and the potential for economic development in the region, Sen. Fowler spoke to the Chinese delegation about ongoing efforts to expand, grow and create opportunities for the people in the 59th Senate District.
The trip, which has happened periodically for over a decade, is sponsored by the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs.
In other news, Sen. Fowler recently visited Railco’s Maintenance and Repair Facility in Carterville. This is an innovative company which repairs, maintains and upgrades railcars. The Southern-based business is seeking to create much needed jobs in the area, anticipating to expand operations over the next year and increasing employment numbers by as early as January of 2020.
Also happening this week, Sen. Fowler hosted his annual Sportsmen and Outdoorsmen's Caucus in Marion. Over 60 residents came out to the Marion Carnegie Library on Oct. 21 to hear helpful information about hunting and conservation. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources presented information on new hunting laws, outdoor heritage programs and other education materials about hunting safety.
Sen. Fowler also joined members of the Southeastern Illinois College Student Government for an educational event on the Illinois Supreme Court on October 22. The keynote speaker was Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier who provided insight into the state and federal judicial systems and issues brought before the Court.
Combating Illinois’ opioid crisis
For nearly two years now, Illinois has been working to implement the State of Illinois Opioid Action Plan (SOAP) to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths. The Senate's Special Committee on Opioid Crisis Abatement learned during a hearing Oct. 21 that there is some improvement.
Jenny Epstein, Director of Strategic Opioid Initiatives at the Illinois Department of Public Health, told Senators that deaths from opioid overdoses decreased in 2018 for the first time in five years, from 2,202 in 2017 to 2,167 last year.
Epstein said there are three "pillars" to the SOAP program: Prevention, Treatment, and Response. Prevention includes safer prescribing and dispensing of prescription opioids and better access to information about the effects of opioid addiction. Treatment involves improved access to care for the addicted. The Response part of the plan involves increasing the number of first responders and community members who are trained and have access to naloxone, also known by the generic name of Narcan, an effective antidote that can immediately reverse the effects of an overdose.
The effort to address opioid addiction was begun in 2017 by then-Governor Bruce Rauner, who issued an Executive Order creating the Opioid Prevention and Intervention Task Force, which was asked to develop, approve, and implement a comprehensive Opioid Action Plan.
The latest edition of the SOAP report is available at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/publications/final-soap-implementation-report.pdf
Illinois offers dual credit endorsement for teachers, and students benefit too
In an effort to support the rapidly growing number of students earning college credit while in high school, the state is now offering opportunities for qualified high school dual credit teachers to seek a special endorsement on their Professional Educator License.
The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) announced Oct. 23 the endorsement will help meet the growing demand for dual credit teachers as more and more students seek to earn college credit while in high school.
Dual credit courses allow academically qualified high school students to enroll in a college-level course, and upon successful course completion, earn both college credit and high school credit at the same time.
According to the ISBE, participation in dual credit courses is growing. Illinois students in the 10th through 12th grades took more than 165,000 dual credit courses from 2016 to 2018. Enrollment in dual credit courses also increased by more than 3,000 courses between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.
Teachers interested in applying for the endorsement can learn more at www.isbe.net/Pages/Dual-Credit-Endorsements.aspx.
Veto Session 2019
The first week of the two-week fall Veto Session is set for Oct. 28-30. There are a total of eight legislative measures, which received total or partial vetoes by the Governor following the spring legislative session. Issues include the Affordable Care Act, education, and gambling.
The second week of Veto Session is scheduled for Nov. 12-14.