Lawmakers will return to Springfield for scheduled session on March 24. Meanwhile, State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) spent this week in District speaking with students at the annual Harrisburg High School Career Fair, meeting with local officials and touring the LaFargeHolcim plant in Joppa.
Over 50 employers attended the Harrisburg High School Career Fair, providing students with insight into various careers and jobs in the region. Students from Carrier Mills High School, Galatia High School, Eldorado High School and Harrisburg High School attended the event.
Sen. Fowler, who attended the event as a speaker, said, “This Fair provides a great learning experience for students to explore careers and pathways here in Southern Illinois. I applaud the High School and the employers participating for coming together to provide this educational opportunity to our young adults.”
Later in the week, Sen. Fowler toured the LaFargeHolcim Joppa Cement Plant. According to their website, Lafarge is the number one building materials and solutions provider in the world and the leading cement producer in the United States. The LaFargeHolcim Joppa plant employees 63 staff members and has been in operation since 1963.
Also during the scheduled break in session, Sen. Fowler took the opportunity to reach out to some of the local officials in district. Sen. Fowler met with the Mayor of Metropolis Billy McDaniel. Later on, Sen. Fowler also met with the Mayor of Joppa Les Little and Sandy Sandusky, a village board member. Sen. Fowler continues to reach out to local officials in the region to learn more about needs and projects within the communities of Southern Illinois.
Also during the week, Sen. Fowler attended the groundbreaking of the new Massac County Depot in Metropolis. The new Depot is part of the Shwenee Mass Transit District. According to their site, the Shawnee Mass Transit District is a state and federally funded public transportation provider which serves the five southernmost counties in Illinois: Alexander, Johnson, Massac, Pulaski and Union.
Governor issues COVID-19 Disaster Proclamation
On March 9, Illinois’ Governor issued a disaster proclamation in response to growing concerns surrounding the rapidly changing COVID-19 health issue.
Illinois joins over a dozen other states in issuing the emergency procedure to unlock additional federal resources and help the state prepare for the potential of further spread of the virus.
According to the Governor’s official release, a disaster proclamation will allow for the following:
- Allows federal reimbursement for state response costs
- Allows use of State Disaster Relief Fund, covering direct state costs and reimbursements to Illinois National Guard and mutual aid groups
- Allows use of the state's mutual aid network, groups of public safety response professionals — including hundreds of health care providers and management professionals, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and disaster response professionals — that are available to deploy to areas of shortage
- Authorizes the Governor to activate Illinois National Guard reservists, some of whom may be doctors and nurses
- Allows expedited procurement should it be necessary
- Authorizes additional executive authorities to protect public health and safety
As of March 12, there are 25 cases of Coronavirus confirmed in Illinois. State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) is urging residents to continue to be proactive in efforts to avoid the spread of the virus within Illinois communities. The CDC has some useful tips to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Public Health has established a statewide COVID-19 hotline (1-800-889-3931) and website for questions or concerns.
Why you should fill out the census and what it means for your community
With the census invitations beginning to hit mailboxes, you may be wondering what this snapshot of our nation is used for and how it can help our communities. In addition to determining your representation in Congress, census data is also used to direct federal resources to communities throughout America.
Every day, when you wake up and drive to work, you're driving on roads or riding on public transit systems that were, in part, funded by federal dollars. When you drop off your kids at school, census results have helped determine how money is allocated to their school for the Head Start program, funded school lunch programs, and informed grants that support teachers and special education.
Participating in the 2020 census means helping to shape the future of your community by ensuring. Every year, billions in federal funding is allocated to more than 100 programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), emergency services, senior services, veterans programs, and more. By participating in the census, you help ensure that your community receives its fair share of these vital resources.
Senate advances veteran job training legislation
If you're a member of the military stationed in Illinois, you could soon get a head-start on your civilian career thanks to legislation that recently advanced out of committee in the Illinois Senate.
Senate Bill 2925 aims to connect Skillbridge, a Department of Defense apprenticeship program designed to provide service members with civilian work experience, with Illinois-based employers. In the Skillbridge program, service members in their last 180 days of service are given the opportunity to gain civilian work experience in industry-specific training, apprenticeships, or internships. The new legislation provides a tax credit for businesses that take part in the program, which incentivizes the businesses to connect with service members stationed in Illinois.
On March 3, the Illinois Senate Veterans Affairs Committee voted to advance the legislation for consideration to the full Senate.
Tax preparation available to residents
Senate Republicans are urging eligible taxpayers to utilize the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and AARP Tax-Aide programs when filing their 2019 income taxes.
With over 300 locations across the state, working-families or elderly taxpayers can meet with a certified volunteer who can help them file their state and federal returns accurately and on time.
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs offer free tax help for individuals making $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities, taxpayers who speak limited English and individuals 60 years of age or older.
Meanwhile, the AARP’s Foundation Tax-Aide program focuses on helping low-to-moderate income individuals, with special attention to those over 50 years of age. An AARP membership is not required.
Taxpayers can search for a free tax assistance provider nearest to them by visiting the Illinois Department of Revenue’s website tax.illinois.gov.