Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: October 16 – 20

SPRINGFIELD, IL –Lawmakers are preparing to return the Capitol next week for the beginning of the annual fall veto session, which could result in action on a number of bills vetoed by the Governor as well as legislation covering new issues.

This week, Illinois officially submitted its bid to land the second headquarters for the Internet giant Amazon, and plans were unveiled for an Illinois Innovation Network that would offer a boon for the state’s economy through a $1.2 billion project that would tie together research universities, business and the public sector.

In other state news, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) warns motorists to watch out for deer, while new data shows that teen driving fatalities have been cut in half.

Illinois Innovation Network announced as plan to drive economic development

Plans were unveiled for an Illinois Innovation Network (IIN) that would bring together research universities, business and the public sector as partners in a $1.2 billion network that proponents say will propel ground-breaking innovations in computing and big data, advanced materials, food and agriculture, and biosciences and health, while driving job and economic growth throughout the state.

Highlighting the network’s emphasis on discovery and innovation, the IIN would offer an Illinois-based campus allowing inventors, entrepreneurs and students to grow and learn from each other and the network’s world-class faculty.

The network would be led by the University of Illinois system, in conjunction with inaugural partners the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. The IIN will be home to the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), with a major facility located in Chicago on donated land along the Chicago River. At DPI, students and faculty will work with leading researchers and Illinois businesses on the development of new technologies.

The IIN and the DPI are heralded as opportunities to attract venture capital investment in Illinois, and also offer a state-of-the-art campus intended to keep and draw top graduates in the state.

An exceptional return on investment has been estimated by the U of I system, which includes training for approximately 10,000 student entrepreneurs every five years once DPI is fully operational. It’s also anticipated there will be more than $300 million in private real estate investment and an estimated $500 million annually in new research and development spending. It’s also projected the plan could fuel $4 billion in yearly venture capital investment, which is four times more than what Illinois currently benefits from.

Illinois submits bid to land Amazon HQ2

The state’s official bid for a Chicago-area location for Amazon’s second headquarters was electronically submitted this week.

The “HQ2” selection process has sent cities across the country scrambling to put together offers to try and land the much-coveted facility, which is estimated to bring 50,000 new high-paying jobs to the winning city. Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state of Illinois worked with the City of Chicago to develop the proposal, though details of the plan have not been released to the public yet, such as offers of financial incentives or potential sites in Chicago or the suburbs.

The state is competing against cities across the country to draw HQ2. Illinois’ diverse and established transportation infrastructure, as well as its wide talent pool and highly-educated work force, the large and diverse population, the numerous, world-renowned education and research facilities found in the state, and the attractive lifestyle opportunities, are just some of the benefits the state and region bring to the table.

According to a study by World Business Chicago, HQ2 would generate $341 billion in total spending through continued operations over 17 years. That would include $71 billion in salaries and wages, with an additional 37,500 jobs in the region supported by Amazon settling in the area.

Veto session begins next week

Lawmakers will return to the State Capitol for the annual fall “veto session,” and are expected to either take up votes to override or accept a number of vetoes to legislation issued by Gov. Rauner.

Dozens of measures were vetoed by the Governor, covering a wide variety of issues, from the creation of a state-operated workers’ compensation insurance provider to a bill that would prohibit employers from requiring information about a job applicant’s previous salary, and an unfunded mandate requiring that cursive writing be taught in Illinois schools.

If three-fifths of the members in each chamber vote to override the veto, then the legislation becomes law. However, legislative action during veto session isn’t limited to vetoes, giving lawmakers an opportunity to act on other pressing issues prior to returning for the spring 2018 legislative session.

Legislators may also take action on a number of recently introduced or amended bills. Lawmakers could hear testimony or vote on a number of bills that would ban bump stocks for semi-automatic rifles, legislation introduced following the recent tragedy in Las Vegas. Another bill is designed to bring Illinois into compliance with FAA rules that require that all aviation fuel tax revenue is to be used for airport purposes. If Illinois is not in compliance by Dec. 8, 2018, the state could face expensive fines from the federal government.

IDOT warns drivers to watch out for deer

Autumn means football and cooler weather, but IDOT is warning drivers that it also means mating season for Illinois deer, which brings a drastic increase in the chances for deer vs. vehicle crashes.

According to IDOT, 41 percent of Illinois crashes in 2016 involved deer in the months of October, November and December, with November being the highest-risk month.

“Deer can dart in front of a vehicle in the blink of an eye,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “It’s instinctual to swerve out of the way, but in doing so, drivers could lose control of the vehicle and cause a more severe crash. If you’re attentive and watchful for deer encounters, these safety tips could make all the difference.”

Motorists are urged to follow these safe driving tips during mating season:

• Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to deer crossing signs.

• Scan the sides of the road for eye shine – the reflection of headlights in the eyes.

• Slow down if you see deer.  They travel in groups, so more are likely in the area.

• Prepare for the unexpected. Deer can stop in the middle of the road or double back.

• If a collision is inevitable, try to glance the vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into the opposite lanes of traffic.

More safe driving tips can be viewed by clicking here.

Illinois worst in Midwest for discretionary income

According to a recent article in the Belleville News-Democrat, Illinois ranks 30th among all states in terms of how much discretionary income residents have, and the state ranks 12th out of 12 Midwestern states. The article is based on study from the storage company Trove, which itself looked at “mean annual wage” data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compared it to cost-of-living indices to determine the cost of basic expenses.

The report defines discretionary income as the “amount of income leftover after subtracting Estimated Taxes and Basic Expenses.” Michigan took the top spot nationally as the state where residents have the highest level of discretionary income.

You can read the full article here. Trove has an online discretionary income comparison tool available here.

Illinois teen traffic deaths drop in half

In some good news for Illinois, teen driver deaths have dropped by 51 percent in Illinois over the last decade. According to data from IDOT, there were 76 fatalities among drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 in 2016, compared to 155 in 2007. The Illinois Secretary of State’s office credits a recent graduated driver’s license law with the reduction in teen deaths.

Dave Syverson

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