Senate Week-in-review: July 23-27

Illinois has several new laws on the books including a good-government reform measure that allows affected counties to consolidate their election commissions with their county clerk’s offices, a bill creating the Historic Tax Credit Act and legislation recognizing the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) as a state agency.

Also during the week, the Illinois State Fairgrounds is prepping for the 2018 Illinois State Fair, which is just around the corner. This yearly tradition kicks off August 9.

Governor signs government consolidation measure

Saving taxpayers’ money and improving efficiency are the goals of a government reform measure signed into law last week allowing affected county clerk’s offices to absorb the functions of their separate county election commissions.

House Bill 5123 came from DuPage County, where residents passed an advisory referendum in March stating they wanted their county election commission merged into the county clerk’s office, a move that is predicted to save $300,000, improve efficiency and streamline election reporting.

House Bill 5123 will enable that consolidation to move forward, and would allow a similar action in Kankakee County, the only other county in Illinois where a separate county election commission presently exists.

Proponents of the bill say this is a step in the right direction to eliminate duplicative layers of government that are a burden to Illinois taxpayers.

New law expands historic preservation tax credit program

The River Edge Redevelopment Zone (RERZ) Historic Tax Credit, which is a vital economic tool that has fostered the reuse of historic buildings throughout the state, has now been expanded to other communities statewide.

Senate Bill 3527, signed by the Governor last week in Peoria, allows for a 25 percent state income tax credit for qualifying rehabilitation projects of historic structures throughout Illinois. Originally, this tax credit was only given to projects in riverfront areas in Peoria, Rockford, Elgin, East St. Louis and Aurora through the RERZ tax credit.

Proponents of the measure say the legislation will not only revitalize historic structures, but also will add jobs and fuel economic development statewide. They also note that, according to Landmarks Illinois, since the RERZ Historic Tax Credit took effect in 2009, it has resulted in $82.1 million in private investment in the Illinois river cities.

New law codifies Department of Innovation and Technology

To develop a comprehensive approach to modernize the state’s technology, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 5611, which codifies the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) into law.

Formed by Executive Order in 2016, and now officially recognized as a state agency, DoIT is tasked with protecting the personal and private information of Illinois citizens, streamlining state operations, and improving efficiencies across state agencies.

Since its inception, the agency has encrypted more than 5.8 billion records and launched the first statewide security operations center with 24/7 monitoring aimed at identifying risk and proactively responding to cyberthreats. Furthermore, over half of the state’s financials are now managed on a common system to address decades of lack of interoperability and financial management challenges. Infrastructure and network unification efforts in Illinois have already resulted in savings and cost-avoidance of more than $20 million.

The bipartisan proponents of the bill hope that Illinois can now become a national leader when it comes to using smart technology and making sure Illinois’ citizens personal information is safe.

Click here for additional information on the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology’s strategy.

Illinois State Fair kicks off August 9

The 2018 Illinois State Fair gets underway Aug. 9 in Springfield. The 11-day event, which brings hundreds of thousands of people though its gates, celebrates agriculture, the state’s number one employer and driver of the state’s economy.

This year’s fair will feature livestock shows, harness racing, carnival rides, a wide variety of live music and entertainers, and dozens of food and product vendors from across the state.

The Illinois State Fair runs August 9-19. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for senior citizens (60+), and free for kids (0-12). Fairgoers looking to get the most bang for their buck on carnivals rides have until July 31 to purchase a mega pass, which is good for unlimited rides all 11 days of the fair.

For daily schedules and lists of vendors, competitions, attractions, and the Grandstand lineup, check out the Illinois State Fair website.

Dave Syverson

Want to stay up to date with your Senator?

Sign up for the District E-Newsletter below: