Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: November 12 – 16

Illinois lawmakers gathered in Springfield this week for the Fall Veto Session, a Senate committee called for action to end an environmental crisis in the suburbs, and Senate Republicans unanimously elected State Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington to the position of Senate Minority Leader.

Also, with the holidays fast approaching, the Illinois Department of Public Health is offering safe food-handling tips to ensure Illinoisans have a healthy Thanksgiving, and hunters are reminded to focus on safety with the beginning of deer hunting season.

Senators Syverson & Stadelman pass legislation to help fund mental health and substance abuse treatment

Winnebago County, along with other counties that pass public safety sales tax referendums in the future, may soon have added flexibility in how they use those funds, under bipartisan legislation passed in the Illinois Senate by State Senators Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) and Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford). 

House Bill 4560 expands the “Special County Retailers’ Occupation Tax for Public Safety, Public Facilities, or Transportation” to allows counties to use proceeds from the tax to fund mental health and substance abuse services. The legislation clarifies that counties that have passed the special tax via referendum will be able to use the funds for mental health and substance abuse treatment in areas that affect crime.

“We know that the criminal justice system is impacted mental health and substance abuse,” said Syverson. “Mental health and substance abuse treatment can help reduce crime and increase public safety, so I think it is a natural fit to make sure local governments have the flexibility to use these funds to treat those issues.”

“Mental health and substance abuse are among the most overlooked issues facing our state,” said Stadelman. “This is a common sense, bipartisan measure that gives local governments another tool in the toolbox to treat those struggling with these challenges.”

The Special County Retailers’ Occupation Tax for Public Safety, Public Facilities, or Transportation, as first created, is a tax that county boards may levee, if approved by a referendum, to be used exclusively for public safety, public facilities, or transportation purposes. The tax applies to what is considered to be the tangible personal property at retail, but excluding property that is required to be titled or registered with the state.

The legislation passed unanimously through the Senate Revenue Committee on Wednesday and then was approved by the full chamber on Thursday.

“My hope is that this legislation will help treat many individuals who are currently falling through the cracks while enhancing public safety for everyone,” said Syverson.

“I look forward to continuing to work across the aisle to find solutions to the challenges facing our state,” said Stadelman.

Senate Committee Calls for Action to End Environmental Crisis in Willowbrook

The Senate Environment and Conservation Committee met for a subject-matter discussion on the current ethylene oxide emission crisis facing Willowbrook and surrounding communities.

While no votes were taken, the committee hearing focused on two pieces of legislation introduced in response to reports detailing the risks of ethylene oxide emissions from the Willowbrook Sterigenics facility.

Senate Bill 3640 aims to improve and protect air quality by denying renewed permits for companies found to be emitting ethylene oxide that exceed state and federal levels. This legislation also works to prohibit the use of all ethylene oxide in Illinois by 2022.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 3630 would put in place stronger protections for residents and communication requirements in cases of a hazardous air emission leak.

IDPH Offers Safe Holiday Cooking Tips

With the holiday season quickly approaching, the state’s Department of Public Health (IDPH) is underscoring the importance of observing food-safety practices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 48 million people per year get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. 

IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., said, “By taking a few simple precautions, you can help protect yourself and those around you from an unhappy holiday.”

To make sure foodborne illness is not on the menu, adhere to the four food safety steps.

Clean – wash hands, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops before and after preparing each food item.
Separate – keep raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from foods that will not be cooked.
Cook – use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are fully cooked.  Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.  Cook turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F. 
Chill – divide leftovers into shallow containers and refrigerate them within two hours.  Use leftovers within three to four days.

Though “grazing” is always popular during the holidays, bacteria multiply when perishable food sits at room temperature.  This range, between 40-140°F, is known as the “danger zone.”  A good rule of thumb is to make sure hot foods are hot (above 140°F) and cold foods are cold (below 40°F).  Any foods left out at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded.

Raw poultry should be handled carefully and cooked thoroughly to prevent food poisoning. Raw poultry can have germs that spread around food preparation areas and advance sickness.  When preparing holiday meals, be sure to follow these turkey-specific recommendations:

Do not thaw at room temperature. Instead thaw the turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave.  Never thaw a turkey by leaving it out on the counter.  Allow approximately 24 hours for each four to five pounds of turkey when thawed in the refrigerator.

Do not rinse or wash your turkey, which can spread bacteria around the kitchen, contaminating countertops, towels, and other food.

Typical symptoms of foodborne illness include vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms, which can start anywhere from hours to days after consuming contaminated food or drinks.  Symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. 

Those at risk of more severe and even life-threatening foodborne illness include older adults, infants, young children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems.  Those who become ill, especially with severe symptoms, or those who are at risk for more severe disease, should seek care from a medical provider to ensure a proper diagnosis and appropriate management.

Illinois Firearm Deer Season Opens Nov. 16-18

Deer hunters are reminded to focus on safety as the 2018 Illinois Firearm Deer Season opens this week.  The seven-day firearm season runs from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18. A second round of firearm deer hunting will be held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.

The IDNR Office of Law Enforcement, which administers the Illinois Hunter Safety Education Program, reports there were 19 hunting incidents last year during all seasons, three of which involved fatalities.  Ten of those incidents involved hunters falling from elevated tree stands or falling while climbing into or out of tree stands.

IDNR safety educators remind hunters using tree stands to use a Fall Arrest System (FAS) safety harness. Nationally, more than 80 percent of reported tree stand incidents involve hunters who were not using a fall restraint system. As additional precautions, hunters should check the harness, straps, ladder and other equipment to make sure they are in good working order.  Hunters should also be aware of weather conditions that could make stands and steps slippery, and to have a mobile phone within reach to call for help, if needed.

Hunters can review tree stand safety online at

Safety educators and IDNR Conservation Police also remind everyone hunting with a firearm to:

Treat every firearm as if it is loaded, and never assume a firearm is unloaded;
Always point a firearm in a safe direction;
Be sure of the target, and make sure there are no other hunters, homes, buildings, vehicles or other animals beyond the target;
Keep their finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until they are ready to shoot.

Legal hunting hours for the firearm deer season are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Hunters who take a deer during the firearm season in most Illinois counties must register the deer they harvest online, or through the toll-free phone check-in system.  To register their harvest by phone, hunters can call 1-866-IL-CHECK (1-866-452-4325). A link to the online deer registration system is available here:

Hunters registering deer through the online or phone systems must do so by 10:00 p.m. on the day they take the deer. 

In many northern Illinois counties where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected in deer, hunters are required to register all deer harvested during firearm season by taking them to a check station between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.  Biologists will be present to take CWD samples for testing at the time of registration.  Testing is voluntary, but all hunters with adult deer are encouraged to participate.  Information on the counties where hunters are required to check in their deer at check stations is available on the IDNR website at:

Hunters participating in CWD sampling can check the status of their deer (listed by phone number) through the IDNR website.  Hunters who provide samples from deer that test positive will be notified by the IDNR.  For more information on CWD in Illinois, check the website at:

In addition to the seven-day Illinois Firearm Deer Season on Nov. 16-18 and Nov. 29-Dec. 2, other deer hunting seasons in the state include the three-day Muzzleloader-only Deer Season on Dec. 7-9, and the seven-day Late-Winter Firearm Antlerless-only Deer Season and Special CWD Deer Season (in select counties) on Dec. 27-30, 2018 and Jan. 18-20, 2019.  The Illinois Archery Deer Season, which opened on Oct. 1, is open through Jan. 20, 2019 (except closed in counties open to Firearm Deer Season on Nov. 16-18 and Nov. 29-Dec. 2).

For more information on Illinois deer hunting regulations, check the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations 2018-2019 at

Dave Syverson

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