As always, you can contact me via webform at www.repbennett.com, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106 (Watseka). Thank you for the honor of serving as our district's representative in Springfield.
State Police preparing for spike in concealed carry renewals
Illinois' concealed carry license law went into effect in July 2013, and now the first of the five-year licenses are coming due for renewal. The Illinois State Police are getting ready for an expected spike in renewal applications.
Many of the concealed carry licenses which were issued when the law went into effect will expire over the next few months. It is expected that many current license-holders will seek to renew their licenses. Before submitting the renewal paperwork, however, the law requires re-applicants to undergo three hours of training in concealed carry safety with a certified instructor. To assist in obtaining the proper refresher training, the State Police have posted on their website a list of instructors whose approved curriculum includes a three-hour renewal class. Once a re-applicant has submitted information confirming that he or she has completed training, the applicant may continue the renewal process.
Right now, the State Police are not accepting renewal applications from applicants who have more than five months until their license expires. Because of the expected spike in applications, they are concentrating their efforts on licenses that are closer to expiration. The State Police recommend that those interested in applying for renewals undergo their required retraining around six months before expiration, then begin the renewal process five months out. The process for renewing a concealed carry license involves submitting valid paperwork and a $150 fee. The State Police are hoping to have renewal applications processed in about 30 days.
Funds released for improvements at Illinois state parks
More than $14 million in funds have been released for capital improvement projects at state parks and recreation areas throughout Illinois. This money comes from the FY19 budget which was signed back in June.
Sites throughout the state are on the list for improvements, including Argyle Lake State Park near Macomb, Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area in Carlyle, Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis and the Mississippi Palisades State Park in northwestern Illinois. Two parks near our area also received funding: the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Kankakee River State Park.
Kankakee River State Park will receive a grant of $1,855,300 to help reopen campgrounds to visitors. The funds will go toward reopening the Chippewa and Potawatomi campgrounds at the park. The I&M Canal park is set to receive $6,672,150 to make public safety improvements to the DuPage River spillway.
Already this year the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has committed more than $4 million in funds for these projects. They are all scheduled to be completed within two years, and most should reach completion by next fall. For more information on Illinois state parks and recreation opportunities, go to the DNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,872,886,226 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be approximately $130 billion.
October is cybersecurity awareness month
The month of October has been proclaimed as Cyber Security Awareness Month, with state government's technology agency, the Department of Innovation and Technology (DOIT) leading the efforts.
DOIT was created in 2016 to coordinate information technology for state agencies. The 1700 member IT workforce manages a nearly $1 billion portfolio of investments in IT. In its first two years, the agency has put in place Illinois' first Chief Information Security Officer who is tasked with protecting close to six billion records from the risk of data breaches. DOIT has also put in place a cyber awareness program to better protect state agencies from online threats. These are just some of the actions that are part of the overall cybersecurity strategy for state government.
A new development on this front in state government is the new Cybersecurity Operations Center. This center enhances the state's capabilities for security monitoring and takes a more proactive approach where cyber threats are concerned. The center allows DOIT to have round-the-clock cyber monitoring and to immediately respond to cyberattacks. This is the 15th year that National Cybersecurity Awareness Month has been marked, with efforts at the federal level being coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security.
Visit to American Buildings in El Paso
I was glad to be with Environmental Coordinator Cheryl Laning of American Buildings as we talked about what the company does in El Paso. I enjoyed the tour and the conversation. Over 240 people work at this facility. Nucor is the parent company and is also America's largest steel producer. We are glad to have them in Illinois.
Did You Know?
Illinois's interstate highway system is the third-largest in the nation, coming in at over 2,100 miles. In all, Illinois has over 140,000 miles of highway, with 16,000 under state jurisdiction.