At the recent Springfield Airport Authority Board Meeting, Mayor Jim Langfelder attempted to oust Chairman Frank Vala. After a passionate speech from Chairman Vala on the success the airport has seen over the last 14 years, the Mayor’s attempt failed. Below is the speech Chairman Vala delivered and a recent interview with AM Springfield’s Sam Madonia.
With almost 18 years serving on this board, 14 of those years serving as Chair I want to thank all the past and present board members for their cooperation and involvement in the growth and development of Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.
When I was appointed, this airport did not even have Abraham Lincoln included in its official name, the only entrance was a dangerous crossover, buildings were in disrepair, and the parking lot full of holes. We never had a workable jet bridge or handicapped bathrooms or a classroom for Lincoln Land School of Aviation and with Susan Shea’s effort we even have directional signs on our state
The upgrades and road improvements along with a solid financial base are accomplishments that we have done with the full cooperation of my fellow board members. We can all hold our heads high. I don’t know of any other government body that can make that claim. I am grateful to Mark Hanna and his staff for all the time and outstanding effort that they have contributed to this effort. Without their dedication, I believe we would not be where we are.
On a personal note, I would like to say that during my term as chair I have not taken any of the monthly stipend offered to the board nor have I charged any storage fee for the Abraham Lincoln statue that will be going on display in the airport.
In conclusion, I want the board to know that the decision to replace me was a political move by the Mayor and I caution you to watch the airport money because Langfelder in 6 years has taken a multi-million dollar reserve and turned it into a large City Government debt and will be looking to see how much Airport money he can get his hands on to cover his mismanagement of city finances.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R‑Ill) today voted against H.R. 1425.
“New taxes and government price controls on prescription drugs will not address the skyrocketing costs of the American health care system,” said Rep. Davis. “In the midst of a global pandemic where researchers are scrambling to find treatments and cures for COVID-19, we should not be hindering pharmaceutical manufacturers’ abilities to innovate and make new prescription drugs. This partisan legislation does nothing to lower the overall cost of health care. Rather, it transfers a bulk of the costs to taxpayers. That’s irresponsible.”
“I urge leaders in Congress to work together to achieve bipartisan health care reform. That’s why I continue to work with lawmakers from both parties on legislation that helps Americans keep their doctors and health care coverage and protects coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.”
Rep. Davis has worked with lawmakers from both parties to ensure Americans have access to affordable health care.
Recently, Rep. Davis teamed up with Rep. Kurt Schrader (D‑Ore) and others to introduce the Health Care Protection Act, which helps Americans who lose their job keep their employer-sponsored health insurance and creates a 30-day special enrollment period on ACA exchanges.
Rep. Davis also supports alternative legislation to lower the costs of prescription drugs while ensuring America maintains its position as a global leader in drug innovation. H.R. 19, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act of 2019, lowers out of pocket spending, protects access to new cures and medications, strengthens transparency, and encourages competition.
Provisions of H.R. 965, the CREATES Act, which is bipartisan legislation that was signed into law last year, lowers the cost of prescription drugs by regulating anti-competitive practices of drug manufacturers that block the entry of low-cost generic drugs into the marketplace.
And last year, Rep. Davis introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill to prevent the executive branch from using federal funds to limit access to health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
H.R. 1425 does not address the underlying issue with American health care – the skyrocketing cost of care. Rather than working to lower the cost of care, H.R. 1425 merely shifts the cost of care around to taxpayers and manufacturers of prescription drugs that treat and cure diseases.
H.R. 1425 is funded through provisions that were included in H.R. 3, which levies new taxes and establishes government price controls on manufacturers of prescription drugs. Last December, the Congressional Budget Office released a report that found the provisions in H.R. 3 will result in fewer new prescription drugs being developed and coming to the market. If enacted, H.R. 3 could slow down the discovery of potential treatments or cures to COVID-19
Appointed to economic recovery commission.
I’ve said from the beginning that the General Assembly needs to be engaged and part of the decision making process as our state moves forward. I wish we were meeting as an entire body but since this is not happening right now, it will be up to this 14-member Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission to have the voices of the legislative branch and our constituents heard. This commission has the potential to help our state save critical segments of our economy and bring back the countless jobs lost during the shutdown, but only if all the commission members and the Governor are receptive to recommendations. There are numerous safe ways to get more people back to work and we need to take action. Too many previous commissions have failed to deliver and we simply cannot afford that this time around. Read More Here.
Disappointed by Pritzker decision to cancel State Fair.
I understand the difficulty and importance of taking every safety precaution as we decide whether or not to hold certain events as we continue to deal with COVID-19. However, I am very disappointed in the Governor’s unilateral decision to cancel the State Fair. Not only was it inappropriate to make this decision without feedback from our Central Illinois communities that rely on the millions of dollars generated by the event, but he is once again exceeding his authority and violating state law by not consulting the legislature. There was time to consider safely restructuring the fair and move forward, and it is extremely unfortunate that has not happened. Read More Here.
Guidelines released for Phase 4.
All four regions of Illinois will move into Phase 4 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan on Friday, June 26, 2020. Phase 4 guidelines were designed by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) in coordination with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Under Phase 4, restaurants, bars and taverns will be allowed to reopen their indoor facilities under conditions of social distancing. Schools and universities will be allowed to make plans for reopening in fall 2020. Health and fitness clubs, gyms and swimming pools will be allowed to reopen under strict guidelines, as well as other recreation facilities. Read More Here.
SBDC gets $7.3 million to support IL small biz.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced a new $7.3 million investment from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program – a statewide network focused solely on supporting Illinois businesses and entrepreneurs in starting, growing and maintaining their businesses. There is no cost to small business owners for SBDC services. In the wake of COVID-19, SBDCs have played a vital role in connecting businesses with support resources and assistance programs designed to help keep businesses afloat. Read More Here.
Business Interruption Grants program launched.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is launching the first round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) by providing $60 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures. The BIG Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses that experienced a limited ability to operate due to COVID-19 related closures. DCEO will begin distributing funds to qualifying businesses in early July. The total program funding will amount to at least $540 million in grants for small businesses, $270 million of which has been set aside for childcare providers and is funded by the CARES Act. Read More Here.
State ed. boards release guidelines for in-person learning.
The state’s three education boards for K‑12, higher education and community colleges have announced guidelines for Illinois schools and colleges to return to in-person instruction as the state advances to Phase 4 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan. Some of the guidelines have immediately been met with concern from parents, students and educators alike. Read More Here.
Governor signs ‘Cocktails to Go’ legislation.
Among the legislative victories of the special session was the overwhelming support of legislation to allow bars and restaurants to sell pre-made cocktails for pick-up or delivery as part of the reopening of Illinois’ economy. The legislation, House Bill 2682, which I was glad to co-sponsor, was signed by Governor Pritzker earlier this month. It is a vital step in the right direction, similar to outdoor seating, to help struggling bars and restaurants weather the coronavirus shutdown storm as alcohol sales are one of the most important revenue generators for the industry. Read More Here.
Online preregistration available for driver’s lic. renewals.
The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office has launched an online driver’s license and ID card preregistration application program to reduce the processing time of transactions at Driver Services facilities. Visit cyberdriveillinois.com to access the preregistration application for driver’s licenses and ID cards and input specific information regarding their upcoming transaction. As a result, once the customer visits a Driver Services facility, the clerk will not have to enter all of the data like a change of address or a change of height and weight into the electronic application form because the customer has already updated the information. This will improve the efficiency of these transactions and cut down wait times. Read More Here.
Reminder: income tax filing deadline is July 15.
For those who have not yet filed, state individual income tax returns and payments are due July 15, the same date set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for federal returns. Taxpayers who have yet to file their 2019 state individual income tax returns must act by July 15 to avoid penalties and interest. The tax filing season was extended three months from the normal due date of April 15 to help Illinois taxpayers experiencing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More Here.
The annual Expungement and Record Sealing Summit is the only time that petitioners can get free help with filling out the paperwork, obtain the materials needed to file the petition with the court at no charge and have the petitions filed with no circuit court filing fee.
“Hope is the key word, and we are humbled to be able to participate in delivering on hope, helping people to see a fresh start as a possibility,” Palazzolo said. “We hope they can achieve a success story here that will allow for future success stories.”
U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R‑Ill) today co-sponsored the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act. The goal of the JUSTICE Act is to increase police transparency, accountability and performance so law enforcement can better serve their communities.
“George Floyd’s tragic murder showed our country just how much work we have to do to restore trust and ensure equal justice under the law,” said Rep. Davis. “That’s why the JUSTICE Act is so critically needed. This legislation increases police transparency while providing law enforcement with the resources and training they need to equitably protect the communities they serve. We must unite together to stop this violence so our nation can properly honor George Floyd and work to ensure others do not meet the same terrible end.”
This bill is the House companion to legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R‑SC). The lead sponsor in the House is U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R‑MN). Rep. Stauber was a police officer for two decades prior to his time in the House.
“In order to truly make progress on public safety, and unite this nation, it is imperative to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said Rep. Stauber. “The JUSTICE Act will do just that by implementing community policing best practices, creating transparency when it comes to reporting incidents with law enforcement, and holding officers and departments alike accountable for their actions. Delivering lasting reform should not be a partisan issue, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on this important issue. Our nation is calling for change, and I am confident that we will rise to the occasion.”
What the JUSTICE Act does to improve public safety:
Improving law enforcement transparency through additional reporting
- Annual reporting on use of force
- Reporting on no-knock warrants
Ensuring law enforcement accountability
- Requires law enforcement agencies to maintain and share disciplinary records for officer hiring considerations
- Provides $500 million for state and local law enforcement agencies to equip all officers with body cameras, and store and retain footage.
- Increases criminal penalties for any individual who knowingly and willfully falsifies a police report
- Makes it unlawful for a federal law enforcement officer to engage in sexual acts while acting under color of law with an individual who is under arrest, in detention, or in custody
Improving training for law enforcement officers
- Bans the use of chokeholds for all situations other than those in which deadly force is authorized
- Directs the Attorney General to develop training curricula regarding the duty of a law enforcement officer to intervene when another law enforcement officer is engaged in excessive force and provides $500 million to pay for costs associated with the training
- Requires DOJ to develop and provide training on de-escalation techniques and law enforcement interaction with mentally ill individuals and provides an additional $225 million in grant funding for the training
- Reauthorizes the Department of Justice’s COPS on the Beat and Byrne JAG community policing grant programs, whose authorization of appropriations lapsed in 2009 and 2012, respectively
Provisions addressing historical racism and racial inequities
- Makes lynching a federal crime
- Establishes a bipartisan Commission that will issue a wide-ranging report on conditions affecting black men and boys, including education, health care, financial status, and the criminal justice system
Click here for the full text of the bill.
Click here for a summary of the bill.
Click here for a section-by-section analysis of the bill.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R‑Ill) today announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded $153,861 to three local law enforcement agencies in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District. The funding is part of the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program. The CESF Program allows units of local government to support a broad range of activities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.
“Our first responders deserve to have the resources they need to effectively respond to COVID-19,” Davis said. “These funds will help protect them and everyone they serve against the virus. This is another example of federal funding directly supporting local government.”
“The Coronavirus pandemic has put strain on local government budgets everywhere and this federal funding will help alleviate that strain,” said Sangamon County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter. “Our Sheriff’s office greatly appreciates this assistance and we thank Congressman Davis for the support.”
- Macon County Sheriff’s Office, $58,008
- McLean County Sheriff’s Office, $58,008
- Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office, $37,845
Funded projects or initiatives may include, but are not limited to, overtime, equipment (including law enforcement and medical personal protective equipment), hiring, supplies (such as gloves, masks, sanitizer), training, travel expenses (particularly related to the distribution of resources to the most impacted areas), and addressing the medical needs of inmates in state, local, and tribal prisons, jails, and detention centers.
Among the legislative victories of the special session was the overwhelming support of legislation to allow bars and restaurants to sell pre-made cocktails for pick-up or delivery as part of the reopening of Illinois’ economy. The legislation, House Bill 2682, which was co-sponsored Rep. Murphy, was signed by Governor Pritzker this week. It is a vital step in the right direction, similar to outdoor seating, to help struggling bars and restaurants weather the coronavirus shutdown storm as alcohol sales are one of the most important revenue generators for the industry.
Cocktails can only be delivered in a sealed, labeled container with a tamper-evident cap or seal by an employee of the liquor license holder who is over the age of 21 and trained in responsible alcohol service. Cocktails may not be delivered via a third party delivery app. Cocktails can only be delivered after an employee verifies the age as well as the level of intoxication of the consumer.
The legislation also delays late fees and license fees for liquor licenses for businesses, and establishes automatic liquor license renewal approval and extension for any license holder whose business or operations have been suspended in any capacity due as a result of COVID-19.
The late filing fee waiver applies for 6 months and the license extensions lasts for 120 days, after the latter of:
• the day the region moves to Phase 4, or
• the day after the expiration of the latest EO that limits or interrupts business, or
• the day after the expiration of any rules from DPH or other agencies.
Once signed by the Governor, House Bill 2682 took immediate effect.
For the historic four-day special session, the House convened at the Bank of Springfield (BoS) Center in downtown Springfield, and the Senate met at the Capitol. We wore masks, practiced social distancing, and had plenty of hand sanitizer available to help ensure a safe environment. It was an enormous task to make the BoS space functional for the House of Representatives last week, and my thanks go out to all those made this a reality.
Republicans returned to session with hopes that bipartisan efforts could lead to the creation of a balanced budget, a legislative vote on Governor Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan, and action prohibiting the Governor from unilaterally continuing to lead the state via executive order while shutting out the other co-equal branches of government. Sadly, several party-line votes last week only codified the Governor’s role as the sole decision-maker during the pandemic, and our requests for an up or down vote on the “Restore Illinois” plan were rejected.
Republicans were also pushing for a deep audit into the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). As Illinoisans continue to struggle to successfully apply for and certify unemployment benefits, we recently learned that names, addresses, and full social security numbers of as many as 32,000 unemployment filers were exposed to the public. A data breach of this magnitude requires an investigation, and since it was the latest in a series of failures at IDES, it should have triggered an audit. Democrats weren’t interested, but House Republicans are filing an audit resolution today to get to the bottom of this.
We also called for the General Assembly to take action on HJR 123, which would have removed the graduated income tax question from the fall 2020 ballot. Raising taxes on families and small businesses is the absolute last thing we should be doing right now. But rather than taking up our bill, Democrats plowed forward with their plan to heap new taxes onto Illinoisans.
The opportunity to take some responsibility for future COVID-19 decisions as a co-equal branch of government was also abdicated by the majority party last week. Illinoisans, who sent 177 lawmakers to the capital city to work on their behalf, took a very distant back seat during this session to otherwise self-serving agendas.
While I am disappointed at much of the results from the week, there were some very important successes – the withdrawal of the controversial rule to hit small businesses with a Class A Misdemeanor, the loosening of Phase 3 reopening regulations for outdoor restaurant seating and other operations, Cocktails to Go passed overwhelmingly, and the extension of various property tax exemptions are all positives.
Read below for more.
Governor withdraws controversial emergency small biz rule.
As session was starting on Wednesday, we learned that the Pritzker administration withdrew a contentious Emergency Rule that would have imposed a Class A Misdemeanor (a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail) on small businesses owners who were out of compliance with his stay at home order. The controversial provision had evoked considerable public outcry and pushback by House Republicans and by Illinois residents who felt the Governor had overstepped his authority. Legislative offices, mine included, received thousands of emails and hundreds of phone calls from Illinoisans who were irate that the Governor would take steps to criminalize business owners who were doing what they had to do to feed their families and keep their businesses afloat.
We were originally told that similar enforcement rules would be filed through legislation, but that bill never materialized. This “win” belongs to the people of Illinois, who sent emails and made phone calls at unprecedented levels. It was due to this immense pressure that the Governor ultimately rescinded the rule and Democrat lawmakers declined to put the enforcement rules forward through legislation. Read More Here.
Phase 3 reopening – toolkits to help small biz.
Throughout last week, Gov. Pritzker announced a series of steps that soften some provisions of his Restore Illinois plan as we enter phase 3. Important among these changes include outdoor seating at bars and restaurants, something not originally included. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has developed a free tool kit to help employers implement the reopening safety guidelines. The business toolkits includes signage, training checklists, and other resources to ensure activities are conducted in accordance with the latest public health recommendations. Read More Here.
Cocktails to Go passes overwhelmingly.
Among the legislative victories of the special session was the overwhelming support of legislation to allow our bars and restaurants to sell pre-made cocktails for pick-up or delivery as part of the reopening of our economy. House Bill 2682, which I was glad to co-sponsor, is a vital step in the right direction, similar to outdoor seating, to help struggling bars and restaurants weather the coronavirus shutdown storm as alcohol sales are one of the most important revenue generators for the industry.
Restaurants are one of the largest small business industries in our state, and 20% of the industry is currently in danger. With the restaurants lost, so too goes the livelihoods of not only the owners but the thousands upon thousands of jobs for those who work in the industry. While more is still needed, this will help save this valued sector of our economy.
Democrats pass unbalanced budget that increases spending.
Despite the economic downturn Illinois and the rest of the country is facing due to COVID-19, Illinois Democrats passed the largest spending plan in the state’s history. This irresponsible budget increases spending by 6.8%. The budget spends $42.9 billion while revenues are expected to be only $36.8 billion, including $5 billion in new borrowing from the Federal government to be paid back over the next decade. Even with the $5 billion in borrowing, the budget is unbalanced by $6 billion. In addition, it essentially gives the Governor a blank check to spend $3.6 billion in Federal CARES Act money with virtually no guidance or oversight of the legislature. The budget does not provide any stability or certainty for taxpayers, schools, local units of government, social service providers and those who rely on critical state services. During a time when Illinois families and businesses are cutting costs, the majority party leaders in Illinois went in the opposite direction. All Republicans, and even a House Democrat, voted against this irresponsible budget.
Yes… the budget includes a legislator pay raise.
Despite the public misinformation being propagated – according to Illinois law, state legislators are scheduled to receive a pay raise each year unless they vote to reject the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). House Republicans filed legislation (HB 5777), which I co-sponsored, to block the automatic pay raise this year and Democrats refused to call the bill for a vote. They also refused to include language to ban the COLA in the budget package they passed, citing an “agreement” they had made with the comptroller. However, the comptroller does not have the legal authority to stop continuing appropriations.
So, while more than a million of our fellow Illinoisans are filing for unemployment, Democrats in the House and the Senate voted to give themselves a raise. More information about the legal realities are available Here.
Vote-by-mail expansion puts election integrity at risk.
Even though Illinois already has one of the most universally accessible vote-by-mail programs in the country, through a partisan effort, a drastic overhaul to Illinois’ vote-by-mail system was approved for this fall’s election. Despite well-founded concerns about increased voter fraud, chiefly a lack a measures to protect drop-off boxes from tampering and ballot stuffing (something done in all other states with drop-off boxes), SB 1863 passed with every Democrat voting in favor of the bill.
Through the legislation, millions of dollars will be spent to mail ballot applications to an estimated five million voters who voted in any election in 2018, 2019 or 2020. It will also include a follow-up campaign to return the ballots, something that for years has been the domain of political campaigns. In addition, a great deal of this cost will have to be borne by local election authorities, as the sponsor of the legislation acknowledged that Federal CARES Act money will not be sufficient to cover the costs of the program. It’s a new unfunded mandate during a financial crisis for state and local governments.
Driver services facilities to reopen in June.
The Secretary of State will begin opening driver services facilities on June 1 with a phase-in plan. Services in June and July will focus ONLY on new drivers, customers with expired driver’s licenses/ID cards and vehicle transactions. More information on the reopening dates and locations for driver services facilities statewide is Here.