In news for the 59th District, State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) visited local businesses, surveyed flooding damage in Old Shawneetown and shared exciting news concerning the Tamms Correctional Center.
On August 23, House Bill 210 was signed into law, creating the Tamms Minimum Security Unit Task Force. The new state task force seeks to find renewed purpose for the Tamms Correctional Center, a major state prison in southern Illinois that was closed in 2013. Members of the Task Force will be charged with studying redevelopment options for the shuttered 220-acre, 21 building complex including the potential to use the center for vocational training center for the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Currently, the shuttered facility is a financial drain on state resources, but proponents of reopening it believe it could be redeveloped for other uses – boosting job creation and economic development in an economically struggling region of the state.
The 11-member Task Force is comprised of four legislators, the Director of the Department of Corrections or a designee, one member appointed by the Lt. Governor, one member representing DOC employees, one member representing Shawnee Community College, one member representing Southern Illinois University, the mayor of Tamms, and one member representing Alexander County. The Task Force is required to submit its findings to the Governor and the General Assembly by Dec. 31, 2020.
In other news, Sen. Fowler travelled to Old Shawneetown to survey the flooding damage to the riverfront ramp access to the Ohio River. Due to historic flooding, the ramp is in disrepair and local residents are seeking support and funding to repair the destruction done to the critical waterfront ramp. Currently, the ramp is unusable, forcing ramp-users to go over to Kentucky to gain access to the river and negatively impacting the area economy.
Sen. Fowler also toured Timberline Fisheries in Marion, a local Southern Illinois-based business in operation since the mid-1970s. According to their website, Timberline is the industry’s leading supplier of live pet food and has expanded operations to include pre-packaged products, feeder insect nutrients and scientifically tested, nutrient-dense products.
Also visited last week, Sen. Fowler stopped by Giant City Stables to learn more about their Specialized Equine Services and Therapeutic Riding program. The program, which was formed in 2013, helps clients with physical and emotional disabilities and veterans. More information on the program can be found at www.SESTherapeuticRiding.com
Sen. Fowler was also in attendance for the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s annual Illinois Mine Rescue Contest on August 28. The event brings together teams to showcase their mine rescue skills and practice critical mine safety.
New Law Expands Youth Hunting
Young hunters throughout the state will have greater opportunity to tag a deer thanks to an expansion of youth hunting that has been signed into law.
A new pilot program that expands the existing three-day, youth-only hunting season state wide is created by House Bill 3623/PA 101-0444. The new law will allow young hunters to obtain apprentice hunting permits in multiple years. Previously, apprentice licenses expire after one season, and could not be renewed.
School Safety Bill Becomes Law
Illinois schools will now have the option to install low-cost intruder barriers in classrooms to protect against armed intruders, under a new law.
Senate Bill 1371/PA 101-0548 allows school districts to use door-locking mechanisms that attach to the door and are lockable and unlockable from the inside of the classroom. The mechanisms must be unlockable from the outside by a key or tool given to police and fire departments so they can continue to act to protect those barricaded inside.
The legislation, brought to sponsor State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) by a local superintendent, is a prime example of how constituents can work with legislators to solve problems.
‘Mason’s Law’ Signed into Law
Drivers who don’t display appropriate caution in a crosswalk could face a one-year suspension of their license once the recently signed “Mason’s Law” takes effect on July 1, 2020. The new law aims to make sure pedestrians can cross streets safely and that those who endanger the lives of people using crosswalks, many of whom are school children, are held accountable.
House Bill 2383/PA 101-0470 requires a one-year suspension of an individual’s driver’s license if they commit a right-of-way violation at a crosswalk or a crosswalk in a school zone that results in bodily harm or death.
The legislation was filed in response to the death of Iroquois resident Mason Knorr, who was killed in a traffic crash when a semi failed to obey a posted stop sign.
The legislation was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Aug. 23.
Public Comment Sought on Sports Betting
A new law expanding legalized gambling includes betting on sports. Before the state creates the rules for wagering on sporting events, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) is seeking public comment.
In a statement released Aug. 27, IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter said, “This public comment period is an important step in a process to ethically and expeditiously establish a regulatory framework to allow sports wagering in Illinois.”
The sports wagering public comment period will be open for 30 days from Aug. 27 to Sept. 27. Comments can be submitted by emailing the Gaming Board at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional details about the sports wagering law are available at the IGB website: http://www.igb.illinois.gov.