Week-in-Review: July 9-13

With the clock ticking down on the upcoming Southern Illinois Made Expo, State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) is inviting constituents to stop by his legislative information booth for traveling office hours to be held throughout the highly anticipated event. 

From 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on July 28 and 29, area constituents will have the opportunity to speak with Senator Fowler’s staff, ask their questions and get helpful resources from state government. Appointments are not required. Staff will be available and located outside the entrance to the Expo, taking place inside the Pavilion located at 1602 Sioux Drive in Marion.

After visiting the legislative informational booth, the public is invited to attend the Southern Illinois Made Expo. The event will feature dozens of area vendors, showcasing their unique products, innovative creations and tasty treats made, sold and located right here in Southern Illinois.

A number of different entertainment options will be available for attendees, including the opportunity to take immersive virtual reality tours, a designated “Kids Corner” for children to create arts and crafts project to be given to veterans boarding the next Southern Illinois Honor Flight and various performances scheduled throughout the weekend. The Expo will also be partnering with the Veterans Honor Flights of Southern Illinois to host a ceremony honoring local veterans on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

In other news, Senator Fowler joined Community Health and Emergency Services for the public announcement on additional funding for the construction of a Critical Access Hospital at the Cairo Megaclinic on July 13.

“While not everything about the recently signed budget package is perfect, it does direct over two million dollars toward improving access to healthcare in our region,” said Sen. Fowler. “Being able to help ensure that the Cairo Megaclinic will be able to expand their services and build the Critical Access Hospital was a priority of mine, and I’m excited to see this project begin development.”

The Fiscal Year 2019 budget, signed on June 4, included a $2,084,459 appropriation for the ongoing project.

State News:

A recent report from the Anderson Economic Group shows Illinois ranks 35th in the country in business tax burden, up from 32nd a year before. The findings, however, were from the latest fiscal year data available, 2016, which came before the corporate and personal income tax rates were increased in 2017.

The report shows Illinois businesses have a total tax burden of 9.74 percent of their earnings after the cost of operating the business but before taxes are withdrawn. The Anderson Economic Group says they “use taxes paid as share of profits, as this measure directly compares taxes paid to business income available to pay the tax.” 

Of the states around Illinois, Missouri’s business tax burden ranks 8th, Iowa’s ranks 14th, Wisconsin’s ranks 13th, Michigan’s ranks 9th, Indiana’s ranks 7th, and Kentucky ranks 31st.

Senate Republicans say this report underscores the need for Illinois to pass measures that will grow the economy and make Illinois more attractive. They have pushed pro-growth, pro-job reforms at the Statehouse for years, only to have the Democrat majority stonewall most efforts.

In other news, a researcher from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) says unlike other states, most overdoses and opioid-related deaths in Illinois are caused by heroin use. James Swartz says it is also often in combination of potent synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanyl.

“In states such as Tennessee or Ohio, it’s been more predominantly a problem of prescription opioids,” Swartz says. “But looking at the data in Illinois, it appears to be increasingly heroin/fentanyl.”

The UIC researcher is working with the Illinois Department of Human Services to gain a better understanding of the opioid crisis in Illinois. The goal is to reduce deaths from overdoses.

“Illinois Prevent Prescription Drug/Opioid Overdose Deaths” is one statewide project that is helping address the opioid crisis right now.  This project has helped increase the availability of naloxone reversal kits and helped trained people to use them in several counties where opioid overdoses have been high. The counties include Cook, DuPage, Lake, Madison, St. Clair, and Will.

Swartz’s research also comes as Illinois undertakes its Opioid Action Plan, developed last year in an effort to comprehensively address Illinois’ opioid epidemic. The Opioid Action Plan focuses on prevention, treatment and recovery, and response.

The state has also recently applied to the federal government, seeking to have the Affordable Care Act expand its coverage of opioid treatment and addiction for Illinois consumers who buy health insurance through the exchange.

Opioid overdoses have killed about 11,000 people since 2008 in Illinois. In 2016, more than 1,800 people died of overdoses – twice the amount of fatal car accidents.

Finally, corn and soybeans across Illinois are enjoying a strong growing season this year thanks to Mother Nature. According to the latest Crop Progress and Conditions Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 81 percent of corn is considered in good to excellent condition right now. For soybeans, it’s 72 percent.

Those overall healthy numbers are up from where the crops were last year at this time. In 2017, 63 percent of corn and 66 percent of soybeans were considered in good or excellent condition by early July.

The USDA also reports that the winter wheat harvest is 92 percent complete, compared to the five year average of 84 percent.

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois is a leading producer of soybeans and corn, ranking first in the nation with $180 billion in processed food sales. Marketing of Illinois’ agricultural commodities generates more than $19 billion annually.

Dale Fowler

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