Week-in-Review August 27 – 31, 2018

Seeking someone to utilize the now-vacant Golconda Job Corps site, State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) joined other lawmakers to tour the empty facility on August 29.

The complex has remained empty since the Job Corps was shut down amid reports of safety concerns back in 2017.

Noting the potential within the facility, Senator Fowler is hopeful that someone from the private sector will be interested in taking over the facility and brining economic opportunity to the region.

After years of construction, Senator Fowler joined Mark Esper, Secretary of the Army, and Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Olmsted Locks and Dam on the Ohio River. Replacing Locks and Dams 52 and 53 on the Ohio River, the highly-anticipated infrastructure improvement is set to open in October.

In other news, Senator Fowler is sharing exciting news from the Little Egypt Arts Association. In order to promote art and artists in Southern Illinois, the Association was awarded $2,400 for general operating expenses from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. The funds will be used to provide art classes, are exhibits and art competitions to area residents.

Three area libraries will also receiving grant funds from the state, according to a recent announcement from the Secretary of State. Anne West Lindsey District Library, Harrisburg Public Library District and Marion Carnegie Library will all be recipients of funds from the 2019 Project Next Generation (PNG) grant program. The mentoring program aims to encourage middle and high school students to develop skills to use various technologies, achieve success through project based learning and gain life skills.

Finally, Senator Fowler is encouraging everyone to stay safe, drive sober and buckle up over the Labor Day weekend.

From Aug. 20 through the early morning hours of Sept. 4, ISP and more than 150 local law enforcement agencies are increasing safety efforts with hundreds of additional patrols to arrest impaired drivers during the Labor Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. Motorists are also reminded to “Click It or Ticket.”

Stay safe and enjoy the weekend by following the following helpful safety tips:

Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver before going out and give that person your keys.
Call a taxi, use a ride-sharing service or mass transit, or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely if you are impaired.
Promptly report impaired drivers you see on the roadways to law enforcement by pulling over and dialing 911.
Make sure everyone in your vehicle wears a seat belt. It is your best defense in a crash.

The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket” programs are funded with federal highway safety dollars administered by IDOT.

STATE NEWS:

Opioid management law offers alternative pain-management option

Friday, August 31, marks International Overdose Awareness Day, an annual global event that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.

The day coincides with the recent signing of a monumental new law to curb opioid addiction in Illinois. Senate Bill 336 creates the Alternatives to Opioids Act of 2018, adding those who might otherwise seek opioids for pain management to the list of those eligible for medical marijuana.

Advanced as a bipartisan effort to address the opioid crisis in our country—giving people more control over their health care and offering more pain-relief options—the new law puts in place a pilot program that will not compromise patient safety or diminish medical marijuana program standards, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Licensed physicians must certify an individual has a medical condition for which an opioid has been or could be prescribed. Participants, who must be 21 or older, must register at a licensed dispensary. Dispensations are limited to 2.5 ounces every 14 days and cannot exceed 90 days per physician certification.

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah underscored in a recent press statement that opioids can be highly addictive in a very short period of time. IDPH reports opioid deaths in Illinois increased 13 percent from 2016 to 2017. In Illinois, more people died last year from opioid overdoses than fatal car accidents.

New law protects property tax relief for disabled veterans

Veterans with disabilities will now have their Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homestead Exemption follow them to a new residence, even if they move during the middle of the year, now that Senate Bill 2306 has been signed into law.

Under the new law, the homestead exemption for veterans with disabilities will now be prorated if the veteran who qualifies for the exemption does not occupy the qualified residence as of January 1 of the taxable year.

Previously, if a disabled veteran receiving tax relief through the homestead exemption moved in the middle of the year, then he or she would have been responsible for paying the outstanding property taxes on their new residence until they reapplied for the exemption the next year.

The Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homestead Exemption provides a reduction in a property’s Equalized Assessed Value to a qualifying property owned by a veteran with a service-connected disability.

To apply for this exemption, veterans must contact or visit their local County Assessor’s Office.

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