Week-in-review: December 17-21, 2018

As everyone prepares to celebrate the holiday season, State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) is wishing everyone throughout his district a bright and merry Christmas holiday and a very happy New Year.

“This season is about counting our blessings, spending quality time with our families and friends and looking forward to the future,” said Senator Fowler. “For me, Christmas is definitely a time that I reflect back on the year and give thanks to the many blessings in my life, including the opportunity to represent the hardworking people of the 59th Senate District.”

Senator Fowler will be celebrating the holiday season by hosting his Holiday Open House on December 20. The annual holiday event will have music, hot chocolate and cookies free to the public. The annual event will also feature free photos with Santa Claus.

Before holiday celebrations begin, Senator Fowler was back in district and joining Ferrell Hospital in Eldorado for a groundbreaking ceremony. Fowler joined hospital staff, board members and fellow community leaders as broke ground on the $34 million project to expand imaging and surgical facilities, create a more modern emergency department, and renovate patient rooms.

According to Ferrell Hospital, the facility currently boasts more than 200 employees and is one of the largest employers in the area.

Also seeing progress this week was Shawnee Community College’s Cairo Extension Center. Senator Fowler joined representatives from the college and other local officials for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the recently renovated satellite facility. The facility is located at the Cairo High School and will be equipped with a computer lab, classrooms, and administrative offices.

In other news, Senator Fowler attended the Southern Illinois Mayors Association quarterly meeting on December 19. The event, hosted by Ameren Illinois, brings together Southern Illinois municipalities to discuss issues important to communities throughout the region.

State News

As Illinoisans from Cairo to Chicago ring in the New Year, 253 new laws will take effect. These new laws for the New Year cover everything from supporting and protecting our military personnel, to promoting economic development, and targeting “golden parachutes.”

New laws support, protect military personnel

New laws to support and protect our military personnel and veterans are among those that will be implemented in 2019. Military personnel believed to have a physical or mental condition related to their service will now be included in the state’s definition of “high-risk missing person,” providing additional resources to help locate and safeguard these heroes under Senate Bill 2278/PA 100-0835.

Homeless veterans will be provided a free copy of medical records by health-care facilities and practitioners to help support claims for veterans’ disability benefits under House Bill 4848/PA 100-0814.

Greater dual credit access for high school students

In the New Year, high school students will have greater access to dual credit coursework thanks to two new state laws. Senate Bill 2527/PA 100-0792, allows qualified students to enroll in an unlimited amount of dual credit courses and earn an unlimited amount of academic credits from dual credit courses taught by a qualified instructor. Another measure, Senate Bill 2838/PA 100-1049, improves access by requiring community colleges to enter into a dual credit agreement if a high school district within their boundaries requests it.

River Edge Development Zone Program revamp

With a focus on redevelopment and economic growth, the River Edge Redevelopment Zone Program gets a facelift in the New Year. This important program helps revive and redevelop environmentally-challenged properties adjacent to rivers in Illinois.  Senate Bill 3527/PA 100-0629, in addition to a few other changes, also creates the Historic Preservation Tax Credit Act to help protect and rehabilitate historic structures.

Golden Parachutes

A new law targeting overly generous severance packages, also known as “golden parachutes,” is set to take effect on Jan. 1. Golden parachutes have made headlines in recent years when the College of DuPage president was awarded $762,000 at taxpayers’ expense. Senate Bill 3604/PA 100-0895 sets severance pay conditions for government employees to prevent situations like this from happening in the future.

The full list

There’s a lot more to know as we kick off 2019! To view the full list of all 253 new laws coming in the New Year, visit: LINK

Dale Fowler

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