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Afternoon roundup

Monday, Jul 10, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller


Health care behind bars in Illinois comes with heavy financial and human costs. Since 2011 Illinois has paid Wexford Health Sources, a private company, well over a billion dollars to provide medical care to people in the state’s prisons. During that time, a federal judge determined the care was so poor it violated the US constitution, and an independent monitor has released reports documenting deaths from substandard medical care.

Wexford’s shortcomings could be measured in numbers:

Fifty percent of the health care provider’s jobs in Illinois are unfilled. Three Wexford doctors lack the proper credentials. Patients in need of dental fillings at one prison are on a 104-week waitlist. And in a review of 17 deaths, an outside monitor found that medical staff gave two prisoners medications that contributed to their deaths.

Or you could measure the failings in the horror stories:

Go read the rest.

* Good news for cannabis sales

Illinois pot shops sold $136.4 million worth of cannabis to recreational buyers, according to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. That’s the largest total since a record-setting haul of $143.9 million in December, which is typically the best month of the year for marijuana sales. […]

Total revenue was up, despite falling prices, fueled by a 15% increase in the number of products sold to a record 3.46 million items. Sales are benefiting from an increase in the number of retail outlets, as winners of new licenses awarded last year begin opening stores.

“There are close to 30 more stores open this June versus a year ago, which is making cannabis much more accessible across the state,” said Jason Erkes, spokesman for Cresco Labs. “That, combined with lower prices, contributed to last month’s bump in sales.”

Competition works. Keep at it.

* Good news on tourism…

Today, Governor JB Pritzker joined the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), elected officials, and industry leaders to announce that Illinois reached its highest-ever hotel revenue figures in FY23 ($308 million) – surpassing the pre-pandemic record in FY19. Additionally, Illinois welcomed 111 million visitors who spent $44 billion in 2022 – representing 14 million additional travelers spending $12 billion more than calendar year 2021. […]

State hotel revenue collections are provided by the Illinois Department of Revenue. The figure represents all of Illinois’ hotels, motels, and lodging establishment’s taxable revenue. Additionally, the annual economic impact of visitors is compiled by Tourism Economics and measures the number of visitors as well as their impact on Illinois’ economy during the calendar year.


The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) is picking up the cost for state residents to earn a State of Illinois High School Diploma (formerly high school equivalency certificate).

Over 1.2 million Illinoisans don’t have a high school diploma. The state grant funding can be used in the form of discount codes to take the tests free of charge.

“People that earn a high school diploma make $600 more a month on average so taking these tests and earning that diploma is a big deal. It can lead to better lives for thousands of Illinoisans and we want to remove as many barriers as possible,” said ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham.

To educate the public, the ICCB has launched a digital campaign to spread the word about the critical grant funding available to take the test for free using the discount code ILSAVE.

Interested residents can go to FREEGEDIL.ORG to access the testing site, use the code and take the test.

* This was in the morning roundup

A state representative has launched a petition drive to demonstrate the level of support for Illinois’ Invest in Kids scholarship program, which is in danger of being phased out.

State Rep. Randy Frese, R-Paloma started the petition drive to show Democrat leadership in the General Assembly there is grassroots support for the state-backed scholarship program for children who attend non-public schools and technical academies.

So far, just 13 people have signed.


* ABATE of Illinois…

TESLA has announced the expansion of testing their experimental full-service autonomous driving technology on public roadways into 14 additional cities including Elgin, Illinois. They announced new positions for drivers to collect data from the use of their autopilot and full-service driving systems. This technology was the subject of a blockbuster Washington Post Report that revealed TESLA’s full-service driving & autopilot driving systems have killed more drivers than previously disclosed. This included four motorcyclists, three of whom were run over at highway speeds by TESLA vehicles using these driving modes.

The specific threat posed to bikers by Tesla vehicles was recently recognized by former NHTSA Senior Safety Advisor Missy Cummings who stated, “It’s very dangerous for motorcycles to be around Teslas”. Missy continues to be active in the autonomous vehicle field as a professor at George Mason University’s College of Engineering & Computing.

“Despite the documented dangers to motorcyclists and the driving public, Tesla continues to push forward with the irresponsible and hazardous testing of their vehicles on public roadways.” Said Bob Ellinger, State Coordinator of ABATE of Illinois. “ABATE of Illinois has been a leader in talking about the dangers of Tesla vehicles in Illinois and nationwide. We will continue to fight against technology on the road that has shown to be fatal to riders.”

In addition to being dangerous to bikers and motorists, Tesla autonomous systems are under investigation for 16 different crashes into first responder vehicles including one fatality. The initial investigation was for 10 collisions, and 6 additional collisions were found during that investigation.

“While Congress removed any reference to Autonomous Vehicles in recently passed Highway Bills, there were several bills filed this year to deal with the responsible regulation of these vehicles here in Illinois.” According to Josh Witkowski, State Legislative Coordinator & Lobbyist for ABATE of Illinois. “Our lives are not a field test for autonomous vehicles like Tesla, and Illinois must step up to lead in responsible regulation and development of autonomous technology. There was talk of a serious autonomous vehicles working group during session. Now is the time to make that happen.”

A recent AAA study found that only 9% of Americans “trust” self driving vehicles and 68% are “afraid” of it. This is an increase in the level of distrust of autonomous vehicles since the AAA started tracking surveys on the issue. ABATE believes that this increased level of distrust is directly due to increased fatalities caused by Tesla’s haphazard deployment of testing their dangerous technologies. This increased distrust is harmful to those companies who want to responsibly develop autonomous technology in Illinois.

Therefore, in an effort to protect the motorcyclists of Illinois and encourage responsible development of autonomous technology in Illinois, ABATE of Illinois is calling on the Governor and legislative leaders to convene an Autonomous Vehicle Working Group to develop legislation that will both protect the public and help keep Illinois a leader in developing the next generation of transportation technologies. This group should have representatives from the manufacturing and industry sectors, transportation safety advocates and professionals, and transportation advocacy groups representing all modes of transportation and road users.

* Isabel’s roundup…


  1. - NIU Grad - Monday, Jul 10, 23 @ 2:41 pm:

    I think House Republican staff will be now try and remove that feature showing the number of signatories…

  2. - JS Mill - Monday, Jul 10, 23 @ 2:46 pm:

    =State Rep. Randy Frese, R-Paloma started the petition drive to show Democrat leadership in the General Assembly there is grassroots support=

    =So far, just 13 people have signed.=

    Is this the ilgop equivalent to “we’re streaking the quad”, lol.

    Thanks. “Randy”.

  3. - very old soil - Monday, Jul 10, 23 @ 2:54 pm:

    13? Isn’t that about the number of Republicans in the House?

  4. - Proud Papa Bear - Monday, Jul 10, 23 @ 3:26 pm:

    Speaking of marijuana, as I drive through Michigan, I was surprised at the number of billboards for dispensaries. I looked it up. They have more than four times the licenses as Illinois.

  5. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Jul 10, 23 @ 3:37 pm:

    I really do not understand why environmentalist, alder people, block clubs and or civil rights organizations are not screaming about lead pipes and lead in water. The damage it is probably doing to children cannot be reversed. Where is Durbin can’t he get anything done

  6. - Been There - Monday, Jul 10, 23 @ 4:51 pm:

    ==== State hotel revenue collections are provided by the Illinois Department of Revenue. The figure represents all of Illinois’ hotels, motels, and lodging establishment’s taxable revenue====
    This isn’t worded correctly. They must have an aversion to saying tax revenues. I am pretty sure the numbers shown are not the total of all hotel taxable income. I believe it’s the tax collected. Big difference. But either way that’s great to hear how well the industry is doing. Lots of jobs there.

  7. - drifter182 - Monday, Jul 10, 23 @ 6:04 pm:

    RE: WJBC article. Eric Sorensen is a Democrat from Moline, not a Republican from Rockford. Not sure how they got it that wrong.

  8. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Jul 10, 23 @ 7:26 pm:

    “demonstrate the level of support for Illinois’ Invest in Kids scholarship program”

    Well, he succeeded.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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