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Isabel’s afternoon roundup

Wednesday, May 1, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Bolts Mag

Many of the same advocates who successfully pushed for the state to abolish cash bail last year are now hoping to build on that reform with The Pretrial Success Act, a bill filed this legislative session that would direct $15 million to community organizations around the state to provide voluntary services to people awaiting trial. The legislation would offer grants of up to $500,000 for these organizations to develop and scale up programs that offer everything from clinical behavioral and health services to transportation, child care, and case management for people on pretrial release in accordance with their needs, in order to improve their odds of success. […]

The bill, introduced in February by State Senator Elgie Sims and State Representative Maurice West, has been widely supported by social service agencies across the state. Supporters say that it builds on prior Illinois grant programs aimed at improving public safety using community investment—such as the 2021 Reimagine Public Safety Act that established a public health approach to gun violence prevention and the Restore, Reinvest, Renew program launched in 2019 that directs a portion of cannabis tax revenue into disinvested communities. This year’s Pretrial Success Act would be the first to specifically target services for pretrial defendants released from jail. The bill is currently being debated in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the House Public Safety Committee.

[Rebecca Levin, Vice President of Policy at Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities], whose organization was a key partner in drafting reforms to strengthen services for people released from jail, says the bill is built on a belief that mental health and substance use problems should not be addressed through the criminal legal system. Incarceration has historically been used as a catchall solution for addiction and mental illness, even though incarcerated people rarely receive the necessary care for those conditions, compounding behavioral health problems and magnifying the risk of overdose and suicide after release, Levin said.

“The behavioral health issues and violence have the same root cause, and it’s really the cycle of trauma,” Levin said. “Folks who are traumatized often look to cope through substance use. Folks who are traumatized may experience mental illness. Investing in these behavioral services is about interrupting this cycle of violence and trauma.”

* Sen. Lakesia Collins…

State Senator Lakesia Collins and State Representative Yolonda Morris presented legislation at a press conference Wednesday to help protect Illinoisans’ data and create jobs by providing incentives to locate data centers in low-income areas. […]

Several major hospitals in Illinois have suffered cybersecurity attacks in recent years – including Lurie Children’s Hospital and St. Anthony’s Hospital. Both Collins and Morris have worked for years in the health care industry serving patients and those who are vulnerable, leading them to introduce the Keep Illinois Data in Illinois tax credit legislation to strengthen health care and cybersecurity infrastructure while helping minority business owners develop data storage facilities. […]

In 2021, Collins and Morris helped to pass a data center tax credit law to offer an additional 5% credit for minority- and women-owned companies that are invested in traditionally disinvested areas. According to reports commissioned by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, the 13 Chicago-area data center projects approved since 2020 have created more than 8,000 jobs for construction workers and $4.2 billion of direct investment into Chicago-area communities.

This past February, several data center experts testified in front of the Economic, Capital, and Technology Development Committee of the Chicago City Council to discuss the tax revenue from data centers in other states, highlight the benefits to storing Illinois data within the state and discuss how that could impact revenue for communities.

“The average data center creates 50 or more new full-time high-paying jobs. Each individual data center also employs more than at least 3,000 people across numerous industries to design, build, and deliver the facility,” said Ross Litkenhous, a data center expert and the vice chair of Falls Church Economic Development. “On average, data centers generate $15 in direct local tax revenue for every $1 in public service costs. Other commercial real estate projects average 3-to-1.”

Collins and Morris are continuing to work with advocates on Senate Bill 3939 in the final weeks of the spring legislative session.

* Sen. Seth Lewis…

Just days after representatives of the Chicago Bears unveiled a multi-billion-dollar plan for a new lakefront stadium in Chicago, State Senator Seth Lewis (R-Bartlett), Minority Spokesperson for the Senate Appropriations- Public Safety & Infrastructure Committee, asked some pointed questions of leaders of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA) when they appeared before the committee with their budget request for Fiscal Year 2025 on Tuesday. Appearing on behalf of the ISFA were Chief Executive Officer Frank Bilecki, Chief Financial Officer Dana Phillips Goodum, and General Council Maria Saldaña.

“The rumor mill has been running wild since last week’s new stadium proposal announcement, and I felt we needed to separate fact from fiction,” said Lewis. “First and foremost, people need to understand that the Sports Facilities Authority does not have the ability to just build a new stadium. The Authority can only carry out the conditions set forth in legislation approved by the General Assembly, and at this time there is no such legislation before us.”

At the hearing, Bilecki explained that the ISFA’s responsibilities are limited to the payment of debt service obligations to bond holders for Guaranteed Rate Field and Soldier Field, to provide for the safety and structural integrity and character of Guaranteed Rate Field and the surrounding property, and to provide financial assistance to the Chicago Park District for the maintenance and capital improvements to Soldier Field. He also explained that the debt for these sports facilities is structured for repayment largely through a percentage of the Chicago hotel tax and the statewide hotel tax. […]

Bilecki said LGDF funds have been used to subsidize bond payments in recent years and will likely be needed in amounts that could total up to $20 million per year through the end of the bond repayment schedule in 2033.

The total ISFA budget request for Fiscal year 2025 was $80.275 million.

* A good point from yesterday’s transit consolidation react



*** Statewide ***

* BND | A day after lawsuit filed over state rep’s Facebook page, ‘critical comments’ are restored: Rep. Charlie Meier, a Republican from Okawville who represents the 109th House District in the metro-east, declined to comment Tuesday on the lawsuit and the status of the comments on his Facebook post from mid-April. Tom DeVore, the attorney who represents the four plaintiffs, said Tuesday he would be interested in reaching a settlement of the lawsuit after seeing all of the comments had been restored to Meier’s page.

* IL Corn Growers Association | New GREET Model Will Limit Availability of Cleaner Jet Fuel in the Short Term: Illinois corn farmers are very concerned by the announcement from the U.S. Department of Treasury (USDOT) limiting corn-based ethanol’s contribution to the decarbonization of the aviation sector. Yesterday’s update to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne GREET model now pushes farmers to implement a bundle of three additional on-farm conservation practices – cover cropping, minimized tillage, and nitrogen management – for their corn to qualify to make ethanol for the Sustainable Aviation Fuel market and access the tax credits available in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA credit requires a total 50 percent reduction in GHG emissions. Today’s announcement significantly limits farmers’ options for reaching emission targets through the end of the year. New guidance and a rulemaking process will occur for SAF tax credits effective January 1, 2025.

* Crain’s | Your tax refund and other state checks could start arriving late, Mendoza warns: Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is challenging the U.S. Postal Service as it considers condensing one of its processing centers in Springfield, demanding proof that the move would not result in delays for residents getting checks in the mail. “It (is) our understanding that the proposal would require such mail first to be transported to a distribution center in St. Louis, Mo., which is 100 miles south, then to be redirected to recipients living in the Chicago area some 300 miles north,” Mendoza said in a letter addressed to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. “Likewise, I have the same concern if the distribution center is in the Chicago area when state payments are to be redirected to downstate Illinois.”

* Sun-Times | Grocery benefits to cover loss of school meals will be available to Illinois families this summer: Illinois families with school-aged children may be eligible for a new program over the summer break that aims to replace free school meals. Participating families will receive a one-time grocery debit card loaded with $120 per child for the summer months thanks to the federally funded Summer EBT program.

* WCIA | Deadline approaching for Illinois residents to get a REAL ID: One year from now, Illinois residents will be required to possess a REAL ID card to board flights and visit certain federal offices. After May 7th, 2025, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will no longer accept identification that does not meet the standards established in the REAL ID Act of 2005, which was passed in response to the 9/11 attacks.

* WCIA | Student-designed postcards available at this year’s IL State Fair: For the second year in a row, Springfield School District 186 and the Illinois State Fair teamed up to present students at Ridgely Elementary School an opportunity to design postcards for the State Fair. In their art classes, students designed postcards that captured their creative view of the State Fair, highlighting rides, food and more.

*** Chicago ***

* Sun-Times | New police stats give City Council ammo to support keeping ShotSpotter: In making the case to tie Mayor Brandon Johnson’s hands on canceling the ShotSpotter contract, City Council members have repeatedly cited faster response times and the number of gunshot detection alerts not accompanied by a 911 call. South and West side alderpersons representing the city’s most violent police districts have argued that Chicago police officers never would have known about those incidents without ShotSpotter.

* Tribune | Who is DCASE’s new commissioner? A few questions for Clinée Hedspeth: In March, Johnson announced former art appraiser and curator Clinée Hedspeth as Harkey’s successor. Hedspeth has known Johnson for 20 years; they both got their start in politics working together in the offices of Oak Park representatives Don Harmon and Deborah L. Graham. She later worked for Johnson as his legislative director from 2018 to 2021, when he was Cook County commissioner.

*** Cook County and Suburbs ***

* Daily Southtown | Homer Township Republican committeeperson race to be decided by lot following judge’s order: A Will County judge ruled in favor of Homer Township Supervisor Steve Balich’s request to get a ballot for his opponent tossed out, which results in a tie for the position of Republican precinct committeeperson that will be decided by lot. Judge John Anderson wrote in his opinion that one ballot cast for Homer Glen resident Tami O’Brien was not initialed by an election judge and could not be counted. A handful of ballots that were initialed in the wrong spot were not considered in this case and were counted.

*** Downstate ***

* SJ-R | Staffer: Springfield school district’s Lawrence Education Center is closing: A Springfield District 186 program that caters to adults seeking a high school diploma and other workforce services is shutting its doors after the school year. Staff members at Lawrence Education Center were informed about the decision from LEC administration last week. Lawrence Education Center’s workplace coordinator Alex Rockford went public with the announcement at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting.

*** National ***

* Rolling Stone | Louisiana Lawmakers Move to Criminalize Possession of Abortion Pills: State Sen. Thomas Pressly (R) filed Senate Bill 276 in honor of his sister, whose husband slipped abortion medication in her drink without her consent. The House Criminal Justice Committee heard multiple bills regarding abortion Tuesday, and there was not much buzz surrounding this particular one, until Pressly submitted the set of amendments that would classify the abortion medications mifepristone and misoprostol as Schedule IV controlled substances under Louisiana law. […] The doctor says she had been texting with colleagues throughout the day, and they are all in “complete shock” about the amendment. “This was not on anyone’s radar at all — it feels very sneaky,” she adds. “Your husband should not slip you abortion pills without you knowing it; that story is terrible. But linking that with this is totally backwards.”

* Reuters | US Bird Flu Outbreak Spreads to Chickens, Cattle, Raises Concerns Over Human Infections: The outbreak of H5N1 bird flu virus has spread to dairy cows for the first time in the United States, raising concerns about it spreading to humans through the nation’s milk supply. Since 2022, bird flu in the United States has infected over 90 million chickens, more than 9,000 wild birds, 34 dairy herds, one person in Texas who came in close contact with infected cattle and another after exposure to poultry.

       

3 Comments
  1. - Anon221 - Wednesday, May 1, 24 @ 4:27 pm:

    There are other issues that states are starting to have to grapple with when it comes to siting data centers- https://tinyurl.com/3num6jca


  2. - very old soil - Wednesday, May 1, 24 @ 5:24 pm:

    I think that they should be required to bring their own carbon-neutral energy supply


  3. - Give Us Barabbas - Wednesday, May 1, 24 @ 8:28 pm:

    Sad to see the Lawrence adult learning center close. You know it’s not because there’s nobody left to teach, right?


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