Rep. Swanson’s September 8 Capitol News Update


  • Highway dedicated in honor of Deputy Weist
  • McDonough, Mercer added to drought declaration
  • Illinois’ unemployment report
  • Illinois leads nation in tornado reports this year

Highway dedicated in honor of Deputy Nick Weist

In a solemn ceremony attended by family, law enforcement and community members outside AlWood elementary school, a section of U.S. Highway 150 was dedicated in honor of Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Weist. Deputy Weist gave his life in the line of duty last April.

The General Assembly adopted a resolution designating the highway for Deputy Weist to honor his sacrifice in potentially saving the lives of countless students at AlWood Elementary who would have been crossing the road at the same time that a high-speed chase was nearing the area.

The dedication of this highway in Deputy Weist’s honor is a way of keeping his memory alive and ensuring that everyone who passes through this area knows of his heroism and the courage and sacrifice that law enforcement officers make for us each and every day.

McDonough and Mercer Counties added to drought emergency declaration

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added McDonough and Mercer counties to its list of almost three dozen Illinois counties where farmers may qualify for emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency due to the drought affecting this year’s growing season. Knox and Warren counties had already been included in a previous disaster declaration.

Under USDA rules, producers in contiguous counties qualify for the same assistance, meaning that Henry and Rock Island County farmers could be eligible as well.

To begin the process, producers should file a notice of loss with their local USDA service center.

Latest unemployment report shows progress in Illinois

Each month the Illinois Department of Employment Security releases statistics on the state’s unemployment condition. Lately those figures have been a mixed bag: they show the employment situation improving, but not as quickly as in our neighboring states.

In July, Illinois added 11,200 jobs compared with June. Over the previous year, the number of jobs in the state went up by 89,700. This gives Illinois an unemployment rate of 4.5%. There is reason to celebrate as the jobs picture improves, but there is also reason for frustration as our improvement continues to be slowed by less-friendly job-creation policies in Illinois as compared to our neighbors.

Nationwide, unemployment stands at 3.5%, a full percentage point better than Illinois. Across the river in Iowa, unemployment is only 2.7%, the same as in Missouri. Up in Wisconsin it is 2.6%. These states and others around the country are home to job-friendly tax and regulatory policies which make them more attractive to job creators than Illinois. Until our job creation climate improves, we will continue to lag behind.

Illinois could be #1 in the nation for tornadoes this year

We have seen our share of severe weather in northwestern Illinois this year, and meteorologists have indicated that we might have actually gotten more than our share. As of the end of August, Illinois had been the site of 132 preliminary tornado reports this year.

A scientist at Northern Illinois University reports that this places Illinois at number one in the nation for tornado reports this year. But it is also important to note that not every preliminary tornado report results in an actual confirmed tornado.

To help Illinoisans protect themselves from severe weather, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency publishes a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide.

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