- Spring session starts slowly
- Illinois slides down “Best States” list
- Changes coming to “skip the line” program
- More news
Slow start to 2024 spring session
The General Assembly was back in Springfield this week to kick off the spring legislative session. As expected, there was very little action on the House floor in the opening days. Members are still drafting and filing bills ahead of the February 9 deadline for new legislation. House committees will then have several weeks to review and amend bills before they begin arriving on the House floor.
Despite the slow start, this is likely to be a busy legislative session. We will have to pass a budget for the fiscal year which begins on July 1. We will also have to address issues of public safety, ethics reform and many other concerns. You can see the bills which I am sponsoring and co-sponsoring by clicking here.
We are adjourned until February 6 to give legislators time to file their bills and review those filed by other members. Governor Pritzker will deliver his State of the State address in the House chamber on Wednesday, February 21.
Illinois slides down “Best States” list
U.S. News and World Report each year compiles its list of the best states in the country, and Illinois has moved in the wrong direction.
The newsmagazine ranks the states on a number of different quality of life criteria such as infrastructure, health care, economy, education and opportunity. While the state had some solid rankings, such as #12 in education, overall there was a decline for Illinois. At the end of 2023, Illinois fell six spots to rank #36 in the country.
Illinois received poor grades in four key areas: opportunity (35), natural environment (38), economy (39) and fiscal stability (50). It is within our power in the legislature to correct some of these poor showings by enacting legislation to attract those who wish to create jobs and opportunity and improve our economy. Better, smarter fiscal policies would be a big step toward bettering our low credit rating and getting us out of the cellar in terms of fiscal stability. Each of these should be priorities for the spring session.
Changes coming to Secretary of State’s “skip the line” program
We’ve all heard the jokes about waiting in line at the driver services facility. Back in September Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias introduced a system for Illinoisans to make appointments online for certain driver services in an effort to reduce wait times. But the program has suffered from a number of glitches, and now the Secretary’s office is making some changes to try to make things run smoother.
The program has been plagued by no-shows, sometimes affecting as many as 40 percent of appointments. One of the reforms will involve sending a reminder text message to appointment-holders. The Secretary’s office will also be rolling out a new online portal for making appointments and setting up a phone line for those who run into problems with the online services. Many other services will be made completely available online, so Giannoulias says many drivers license and license plate sticker renewals will not require an in-person visit to the driver services office.
Find out more from the Secretary of State by clicking here.