Representative Dan Swanson’s April 5 Capitol News Update


  • 71st District students testify before House committees
  • Public safety working group offers proposals
  • Unemployment shows slight increase
  • Tax filing deadline is coming up

71st District students testify before House committees

Lauryn Russell, a homeschool senior from Mercer County, and ROWVA High School junior Lucy Kuelper testified about legislation pending before committees in the Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Lauryn spoke to the House Elementary and Secondary Education: School Curriculum and Policies Committee about House Bill 4274, legislation I sponsored concerning guidelines to be developed for schools if a nurse or other school personnel remove a tick from a student. She had previously spoken several times before House and Senate committees advocating for Lyme disease medical care, awareness and better treatment. HB 4274 passed the committee 14-0 and is now awaiting action on the House floor.

Later in the morning, Lucy addressed the House Transportation Vehicles and Safety Committee about House Bill 4711, which I am sponsoring to better educate motorists about Scott’s Law, the Illinois statute which requires drivers to move over or slow down when they see emergency vehicles with flashing lights on the roadside. Lucy founded the Move Over Project five years ago to spread awareness of the importance of slowing down and moving over to keep first responders safe on roadsides. Wednesday was her first appearance before an Illinois House committee. HB 4711 passed committee 10-0 and is on its way to the full House for further consideration.

I enjoyed having Lauryn and Lucy in Springfield. There is no substitute for a first-hand perspective when it comes to making the case for the merits of a bill. They both did an excellent job and really helped us to make progress on enacting these pieces of legislation.

Public safety working group offers proposals

Public safety has been on the minds of many Illinoisans in recent years as we have seen more and more crime throughout the state and the nation. House Republicans have put forward a series of bills to try and help address some of the challenges we are facing and to restore a sense of public safety to the state of Illinois.

The Truth in Public Safety working group consists of a group with law enforcement backgrounds, including a pair of police officers and a former state’s attorney who now serve in the Illinois House. Former last year, the working group has been talking with law enforcement and other in the public safety field and developing proposals for changes to Illinois law that would keep criminals behind bars, support victims of crime and provide backing for law enforcement.

This spring they rolled out their proposals. The bills they introduced would make improvements to many different aspects of the criminal justice system in Illinois. Some of their ideas are just common sense: like revoking the pre-trial release status of someone who is charged with another crime. Another change would give judges wider latitude to keep accused criminals in jail if they are charged with felonies. Others help address urgent needs that have become more clear in recent years, like setting up a co-responder model to have social workers respond to calls having to do with mental health or behavioral health situations.

These are just some of the needed reforms to Illinois’ criminal justice system. In the past few years Illinois has moved away from supporting law enforcement and locking up criminals. These bills would help restore public safety to our state.

Unemployment shows slight increase

Like the rest of the country Illinois saw a drop in unemployment in the months after the pandemic as thousands of people were able to return to work. But over the past year or so, Illinois’ recovery has slowed down while the rest of the country has continued to improve.

For a few months now Illinois’ unemployment rate has been hovering about a full percentage point above the national average. In February, Illinois’ rate went up by a tenth of a percentage point, to 4.8%. The Department of Employment Security also revised the January unemployment report to show that instead of creating 1700 jobs as initially reported, the state actually lost 900 jobs in January. In total, the Department reported 308,900 Illinoisans were unemployed in February.

One year ago Illinois’ unemployment rate was 4.3%. We continue to trail the rest of the country, which has an unemployment rate of 3.9%. The unemployment figures for Illinois in February were released on March 21.

Tax filing deadline is coming up

Time is running out to file your state and federal income tax returns. The filing deadline for Illinois taxpayers is Monday, April 15. Taxpayers can ask for a six-month extension, but if you believe you will owe money, that figure must be estimated and paid along with the extension form by the April 15 deadline to avoid penalties.

While millions of taxpayers use a fee-based service to assist with filing their state and federal tax returns, there are an estimated 100 million people who are eligible to utilize several services to file their returns for free. These services can have income and age restrictions; and include VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Preparation), which is provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Other ways to file taxes for free include, utilizing the IRS free file portal, and accessing the MilitaryOneSource portal for service members.

Find out more here.

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