Senate Week in Review: March 26-30

Joint Task Force Hearing

The Joint Senate/House Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment is continuing to meet as part of a comprehensive review of the legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment in the public and private sectors.

The group convened in Chicago on Tuesday, March 27, to discuss federal policy and legislation on sexual harassment as well as sexual harassment policy and legislation in other states.

The bipartisan group heard testimony from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Office of Legal Counsel, and the Congressional Office of Compliance. You can track the group’s progress at

Jobs reform legislation focuses on recidivism, blighted areas

Republican Senators are co-sponsoring jobs reform legislation that focuses on helping reduce the tendency of convicted criminals to commit another crime, and ensures neglected areas in communities receive honest advantages when it comes to tax increment finance (TIF) revenues. 

Senate Bill 2282 provides protection for employers, specifically negligent-hiring liability, when they employ an individual with a nonviolent, nonsexual criminal conviction. 

Senate Bill 2880 would restrict transferring TIF dollars from one TIF district to another, and puts more restrictions on when a blighted area of a community can be considered for tax increment financing. 

Both bills await hearings before Senate committees.

Dept. of Health Issues Warning About Synthetic Cannabinoids

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is warning people about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, after six people in northern Illinois who used synthetic cannabinoids suffered severe bleeding. All reported using synthetic cannabinoids, often called fake weed, K2, and spice.

Officials say synthetic cannabinoids are not one drug, but hundreds of different chemicals manufactured and sold. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they act on the same brain cell receptors as the main active ingredient in marijuana.  Synthetic cannabinoid products are unsafe. It is difficult to know what is in them or what your reaction to them will be. The health effects from using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and harmful—even life threatening.

IDPH continues to investigate these cases to try to identify a common product. Anyone who has a serious reaction to synthetic cannabinoids should call 911 or immediately go to the emergency room at their local hospital.

Reminder: Tax Filing Deadline is Fast Approaching

The deadline to file state and federal taxes is mere weeks away. Taxpayers can file their returns on or before Tuesday, April 17, for the 2017 tax filing year. 

Some common documents, records, or receipts you may need to help you file include:

  • a copy of your federal income tax return and schedules
  • copies of all W-2 and 1099 forms
  • tax returns you filed with other states
  • your property number and amount of property tax paid
  • receipts for qualified education or moving expenses
  • your routing and account number for direct deposit into checking or savings accounts

You can use MyTax Illinois to electronically file your original Individual Income Tax Return. If you haven’t already, you can start your IL-1040 online for free at

Illinois Vietnam Veteran Commemoration

On Thursday, March 29, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Illinois Bicentennial group celebrated our veterans and heroes by commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

The celebration is thanked and honored veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war, or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States, and to thank and honor the families of these veterans.

Each Vietnam Veteran received a Commemoration Pin during the ceremony and was recognized for the bravery they exhibited while serving our country. The event was held at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Illinois Bicentennial Volunteerism & Philanthropy Project

Organizers of the Illinois Bicentennial celebration are hoping to make 2018 a record year for volunteerism and community engagement. The group encourages all Illinois organizations and volunteers to make a similar commitment.

Illinois Bicentennial encourages volunteers to share in this Bicentennial initiative, engage in new volunteerism activities, and spread word about the Illinois Bicentennial Volunteerism & Philanthropy Project.

If you are an Illinoisan looking to help Illinoisans, search for volunteer opportunities near you, at:

Cream of the Crop – Photo Contest

As part of the Ag Invest program, the Illinois State Treasurer has launched the 2018 Cream of the Crop Photo Contest. The Treasurer invites youth from across the state, ages 8-18, to start submitting their most innovative, scenic snapshot that depicts their vision of agriculture in our state.

Contest winners will make their mark in the Midwest as they will be featured on the new marketing materials for the Ag Invest program.   

Apply here: photo contest application.

Senate Lawmakers Bound for Springfield

Senate Lawmakers return to Springfield on Tuesday, April 10. The upcoming weeks will likely be very busy as there are several deadlines in May and lawmakers anticipate to adjourn on Thursday, May 31, 2018.

Jil Tracy

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