In light of ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus/COVID-19 health crisis, Illinois’ Governor issued a disaster proclamation March 9 that will allow the state to access additional federal resources to combat the pandemic.
Also during the week, the 2020 census is officially under way, and residents are being encouraged to participate.
In other news, recently filed legislation could help veterans get a head start on their civilian careers. Meanwhile, tax season is here and programs are available to help eligible residents file their taxes.
Governor issues COVID-19 disaster proclamation
In response to the rapidly changing COVID-19 health issue, Illinois joins more than a dozen other states in issuing the emergency procedure to unlock additional federal resources and help the state prepare for the potential spread of the virus.
According to the Governor’s official release, a disaster proclamation will allow for the following:
- Allows federal reimbursement for state response costs.
- Allows use of State Disaster Relief Fund, covering direct state costs and reimbursements to Illinois National Guard and mutual aid groups.
- Allows use of the state’s mutual aid network, groups of public safety response professionals — including hundreds of healthcare providers and management professionals, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and disaster response professionals — who are available to deploy to areas of shortage.
- Authorizes the Governor to activate Illinois National Guard reservists, some of whom may be doctors and nurses.
- Allows expedited procurement should it be necessary.
- Authorizes additional executive authorities to protect public health and safety.
As of mid-morning on March 16, there are more than 90 cases of coronavirus confirmed in Illinois. Residents must continue to be proactive in efforts to avoid the spread of the virus within Illinois communities.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) has some useful tips to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Public Health has established a statewide COVID-19 hotline (1-800-889-3931) and website for questions or concerns.
What the census means for your community
With the census invitations beginning to hit mailboxes, you may be wondering what this snapshot of our nation is used for and how it can help our communities. In addition to determining your representation in Congress, census data is also used to direct federal resources to communities throughout America.
Every day, when you wake up and drive to work, you’re driving on roads or riding on public transit systems that were, in part, funded by federal dollars. When you drop off your kids at school, census results have helped determine how money is allocated to their school for the Head Start program, funded school lunch programs, and informed grants that support teachers and special education.
Participating in the 2020 census means helping to shape the future of your community. Every year, billions in federal funding is allocated to more than 100 programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), emergency services, senior services, veterans programs, and more. By participating in the census, you help ensure that your community receives its fair share of these vital resources.
Information about how to respond on-line is available at https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-online.html.
Senate advances veteran job training legislation
If you’re a member of the military stationed in Illinois, you could soon get a head-start on your civilian career thanks to legislation that recently advanced out of committee in the Senate.
Senate Bill 2925 aims to connect Skillbridge, a Department of Defense apprenticeship program designed to provide service members with civilian work experience, with Illinois-based employers. In the Skillbridge program, service members in their last 180 days of service are given the opportunity to gain civilian work experience in industry-specific training, apprenticeships, or internships.
The new legislation provides a tax credit for businesses that take part in the program, which incentivizes the businesses to connect with service members stationed in Illinois. On March 3, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee voted to advance the legislation for consideration to the full Senate.
Tax preparation available to residents
Senate Republicans are urging eligible taxpayers to utilize the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and AARP Tax-Aide programs when filing their 2019 income taxes.
With more than 300 locations across the state, working families or elderly taxpayers can meet with a certified volunteer who can help them file their state and federal returns accurately and on time.
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs offer free tax help for individuals making $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities, taxpayers who speak limited English and individuals 60 years of age or older.
The AARP’s Foundation Tax-Aide program focuses on helping low-to-moderate income individuals, with special attention to those older than 50. An AARP membership is not required.
Taxpayers can search for a free tax assistance provider nearest to them by visiting the Illinois Department of Revenue’s website.