Demmer’s Dispatch: July 15, 2019

Demmer to Host Mobile Office Hours on July 16 in Sandwich

The 90th District is quite large. It spans about 75 miles east to west, about 50 miles north to south, and includes 32 different municipalities. In an effort to improve access for all residents in the district, my office is continuing a mobile office hours tour this week with a Tuesday, July 16 event at Fox Valley Older Adult Services in Sandwich. The mobile office hours will take place from 11:15AM until 12:15PM, and the facility is located at 1406 Suydam Road. A member of my staff will be available during the event to talk about the services available through my legislative office, and provide assistance to residents having issues with state agencies or programs. The event is open to the public and no appointment is necessary. Mobile office hours are held at least once each month throughout the 90th District. Future events are posted on my web site at tomdemmer.org. 

Work to Rebuild Illinois Infrastructure Underway

“Horizontal infrastructure” includes roads, bridges, railroad expenditures such as safety barriers, and docks and ports for river barges. As a result of the new Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan, extensive work is beginning this summer on what will be the multi-year work of repairing and expanding Illinois’s concrete infrastructure. Illinois’ location, close to the population center of the U.S. and our nation’s center of economic activity, creates hundreds of thousands of Illinois jobs. This location, however, also creates substantial wear and tear on Illinois roads and bridges. 

The Illinois Department of Transportation has prepared an expandable online chart of major Illinois road and bridge closings, including projected dates for each project to be completed. State and local police stand ready to enforce safety rules, including speed limits, in and around Illinois road work projects. Work zone safety, including the life and health of Illinois’ tens of thousands of road construction workers, is one of our State’s highest priorities.

Crop Reporting Deadline Extended
Farmers have been given until today, July 15, to report which fields they had been actively prevented from planting. The decision was announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which coordinates relationships between farmers and crop insurers. Some farmers have “prevented planting” policies that give them standing to file crop-insurance claims for fields in which weather conditions made it impossible for them to plant.      

The filing deadline extension came as wet conditions continued to affect Illinois corn and soybean fields. In June 2019, Downstate Illinois counties averaged five inches of rainfall, well above average and a burden upon already-saturated farm fields. Most Illinois fields have been planted, but crop progress is well behind average. While Illinois corn silking was at 71% at this point in July 2018, this year’s corn silking rate is 4% as late-planted sprouts struggle to pull up out of the mud.

Rep. Tom Demmer Renews Call for Fair Maps; Offers Petition to End Gerrymandering

In a true democracy, voters choose their elected officials. But today’s partisan map-drawing process allows majority party lawmakers to draw their own maps and choose their voters to protect themselves and solidify control. This process, known as “gerrymandering,” stifles democracy and undermines our representative form of government.

In response to a recent Supreme Court decision that it will not hear cases involving gerrymandered political maps, I’m renewing my call for fair maps and encouraging all who support an independent map-drawing process to sign this petition. The high court’s decision makes it more important than ever for legislators and citizens to work together to end gerrymandering and restore the integrity of the election process. I am a co-sponsor of HJRCA10, which would amend the Legislature Article of the Illinois Constitution by removing the mapping process from the hands of politicians and establishing an independent, non-partisan commission to draw fair maps after each 10-year Census. By signing the petition, you are sending a message that voters should choose their elected officials and not the other way around.

State to Expand Work on Medicaid Backlog
About 100,000 patients have applied for Illinois Medicaid status and have not yet received it. Many Medicaid applications are filed by senior citizens and their loved ones as part of the process of transitioning into life in group care. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) are responsible for large chunks of this application backlog. The State now says they will hire more than 300 paperwork specialists to speed up work on the backlog. 

Medicaid is one of Illinois’ largest taxpayer-funded programs  Nearly three million Illinois residents, almost one-quarter of the State’s total population, are eligible for Medicaid. Federal matching funds cover some (but not all) of this Medicaid expense, and efforts to speed up the eligibility process could lead to flows of federal money with positive effects on the State’s budget. 

Push to Expand Number of Children Vaccinated for Measles, Allied Diseases
The measles outbreaks of 2018-2019 are leading to expanded efforts by public health professionals to universalize the practice of vaccinating all children for highly contagious, preventable viral diseases such as measles. From January 1 through July 3, 2019, 1,109 individual cases of measles have been diagnosed and confirmed in 28 separate U.S. states, including Illinois. 

This number has shocked many doctors and teachers who thought that, because of the measles vaccine, American schools were safe places for children to learn and play. The count of measles cases is moving back towards levels not seen since the first vaccination drive starting in 1966. Prior to the invention of the measles vaccine, each year saw an average 48,000 cases of U.S. measles hospitalization and 400 to 500 U.S. measles deaths. Public health professionals strongly support measles vaccinations.

House of Representatives Welcomes Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens as Newest Legislator
At a public meeting on June 29, local, city and suburban leaders across the 20th legislative district unanimously selected Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens to serve as their state representative. On June 17th, longtime State Representative Michael McAuliffe announced his resignation, initiating a process set by state law that requires the appointment of a successor within thirty days to fill out the remainder of the term. State Representative Brad Stephens was surrounded by his family, friends and supporters and was sworn into office by former Democratic state senator now Cook County Judge John Mulroe.  

As Rosemont’s Mayor for the last dozen years, Stephens’ track record of fiscal responsibility and economic development has resulted in balanced budgets, and fully funded pension funds. Under his leadership, Rosemont has become an economic development engine and destination for tourism and hundreds of businesses both large and small. Rosemont is also well known for delivering top-flight municipal services and great schools all while returning property tax dollars to homeowners every year. I look forward to working with Representative Stephens.