This week, the United States Department of Agriculture declared all 102 Counties in Illinois as disaster areas due to flooding that occurred during the spring and early summer. The declaration will allow Illinois farmers to apply for low-interest FSA loans to help them get through these tough times.
According to the USDA’s website: “Low-interest FSA emergency loans may be used to restore or replace essential property, cover production costs, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the family farming operation or refinance certain non-real estate operating debts.”
You can read more about the disaster declaration here:
Informational resources for farmers seeking federal assistance can be found here: https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/emergency-farm-loans/index
Mt. Vernon Senior Fair 2019 – Wednesday August 14th 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Next week, I will join State Senator Paul Schimpf to host a FREE senior citizens health and wellness fair in Mt. Vernon. Details are in the picture below!
Support County and State Fairs!
As the summer winds to a close, there are still plenty of opportunities to support Illinois’ agricultural community by vising a county or State Fair in your area.
I want to express my thanks and appreciation to the many dedicated public servants and volunteers that make the Fair season in Southern Illinois what it is. Untold and uncounted hours of planning, preparation, and execution go in to putting on a successful county fair. I also want to recognize the hard work of the 4H as agricultural products, art projects, and animal presentations are placed on display and auction for fairgoers.
Here’s a look at some upcoming opportunities for you to support your local, county, and State Fairs.
State Fair Springfield – August 8th – August 19th –
Visit https://www2.illinois.gov/statefair/Pages/default.aspx for more information.
Union County Fair – August 16th – August 24th –
DuQuoin State Fair – August 23rd – September 2nd –
You can find the entire Illinois County Fair schedule here: https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/agr/Fairs/CountyFairs/Pages/County-Fair-Schedule.aspx
Higher Education Committee Hearing – Seeking Answers on College Financial Aid Cheating
A joint hearing of the House Higher Education and Higher Education Appropriations Committees was held in Chicago on Thursday this week. The purpose of the hearing was to delve into details involving a recent report by Pro-Publica Illinois regarding affluent families giving up legal guardianship of their children to relatives, and then having that student apply for financial aid on their own financial merits.
As I have stated in this space in the past couple of weeks, I would like to see the Illinois legislature take action to protect our student loan and financial aid program. As a member of the Higher Ed and Higher Ed Appropriations Committees, I am obligated to protect and defend Illinois’ institutions of higher education against abuses like these. What we are talking about here is parents are fraudulently giving up guardianship of their children to a relative, and then allowing that 18-year-old student to apply for financial aid using their own financial backgrounds. This kind of fraud is reprehensible on many levels, not the least of which is that it teaches a horrible lesson to impressionable young people about how to get ahead.
There will be more hearings to come in the future, and I will keep you up to date on the House’s efforts to combat this fraud and end the abuse of our financial aid system.
SIU Carbondale Nursing Program Approved by Illinois Board of Higher Education
The Illinois Board of Higher Education had some great news for SIU this week, as approval was given for the SIU-C campus to offer degrees in nursing.
The approval for this program has been a long time coming. Much time and energy has been expended seeing it to fruition. This program will help to fill the need for nurses in rural Southern Illinois. I want to offer my most sincere thanks to everyone that contributed to making this program a reality: The late SIU-C Chancellor Carlo Montemagno, Chancellor John Dunn, Provost Meera Komarraju, Board of Trustees Chairman Phil Gilbert, Rex Budde, the members of the Board of Higher Ed. and Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz.
You can read news and reaction from The Southern Illinoisan at the links below:
Southern Illinois Special Olympics Needs Volunteers for Fall Bowling Tournament
Special Olympics Illinois is currently looking for volunteers to assist with its Fall Bowling Tournament at SI Bowl in Carterville IL on Monday August 12th, Wednesday August 14th, and Friday August 16th. Volunteers are needed to assist our athletes on the lanes, hand out awards, and assist with the distribution of lunch.
All volunteers will receive a Volunteer T-Shirt and Lunch. A short volunteer training will be held at 9:15am. Opening Ceremonies will begin at 9:30 and competition will begin at 10:00am. More info can be found here:
Illinois House Republican Caucus Blog Features Story on “Seizure Smart Schools” Act
Thank you to the Illinois House Republican Caucus Blog for sharing details on the recently signed “Seizure Smart Schools” Act that I sponsored in the House.
You can read an in-depth review of the new law by clicking here: https://www.thecaucusblog.com/2019/08/seizure-smart-school-act-helps-protect.html?fbclid=IwAR2_CYDLiAUFusRKKFXV-j2rrNCmofcX6tS6JiqIi9nnjxHIOunug7Yg0E8
State Parks and Recreation Areas begin to Tackle Deferred Maintenance
Capitol infrastructure at Illinois state parks, including heavily-used, sensitive resources such as swimming pools and family-picnic kiosks, have been neglected due to recent budget stalemates and cuts in funding. Appropriation moneys, enacted by the General Assembly in the FY20 budget, are starting to move towards essential Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) projects. Visitors to state parks are starting to see work crews repairing weary, concrete-cracked parking lots and replacing splintered picnic tables.
If you have any questions, concerns, or if you wish to provide your input on pending legislative matters, please do not hesitate to contact my office in Murphysboro at 618.684.1100 or Mt. Vernon at 618.242.8115.