Update from Senator Bennett: Nov. 17

New report shows record investigations into state agencies

A historically high number of complaints were reported in the annual Executive Inspector General’s report for Fiscal Year 2023. The 66-page report, found here, reveals that 3,078 complaints were filed and 450 investigations were opened based on the information received by the OEIG.

The Office of the Executive Inspector General oversees public agencies and officials holding jurisdiction over state agencies such as the state’s department of corrections, transportation, and human services. It also oversees nearly 300 state boards and commissions along with nine public universities.

Of the 3,078 complaints filed, 450 investigations were opened during FY 23, with the OEIG issuing 147 founded reports of wrongdoing. Troublesome reports ranged from fraudulent conduct, unprofessional conduct and failing to act with integrity, mismanagement, improper reporting, hiring-related improprieties, misuse of state time and resources, and conflicts of interest and distributing confidential information.

Some of the specific reports of wrongdoing include: a human services caseworker who used a link card of an incarcerated individual for 13 months, sexual misconduct within the department of corrections, falsification of education on employment application, improper hiring of family members, and conducting political activities while on state time.

Senator Bennett says this scathing report is another example of the ongoing issues within the Pritzker Administration. He noted that this report followed several scathing audits of agencies under the governor’s control, including an Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) audit detailing over $5 billion in improper payments made during the pandemic, along with continued issues with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and recent news reports of major personnel issues at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).

Legislation restoring some local control over green energy projects passes during veto session

Lawmakers were able to restore some protections for farmers and landowners which were recently stripped away in a controversial law backed by the Governor that took control of wind and solar farms from local governments.

Senate Bill 1699, supported by the members of the Senate Republican Caucus, would protect farmers and landowners by requiring wind and solar developers to plan for and repair or pay for agricultural crop losses, damage to subsurface drainage systems, as well as requiring them to repair or pay for the restoration of surface drainage caused by construction and deconstruction of wind and solar facilities.

The legislation, which passed unanimously in both chambers, will also require a study on the potential impact of proposals on the stability and reliability of the state’s electrical grid. The legislation also makes a technical change allowing the Adjustable Block Program to include at least 15% renewable generation on public school land rather than just public schools, which could help schools that want to invest in solar or wind projects to save money on utilities.

Senator Bennett says this bill was desperately needed to undo some of the damage that has been done because of the Governor’s green energy push. He says this legislation is a positive step in the right direction, but that he continues to advocate for restoring local control over wind and solar projects.

Submissions needed for Illinois Veterans History Project

The Illinois Veterans History Project, developed as part of an effort by the Library of Congress and the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, needs your help to ensure our veterans are not forgotten.

The project is a statewide initiative which seeks to collect, preserve and make accessible first-hand recollections of veterans who served in the five military branches.  

Illinois military veterans and their families are being asked to submit their stories, photos, and mementos to be put on display at www.idaillinois.org.

Submissions can be searched by name, war, and hometown of the veterans who submitted materials. So far the collection contains more than 6,700 records.

To submit an entry, visit www.ilsos.gov/veteranshistoryproject and complete an Illinois Patriot Information Form to the Illinois State Library. Completed forms can be submitted electronically to ilvhp@ilsos.gov or by mail to the Illinois State Library, 300 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 62701−1796. 

Senator Bennett also wants to remind people that the Senate Republican Caucus’ Veterans Memorial Wall is still on display in the State Capitol in Springfield through November 27th.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,820,363,200.27 to  state vendors, including 35,358 pending vouchers. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $139 billion. At the same time last year, the state’s accounts payable stood at a little less than $2 billion.

Did You Know?

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, and the Illinois State Fire Marshals Office is offering tips for a safe holiday dinner.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking fires happen most often on Thanksgiving. Each year from 2017 to 2019, an estimated average of 2,300 residential building fires were reported to fire departments across the country on Thanksgiving Day.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing food, not just during the holiday season but all year.

  • Never leave food that you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling unattended! If you leave the kitchen, even for a short amount of time, turn off the stove.
  • Frying a turkey has become more popular in recent years.
    • Make sure to not overfill oil in the fryer. Fill the pot you plan to use to fry the turkey with water and place the turkey in. This will help to determine how much oil is needed without causing oil to spill out when you are ready to fry, which could lead to a fire (Make sure you empty the water and dry the turkey before putting in the fryer).
    • Use the turkey fryer outdoors ONLY!
    • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying.
    • Use long cooking gloves that protect hands and arms when you handle the pot!
  • Create a “Kid Free Zone” of at least three feet around the stove or anywhere you are preparing hot food or drinks.
  • Keep the area around the stove clear of towels, papers, potholders, or anything that can burn.
  • Smother small flames in a pan by sliding a lid over the pan. Turn off the burner and leave the lid over the pan while it cools.
  • If you have any doubt about fighting a small fire, just get out! Call 9-1-1 or your emergency number from outside the home.

This Week in the 53rd District

State Senator Tom Bennett – Working full-time to represent you

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