Illinois State Representative Tom Bennett: Another Great County Fair Season

One of the best parts of summer in East Central Illinois is our county fairs – there’s nothing like it.

The food, the contests, the old (and new) friends, the shows, the games and the fun all combine to create a summer event like no other.

Our area has some of the best county fairs in the state, thanks in large part to some really great local organizers and volunteers who make them a success every year. It takes organization, work, flexibility and dedication.

Fair_Iroquois.jpgThank you also to the many exhibitors and participants in groups like 4-H and FFA and all those who make our county fairs so special.

Last weekend I was able to stop by the Livingston and Iroquois County Fairs. I appreciated the many great conversations about farming, ranching, harvesting, rain, livestock, and family.

Secretary of State extends expiration of driver’s license until December 1

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office has announced that expiration dates for Illinois driver licenses and ID cards have been extended through December 1. The expiration date was previously set for July 31, but now licenses and identification cards, as well as learner’s permits, will remain valid until December 1.

SOS_Extension.jpgThe SOS also continues to encourage Illinoisans to take advantage of the online options offered by their office, not only to renew licenses and ID cards, but also for services such as purchasing license plate stickers or obtaining duplicate licenses. Some services must be completed in person, such as first-time driver’s license applications, REAL ID cards, and renewals for drivers 75 and older.

You can find more information from the Secretary of State at

Unemployment debt may have to be paid with a job tax increase

During the pandemic, Illinois, like many other states, borrowed money from the federal government to pay for the large number of unemployment claims that were suddenly filed. But unlike most of those states, Illinois did not repay the loan, even though the state had the funds to do so. This spring’s state budget made a partial payment, but left $1.8 billion unpaid, with no plan in place for how to pay it back.

If the state doesn’t repay the full amount it owes to the federal Unemployment Insurance trust fund, it could be forced to make up the difference by raising taxes on employers and cutting benefits for the unemployed. Now that Illinois missed its full payment deadline, the debt is accumulating interest, which will only make it harder to pay.

Illinois could have paid this debt in full and spared Illinoisans the possibility of higher taxes on jobs, but instead the budget prioritized other spending projects. Now this mounting debt remains and we haven’t heard any plans for how the state will eventually pay it off.

DNR reminds hunters of late summer hunting opportunities

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced the dates for late-summer hunting seasons throughout the state. Anyone in need of an Illinois hunting license can click here for a list of participating providers.

The first of these late-summer (squirrel) seasons begins August 1 and runs through February 15, with closures during gun deer season in the late fall. Other seasons open later in the year, mainly in early September. Visit the DNR website for more details on daily limits and other information about these hunting seasons.

How much do we owe?

At the time of this writing, the State of Illinois must $1,892,684,603 in unpaid invoices to State suppliers. A year ago, the order book was $3.8 billion. This figure represents the amount of the invoices presented to the Comptroller and still pending payment. It does not include debt that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated at more than $141 billion.

did you know

One of America’s most famous frontier lawmen was a resident of Illinois. Wyatt Earp, best known for his role in the 1881 OK Corral shooting in Tombstone, Arizona, was born in Monmouth, Illinois, in 1848. But Earp’s time in Illinois was far more eventful than his reputation in Hollywood. . Long before moving to Tombstone, Earp first exchanged gunfire in Beardstown, Illinois, with a local thug, avoiding injury himself but wounding the other shooter. After more trouble in Peoria, Earp headed west to start over.

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