Week in Review: Crime, jobs, mortgage assistance & more


House Republican Leader Jim Durkin responds to Pritzker’s cluelessness on SAFE-T Act changes. Governor JB Pritzker showed his ignorance on television this week where he once again refused to detail any proposed changes to the SAFE-T Act – a law that he signed and has repeatedly defended, but now admits that changes are needed. This will be the fourth trailer bill for the controversial law he enacted in 2021. 

“Yet again, Governor Pritzker admits the SAFE-T Act is flawed and still refuses to name any specific changes,” said Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. “It’s time for the Governor to admit his law is dangerous and propose his own legislation that actually protects victims over criminals, respects law enforcement and keeps our communities safe.”

Illinoisans have new forum to seek repeal of dangerous SAFE-T Act. More than fifty Illinois state’s attorneys have filed lawsuits, or joined lawsuits filed by their colleagues, to strike down the Democrats’ SAFE-T Act that will abruptly end cash bail requirements on January 1, 2023. Repeal of cash bail will allow persons accused of criminal offenses, including dangerous and violent criminal offenses, to be releases back out on the street while awaiting trial.

Illinois residents, even though they will have to share these streets with dangerous criminals scheduled to be released under the SAFE-T Act, do not have standing to file lawsuits of this type. However, every Illinoisan can raise their voice against this dangerous new law. Illinoisans can stand with the House Republicans who are fighting to repeal the unsafe SAFE-T Act.

Members of Congress ask Illinois to repay $1.3 billion extraordinary debt. The red ink borrowing was an emergency loan granted by the federal government, under the provisions of Title XII of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), so Illinois could pay unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan reflected a time during pandemic shutdown orders when the State’s unemployment was spiking up towards 20%. The State of Illinois has since made several large Title XII payments to Washington to repay part of the debt, but more than $1.3 billion remains unpaid. Title XII loans are, by federal law, meant for short-term financing emergencies; unlike bonded State debt, Title XII loans are not long-term loans. Since January 11, 2022, this remaining Title XII loan has been past due. By law, this debt must be paid back no later than November 9, 2022. If it is not paid, the federal government is required by law to commence a collection action against Illinois.

The October 2022 congressional letter, which could be seen as the equivalent of a letter from a collection agency to a borrower about a past-due loan, contains warning provisions. Penalties that may be imposed by the federal government against Illinois are headed by partial withdrawal of the FUTA tax credit, a tax credit granted to employers and their workplaces in states that have maintained a solvent relationship with the federal government’s unemployment insurance system. The $1.3 billion outstanding loan balance violates the terms of the FUTA tax credit, and Washington is required to penalize Illinois by gradually dialing down the amount of the credit. The value of the lost credit will be applied to the past-due Title XII loan. This FUTA tax credit action will further impede Illinois’ ability to attract and retain good-paying jobs. The letter was signed by U.S. House Ways and Means Committee member Darrin LaHood of Illinois, and the Committee’s minority spokesperson, Kevin Brady.

September 2022 report once again shows lagging job growth in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) preliminary jobs report for September 2022 shows that Illinois had approximately 6,083,100 nonfarm payroll jobs in the recently-concluded month. This job total generated a September unemployment figure of 4.5%. While new jobs were created in September in the fields of professional services, educational and health services, and government, there were net losses of Illinois jobs in the sectors of information science and leisure/hospitality.

Illinois’ job-creation rate and job retention numbers continued to lag behind the figures posted by neighboring and comparable states. The nationwide U.S. unemployment rate was 3.5% in September 2022, 100 basis points below the rate in Illinois.

Questioned by Crain’s Chicago Business, Gov. Pritzker admitted that Illinois’ job growth has fallen behind the new jobs created in other states. The governor stated that Illinois’ reputation for high taxes, and the reputation of Illinois (especially the Chicago area) for high rates of crime and violent crime, are discouraging potential investors from creating jobs in Illinois.

Tesla leases large warehouse space in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. Industry reports indicate no plans by the global electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturer to open assembly or battery operations in Illinois. While the firm has not made a public announcement about its plans, Tesla help-wanted ads tagged to ‘Pontoon Beach’ are asking for persons with experience as senior and specialist material handlers to submit their names and references. This is an indication that the 667,000-sq-ft Metro-East industrial space now controlled by Tesla will be used as a parts distribution hub. The Tesla-leased facilityis strategically located near the junction of Interstate 255 and Interstate 270.

Illinois State Police sees Scott’s Law-related motor vehicle incidents; two killed. Scott’s Law is the “move over” command that tells drivers to change lanes on all non-congested multilane highways. In addition, all drivers must slow down, especially if there is no lane to shift into, when they see a first responder or highway worker on a highway or road shoulder with hazard lights activated.

In this week’s fatal incident, two workers with a yellow-light-flashing construction truck were setting construction barrels for a work zone on the Iowa-bound Great River Bridge. The Illinois portion of the bridge is located in Henderson County on the Mississippi River. On the morning of October 18, a Mazda CX5 ignored the flashing lights and struck the workers, who were killed

Illinois law forbids the act of failing to take care when an authorized highway vehicle is on a road or roadside with its lights flashing. A separate Illinois law also forbids the act of using an electronic device, such as a video device or a handheld phone, while driving. The initial police finding is that these two factors may have combined to help create the tragic Great River Bridge incident. The incident occurred on Tuesday, October 18.

Illinois mortgage assistance program to reopen on November 1. The program has an allocation of funds to assist Illinois homeowners who are facing challenges with their mortgage payment cycle as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Illinoisans were laid off, or faced adverse small business conditions, during the shutdown phase of the pandemic. This program is meant to help persons who face mortgage difficulties through no fault of their own. In some cases, mortgage lenders have granted stays from foreclosure for borrowers who have a chance to redeem their outstanding payment cycle, and this program is targeted at people in this category.

Applicants for assistance from the Illinois Emergency Homeowner Assistance Fund must make a series of financial disclosures: demonstrate that their household income is at or below 150% of the area’s median income; that they are at least 30 days’ late on their monthly housing payment cycle; that they experienced a COVID-19-related financial hardship; and must make other disclosures. The program, operated by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), can provide up to $30,000 is assistance to qualifying homeowners. After opening on November 1, 2022, the application window will officially remain open until January 31, 2023, but available funds may be exhausted quickly.

Youth waterfowl, deer seasons. Illinois’ youth outdoor sports seasons have begun. The youth waterfowl season days apply to youth hunters aged 17 or younger who are accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years of age. During these special hunting days, only the youth hunter can target the species enumerated in the youth hunt. Illinois youth hunting licenses or apprentice hunting licenses are required. In addition, youth waterfowl hunters aged 16 and older must have a federal duck stamp. They do not need to have an Illinois duck stamp.

Extensive youth waterfowl hunting days will take place at specified wetland locations throughout Illinois on the weekends of October 22-23, November 5-6, and November 26-27.

The youth deer season occurred October 8-10. Youth deer seasons are three-day events intended to get young people acquainted with outdoor sports under the supervision of a permitted adult. The standard firearm deer season will open on November 18, 2022.