As we head into the warmer spring weather of April, I am excited to be telling you about how we are working on actual legislation in Springfield. We are still very mindful of taking proper precautions during the pandemic, but we are able to work together at the Capitol for the first time in a year and move important issues forward.
In 2019, before I joined the State Senate, legislators and Gov. Pritzker approved a major construction program. This has been long overdue, repairing our roads and bridges and providing funds for areas all over the state to help schools, hospitals and many more critical infrastructure projects.
I’m in favor of having ongoing construction to support our economy, our working people and our businesses. But I also believe it’s important that we pay for these programs responsibly.
Vehicle registration fees were increased modestly for most vehicles to help pay for the capital program. But for vehicle owners who have small trailers of 3,000 pounds or less, the fee hike annually went from $18 to $118.
I checked with the Secretary of State’s office and they report many Illinoisans simply are not paying this much higher fee to register their trailers. I’ve also heard comments: why would I pay $100 more when I can go without the sticker and take a chance of never getting a ticket?
I am working on Senate Bill 1660 in Springfield to remedy the problem. Instead of charging the $118 fee every year for a renewal, we would make it a one-time charge for a permanent trailer plate.
We are still working through details, including the potential revenue hit to the construction program from this change. But I am committed to a more reasonable path here that ensures people are registering their trailers without making them pay so much more to do so.
I am also working on Senate Bill 1989, to try to help address the state’s teacher shortage crisis.
For several years, a shortage has been growing of qualified teachers in our classrooms. A new report from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS)shows that the vast majority of school districts outside Chicagoland are finding it harder and harder to find teachers, and the COVID-19 pandemic is only making the problem worse.
My legislation acknowledges that until we get more young people into the pipeline to become the next generation of teachers, we’ll need to rely on our experienced educators who have retired for help. Many are willing but do not want to jeopardize their hard-earned retirements to come back to class.
SB 1989 extends until 2023, instead of this summer, relief in Illinois law to allow retired teachers to return to work for up to 120 days each school year without putting their pension benefits at risk. It’s the least we can do to give our local schools the support they need during this crisis.
I will have more updates on legislation as the spring session continues through May, and I am encouraged by the progress we are seeing in fighting the COVID-19 virus and returning to some sense of normalcy.
Join us in following the social distancing guidelines, and please take advantage of getting your COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible. I urge you to contact me anytime I can help: 708-756-0882, or at http://www.senatorpatrickjoyce.com/. I will continue to share the latest news on my website and on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/senPatrickjoyce40/.
Illinois Senate District 40 includes Flossmoor and part of Homewood.