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During the House floor debate on Friday with only 4 days left in the regular session, Rep. John Cavaletto, Minority Spokesperson for the Appropriations-Public Safety Committee stood up to join his colleagues in calling for a commitment towards a bipartisan budget solution and compromise.

Today was 4-H Day at the Illinois Capitol. 4-H leaders from my district met with me this morning: Rhiannon Branch and Kelsey Littrell of Iuka and Danielle Brinkmann of Carlyle.

Since its inception, 4-H has placed emphasis on the importance of young people being engaged, well-informed citizens. By connecting to their communities and leaders, youth understand their role in civic affairs and are able to expand their role in decision-making processes. It's clear that civic engagement provides the foundation that helps youth understand the big picture of life and learn the skill sets that will allow them to become wise leaders for the 21st century. Learn more about the 4-H here.
Illinois farmers are paying attention to assessed land value as they pay their 2016 property taxes because of a remedy to a disparity that hinged on soil quality.

In Illinois, calculating the value of cropland takes soil productivity into account. Central Illinois acreage with better soil is valued higher for tax purposes. Southern Illinois’ less productive acreage is valued lower. State law had held value changes to 10 percent per year. That meant the assessed value of lower quality soils was held artificially low.

A fix was enacted in 2013, limiting value changes to 10 percent of the state median cropland productivity value. The Southern newspaper in Carbondale  reports the change means values on lower quality soil will increase at a faster rate. Properties with better soil will increase at a slower rate.
Helping Hands For Freedom is a nonprofit organization that provides programs and support for families of veterans. In an effort to raise funds for new projects, the group will be walking across the United States this summer along Route 40 from Atlantic City to Los Angeles and will make a stop in Greenville, most likely on Wednesday, June 1. Learn more at WGEL radio.

Jim Blankenship, of the American Legion Post 282, told WGEL Radio the American Legion plans to show the group some hospitality when the Helping Hands for Freedom group stops in Greenville, with assistance from other local veterans groups.

The public is invited to join the veterans groups in welcoming Helping Hands For Freedom representatives. American Legion officials say the Helping Hands for Freedom group are now expected to stop in Greenville around 9:30 a.m. on Friday, June 3. The hospitality area will be set up at VFW Post #1377 on South Fourth Street in Greenville.
A rough outline of budget ideas for Illinois may already be on the way to a dead-end;  Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is giving a cool reception to a potential budget framework drafted by a group of state legislators. NPR Illinois has the story.
Today, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office announced a change to Illinois driver’s licenses and ID cards designed to protect against identity theft and to bring Illinois into compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005. The enhanced security features will include a new photo structure, a design that includes patterns, lines and images to make it more difficult to counterfeit, a laser perforation and an ultraviolet feature.

There’s no need to replace your driver’s license or ID card immediately, but there are a few changes to the process you should be aware of when it comes time to renew your license or ID.

When you visit the DMV, take any tests you may normally be required to, but when you leave you will no longer be issued a new driver’s license or ID card at the end of the process. Instead, you will leave the facility with a temporary secure paper driver's license, which will be valid for 45 days and will serve as your license or ID for driving purposes and proof of identification. You will also receive your old license back with a hole punched in it. Your information will then be sent to a centralized, secure facility to conduct fraud checks and ensure your identity. The new, more secure license or ID will be printed and sent via U.S. mail within 15 business days to your address. For air travel, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said that it will accept the temporary document in conjunction with the old license or ID to board an aircraft until the permanent card arrives in the mail.

Click here for a step-by-step brochure from the Secretary of State’s Office on how the new process will work.

The transition will take place in phases. Beginning today, Safe Driver Renewal applicants will receive by mail their new driver's license with the upgraded security features. Beginning in late June 2016, through a gradual rollout, DMV’s throughout the state will implement the new process. By the end of July 2016, all DMV’s will have transitioned to the new process.

For questions, call the Secretary of State’s Office at (217) 782-7044.
Last week, the Illinois State Board of Education heard presentations from two groups of committed community members wanting to make changes to the current K-12 funding formula. Both groups included educators, legislators and parents who have worked long and hard to address the inequity and inadequacy in the way that Illinois funds schools. As a religious leader, a former legislator and the current chair of the Illinois State Board of Education, I applaud their focus and hope that together we can find a resolution that will allow more children in Illinois to graduate from high school ready for a high paying job and a rigorous college program.

Read the Opinion Piece in its entirety here.