Illinois’ unemployment rate is lagging behind
A new analysis of the nation’s jobs report shows that the national average unemployment rate currently sits at 3.5 percent. Meanwhile, Illinois’ own unemployment rate is at 4.4 percent, making it tied for the third highest rate in the nation.
While the state did see 31,200 new jobs from mid-June through mid-July, marking 14 consecutive months of job gains, Illinois still hasn’t fully recovered from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic as the state is still missing 88,600 pre-COVID jobs.
Additionally, the fact that Illinois still has a $1.8 billion unemployment trust fund deficit raises concerns about how much assistance could be provided to Illinoisans who lose their jobs, and how large of a tax increase small businesses within the state could face.
If that $1.8 billion debt isn’t repaid by Nov. 10, the federal government will begin to charge $21 per employee annually on all businesses within the state next year, and businesses will be forced to pay an undetermined higher state tax to fund unemployment programs.
Large Turnout for Unclaimed Property Day in Crystal Lake
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Unclaimed Property Day event that was held at the Crystal Lake Library last week. Some in attendance were successful in finding property/cash that was waiting to be claimed. The Illinois Treasurer’s Office is currently holding more than $3.5 billion in unclaimed items and cash, and I will continue to partner with them to host these types of events in the 33rd District.
Last week my office also hosted traveling office hours in Lake in the Hills. For constituents in the northernmost part of my district, this two-hour event provided easy access to the services my legislative office provides, like help with unemployment issues, FOID/CCLs, certification transfers, issues with the Department of Insurance, etc. These traveling events are staffed by a constituent services expert from my staff who is skilled at helping people cut through the red tape and helping them obtain solutions to issues involving state agencies. The next traveling office hours is scheduled for Thursday, September 8, when my staff will be at the Gail Borden Public Library Rakow Branch, 2751 W Bowes Rd, Elgin, from 1:00-3:00 PM.
Senator DeWitte to Host Two Senior Fairs
This fall I am hosting two senior fairs in the 33rd District. The first one is being co-hosted with Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie on Wednesday, September 7. This event will be held at the East Dundee Township Building, 665 Barrington Avenue, Carpentersville, from 10:00 AM until noon.
A week and a half later, on Friday, September 16, I will partner with neighboring Senator Craig Wilcox for a Senior Fair at McHenry County College, 8900 U.S. Route 14, Crystal Lake, from 9:00 AM until 11:00 AM. Both events will feature a variety of local vendors who can discuss and provide information about several local programs that benefit seniors. There will be free refreshments and health screenings at both fairs.
Summer internship program a success
Every summer, I hire a paid intern to assist in my legislative office. This individual gets hands-on experience into the inner operations of a state government legislative office. They work with state agencies to assist with constituent issues, and help with writing, research, and community outreach events.
This year’s intern, TJ Pickett-Pinext of St. Charles did an outstanding job! He recently had his last day on the job, and now he’s off to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he will study Engineering. He will be missed, but we know he will do great things and the U of I. Thanks for the great work, TJ!
Biometric privacy class-action settled for Illinois Snapchat users
A settlement in a class-action lawsuit against Snapchat and its parent company, Snap. Inc., was reached this month for $35 million, and could have Snapchat users in Illinois eligible for a payout between $58 to $117.
The original lawsuit alleged that Snapchat’s lenses and filters collected and stored users’ biometric information without informed consent, which would violate the state’s biometric privacy laws.
Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA) prohibits private-sector companies and institutions from collecting biometric data from unsuspecting residents in the state or online. Under Illinois law, that data cannot be sold, transferred, or traded, and citizens are allowed to sue for alleged violations.
Illinois’ BIPA is one of the nation’s strictest biometric privacy laws and has resulted in several class-action lawsuits against some of the tech industry giants, including Google and Facebook.
Illinois residents who have used lenses or filters on Snapchat since Nov. 17, 2015, which attorneys estimate could be as many as 3.8 million people, may qualify for a piece of the settlement.
Illinois residents who believe they may be eligible have until Nov. 5 to file a claim. You can learn more about the settlement and file a claim here.
Fire forces suspension of Household Hazardous Waste Collections
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that all Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection events and locations are temporarily suspended after a fire broke out at an Ohio facility currently used to dispose of the waste.
The announcement means that upcoming fall one-day HHW collection events in Tinley Park, East Moline, Bloomington, Quincy, and Springfield – as well as the long-term HHW disposal facilities in Chicago, Naperville, Lake County, Rockford, and Madison County that Illinois EPA supports – have suspended operations until an alternative incinerator willing to accept Illinois’ HHW is identified.
Residents in possession of household hazardous waste like oil-based paints, herbicides, cleaning supplies, and household batteries should keep the materials safely stored in their original manufacturer containers until HHW collections can resume.
The Illinois EPA says it remains committed to rescheduling the one-day HHW collection events once an alternative disposal arrangement is available, or the Ohio facility is operational. The agency is hoping to reschedule these events later this fall or early winter.
For more information on Household Hazardous Waste, please visit https://www2.illinois.gov/epa/topics/waste-management/waste-disposal/household-hazardous-waste/Pages/default.aspx.