Have a Spooktacular Halloween, but be safe
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an estimated $3.1 billion on Halloween candy this year. When combined with the costumes, party goods, greeting cards, and outdoor and indoor decorations, the Federation anticipates a total of $10.6 billion will be spent on this holiday.
In the DeWitte house, when the trick-or-treating buckets returned home when the kids were growing up, a few Snickers bars always mysteriously disappeared while I looked through the candy to make sure everything was wrapped and OK for consumption. To this day, Snickers remain my favorite Halloween candy.
When planning your trick-or-treat outing, please stick to the hours designated by your local community. If your teenage child wants to go out alone, encourage them to go in groups and stay in well-lit areas. Younger children should be accompanied by an adult, and should never enter a stranger’s home for candy. Make sure to check that all candy is safe to eat and does not contain any allergens relevant to your child.
Additionally, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal is offering some tips:
- When choosing costumes, make sure to stay away from long trailing fabric.
- Always check to make sure the fabric is flame resistant.
- If your child is wearing a mask, check that eye holes are large enough to provide an unrestricted view.
- When trick-or-treating, have your children carry a flash flight to not only light their way, but to keep them visible as well. Also, think about incorporating glow stickers on their costumes to increase visibility.
Help honor a veteran this Veterans Day
Veterans Day is approaching, and I want to invite family members of veterans to submit entries to the Senate Republicans’ annual Veterans Day Display at the State Capitol. The annual display pays tribute to our state’s and nation’s servicemen and women with a video presentation and memorial wall in the Capitol rotunda.
This year’s ‘Honoring Those Who Served’ Veterans Day Display will be available for visitors to the Capitol to see from November 10-28, and I hope to have many beloved veterans who either live or lived in the 33rd District, or are cherished relatives of those who live in the district included.
Families that would like to participate should submit a photo and a written story that is no longer than 250 words, and include the veteran’s name, military branch (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, or Navy) and any conflict served (Afghanistan, Iraq, September 11, Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, WWI, WWII, Peacetime, other). Military photos are preferred, but not required. Submissions should be emailed to email@example.com no later than November 10, 2022, but late entries will be added to the display through November 28. Submissions can also be mailed to Veterans Day Wall, 108 Statehouse, Springfield, IL, 62706. For additional information about this project, please contact Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New report shows Illinois students falling short in academics
This week, the Illinois School Board of Education released the 2021-2022 Illinois Report Card, which demonstrated the long-term learning loss that Illinois students incurred during the pandemic. Students fell behind in baseline performance in many categories compared to 2019 levels. I believe it was the Governor’s forced lockdowns and school closures that led to the poor results in our schools.
Some of the findings in the report include:
- The 2022 percentage of students meeting or exceeding the baseline performance level in English Language Arts (ELA) on the Illinois Assessment Readiness (IAR) exam fell to 30.1 percent, a reduction of 7.7 percent from the 2019 percentage of 37.8 percent.
- The 2022 percentage of students meeting or exceeding the baseline performance level in mathematics on the Illinois Assessment Readiness (IAR) exam fell to 25.5 percent in 2022, a reduction of 6.3 percent from the 2019 percentage of 31.8 percent.
- The 2022 percentage of students meeting or exceeding the baseline performance level for ELA on the SAT fell to 29.8 percent, a reduction of 6.5 percent from the 2019 percentage of 36.3 percent.
- The 2022 percentage of students meeting or exceeding the baseline performance level for mathematics on the SAT fell to 28.8 percent, a reduction of 5.6 percent from the 2019 percentage of 34.4 percent.
- Almost every demographic experienced a decline from 2019 to 2022 in the percentage of students who met or exceeded baseline standards on the SAT.
- The 2022 percentage of 8th graders passing algebra has declined since 2019.
- Chronic absenteeism hit 29.8 percent in 2022, 12.3 percent higher than in 2019 (17.5 percent) and even 8.8 percent higher than in 2021 (21.1 percent).
- Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10 percent of more of school days with or without an excuse.
These numbers, as grim as they are, also fail to consider the social, emotional, and health impacts that Gov. JB Pritzker’s school closures had on our kids. The full report can be read here.
DeWitte, McConchie hold successful prescription drug takeback event in Algonquin
Thank you to everyone who came out on Saturday, Oct. 29 for the prescription drug takeback event I co-hosted with Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie at the Algonquin Police Department. Our event was in connection with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) National Drug Takeback Day. We had a steady stream of visitors that took advantage of the 10AM-2PM event to safely dispose of unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and pet medications.
Unused or expired medications are a public safety issue, leading to accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse. By properly disposing of unused and expired medications, we not only prevent these health problems, but we are also protecting our water supply from contamination. It was good to see so many people doing their part to keep drugs out of the wrong hands and protect the environment.
Leader McConchie and I are shown in this photo with Algonquin Police Dept. Detectives Robert Salazar and Kory Koehler.
Illinois has nation’s worst unemployment rate, far exceeding surrounding states
Illinois continues to lag behind in rebounding from the economic toll caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. New unemployment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Illinois has a rate of 4.5 percent at the end of September—the highest in the nation.
The most recent figures also show Illinois’ surrounding states in far better shape—making Illinois an extreme outlier. Missouri is doing the best with 2.4 percent. Iowa and Indiana are at 2.7 and 2.8 percent respectively. Wisconsin has a rate of 3.2 percent, Kentucky has a rate of 3.8 percent, and Michigan is at 4.1 percent.
Recent policy failures at the state level play a large factor behind Illinois falling short regionally and nationally when it comes to creating jobs.
Warning to drivers of deer mating season
The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are reminding drivers that deer mating season is here, which means deer become more active and pose a danger on roadways.
In 2021, more than 42 percent of crashes involving deer in Illinois occurred in October, November, and December. November was the highest-risk month. While crashes can happen anywhere, rural environments were the site of more than 72 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involving deer, with more than 71 percent occurring at twilight or nighttime.
Safe driving tips for deer mating season include:
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially in areas with deer crossing signs.
- Scan the sides of the road for eye shine – the reflection of headlights in their eyes.
- Slow down if you see a deer. They travel in groups, so more are likely nearby.
- Prepare for the unexpected. Deer may stop in the middle of the road.
- If a collision is inevitable, don’t veer. Try to glance your vehicle off the deer and avoid swerving into the opposite lanes of traffic or off the road.
If you hit a deer, pull off to the shoulder, turn on your hazard lights and call 911 to report the accident. Do not exit the vehicle to check on an injured deer or pull it from the road.