Legislative News from Senator Don DeWitte

New Legislation Aimed at Helping Struggling Families

New financial help could soon be available for parents thanks to legislation I am co-sponsoring that is designed to provide financial relief to families with children enrolled in daycare and pre-K programs.

Senate Bill 2717 would allow parents or guardians of one or more children between the ages of three and five who attend an eligible preschool program in Illinois to qualify for a tax credit equal to 100% of the expenses they incur to send their children to that preschool program, up to $1,500 per child.

Senate Bill 3104 would give parents a state tax credit for each qualifying child on their income taxes to help provide financial relief for those paying for childcare services. Under the proposal, qualifying families would receive a state tax credit equal to 25% of the current federal childcare tax credit for each child.

As the spring legislative session continues, Senate Republicans hope to see bipartisan progress on these critical issues to improve the lives of people of all ages and in all stages of life who call Illinois home.

DeWitte Broadband Legislation Sails through Energy Committee

Last week I was joined in Springfield by Kane County IT Director Roger Fahnestock as I presented my Senate Bill 3173 to the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. This legislation clarifies that counties can lease and grant access to infrastructure the county own, including fiber optic cables, to public or private entities to deliver broadband service.

The issue was brought to my attention by Kane County, which owns broadband fiber that was expanded, but now needs to be leased to save taxpayers money. This had been allowed under previous law, but the statute wording was changed in 2019 which created confusion and uncertainty.

The bill passed through the committee unanimously and is now headed to the Senate floor.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

To raise awareness for the challenges people with disabilities face, March has been designated as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Intellectual disabilities (ID) or developmental disabilities (DD) affect a family member in one out of 10 families. Intellectual, neurological, and physical impairments, vision and hearing loss are all examples of the wide range of conditions encompassed by the term developmental disability.

Access to disability services and resources are given to people after they are assessed by local agencies and the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). The largest area of support for these residents comes from the DDD and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).

Around 32,00 residents are supported by IDHS and DDD, but due to inadequacies in services and funding, the state currently has almost 16,000 individuals on a waiting list for the services these organizations provide.

These issues have grown considerably more apparent after a Guidehouse report revealed that the state has underfunded the DD community by half a billion dollars over the last five years. Meanwhile, the Governor’s recent budget proposal once again fails to meet recommended funding levels for the ID/DD community but prioritizes $1 billion for non-citizen programs.

Illinois Spring Trout Fishing Season Starts April 6

Anglers in Illinois who are looking to land a big trout won’t have to wait much longer. April 6 will mark the start of the 2024 Illinois spring trout fishing season. During the season, Illinoisans will be able to keep a maximum of five trout per day. For those who don’t care about hanging on to their trout, the catch-and-release season will begin on March 23.

The Illinois Catchable Trout Program is funded by the sale of inland trout stamps. Each year through the program the Illinois Department of Natural Resources puts 80,000-rainbow trout into bodies of water in the spring and fall. Click here to view the IL Department of Natural Resources’ most recent report on fish stocking listed by waterbody. You will want to view the Northeast and Northwest tabs to view stocked waterbodies in this region.

Those interested in fishing for trout in Illinois waters will need to have an inland trout stamp and a fishing license. Exceptions to this rule are in place for Illinois residents on leave from active duty in the military, individuals who are blind, persons with disabilities, and those younger than 16. Trout stamps and fishing licenses can be purchased at

EPA Funding Opportunities for Watershed Management Projects to Address Pollution

When rain or snowmelt carries human-made pollutants into bodies of water, it leads to what is called nonpoint source pollution, which is a major pollution concern nationwide. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is working to reduce this type of pollution through two new grant programs. The programs have a total of $4.75 million in funding available for watershed-based planning and implementation project proposals.

According to the IEPA, projects need to be aimed at reducing, preventing, and eliminating Illinois surface and groundwater quality impairments. IEPA is targeting the grants at local governments, with the goal of protecting water quality in their municipalities. This program will accept applications from March 13 to May 1. Applications can be found at

Legislators Critical of Two Correctional Facilities Closing

The Governor recently announced his plan to close and rebuild Stateville Correctional Center in Will County and Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, leaving many unanswered questions about what will happen to the current employees, inmates, and the local communities.

In February, the Governor proposed $900 million for maintenance and modernization of Department of Corrections facilities within his proposed FY25 budget. In the joint prison closure announcement from the Governor and the Illinois Department of Corrections, it became clear that the money was meant to be used to demolish and rebuild Logan and Stateville.

Currently, the Governor is planning to rebuild Stateville at the same location as the current facility, but his administration has released no details or commitments on the location of the new Logan Correctional Center. This lack of commitment drew scrutiny from locally elected officials and several legislators from the region.

They expressed concerns about what would happen to the more than 500 direct jobs, hundreds more indirect jobs, and economic benefits that Logan Correctional Center provides. While they recognized a need for repairs, they rightly pointed out that the facilities’ current state of disrepair exists because of administrative neglect and misplaced priorities.

Meanwhile, the local union representing the two facilities came out against the plan citing fears that even temporary closures of the centers would “disrupt and potentially destabilize the prison system, while bringing upheaval to the lives of affected employees and individuals in custody.”

In accordance with the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability process, construction of new facilities will not commence until all requirements of the State Facilities Closure Act are met. More information about that process, including a timeline, can be found here.

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