We have a duty to support those who put their lives on the line to protect and serve our communities.
As I travel around the 40th Senate District, I hear time and again about the importance of public safety. We see the news reports all the time of lawlessness and crime in our large cities, and we simply cannot stand for that happening here.
I have joined with a strong group of my colleagues in Springfield to do something about it this year. We are teaming with the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council to release a package of proposals over several weeks that will give our law enforcement the tools and support they need to crack down on criminal behavior and help turn lives around.
New grant opportunities will help departments hire and train officers, and to provide mental health and substance abuse counseling for those in prison or recently released. Officers will have more tools to track violent crime and spot dangerous behavior with highway cameras. More DNA evidence will be collected to ensure fairer trials and convictions for serious offenses.
These are complex issues and will take a lot of work to move forward. But I am confident that our Legislature will put public safety as a top priority this spring and can use this package as a good framework to support the dedicated law enforcement officers who keep our communities safe.
I also am working this spring on a major package to ensure millions and millions of dollars in federal aid is spent correctly throughout Illinois to support broadband expansion in unserved and underserved areas, like our rural communities. Senate Bill 3683 will help us identify the greatest needs and close the digital divide in Illinois to give more families and children the access that so many of us enjoy today.
As we have discussed before, the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools and Illinois State Board of Education have helped us understand clearly our crisis with teacher shortages around the state. Thousands of teaching positions remain open, schools are finding it harder and harder to find qualified teachers and substitutes, and COVID-19’s effects are making the problem even worse.
I am pushing ahead with Senate Bill 3893 to provide some relief by increasing the number of days from 90 to 120 that a substitute teacher can cover in classrooms. This will provide some continuity for the short-term teachers and their students while school administrators work on a longer-term solution.
Finally, I continue to work with our agricultural industry partners to expand the use of biodiesel in Illinois through Senate Bill 3596, which will help our farmers and our environment.
The legislative session is scheduled to run until April 8 this year. 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/.
Sen. Patrick Joyce
D-Essex, 40th State Senate District