Thousands of visitors attended the first-ever Southern Illinois Made Expo on July 28 and July 29, featuring traveling office hours hosted by State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg).
Senator Fowler partnered with a number of Southern Illinois Chambers of Commerce to host the one-of-a-kind event focused on highlighting economic development and small businesses. Approximately 100 local businesses across the region brought their local goods and offerings to the Pavilion in Marion, showcasing their products, highlighting local destinations and underscoring the innovation found throughout Southern Illinois businesses.
The Expo also partnered with the Veterans Honor Flights of Southern Illinois to hold a ceremony honoring area veterans during the kick-off of the Expo. Veterans Honor Flights of Southern Illinois is an organization that works to honor and thank veterans by providing them a free-of-charge trip to Washington, D.C. to see the monuments constructed in honor of their service and sacrifice. The program served as the official charity for the Expo.
In other local news, Senator Fowler attended the annual Shawnee Worship Center School Supply Giveaway and Community Night. Senator Fowler was one of the participating sponsors who supported the local initiative, bringing together a number of organizations to offer free supplies, haircuts, dental exams, clothing and food.
Senator Fowler is also sharing information from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) concerning the Illinois Recreational Access Program (IRAP). From now until August 24, IDNR is accepting applications for archery deer hunting on private land. According to IDNR, IRAP has more than 18,500 acres of private land spanning across 20 counties available to the public for archery deer hunting. Eligible counties include, Calhoun, Christian, Clay, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Jersey, Lee, Macoupin, Marion, McDonough, Monroe, Pike, Pope, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Wayne, Whiteside, and Williamson. Applications for IRAP Archery Deer Hunting sites can be found online at www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservation/IRAP/Pages/Archery-Deer-Hunting.aspx/.
Nursing home reforms address backlog of applications
During the last 10 years, delays in getting individuals approved for nursing home care have led to a backlog of 15,000 cases, with some taking up to a year to resolve. The problems stemmed from a complicated bureaucratic process of rules and regulations at the Federal and State levels, an antiquated computer system, and a staffing shortage.
The Governor’s Office took steps to upgrade the computer system, hire more staff and open a third enrollment hub. And during the spring legislative session, a bipartisan team of legislators worked with the long-term care industry and crafted sweeping reforms, which were signed into law on Aug. 2.
Senate Bill 2385 and Senate Bill 2913 streamline and simplify the process of enrolling in Medicaid and address outdated and ongoing problems in Illinois’ long-term care industry.
Senate Bill 2385 provides a process and form for Medicaid long-term care applicants and beneficiaries to release their financial records directly to the state for the purpose of determining Medicaid long-term care eligibility.
One of the biggest challenges getting approval for Medicaid-funded long-term care is obtaining financial information, with financial institutions raising concerns about releasing data. Senate Bill 2385 recognizes the need to protect personal information while also considering the needs of family members or care providers to have access to that critical information by creating a standardized form to send financial data directly to the state.
Senate Bill 2913 implements a number of sweeping reforms to simplify the process of enrolling in Medicaid and in the annual redetermination of Medicaid status, including:
- Each resident used to have to go through a new application process every year to prove they still qualified financially. This process cost the state immensely, in both money and manpower, and was a waste when it was determined that nearly 100 percent requalified anyway. Now, only those with changes in finances need to complete new forms.
- Individuals who have been on Medicaid for six months or longer before going into long-term care will have a simplified enrollment process.
- The new law allows for electronic filing of applications instead of paper applications.
- The state will set up training sessions and webinars to help individuals and facilities better understand the application process.
New law boosts protection for DCFS workers
A new law recently signed by the Governor will boost protections for Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) workers, in the wake of a violent attack on a local DCFS worker last year that led to her death in February.
Approved by unanimous support of lawmakers this spring, Senate Bill 3105 was introduced in response to the death of a Dixon woman who worked as a DCFS child protective investigator. Pamela Knight of Dixon, was beaten during a home visit for one of her clients.
Senate Bill 3105 encourages police protection for DCFS workers who don’t have co-workers available to accompany them on a call that involves a high-risk report of child abuse or neglect, or a case that involves a person who could be violent.
Local projects sought for Safe Routes to School Program
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is seeking proposals through the Safe Routes to School program for projects that help children walk and bike to school.
Administered by IDOT using federal funds, the Safe Routes to School program supports projects and activities that improve safety and reduce traffic in areas around elementary and middle schools. Improvements can include new sidewalks, efforts to reduce speeding and other traffic offenses, public education and outreach programs.
Successful applications must demonstrate how their proposals encourage students to walk or bike. Eligible applicants include school districts, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and nonprofit associations. Local matching funds are not required. For more information, visit idot.illinois.gov or email DOT.SafeRoutes@Illinois.gov.