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September 19, 2017

SPRINGFIELD (AP) – Gov. Bruce Rauner said that federal loan assistance is being made available for residents in five Illinois counties affected by flooding in July.

Rauner’s office said Tuesday that the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved the state’s request for help. That means people and businesses in Carroll, Jo Daviess, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago counties are eligible to apply for low-interest, long-term loans.

Rauner said the assistance will help those affected “begin the next phase of their recovery from this disaster.”

Click here to apply for assistance.

Or for more information, please contact:

SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DDLOC)
Highland Community College
2998 West Pearl City Road
Building H – Student Conference Center
Freeport, IL 61032

Opens:: Thursday, September 21; 11:00am - 5:00pm
Hours:: 8:00am-5:00pm; weekdays
10:00am-2:00pm Saturdays (closed Sunday))
Closes:: Thursday, September 28; 8:00am - 3:00pm
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 303 on September 19, a bipartisan legislation aimed at reforming Illinois’ asset forfeiture system. The reforms will increase transparency and shift burdens of proof to protect innocent citizens while maintaining the proper use of asset forfeiture as a tool for law enforcement. Gov. Rauner was joined by Illinois State Police (ISP) officials, ACLU members, legislators, and advocate organizations.

“Illinois residents should be protected from the unfair seizure of their private property,” Gov. Rauner said. “This legislation will enact needed reforms to prevent abuse of the civil asset forfeiture process, while maintaining its importance as a critical tool for law enforcement to make our communities safer.”

When properly applied, asset forfeiture strikes at the economic foundation of criminal activity. The seizure of monetary assets has been utilized as an effective method to disrupt the business activities of drug trafficking organizations and bring down high-level drug distributors.

However, if asset forfeiture is misused, it can have major economic ramifications on Illinoisans who may be innocent of any wrongdoing. The forfeiture of cash, a vehicle, or even a home can also affect their family members and exacerbate financial insecurity.

This important piece of legislation will provide for greater public transparency in Asset Forfeiture proceedings through the collection and publicly accessible reporting of forfeiture data, as well as additional sanction authority for abuse and violations of forfeiture rules by the ISP.

HB 303 also shifts the burden of proving guilt to the government, and increases the burden of proof to mirror that of the federal government in forfeiture cases from probable cause to a preponderance of the evidence, a fair and equitable standard. It also makes a number of other changes such as eliminating restrictive bonding requirements and adjusting the threshold amounts of money subject to forfeiture as well as the levels of cannabis and controlled substance possession that can lead to forfeiture proceedings as a way to thoughtfully limit the use of this system to its intended purposes.

Funds received through the Asset Forfeiture Program support the costs of law enforcement overtime and wire intercepts for major investigations, training, intelligence centers, prevention programs and investigative equipment.

“I am glad Illinois has taken this dramatic step forward, especially while the federal government seems poised to go backwards on this issue,” said state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). “It's a simple concept - the government should have to prove that it has a right to take your property, not the other way around.”

“Asset forfeiture laws target the heart of much criminal activity – the financial gain. However, as with any law, we need to make sure it does not unduly burden those who may be innocent,” said state Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), a cosponsor of the law who served more than 32 years in law enforcement, 20 years as Lee County Sheriff. “House Bill 303 makes sure that the spirit of civil asset forfeiture is not abused.”

“We must strike the proper balance between targeting criminal enterprises and safeguarding the rights of innocent property owners,” said state Sen. Michael Connelly (R-Naperville). “The Institute for Justice gave Illinois a D- for our current civil forfeiture laws. The law signed today seeks to improve the current system by providing increased protections for property owners and requiring greater accountability from law enforcement.”

“Civil asset forfeiture in Illinois and across this country is out of control—Americans lose more of their property each year to forfeiture than to burglary,” state Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) said. “This landmark bill gives Illinoisans some of the strongest protections against unjust forfeitures in the country, and it's a crucial step in restoring faith between civilians and law enforcement.”

“Civil asset forfeiture reform is an important step to ensure the Constitutional rights of Illinoisans are being protected,” said state Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Rochelle). “This law protects property rights, reduces the chance for abuses of power, and defends the rights of the individual. I’m proud to support this bipartisan initiative.”

Video of the event will be posted here: <>.
Dixon… Representative Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) held his annual Senior Citizens' Health Fair on September 8, from 10:00am until Noon, at the Lee County Council on Aging-Post House Ballroom.

Dozens of attendees joined dozens of exhibitors representing state, local, and community agencies in providing information to seniors in attendance.

“I always enjoy meeting with constituents to discuss the services that state and local agencies provide. This year’s event was a great opportunity to feature non-profit organizations and businesses in the area who offer services that help to improve the lives of seniors,” said Rep. Demmer

Attendees were not only able to gather information about services in our community, but also sign up for door prizes and enjoy free refreshments and fellowship.

ROCKFORD — The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has rejected a proposal to build a 261-mile railroad that would have cut through the Rockford area as it moved through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

In a decision Wednesday, the board said that Great Lakes Basin Transportation’s financial information was “fundamentally flawed,” making it impossible for the board to determine whether the proposal meets necessary criteria.

Construction projects are not required to be fully funded in the early stages of an application. However, financial fitness of the company behind a proposal is part of the application process, the board says in its decision.

Great Lakes’ assets “are so clearly deficient for purposes of constructing a 261-mile rail line that the board will not proceed with this application given the impacts on stakeholders and the demands upon board resources.”

Great Lakes may file a new application to meet the board’s criteria.

Read more here.