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Only three new laws will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, because the Legislature’s sessions were nearly wiped out by the pandemic.

When a new year begins in Illinois, there typically are dozens if not hundreds of new laws going into effect.

Not this year. Like so many other things in 2020, the legislative spring session was stunted by COVID-19. Once the global pandemic reached Illinois in March, the General Assembly would meet for only four more days — wrapping up the odd session during masked and socially distanced gatherings at the Capitol and Bank of Springfield Center. The fall veto session was scrapped altogether.

As a result, only three new laws will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. Here’s a look at them as well as the next increase in the minimum wage that will be applied Friday:

  • Insulin costs cap
  • Use of DNA in missing person cases, and
  • Keeping victims’ addresses confidential

Read the explanation of each in the Chicago Sun*Times here.

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The Observer takes a look back at another year gone by, as we present the most frequently read news stories and editorials in 2020. Click on any title to read and revisit stories from this past year.

Racism allegations follow as plan to move 25 kids into Barrington Hills home stalls

Although the leader of an organization helping disadvantaged minority youths contends race is a factor in his delayed plan to move into a Barrington Hills home with 25 children of color, village officials say the zoning code is the only issue.

This June 30 article received 11 comments, and 12 Facebook shares.

Time to stop giving 220’s Harris passes

A week ago today hundreds of parents and students in Barrington Area Unit District 220 gathered at a rally in Citizens Park to ask the district to allow in-person schooling to resume. Some spoke while others displayed signs such as, “Open our schools for in-person learning,” or “Face 2 Face learning is essential” (seeI am asking for a choice’: Barrington 220 parents, students rally for in-person learning” and “Hundreds turn out for Barrington rally calling for end to remote learning, restart of student sports”).

No one commented on this September 21 editorial, but a record 86 people shared it on Facebook.

220 won’t consider COVID-19 testing at this time (as opposed to New Trier, thus our response

Wednesday District 220 emailed the following notice to the community:

Over the past couple of weeks, the district has been looking at the possibility of using COVID-19 testing as one additional component of several virus mitigation efforts. At the Dec. 1 Board meeting, the Board decided it would not consider using COVID-19 testing at this time due to high costs and the fact that it would not be a full proof [sic] measure in preventing the spread of the virus.  Click here to watch the Board’s full discussion about COVID-19 testing.

New Trier Township High School District 203 did not hesitate at all when in October they announced, “…they will pay up to $1.3 million to conduct COVID-19 saliva screenings for students and staff.” As a result of their proactive measures, some students are back in classroom today, December 4.

There were 2 comments on this December 2 editorial, and 3 shares on Facebook.

Homicide investigation on Old Sutton Rd just south of Otis Rd, Barrington Hills

Barrington Hills police and firefighter/paramedics from Barrington -Countryside FPD responded about 3:34 a.m. Saturday March 7, 2020 to a report that multiple people were shot at or near a home in the block of 300 Old Sutton Road. Police and firefighter/paramedics received a report that there were multiple gunshot victims. At least two victim were transported to a local hospital. At least one victim was possibly dead at the scene.

We got one comment to this March 7 story, but 35 shares on Facebook.

Fact checking

On Monday night, CBS Chicago reported a story that included audio and text stating the following:

“Over 20 acres of tree-lined property nestled in affluent Barrington Hills feature tennis courts and a sprawling home purchased by Terrance Wallace, the InZone Project founder.” (InZone Project Founder Says He’s Been Hit With Red Tape In Efforts To Bring Black And Brown Boys From Chicago To Live In Barrington Hills Mansion.)

There is no recorded public record of a recent sale of the property on 541 Merri Oaks Road. Public records do indicate that the property is currently owned by a Trust and has been under the ownership of the Trust or related parties since 2002.

There were no comments or shares on this July 1 article..

NEW! Solitude Ranch w/Indoor Pool, Event Friendly! $599 per night

Sneak away from the big city for a peaceful stay at ‘Solitude Ranch,’ a vacation rental in Barrington! This ranch is one-of-a-kind, offering 3,567 square feet of space complete with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, an upscale kitchen, sunken den, wall-to-wall windows, and even an indoor pool!

There were 3 comments made about this March 7 ad, but no shares

Barrington District 220 reverses course, switches to online classes only

Reversing course on its plan to let parents choose between in-person and online classes, Barrington Area Unit School District 220 announced Wednesday that it would offer only remote learning when school opens next month.

There was one Facebook share, and 9 comments to this July 29 article (most of which objected to our choice of graphic used).

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New Trier High School District 203 convened a special Board of Education meeting Tuesday night to discuss expanding the in-person instruction currently provided to students.

Wednesday District 220 emailed the following notice to the community:

“Over the past couple of weeks, the district has been looking at the possibility of using COVID-19 testing as one additional component of several virus mitigation efforts. At the Dec. 1 Board meeting, the Board decided it would not consider using COVID-19 testing at this time due to high costs and the fact that it would not be a full proof [sic] measure in preventing the spread of the virus.  Click here to watch the Board’s full discussion about COVID-19 testing.

New Trier Township High School District 203 did not hesitate at all when in October they announced, “…they will pay up to $1.3 million to conduct COVID-19 saliva screenings for students and staff.” As a result of their proactive measures, some students are back in classroom today, December 4.

Further, Tuesday night when the 220 Board of Education was meeting via Zoom, New Trier had a special meeting at their “grown-ups tables (seen above),” including 24 people in attendance for public comment, for the purpose of considering expanding their in-person instruction plans (seeCiting confidence in saliva-based COVID-19 screening protocol, New Trier to consider expansion of in-person instruction”).

Clearly there is a difference in philosophy and perhaps abilities when considering the superintendents of the two Districts.

Dr. Paul Sally, Superintendent Northfield Campus of District 203, holds a B.S. from Yale University, an M.S. from Northwestern University, and an Ed.D. from National Louis University. His qualifications and responsibilities can be found here.

Dr. Brian Harris, Superintendent of Schools, Barrington 220 Community Unit School District, holds, “his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana and his master’s and doctoral degrees in educational leadership from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.” Harris has more of a resume than a list of qualifications, and it can be viewed here.

We have had concerns about Harris, especially when things hit the corona fan at the beginning of this year. He seems to take too much guidance from Springfield and way too little if any from the Board, parents, students and taxpayers.

Now that the Board of Education is interviewing candidates to fill Harris’ shoes, we have some simple advice: aim higher when considering a replacement for Harris. Much higher.

Related: New Trier expected to expand in-person instruction in January 2021

A recording of the New Trier Board of Education meeting Tuesday night can be viewed here.

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Effective Tuesday, all driver’s license offices in the state will be closed through December 6th.

Illinois’ drivers services facilities will close for in-person business for three weeks starting Tuesday because of the statewide surge in COVID-19 cases.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office announced the statewide closures of the state’s Driver Services facilities on Friday and urged the public to take advantage of online services.

The closures for in-person business will begin Tuesday, with the locations set to reopen December 7th in an effort to help protect staff amid the ongoing increase in coronavirus cases.

For more info visit CyberDriveIllinois.

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Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan

When Illinois voters rejected Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s request for permission to alter income taxes, they twice defied the wealthy governor, embattled House Speaker Michael Madigan and the dominant Democratic majority in Springfield.

They voted No on a constitutional amendment to switch from a flat tax to a graduated tax. In doing so, they said No to the defining characteristic of this state’s Democratic problem-solving, which tends to be: throw more money at it. Streamline government? Consolidate taxing bodies? Allow voters to enact term limits? No, just raise taxes or create new ones.

From such moments of voter frustration, political rebellions can be born. There is no question in our minds that Madigan has overstayed his tenure as speaker and represents an obstacle, rather than the agent of change, for Illinois, which must fix its broken finances. Adding pressure: U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Wednesday and Pritzker on Thursday joined us in saying, time for Madigan to step down as party chairman.

Election Day provided several more signs that Illinoisans are willing to challenge the ossified, self-centered and damaging fiscal policies of Madigan and the Dems. Madigan, who is linked to an unfolding federal corruption investigation, saw Republicans appear to take two House seats from his supermajority. Not a big change, but every loss means something, even given the Democrats’ overwhelming position.

Read the full Chicago Tribune editorial here.

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In the three-way House District 52 race, Republican Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin leads by a wide margin over Democrat Marci Suelzer of Island Lake and Green Party candidate Alia Sarfraz of South Barrington.

With all precincts in Cook, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties reporting, unofficial totals show McLaughlin received 28,778 votes to Suelzer’s 22,166 votes and Sarfraz’s 1,317 votes.

Read the Daily Herald report here.

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Supporters of a plan to create a graduated income tax rate system in Illinois are conceding the race.

“We are undoubtedly disappointed with this result but are proud of the millions of Illinoisans who cast their ballots in support of tax fairness in this election,” said Quentin Fulks, who led the Vote Yes for Fairness campaign. “Now lawmakers must address a multibillion dollar budget gap without the ability to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share.”

The amendment required either 60% of those voting on the amendment to vote yes, or a simple majority of all ballots cast in the election must favor it. The most recent figures show the proposal to change the state’s constitutional requirement of a flat income tax rate lost outright by hundreds of thousands of votes.

With about 97% of the state’s precincts reporting, unofficial results show 55% of voters were against the proposal.

“It is clear that Illinoisans do not trust this legislature and this administration to spend more of their precious tax dollars without restraint,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch.

Read on here.

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Marty McLaughlin is the clear choice when casting your vote for state representative for the 52nd district. As village president in Barrington Hills, Marty has worked tirelessly to streamline government, resolve pension issues, lower taxes and recognize opposing views. His financial background and pension expertise will help bring reform and responsibility to Illinois’s disastrous overspending and overtaxing. Our state is in crisis and needs a known leader not a Madigan-funded rookie.

Vote for Marty McLaughlin. He will represent our interests in Springfield, not Madigan’s or other special interest groups’ agendas.

Don Spry, Barrington Hills

Source

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Marengo’s Zion Lutheran School has not reported a single case of the virus among students or staff in the 54 days they have been in school

Leaders of local private schools told McHenry County Board members that in-person learning has been safe and successful for them, while many public school districts have chosen to heed guidance from the McHenry County Department of Health about returning to remote learning.

With much frustration and fear coming from community members who support either in-person or remote learning, Public Health and Community Services Committee Chairman Chris Christensen said he invited the local private school leaders to Thursday’s meeting for a fruitful, level-headed exchange of ideas.

It’s about “talking to some of the private schools that are having such success in keeping their kids in school,” said Christensen, who represents District 3 on the County Board. “COVID-19 doesn’t understand the difference between a public school and a private school necessarily, but I know the numbers can be different.”

Among the invited guests were Dan Bertrand and Merri-Lynne Seaburg, co-principals of Marengo’s Zion Lutheran School, who said they have not reported a single case of the virus among students or staff in the 54 days they have been in school.

“There is no reason why you cannot have kids in school right now,” Bertrand said. “There is no place safer for a kid to be than in the schools. … The virus is not being transmitted inside of schools.”

Bertrand referenced a Brown University study titled “Schools Aren’t Super-spreaders,” in which data on 200,000 students in 47 states from the end of September was analyzed to reveal an average COVID-19 infection rate of 0.13% of students and 0.24% of teachers.

Read more here.

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On September 26th, The League of Women Voters (LWV) of the Palatine Area, lwvpalatinearea.org, conducted a virtual non-partisan candidate forum for three candidates running for the 52nd District of the Illinois House of Representatives; Martin McLaughlinAlia Sarfraz and Marci Suelzer. The YouTube recording of the meeting can be viewed here.

We listened intently to the recording and felt we would be remiss if we did not share at least one excerpt we believe is critical for voters to hear or read. The LWV asked candidates to,

“Think of a person that is, or has served in Springfield, that’s made an impact for the better in our state.”

Marci Suelzer’s response to this simple question was,

Marci Suelzer

I’m somewhat at a disadvantage in this question in that I did not grow up in Illinois. But I do think that Governor Pritzker has made an impact in saving lives in Illinois.

I wish that I had a better base of historical knowledge to go back two decades or whatever, but I simply don’t.”

The question and her response can be heard here.

Though she admittedly lacks experience, that has not stopped significant contributions to Suelzer’s campaign which only began less than three months ago. Her campaign committee has amassed upwards of $400,000, primarily from Democratic Party of Illinois ($129k), Democratic Majority ($94k), LIUNA Chicago Laborers ($58k), Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters PAC ($58k) and Friends to Elect Kathleen Willis ($45k).

Clearly with this overabundance of political funding, Marci Suelzer does not need to worry about her lack of experience, since if she is elected, her well-financed handlers will tell her how to vote.

Martin McLaughlin has been running for the 52nd District for nearly a year with funding of about 20% of that of his opponent. What matters most when considering which candidate to vote for in an election;

  • (a) one who has been successfully leading a Village for eight years or
  • (b) one who, although inexperienced, has substantial financial backing from the current State leadership?

You decide!

Campaign finance references: Marci Suelzer Campaign Committee, Martin McLaughlin For State Representative

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