A Note from Jeff and COVID-19 Updates

Dear Neighbor,

I hope this note finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.  I know through the conversations I’ve had with so many of you that the struggles you face are real and appear daily.  My team and I have helped many of you find resources and assistance, and we will continue to do so.  I’ve been asked my opinion on what the Governor has been doing through his emergency executive authority and while frustrated with some actions I’ve stated the following: 

“The Governor is currently operating under his executive emergency powers.  I trust he is consulting with the best doctors, epidemiologists and health professionals in making his decisions and that he is operating in the best interests of the people of Illinois.  Once this is over and the danger has passed, we will be better able to judge his actions.”

I do find some of the decisions he has made have had significant impact where it may be unneeded and other areas where we need the Governor to act with greater speed and diligence than we’ve seen so far. 

We, the Illinois General Assembly, are a co-equal branch of Illinois State Government.  Right now the Governor is operating under his emergency powers.  I anticipate returning to Springfield for a limited legislative session sometime in May or June, but our state statute prevents us from meeting “online” or “virtually”. 

If you’re like me, there is a sense of fatigue and negative outlook that can set in with too much COVID-19.  We need to allow our mind a break.  To that end I want to share below some words from a recent Jon Gordon (http://www.jongordon.com/) newsletter who writes on leadership, overcoming adversity and self-improvement.  I thought twice about posting this as some will criticize it as oversimplification, or not being sensitive to real concerns of others.  To those critical people…please sign up for the Jon Gordon newsletter.  It seems you may need some positive guidance more than others.  To others reading below where the list gives a chance for reflection or glimmer of hope in your outlook, be the sounding board for others that they need more now than ever.


1.            Tell yourself a positive story.

2.            Model success.

3.            Focus on the important stuff.

4.            Replace “have to” with “get to.”

5.            Talk to Yourself instead of Listen to Yourself.

6.            Feed the Positive Dog.

7.            Create a positive vision.

8.            Invite others on your bus.

9.            No more complaining.

Finally, I want to say thank you to those on the front lines of this virus outbreak.  Those that need to continue to work so we can carry on, I thank you and know it cannot be easy on your families and friends.  I know your little ones are afraid.  I know the elderly and those with conditions are scared for their future.  I know those not working can’t sleep at night, kept up by worry.  Business owners are looking for a path forward and farmers are in search of markets that will allow them to sell what they raise.  It is not an easy time. 

As many before have said “the tough and tragic times you live through shall define you and your generation” or “a crisis defines a person’s true character.”  We know there will be an end at some point.  We know we will have wounds that need to heal.  We know that an honest and truthful appraisal of our mutual future and the path we collectively take will not be like the path that got us this far.  Please be wise, don’t be petty.  Please be compassionate and not cutting.  Please be the best YOU so the rest of us can see who to emulate.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be your Representative. 

God bless you all, Jeff

Local Resources

Check our Facebook page for video recaps on social services, business supports and more COVID-19 related updates. Here also are links to several of the outstanding local organizations that serve our community which continue to offer a variety of services and resources to those in need.

DeKalb County UNITES

DeKalb County Community Gardens

Voluntary Action Center

Family Service Agency

Safe Passage

Northern Illinois Food Bank

State Resources

Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES)

Illinois COVID-19 Updates

SOS Extends Expiration Dates

The Secretary of State’s office has filed emergency rules extending expiration dates for driver’s licenses, identification (ID) cards, vehicle registrations, and other transactions and document filings for at least 90 days after Driver Services facilities reopen. The previous extension was for 30 days. This move will ensure driver’s licenses, ID cards, and vehicle registrations remain valid during the COVID-19 pandemic and will help alleviate the rush of customers visiting Driver Services facilities once they reopen.

As a reminder, while Driver Services facilities are closed to the public through April 30, residents are encouraged to go to www.cyberdriveillinois.com to take advantage of many online services – such as renewing vehicle registration stickers – from the comfort of their own home. Some of these online services include:

• renewing a vehicle registration;

• applying for a vehicle title and registration;

• obtaining a duplicate driver’s license or ID card;

• obtaining a driving record abstract;

• renewing a standard driver’s license with the Safe Driver Renewal program.

In addition, with regards to CDL (Commercial Drivers License) the SOS has made a rule change so that employers who are registered with the Secretary of State’s office as Third Party Testers can send in a completion form for each student that indicates the student took the road exam and the results of that exam. A commercial driver’s license will be processed in Springfield and mailed to the driver. If the employer is not a Third Party tester, then the applicant will have to wait for Secretary of State Driver Services facilities to open.

FOID/CCL Expirations Also Extended

The Illinois State Police (ISP) filed emergency rules that extend the expiration date of current Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) cards and Concealed Carry License (CCL) licensees during the Covid-19 outbreak.  These rules are designed to provide FOID card holders and CCL relief from the renewal requirements during the effects of the pandemic. They are as follows:

• FOID card holders, who submit their renewal application will remain valid during the duration of the state’s disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following the termination of the disaster, even if their renewal application is/was not submitted prior to expiration.

• CCL licensees, who submit their renewal application, will remain valid during the duration of the state’s disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following its termination, even if their CCL renewal application was not submitted prior to expiration.

• CCL licensees will not be required to immediately submit proof of three-hour training with their CCL renewal application.

• CCL licensees will need to submit proof of their three-hour renewal training within 12 months following the termination of the state’s disaster proclamation in order to maintain the validity of their CCL license.

ISP will continue to enforce both FOID and CCL prohibitors. FOID card holders who receive revocation notices shall return their FOID and Firearm Disposition Record form to the Illinois State Police. CCL holders who receive revocation notices shall return their CCL license to the Illinois State Police.

Childcare Services for Essential Workers

If you or someone you know is classified as an essential worker and you need childcare services, 4-C: Community Coordinated Child Care is here to help. On Tuesday, Rep. Tom Demmer and I hosted a livestream on Facebook with 4-C executive director Susan Petersen to give our essential workers and local childcare providers the latest information on what resources and financial assistance is available.

Please click HERE to watch the broadcast and get your questions answered. 

For more information, check out 4-C’s COVID-19 resources page by clicking HERE or call toll-free at 800-848-8727.

Illinois Unemployment System Struggling

Under federal law, each state controls its own unemployment insurance (UI) system, which is supposed to respond when an insurance-eligible worker is laid off. In the most-recently reported week of U.S. unemployment totals, 6 million additional Americans took steps to file for unemployment benefits. More than 200,000 of these new filers are residents of Illinois. According to IDES – through the last five weeks ending April 4, there have been 513,173 initial unemployment claims filed. To put that into perspective:

▪ 5 times greater than total initial claims in the first five weeks of the 2008 Great Recession

▪ Nearly 8 times greater than in the first five weeks of the 2001 recession

▪ Greater than the total number of initial claims for the twelve months of 2019 (489,831)

Under current conditions, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) and its UI system are being asked to help hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans who have been laid off, or who are facing imminent layoff. In addition, UI systems are being asked to administer at least two key elements of federal aid for hard-hit people under the CARES Act. These elements include: (a) supplemental payments for many laid-off employees, and (b) supplemental payments for many persons who are workers in non-employer/employee relationships. These include so-called “gig workers,’ such as drivers of motor vehicles that are hailed by phone app through Uber and similar services.

These benefits are being administered through the choke points of state unemployment insurance systems, because these are the systems that individuals are supposed to use to demonstrate and prove the fact that they have actually lost their jobs. Unfortunately, under the accumulated weight of these responsibilities, as of early April 2020, the IDES UI system has partially collapsed. Throughout Illinois, people who need help from IDES are facing jammed computers and busy phone lines. People are being stymied in their attempts to prove their unemployment status and file for benefits.

In his daily briefing on Tuesday, Governor Pritzker announced that IDES is working to expand call center capacity and hours of operation in order to serve more Illinoisans in a timely manner. This alone, however, does not adequately address all of our concerns.

The federal government’s CARES Act allows for any self-employed workers, gig workers and independent contractors to apply for unemployment insurance for the first time. While states across the country have started rolling out this new plan, the Governor’s Office announced that Illinois will not be prepared to begin opening up access to these workers until the week of May 11. The State of New York, in the midst of dealing with far and away the highest death toll and the most positive cases of COVID-19 of any state, is already set-up today for the self-employed, gig workers and independent contractors to apply for unemployment. Illinois is far, far behind where we need to be to provide access to unemployment for this large pool of workers. This is wholly unacceptable and tragic.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin is demanding action be taken by IDES to help unemployed Illinoisans and called on them to hire competent outside help and develop public-private partnerships. He held a Zoom press conference on Monday to discuss the issue. You can watch it on Blueroomstream HERE.

Amazon Responds to Price Gouging

Last week Illinois officials sent a letter to Amazon regarding the efforts of online retailers to combat price gouging related to COVID-19. Here is part of Amazon’s response:

“There is no place for price gouging on Amazon, and we will not tolerate attempts to artificially raise prices on basic-need products during a global health crisis. Our long-standing Marketplace Fair Pricing Policy strictly prohibits excessive prices on products and shipping. We proactively monitor our stores for unfair prices, and we aggressively enforce this policy in order to protect our customers. We have suspended more than 3,900 seller accounts in our U.S. store alone for violating our price gouging policies.

We have also pursued strong partnerships with law enforcement at all levels to hold bad actors accountable for abuse in our stores. For instance, we proactively reached out to every state attorney general’s office on March 6, 2020 to offer our assistance with any price gouging investigations and enforcement.”

You can report price gouging with the Illinois Attorney General HERE.