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SPRINGFIELD – Improvements to the Illinois State Police Department’s Joliet crime lab and increasing contracting opportunities for minorities were the focus as lawmakers met Thursday in Springfield to hear about the state’s infrastructure improvement needs.

Members of the Joint Subcommittees on Capital, led by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago), heard testimony from the Illinois State Police and members of local government about local infrastructure projects that need to be funded and potential revenue sources to pay for them.

“The depth and breadth of the state’s infrastructure needs is mind boggling. The takeaway from these Senate hearings is simple: There is tremendous need throughout Illinois for highway construction, bridge repairs, college and university building projects, environmental investments and more,” Manar said.

“Our challenge now is finding a way to pay for them. I’m eager to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a way to make these long-overdue investments in our infrastructure and make a plan for doing so on a more regular basis.”

Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly recommended directing funding to improving to the department’s Joliet crime lab, which he said is in dire need investment to bring it up to current forensic science standards.

“The needs are getting to the point where it’s a desperate situation,” Kelly said. “There are people there that do hard work every day that are going to decide the fate of people who have been charged with a crime or that are going to decide whether a victim gets justice.”

The Springfield hearing was the eighth and final installment of the subcommittees’ tour of the state to hear input from interested groups about infrastructure improvement needs. Lawmakers will now consider the testimony they heard over the last few months as they develop a plan to fund construction projects in Illinois.

SPRINGFIELD – Students and faculty from Pana and Taylorville met with State Senator Andy Manar Tuesday at the Capitol to demonstrate innovative technology-driven projects they developed and to explain how technology is becoming a more important part of their education every day.

The students were at the Capitol for 2019 Tech Day, an annual showcase that offers an opportunity for students throughout Illinois to show state lawmakers how they use devices, the internet and digital curriculum to learn and innovate in school.

“I continue to be floored by students’ comfort with technology and their desire to push the boundaries of learning with all kinds of tools that are available to them today,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said.

Manar met with students from Pana Washington Elementary School and Taylorville Junior High.

  • Pana: Students Brynlee Tipsword and Jeff Scoles, both second graders; Kim Hahnenkamp, second-grade teacher; and Amanda Skinner, technology integration specialist.
  • Taylorville Junior High, group 1: Audrey Curtin, 13, and Mia Morelock, 12, both seventh graders; Lynn Rice, teacher, seventh-grade geography and eighth-grade history; and Tammy Reindl, technology integration specialist.
  • Taylorville Junior High, group 2: Tripp Pelichoff, Sophie Robinson and A.J. Picket, all eighth graders; and Jordan Andruch, teacher, seventh-grade science and eighth-grade STEM.

Pana students (left to right): State Senator Andy Manar, Jeff Scoles, Brynlee Tipsword, Kim Hahnenkamp and Amanda Skinner.

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Taylorville photo (left to right): Audrey Curtin, Mia Morelock, Sophie Robinson, Tripp Pelichoff, A.J. Picket and State Senator Andy Manar.

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Manar and Carlinville students DST bill 650

CARLINVILLE – Based on a recommendation from a group of Carlinville High School seniors, State Senator Andy Manar is sponsoring legislation to make daylight saving time the year-round standard in Illinois.

Senate Bill 533 would eliminate the statewide practice of moving clocks ahead by an hour on the second Sunday of March every year.

The legislation was spurred by a group of Carlinville High School seniors who put together a civics action plan for their civics class and chose to ask lawmakers to eliminate the time change in Illinois. They sought a meeting with Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and made their case to him directly.

“After their presentation, during which I peppered them with numerous questions, I committed to them that I would introduce legislation in the Illinois Senate to make daylight saving time the standard, year-round time in Illinois,” Manar said. “I was impressed with the very strong case they presented, and their proposal deserves a debate in Springfield.”

The students – Andrew DeNeve, Tyler Behme, Travis Osborn, Tristen Burns and Tucker Green – agreed to present their research before a Senate committee when the legislation advances in Springfield.
DeNeve, 18, of Carlinville said he personally finds the switch between daylight saving and standard time to be an annoyance and a distraction. He proposed the idea to his civics group, and the students agreed it would be a good issue to pursue.

“Spring forward especially is annoying because everybody loses an hour of sleep, and it just leads to an unproductive week overall at school,” DeNeve said.

Logan Ridenour has been teaching civics for seven years at Carlinville, which has been recognized by the McCormick Foundation as an Illinois Democracy School.

All seniors are required to take his course and complete a civics action plan. They must pick an issue for which they want to advocate, write up a proposal, then dig into the policy and figure out who they need to meet with to make their case and effect change. They also have to run a public relations campaign for their issue on Twitter and record a public service announcement.

Ridenour said that while he encourages students to pick an issue with a local focus, the students in DeNeve’s group chose a topic with statewide interest.

“They surpassed all expectations,” he said. “These are good, dedicated kids with varied backgrounds and future plans, and they were able to sit down and work through it and get it all hammered out. That’s part of being a member of an active citizenry. You have to know the avenues. If I see something I don’t like and I want to make a change, how do I go about it?”

DeNeve, who will attend Princeton University after graduation later this month, said the project has helped him learn a lot about being an engaged citizen.

“Honestly, none of us thought this would get very far, so we were excited with Senator Manar said he would author a bill. We kind of expected a rejection there,” DeNeve said. “It’s been exciting for us and it’s taught us that our elected officials are there represent us and that citizens play a crucial part in our lawmaking process by coming up with the ideas. I think it worked better than I expected it to.”

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) welcomed Nokomis High School senior Cody Knodle to the Capitol this week as part of his Future Leaders program.

Knodle, 17, is the son of Mark and Julie Knodle of Fillmore. He is a member and past president of the school’s FFA chapter. He also is a 4-H member, and he judges livestock throughout the year. He shows cattle and helps with his family’s farm.

During his visit Wednesday, Knodle toured the Capitol, joined Manar in committee hearings, attended a news conference about vertical construction needs in Illinois, and accompanied the senator onto the Senate floor where lawmakers debated and voted on legislation.

 

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