firefighter equipment

SPRINGFIELD – The Girard Fire Protection District and the Witt Volunteer Fire Department are among 31 rural fire departments in Illinois that will receive federal grant funds to aid in the purchase of new equipment, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced today.

The Witt Volunteer Fire Department will receive $5,000 for new helmet and pants sets. The Girard Fire Protection District will receive $4,280 for a heavy-duty extractor, which cleans firefighting gear after exposure to smoke, debris and other toxic chemicals.

“These funds will help rural firefighters safely operate in the many hazardous situations they encounter while they’re protecting our communities,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), who represents both departments. “Providing them with safe and effective gear is the most valuable thing we can do to protect their long-term health.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program is administered in Illinois by IDNR.

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CHICAGO - State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) was today named co-chair of the Governor’s Commission for Equitable Funding for Early Childhood Education and Care by Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker. The commission will make recommendations on how to fund equitable access to high-quality early childhood education and care services for all children birth to age 5.

“Governor Pritzker has demonstrated real commitment to early education, and I’m confident that the commission can find a data-driven early childhood education financing plan that meets that needs of families in every region of the state and enables every child to benefit from a high-quality preschool experience,” Manar said.

Manar, who engineered the state’s historic Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) reform for K-12 schools in 2017, has long advocated equitable funding for early childhood education programs.

The commission will build on the state’s record investment of $100 million in early childhood education in the fiscal year 2020 budget, which will provide pre-K to 14,000 children across Illinois.

Manar was a vocal critic of the Rauner administration’s decision last year to cut all pre-K funding for dozens of schools across Central and Southern Illinois with no warning and little explanation. The move, which forced some schools to suspend their pre-K programs indefinitely, is something Manar says should never happen again.

“Changes made by the previous administration left entire counties in downstate Illinois without a single state-funded pre-K program. We’ve done a good job reversing some of those harmful changes, but we still have work to do,” Manar said. “A primary goal of this commission is to correct a broken system and propose a new, fair funding formula just like we did for K-12.”

The 29-member commission – consisting of child care providers, advocates, educators and legislators – will be led by co-chairs State Senator Andy Manar, former State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, Deputy Illinois Governor Jesse Ruiz, and former Illinois Early Learning Council member George Davis.

More than 250 new state laws will go into effect on Jan 1.

To help you find out how they may affect your daily life, the Illinois Senate Democrats Communications team recently put together a list of the more interesting laws taking effect in 2020! Click the image above to see what's in store.

maconplotSPRINGFIELD – Federally insured local farmers who utilize cover crops are now eligible to receive a discounted crop insurance rate under a new program advocated by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) Wednesday announced its cover crop discount program for acreage in Illinois planted to cover crops in the fall of 2019 that will be planted to an insurable crop in 2020. The program will allow eligible applicants to receive a $5-per-acre premium discount on the following year’s crop insurance invoice for every acre of cover crop enrolled and verified in the program.

The program was an initiative of State Senators Andy Manar and Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

“Farmers who utilize cover crops are making an investment in the overall quality of our soil, food and water, as well as their own future yields,” Manar said. “This program will help expand the ecological benefits of cover crops while supporting our local farmers’ bottom lines. Prioritizing these best practices is why Illinois remains at the forefront of agricultural production and quality.”

“Cover crops are an important part of preserving agriculture,” Bennett said. “As Senate Agriculture chair, I am encouraged by this program and that it represents another resource to farmers to help ensure the success of Illinois’ agriculture economy.”

The discount program was designed to promote additional acres of cover crops that are not covered by other state or federal incentives. IDOA will use a combination of tools to verify acres applied for through the pilot program are planted in cover crops. The program is only applicable for those with coverage through the United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency (USDA-RMA) crop insurance program. Confirmed applications will be forwarded to the USDA-RMA for processing and applying premium discounts to 2020 crop insurance invoices.

“Implementation of best management practices, such as cover crop application, continues to be a priority of the department,” said IDOA Director John Sullivan. “Adopters of cover cropping methods may have incurred additional risk and expenses and this program serves as an incentive for their work.”

Funding of eligible acreage will be on a first come, first serve basis capped at 50,000 acres. The closing date to apply for the premium discount is Jan. 15, 2020.

 

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