Senator Barickman's Senate Week in Review: November 3
State lawmakers return to Springfield Nov. 7 for the final days of fall veto session. Lawmakers are expected to take up several pieces of new legislation and possibly vote on other legislation vetoed by the Governor.
Also this week, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will begin to pour through thousands of surveys from across the state, advising them on how they can improve rest areas; the Illinois State Police is asking people to take part in a new logo contest; and new information is available on how people can protect themselves from a recent data breach.
Final week of Veto Session begins next week
State lawmakers return to Springfield Nov. 7 for the final week of the fall veto session. Issues that could come up during the scheduled three-day session include a property tax freeze, gun control measures, law enforcement being allowed to continue to use an eavesdropping device during investigations, credit agencies not being allowed to charge consumers who place or take off a security freeze on their credit report, and mandatory sexual harassment training for lawmakers, staff, and lobbyists, among other issues.
Lawmakers are expected to return to Springfield in January to begin a five-month legislative session.
Legislation helps municipalities save money when filing audits
Municipalities could file their annual audit with the Comptroller’s Office using a far easier method, saving them time and taxpayer dollars, under legislation filed at the Statehouse.
Senate Bill 2258 would allow municipalities to prepare their annual financial audit through either an accrual basis or cash basis accounting practices. In June, the Comptroller’s Office sent a letter requiring municipalities use only the accrual basis accounting practice, a method that is more complicated, time-consuming, and costly because oftentimes, an accounting firm has to be hired by the municipality to conduct the audit.
Many rural municipalities want to use cash basis accounting because their budgets are basic, small, and don’t justify them using accrual basis accounting.
According to accountingcoach.com, under the accrual basis method of accounting, revenues are reported on the income statement when they are earned and expenses are matched with the related revenues and/or are reported when the expense occurs, not when the cash is paid. Under the cash basis method of accounting, revenues are reported on the income statement when the cash is received.
Thousands offer IDOT advice on rest areas
The Illinois Department of Transportation will now start to analyze nearly 4,500 surveys about the condition of rest areas in Illinois. From Oct. 11-Oct. 29, IDOT offered people the chance to answer a 20-question survey about rest areas, ranging from their thoughts on rest rooms, water fountains, playgrounds, how satisfied they are when they use the state’s rest areas, how important certain features are to them, among other topics.
IDOT says the survey will help the agency when they consider how to rehab or possibly close rest areas throughout the state. IDOT says that many of their rest areas have reached a point where now is the time to evaluate their future. A date has not been determined for when IDOT will announce what rest areas will be rehabbed or possibly closed.
Thirty rests areas throughout the state are maintained by IDOT, serving more than 36 million travelers every year.
Creative? State Police want your design for new logo
The Illinois State Police (ISP) is asking all creative artists to design a logo to celebrate the ISP’s 100th anniversary in 2022. Contestants can submit up to three designs with the top three logo design winners all receiving cash prizes.
The contest is open to any active ISP employees, retirees, and community members. The 100th anniversary logo will be used in making commemorative stars, patches, car decals, letterhead, web design, advertising, and more.
The logo design will be judged off of five criteria. Files can be uploaded or paintings/drawings can be mailed. For more information and to submit a logo, go here: www.isphf.org/logo-contest
Updated information on protecting yourself from Equifax data breach
Illinois residents are urged to be vigilant following a massive data breach of consumer reporting agency Equifax, which announced on Sept. 8 that it suffered a breach affecting at least 143 million Americans. Information compromised in the breach includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, names, dates of birth, credit card numbers and addresses. This creates an ideal opportunity for impacted people to become victims of identity theft.
The company has set up a website where people can check whether their personal information potentially was affected by the breach: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/. Consumers with questions regarding Equifax’s data breach are encouraged to contact Equifax at 866-447-7559.
Illinois residents are urged to take the Equifax breach seriously and take precautions, such as:
· Seriously consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax;
· Regularly request your free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
· Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
· Consider placing alerts on your financial accounts so your financial institution alerts you when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
· Beware of potential phishing emails; don't open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
· Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.
· Visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com for more information.
· Equifax will provide free credit-monitoring and identity-theft protection.
· Sign up for a credit freeze with Equifax, Transunion, and Experian.
o Equifax: Call 800-349-9960. Free until November 21st.
o TransUnion at 888-909-8872 and Experian at 888-397-3742. There will be a $10 charge.
· Illinois Attorney General Resources
o Identity Theft Hotline: (866) 999-5630.
o Consumer information: http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/hotline.html
o Option to filing a complaint: https://ccformsubmission.ilattorneygeneral.net/
· The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the three credit reporting agencies to provide a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
People can also contact the state Attorney General’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1 (866) 999-5630 or review Identity Theft resources on the AG’s website. The hotline is staffed with identity theft experts who can help victims report the crime to local law enforcement and financial institutions, work to repair their credit and prevent future theft. Hotline operators can also assist callers who want to take proactive steps to prevent their personal information from being stolen.
The Attorney General is also calling on Equifax to suspend its charge for placing a credit freeze on their accounts in light of the significant risk of identity theft posted by the breach. Currently, Equifax is permitted to charge Illinois residents up to $10 to implement a credit freeze, remove a freeze or temporarily thaw a credit freeze, with limited exceptions for identity theft victims, individuals age 65 or older, and active duty military service members. In announcing the breach, Equifax also said it would offer free credit monitoring to everyone.