Senator Barickman’s Senate Week in Review: July 26

Governor signs Barickman’s bill to update school records rules

Illinois schools now have more options for long-term student records that could save taxpayer funds, due to legislation sponsored by State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and signed into law on July 27.

“This is common-sense answer to a problem that many of schools face, that could potential save the districts money,” said Sen. Barickman. “This will actually make it easier for schools to comply with record-keeping rules by updating the process and requirements.”

Senate Bill 117 provides an updated set of rules for how schools handle, store, and potentially destroy long-term student records.

Under the old law, many records are required to be kept by schools for certain periods of time, often a period of 60 years. After that, they could’ve been disposed of or moved to electronic copies unless the district was able to contact the parent and offer them a chance to copy the information in the record. The previous standard was communication by US mail to the last known address of the parent, or to publish a notice in a newspaper.

Barickman’s legislation allows school districts to send notice via email with receipt confirmation, and also allows the communications to go to the student, if they are of age (or if the parental rights have been transferred to the student in the case of a student under 18).

“The old rules meant that school districts were stuck spending unnecessary funds on postage and long-term storage of records,” said Barickman. “The new law will help schools devote less time and money to this process, allowing them to devote those resources where they belong, in the classroom.”

The idea for the legislation came from a school in Barickman’s district.

“This legislation will make it easier for school districts to provide timely notice to parents and students prior to the destruction of school student records, and will relieve the burden on school districts of storing a significant amount of documents beyond the statutorily required timeframe,” said Curt Richardson, Attorney for McLean Unit District 5. “Unit 5 thanks Senator Barickman for his efforts in passing this helpful legislation.”

The legislation passed the Senate on March 27 and is now headed to the Illinois House for consideration in that chamber.

Those impacted by Equifax breach to receive restitution

The 147 million consumers in the United State and the 5.4 million Illinoisans who were impacted by the 2017 Equifax breach could be in line for a cash payment. The credit monitoring company is settling a federal lawsuit, which is expected to be approved by a federal judge.

Equifax has created a website for consumers to see if they qualify for any benefits, which can include a $125 payment or free credit monitoring, or even up to $20,000, depending on how much time someone took to address identity theft.

The benefits will not be distributed or available until the settlement is officially approved by the court.

Equifax announced Monday that the company will pay a total of $425 million in restitution, including more than $7.3 million for Illinoisans.

Illinois crops still lagging behind

After a late start due to a cold, wet spring, Illinois farmers are facing crops that remain significantly behind schedule. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, as of July 21, only 36 percent of Illinois corn has the reached the silking stage, which is the first step in the process of producing corn kernels. This compares to 96 percent at the same point in 2018, and 84 percent for the four-year average.

Soybeans aren’t faring much better, with only 30 percent of the soybeans blooming. At the same time in 2018, 87 percent of soybeans were blooming, and the five-year average is 72 percent.

The overall crop quality has taken a hit, as well. On July 21, 2018, 82 percent of the corn crop was rated as good or excellent, with 78 percent of soybeans receiving the same rating. At the same time this year, however, only 43 percent of corn and 45 percent of soybeans received the good or excellent rating.

Farmers who grow winter wheat haven’t fallen as far behind though. The state wheat crop currently stands at 94 percent harvested, just slightly behind the five-year average of 97 percent.

Illinois State Fair kicks off August 8

The 2019 Illinois State Fair gets underway Aug. 8 in Springfield. The 11-day event, which brings hundreds of thousands of people through its gates, celebrates agriculture, the state’s number one employer and driver of the state’s economy.

This year’s fair will feature livestock shows, harness racing, carnival rides, a wide variety of live music and entertainers, and dozens of food and product vendors from across the state.

The Illinois State Fair runs Aug. 8-18. Admission is $10 for adults on Fridays and Saturday, and $5 all other days; $3 for senior citizens (60+); and free for kids (0-12). Fairgoers looking to get the most bang for their buck on carnivals rides have until July 31 to purchase a $70 mega pass, which is good for unlimited rides all 11 days of the Fair.

For daily schedules and lists of vendors, competitions, attractions, and the Grandstand lineup, check out the Illinois State Fair website.

Want to stay up to date with your Senator?

Sign up for the District E-Newsletter below: