On Friday, June 26, all of Illinois moved into Phase 4 of Governor Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan. While we will enjoy a few loosened restrictions, Phase 4 is still quite restrictive. For example, indoor seating at restaurants is limited to 25% of capacity, and bowling alleys and movie theaters are limited to 50% capacity or 50 patrons, whichever is lower. As is the case with many elements of the reopen plan, I find many elements of Phase 4 to be overly restrictive and a barrier toward economic recovery. We’re all reading about businesses that are going under and closing their doors for good. There is an undeniable lack of balance between people’s physical health and the economic health of our state. Click here to learn more about the rules included in Phase 4 of the Pritzker reopen plan.
Grant Launches Student Spotlight program
We’ve seen a lot of heartbreak this year, yet I’ve also seen glimmers of hope through the kindness and positive actions exhibited by area residents. Being especially inspired by news of young people doing good in their hometowns and beyond, I am creating a program to honor local students making a difference.
So many of our young people are out in the world doing good deeds, undertaking service projects or making interesting discoveries that are changing our community, our state and our world for the better. I just want to take a moment to shine a spotlight on all the good happening around us and express my appreciation for their efforts–big and small.
Each month, I will post a brief shout-out on Facebook to a young person from the 42nd District who has contributed in a positive way to their community, the state or beyond. Parents, students, educators or other community members in the area are invited to recommend individual young people from 42nd House District to be recognized in the Student Spotlight for their positive actions.
Just send a brief email with the nominee’s name, grade/school and hometown, along with a short explanation of how they are making a difference to me at email@example.com. If you have a photo of the nominee in action or even just a snap of their smiling face, please include that as well. Submissions also can be mailed to me at Rep. Amy Grant at 416 E. Roosevelt Road, Suite 111, Wheaton, IL 60187.
Grant Legislative Office Reopening for Scheduled Appointments
As you know, for the last few months we’ve been working remotely. I’m happy to announce that effective immediately my office is open for appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays. To make an appointment please email me at Grant@ilhousegop.org or call the office at (331) 218-4182.
ISBE and IDPH Announce Rules for Return to In-Person Learning
Parents and educators have been waiting for a long time to see the official guidance for how our schools will educate children in the fall. Last week the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced guidelines for Illinois schools to safely return to in-person Instruction. The plan includes the wearing of masks, limited class sizes, and heightened cleaning requirements. The rules have already sparked a spirited debate between those who feel the rules are too strict and those who feel they are appropriate or don’t go far enough. Click here to learn more.
BP Offering Fuel Discount for First Responders
BP has launched a new fuel discount offer for first responders, including doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, by offering them 15 cents off per gallon on every fill up at BP and Amoco for the 60-day time period that began on June 15. Program sign up is available through bp.com/localheroes. This new offer builds on the more than $8 million in fuel discounts issued to over 650,000 responders and medical workers since April 2020 along with BP’s donation of 3 million gallons of jet fuel to ensure PPE and other essential goods are delivered to U.S. communities. For more information,click here.
Rep. Grant Visits Local Businesses, Shares List of Resources
Last week I spend a few days visiting with the owners of small businesses lining the streets of downtown Winfield. There are grants and loans available to all size businesses, and I shared that information with shop owners. I’m shown here at Shamrocks Florist. I couldn’t resist picking out a petite African Violet for my sun-room window!
Applications Live for $85 Million in New Grants to Help Businesses and Communities Recover
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has posted applications for two new business and economic recovery programs. Both programs offer priority for small businesses whose operations were heavily restricted or completely shut down during the pandemic, for those located in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs), as well as those in communities damaged by recent civil unrest. DIAs are low-income areas that have experienced high rates of COVID-19 cases.
New Business Interruption Grants Program
The first round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) will provide $60 million to businesses experiencing losses or business interruption as a result of COVID-19 related closures. The BIG Program is available for up to 3,500 businesses and DCEO will begin distributing funds to qualifying businesses mid-July. Applications for this grant will be accepted between Friday, June 26 and 5:00 PM on Tuesday, July 7.
Specifically, the program includes support for:
- Businesses in Disproportionate Impacted Areas (DIAs) – $20 million for businesses that are located in a subset of DIAs that have recently experienced significant property damage, providing 1,000 grants of $20,000 each
- Bars and Restaurants – $20 million for bars and restaurants unable to offer outside service, providing at least 1,000 grants of up to $20,000 each
- Barbershops and Salons – $10 million for barbershops and salons, providing 1,000 grants of $10,000 each
- Gyms and Fitness Centers – $10 million for gyms and fitness centers that have lost significant revenue due to COVID-19, providing 500 grants of $20,000 each
Rebuild Distressed Communities Program
The Rebuild Distressed Communities (RDC) program will provide $25 million to support Illinois businesses that have sustained property damage as a result of civil unrest. Through this program, a grant administrator will reimburse the costs to repair structural damages that have already been performed, including repairs to storefronts and entrances, improving electrical systems, and restoring exterior work. For work yet to be completed, the administrator will partner with local contractors and pay for them to perform the work. Projects that were denied coverage by an insurance company are eligible, but must include documentation proving denial or lack of coverage. For additional information about this program or how to apply, please click here, or contact the Governor’s Office of Grants Management at CEO.OGMgrants@illinois.gov.
COVID-19 Utility Relief Available through ICC
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has approved a program that helps ensure eligible residential and small business utility customers can continue to receive life-saving electric, gas, water and sewer services once the moratorium on disconnections for non-payment and late payment fees expires. On Thursday, the ICC voted unanimously in favor of a stipulated agreement negotiated by Commission Staff, the Attorney General’s Office and other consumer advocate groups, and the state’s largest utilities, offering temporary, more flexible credit and collection procedures to customers financially hard hit by COVID-19. A separate agreement was also approved with smaller electricity, gas and water utilities that serve Illinois residents. Click here to learn more.
In addition, the state has increased funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) programs to help families impacted by the pandemic. Applicants for these programs will be served on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted. These programs provide assistance with food, rent, utilities, temporary shelter, medicine and other essential household services. To learn more about these assistance programs, click here.
Don’t Forget that Taxes are Due on July 15
Just a reminder that state individual income tax returns and payments are due July 15, the same date set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for federal returns. Taxpayers who have yet to file their 2019 state individual income tax returns must act by July 15 to avoid penalties and interest.
The fastest, most secure way to receive a refund is to file a tax return electronically and request direct deposit into a checking or savings account. Taxpayers may file and pay their IL-1040 for free through MyTax Illinois. Taxpayers who have already filed a return can check their status by using the Where’s My Refund? link located at www.MyTax.Illinois.Gov. For the most up-to-date information, forms, schedules, and instructions for the 2019 tax year, please visit IDOR’s website at: tax.illinois.gov. IDOR offices are currently closed to the public; taxpayers needing assistance can contact the department by phone at 800-732-8866 or via email (addresses available at tax.illinois.gov).