From the Desk of Senator Brian W. Stewart: “New laws, flooding update, and upcoming agriculture events”

A new law that seeks to make Illinois’ roadways safer for emergency personnel was signed into law on July 30. I attended the signing ceremony in Rockford. As a retired law enforcement officer, I take the loss of every brother or sister in blue personally.

Senate Bill 2038 is the result of a series of distracted-driving accidents earlier this year – one in northwest Illinois – that resulted in the death of three ISP Troopers.

On March 28, Trooper Brooke Jones-Story was struck and killed by a semitrailer during a roadside inspection of another truck along Route 20 near Route 75 in Freeport.  On April 3, Governor J.B. Pritzker, ISP Acting Director Brendan Kelly and scores of ISP Troopers joined hundreds of people who paid tribute to Trooper Jones-Story, a 12-year ISP veteran, during a memorial service in the Warren High School Gymnasium.

Trooper Gerald Ellis was on duty March 30 when he was killed in a head-on collision with a vehicle traveling the wrong way on Interstate 94. His funeral service was set for April 5 in Grayslake.

Their deaths brought to three the number of troopers killed in 2019.  On January 12, Trooper Christopher Lambert was killed after being hit by a car on I-294 while at the scene of an accident.

Senate Bill 2038 mandates the Secretary of State to include at least one question on the written driving test in regards to Scott’s Law, the safety standard in place requiring drivers to move over, if possible, and slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle.

The new law also creates the Move Over Task Force to study the issue of violations of Scott’s Law with attention to the causes of the violations and ways to protect law enforcement and emergency responders.

Scott’s Law was named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department, who was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while assisting at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Senate Bill 2038 received unanimous support when it came before the Senate in May.

Hunting educational opportunities available

Legislation aimed at promoting hunting education and safety was signed into law on July 26. 

House Bill 3462 gives school districts the option to include hunting safety classes as part of their curriculum. The measure allows the Illinois State Board of Education to prepare and distribute instructional materials as guidelines for development of a unit of instruction on hunting education.

Schools will have final determination on what curriculum, if any, is taught in the classroom.

Having received the Governor’s signature, the new law takes effect immediately. 

Flooding disaster proclamation issued for 36 counties

In light of recent historic flooding that has impacted river communities across the state, an extended disaster proclamation has been issued for the 36 most-affected counties.

Adams, Alexander, Brown, Bureau, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Fulton, Greene, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jackson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Knox, LaSalle, Madison, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Monroe, Morgan, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Randolph, Rock Island, Schuyler, Scott, St. Clair, Tazewell, Union, Whiteside, and Woodford Counties have all been declared state disaster areas as flooding and the aftermath of the unprecedented devastation continues to pose safety hazards to the public.

A state disaster declaration allows state agency resources to assist local governments in responding and recovering, in this case to severe and prolonged flooding devastation.

As some areas remain inaccessible and communities undergo flood fighting and dewatering activities, a request has been made that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aid in damage assessments in 30 Illinois counties to provide a comprehensive overview of the flooding impact.

For updates on the flooding situation, visit the Ready Illinois website at

Illinois State Fair runs August 8-18

The 2019 Illinois State Fair gets under way August 8 in Springfield. The 11-day event brings hundreds of thousands of people through its gates in celebration of 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 August 8-18. Admission is $10 for adults on Fridays and Saturdays, and $5 all other days; $3 for senior citizens (60+); and free for kids (0-12).

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

Farm Progress Show set for August

The annual Farm Progress Show is scheduled to take place August 27-29 in Decatur.

The nation’s largest outdoor farm event will feature more than 600 exhibitors, displaying innovative farm equipment, products, services and supplies. The three-day agricultural showcase also promises field demonstrations of cattle-handling, new work techniques and equipment operations.

Show hours run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday/Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. More information on the Farm Progress Show can be found at

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