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With the year-long Bicentennial celebration underway, let’s find out just how much you know about Illinois’ history. Take this quiz and learn how much you know about Illinois' past. Click here to start the quiz.
Illinois’ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps eligible low-income households pay for winter energy services. The program’s heat and electric assistance is a one-time benefit payment per heating season. The amount received depends upon household size, income and energy costs.

A household is eligible for heating assistance through LIHEAP if the combined income is at or below the levels shown in the accompanying chart. For more information on this program, click here.
A statewide helpline has been launched to provide immediate assistance for those impacted by addiction to opioids and other substances. The helpline can be accessed free of charge by dialing 1-833-2FINDHELP.

The helpline will provide a confidential outlet for individuals experiencing opioid use disorders, their families and anyone affected by the disease. It will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by specialists trained in evidence-based approaches to help connect callers with treatment and recovery-support services.

The helpline is the latest step in Illinois lawmakers’ commitment to tackle the opioid crisis and combat the growing number of overdose deaths related to heroin, other opioids, and synthetics like fentanyl. Officials from the Rauner administration have been meeting throughout the year to establish an agenda to combat the epidemic, and the Governor unveiled the Opioid Action Plan and signed Executive Order 2017-05 creating the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force in September of this year. The task force, chaired by Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Nirav Sha, was charged with building strategies that would help reduce projected opioid overdose-related deaths by one-third within the next three years.

Another policy established under Executive Order 2017-05 was a Standing Order to make the overdose reversal drug Naloxone (Narcan) available to first responders and members of communities across Illinois, without a prescription.

IDPH data shows opioid overdoses killed 1,946 people in Illinois in 2016 — more than one and a half times the number of homicides and nearly twice the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents. In addition, data from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) estimates that approximately 248,000 Illinois residents need, but do not receive, treatment for illicit drug use.

The Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances is funded by federal grant dollars that the State of Illinois secured from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Opioid State Targeted Response grant is administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.
State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) announced today that $621,765 in grant funds that have been owed to Danville’s David S. Palmer Arena for more than three years should finally be released within the next few weeks.

“When I learned the remaining portion of an initial $850,000 grant was finally being released to the Danville Civic Center, I thought the Center couldn’t possibly receive a better or timelier Christmas gift,” said Hays, who fought relentlessly for the release of the overdue funds. “This grant was part of a statewide program launched during the Quinn administration in 2014 to revitalize civic centers and promote tourism across the state. Unfortunately, while some of the grants were distributed, funds awarded to the Palmer Arena were frozen in early 2015. As an issue of fairness, I was not going to allow Danville’s share of that money fall by the wayside.”

Governor Bruce Rauner approved the release of remaining funds this week and said, “The David S. Palmer Arena is a real asset to the Danville Community. We’re happy to release these capitol funds to help with physical infrastructure upgrades that will support this facility, providing fun for generations to come.”

Peter Blackmon, General Manager of the David S. Palmer Arena, said the delays tied to the Danville grant have been frustrating. “To have that carrot dangled in front of us only to see it pulled away again and again was extremely frustrating, so learning that the money is finally coming through a bond sale taking place next week is tremendous news,” Blackmon said. “Representative Hays never forgot how important that money was for us and he never stopped fighting for it. We certainly thank him for the tenacity with which he kept this issue alive until the remaining money was released.”

The Danville Civic Center opened in 1980 and was later named the David S. Palmer Arena. It is a staple of Danville’s downtown corridor, offering a conference center, concert hall and a venue for athletic and other regional events. In addition to providing meeting space and entertainment in Central Illinois, events at the civic center boost economic activity at area restaurants, retail stores, hotels and other recreational and tourism activities in the area.
As a member of the Illinois General Assembly, State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) earlier this year lead a bipartisan vote on a bill to fund 911 emergency services, encouraging his colleagues to support the measure so vital services were not disrupted in any part of the state.

As Chad Hays, member of the bipartisan musical group the Boat Drink Caucus comprised of Illinois lawmakers who cover Jimmy Buffett, Marshall Tucker, and the early Rolling Stones, he thinks he’s found something to do long after his days in the General Assembly are over.

Representative Hays recently sat down for an interview for the new caucus series “Have All Voted Who Wish” to talk about both issues. Click here to listen to that interview.
This Tuesday, November 28 is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving to worthwhile charitable organizations across the state, nation and globe. Celebrated annually on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday is a coordinated event that promotes the act of charitable giving during the holidays. Whether you like to donate to large organizations or prefer to channel your donation dollars locally, Giving Tuesday allows us all an opportunity to participate in holiday and end-of-the-year giving. 

Click here to be directed to a database of local organizations and non-profits.
Judicial, government and civic leaders have announced the launch of the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN), the first-ever statewide hotline and network of legal support services for veterans, active-duty military, National Guard, reservists and their dependents. Through the IL-AFLAN, veterans and military personnel can obtain free legal help for urgent family, housing and consumer problems, as well as issues such as discharge upgrades and benefit appeals.

The free hotline can be accessed at 1-855-452-3526 (1-855-ILAFLAN) and is staffed by attorneys Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM until 4:30 PM. Serving as the entry point to the IL-AFLAN, the hotline will offer legal advice and brief services and then connect veterans and military personnel to legal aid providers near their community. Nine organizations, spanning every major area of the state, have received grants to provide legal aid services as part of the IL-AFLAN. To be eligible for services through this new program, veterans and active duty military members need to have an income less than 80 percent of the Chicago area median income. For a family of four, this translates into $63,000 annually.