Book club MARYVILLE – With a week before the deadline, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) and State Senator Rachelle Aud Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) are encouraging students to participate in their Summer Book Clubs.

“Reading encourages healthy brain development and lifelong learning,” Belt said. “As we near the end of the summer, it’s important to start the school year off right. Turn in your book club forms so we can celebrate the beginning of a new school year.”

Both Summer Book Clubs require students to read eight books of their choice during the summer break, record the names of the books, and return the form to Belt or Crowe’s office by Aug. 11. The senators will provide a prize to all students who complete the challenge.

“Reading encourages children to develop a lifelong interest in books while maintaining comprehension skills as they transition to the next grade level,” Crowe said. “Reading keeps young minds active, and I’m excited to incentivize students to stay engaged until class starts.”

Residents living in Sen. Belt’s district can visit his website to download the form, and residents living in Sen. Crowe’s district can also visit her website. Residents who aren’t sure which district they live in can download either form and return it to the respective district office. The senator’s office will contact each participant with prize information.

Category: Press Releases

HB 3940 Belt

SPRINGFIELD – Technicians will be entitled to fairer compensation thanks to a measure sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) that was signed into law Friday.

“Automotive technicians will now be compensated fairly for their expertise and skill set,” Belt said. “Manufacturers are taking advantage of the technicians with unjust pay that simply is inadequate for how long and hard these specialists work.”

Under the new law, manufacturers must pay dealerships the same effective labor rate as the dealership receives for customer-pay repairs. Currently, that's often not the case, even as technicians are using the same skills and expertise to perform what is effectively the same type of work.

The law also requires manufacturers to reimburse dealerships for parts at the same rate retail customers are charged, and prohibits manufacturers from imposing any type of cost recovery fee or surcharge against a dealership for payments made under this law.

“This is really a David and Goliath story. Technicians, especially in smaller shops, have little recourse if a major auto manufacturer decides to pay them poorly,” Belt said. “Large companies have no right to use their position to pressure these shops into discounted labor.”

The law takes effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

SB 1765 Belt

SPRINGFIELD – Women, minorities and people with disabilities will have better employment opportunities thanks to a measure sponsored by State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) signed into law today that changes the job interview process at state agencies.

“We want all minorities to have the same employment opportunities that other people have when applying to work for the state,” Belt said. “It’s essential we identify the issues minorities face and ensure applicants are hired fairly.”

The new law creates the Equal Opportunity Employment Interview Initiative and requires state agencies to implement hiring goals for certain target groups, including women, minorities and people with disabilities.

During a multiple stage or panel interview process, if an applicant has a disability or identifies as a minority, a woman, or bilingual, state agencies have to assign an interviewer who represents the same group.

In addition, in an annual report to the governor and General Assembly, state agencies would be required to disclose:

  • the number of interviewees from target groups,
  • the number of interviews in which both the applicant and an interviewer were representative of the same target group, and
  • the number of applicants from target groups who were hired under the Equal Opportunity Employment Interview Initiative.

“Illinois is diverse in many ways, but we need to continue to break down the barriers of systemic racism if we’re to see that diversity in state government,” Belt said. “Having a diverse panel will help our state be more inclusive in the hiring process.”

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Category: Press Releases

macbook EAST ST. LOUIS – To expand digital access in the Metro East, State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea) is urging local organizations to apply for the second round of state broadband grant funding.

“People rely on the internet. As the pandemic forced many people to work from home and participate in school remotely, access to the internet became a necessity,” Belt said. “I want to spread the word that applications are open for organizations to apply for broadband funding as we work to eliminate the digital divide.”

The Office of Broadband Regional Engagement for Adoption + Digital Equity (READY) program is designed to increase access, adoption and use of high-speed internet access through the lens of digital equity and inclusion. To further these efforts across all ten economic development regions of the state, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Broadband is launching the next READY notice of funding opportunity, with another $250,000 available for grants.

The Broadband READY program is part of a comprehensive Digital Equity Package to boost broadband capacity while addressing existing broadband equity gaps. The READY program and other investments to enhance community planning and equitable implementation will complement the Connect Illinois program, a $400 million plan to deliver universal access to high-speed internet statewide.

Funding can be used to expand immediate broadband connectivity, conduct outreach and engagement to identify current digital inequities and establish next steps forward. Its aim is to create a digital inclusion ecosystem through regional collaboration among institutions of higher education, planning councils, community and economic development organizations, schools, libraries, health care and local leaders and other related stakeholders.

“In today’s world, the internet is our gateway to everything,” Belt said. “Bridging the gap to ensure people have reliable internet is essential.”

The application deadline for the second round of READY grants is Oct. 4, 2021. Visit the Illinois Office of Broadband website for information on eligibility criteria or application assistance.

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
417C Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5399

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(618) 875-1212

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