The new state criminal justice bill and the COVID vaccine were among the topics covered during last week’s annual legislative breakfast hosted by the Livingston County Farm Bureau in Pontiac.
State Senator Jason Barickman considers the bill “alarming” and acknowledged it will have an impact on various Illinois communities. Livingston County Sheriff Tony Childress said this was an assault on law enforcement that would eliminate cash bail, allowing someone who kills to walk the streets without putting down any money whatsoever.
Childress feels the governor punishes the Republican areas and worries about the state losing several police officers making Illinois less safe.
“That bothers me,” he told the lawmakers in attendance.
State Rep. Tom Bennett thanked the sheriff for speaking out on the issues. Bennett said a vote on House Bill 3653 was not taken until the last hour on Wednesday of the state’s lame duck session.
“I did not get a chance to talk on the House floor,” Bennett said.
Livingston County Board member Mike Kirkton of District 3 expressed concerns over the low number of COVID vaccines in the county while nearby McLean County seems to be vaccinating quite a few more individuals.
“We are going to need some assistance somewhere,” noted Kirkton. “I hope we are not playing politics with vaccinations.”
Senator Barickman admitted no one knows what is coming or when at the local level as he has spoken with health departments across Central Illinois. He thinks the governor is creating distractions as he won’t tell where the vaccine is coming from.
“No one can tell me what formula is being used to distribute the vaccines,” Barickman explained.
Bennett agreed this continues to be an issue across the state with a “lack of transparency and direction.”
Livingston County Board Chair Kathy Arbogast said county department heads and board members have done a great job navigating through the pandemic in the past year.
“It’s been quite a year for everybody,” Arbogast admitted.
Arbogast noted work in the new Health and Education building is on schedule with plans to move in furniture on June 1 and having people in the building by the middle of June. Several employees have expressed their appreciation for the new building.
A county auction is planned for late June with old furniture and vehicles. The county board is in talks with the Elections Committee to downsize the board, although it is not known by how much. County strategic planning talks are planned in the coming weeks.