Dear Friend,

We have now come to the final edition of the Bryant E-News for 2017! What a year it has been in Illinois politics. This week I will share information on more than 200 new laws that will be on the books as of January 1, 2018. Please take the time to get informed on new laws for the New Year.

I also share links to all 34 previous Bryant E News editions from this year. It is truly an honor to serve as your State Representative in Springfield. Your readership of this online newsletter has exploded in the last two years. Since I first took office in 2015, press releases, pictures, video reactions, articles, and editions of Bryant E News, have been viewed over 150,000 times. (153,155) as of this morning to be exact!

I want my constituents to be informed on the major issues facing the State of Illinois. I am thrilled at the growth in our email newsletter list and the continued readership from so many of you. I pledge to continue keeping you up to date on all the happenings as the new legislative Session begins in January 2018.

To all my friends, family, and constituents, and to everyone in Illinois and across America, I wish you a safe, Happy, and healthy New Year!

NEW YEAR NEW LAWS - Get informed for 2018!
With the arrival of the new year comes a series of new laws enacted by the State of Illinois. This year, over 200 new laws will take effect on January 1. These include bills for small technical corrections as well as major pieces of legislation. Follow the link below for a recap of the new laws that will be on the books next year.

NEW YEAR NEW LAWS RECAP - Illinois House Republican Blog

For more information on all the bills in the General Assembly, please visit www.ilga.gov

There is one law in particular this year that I was the chief sponsor of that was signed into law that I want to highlight. That bill is HB 771, and you can find a synopsis and a record of action on the bill by following this link.
Rep. Bryant and Sen. Schimpf were named
"Honorary Fire Chiefs" in 2017

In Illinois, 70 percent of all firefighters are volunteers. This new law will allow a volunteer firefighter to purchase one set of tires for their vehicle every three years at a reduced price per the fire district's joint purchasing agreement. The goal is to provide a little bit of help to the folks that volunteer to fight fires and keep us safe.

I’m particularly thankful to Senator Paul Schimpf for his advocacy and for sponsoring this bill in the Senate. This law is different than the others that are highlighted above because it became effective on September 8 of this year, the day it was signed by Governor Rauner.

All Previous Bryant E News Links for 2017
It has been a busy year indeed, and next year is shaping up to be even busier. As promised above, here is a listing and link to all of this past year's Bryant E Newsletters. I am very proud to bring you frequent updates and I hope you will keep reading when 2018 begins.

Bryant E News - January 6 2017
Bryant E News - Inauguration Week 2017
Bryant E News - January 28 2017
Bryant E News - February 3 2017
Bryant E News - Lincoln's Birthday Edition 2017
Bryant E News - February 17 2017 - Legislative Survey Edition
Bryant E News - March 10 2017
Bryant E News - April 1 2017
Bryant E News - April 8 2017
Bryant E News - April 30 2017
Bryant E News - May 6 2017
Bryant E News - May 13 2017
Bryant E News - May 20 2017
Bryant E News - May 27 2017
Bryant E News - End of Session Edition
Bryant E News - June 17 2017
Bryant E News - June 24 2017 - Special Session Update
Bryant E News - July 22 2017
Bryant E News - July 29 2017
Bryant E News - August 5 2017
Bryant E News - August 19 2017
Bryant E News - September 2 2017
Bryant E News - September 9 2017
Bryant E News - September 16 2017
Bryant E News - October 7 2017
Bryant E News - October 14 2017
Bryant E News - October 18 2017
Bryant E News - October 21 2017
Bryant E News - Veterans Day Edition
Bryant E News - November 18 2017
Bryant E News - December 2 2017
Bryant E News - December 9 2017
Bryant E News - December 16 2017
Bryant E News - Merry Christmas Edition

Stay Connected!
My office in Mt. Vernon is open Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is open Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. You can also contact me directly through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com - Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!

Dear Friend,

From my family to yours, I wish you a blessed and Merry Christmas! God Bless You!



Dear Friends,

There's a lot to cover this week, so let's get started!

Sexual Harassment Task Force Meets in Chicago
Rep. Bryant looks on during testimony
in Chicago on Monday.
On Monday, I traveled to Chicago to attend a meeting of the House's Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Discrimination.

I am proud to be a member of this Task Force, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to establish guidelines and root out problems with sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination on State government and in all work places.

Radio Interviews
On Monday, I joined Tom Miller of WJPF Radio for a length discussion on issues facing the State of Illinois. Please click the link below to listen!

WJPF Radio Interview - Tom Miller December 11 2017

WXAN - The Will Stephens Show
I was also glad to join Will Stephens on Monday to talk about progress at the former IYC in Murphysboro. Follow the link below to listen!

WXAN Interview - Will Stephens Show December 11 2017

A-J Football Player Named Prep Football Player of the Year
A highly deserving area football player earned the Southern Illinoisan's "Prep Football Player of the Year" recently. Jayce Turner, was Anna-Jonesboro's starting fullback this year, and A-J drove deep into the playoffs thanks in part to Jayce's BIG season. Jayce was a force on the defensive and offensive side of the ball. He carried the football 308 times for 1914 yards, recorded 109 solo tackles and FOUR blocked punts this season! Congratulations Jayce!

Jayce Turner is the 2017 Southern Illinoisan Prep Football
Player of the Year!
Photo credit goes to the Southern Illinoisan. Read more about Jayce's BIG season by following this link!

Please Visit Giant City Lodge!
Giant City Lodge is part of a wooded, 4,052-acre Giant City State Park located in the Shawnee National Forest. At the Lodge you’ll discover a magnificent atmosphere found nowhere else in Southern Illinois where you can relax and enjoy Southern Illinois’ hospitality at its best.

I took a trip there recently to record a video and tell you more. Enjoy!

Christmas for Cops in Jefferson County
This week, I joined members of Jefferson County's African American Heritage Cleo Holt and Elbert Cain, former Mt. Vernon Mayor David Keen, Bluford Mayor Mike Bullard, Community First Bank representative Brandon Bullard, and Mark Hammer, Assistant Manager of Lowe's in Mt. Vernon to receive this "Thin Blue Line" flag made and donated by Mark Hammer to "Christmas for Cops". Christmas for Cops is a program that provides Christmas gifts for the dedicated men and women of our law enforcement community.

Thank you to these fine members of the Jefferson County community for their charitable spirit and hard work!

Stay Connected!

My office in Mt. Vernon is open Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is open Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. You can also contact me directly through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com - Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!

Giant City State Park....Giant City Lodge is part of a wooded, 4,052-acre Giant City State Park located in the Shawnee National Forest. At the Lodge you’ll discover a magnificent atmosphere found nowhere else in Southern Illinois where you can relax and enjoy Southern Illinois’ hospitality at its best.

The historic Lodge was named for the unusual rock formations that resemble towering buildings and winding streets of a mythical giant's town. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp using sandstone and white oak timber construction, and sits on a hill, the highest point in the park.

The Lodge features 34 cabins with heat and air conditioning, full baths, TVs, telephones and forest views. The Bald Knob dining room with its rough-hewn ceiling and brass chandeliers is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is known for its "all you can eat" family-styled fried chicken. The Great room with its massive stone fireplace and much of the original oak furnishings still in use is a great place to unwind after a day of hiking or to play a board game with the family. Other amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, children's pool, gift shop and a meeting room capable of accommodating from 60 to 150 people.

####

SOURCE: https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/parks/lodge/pages/giantcity.aspx
Dear Friend,
As you may know, in my previous career, I was an administrator for 20 years serving at several different Southern Illinois correctional facilities. I am passionate about issues facing the Illinois Department of Corrections and I believe I bring a unique set of skills and experiences when it comes to the creation of policies that affect the Department. 

This week, I requested to substitute in for a meeting of the House Appropriations-Public Safety Committee. This Committee is responsible for budgetary items that involve the State's Department of Corrections and the State's Department of Juvenile Justice. 

Illinois currently operates five Department of Juvenile Justice facilities. The title of "Illinois Youth Center" might be more familiar to Southern Illinoisans, as Harrisburg is currently home to one of the facilities that is still in operation. I have used this space many times throughout my tenure as your State Representative to address the error that Pat Quinn made when he shuttered the IYC in my hometown of Murphysboro, causing job losses and overcrowding at other juvenile justice facilities. 

Tuesday's hearing focused on a recent spike in violence at Illinois Youth Center facilities. Over the last couple of years, multiple news reports have detailed inmate on staff and inmate on inmate assaults at IYC's across Illinois. Illinois' Department of Juvenile Justice has (foolishly, in my opinion) implemented a number of reforms over the past several years that I believe have led to this rise in violence, including eliminating the use of solitary confinement as punishment, except for in very limited circumstances. My conversations with correctional officers that work at these facilities have led me to believe that those reforms have left IYC staff members without the tools they need to do their jobs effectively.

In fact, in 2016, the Illinois Youth Center at Harrisburg reported more inmate on staff assaults than all of the other Illinois Youth Centers combined.

Clearly we have a problem in both adult and juvenile facilities regarding staff assaults. Nationally, there is a movement toward more programming and mental health treatment to improve outcomes for inmates. However, this goal cannot be accomplished with current staffing levels. Part of my work to enact a budget for the State was to improve staffing levels at correctional facilities so that the tide of these problems can start to be stemmed.

The positive takeaway from the hearing was that communication between management, staff, and outside interest groups is improving. The first step is that everyone hear and understand each others' needs, wants, and goals. The Chair of the committee has pledged to hold additional hearings in the coming year to continue this progress. Here is the bottom line: The current level of violence taking place against the men and women serving in the Department of Corrections at both Youth and adult facilities is unacceptable and can not be tolerated any more. I will continue to monitor this situation and keep you informed in the coming weeks and months.

Illinois Kicks Off Bicentennial Year with Flag Raising Ceremonies
On Monday, I was honored to join officials from the city of Carbondale as they raised an Illinois Bicentennial Flag over city hall. 

The Illinois Bicentennial Commission encouraged flag raising ceremonies be held in cities and at County courthouses across the State. 

Here are some photos from the event in Carbondale! 

Here's a photo of the Carbondale event. If you want to learn more about Illinois' Bicentennial Celebration, please visit Illinois200.com


Carbondale Firefighters Collecting Toys for Tots 
The spirit of charity and giving is alive and well in Southern Illinois once again this year. I was so heartened to see a news report on KFVS Channel 12 this past week detailing efforts by the Carbondale Fire Department and the US Marine Corps to collect toys for children in need this Christmas. I was so moved by the story that I couldn't help but share. Please click the link below to watch the video. 

Carbondale firefighters and Marines collect Toys for Tots

If you wish to donate new, unwrapped toys this Christmas you may drop off donations at the Carbondale Fire Department located at 401 N. Glenview in Carbondale, the Benton Fire Department, or at Black Diamond Harley Davidson in Marion. Last year, Toys for Tots collected more than 10,000 toys for  3,000 children in Southern Illinois!

Stay Connected!
My office in Mt. Vernon is open Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is open Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. You can also contact me directly through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com - Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!
Dear Friend,

This was a very busy week throughout the 115th district. This week's e-news covers a visit by the Japanese Consul General to Southern Illinois, a groundbreaking in Bluford, a nativity and tree lighting ceremony in DuQuoin and an update on efforts to reopen the Murphysboro Illinois Youth Center as an adult re-entry facility. Thank you for reading!

Japan Consul General Visit
On Wednesday, I joined Governor Rauner, Senator Schimpf and Representative Dave Severin, as well as Japan's Consul General Naoki Ito and his delegation, Jefferson County Board Chairman Steve Draege and Mt. Vernon Mayor John Lewis as well as representatives from the Jefferson County Development Corporation (JCDC) for tours of Magnum Steel Works, Continental Tire, and Rend Lake College.

The tours were meant to highlight commerce and educational facilities in Southern Illinois to raise awareness and hopefully spur on investment from Japanese firms in Southern Illinois. This kind of effort will help create jobs and grow our region's economy. I want to personally thank and applaud Jonathan Hallberg of JCDC for his excellent work in bringing the Consul General to the region and for coordinating a fantastic and successful day. Thank you Jonathan!


To read more on the visit please check out the links below:
Governor Speaks at Luncheon for Japanese Consul General

Boosting the Illinois Economy with Workforce Education

Rauner visits Rend Lake College to talk business developments with Japan's consul general

Bluford High School Ground Breaking Ceremony
On Tuesday, I was thrilled to join Bluford Mayor Mike Bullard and officials from Webber Township High School for a groundbreaking ceremony. The ceremony celebrated the start of construction on a $6 million addition to the high school. The 30,900 square feet addition is expected to be finished in Winter of 2018. Thank you to everyone in Bluford for the invitation. I look forward to touring the new addition next year!



Governor Comments on Reopening of Murphysboro IYC 
Since taking office, I have made reopening the shuttered Murphysboro Illinois Youth Center a top priority. I announced legislation to reopen the facility back in November of 2015. Since then, the work to re-purpose the facility has been happening and this week we got an update from Governor Rauner on the future of opening the facility. I was pleased to hear Governor Rauner's response to questions from reporters on the topic when he was in Southern Illinois this week.

He said, "I'm pushing this fast. I want it open yesterday. I'm going to push as much as I can."

I couldn't agree more! I will continue to push this issue hard and use my platform to raise  awareness about the importance of reopening this facility to provide jobs for Southern Illinoisans and help reduce prison overcrowding, increase public safety, and reduce recidivism.

You can read more on this story by following the link below:
Governor Rauner Says He Wants IYC in Murphysboro Repurposed Now

DuQuoin Christmas Tree and Nativity Scene Lighting
I was blessed to bring my husband Rick along to a special event this week in DuQuoin. The annual nativity and tree lighting ceremony was an absolute success. I saw many smiling faces and enjoyed the time spent with leaders and members of the community of DuQuoin. What a special and memorable evening for all! So much community pride in DuQuoin!


Stay Connected!
My office in Mt. Vernon is open Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is open Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. You can also contact me directly through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com - Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!