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Food insecurity is a problem for many children when school lets out for the summer.

For those kids who rely on school for free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), summer can be a time of hunger and anxiety. No child should go hungry, and there are programs in communities across Illinois to help ensure that throughout the summer months.

Rise and Shine Illinois is one organization that is dedicated to helping provide those children in need with access to meals during the summer through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The program provides free meals to kids ages 18 and under during the summer. It is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Illinois State Board of Education.

There are a variety of “Meal Sites” available, where children can access free meals. However, despite efforts to bring awareness to the program, it continues to be underutilized. If you or someone you know could utilize the meal service program, visit the organization’s website, summerfeedingillinois.org, to find the closest meal site to you.

Today, a balanced budget plan was adopted by the House of Representatives through HB109. The budget includes $38.520 billion in expected State revenue, while accounting for $38.502 billion in spending.

No tax increases, prioritized spending and pension reform helped contribute to the balanced budget that supports those who rely on the state, providing ample funding to programs that support to the state’s universities, families, seniors, and the underprivileged. A few of the new funding measures in the bill will go to education initiatives. This includes a $350 million increase to the education funding formula compared to last year, which will go to K-12 education across the state. Also included is $50 million in support for Early Childhood Education, and a merit-based scholarship program called AIM HIGH, that is funded by $25 million in state dollars, with a matching $25 million from universities to help retain Illinois students. In addition, a new state income tax credit will be available for those who adopt a child.

State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) voted in favor of the budget bill. “This is a common sense budget,” said Andersson. “This came together through a bipartisan effort, and it is a product of good, honest negotiations. New necessary programs were created to benefit our state, while spending within our means.”

The budget was approved yesterday in the Senate, and today in the House of Representatives on the last day of legislative session.

State Representative Steve Andersson stood in support of the Equal Rights Amendment today in the House of Representatives, when SJRCA 4 was presented for a vote.

Andersson was the chief-co sponsor of the initiative, and has been vocal in his support of it throughout the Constitutional Amendment’s journey through the legislative process.

During today’s debate, Andersson stressed not only the equality the amendment would secure, but also the empowerment it would provide to women. “I want to empower women,” said Andersson, “because the better they are, the better we are as a people.” In his comments on the House floor, Andersson continued, “When we equalize ourselves, we are all better.”

The Representative urged all members in the House to support the Amendment, calling it the most important bill the House of Representatives will consider this year.

With today’s vote, the measure received 72 votes in favor, gaining enough support to make Illinois the 37th state to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment.
State Representative Steve Andersson passed Senate Bill 544 in the House of Representatives today.

The bill makes a change to how court fees are processed for Cook County. Under this measure, the county would not be required to pay circuit court civil case fees in advance, which had otherwise been required. Instead, they would be allowed to pay within 30 days of the fee being incurred.

There are currently many different fees and schedules for civil cases and statutory assessments in criminal and traffic offenses. Rep. Andersson’s initial legislation on the matter, HB4594, unified these fees to into one comprehensive Act. SB544 makes a change within that legislation, to provide larger counties more time to pay fees, and also reduce such fees to improve the process. This bill was initiated by the City of Chicago, as the bill affects Cook County.
State Representative Steve Andersson welcomed the St. Charles North Mock Trial Team to Springfield today.  The Mock Trial team recently claimed the State Champion title, making the team the State Champs for the second year in a row.
Representative Andersson met with the students in Springfield to show them the Capitol, and hear about their journey to the State Title. In explaining to Rep. Andersson their trial experience, the students discussed how much they enjoyed presenting both sides of an argument.  Representative Andersson was impressed with their open-mindedness, an essential skill for success.  “It makes me joyful for the future of the State, to see such passion in these young students,” said Andersson.

House Resolution 1004 was adopted today in the House of Representatives to celebrate the St. Charles North Mock Trial Team, and their great accomplishment this year.