HalpinSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Halpin and State Senator Neil Anderson announced the advancement of Senate Bill 1750, aimed at creating incentives to recruit much-needed emergency medical technicians in Illinois fire departments.

"EMTs are critical to the safety and wellbeing of our communities," said Halpin (D-Rock Island). "We hope to create incentives for individuals to pursue a career in emergency medical services and to help alleviate the shortage of EMTs in our fire departments. By reimbursing the mandatory training expenses for EMTs, we can make this career path more accessible and affordable for aspiring candidates and ensure that our fire departments have the necessary personnel to respond to emergencies."

The bill would require the board of trustees of a fire protection district to reimburse the mandatory training expenses of EMTs, EMT-Is, A-EMTs, or paramedics who are employed by or under contract with the district. The mandatory training expenses would be covered by a state funded program.

EMTs are essential first responders in emergency situations and are often the first point of contact for patients. However, many fire departments in Illinois are struggling to recruit and retain EMTs due to the high cost of training and certification. Senate Bill 1750 would provide a much-needed incentive for candidates to pursue a career in emergency medical services and help ensure that fire departments have the necessary personnel to respond to emergencies and save lives.

State Senator Neil Anderson (R-Andalusia) who has more than a decade of experience as a professional EMT, and firefighter has signed on as a chief-co sponsor of the bill.

“When I became a firefighter more than 16 years ago, we had 200-300 people testing for 20 candidate positions,” said Senator Anderson. “Today, fire departments are struggling to find candidates as most departments have more vacancies than applications on file. This bill is another step in the right direction to help alleviate stress both small and large departments are facing when it comes to EMT shortfalls.”

Senate Bill 1750 passed the Senate Local Government Committee and awaits further action before the full Senate.

HalpinROCK ISLAND – With the support of State Senator Mike Halpin, the Colona, Rio Township and Rivoli Township Fire Protection Districts will receive a combined $60,000 for the purchase of small firefighting and ambulance equipment.

“Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of many communities, selflessly dedicating their time and risking their lives to protect their neighbors and fellow citizens,” said Halpin (D-Rock Island). “Without their tireless commitment and service, many communities would be unable to maintain an effective fire department and ensure the safety and well-being of residents."

The Small Equipment Grant Program is an innovative approach to a problem that has long caused difficulties for fire departments and not-for profit ambulance services in Illinois, particularly those that face hardships in generating the necessary revenue for small equipment. The purpose is to allow eligible applicants the opportunity to purchase small equipment that they may otherwise not be able to purchase.

Fire protection districts receiving funds in the area Halpin represents include:

  • Colona Fire Protection District - $8,568
  • Rio Township Fire Protection District - $26,000
  • Rivoli Fire Protection District - $25,993

“As we all know, volunteer fire departments all around the state are struggling to maintain a safe work environment due to the lack of funding. The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Small Equipment Grant Program has provided us the opportunity to purchase a thermal imagining camera we desperately need that will help keep our firefighters safe,” said Colona Fire Chief John Swan.

To learn more about grants and loans offered by the Illinois State Fire Marshal, click here.

Halpin SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mike Halpin announced a combined $572,325 investment to the City of Rock Island and City of Galesburg for the development of parks and outdoor recreation projects.

“It’s good to see state tax dollars heading to projects that will make a positive impact on families,” said Halpin (D-Rock Island). “Parks provide spaces and opportunities for people to come together, connect with nature, engage in physical activity and build a sense of community, and I know that we are always looking for new things to do in Rock Island and Galesburg.”

Nearly $60 million in grants were awarded to 118 local parks across Illinois through the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grants, administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. This announcement includes the largest round of grants in the 36-year history of the program.

The City of Rock Island is set to receive $347,500, and the City of Galesburg will receive $224,825.

“The City of Rock Island plans to make upgrades to Mel McKay Park by tearing down all six pickle ball courts and building brand new ones with added lighting and fencing,” said John Gripp, Rock Island Parks & Recreation Executive Director. “The OSLAD Grant was critical in the success of this project. With these state funds, Rock Island residents will be able to enjoy safer and more upgraded facilities.”

“These matching funds will allow the City of Galesburg to revitalize Lancaster Park on the south west side of the city,” said Elizabeth Varner, City of Galesburg Director of Parks and Recreation. “The scope of the project includes a modernized playground, picnic shelter, walking paths and a basketball court. Lancaster Park is in need of an upgrade and I believe this will enhance the quality of life within the City of Galesburg.  We are thankful to have been selected for this opportunity, and recognize the value of maintaining a quality park system.”

Visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website for more information on the OSLAD grants.

R Tax021423SCandKP0584ROCK ISLAND – State Senator Mike Halpin introduced a measure to provide free Illinois income tax preparation services to taxpayers whose federal adjusted gross income is 200% or less of the federal poverty level, for taxable years beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

"Tax season can be a challenging time for many Illinoisans, and this legislation is designed to help make it easier for them," said Halpin (D-Rock Island). "By providing free tax preparation services, we can help ensure that taxpayers receive the refunds they are entitled to and don’t get pressured into paying extra fees to do so."

Senate Bill 1396 would require the Department of Revenue to file taxes on behalf of taxpayers with a federal adjusted gross income from the previous taxable year of 200% or less of the federal poverty level, if the taxpayer elects to do so. The bill also requires that Illinois income tax forms include a space where taxpayers may elect for DOR to file their taxes on their behalf for the following tax year.

Under current law, Illinois requires residents who receive income in the state to file an Illinois income tax return. While taxpayers may use a private company’s online tool to assist in filing, they still must enter the information located on their W-2 and other tax forms. Many of these online tools charge taxpayers to use their filing service, leaving people not knowing they might have an option to file for free.

“Filing your taxes can be complex to do by yourself and large corporations do everything they can to convince us they’re the only way to file,” said Halpin. “I am sick and tired of big corporations taking advantage of the working class every chance they get, especially when it comes to a process we are required to do by law.”

200% of the federal poverty level for a family of four would be $53,000. Halpin’s measure would give around 27% of Illinois residents the opportunity to file their taxes for free.

Senate Bill 1396 was assigned to the Senate Revenue Committee and awaits further action.

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