The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has hit the pause button on issuing new adult use recreational marijuana dispensary licenses, citing the coronavirus pandemic. While the state initially planned to award up to 75 new dispensary licenses on May 1, the department announce that none will be granted while the governor’s stay-at-home orders are in place.
As one of more than 700 applicants vying to open dispensaries in Illinois, including a location in Carbondale, I was hopeful we would have answers sooner rather than later. Deemed an essential industry that can operate during the stay-at-home orders, the cannabis industry can provide jobs and opportunities that have otherwise dried up in many communities. Indeed, cannabis sales topped $37 million in April, generating much-needed tax revenue for towns now facing budget shortfalls due to a historic drop in tax receipts.
It is clear cannabis will help communities large and small recover from the pandemic crisis. While we will have to wait to see which applicant, if any, gets a license to open a dispensary in Carbondale, it is my hope that the state will see the wisdom in moving forward with these licensing process in the near future. Illinois communities like Carbondale need an economic shot in the arm. Cannabis may be the prescription our state needs.
Rep. Bost, like everyone else in the country, wrote that he wants things to go back normal (Sunday, May 10). He’s looking for certainty in an uncertain world, asking when businesses can reopen in Southern Illinois and citing all the states that are moving to open up.
What he fails to mention is that three quarters of those states do not meet federal guidelines to begin reopening, and are nowhere near close to having enough testing and contact tracing to do this without igniting another wave of infections.
President Trump says we are fighting a war against the coronavirus, but it is a very strange war in which the federal government has handed responsibility to the states to fight the war however they can manage it.
My parents were both veterans of World War II. My mother did not serve in the California Marine Corps, she served in the United States Marine Corps. My father did not serve in the Texas Army, he served in the United States Army. President Roosevelt did not tell Hawaii to deal with it after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he did not let states compete for steel to build tanks, and states did not bid up the price of aluminum to build airplanes, yet this is exactly what is happening in the fight against COVID-19, and tens of thousands of Americans have already paid with their lives for this epic failure of the Trump administration.
Rep. Bost is just an apologist for this sorry, deadly record.
Like many businesses across Illinois, we have been hit hard by COVID-19. As an electrical contractor, the pandemic has left us no choice but to lay off and furlough dozens of employees.
We’ve seen disruptions to our supply routes, concern for employee and customer safety, and a slowing demand, all of which make our future unclear. It’s a reminder that unplanned natural disasters not only impact property and life, but they have a devastating impact on business.
In March, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a forecast finding that 123 million Americans across 23 states, including Illinois, could be impacted by spring flooding. Sadly, this feels familiar. Every year Illinois faces floods that destroy businesses, public infrastructure, personal property, and lives.
It’s critical that we plan and invest in flood resilience. We know that urban, rural and coastal flooding is on the rise, so let’s be smart and take a common-sense approach to change the outcome.
We need Illinois Congressional members to step up and address issues of repeatedly flooded homes, stopping risky developments near waterways, create a funding mechanism for states to invest in flood infrastructure, and pass a nationwide disclosure law so anyone buying or renting a new home knows their home’s flood risk.
Clearly the focus right now needs to be winning the fight against COVID-19, but in the midst of this pandemic we cannot lose sight of the really important issues that ensure our families and businesses are strong for years to come.
There is an environmental truth that needs to be made very clear: Climate change, the plastic disaster, and habitat destruction are not the problems. They are just symptoms of the real disease — our consumptive model of civilization.
The news should make this point clear and folks in the know should be starting just about every conversation with, "Hey, you know we gotta start using way less of just about everything." But most of the talk is about the symptoms of a sick system (which also include poverty, drug addictions, depression/suicide, and gun violence). We fixate on programs aimed at the symptoms and really only fight the vaunted and cancerous ‘American way of life’ with aspirin and band-aids.
The question is: Who among the environmentalists and conservationists, forget the "deniers" and the "drill, baby, drill" folks, but who among us is doing significantly more than mostly talking the talk of sustainability?’ I know I’m not doing enough. But I am a work in progress.
The reward for doing more to use less, of course, is the peace of mind and credibility that come from leading by example. Because if we’re not doing enough, who will?
So, I challenge my conservation/eco/environmental friends to swiftly and meaningfully begin to divest from this failing version of civilization and lead by example with lifestyles that speak louder than words. Because talk is cheap and programs alone won’t save us.
According to the latest 2016 Federal Bureau of Labor statistics, 40.6 million people are poor or working poor in the U.S., and 50.9 million are considered middle class.
Of that, the lowest middle class are those who makes less than $31,000 a year. Low middle class earn between $31,000 and $42,000 annually. Middle class earn from $42,000 to $126,000 each year, and upper middle earn $126,000 to $188,000 annually. Yet 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, according to Forbes.
The poor are twice as likely to be African American and Hispanic and more likely a woman. For every 2.4 cars sold, one will be repossessed in a year. Seven million car owners are three or more months behind on car payments.
All this data was before the current economic crisis that is still unfolding and will for some time, according to the Federal Reserve. We will have unemployment levels surpassing the 1930's and the Great Depression.
It wouldn't be haste to say many in the middle class brackets will drop into the poor and working poor levels and the already poor, well it will just get worse for them.
The point of this is to point out that the economy will not have a "V" curve economic recovery. This won't be over in months. In fact, it's only just begun to get worse.
The economic damage of the COVID-19 pandemic has been catastrophic. Many businesses will not be able to recover from the government mandated shutdowns and for those that do survive, the road to recovery will likely be a difficult one.
The best thing the state of Illinois can do for the business community is to make sure to not do anything that will hinder the economic recovery.
Last spring, the Legislature approved one tax increase after another. We need a moratorium on tax increases. The last thing businesses need is more tax increases to impede the economic recovery our state desperately needs.
There were plenty of tax increases on the table before the shutdown of our economy. It is imperative that the Legislature avoids raising taxes to give our businesses a fighting chance to recover.
One tax scheme before the Legislature is a bill to allow communities across the state to tack on a 3% local tax on motor fuel sales. As part of the deal last year to double the state’s motor fuel tax was a provision that allowed Cook County communities to assess a local motor fuel tax. Senate Bill 2298 would extend this local option tax statewide.
Now is not the time for tax increases. We need our businesses to make a comeback and they will as long as Illinois politicians do not suffocate them with additional tax increases.
Why is religion the only Illinois “essential” restricted to fewer than 10 people? Our ability to socially distance, wear masks where that is not possible, and sanitize our hands does not depend on where we are.
And why does the governor ignore therapies available through the Emergency Use Authorization Program of the FDA available to any physician at any time based on his professional expertise? Could it be that already existing antivirals offer no opportunity for new patents?
I sent these questions to the governor and my state legislators. I pray they have genuine feedback rather than political answers.