The Kirk Report - Week in Review

Senator Mark Kirk
2013-10-29 12:18:19
The Kirk Report Dear Friends, Our state is home to cutting-edge technology and essential infrastructure that allow Illinois to be an economic powerhouse. Last week I met with you and learned we have more work to do. Drug gangs continue to threaten innocent lives in Chicago, and our veterans' needs � like disability benefits and gainful employment � aren't being met. I am committed to addressing these problems so we can make our state a better place to live. *FIGHTING GANGS* Dangerous drug gangs continue to terrorize our communities at a troubling rate, and the law enforcement officials who are on the front lines fighting against them have identified a key deficiency in state law that we need to fix. That's why I teamed up with local law enforcement officials last week to call on the Illinois General Assembly to pass harsh penalties targeting illegal gun crimes, including those committed by gangs.� [image = www.kirk.senate.gov/kirk-report/images/mandatorymin.png] I joined with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Lake County State�s Attorney Michael Nerheim and North Chicago Police Chief James Jackson in calling on the Illinois General Assembly to pass legislation stiffening�penalties [link 1]�for illegal gun crimes, especially those committed by gang members. The bill would require a minimum sentence of three years in prison for certain gun crimes, including illegal possession of a gun by a gang member or a convicted felon, and mandates that offenders serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. The University of Chicago Crime Lab estimated that the legislation would result in 3,800 fewer crimes per year, including 400 serious violent crimes. To watch a news report about my support for this legislation, click the image below. [image = www.kirk.senate.gov/kirk-report/images/mandatorymin-video.png] [link 2] *CENTRAL ILLINOIS� ECONOMY* The Central Illinois Regional Airport (CIRA) in Bloomington-Normal is not only a vital economic engine for the community but a lifesaving operation that shouldn't be interfered with. That�s why the FAA�s plan earlier this year to close CIRA�s air traffic control tower didn�t make sense, and why I joined the fight to keep it open [link 3] � a fight we won. Last week I toured the CIRA Control Tower [link 4], assuring�airport officials that I will continue to fight political posturing in Washington so CIRA doesn't face the threat of a shutdown again. To watch a news report about my visit, click the image below. [image = www.kirk.senate.gov/kirk-report/images/wmbdvid.png] [link 5] *HIGH-TECH LEADERSHIP* [image = www.kirk.senate.gov/kirk-report/images/npcf.jpg] As a self-proclaimed tech junkie, it goes without saying that anytime I am in Champaign, I like to visit the University of Illinois campus to see the latest technological advancements. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a national hub for the ever-growing technology industry, and while there I toured the National Petascale Computing Facility. This facility contains supercomputers and networking and data systems that support scientific research in Illinois and across the country. Technology is our future, and I�m proud to represent a university and community that never stops pushing the boundaries of what is possible. *HONORING OUR HEROES* Former Army Captain William Swenson received the Medal of Honor earlier this month for his courageous actions while serving in Afghanistan. During an enemy ambush in Kunar Province in 2009, Captain Swenson repeatedly ran back into enemy fire to rescue injured soldiers. Captain Swenson is the sixth living person to receive the medal from the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. On Friday, Captain Swenson and I toured the John Marshall Law School Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic, which assists veterans in navigating the appeals process when disability benefits claims are denied. [image = www.kirk.senate.gov/kirk-report/images/mohswenson.jpeg] We owe it to our heroes like Captain Swenson to help make their return home an easy transition. That means getting veterans their benefits quickly and ensuring they are able to find well-paying jobs when they return to civilian life. It is not acceptable that it takes an average of 534 days for the VA to process a disability claim for an Illinois veteran. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and I developed a�bipartisan, 10-point plan [link 6]�to reform the disability claims process and reduce wait times for veterans everywhere. I want to hear directly from Illinois veterans about their experiences after separating from the military, especially navigating the VA claims process and looking for employment. If you are a veteran and want to share your story with me, please contact me here [link 7], using �Veteran Story� as the subject. To learn more about my work on your behalf, please visit my website www.kirk.senate.gov [link 8]. To follow me on Twitter click here [link 9], to follow me on Instagram click here [link 10] and to like my Facebook page click here [link 11]. It is an honor to represent you in the Senate. Very Truly Yours, [image = kirk.enews.senate.gov/images/kirksigNoBg.png] Mark Kirk United States Senator
October 29, 2013

FIGHTING GANGS

Dangerous drug gangs continue to terrorize our communities at a troubling rate, and the law enforcement officials who are on the front lines fighting against them have identified a key deficiency in state law that we need to fix. That's why I teamed up with local law enforcement officials last week to call on the Illinois General Assembly to pass harsh penalties targeting illegal gun crimes, including those committed by gangs. 

I joined with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Lake County State�s Attorney Michael Nerheim and North Chicago Police Chief James Jackson in calling on the Illinois General Assembly to pass legislation stiffening 

To watch a news report about my support for this legislation, click the image below.

CENTRAL ILLINOIS� ECONOMY

The Central Illinois Regional Airport (CIRA) in Bloomington-Normal is not only a vital economic engine for the community but a lifesaving operation that shouldn't be interfered with. That�s why the FAA�s plan earlier this year to close CIRA�s air traffic control tower didn�t make sense, and why I joined the fight to � a fight we won.

Last week I toured the , assuring airport officials that I will continue to fight political posturing in Washington so CIRA doesn't face the threat of a shutdown again. To watch a news report about my visit, click the image below.

HIGH-TECH LEADERSHIP

As a self-proclaimed tech junkie, it goes without saying that anytime I am in Champaign, I like to visit the University of Illinois campus to see the latest technological advancements. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a national hub for the ever-growing technology industry, and while there I toured the National Petascale Computing Facility.

This facility contains supercomputers and networking and data systems that support scientific research in Illinois and across the country. Technology is our future, and I�m proud to represent a university and community that never stops pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

HONORING OUR HEROES

Former Army Captain William Swenson received the Medal of Honor earlier this month for his courageous actions while serving in Afghanistan. During an enemy ambush in Kunar Province in 2009, Captain Swenson repeatedly ran back into enemy fire to rescue injured soldiers. Captain Swenson is the sixth living person to receive the medal from the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. On Friday, Captain Swenson and I toured the John Marshall Law School Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic, which assists veterans in navigating the appeals process when disability benefits claims are denied.

We owe it to our heroes like Captain Swenson to help make their return home an easy transition. That means getting veterans their benefits quickly and ensuring they are able to find well-paying jobs when they return to civilian life.

It is not acceptable that it takes an average of 534 days for the VA to process a disability claim for an Illinois veteran. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and I developed a bipartisan, 10-point plan to reform the disability claims process and reduce wait times for veterans everywhere.

I want to hear directly from Illinois veterans about their experiences after separating from the military, especially navigating the VA claims process and looking for employment. If you are a veteran and want to share your story with me, please contact me here, using �Veteran Story� as the subject.


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