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Fishing license sales flat, declining over past decade



Fishing license sales have been either flat or declining in Illinois for the past 10 years.

The loss of sales have a direct impact on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ ability to enhance environmental habitats and Illinois’ multi-billion dollar fishing industry.

Dan Stephenson, the chief of Fisheries for IDNR, said 650,000 to 700,000 fishing licenses are sold every year. IDNR is trying to get those numbers up, according to Stephenson.

Changing demographics is part of the reason for declining sales. Stephenson said younger people are not engaging in outdoor activities like older generations before them.

Getting anglers to renew their licenses has also been an issue.

“We’ve got what is called an R3 initiative,” Stephenson said. “It’s reactivation, retention and recruitment of anglers.”

The licensing fees along with an excise tax on fishing equipment provides most of the funding for IDNR’s Division of Fisheries, according to Stephenson.

License sales help run the hatcheries that supply fish to various fishing locations throughout the state.

“We’ve got 65 people in the division of fisheries,” Stephenson said. “We have three different hatcheries throughout the state, and we raise fish there to stock in our lakes and waters. In our hatcheries, we raise about 19 different species of fish and we raise about 10 to 12 million fish per year. These fish sustain a multi-billion dollar fishing industry in the state. The hatcheries that stock the fish and the biologists that work out there on the field on the lakes, the work that they do generates about $2 billion to $3 billion a year in the state of Illinois.”

Stephenson said those fishing license sales are an important driver of the state economy.

Fishing licenses went on sale March 1. Residential fishing licenses cost $15. People younger than 16 and people with disabilities do not have to pay for fishing licenses.


Article by INN. For more Illinois News Network content, visit 

Illinois News Network, publisher of, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media company dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in the state of Illinois. INN is Illinois’ pioneering non-profit news brand, offering content from the statehouse and beyond to Illinoisans through their local media of choice and from their digital hub at Springfield Daily was granted republishing permission by INN.

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Illinois’ bicentennial beer now on shelves



Images from Hand of Fate Brewing Company Facebook Page

The latest birthday gift to the people of Illinois comes in a 12-ounce can – the state’s bicentennial beer is now on store shelves.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and members of the state’s Bicentennial Commission cracked the first cans of the 1818 Prairie State Farmhouse Ale on Wednesday in Springfield.

The governor said not only is the beer good, it shows what can still be made in the state.

“This year, we celebrate our 200th birthday,” the governor said. “We’ll celebrate our bicentennial by celebrating everything that is born, built and grown in the great state of Illinois.”

The beer is brewed by the Hand of Fate Brewing Co. out of Petersburg.

It won a competition at last year’s Illinois State Fair to become Illinois’ official 200th birthday beer.

Hand of Fate owner Mike Allison said he’s happy to have his relatively new success story be part of Illinois’ long legacy.

“It’s overwhelming, and a little bit mind blowing, to think that two years ago we were just opening a small brewery,” Allison said.

Allison said 1818 Prairie State Farmhouse Ale uses Illinois crops including corn, wheat and oats.

Reviews say the beer has some aromatic nose bursts with bubblegum, clove and white peppercorn.

Article by Benjamin Yount. For more Illinois News Network content, visit 

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Mendoza and Manar introduce “Truth in Hiring Act”

Thomas Clatterbuck



How big is the governor’s staff? That question is more complicated than you might think. Officially, the governor has 44 staffers and a budget of $4.9 million. However, according to Comptroller Susana Mendoza (D), the real number is much higher. A new info graphic put out by her office states the real size of the office is more than twice that size with 102 staffers and a budget of over $10 million.

The discrepancy is due to a practice called “offshoring.” Many people who work for the governor are paid through other offices. Because they are paid by other agencies, the governor’s staff looks smaller than it actually is. Not only does this hide how large the governor’s office is, it also distorts how much money the other agencies actually have. Mendoza made it clear that this is not a new practice. In her press release she said, “It was wrong when Governor Quinn did it. It was wrong when Governor Blagojevich did it. It was wrong when Governor Ryan did it. And it’s still wrong when Governor Rauner does it.”

In response, a bipartisan group of legislators, including Sen. Andy Manar (D-48) have proposed bills in the House and Senate to address this issue. The bills would prohibit paying employees of the Governor’s office out of any funds except those established for that purpose. This does not fire any of the employees who are currently offshored, but it would require paying them through the appropriate office. Often, employees are not even aware they have been offshored.

To learn more about the Acts, you can check out Mendoza’s press release. The two bills are HB5121 and SB3233.

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Rauner supporting proposals to shift state’s teacher pension costs to local schools



Gov. Bruce Rauner calls his plan to shift public retiree costs to local schools and colleges good governance, but the majority of state House members say otherwise in their pledge not to support it.

Rauner spoke to a group of business owners about his budget proposal Monday afternoon at Konen Insurance in Aurora. Part of the governor’s plan is to gradually shift the state’s pension costs to local schools and universities. He said it would give schools an incentive to insist on sustainable benefits for employees.

“You want to put responsibility for paying pensions in line with the folks who determine who gets the pension benefits and at what level, so it’s actually good policy to do that,” Rauner said. “Democrats and Republicans have both agreed that it’s the right policy to do.”

The plan did bring both parties together – but not as Rauner had hoped. State Rep. David McSweeney’s resolution opposing Rauner’s plan has 66 cosponsors.

“It would result in a massive property tax increase,” the Barrington Hills Republican said. “The only thing the governor’s doing is shifting the liabilities to local governments and they’ll be forced to raise property taxes.”

State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, calls the plan bad policy.

“Shifting billions of dollars of additional costs to our school districts would, in effect, be a property tax increase and an unfunded mandate,” she said.

Rauner said he’s proposing $350 million in additional school funding for fiscal 2019 and that would cover the higher costs. The money he’s referring to is tied to the school funding reform legislation he signed into law last year.

Higher education officials panned the plan last week, saying it would lead to tuition hikes.

House Speaker Michael Madigan proposed a similar plan to shift pension costs to local schools in 2012, leading to one memorable outburst.

Article by Cole Lauterbach. For more Illinois News Network content, visit 

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