Outdoor dining

NAPERVILLE – State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) urges area residents to support local bars and restaurants, following Gov. Pritzker’s decision to allow restaurants and bars to have on-site dining in outside seating areas during Phase 3 of his Restore Illinois plan.

“This pandemic has impacted nearly every area of our state and local economies, restaurants and bars in particular,” Ellman said. “Help your favorite local eateries recover from this pandemic by patronizing their outdoor seating areas.”

Since Gov. Pritzker’s first executive order was implemented on March 21, dine-in service at restaurants and bars has been prohibited in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Last week, the governor announced that all Illinois restaurants and bars will be allowed to resume on-site service dining in outdoor seating areas on May 29.

“I’m pleased to see the governor decide to allow restaurants and bars to reopen some dine-in service during Phase 3 of his plan,” Ellman said. “If you do go out to eat, please be careful and follow all of the relevant health precautions. If we all work together, we can continue to fight COVID-19 while returning to a more normal way of life.” ​

Ellman does want to remind residents to still consider the risks to themselves or other people in their households if they do decide to expand their activities.

Senator Laura Ellman presents her bill during a Senate committeeCapitol News Illinois - March 14, 2019 | original article

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate is poised to take up a bill that would make it easier for some seniors to access a state program that limits property tax increases on their homes.

Under current law, people age 65 and older with incomes up to $65,000 can claim the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption, which effectively freezes the taxable valuation of their homes so that their tax bills cannot go up simply because the market value of their home rises.

Senate Bill 1346, which cleared the Senate Revenue Committee on Wednesday, would expand that slightly, starting in the 2019 tax year, by allowing seniors to deduct from their income whatever money they spend on Medicare premiums.

That would allow some people with incomes just above the $65,000 cap to claim the exemption.

Sen. Laura Ellman, a Naperville Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill, said it would benefit seniors who are “on the cusp” of the income limit, but she said she couldn’t estimate how many seniors it would benefit.

Premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor’s office visits, are currently $135.50 per month for people with incomes below $85,000 a year. Premiums for Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, currently average $33.19 per month.

That means passage of the bill would raise the income cap for the senior citizens homestead exemption by around $2,024 a year for an individual who purchases both Medicare options, or $4,048 a year for a couple taking both options.

The bill now is waiting for action by the full Senate.

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