EFFINGHAM — The Effingham County Board on Monday passed a resolution supporting the Constitutional Amendments Initiative.

The initiative is an effort to amend the Illinois Constitution to bring back multi-legislator representative districts. Multi-legislator districts were eliminated from the state constitution in 1982, when Illinois government made the switch to simple majority rule democracy.

The county’s resolution supports an effort to circulate a petition to amend the constitution in order for the measure to appear on the state’s 2020 ballot. The question that would appear on the ballot, in part, asks if three representatives should be elected to the Illinois General Assembly from each legislative district.

The measure also seeks to have three legislators elected from each district with no more than two of them elected from the same party. Board Vice Chairman Dave Campbell said such an amendment would be a “step in the right direction” for getting both parties to work together.

“I think it’s an excellent idea. I think it will, hopefully, put us on a level playing field and maybe get both sides of the aisle working together instead of against each other,” Campbell said.

Board member Jeff Simpson recommended sending a copy of the resolution to local and state legislators.

Meanwhile, the board tabled establishing an ordinance that would create a cannabis retailers’ occupation tax. Board member Rob Arnold questioned how the board’s vote on the issue would affect the county’s ability to collect revenue from the tax.

“Is it what we discussed that, basically, if we stand against it, if you vote no, you collect no money off of this?” Arnold asked.

Board Chairman Jim Niemann said that would be the case if the board did not pass an ordinance. Niemann recommended holding a special board meeting on Sept. 25 to make a decision on the ordinance. He said the city of Effingham also has not taken action on such an ordinance.

Niemann said he would prefer discussing the matter later because he would like to look into how the county can collect revenue.

“I would prefer to kick this down the road to the 25th because the one question I have is: Can we word the thing in such a way that if it is authorized by another entity within our jurisdiction in the county but without us authorizing it outside of that jurisdiction, can we still collect the tax?” Niemann said.

The board will again discuss the matter Sept. 25 at 6:45 p.m.

The board also heard from Effingham Fire Chief Bob Tutko three commendations of two county telecommunicators and the county coroner’s office staff for their efforts in aiding in a fatal accident which occurred on Interstate 70 near Altamont in July.

Tutko recognized telecommunicators Billie Bales and Sheryl Vonderheide and Coroner Kim Rhodes and Deputy Coroners Larry Thies and Karen Hoene because their actions helped to ensure there were survivors from the accident.

“Despite the challenge to extricate those guys from the vehicle, two people in the vehicle did survive. A large part of that is due to the efforts of everybody that showed up,” Tutko said. “A lot of the time the telecommunicators are the people that are in the background that help us out and really don’t get the appreciation I think that they deserve.”

In other matters, the board:

• Approved the placement of the light-up Christmas ornament displays on the Effingham County Museum lawn, including a new display measuring 13-by-16-by-12 feet. Alyssa Long with the Effingham Convention and Visitors Bureau said the new ornament is set to be announced soon.

• Approved a $2,500 donation to support Manufacturing Day 2019 from the economic development fund.

• Approved the appointments of Larry Taylor, Ed Hoopingarner and Todd Hull to the Economic Development Advisory Board and Jim Westendorf to the St. Francis Township Drainage District.

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at kaitlin.cordes@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 132.


Kaitlin Cordes covers Effingham County, police and courts and sports features for the Effingham Daily News. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University. Cordes is a native of Effingham.

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