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Illinois Governor Launches Creative Economy Initiative
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in March announced the Illinois Creative Economy Initiative, an effort to generate more jobs in the state’s creative economy sector. Through the initiative the state will explore innovative approaches to expand Illinois’ $2.7 billion creative economy, according to a governor’s office press release.
“Culture means business in Illinois,” Quinn said. “This initiative will strengthen our creative economy in Illinois, which will create more economic growth and make Illinois an even more vibrant place to live and raise a family.”
Quinn appointed Ra Joy, executive director of the Illinois Arts Alliance, to lead the Creative Economy Initiative. In this role, Joy will work to identify and implement methods to strengthen the role of the arts within the state’s economy.
The arts contribute at least $2.75 billion annually to the state’s economy, create more than $300 million in state and local tax revenue and employ 78,000 full-time equivalent jobs, according to the Illinois Arts Alliance.
Studies show areas offering museums, theaters, orchestras and other cultural outlets are very attractive to business looking for high-skilled employees. Those cultural outlets are also major tourism drivers for Illinois. “Cultural tourists” spend more than twice as much on event-related expenses than local residents, the governor’s office reported. In 2011, Illinois hosted a record 93.3 million out-of-state visitors.
The creation of the Illinois Creative Economy Initiative is an example of Quinn’s recognition of the importance of the arts to the state. Quinn was recognized with the 2012 Public Leadership in the Arts by Americans for the Arts, supports the Illinois Film Tax Credit and the Live Theater Tax Credit, and has funded several arts programs through his Illinois Jobs Now! program.
The Iowa Senate in March passed a bill that would require rest periods for drivers of vehicles transporting railroad crews, The Des Moines Register reported. The bill would apply to drivers of vehicles intended to transport crews of seven to 15 people and would be comparable to current restrictions for commercial vehicle drivers .
UNION PAY DEDUCTIONS
The Kansas House in March approved a bill that will no longer allow public employee unions to deduct money from members’ paychecks to help finance political activity, according to The Kansas City Star. Those in favor of the bill contend it will protect union members from having part of their pay directed toward candidates or issues they oppose. Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to sign the bill into law.
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in March signed a bill that will add more people to the state’s public sex offender registry, the Lansing State Journal reported. People convicted of a single Tier I offense for certain crimes involving minors, such as possession of child pornography and surveillance of a minor, will now be placed on the public registry. Previously, those convicted of Tier I offenses had to register with the state, but were not placed on the public registry.
The Minnesota Senate Environment and Energy Committee voted in March for a five-year moratorium on wolf hunting seasons, according to The Associated Press. During the state’s first wolf season, which ended in January, hunters and trappers killed 413 wolves. The legislature authorize wolf hunting in 2011, a move which moratorium proponents argue came too soon after wolves were removed from the endangered species list.
The Nebraska Legislature’s Judiciary Committee in March advanced a bill to abolish the state’s death penalty, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. LB542, sponsored by Sen. Ernie Chambers, would change the death penalty to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Chambers has introduced a similar bill every year of his legislative service.