This Week in the 104th District

This week, I had a busy week in the district, attending events, but I also was able to get to work on some legislation. I am eager to get back to Springfield in February.


This week I was added as a co-sponsor to 17 of my colleagues’ bills. The bills range from reducing the sales tax on baby necessities, like diapers and wipes (HB 4307– Rep. Jacobs), to legislation adding COVID-19 deaths as a line-of-duty death for Dept. of Corrections officers (HB 4160– Rep. Hammond). To see all the legislation I file or co-sponsor, visit the ILGA website, and click on my name under “Members”, nested under House, and click “Bills” on my profile. 


I am hosting my first annual Valentines for Veterans Card Drop-Off! Beginning on January 30th and running through noon on February 14th, I will be collecting the cards.

Those living in the 104th District are encouraged to drop off or mail cards to the Danville office for veterans living at Mercy Housing in Danville. After all the cards are collected, my team and I will be hand delivering them to the veterans on Valentine’s Day.

For those wishing to participate, the cards can be dropped off in the drop box or sent through the mail to State Representative Brandun Schweizer, 3821 N. Vermilion Suite 5 Danville, IL 61832.

For any inquiries, please contact the Danville office at (217) 477-0104 or at


On Tuesday, I was invited to the Champaign County Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs Committee meeting, with a complimentary breakfast. Here, the meeting focused on local and statewide developments surrounding agriculture. 

Here, I was able to inform the members of agriculture and conservation legislation that became effective as of January 1st. 

Thank you to the Champaign County Farm Bureau for inviting me to attend the committee meeting this morning! 


After the Farm Bureau meeting, my district office coordinator and I then attended the Chancellor’s Legislative Kickoff at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Here, we heard from Bob Flider, the Director of Community and Government Relations, and learned more about Research Park from Chancellor Robert Jones, and Dr. Susan Martinis, OVCRI. 

Following the presentation, Laura Bleill, University of Illinois Research Park (UIRP) Director of External Engagement and Gerald Wilson, UIRP, Director of Entrepreneurship offered a tour of Research Park.

Also in attendance, were other local officials and legislators learning about the innovations of Research Park that later become jobs and businesses that help to keep the communities thriving and safe.

Thank you to the University of Illinois Research Park for the incredible presentation and tour!


On Wednesday, I was invited back to Danville Area Community College to attend the Youth Leadership Conference hosted at Danville Area Community College, by Danville High School Problem Solvers. The event brings together officials, businesses, and leaders from downstate Congressional District 2, to meet with high achieving high school students and discuss different elements of after high school. 

The event gave me the opportunity to talk with students about legislation that was passed last year regarding higher education, as well as the options readily available in the district. In District 104 alone, there are two community colleges and one state university.

A big thank you to DACC and the Danville High School Problem Solvers for an informative morning!


On my behalf, my district office coordinator attended Vermilion Advantage’s Lunch & Learn conference and set up a table with pamphlets about what our office provides, as well as the state services we have access to for constituents. Thank you to Marguerite for going in my place and Vermilion Advantage! 


The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) adopted the literacy plan advanced by the General Assembly.  For decades, educators have debated the relative merits of whole-language instruction, and phonics-based instruction, as pathways to reading skill. Massive data sets show that some young children are reading-challenged. Despite various forms of enhanced instruction offered to children in these categories, and inspiring stories from some individual children, as a group many of these students continue to face challenges as they progress through educational grades. These challenges are tracked by the reading proficiency scores generated by standardized tests that are administered to almost all Illinois students. In response to lagging Illinois reading proficiency scores, House Republican Leader Tony McCombie formed the House Republican Literacy Working Group in 2023. The Working Group focused on overall General Assembly work on legislation aimed at improving the reading ability of Illinois children.

In the 2023 spring session, the General Assembly urged educators to move towards evidence-based reading standards. SB 2243, which received bipartisan support in the Illinois House, mandates the State Board to adopt guidelines, for evaluation and adoption by local school districts, of evidence-based core reading instruction programs. The new literacy law includes language that urges a focus on at-risk children who are sometimes left behind by current courses of instruction (including whole-language-based and compromise-based courses of instruction). The goal of this focus is to move closer to comprehensive Illinois literacy.

This week, the State Board adopted a comprehensive 190-page literacy plan to move Illinois school districts toward evidence-based reading instruction. News coverage of evidence-based reading instruction indicates that many such curricula are phonics-oriented, without being dogmatically phonics-exclusive. Although this plan adoption is a response to the General Assembly’s request, ISBE did not pass this request on to local school districts as a rigid mandate. Local school districts are expected to enjoy a certain level of choice between curricular modules.   


Fourteen Illinois hospitals ranked among America’s best.  The rankings, published by the data consolidator Healthgrades, lists “America’s 250 Best Hospitals” for 2024. The list gauges hospital quality, as measured by a wide variety of data sets including reported patient outcomes, throughout the more than 6,000 hospitals of the United States. Two health care complexes in Chicago, nine in Chicago’s suburbs and exurbs, and three in Downstate Illinois were honored by placement in this top-250 list.

Within the list of 250, Healthgrades set forth an honors list of 50 hospitals of the highest national rank. In Illinois, the three hospitals to get this Top-50 grade were Ascension Alexian Brothers (Elk Grove Village), Advocate Lutheran General (Park Ridge), and Carle Foundation (Urbana).


Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) distributes $400 million in capital grants to independent colleges and universities.  These are schools, including private and Chistian colleges and universities, that educate young adults in Illinois. A significant percentage of these student bodies come from outside Illinois, and their pursuit of quality higher education brings substantial resources and jobs into our state. The IBHE announced that 45 Illinois colleges and universities had made their way through the application process and had been awarded “vertical infrastructure” grants for the construction, repair, and renovation of campus infrastructure.  Funding for Illinois vertical infrastructure comes from a variety of sources. These sources include taxes on Illinois casinos, video gaming, and sports wagering. 

Institutions from Chicago, the suburbs, and Downstate Illinois were included within the list of grantees. In Chicago, DePaul University was the recipient of the largest city-bound grant, totaling more than $43.0 million. In Chicago’s suburbs, Northwestern University in Evanston was slated to take in more than $48.7 million, making the Wildcat campus the largest suburban recipient. Outside of the greater Chicago area, Peoria’s Bradley University (more than $14.8 million) topped the Downstate list of grant recipients.    


The year-end Illinois unemployment rate rose to 4.8% in December 2023.  The 4.8% jobless rate posted by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) in December 2023 was 0.1% higher than the 4.7% rate posted in November. Illinois’ December unemployment rate was 110 basis points higher than the 3.7% national unemployment rate for the same month, and was also higher than the jobless rates posted by our surrounding states. For example, neighboring states posted December 2023 unemployment rates of 3.6% (Indiana), 3.2% (Iowa), 3.3% (Missouri), and 3.3% (Wisconsin).

IDES stated that Illinois continued to slowly create net new jobs in December 2023. Nonfarm payrolls were up by 57,800 jobs from the comparable year-earlier month, and were up 1,200 jobs from the prior month of November. However, these overall positive numbers had to fight strong headwinds in specific sectors of Illinois’ economy that are showing weakness. Hard-hit by continuing changes in the retail economy was the largest single Illinois jobs sector, “Trade, Transportation and Utilities,” which yielded 4,900 jobs in December 2023. Major changes in the way we buy Christmas-related goods and services mean that fewer Illinoisans are getting jobs in “brick and mortar” stores. Approximately 310,200 Illinois residents were counted as “unemployed,” which means they were jobless and actively looking for a job in December 2023. In a supplemental announcement, IDES reported on December 2023 Illinois jobs and unemployment by metropolitan area. The Illinois metro rate tabulations show a continued widening of the gap between Illinois cities and local areas that are traditionally oriented towards manufacturing and heavy industry, and metro areas such as Bloomington-Normal and Springfield that are more oriented towards finance and services. Comparatively high local unemployment rates for December 2023 were posted in metro Danville (5.4%), Decatur (5.7%), Kankakee (5.9%), and Rockford (5.9%).



Major festivals set for February 2024.  Many communities will be hosting Groundhog Day events, Winter Carnivals, and other celebrations in February. Recent years have seen a significant increase in populations of Illinois winter bald eagles, and the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge near Marion, Illinois will be one of the locations hosting birdwatching tours to see and honor America’s national bird. The Illinois Municipal League (IML), a nonpartisan organization that represents many of Illinois’ local governments, is one of the entities that posts an online calendar of Illinois events by month.


Starting January 28, 2024, the Illinois Governor’s Mansion will begin hosting art tours to highlight and celebrate Illinois artists and their works.