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    Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois executive director Rhonda Sauget (left) and small business owner Brenda Whitaker told lawmakers Thursday that a worker shortage is the largest issue facing Southern Illinois businesses that are looking to recover from the pandemic. 

    Lawmakers turned their attention to Southern Illinois Thursday to seek input from business owners and others on how best to help the region recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

    During a two-hour subject matter hearing, members of the Senate Tourism and Hospitality Committee listened to ideas from witnesses ranging from a state official to a vineyard owner about how lawmakers can help their struggling industries. They offered a range of ideas including cutting off expanded unemployment benefits, boosting government hiring and loosening business regulations. 

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