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Bush co-chairs first meeting of Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment

Sen. Melinda BushSPRINGFIELD – The Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention held its first meeting yesterday in Chicago. The task force was created by Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), who also serves as a co-chair.

“For far too long, victims of sexual harassment and discrimination have been ignored and intimidated by a system that has allowed perpetrators to go unchecked,” Bush said. “This task force intends to rectify that.”

The task force was created in response to the recent wave of harassment allegations in Illinois and throughout the country. The group will conduct a comprehensive review of the legal and social consequences of sexual harassment and discrimination, and will make recommendations on how to combat them in Illinois.

Raoul works to protect Illinois voters from cyber threats

Sen. Kwame RaoulCHICAGO - In light of the fact Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. election system affected over 39 states, including Illinois during the 2016 general election, State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) will head a package of cybersecurity initiatives during the next legislative session.

“Now is the time to take extra cybersecurity precautions. We cannot have another attack on our electoral system,” Raoul said. “We must take direct action to protect our voters from security vulnerabilities within the electoral process.”

In Washington D.C., U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley co-sponsored the Protecting the American Process for Election Results (PAPER) Act, which provides assistance to states allowing them to strengthen cybersecurity defenses against intrusions in their electoral systems.

Hastings outraged at federal roll back of net neutrality rules

net neutralityTINLEY PARK- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) is outraged at the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to eliminate net neutrality protections across the United States.

Today the FCC voted in favor of rolling back the 2015 net neutrality rules that were put in place to empower and protect Illinois consumers and their rights to an open internet. 

“Big corporate utility corporations will now serve as gatekeepers of the world wide web,” Hastings said. “The rollback of net neutrality rules means that the needs of consumers will now be put on the back burner as broadband providers engineer plans to profit and infringe on the privacy and freedoms we once had.”

Hastings was a proponent of protecting those freedoms, and earlier this year he introduced a resolution in the Illinois Senate urging President Donald Trump and members of the United States Congress to continue to protect net neutrality and open internet access.

Supporters of net neutrality argue that rules that took effect in 2015 are the only thing standing between greedy utility companies and impaired internet use. Without net neutrality, those companies could have the power to throttle traffic, charge for expensive "fast lanes" and completely block sites that displease corporate entities.

This means those corporate entities would have full control over information transmitted into homes or business via the internet.

On Black Friday, over 200 companies such as Twitter, Pinterest and Airbnb signed a letter warning FCC Chairman Ajit Pai not to roll back net neutrality protections. The letter states that record Black Friday sales are "a testament to the power of the free and open internet to encourage entrepreneurship, drive innovation, make our lives easier, and to support a healthy economy."

“Our military men and women have fought to protect our democratic principles,” Hastings said. “Freedom of information is a fundamental right our nation was founded upon. The fact Illinois citizens, organizations and businesses may now have to pay a toll to use the internet freely is a direct assault on our sacred values.”

Currently, 47 nations across the globe have laws or regulations protecting net neutrality, including the European Union, Argentina, Norway, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Japan, Mexico and India.  

“Net neutrality shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Hastings said. “The decision made today will not only impact U.S. citizens but our friends and allies across the world. It’s our duty to work together to stand up against this injustice and I urge our federal officials to do the same. We cannot afford to accept policies that impede our basic freedoms.”

Hastings looks forward to future hearings and discussions addressing net neutrality in Illinois during the legislative session.

New public accountability measure goes into effect at start of the new year

jbt 120817PLAINFIELD- Illinois taxpayers will now have a new tool to see if state agencies pay their bills in a timely manner.

House Bill 3649, supported State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood), which requires state agencies to provide a more accurate accounting of bills and late payment interest penalties accruing will go into effect on the first day of the New Year.

“Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is spent,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This new law will lead to responsible accounting and a good step in building the taxpayer’s trust in state agencies and services.”

Currently, state law requires that on October 1 agencies report the annual total of bills that were unpaid as of June 30.” The comptroller’s office then publishes the outdated information on their website.

Bertino-Tarrant believes real-time reporting will allow state agencies, financial officers and the Illinois General Assembly to make better financial decisions. The state’s unprecedented fiscal challenges require a full weighing of outstanding vouchers and the ramifications of an increasing unpaid bill backlog.

Once in effect, House Bill 3649 will require state agencies to report the amount of unpaid bills, whether that amount was appropriated or not, and an estimate of interest penalties accumulated on a monthly basis.

“Open books will lead to accurate and transparent accounting,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The State of Illinois needs to promote the responsible use of public dollars to guarantee every cent is spent wisely and reliably.”

Senate and House worked in a bipartisan manner to override the governor’s veto during the fall veto session.