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The Majority Report 10/06/17 - Senate Black Caucus calls for renewal of federal CHIP program


Senate Black Caucus calls for renewal of CHIP program

Sen. Kimberly A. LightfordMembers of the Illinois Legislative Senate Black Caucus last week scolded Congress for jeopardizing health care for more than 300,000 Illinois children and pushed for the program to be renewed as soon as possible.

Congress allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, to expire on Sept. 30. The program provides low-cost health insurance for 9 million U.S. children.

“I can’t believe Congress let this expire,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood). “The Children’s Health Insurance Program is perhaps one of the most effective bipartisan success stories to come out of Washington in recent years. The program needs to be renewed now. I suggest they act swiftly.”

Failing to restore funding for CHIP could result in more children not visiting doctors for routine checkups, care when they are sick and other services.

“It’s simply irresponsible for our leaders on Capitol Hill to allow CHIP to expire,” said Assistant Majority Leader Donne Trotter (D-Chicago). “The health of our children is crucial not only to their success in the classroom, but to their overall well-being. I urge Congress to take the necessary steps to provide the federal funding for this program.”

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) called it a callous effort to use children as political pawns, and Senate Majority Caucus Whip Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) expressed alarm about the disproportionate effect on low-income families.

“Far too many individuals and children bear the burden of poor health care because of their economic status, and it’s simply not fair,” Hunter said. “Raising awareness on the issues that impact major health – a disparity in minority communities – is the first step in creating equality.”


After Las Vegas, Morrison proposes ban on bump stocks

Sen. Julie MorrisonIn the wake of the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) announced she will file legislation to ban so-called bump stocks, which are attachments to semiautomatic rifles that drastically increase the number of bullets fired from a weapon.

“Bump stocks serve no purpose but to inflict maximum carnage on a target and have no place in our communities,” Morrison said.

“The federal loophole allowing bump stocks is essentially giving the green light for individuals to purchase and unfortunately use weapons that act just like a fully automatic weapon, which has been banned in this country since 1986.”

Bump stocks are formally known as trigger modification devices. Several of the guns found in the 32nd-floor hotel room of the gunman responsible for the Oct. 1 Las Vegas mass shooting were modified with bump stocks. Morrison said that although she hopes action is taken in Washington to regulate the devices, history has proven that Congress seems unable to pass common-sense gun regulations to deal with increased mass shooting events.

She also announced she will push ahead with a proposal to give Illinois municipalities the ability to ban assault weapons. Communities were able to do so until 2013 when Illinois passed its concealed carry law, which also prohibited any new local restrictions.

“We cannot continue to act as though we don’t have a serious problem with gun violence in this country,” Morrison said. “Access to mental health care is a component to this issue that we also need to address. But the ease at which firearms and attachments that cause mass carnage are available is unacceptable and it is time we act.”


Bertino-Tarrant prioritizes children over tax credits

Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

Public schools would have to be adequately funded by the state before any tax dollars could be diverted for costly private school scholarship programs under legislation filed by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

“Tax credits should not be given out at the expense of our children,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The state should not start handing out tax rebates until we correct the disparities created by generations of systematic inequality in Illinois’ school system.”

Bertino-Tarrant’s measure, Senate Bill 2236, was filed in response to Senate Bill 1947, the comprehensive school funding reform overhaul, which includes a five-year pilot program that would award a 75-percent tax credit to donors who contribute to scholarship funds for students to attend non-public schools.

Bertino-Tarrant said the scholarship program could siphon valuable tax dollars away from Illinois’ public schools, especially if the minimum funding level is not met.

“I’m proud that the General Assembly worked in a bipartisan manner to put our children first. Now we need to take the next step,” she said.

“Since we embarked on this mission, our goal has remained funding our schools in a way that guarantees our children are provided an excellent education regardless of their ZIP code. This initiative solidifies our mission by keeping Illinois’ children our top priority.”

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