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The Majority Report 04/20/18 - Looking out for workers, small businesses and special ed


Senate approves workers’ compensation reform

Sen. Kwame Raoul

The Senate approved a series of changes to Illinois’ workers’ compensation system that aim to hold insurance companies accountable and pass along savings to employers and employees.

“We refuse to participate in a race to the bottom when it comes to workers’ compensation rights,” said State Senator Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat and chief sponsor of the measure.

The legislation makes several changes to the workers’ compensation system, including requiring electronic billing for workers’ compensation claims, allowing first responders to receive benefits the day after an accident, creating an evidence-based prescription drug formulary and changing the way insurance companies set rates with the Illinois Department of Insurance.

State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) voted for the measure, saying she wanted to push back on the status quo and help Illinois business owners see lower workers’ compensation premiums.

“Despite a successful workers’ compensation reform package being implemented in 2011, insurance companies have immorally been pocketing savings rather than passing them on to employers,” she said.

Read more: Raoul passes reform of workers’ comp program
Read more: Murphy-backed workers’ comp reform advances


Senate Democrats seek fairness for local retailers

Sen. Cristina CastroA measure that would ensure out-of-state companies doing business in Illinois pay their fair share of state taxes was approved by the state Senate.

State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) sponsored the legislation which garnered bipartisan support. Currently, out-of-state retailers who sell online to Illinois residents do not have to collect a sales tax, a practice that undercuts local businesses and denies revenue to local governments.

“Businesses in our state are already struggling,” Castro said. “Online stores from out of state have an advantage because they don’t have to meet the same requirements. It’s time for that to change.”

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) sees the measure as an opportunity to protect rural and downstate communities by ensuring distant online retailers are playing by the same rules as local brick-and-mortar retailers.

He represents central Illinois communities that have been hard hit by job losses and declining sales tax revenue for road and sewer projects as long-standing brick-and-mortar retailers have shuttered because of online competition and changing consumer habits.

“Online shopping, while good and convenient for rural consumers, has contributed to a tidal wave of brick-and-mortar store closures, job losses and sales tax declines that have local mayors and county boards extremely concerned. I share their worries,” Manar said.

Read more: Castro fights to ensure out-of-state business pay fair share
Read more: Manar joins Senate in voting to protect downstate Main Street retailers


Hunter works to address special education disparities

Sen. Mattie Hunter

As Chicago education experts grapple with the findings of a new report showing systemic problems with the district’s special education policies, State Senator Mattie Hunter advanced legislation that may help address some of the issues.

Special education services have been delayed and denied to Chicago Public Schools students since a 2016 overhaul of the district’s policies, according to a 42-page report released this week by the Illinois State Board of Education, which investigated the matter.

Hunter has proposed Senate Bill 3514, which would require CPS principals and school personnel who are regular members of an individualized education program (IEP) team to determine special education staffing needs. The legislation aims to close disparities in education spending based on race and income. The measure passed the Senate 51-0.

“Siphoning money away from special education programs and services to other programs is absolutely unfair to students with learning disabilities,” Hunter said. “We need to make sure that we have fully staffed schools designed to cultivate the talents of special needs students.”

Read more: Hunter works to close disparities in special education
In the news: State panel: Overhaul worsened CPS’ special education program


In case you missed it


Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood: State Senate OKs bill enforcing use tax on out-of-state businesses | Champaign News-Gazette

Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: Report: Improvements to veterans home could cost $265M | The State Journal-Register, Springfield

Senator Don Harmon, Oak Park: Victim’s mom demands action: ‘Guns and bullets have no names on them’ | WICS-TV, Springfield

Senator Napoleon Harris, Harvey: State legislators pounce on Harvey’s pension woes to push reform; appellate court rules in city’s favor | Chicago Tribune

Senator Michael E. Hastings, Tinley Park: Lawmakers consider state worker safety after beating death | The Associated Press

Senator Dave Koehler, Peoria: Fracking bill moves forward in Illinois Senate | Chicago Tonight, WTTW-TV

Senator Terry Link, Vernon Hills: Food truck delivery at North Chicago pantry ‘a real blessing’ to veterans in need | Chicago Tribune

Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Two months after funding announcement, state clears remaining $2.25M for Crossing Healthcare | Decatur Herald & Review

Senator Laura Murphy, Des Plaines: Illinois lottery winners could be anonymous under proposed law | The Daily Journal

Senator Heather Steans, Chicago: DCFS asks for increase of $10.2M in funding | NPR Illinois


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