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Senate approves Bennett’s plan to create agricultural teacher training program

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 04:57 PM

ag ed 032619SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed legislation this week to create a hands-on agriculture teacher training program in Illinois high schools.

Senate Bill 1498 would require the Illinois State Board of Education to develop an Agricultural Education Pre-Service Training Program to prepare high school students for a college career aimed at becoming farm sciences teachers.

“The importance of agricultural education spreads further than the classroom,” said Bennett, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This program would help students develop problem-solving skills and agricultural literacy they’ll need in order to teach the next generation of farmers how to produce the food we eat, the fuel we use and the fiber in our clothes.”

Manar calls for more child abuse prevention services in rural Illinois

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 02:26 PM

manar 031219SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ primary child welfare agency is failing families in rural and downstate Illinois, State Senator Andy Manar said Tuesday.

“There is a void in services in parts of the state where child abuse is through the roof,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who chairs one of the Senate’s two budget committees. “I believe DCFS is completely ill-equipped to handle what’s happening in the rural parts of Illinois.”

Manar’s district includes rural communities where residents sometimes step in to help children in crisis because DCFS is unresponsive or services are unavailable, and large communities like Decatur, where in February 2-year-old Ta’Naja Barnes died from starvation, freezing and neglect by her mother and mother's boyfriend.

During a budget hearing Tuesday, Manar decried the absence of children’s advocacy centers and other resources in every county of Illinois, even as there has been an increase in hotline calls and abuse investigations by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

According to DCFS data, 39 accredited children’s advocacy centers serve 95 of Illinois’ 102 counties. For example, one center in Macoupin County serves families in Macoupin, Montgomery, Greene, Jersey and Calhoun counties.

Manar asked DCFS officials for more detailed information about the number and location of calls to the DCFS child abuse hotline, locations where abuse investigators work and more. He criticized DCFS for failing to make a sufficient budget request for the upcoming fiscal year that would allow it to properly serve the children and families of Illinois.

“I think we can all agree there’s a crisis on our hands when it comes to many aspects of what DCFS is charged with doing. We recite the names of dead children in this hearing once a year,” Manar said. “I want to know how much it’s going to take the department to do the job that it’s tasked with doing. If it’s a big number, it’s a big number.”

Holmes animal welfare bill addresses fees, fosters and feral cats

Published: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 02:07 PM

holmes 032519SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) has passed legislation in the Senate Agriculture Committee to address a number of issues regarding animal shelters and foster groups, licensing fees and feral cat programs.

Senate Bill 61 increases licensing fees under the Department of Agriculture for the first time since 1971. It also changes rules regarding adopted dogs and cats and the facilities that provide foster homes and transport pets for adoption.

“This group of animal welfare measures brings several rescue and shelter issues up to date for Illinois,” Holmes said. “So many pets find their forever homes through these facilities and fostering arrangements. This legislation can serve to increase the potential for that to happen while providing the Department of Agriculture with more resources to oversee these programs and facilities.”

In addition to increasing license fees and administrative fines, Senate Bill 61 does the following:

  • Changes definitions of terms related to animal shelters, rescue and transport groups and their functions;
  • Changes sterilization and microchip exemptions for adopted pets based on their age;
  • Addresses programs for sterilized, vaccinated feral cats in barn cat and college campus settings, often used for pest control;
  • Clarifies the limits of four foster pets or two litters in foster homes.

Senate Bill 61 includes input from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Best Friends Animal Society, Illinois Humane Society and the Illinois Animal Control Association.

With a unanimous vote in the Agriculture Committee, Senate Bill 61 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Cullerton: Veterans’ Home report reveals Rauner cover-up

Published: Monday, March 25, 2019 01:02 PM

tc 031919VILLA PARK— State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) released the following statement in response to the Performance Audit of the Legionnaires’ Disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home released by the Auditor General on Monday:

“The Auditor General’s report confirms what we already knew: Former Gov. Rauner and his administration failed our veterans and their loved ones. 

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News Releases

IMAGE Manar calls for more child abuse prevention services in rural Illinois
Tuesday, 26 March 2019
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ primary child welfare agency is failing families in rural and downstate Illinois, State Senator Andy Manar said Tuesday....

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IMAGE Holmes animal welfare bill addresses fees, fosters and feral cats
Tuesday, 26 March 2019
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) has passed legislation in the Senate Agriculture Committee to address a number of issues...

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