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Cullerton passes bills to end taxpayer-funded sexual harassment bailouts

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 11:40 AM

tc 052418SPRINGFIELD – Two measures taking aim at sexual assault in government by promoting transparency and the responsible use of taxpayer dollars are headed to the governor’s desk thanks to State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park).

The first, House Bill 4243, prohibits any public funds – including money that is appropriated for office allowances – from being paid to any person in exchange for his or her silence regarding an allegation of sexual harassment against an elected official.

Cunningham advances measure to give local school boards final say on charter schools

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 06:07 PM

cunningham 052318SPRINGFIELD – Local school boards would have the final authority to approve or decline new charter schools under legislation passed out of the Illinois Senate Executive Committee today by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and parts of the Southwest Suburbs.

The legislation, House Bill 5175, eliminates charter schools’ ability to appeal a local school board’s decision to deny or not renew a charter school. Under current law, a charter school applicant may file an appeal with the State Charter School Commission, who can reverse the school board’s decision.

“Local school boards are deeply invested in the communities they serve and ultimately know what’s best for their schools,” Cunningham said. “The State Charter School Commission shouldn’t be able to reverse decisions by local leaders elected by voters in that community.”

The legislation leaves in place a provision allowing charter schools to be approved by referendum if at least five percent of the voters in a school district petition the school board.

HB 5175 now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

Clayborne passes measure to help rebuild damaged Wolf Branch Middle School

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 04:23 PM

clayborne 052318SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed legislation yesterday ensuring funds are available to rebuild the damaged Wolf Branch Middle School building.

State Senator James F Clayborne, Jr.’s House Bill 1265 allows the school district to exceed its statutory debt limit to secure funds for emergency repairs necessitated because the building sunk 25 inches last year after the collapse of an abandoned mine below it.

“It is an unfortunate reality that many buildings in downstate Illinois are on property sitting on abandoned mines,” Clayborne (D-Belleville) said. “By passing this measure, Wolf Branch can invest in a new school and focus on the future.”

As a result of the damage, the middle school has been deemed unsafe and all 372 middle school students have been moved to the district’s elementary school building, resulting in significant overcrowding. All of Wolf Branch School District 113’s 797 students are now schooled in one facility.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has taken steps to use federal funds to prevent the mine from further collapse and the district is pursuing other grant money to rebuild its facilities, but the raising of the debt limit is unavoidable considering the circumstances.

HB 1265 is currently waiting to be sent to the governor. 

Steans champions measure to allow patients to keep their doctors

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 03:08 PM

steans 052318SPRINGFIELD – Recognizing the important relationship between patients and their doctors, Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) sponsored a measure to allow Medicaid patients to switch managed care organizations if the contract with their primary care provider is cancelled.

“A good relationship between a patient and their doctor can lead to better medical outcomes and patient compliance,” Steans said. “Medicaid patients who are happy with their primary care provider should be able to change health insurance plans to stay with their doctor rather than being uprooted and forced to find a new physician.”

Currently, if a contract between a doctor and a managed care organization is terminated, the Medicaid patient’s care remains with the managed care organization. This forces patients to find new doctors. House Bill 4383 would allow patients in this situation to re-enroll in a new managed care organization in order to stay with their primary care doctor.

House Bill 4383 passed the Senate today with a vote of 58-0.

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