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Stadelman: Bicycle bridge will add to quality of downtown Rockford

Published: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 09:46 AM

300pxStadelmanAn abandoned Illinois Railway bridge just south of downtown Rockford will get new life as a bicycle/pedestrian path. The repurposed bridge will connect a planned hotel development with the indoor sports complex set for the former Ingersoll Building, a plan championed by State Senator Steve Stadelman.

"This plan is yet another step in making downtown Rockford a more vibrant place to live and work," said Stadelman, the vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. "By adding this important piece of infrastructure, residents and visitors alike will see an immediate benefit."

The cost of the bridge refurbishment is about $925,000 and is funded by the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, a state program that uses federal money for such projects. The bridge also is part of a longer-term plan to further increase bicycle connectivity in the Rockford area. City engineer Matthew Vitner says the bridge also will connect with bicycle paths from the across the river to Davis Park as well as eventually becoming part of the Grand Illinois Trail.

Construction on the bridge is expected to begin this summer and finish by the end of the year.

Forby reacts to Attorney General's opinion on so-called right to work

Published: Saturday, March 21, 2015 10:45 AM

forby-rtwzones-mrSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Gary Forby issued the following statement in response to Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s opinion that those who want to bust unions would have to go through the General Assembly and that local governments could not pursue such policies.

“I guess that’s that. The Attorney General’s opinion makes it pretty clear this is a matter for state lawmakers, and the Southern Illinois lawmakers I know – on both sides of the aisle – aren’t going to hurt working families,” said Senator Forby (D – Benton).

“Maybe now the governor can start focusing on putting people back to work in Southern Illinois. People around here just want jobs where they’ll be respected with an honest wage for an honest day’s work.”

The Attorney General’s opinion is attached. Here are unofficial summaries regarding the two issues Senator Forby asked the Attorney General to address earlier this month.

Right to Work: The Attorney General opines that federal law preempts counties and municipalities, as well as other units of local government, from adopting local ordinances that regulate the use of union security agreements (right to work). Furthermore, General Madigan opines that Illinois law does not authorize the creation, via referendum, of local right to work zones or areas. Only the state may enact such laws.

Prevailing Wage: The Attorney General opines that all counties, municipalities, and school districts must comply with the provisions of the Prevailing Wage Act when seeking bids and awarding contracts for public works projects and have no authority to opt out of compliance.

Hastings focused on youth suicide prevention

Published: Friday, March 20, 2015 12:00 PM

hastings-suicideTINLEY PARK – State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) is sponsoring legislation that focuses attention on youth suicide awareness and prevention. The measure would require the Illinois State Board of Education to develop a model suicide awareness and prevention policy, which would then be adopted by all school districts in the state.

The measure is intended to raise universal awareness for youth suicide and to prevent these unfortunate events from happening again. Hastings brought this legislation as a result of a local event.

“Ann Marie Blaha was a shining light in our community. She was a nice, 11-year-old girl with a great family involved in our community,” Hastings said. “Unfortunately she committed suicide and as a result her great parents have made it their mission to prevent other parents from having to go through this.”

Senate Bill 1793 will also direct ISBE to provide information and professional development material to schools across Illinois.

“Our daughter meant the world to our family. We would do anything to bring her back,” said Ann Marie’s parents Mike and Sue Blaha. “We would do anything to prevent this from happening to another parent.”

SB 1793 passed out of committee unanimously and moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

Kotowski proposal to protect First Amendment advances

Published: Friday, March 20, 2015 09:49 AM

kotow-first-amdSPRINGFIELD- After speaking out against a development plan at a Park Ridge Planning and Zoning Commission in November 2014, about 20 local residents were named as defendants in a lawsuit. Because of uncertain language in current state law, when the developer filed suit to overturn the commission’s decision to reject the plan, they also named the residents as defendants.

State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) is sponsoring legislation to clear up the language and to keep these same citizens who expressed their concerns from being sued.

“Everyone should be able to voice their thoughts in a public forum without fear of a lawsuit. Unfortunately, right now state law is unclear. This legislation protects First Amendment rights of Illinois citizens so they will not face retribution for representing themselves at a public meeting,” Kotowski said.

The legislation unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this week and heads to the Senate floor for a vote.

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