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Harmon: Automatic voter registration benefits everyone

Published: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 01:30 PM

harmon 020817SPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) issued the following statement after automatic voter registration was signed into law:

“I am pleased that automatic voter registration is now law in Illinois. This is a concept that benefits everyone. It saves the state money, it strengthens the integrity of the electoral system by cleaning up voter rolls and it makes it easier for Illinois residents to participate in the democratic process.”

The new law establishes an automatic voter registration system in Illinois by July 1, 2018. Harmon was a chief co-sponsor of the measure, which passed the Senate on a vote of 48-0.

Qualified voters will be automatically registered to vote when they visit the Illinois Secretary of State and other state agencies for services. Voters can opt out of the system, and a series of checks will protect against fraud.

Illinois currently has an opt-in voter registration system in which adults who are 18 or older must find, fill out and submit a voter registration form to an appropriate government agency. Voters frequently forget to update their voter registrations when they move, change marital status or go to college, causing confusion at the polls and inaccuracies on the state’s voter rolls.

Automatically registering voters when they do business with the state enables government to do away with redundant paperwork, streamline bureaucracy and be more cost effective for taxpayers.

Morrison’s plan to end municipal pension abuse signed into law

Published: Monday, August 28, 2017 02:21 PM

morrison 082817SPRINGFIELD – A plan passed by State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) that would end the practice of local government officials using vehicle allowances to boost their future pension payments was signed into law on Friday by the governor.

“Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for an inflated pension for a mayor because they received a vehicle allowance,” Morrison said. “The practice of endlessly adding sweeteners to pension plans is one of the reasons so many pension funds are in poor fiscal health.”

While is it is not uncommon for local governmental officials to have access to taxpayer-purchased vehicles or receive vehicle allowances for use in conducting city business, several suburban officials have the ability of using their vehicle allowance perk to boost their pension payments when they retire.

Morrison’s new law, which was contained in Senate Bill 701, will exclude vehicle allowances from the definition of earnings, changing current Illinois law to prohibit the perk from increasing a future pension.

Senate Bill 701 passed the Senate without opposition in May and takes effect immediately.

Cuts to child care program reversed under new Hutchinson law

Published: Monday, August 28, 2017 01:18 PM

hutchinson3SPRINGFIELD – Cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) under Governor Bruce Rauner two years ago decimated the once hailed program that helps low-income families afford the every-increasing cost of child care. While some of the governor’s cuts were restored within a few months, thousands of families remained ineligible.

A new law sponsored by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) and signed into law on Friday restores access to child care services for families whose parents are enrolled in education or training programs.

“There are thousands of parents across Illinois who are striving to achieve a better life for themselves and their children,” Hutchinson said. “Why would the state stand in the way of those families? For many, access to affordable child care can make the difference between having the ability of going back to school or obtaining training, both of which are vital to increasing earnings potential and lifting families out of poverty.”

Hutchinson’s new law, which was contained in House Bill 3213, specifically requires the Department of Human Services to expand CCAP eligibility to families with parents enrolled in education or training programs.

Illinois Action for Children estimates more than 30,000 fewer children in total are receiving child care today than in June 2015. Before Governor Rauner’s cuts, nearly 4,000 children whose parents were enrolled in school or a training program received child care services.

House Bill 3213 passed the Senate in late May and takes effect immediately.

Veterans with PTSD now eligible for service dogs under new law sponsored by Manar

Published: Friday, August 25, 2017 04:55 PM

manar vet servicedog 082517SPRINGFIELD – Illinois military veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression will be eligible for service dogs through a special program under legislation sponsored by Senator Andy Manar that was signed into law Friday.

“Service dogs often can offer companionship, stress-relief and motivation to veterans with PTSD or depression that friends and family may not be able to provide,” Manar said. “I am pleased that these veterans now are on the list of people in Illinois who can take advantage of the Helping Paws Service Dog Program and lead more fulfilling lives.”

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