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Aquino measure to expand voting access and education in county jails passes General Assembly

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

aquino 052318SPRINGFIELD – Inmates in Illinois county jails who have not been convicted of a crime would be guaranteed an opportunity to vote under legislation advanced out of the Illinois Senate today by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago).

The legislation, House Bill 4469, would ensure all current and former inmates are aware of their voting rights and given a fair chance to register and cast ballots.

While individuals who are awaiting trial and have not been convicted are still eligible to vote, jails are not required to offer voting and only seven out of 102 counties in Illinois currently do so.

HB 4469 would require county election authorities outside Chicago to work with county jail officials to create an absentee voting program. Cook County, which voluntarily launched its first in-person voting program during the March 2018 statewide primaries, would be required to continue providing a temporary polling location during elections.

Ninety-four percent of Cook County Jail inmates are currently eligible to vote, according to voting rights organization Chicago Votes.

“It is an injustice to exclude any eligible voter from participating in our democracy,” Aquino said. “This bill will secure voting rights and increase awareness for the overwhelming majority of detainees and former convicts who are eligible.”

The measure would also require the Department of Corrections to educate former inmates on their voting status and provide voter registration materials. Convicted felons are ineligible to vote while incarcerated but regain the right following the end of their sentence.

HB 4469 now awaits the Governor’s signature to become law.

Murphy measure supports cancer patients

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 09:39 AM

murphy 052318SPRINGFIELD —State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) advanced a measure to help cancer patients have children – a prospect that can diminish greatly for some patients once treatment begins.

“Cancer patients deserve a chance to have children,” Murphy said. “For some men and women, fertility preservation prior to radiation or surgery is their only way to have biological children.”

House Bill 2617 requires insurers to cover standard fertility preservation services when a necessary medical procedure, such as radiation, chemotherapy and surgery, could cause infertility.

The Affordable Care Act provides infertility coverage but does not include fertility preservation services. Additionally, employers with 25 or more full-time employees who provide pregnancy-related benefits are required to provide coverage for infertility treatment, though some restrictions apply.

This measure attempts to address a patient’s desire to have children before they undergo a medical procedure that could render them infertile.

“I can only imagine the pain that newly diagnosed patients experience when they find out the procedure that could save their life may also prevent them from bringing a new life into the world,” Murphy said.

“Paying for fertility preservation out of pocket is burdensome and simply not possible for many patients. This legislation would remove that barrier.”

Check cashing rate compromise passes General Assembly

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 05:23 PM

collins 042418SPRINGFIELD – A proposal setting new rates on check cashing services, including lowering the rate on government assistance checks, passed the General Assembly without opposition last week and awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) worked alongside consumer advocates to reach the compromise in the wake of a proposal from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) which would have raised rates on check cashing services like those at a Currency Exchange. The measure now awaiting the governor’s signature includes lower rate increases on smaller checks and also caps the rates on all public assistance checks at a lower rate for many recipients.

Holmes passes proposal to study broadband access

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2018 03:17 PM

holmes 022718SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) passed a proposal through the Illinois Senate to create the Broadband Advisory Council to study expanding broadband access in Illinois.

“Just like electricity and running water, having access to broadband is a critical tool for creating growth in communities and businesses,” Holmes said. “As a state, we need to ensure we are exploring all opportunities available to extend this critical resource to every corner of our state.”

To ensure the needs of a wide variety of citizens are heard, the council will have representatives from electric cooperatives, municipalities, public housing authorizes, the Community College Board, the Board of Higher Education, the Department of Aging, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services , AARP and several other organizations that represent a wide scope of interests.

The council is charged with several tasks, including:

  • Exploring ways to expand access to broadband
  • Identifying and eliminating barriers to broadband
  • Determining  if broadband companies are discriminating against low-income areas
  • Exploring the potential for increased use of broadband for the purposes of education and career readiness
  • Determining the potential benefits from increased broadband service that would allow seniors to live in their own homes longer

“Broadband is a vital resource our entire lives, from our children who are preparing for the workforce to our senior citizens who are trying to maintain comfortable lives in their own homes,” Holmes said. “I look forward to utilizing the findings of this council to best serve the citizens of our state.”

Holmes’ proposal, House Bill 5752, passed the Illinois Senate with a vote of 57-0. It has now passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.

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