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Morrison water safety legislation passes General Assembly

Published: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 01:52 PM

“We require people who drive cars to earn licenses. It’s only reasonable to require boat operators to have some basic training. We require people to use headlights when they drive at night. Flying flags when you’re towing an inner tuber or water skier serves the same purpose.” - Senator Julie Morrison

water-safety-040114RSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison’s (D-Deerfield) water safety plan – the product of months of hearings, a careful study of other state’s best practices and bipartisan compromise – has passed the Illinois General Assembly. It now goes to the governor for his consideration.

“A few commonsense safety precautions can help keep Illinois’ waterways safe for children and families,” Morrison said. “We require people who drive cars to earn licenses. It’s only reasonable to require boat operators to have some basic training. We require people to use headlights when they drive at night. Flying flags when you’re towing an inner tuber or water skier serves the same purpose.”

The first part of the package is Senate Bill 2731, which requires boats that are towing inner tubers, water skiers or others to fly orange flags. Several other states, including Illinois neighbor Missouri, already have similar laws. Orange safety flags are widely available for $10 or less.

Harmon plan to address mental health care shortage passes General Assembly

Published: Tuesday, June 03, 2014 12:50 PM

Gives psychologists limited prescription authority

052014 js 0095RSPRINGFIELD – Illinois faces a shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in the field of mental health. State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) is taking on this problem by giving psychologists – under the careful supervision of doctors – the ability to prescribe some mental health medication.

“We need to do a better job of treating mental illnesses the same way we do physical maladies,” Harmon said. “When someone needs help, they can’t always wait weeks or travel great distances. Mental health care shortages can cost lives and cause needless suffering.”

Harmon’s legislation, Senate Bill 2187, allows psychologists who are willing to undertake additional rigorous training to prescribe certain medications commonly used to treat mental illness, such as Prozac.

County ethics measure passes General Assembly

Published: Tuesday, June 03, 2014 10:26 AM

032014 js 0050CLRSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison’s (D-Deerfield) legislation to enable county boards to remove appointed officials who violate the public trust passed the Illinois General Assembly last week and now goes to the governor.

“When employees break their companies’ codes of conduct, their bosses can fire them. When elected officials violate the public trust, the people can vote them out or their colleagues can impeach them. Right now, if appointed officials act unethically, county boards can’t do anything but wait for their terms to expire,” Morrison said. “This situation must change.”

Morrison’s legislation, Senate Bill 3552, introduced at the request of Lake County Board, allows the county boards of the collar counties to remove appointed officials by a two-thirds majority vote. To initiate the process, the county board or county executive would have to find that the appointed official violated the county’s code of conduct, and the county board would have to hold a hearing.

Collins calls for collective action to end hunger in Illinois

Published: Tuesday, June 03, 2014 08:49 AM

052714CM0870SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) noted that 14.2 percent of Illinoisans lack consistent access to food and called on six groups to combine forces to end hunger and food insecurity in the state. The Senate adopted her resolution urging the governor to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat hunger using the existing resources and expertise of these organizations and commissions.

“Hunger is a multifaceted problem, and ending it will require the combined and focused attention of government, schools, food banks, non-profits, the business community and the faith community at every level,” said Collins, who has championed efforts to bring fresh, nutritious foods into “food deserts.”

Collins’ resolution recognizes the ongoing and potential contributions of the following groups to the fight to connect all Illinois residents to healthy foods:

  • The Illinois Commission to End Hunger, which encourages partnerships between food pantries and farmers’ markets
  • The Greater Chicago Food Depository, which supplies food to 650 food pantries and soup kitchens across Cook County and is pioneering an urban agriculture and employment initiative
  • The Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Council, created by legislation Collins sponsored in 2009, which supports the consumption of locally grown foods throughout the state
  • The Serve Illinois Commission, which encourages volunteer service and engages local food projects in building a strong volunteer infrastructure
  • The Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, which works at the intersection of social and economic progress
  • The Illinois Business Development Council, which is developing a state business plan that prioritizes areas of high poverty and low employment

“To alleviate hunger and poverty, we must harness the power of existing resources, not create yet another stand-alone task force,” Collins said. “I know that applying dedicated talent and grassroots innovation from around the state to the unacceptable reality of hunger in our communities will bring about change.”

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