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Bennett's Mahomet Aquifer law to take effect in the New Year

Published: Monday, December 23, 2019 01:17 PM

bennett 052419CHAMPAIGN - A new law on the books will secure protections for the Mahomet Aquifer thanks to State Senator Scott Bennett. 

Senator Bennett (D-Champaign) passed Senate Bill 2027, which directs the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to prioritize landfills overlying the Mahomet Aquifer for inspection. 

"Considering the Mahomet Aquifer is the most important water source in east-central Illinois, I have worked frequently with the Mahomet Aquifer Task Force to ensure it is protected," Bennett said. "They are a tremendous group to work with and now we can be assured that 500,000 people know the water coming out of their faucets is clean and safe to drink." 

The bill requires the IEPA to use existing information available from the state and federal agencies to identify unknown, unregulated or under-regulated waste disposal sites that sit above the aquifer and may pose a threat to surface water or groundwater resources.

The new law also seeks to establish a pilot program at the Pekin Metro Landfill to identify potential and current threats to the water quality of the Aquifer from the landfill.

The proposed legislation came from the recommendations of the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force, a bipartisan coalition of central Illinois lawmakers from both chambers of the General Assembly, including Representative Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) and Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet). The task force, chaired by Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen, also includes scientists from the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, Illinois State Geological Survey, the Illinois Water Survey and the IEPA.

This new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Cunningham’s officer suicide prevention measure to take effect in 2020

Published: Monday, December 23, 2019 01:15 PM

cunningham 052219SPRINGFIELD – Illinois law enforcement officers will receive increased wellness and suicide prevention training starting Jan. 1 thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham.

“Suicide and mental health are some of the most serious issues facing our law enforcement community,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This law will help officers recognize these issues and provide them with a better understanding of the mental health resources available to them.”

House Bill 2767 requires the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to develop a course addressing the issues of officer wellness and suicide prevention. The course will be included in the training requirements police officers must complete before graduating the police academy and will also need to be completed every three years after graduation.

The training will include recognizing signs of work-related cumulative stress, issues that may lead to suicide and solutions for intervention with peer support resources.

“Seeking help for these issues isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength,” Cunningham said. “We need to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health in the first responder community and ensure that everyone has access to the resources they need.”

This year, Cunningham also cosponsored House Bill 2766, the First Responders Suicide Prevention Act, which implements training for individuals tasked with providing peer support counseling to colleagues, requires police and fire departments to develop disciplinary measures for those who violate confidentiality agreements, and creates a civil cause of action for employees whose employment status is adversely affected by information obtained during a counseling session. That law has already taken effect.

Both measures passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support and were signed into law in August.

Villivalam appointed to serve on Senate Special Committee on Pension Investments

Published: Friday, December 20, 2019 11:38 AM

villivalam 051619SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Ram Villivalam has been appointed to the Senate Special Committee on Pension Investments by Senate President John J. Cullerton to fill the vacancy created by the departure of former State Senator Toi Hutchinson.

“I’m committed to ensuring the state upholds its promise to compensate our hardworking employees upon their retirement and to make sure these investments are indeed smart ones for taxpayers,” Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “It is our responsibility to ensure that all Illinoisans who dedicate their lives to serving the state are not left without the means to support themselves and to provide fair opportunities for minority-owned businesses that have long struggled to break into the investment industry.”

For over ten years, the Senate Special Committee on State and Pension Fund Investments has made it a priority to monitor the use of minority and female-owned asset management firms and brokerages by public pension systems.

The committee is expected to meet in March.

Morrison: Individuals with disabilities have a valued role in contributing to our state

Published: Friday, December 20, 2019 09:47 AM

morrison 122019SPRINGFIELD – People with disabilities can often face barriers when looking for employment. However, Illinois continues to lead by example to break down those barriers.

Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) passed legislation that will require the state to facilitate the hiring of individuals with disabilities.

“Having a job means having dignity, independence and purpose, regardless of whether an individual has a disability,” Morrison said. “The state of Illinois should be a leader in showing that individuals with disabilities are just as capable in the workplace and have a valued role in contributing to our state and our economy.”

The measure – which passed without opposition in the spring – aims to make state jobs more accessible for individuals with disabilities. The Department of Central Management Services will be required to send the Successful Disability Opportunities List to any agency that is hiring.

The Successful Disability Opportunities Program helps guide people with disabilities through the Illinois hiring process. Once a person qualifies for the program and successfully passes a test, they will be on the SDO list for a year. The list will now be distributed to hiring agencies when a list of potential hires is requested.

Senate Bill 190 takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

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