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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.

Pritzker announces major investment in downstate child care centers

Published: Friday, December 20, 2019 09:31 AM

childcare 122019CHICAGO – Child care providers in certain downstate Illinois counties will see their reimbursement rates increase by 20% under the Child Care Assistance Program, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced this week.

In order to address Illinois’ early childhood workforce crisis, child care reimbursement base rates for all child care centers and home-based providers are increasing by 5% statewide, with an additional 15% increase for providers in counties that are categorized as predominately rural, including Macon County.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said the move will improve access to child care in Central and Southern Illinois communities and boost wages of child care workers.

Castro responds to controversial Trump administration energy ruling

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2019 03:45 PM

castro 013019SPRINGFIELD – A ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could result in Illinois residents paying nearly $1 billion more in electricity bills. In a 2-1 vote split along party lines, the Trump-appointed majority imposed new rules that could prevent clean energy sources from competing in the energy market.

Upon hearing about the ruling, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), a sponsor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, issued the following statement:

“If the Trump administration is going to continue its attack on clean energy, then it is imperative we act with urgency. We must work on the Clean Energy Jobs Act and ensure it passes through the General Assembly during the upcoming session, allowing us to take matters into our own hands and prevent utility bills from skyrocketing.”

Bertino-Tarrant advocates for Jan. 1 measures that will keep first responders, children and construction workers safe

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2019 02:59 PM

drivesafelyPLAINFIELD – State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) urges Illinoisans to educate themselves on new driving laws that go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

In light of the increase in accidents and deaths of Illinois State Police troopers, Bertino-Tarrant backed Senate Bill 1862, which tightens up Scott’s Law in Illinois. The law clarifies drivers need to slow down, change lanes and proceed with caution when emergency vehicles are stopped on the side of the highway.

“Every day, our officers and first responders put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to work to ensure it is second nature for drivers to slow down and move over when any vehicle is stalled on the side of the road. This simple step will help keep our police and first responders safe.”

Fines will also double for illegally approaching, overtaking or passing stopped school buses under House Bill 1873.

Every year, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services conducts a one-day count of illegal school bus passing incidents across the nation. In 2018, school bus drivers in 38 states participated and recorded 83,944 incidents during that one-day count. NASPDTS concluded as many as 15 million vehicles could be illegally passing school buses and their students each 180-day school year.

“Our children should be safe as they get on and off their school buses,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to discourage, prevent and punish careless driving. Our children’s lives on the line.”

Bertino-Tarrant said keeping people safe is also the goal in construction zones, as construction season returns in Illinois. Senate Bill 1496 increases the maximum penalty for hitting a construction worker to $25,000 from the current $10,000 fine.

“Driving recklessly through construction zones to shave off a few minutes of your travel time can end up being the difference between life and death for our construction workers,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We will increase these penalties in the earnest hope the higher fine makes drivers think twice as they enter a construction zone.”

Bertino-Tarrant urges drivers to research these new driving rules that will go into effect at the start of the year. If residents have any questions or concerns, she encourages them to reach out to her office at 815-254-4211.

“Safe driving saves lives,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We all must work together to be better drivers and keep our streets safe.”

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