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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.”

Manar legislation to develop Pana Lake becomes law

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2019 01:46 PM

manar 121919SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) to allow the city of Pana to move forward with a plan to develop 140 acres of dormant land around Pana Lake was signed into law this week by Governor JB Pritzker. The legislation was brought to Senator Manar by Pana Mayor Don Kroski.

“This is very exciting for everyone involved in the planning of the Pana Lake development. This allows us to develop hiking trails, camp sites and other recreational amenities. We’re grateful to Senator Manar for his effort in removing this barrier,” said Pana City Engineer Greg Holthaus on behalf of Mayor Don Kroski.

Senate Bill 1597 authorizes the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to relinquish the state’s contractual right to manage and develop the Pana Lake dam and the land surrounding it.

“It’s important that local leaders be in the driver’s seat and have a say regarding land that lies within their boundaries,” said Manar. “Transferring this land from state ownership will provide Pana with the authority to most effectively use the land to benefit its residents and the region. I appreciate Mayor Kroski reaching out to me about this important issue and I am pleased that we were finally able to get it resolved.”

The contract was originally created as an agreement between the city and the now-defunct Department of Conservation in 1949. The state intended to develop the land for recreational use, but never did so.

SB 1597 will go into effect immediately.

Bennett addresses incarcerated men at college graduation ceremony

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2019 01:40 PM

bennett 050219DANVILLE – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) addressed 13 incarcerated men who received their associates degrees in general studies at Danville Area Community College (DACC) Wednesday.

“These individuals have faced difficulties in the past,” Bennett said. “It’s rewarding to see each of these men apply themselves to the program and make productive use of their time while incarcerated.”

Several studies have shown that recidivism rates are high and prison-based educational programs, like the ones offered at DACC, prepare students for successful job placement and lower the risk of re-offense. Bennett recognizes the value of higher education and life-long learning, and has supported the program by collecting dictionaries to help students succeed in their courses.

“Education is a powerful tool,” Bennett said. “Once you earn a degree, no one can take that away from you. These folks made the commitment to transform their lives and are on the path to a better future and becoming productive citizens in their communities.”

The dedicated faculty from DACC and the education program staff within Danville Correctional Center are to thank for putting these men on the right path and leading them to a healthier lifestyle in the future.

Castro’s pension consolidation program approved

Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2019 04:03 PM

castro 121819SPRINGFIELD – A plan sponsored by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) aimed at mitigating the threat of the state’s pension crisis was signed into law Wednesday.

“The number one budget issue legislators have been dealing with for decades is the pension crisis,” Castro said. “We got a victory today with this consolidation plan, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

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