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New Hunter law identifies food deserts

Published: Monday, September 11, 2017 10:38 AM

hunter 022817SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to provide information about health issues and access to quality food options, House Bill 3157, backed by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) has become law.

“This lack of access can usually be found in underprivileged areas,” said Hunter. “Most families in food deserts also live without a car, strictly relying on public transportation to commute. I believe everyone, regardless of location, should have access to quality produce. It’s important to build partnerships among local government and businesses to tackle this growing problem.”

House Bill 3157 will require the Department of Public Health to provide the General Assembly with an annual report that identifies the locations of food deserts, along with analysis on the health impacts in such locations.

A food desert is defined as a location with a lack of grocery stores, farmers' markets, or healthy food providers, thus leading local residents to rely on unhealthier food options.

The legislation becomes June 1, 2018.

Cullerton’s groundbreaking legislation to streamline veterans’ resources signed into law

Published: Monday, September 11, 2017 10:30 AM

tc 021617VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton’s (D-Villa Park) monumental legislation to combat veteran’s suicide in Illinois was signed into law today.

“One veteran lost to suicide is one too many,” Cullerton said. “This new law applies common-sense solutions to eliminate barriers between veterans and the state resources they qualify for. This initiative wasn’t compiled in haste but over hours and weeks of testimony, input and concerns raised by veterans, their loved ones and veterans’ organizations throughout the state. This is a true testament to their hard work and dedication to our nation’s heroes. I’m proud of the work that went into this measure and to be part of this monumental effort.”

House Bill 2647 is a collection of comprehensive recommendations to ensure veterans have better access to services, treatment for mental trauma and depression as well as better access to employment opportunities.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S.

A common theme throughout the process is finding ways to access veterans’ resources promised to the state as well as addressing a disconnect between federal and state resources. House Bill 2647 creates a connection between the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense to help streamline and remove redundancies when returning veterans redeem benefits.

Some of the provisions in House Bill 2647 include:

The DVA will be required to reach out to the U.S. DoD to identify veterans returning from units that have experienced heavy casualties, served in high-conflict areas or have at least one member who possibly committed suicide following their service. After identifying veterans DVA will create a proactive line of communication.

DVA will also work with higher education facilities to address issues that may negatively affect a veteran’s ability to learn in a traditional classroom environment such as exploring the expansion of online classes, moving desks away from windows and crowded halls, and providing veterans’ only instructional hours.

DVA will be required to proactively reach out to the U.S. DoD to develop a system to allow veterans to file DD Form 214 (discharge papers immediately upon discharge). This is the required form for veterans to receive benefits.

Lastly, creating collaboration between local chambers of commerce and DVA to create an employer training program to focus on the needs of veteran employees and identify veteran friendly businesses.

Cullerton, chairman of the Task Force on Veterans Suicide and a veteran himself, hosted multiple hearings throughout the state to hear from veterans, their spouses and community organizations to hear concerns and recommendations to ease some of the struggles returning veterans experience.

House Bill 2647 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

Bertino-Tarrant measure to publicize information on opioid addiction becomes law

Published: Monday, September 11, 2017 09:39 AM

jbt opiate addiction 091117SPRINGFIELD—Information regarding heroin and prescription opioid abuse will be more readily available thanks to legislation signed into law today.

“We need to provide every possible resource and assistance we can as a state to address the heroin and opioid addictions problem many face throughout Illinois,” State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) said. “Addiction is hurting families throughout the entire state and now we can try to help provide the information they need.”

Trotter’s efforts to tackle the bill backlog pay off: governor takes action

Published: Thursday, September 07, 2017 02:32 PM

trotter 090717SPRINGFIELD— Following a press conference Assistant Majority Leader Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) held in Chicago Tuesday urging the governor to use the borrowing authority given to him through Senate Bill 42, the governor’s office announced today it plans to use the tool.

“I’m glad to see the governor is taking the General Assembly’s lead and is using the bonding authority given to him that will help save taxpayers billions over the next 12 years,” Senator Trotter said.

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