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Cunningham, local officials ask Congress to hold CSX accountable

cunningham csxCHICAGO—Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18th) and other local officials recently sent a letter to the Illinois Congressional delegation asking Congress to hold CSX accountable for problems in Mount Greenwood and Evergreen Park.

“Too many residents in our communities are being negatively affected by blocked grade crossing, pedestrian safety problems and idling trains which poses an environmental hazard to our communities,” said Cunningham.

CSX has promised to move a scheduled train off the Elsdon line, which runs just east of Kedzie Avenue, but Cunningham is concerned that this is just a continuation of the long back and forth that has occurred with CSX.

“This is not the first time we have had CSX make a promise. Repeatedly, we receive assurances that the problems will diminish and we are continually facing the same issues. Moving one or two trains isn’t going to fix the problem,” said Senator Cunningham.

The letter signatories who joined Senator Cunningham were State Representatives Fran Hurley and Kelly Burke, Chicago 19th Ward Alderman Matt O’Shea, and Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton. The letter accuses CSX of failing to comply with at least 14 “mitigation measures” imposed on the railroad by federal regulators when the CSX acquisition of the Elsdon line was completed in 2013. Cunningham and the other local elected officials are urging the federal government to sanction CSX with fines or more strenuous regulations.

New legislation gives veterans paid time off for Veterans Day

mulroe vets holidaySPRINGFIELD – As many state and federal workers prepare for a work holiday on Wednesday to support Veterans Day, many veterans do not have the option to take the day off created in their honor. Senator John G. Mulroe (D-Chicago) is looking to change that.

“Every year, men and women who fought hard for our country’s freedom are required to work a holiday that was created specifically to honor them,” Mulroe says. “That’s just not right, and I think that as a state Illinois can better serve the people who served in the armed forces.”

Under the new legislation, veterans would have the option of taking the November holiday off if they otherwise would have had to work, receiving paid leave. Their employers would need a documented request for the absence. Only Oregon and Iowa currently have similar laws; Minnesota and the U.S. Congress are currently considering similar measures.

“This proposal is a win-win situation, because it doesn’t require a veteran to take the day off, but empowers them through state statute to do so if they wish,” Mulroe says. “We are also looking to protect the employers by placing safeguards in, making this pro-veteran and pro-business.”

Employees who are veterans would not have to take the holiday off; however, they would be required to give 30 calendar days’ notice to their employer that they intend to take the time off and would be required to provide documentation to the employer that they are indeed a veteran.

If the employer would not be able to award the time off due to significant economic or operational disruption, the employer would need to notify the employee within 14 calendar days prior to the holiday and make a good faith effort to award an alternate paid vacation day. In addition, the legislation would create a tax credit for employers for 100 percent of wages paid.

The measure was introduced in the Senate on October 20.

Legislative updates provided by Link at area chamber event

link gmlvchamberState Senator Terry Link (D-Waukegan) joined a gathering of more than 100 business professionals and area lawmakers this week. The event, sponsored by the Green Oaks, Libertyville, Mundelein, Vernon Hills (GLMV) Chamber of Commerce, was an opportunity for an open dialogue on legislation aimed to improve the business environment in Illinois.

“Working side-by-side with the business community to keep a healthy economy and employment opportunities is one of my top priorities,” said Link. “I look forward to continuing to work with these entrepreneurial leaders to promote a thriving Illinois."

Sen. Link joined U.S. congressman Robert Dold and State Representatives Carol Sente and Ed Sullivan Jr. at the annual breakfast event.

A statement on the death of the Honorable Thomas R. Fitzgerald

Chief Justice Thomas R. FitzgeraldSPRINGFIELD - The following statement was released by Senate President John J. Cullerton on the passing of the Honorable Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald:

“I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family of Justice Fitzgerald as we all mourn the loss of an exceptional state leader and jurist. Justice Fitzgerald’s contribution to the Illinois Supreme Court and our state’s history is unquestionable. As a jurist with an unwavering commitment to the law and equity, he distinguished himself with great discernment and wisdom during some of Illinois’ most historic moments. I will always remember the leadership and dignity he embodied while serving as the first Chief Justice to preside over an impeachment trial conducted by the Illinois Senate.”

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