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Martinez reduces license plate fee for seniors

martinez-senior-licpltsSPRINGFIELD — Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) has always been committed to supporting legislation that helps seniors make ends meet.

This year was no different.

Martinez was the lead Senate sponsor of House Bill 2811, which will allow eligible seniors to receive any special registration license plate at a reduced rate starting in the 2017 registration year.

“Our seniors have given so much to our communities, and it is important that we look for opportunities to help them financially,” Martinez said. “Many seniors in the area I represent have a difficult time paying their bills, and my legislation is one way I can give them relief.”

Vehicle registration fees can cost seniors up to $101, but because of the new law, they will be knocked down to $24 for any special registration license plate.

The reduced fee will only be available to individuals 65 and older who are enrolled in the state’s Benefit Access Program.

Specialty license plates include the U.S. Veteran plate, Amateur Radio Operators plate and the Disability plate.

Tom Cullerton pushes for responsible solution

hied-exec-hrngCHICAGO- In light of the continuous news of scandals and misuse of taxpayer dollars on state universities and community college campuses, the Senate’s Subcommittee on Executive Compensation held their first meeting.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) grilled College of DuPage witnesses on their efforts to prevent a repeat of abuses of state dollars on their campus.

“We need to take steps to maintain the integrity of our public community colleges and universities. There needs to be reforms to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and responsibly,” Cullerton said.

Cullerton is committed to reforming abuses at our community colleges and universities to keep institutions credible and costs affordable for students.

Five initiatives were discussed today to protect state dollars at Illinois public universities and community colleges:

Community College Trustee Training (Senate Bill 2157) – requires new college board trustees to complete four hours of professional development training that range from information on labor laws, open meetings act, freedom of information regulations, ethics and financial and accountability oversight.

External Audits (Senate Bill 2155) –amends existing laws to require the Auditor General to audit one-third of all community colleges every year.

Preventing Lame-Duck Decisions (Senate Bill 2158) – prohibits community college boards from entering into a new employee contract or change existing employee contracts 60 days prior to Election Day for trustees and extends through the lame-duck period until the first meeting of the new board.

In 2009, President Breuder’s contract extension was approved by a lame-duck board.

Severance Packages inclusion in Pension Checks (Senate Bill 2156) – Changes the existing pension code to not allow severance payments to be classified as pensionable earnings.

Transparency at Community Colleges and State Universities (Senate Bill 2159) –Promotes transparency by requiring contract terms and annual performance reviews of executives to be made public. This initiative also forbids contract buyouts in cases of pending criminal charges.

“I look forward to working with committee members in instituting safeguards to guarantee these abuses do not occur in the future,” said Cullerton.

Holmes’ hazardous medical waste plan signed into law

holmes-sharps-signedNew regulations ensure safe disposal of syringes and other sharp waste

SPRINGFIELD — The governor signed today a law to improve waste disposal worker safety and prevent the potential spread of disease, enacting a plan put forth by State Senator Linda Holmes.

“‘Sharps,’ like syringes, are a fact of life for one out of 12 Illinoisans, and that means one out of 12 Illinoisans is disposing of them somehow,” Holmes said. “I applaud the governor’s decision to affirm a law that ensures our sanitation workers are not being exposed to potential biohazards as they do their jobs.”

For proper disposal, syringes and other “sharps” should be collected in an appropriate sharps disposal container and can be disposed of in your regular trash. Even when placed in the appropriate plastic container, sharps should never be disposed of with recyclables.

Under the new law, disposing of sharp waste like syringes in recycling would be prohibited. It would also permit local governments to establish sharps collection points at medical centers and police or fire stations and to create a U.S. Postal Service-approved sharp waste mail-back program.

The legislation was Senate Bill 793. It becomes effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Illinois joins Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

koehler-mntl-hlthSPRINGFIELD – In an effort to help Illinois communities retain and recruit qualified doctors, Illinois is joining the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. A doctor licensed in one member state of the compact is able to practice medicine in every member state without taking additional tests or applying for additional licenses.

“This is about streamlining government and improving access to health care service,” said the plan’s sponsor, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “We want talented doctors to be able to practice in Illinois without navigating bureaucratic red tape.”

Illinois is now one of the 11 states that make up the compact. Other members include Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

An Interstate Commission with two members from each participating state sets licensing requirements for all doctors who want to practice in those states.

Doctors who already have Illinois medical licenses will be able to apply for expedited licenses under the new system. They will qualify if they meet several basic requirements, such as already being licensed by Illinois, having graduated from an accredited medical school and having clean records without any medical-related criminal convictions or official disciplinary action.

The legislation is House Bill 3680. The law takes effect immediately, but it may take some time before all application processes are in place.

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