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Senator Mulroe files legislation, tightens vaccination exemption

measles-vaccineIn the face of a recent suburban measles outbreak, many Illinoisans have grown increasingly concerned with the loopholes and exemptions regarding vaccinations. Senator John Mulroe (D-CHICAGO) filed legislation today that will help close the gap on religious exemptions for vaccinations.

“In recent years there has been a groundswell of parents who see vaccines as a harbinger of other diseases despite evidence to the contrary,” Sen. Mulroe said. “What we don’t want is someone’s personal beliefs putting other people at risk, which is often the case with vaccination exemptions.”

This new measure would amend the state law in a couple of different ways. First, it would tighten up religious exemptions for vaccinations by requiring that any parent or legal guardian must present a valid Department of Public Health objection form. The form would detail the parent or guardian’s reason for exemption as well as providing a bona fide religious exemption statement from any religious official.

Additionally, the Department of Public Health would then work together with the Illinois State Board of Education to publish these certified exemptions from local school districts to ISBE’s website. All statements must be signed by the child’s regular doctor or medical practitioner before being presented to the local school districts.

“Every person has the right to good health and we as elected officials must make sure that by law, we are protecting that right for the public,” Sen. Mulroe said. “Vaccinations are a good and easy way to ensure that your child won’t be affected by this possibly life-threatening disease.”

The legislation was filed as Senate Bill 1410.

Bush moves to restrict big severance packages at universities

higher-ed-pay-mrState Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is sponsoring legislation that will put hard limits on how much public colleges and universities in Illinois can pay to buy out top administrators.

The bill is meant to respond to a controversial $750,000 severance package College of DuPage awarded to President Robert Breuder. The award has drawn fire from constituents, lawmakers and the editorial boards of local newspapers.

“The frustration my constituents have shown in the wake of College of DuPage’s decision was a call to action for my office, and it should be a wake-up call to our public institutions,” Bush said. “This legislation will bring an end to a form of excess taxpayers can ill afford.”

The new legislation caps severance packages at 30 percent of an official’s annual compensation and mandates that a university or college officials’ pension not include any severance package in the final calculation of their compensation.

“Families are struggling with the ever-rising price of higher education,” Bush said. “To award nearly $1 million to an official just to quit is more than tone-deaf. It’s irresponsible.”

Senate Bill 1291 will be introduced in the Senate and considered in the newly-formed Senate Subcommittee on Executive Compensation.

Bush to join worldwide anti-violence campaign in Round Lake Beach

bush-021015State Sen. Melinda Bush will join an anti-violence advocacy group and the League of Women Voters of Lake County in Round Lake Thursday to kick off an annual worldwide campaign against violence.
Lake County Rising, a local chapter of the international One Billion Rising organization, focuses on fighting violence against women. Lake County Rising has staged public protests around the world each Feb. 14 since 2012 to call public attention to the problem of violence against women.
Sen. Bush will provide brief remarks as the event kicks off. The event will also feature remarks and a musical performance by Sheila Simon, former Lt. Governor and prosecutor of domestic violence cases.
Joining the Illinois Senate in 2013, Sen. Melinda Bush has made combatting violence against women one of her top priorities, helping to pass legislation toughening restrictions on human trafficking, revenge porn and sex offenders who try to flee across state lines. Since 2013, she has served on the board of A Safe Place, a domestic violence shelter in Zion.
DATE: Thursday, Feb. 12
TIME: 6:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Round Lake Beach Cultural and Civic Center, 2007 N. Civic Center Way, Round Lake Beach
NOTE: Free admission

Morrison supports Rauner’s DCFS audit plan

morrison-dcfs-022015State Sen. Julie Morrison, who has been actively working to reform Illinois’ Department of Children and Family Services since 2013, welcomed Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to bring in the Annie E. Casey Foundation to perform a top-to-bottom audit of the troubled agency.

“Over the past year, it’s become apparent that the problems at DCFS are so deep-seated that we’re going to have to rebuild the agency from the ground up to ensure the safety of abused and neglected children,” said Morrison, who chairs a legislative committee tasked with investigating the agency. “I support the governor’s decision to bring in an outside agency to help us take stock of the situation and start turning things around.”

The Casey Foundation is a private charitable organization based in Baltimore that is committed to helping children in danger of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes. It is known for its many child welfare programs, its grants to help children and its Kids Count data center.

The Casey Foundation’s Child Welfare Strategy Group has worked with agencies throughout the nation to help improve services for children while reining in costs for state and local governments. Governments that have worked with the foundation include New York City, Maine, Louisiana and Virginia.

The foundation’s strategy focuses on moving more children into family settings rather than group homes, placing as many children as possible with relatives, setting data-based qualitative standards and focusing on prevention rather than crisis intervention.

Illinois’ DCFS has come under fire for many reasons in recent years, including:

• A revolving door of agency directors, including one who pled guilty to stealing money from a Chicago social-service agency.

• A sharp increase in child abuse- and neglect-related deaths, including at least one case where DCFS was already involved with the child victim.

• A system of residential treatment centers run amok, with children in DCFS care experiencing sexual abuse, assaults (sometimes from staff), and thousands of incidents of children running away or going missing.

Morrison has already introduced legislation, Senate Bill 13, to address the problems at treatment centers by requiring DCFS to revoke their licenses if they fail to correct known problems or report child abuse.

She plans to work with other legislators to introduce and pass more laws to reform DCFS and  protect the state’s most vulnerable children.

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