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Martinez to hold Family Wellness and Back to School Fair

Family-Wellness-and-Back-to-School-FairCHICAGO — Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) will be holding a Family Wellness and Back to School Fair next month.

The event will take place on Thursday, August 13, at Avondale/Logandale School (3212 W. George, corner of Kedzie and George) from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

“I look forward to hosting this event each year,” Martinez said. “I want to ensure that all students and their families are healthy and ready for the school year to start.”

Students can receive free school supplies and backpacks at the fair and get physicals, immunizations and dental screenings.

There will also be services available for parents and other adults, including blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol screenings and health insurance registration information.

“The Family Wellness and Back to School Fair will have something for everyone, and I encourage students, their parents and other adults in our community to attend,” Martinez said.

For more information on the Family Wellness and Back to School Fair, please view the attached flyer or contact Senator Martinez’s district office at (773) 278-2020.


New law ends automatic life sentences for minors

harmon-juv-life-signedSPRINGFIELD – Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that sentencing a minor to a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole was unconstitutional. Since then, the General Assembly has been working to update Illinois’ juvenile sentencing laws.

Today, a plan that Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) negotiated among state’s attorneys, criminal justice reform groups and other stakeholders became law. It essentially gives judges more discretion when they hand down sentences for minors accused of serious crimes like murder and rape.

“We need to give judges the authority to tailor juvenile sentences to fit the crime,” Harmon said. “There need to be serious consequences when young people commit serious crimes, but in many cases, we also want to give them a second chance.”

The proposed law allows judges to waive aggravating factors relating to possession and use of a gun. It doesn’t preclude a young person being sentenced to life without parole, but does ensure that life without parole is never the mandatory sentence.

It also outlines a series of factors the courts should take into account when handing down sentences to minors convicted of serious crimes. These include:

-    The minor’s age and maturity
-    The minor’s home environment, including any past abuse
-    The potential the minor could be rehabilitated, including if he or she shows remorse
-    The circumstances of the offense
-    The minor’s prior criminal history
-    If the minor has a developmental disability

“This law is the right thing to do,” Harmon said. “It brings Illinois in line with the U.S. Constitution and recognizes that children who commit crimes generally should not be treated the same way as adults.”

The legislation is House Bill 2471. It takes effect January 1, 2017.

Governor approves Silverstein’s powdered alcohol ban

silverstein-alcpowder-passesSPRINGFIELD–A plan sponsored by State Senator Ira Silverstein (D–Chicago) to ban powdered alcohol in Illinois was signed into law by the governor yesterday. Senate Bill 67 also sets penalties for its sale.

Powdered alcohol or “Palcohol” is a product not yet for sale but expected to be dangerous, particularly for minors. Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Vermont have already banned Palcohol or are considering legislation to ban it.

“The ease of concealing a lightweight, 1-ounce packet for minors to carry in situations where alcohol abuse or poisoning is predictable or liquid alcohol is prohibited is a risk we can avoid,” Silverstein said.

Powdered alcohol is any crystal substance of powder containing alcohol. It may be dissolved in water or other liquids or sprinkled on food. It could be eaten or snorted without mixing.

Violating this law would result in a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) is pursuing a federal ban, saying, “Underage alcohol abuse is a growing epidemic with tragic consequences and powdered alcohol could exacerbate this.”

Lightford to Rauner: Lead, empathize, govern justly

lightford-vetosSPRINGFIELD: From cancer screenings and AIDS/HIV education to DCFS scholarship programs and foster care funding –all were voted to be saved in the Senate today as the chamber decided to override Governor Rauner’s veto of budgets for the Dept. of Health and the Dept. of Children and Family Services. State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, Assistant Majority Leader, released the following statement after her vote.

“Together, these departments promote and safeguard the health and well-being of everyone in Illinois. We cannot allow the governor to hold hostage the health and safety of abused and neglected children and other vulnerable populations in need of aid or treatment.

Until the budget impasse is solved, DCFS service providers have received a 10 percent budget cut and staff are being let go and doors are closing for those providing cancer detection screenings. This is an unacceptable reality, and this is why I voted to protect these services.

I call on the governor to lead and take these cuts seriously and pass an empathetic budget that takes everyone into account because so many of us are experiencing the dire ramifications of this budget crisis. The people of this state are more than numbers on a page or a spreadsheet. We have beating hearts that need protecting. I intend to always uphold this truth. I hope the governor follows suit.”

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