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New law will help Chicago parents get their children to school safely

A new state law sponsored by State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford will make parents of children who live along "safe passage" routes eligible for financial reimbursement to pay someone to drive their children to school.

The law was inspired by an incident that occurred last December where a Chicago girl was beaten and raped half a block from one of the city's "safe passage" routes and other anecdotes from parents about the lack of safety along "safe passages."

"When our children step outside to walk to school in the morning, they shouldn't have to worry about gangs, drugs and gun violence," Lightford said. "They have enough to worry about at school. This law will help parents throughout Chicago get their children to school safely."

When CPS closed 50 schools last year, the students from those shuttered facilities were sent to new "welcoming schools." Though each welcoming school has a "safe passage," many parents were – and still are – concerned that these routes pass through dangerous areas known for gang violence and along dangerous streets known for high crime rates.

A CNN story about the December rape case is available here.

The governor signed the legislation earlier today, and it will take effect on January 1, 2015.

Kotowski’s measure to speed up medication access signed into law

“This legislation eliminates dangerous delays for people receiving life-saving medication and will help to improve the health of thousands of Illinois residents.” - State Senator Dan Kotowski

Rx ImageRSPRINGFIELD – A measure, sponsored by State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge), giving Illinoisans quicker access to crucial medication by streamlining the medication coverage approval process was signed into law today.

“Those in need of medicine should not have to wait days, or even weeks, to know whether they will receive medications prescribed by their doctors,” said Kotowski. “This legislation eliminates those delays and will help to improve the health of thousands of Illinois residents.”

Previously, the approval process could be both time-consuming and confusing, causing a massive bottleneck that prevented patients from getting prescriptions in a timely matter.

New law holds parents who help minors drink accountable

Interesting alcoholic beveragesRSPRINGFIELD – A new law will allow the state to hold parents accountable when they knowingly allow children to consume alcohol in their cars, boats, campers, airplanes and other vehicles. State law already punishes parents who allow children to drink in their homes.

“We don’t allow minors to drink for a reason,” said State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), the law’s sponsor. “Inexperienced, intoxicated drivers are a recipe for disaster, and teenagers’ bodies and minds are still maturing. Alcohol can harm their development.”

The state legislature began to crack down on parents who knowingly turn a blind eye to teenagers’ drinking parties after several incidents where drunk teenage drivers were involved in deadly accidents.

Stadelman bill to strengthen domestic violence prosecution signed into law

052314CM1590ROCKFORD – A bill sponsored by Illinois Senator Steve Stadelman that provides for more aggressive prosecution of repeat domestic abusers was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn this week.

The legislation allows prosecutors to upgrade charges from misdemeanor to felony for offenders with prior convictions for the same or substantially similar violent crimes, even if the prior convictions occurred in other jurisdictions. Prosecutors already had the ability to issue felony charges for abusers whose past offenses occurred in Illinois, but convictions outside Illinois didn't always come into play.

"Domestic violence has a devastating impact that extends beyond the direct victims and that often leaves deep emotional scars," said Stadelman, D-Rockford. "As a community, we need to prevent abuse by having serious consequences for repeat offenses – and it shouldn't matter if an abuser's prior offenses occurred in another state."

Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato recommended the change, and Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives.