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Mulroe measure strengthens lead poisoning prevention

mulroe-041014 js 1220CHICAGO — A measure sponsored by Sen. John Mulroe (D-Chicago) clarifying and tightening Illinois’ Lead Poisoning Prevention Act was signed into law yesterday by the governor.

The Illinois Department of Public Health requested technical changes better defining locations considered as “regulated facilities” where lead exposure is suspected. The changes also refined the age range of children to whom sections of the act apply and address violations and enforcement of the act.

Sen. Mulroe, chairman of the Senate Public Health Committee, co-sponsored the legislation with Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston). Mulroe said the new provisions reflect current federal and industry standards necessary for Illinois to be eligible for federal lead abatement funding.

“Even though lead poisoning has declined, children in metropolitan areas and in public or private housing built before 1978 are still at risk for lead poisoning,” Sen. Mulroe said. “Continuing to improve prevention efforts and tracking blood lead levels can help us keep reducing and potentially eliminate exposure.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, dust and soil contaminated with lead from old paint, leaded gasoline emissions, lead pipes, paint and dust from old toys, furniture, hobby materials and children’s metal jewelry are the most common causes of lead poisoning in children.

Illinois citizens will have even more voting options this year, thanks to new law

IMG 1343 2RSPRINGFIELD – A new law signed by the governor today will make it even easier and more convenient for citizens to vote in the upcoming general election. The law expands opportunities to vote early and to vote by mail. It also creates a one-year pilot program that allows grace period voting on Election Day.

“Voting is a right and a vital part of our country’s social and political fabric,” said State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), who sponsored the new law. “To encourage people to participate, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier to vote without weakening the integrity of the voting system.”

The new law is part of Senator Harmon’s continued efforts to bring Illinois’ voter registration laws into the 21st century by making it easier for citizens to register and to vote. Last year, he passed a law allowing Illinois citizens to register to vote online. That service is now available at https://ova.elections.il.gov/.

Martinez urges governor to put women’s health referendum on ballot

Martinez070114In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could jeopardize Illinois women’s access to birth control through workplace health insurance, Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago 20th) urged Gov. Pat Quinn to sign legislation she sponsored that would allow voters to weigh in on the issue this fall.

“We saw yesterday that women’s access to basic health care is under attack in this country,” Martinez said. “It is important that Illinois voters be given the opportunity to tell their elected representatives whether they support a woman’s right to make medical decisions for herself, regardless of her boss’ opinions.”

Martinez was the chief Senate sponsor of House Bill 5755, which would allow a statewide advisory public question to be submitted to the voters at the Nov. 4 general election asking whether any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides prescription drug coverage should be required to include prescription birth control as part of that coverage. The legislation passed the General Assembly and is now on Quinn’s desk awaiting action.

Currently, any group or individual health insurance plan in Illinois that offers prescription drug coverage must cover all outpatient contraceptive services, drugs and devices with the same co-insurance, deductibles and co-payments that apply to other prescriptions. Beginning in 2012, federal law kicked in; under the Affordable Care Act, most employers that offer health benefits must choose plans that cover most forms of contraception with no deductibles or co-pays. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a company whose owners sought relief from this federal mandate because they object on religious grounds to paying for coverage of certain kinds of contraceptives.

Martinez sponsored Illinois’ birth control access law in 2003.

“Illinois has made great strides in improving women’s health care and fostering economic opportunities for women,” Martinez said. “Now is the time to move forward, not allow this hard-won progress to be eroded. The women’s health referendum will be critical in determining our ability to fight for our values in the face of anti-woman, anti-worker judgments, and I urge the governor to sign this legislation as soon as possible.”

Senator Bush’s proposal to assist military families signed into law

returning-national-guard-soldierRMASCOUTAH – On Saturday, Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) applauded the governor for signing a proposal into law that eases the transitions of military students moving in and out of Illinois schools.

“These families give up so much in order to serve in our military.  The least we can do is ensure that school transfers are as easy on their children as possible,” said Bush, who sponsored the measure in the Senate.

The new law makes school transfers easier for children of active duty military personnel by ensuring that military children who move to Illinois from other states remain in the same grade. If they were in 2nd grade in another state, Illinois schools must also place them in 2nd grade.