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Tom Cullerton promotes good government

tc-civicsSPRINGFIELD- Do you know what the three branches of U.S. government are? If so, you are one of 36 percent who can answer correctly according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) advanced legislation that would require a semester of civics to graduate high school.

Currently, Illinois is one of only 10 states that doesn’t require at least one civics course.  Currently, Illinois high school graduates are required to complete two years of social studies courses. This legislation would simply require one of the two years to include a semester civics course.

“Our schools are training future leaders of Illinois,” said Cullerton. “Good government is a result of public officials and residents working together to make informed decisions. We need to ensure our young people know how government works to make sure government is working for them.”

The Illinois Task Force on Civic Education recommended that Illinois should require a civic education course for all high schools in Illinois. The class would focus on government institutions, current issues and discussions and simulations of the democratic process.

“Today, we move one step closer in equipping our students with the necessary skills to be informed and engaged participants in our democracy,” said Shawn Healy, Task Force Chair and Civic Learning Scholar at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation in Chicago. “On behalf of the taskforce, we are grateful for the bi-partisan support of this transformational legislation.”

Support for the implementation of the civics courses, would be provided by private funding to cover the cost of professional development and other school district needs.

House Bill 4025 passed the Senate’s Committee on Education and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Senator Harris working to improve minority business contracts

harris-min-cntrctSpringfield, IL – Legislation sponsored by Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) that would raise the state's contract goal for minority and women-owned businesses from 10 percent to 20 percent passed out of committee today.  

Senate Bill 275 increases opportunity for minority and women owned businesses to win state construction contracts. It would require building construction contracts in excess of $250,000 be unbundled or subject to separate and independent bidding processes for each of the five required subdivisions of work. For instance, it would separate plumbing from general contract work.

“This legislation is vital to our communities,” Harris said. “I have been holding local meetings and Minority Business Summits to speak with individuals about legislation that would allow their businesses to thrive. Over and over again I have heard the stark reality of the struggles minority and women-owned businesses face when trying to secure construction contracts. My goal is to ease the burden on these business owners, and give them an equal chance when it comes to winning state contracts.”

Sen. Harris also passed Senate Bill 276 out of committee requiring state agencies to hold pre-bid conferences at a location in the area where the work will take place.

“This is common sense,” said Harris. “Why should individuals who are looking for business opportunities have to drive outside of the area where the proposed business is going to take place?”

Senate Bill 275 and Senate Bill 276 both passed the Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee today and will be sent to the Senate floor for debate.

Bennett moves one step closer to protecting Mahomet Aquifer

bennett-acquiferSPRINGFIELD- Central Illinois residents have moved one step closer in their three year battle to protect the Mahomet Aquifer. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced House Bill 1326 to protect residents across Central Illinois from contaminated drinking water.
“The Mahomet Aquifer serves as a lifeline for our region. It’s our duty to protect this important resource for the sake of our children,” said Bennett. “This proposal will further the mission of the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance by instituting guidelines to protect our underground water source.”

The Aquifer serves as the primary water supply for 14 counties across Central Illinois including Champaign and Vermilion counties.

The Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance is a group of Central Illinois citizens who are committed to keeping the Aquifer free of contamination. Local communities across central Illinois have banded together to fight the disposal of dangerous toxins at the Clinton Landfill, which sits atop the Aquifer.

As a result of their efforts, last year the Mahomet Aquifer was designated as a Sole Source Aquifer, which provides federal protection.  

“This legislation will move us one step closer to achieving our goal. However, we do recognize there may still be more work to do to ensure there is safe drinking water for central Illinois residents for generations to come,” said Bennett.  

Representative Carol Ammons sponsored this legislation in the House.

HB 1326 passed the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Conservation and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Senator Bennett's statement:

Wilsonville community service funding restored

manar-summerfoodSPRINGFIELD— A Macoupin County community service organization will now be able to rehire staff and restart its annual summer food program for impoverished children, thanks to restored state funding.

“ICCS’s summer meal program will again be possible in Wilsonville because of Senator Manar’s tireless effort of advocating for our most vulnerable youth. Thank you, Senator Manar,” said Jody Reeves, a Wilsonville resident.

Last month’s cuts by Gov. Bruce Rauner to Illinois’ community service funding forced Wilsonville’s Illinois Coalition for Community Services to lay off workers and cancel its summer food program, which serves thousands of low-income children in the region. The restored funding allows the organization to fully fund the program and rehire staff.

Last summer, ICCS served 5,146 meals in the 48th district including 882 meals in Wilsonville.

“Governor Rauner believed funding Wilsonville ICCS wasn’t essential when he made these cuts. But when the people effected made their voices heard and the long-term costs of losing these services were seen, it became abundantly clear that this level of community service is absolutely essential,” State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said.

After receiving letters from the governor detailing the loss of their funding, Manar invited representatives from ICCS to testify before a Senate budget committee held at SIUE. They described the harsh realities that would hurt the town and the entire region because of the loss of funding.

“We deeply appreciate Senator Manar’s commitment to ICCS, Wilsonville and his entire district. ICCS looks forward to continuing our youth and family programming in the 48th Senate District, and across the state, as we continue advocating with the senator for inclusion in the FY16 budget,” ICCS Acting Executive Director Jason Gyure said.

“Even though funding for this year was restored, we still have an uphill battle for next year’s budget. However, ICCS has demonstrated its unparalleled value to our community, and now the entire state knows how essential it is,” Manar said.

In Macoupin County, ICCS serves close to 1,000 residents through community outreach programs such as a mobile health clinic and the summer meal program.

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