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Online voter registration the new reality in Illinois

State Seal Black and White - TRANSPARENTRSPRINGFIELD – Starting today, Illinois citizens can register to vote online. All they need to do is visit https://ova.elections.il.gov/, and follow the website’s instructions. They’ll also need their Illinois driver’s licenses or state-issued IDs, the last four digits of their social security numbers and their current addresses.

“Our democracy is strongest when as many people as possible get involved and participate,” said State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), who passed the law enabling online registration. “People can do everything else online – shop, pay bills, book flights and hotel rooms – they expect to be able to register to vote, too.”

The law passed the General Assembly last year, but it gave the State Board of Elections until July 1 to implement the program. The November general election will be the first election where online registration is a reality.

Illinois Poison Center budget secure through 2018

PoisonSPRINGFIELD – Yesterday, the governor signed legislation that guarantees the Illinois Poison Center will receive the stable funding source it needs to stay open through at least 2018.

“This is a good day for the Poison Center and the parents, medical professionals and others who rely on its services,” said State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), who negotiated the agreement for guaranteed funding.

Earlier this year, the Poison Center announced that it would be forced to close its doors on June 30 if the state could not find a stable funding source to replace declining state contributions.

New law expands toolbox for addressing flooding concerns

Gives Metropolitan Water Reclamation District additional options on local projects

mwrd-150x150SPRINGFIELD — Cook County flooding legislation sponsored by State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) became law today, giving the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District greater flexibility to address local problems. The MWRD, which operates in suburban Cook County, administers regional stormwater projects along major waterways; the district is now authorized to work on localized flooding problems and even purchase and remediate flood-prone properties in cooperation with their current owners.

"Flooding and related damage are on the rise in Cook County, and the MWRD's capabilities must keep pace with the problem," Biss said. "This law is now on the books because of the perseverance of some of my constituents who came to me seeking a better way for government to intervene on behalf of property owners when floodwaters threaten."

Current law allows the MWRD to use suburban Cook County's stormwater management levy for regional stormwater facilities. The new law, which was introduced as House Bill 3912, allows this revenue to be utilized for local stormwater projects, including voluntary buy-outs of properties whose flooding issues cannot be resolved except through returning the land to an open, permeable state.

The measure takes effect immediately.

Cunningham: New lottery ticket brings support to Special Olympics, Special Children’s Charities

Cunningham-polarA plan to help support the Special Olympics with a new lottery ticket was signed into law today. Senator Bill Cunningham (D – Chicago) cosponsored the legislation as it passed through the Senate.

The new law creates the Special Olympics Illinois and Special Children's Charities Fund, which would deposit all proceeds from a specially created lottery scratch-off ticket into an account with the Illinois State Treasury. Special Olympics Illinois would receive 75% of those funds for training, competitions and future programs. The remaining 25% would go to Special Children’s Charities funds.

"Helping pass this bill through the General Assembly was much easier than diving into Lake Michigan on a 17 degree day earlier this year," Cunningham said. "Either way, I am honored to support and promote the Special Olympics whenever possible."

Senator Cunningham has been an active supporter of the Special Olympics for years, having frequently participated in the organization's Polar Plunge fundraiser, during which hundreds of volunteers jump into the icy waters of Lake Michigan on a cold winter morning.

The lottery already helps fund special causes such as cancer research. “Go for the Gold” is the newest special cause scratch-off ticket proposed by the General Assembly. The Special Olympics have been going strong in Illinois since the first event was held at Soldier Field in Chicago in July 1968. Since then, the games have provided opportunities to over 21,000 athletes across the state.

The new measure passed both houses in May, and was signed into law by the governor on June 16.

 

PHOTO: Rep. Fran Hurley, Sen. Cunningham and Alderman Matt O'Shea before the 2014 Polar Plunge.