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Bennett passes measure to grow Illinois’ economy

bennett-jobtrngSPRINGFIELD - This year’s Skills Gap Report by TheManufacturingInstitute.org projects that there will be an additional three and a half million manufacturing jobs by 2025

However, two million of them will go unfilled for lack of qualified candidates.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed Senate Bill 1393 to promote career and technical education to help alleviate workforce shortages in Illinois.

“After meeting with and touring local schools and manufacturing facilities, I know workers and businesses are ready to work.  The major factor missing in this equation is adequate training,” said Bennett.

SB 1393 requires the Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Department of Employment Security to work together to identify industries and occupations in Illinois that face workforce shortages or a lack of adequately trained, entry-level workers.

Based on their findings, grants of $1,000 will be awarded per pupil to school districts and community colleges for each student who successfully completes an industry-recognized certification program that was designed to mitigate workforce shortages.

“Our job is to ensure we are meeting the needs of current and future Illinois businesses. If we want to continue to grow as a state, we need to match employers with skilled workers,” said Bennett.

SB 1393 passed the Senate and now moves to the House for consideration.

Mulroe measure encourages vaccination information

mulroe-3d-passedSPRINGFIELD – After months of discussions resulting in compromise to all sides, a measure sponsored in the Senate by Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) tightening up vaccination laws in relation to schools has passed. The Senator had the following to say upon the passage of the legislation:

“As a general rule, children should be immunized. The key to this legislation and the discussions that have surrounded it has been about balancing individual religious freedom with public safety. That has been goal number 1.

"Under this proposal, the two existing exemptions remain - the medical exemption because it is clear that not all children are capable of receiving these immunizations, and the religious exemption. For the latter, we simply wanted to ensure that for individuals seeking the religious exemption that they speak with their doctor and discuss the risks involved with not immunizing. We worked long and hard with hundreds of opponents to the original legislation, and I truly believe we reached an acceptable compromise.”

Under the amended measure, the schedule with which the doctor visits for immunization exemptions would remain consistent with the current schedule for physical examinations.

Following a vote of 42 to 14, the proposal now moves to the House.

Lightford ensures helping hand for single parents

lightford-singleparentsFamilies collecting child support may soon be able to rely on more consistent and helpful payments thanks to new legislation passing through the Senate today. The measure would allow families collecting child support with one child to receive the first $100 in a month and families with two children to receive the first $200 in a month without that money determining the amount of a family's assistance grant (or TANF).

“Through raising the amount of money a needy family can receive without affecting their assistance eligibility, we are providing single mothers and fathers in Illinois with greater ability to care for their families,” said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D – Maywood), sponsor of the legislation.

Right now, there exists an economic disincentive to pay child support. By requiring a non-custodial parent to pay such a large amount of child support, while the receiving family only receives a marginal benefit, the receiving family loses out on other assistance that they desperately need. And a consistent child support payment is among the strongest indicators of families leaving temporary assistance through TANF.

“Receiving child support should not hinder a family’s ability to provide for that child,” said Sen. Lightford. “This is sometimes the case in Illinois right now. Allowing struggling mothers and fathers greater access to temporary assistance and a more reliable level of child support, will undoubtedly improve the likelihood that a family’s need for government-funded assistance is indeed temporary.”  

The measure, Senate Bill 730, now goes to the House of Representatives for further discussion.

Senate passes employment agency reform by Holmes, Attorney General Madigan

holmes-empl-agencySPRINGFIELD — Working alongside Attorney General Lisa Madigan to crack down on unlicensed employment agencies, State Sen. Linda Holmes advanced a plan out of the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

“There are employers out there flouting the law, exploiting some of the most vulnerable workers in some of the lowest-paid jobs,” Holmes said. “I’m gratified to work with Attorney General Madigan to toughen enforcement and protect jobseekers. I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this important legislation.”

The legislation seeks to address regulations that have not seen substantive updates in decades and that currently provide inadequate tools for the Attorney General’s Office to enforce compliance.

Workers who have been placed by such unregulated agencies have alleged numerous instances of abuse they have suffered at the hands of employers, including being made to work 6-day work weeks of 12-hour shifts to pay off referral fees, being referred to jobs that pay below the minimum wage, being housed in crowded and substandard conditions and being denied medical treatment for on-the-job injuries.

“My office initiated this legislation after uncovering instances of low-income and immigrant workers being subject to dangerous and often illegal working conditions. They were placed in those conditions by employment agencies that were frequently operating without licenses,” Madigan said. “This bill will strengthen our laws so that we can stop licensed and unlicensed employment agencies from taking unfair advantage of Illinois workers.”

In addition to providing civil penalties for such violations, Holmes’ proposal directs the Department of Labor to create and maintain a database of employment agencies with suspended or revoked licenses, requires employment agencies to keep records of their placements longer and provides whistleblower protection to employees who report misconduct.

The legislation is Senate Bill 1859. It proceeds to the House for consideration.

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