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Morrison: Families concerned about state’s commitment to individuals with disabilities

morrison 101716SPRINGFIELD – For families of individuals with disabilities in Illinois, the process of securing job training services, residential housing options or day programs can be an arduous process that can takes years. 

“My son has been waiting for services since 2008,” said Mike Baker, parent and State Advocacy Chair of Autism Speaks.

Baker testified today about the importance of providing services for individuals with disabilities at a Senate Human Services Committee hearing held at the Bilandic Building in downtown Chicago.

State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield), Vice-Chairwoman of the Human Services Committee, attended the hearing and expressed concern about the high number of individuals currently waiting for services.

“There are more than 18,000 individuals with disabilities waiting for services in Illinois,” Morrison said. “Families across the state are rightfully concerned with the high level of uncertainty about the ability of the state to provide services now and in the future.”

Today’s hearing took testimony about current state compliance with the Ligas Consent Decree, a 2011 court mandate that requires Illinois to provide community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities.

While the decree has helped transition thousands of individuals from institutional settings to community-based centers, requirements contained in the mandate expire after June 15, 2017, causing concern among parents and advocacy groups. 

Another issue discussed at today’s hearing was a recent court decision that Illinois was out of compliance with the Ligas Decree due to the lack of payment increases to providers. Numerous providers have experienced high staff turnover rates and are not able to expand their services.

“Something’s wrong when caring for individuals with disabilities is valued less than flipping burgers or walking pets,” said caregiver Christine Rivera, who works in a suburban Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA).

Bertino-Tarrant wants Hastert held accountable for sexually abusing children

jbt041415PLAINFIELD— In the wake of Scott Cross’ testimony regarding sexual abuse by former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, State. Sen Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Plainfield) is renewing her call for changing state laws so justice can be served.

“Child predators like Hastert shouldn’t get away with sexual abuse just because no one caught them before some arbitrary deadline,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “When we know of an injustice, we should have the opportunity to set things right. We owe it to the victims and we owe it to the taxpayers.”

Bertino-Tarrant is the lead Senate sponsor of HB 1127, which would remove legal deadlines for prosecuting criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse of a child. She’s also been outspoken in calling for state pension officials to rescind the taxpayer-funded pension Hastert receives from his time as an Illinois lawmaker.

“As I sat there and listened to Mr. Cross summon the courage to talk to the committee about his abuse, it was unbelievable to think he was going to get away with it, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “That’s unacceptable.”

Hastert is currently in prison after pleading guilty to financial fraud. He cannot face charges for the sexual abuse he admitted to because the statute of limitations for those offenses had expired. Following his conviction, the state’s Teachers Retirement System rescinded Hastert’s pension from his teaching days. The state’s General Assembly Retirement System, however, has only moved to reduce his pension.

“The General Assembly Retirement System needs to do the right thing and end Hastert’s pension,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Families throughout my district work hard, and their taxes should not be paying for a child predator’s retirement.”


The senator sent a letter requesting Hastert’s pension be immediately revoked. She also has filed legislation that would have allowed for Hastert’s General Assembly Retirement System pension to be taken away.

Martinez appointed to Human Trafficking Task Force

Martinez04212016Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) was appointed by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton to the state’s Human Trafficking Task Force yesterday.

“There have been too many victims in Illinois and more has to be done to address this problem,” Martinez said. “I look forward to working with members of the task force on developing strategies for preventing human trafficking and protecting the rights and safety of victims.”

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there have been 837 cases of human trafficking in Illinois since 2007.

The task force will conduct a study on human trafficking in Illinois and hold hearings to develop a state plan to address human trafficking. A report of recommendations must be submitted to the governor and General Assembly by June 30, 2017.

Martinez and other members of the task force will serve without compensation. The task force was created by HB 2822, legislation Martinez co-sponsored that was signed into law this summer.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center toll-free hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-373-7888 to speak with a specially trained Hotline Advocate. Support is provided in more than 200 languages.

Grave marker belonging to World War I veteran to be returned to gravesite

VeteranCemeteryRANTOUL – George Haworth was perusing through a St. Joseph antique shop last year when he discovered a grave marker belonging to a World War I veteran.

While the back of the grave marker listed the veteran’s name, military unit and day of his death, it did not contain any further information.

“I didn’t know where the marker belonged, but I knew at that moment I wanted to do everything I could to return it to its rightful place,” Haworth said.

After searching to no avail, Haworth contacted State Senator Scott Bennett and State Representative Chad Hays’ office for some help. It was discovered the marker belonged to Clyde E. Maham, a veteran who is buried at Maplewood Cemetery in Rantoul. Maham served in the Marine Corps from March 1917 until his discharge in December 1919.

“Millions of brave men and women have served our country in defense of our values and way of life,” Bennett (D – Champaign) said. “Whether their sacrifices were made during World War I or are currently being made across the globe, it is important to honor the dedication and sacrifices they have made to our country.”

On Saturday, a rededication ceremony will finally return the grave marker to Maham’s gravesite at Maplewood Cemetery in Rantoul. The ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m.

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