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Castro to Rauner: Sign legislation so we can get to work

castro 050417SPRINGFIELD – Despite legislation passed by both the Illinois House and Senate this week, there is still much to be done to fight sexual harassment in Springfield. Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), the newest appointed member of the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission, urged the governor to act quickly today.

“The newly appointed Inspector General and the Legislative Ethics Commission have work to do and we cannot get started with investigations until the governor signs these bills,” Castro said. “I am asking Governor Rauner to do so quickly so we can get to work as soon as possible on this time-sensitive issue.”

Although there were four measures passed in both chambers this week in regards to sexual harassment prevention training and legislation, this is only the first step. One of the four measures that passed this week creates a task force to ensure this issue is taken seriously and the conversation does not stop until the culture changes.

“Many people say the culture in Springfield is entrenched. Well, I’m new here and bring a fresh pair of eyes,” said Castro. “I am not afraid to speak out and be vocal on this issue. I have three years left to bring about real change and I have every intention to do just that. The topic of sexual harassment needs to be at the forefront of what we are doing and if need be, I will be the one who continues to beat the drum.”

Link advances measure to improve wireless infrastructure in Illinois

link 110917SPRINGFIELD – A measure from Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) to make Illinois a leader in wireless technology advancements passed in the legislature this week.

“As technology continues to advance, it's important that we have the infrastructure in place to support those advancements,” Link said. “Small wireless facilities are an integral part of future 5G wireless networks. This measure will help ensure a smooth transition to 5G and allow Illinois to stay at the forefront of new wireless technology.”

Full 5G deployment projects are expected to create nearly 100,000 new jobs in Illinois and nearly $8.9 billion in network investments over seven years.

The legislation is the result of months of negotiations between Illinois municipal leaders, industry members and stakeholders in an attempt to streamline the process for constructing and regulating small wireless facilities and ensure the infrastructure is in place for wireless technology advancements.

Senate Bill 1451 now goes to the governor for approval.

Castro: “I will continue to be a strong advocate for women”

castro 110917SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate failed to override a bill co-sponsored by Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) today that would make the Illinois Equal Pay Act stronger.

House Bill 2462 would have strengthened the Illinois Equal Pay Act by prohibiting employers from asking about previous salary histories when interviewing job applicants. The measure would reduce the effects of pay discrimination in past jobs.

“This legislation addresses the wide gap that is still prevalent between men and women, “Castro said. “Men and women of all races should have an equal chance to succeed and that is what I will continue to fight for as a member of this General Assembly.”

Employers currently can base hiring decisions and salary offers off of job applicants’ salary history. This measure would have protected women and people of color. This perpetuates wage inequality, especially when women already earn less than men for similar work. It has also been found that women of color earn even less than white women when compared to men. This bill would have protected both women and people of color.

“Women and people of color who enter the job market shouldn’t already be at a disadvantage based on their previous salary,” Castro said. “Not all employers discriminate, but we need to protect the employees that work for employers who do. Resolving the gender wage gap will take a concerted effort from both sides of the aisle. I will continue to be a strong advocate for women.”

Bush measure to reduce opioid abuse, prevent doctor shopping passes legislature

bush 110917SPRINGFIELD – A measure from Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) to reduce opioid abuse and “doctor shopping” advanced out of both legislative chambers with unanimous support.

Senate Bill 772 would require prescribers of controlled substances to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database to see if a patient has been prescribed a controlled substance by another doctor prior to writing an initial prescription. This would make it harder for individuals to obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors, a practice known as doctor shopping.

“Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States,” Bush said. “The prescription monitoring program can help curb opioid addiction and overdose by reducing the problem of overprescribing, but it will only be successful if prescribers actually check the database before writing a script.” 

In 2015, Bush sponsored the legislation that required pharmacies to file daily reports of all controlled substances they dispense. Under the current law, however, prescribers of controlled substances are not required to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database before writing prescriptions. Studies show that as few as 14 percent of physicians always check the database before prescribing controlled substances.

“Checking the prescription monitoring program database before writing a prescription is easy for doctors and an essential step in combatting the opioid epidemic in Illinois,” Bush said. “This measure will help curb doctor shopping, prevent overdoses and save countless lives.”

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