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Parties unite to fund Illinois colleges and students

042116 js 0528CLState Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) today heralded passage of a measure designed to keep all Illinois public community colleges and universities open and assist low-income students. Senate Bill 2059 won overwhelming, bipartisan support in the Illinois House and Senate. The bill now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has promised to sign it.

“Democrats and Republicans today recognized everyone would lose if any of Illinois’ nine public universities and 48 public community colleges were forced to close due to the budget impasse,” McGuire said. “This unprecedented agreement among all four legislative caucuses and the governor is a big step toward ensuring Illinois higher education continues uninterrupted, benefiting students, their families, employees of public and private colleges and universities, college towns, and ultimately the future of our state.”

Senate Bill 2059 provides $74 million to community colleges, $356 million to nine public universities, and $169 million for Monetary Award Program grants to more than 128,000 low-income students.

McGuire expressed hope that passage of this emergency funding for this budget year, which began last July 1, means higher education funding for the 2017 budget year will be adequate and on-time.

“I hope all of us in Springfield learned a lesson,” McGuire said. “Stubbornness and bickering put families through hell and risk Illinois getting back to full strength. I look forward to returning to Springfield on May 2 and continuing the better way of governing we achieved passing Senate Bill 2059.”

Bush’s township consolidation plan passes Illinois Senate (AUDIO)

bush consolVoters would decide whether local governments merge, dissolve

SPRINGFIELD — Responding to recent calls for more efficiency in local government, the Illinois Senate passed legislation Thursday by State Sen. Melinda Bush that would allow for the consolidation of township government with the approval of local voters.

“We’ve heard calls for township consolidation for many years,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “It’s important that as we pursue that, we preserve local control. This measure is an important compromise and I urge my colleagues in the House and the governor to make it the law.”

Senate Bill 388 would, among other things:
•    allow a township to merge with one or more adjacent townships.
•    allow a township to be dissolved and absorbed by two townships with which it shares a boundary.
•    allow a township which shares the same geographical area with a municipality to be dissolved by resolution and its duties adopted by the municipality.
•    Remove a barrier to the consolidation of townships by allowing counties that eliminate townships countywide via a petition and referendum process to retain their county board form of government, rather than transition to a commission form of government (as under current law).

Any dissolution or merging of townships would occur only after the township boards in question adopt a resolution calling for the question to be put before voters, and after a majority of voters approve a referendum to that effect at the next election.

Currently, the law doesn’t provide any method to merge or consolidate township government. Townships have only three statutory functions: Maintaining roads, assessing property and providing general assistance. There are 1,430 townships in Illinois, more than any other state.

The legislation is Senate Bill 388. It passed the Senate 53-0 and proceeds to the Illinois House for consideration.

Listen to Sen. Bush on SB 388:

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Sen. Haine bill to bring fairness to consumer-owned vehicle impounds passes Senate

Haine 042216SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) advanced a measure Friday that would protect citizens from excessive impound fees.

After reports of local municipalities charging as much as $500 for a tow release fee, Haine filed the legislation in an effort to bring fairness and efficiency to the process of redeeming vehicles.

“I am happy to see this measure receive such great support by my colleagues in the Senate. When this issue was brought to my attention, I knew it was important that we make sure protections are put in place for the people in our communities,” Haine said. “This bill would protect the people who are unable to move their cars due to unforeseeable circumstances. It is unreasonable to punish people with an excessive impound fee for things that are out of their control.”  

The measure would limit the administrative fee by a local government for impounded vehicles from exceeding the actual cost of services provided. It also prevents a vehicle from being impounded for illegal parking unless it has been there for more than 48 hours or the owner was unable to move the vehicle due to an emergency circumstance. Should attorney fees accrue due to the car being wrongfully impounded, they would be awarded by the county or municipality.  

The measure passed the Senate on Friday and now goes to the House for further consideration.  

Haine noted that due to the statewide complexity of the bill, the House will likely have more work to do on it.

Manar moves to ban sale of bath salts by Illinois retailers

manar 042216SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Andy Manar’s (D-Bunker Hill) plan to halt the proliferation of bath salts being sold by Illinois retailers passed through the Illinois Senate on Thursday.

Bath salts, specifically known as synthetic cathinones, can be consumed in multiple different ways by the user, and can mimic the effect of amphetamine or PCP and often times causes hallucinations.

“There has been a disturbing trend of abuse of these synthetic drugs over the past few years in Illinois and most notably in rural parts of the state,” Manar said. “This plan would help authorities stop the spread of bath salts by closing stores that knowingly sell these extremely dangerous and volatile drugs.”

Senate Bill 210 would create the Bath Salts Prohibition Act and ban retailers in Illinois from selling synthetic cathinones that are commonly sold under disguise and labeled as bath salts, plant food or jewelry cleaner.

Under the proposal, a retailer that is convicted of selling bath salts can have its retail license revoked, and guilty offenders can be charged with a Class 3 felony.

Mike Havera, the Christian County state’s attorney, testified in support of the bill before a Senate committee on April 13.

“It’s a different type of drug based on the commercial marketing of the drug targeting youth and targeting the ignorant or uneducated public, trying to market it as something that is not illegal.

“With my four years as public defender, I didn’t have any armed robbery cases. In less than four years as the Christian County States Attorney we’ve had 10 armed robberies and six of those attributable to bath salts. So we’re also seeing a violent nature…we’re seeing violent crimes quite often.”

Senate Bill 210 passed by a 53-0 vote and now moves to the House for consideration.

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