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Bertino-Tarrant wants educators to serve on State Board of Education

jbt-tchr-isbeSPRINGFIELD— State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) passed legislation today that would require three members of the State Board of Education to be representatives of the educator community.

State law does not currently require any appointees to the State Board of Education to be educators.

This would change under Sen. Bertino-Tarrant’s proposal. Her plan comes at a time when local schools are being overburdened by unfunded mandates that force them to do more with less.

“The State Board of Education plays an important role in how our state’s education system operates,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The people who teach students and serve in management positions have the experience to help improve education in Illinois, and their voices need to be heard on the board.”

Under Senate Bill 1506, the appointed educators will be from different regions in the state.

The State Board of Education helps oversee public schools from preschool through grade 12 and adult and vocational schools.

Senate Bill 1506 is an initiative of Vision 20/20, an organization made up of school administrators, superintendents and school boards.

Senate Bill 1506 now advances to the Illinois House for consideration.

Bennett passes measure to make government more transparent

bennett-transparSPRINGFIELD– Taxpayers will have a better understanding of government boards’ work under a new proposed law advanced by Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

“We need to engage more people in the democratic process. Making this information readily available will help keep people informed and engaged,” said Bennett. “We should embrace technology to promote government transparency and accessibility to taxpayers.”

His initiative, Senate Bill 1339, does two things.

First, it requires government boards to post video on their websites of the board meeting within two business days. This would apply to boards where the governor appoints at least one member that is confirmed by the Senate.

“This simply makes it easier for taxpayers to access public information,” Bennett said. “The technology is readily available today to make this possible and affordable.”

Second, Bennett’s proposal would require those boards to post their public meeting agendas at least 72 hours prior to meeting, except in cases of emergency meetings. The current posting requirement is only 48 hours.

SB 1339 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and moves to the House for consideration.

Sullivan passes developmental disability FOID updates

sullivan-DD-foidSPRINGFIELD – Brent Nicholson is a hunter and has been his whole life. Growing up, his father took Brent and his brother hunting, Brent passed the hunter safety course as a minor and when he turned 18 he applied for and received his Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card.

Brent carried that FOID card for 13 years until last summer, when the Quincy native received a letter from the Illinois State Police requiring him to surrender his FOID card.

Despite years of safely using a firearm while he was hunting without incident, he was forced to give up his FOID card and his right to hunt with a firearm because he has an intellectual disability. Under a 2013 law allowing concealed carry, FOID rules were updated to exclude people with intellectual and developmental disabilities from using firearms.

A proposal allowing people with mild disabilities to appeal an Illinois State Police decision revoking or denying a FOID was approved by the Senate on Thursday. State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) sponsored the legislation.

“My overriding concern is to balance safety with our Second Amendment rights. This allows people with mild disabilities like Brent to show they are qualified, competent and can safely use a firearm while hunting,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan crafted the proposal with input from the State Police, representatives from the medical community and advocates for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

“This helps get rid of the stigma surrounding disability. Hunting is a big part of my brother’s life. It’s something we do together safely and responsibly, and this would let him prove that to the state,” said Brent’s brother Eric Nicholson.

In addition to creating the appeals process, the proposal—Senate Bill 836—would update how developmental disabilities are described under the law to match current medical definitions. It also updates how and when medical professionals must notify the state of someone meeting these criteria.

The proposal passed with bipartisan support and now moves to the House for debate.

Holmes pushes for safe disposal of hazardous medical waste

holmes-sharpsSPRINGFIELD — To improve waste disposal worker safety and prevent the potential spread of disease, State Sen. Linda Holmes has put forth a plan to prohibit the disposal of sharp medical waste with other recyclable materials.

“‘Sharps,’ like syringes, are a fact of life for one out of 12 Illinoisans, and that means one out of 12 Illinoisans are disposing of them somehow,” Holmes said. “We need to ensure that our sanitation workers are not being exposed to potential biohazards as they do their jobs.”

For proper disposal, syringes and other “sharps” should be collected in an appropriate sharps disposal container and can be disposed of in your regular trash. Even when placed in the appropriate plastic container, sharps should never be disposed of with recyclables.

Under the proposal, which passed the Illinois Senate today, disposing of sharp waste like syringes in recycling would be prohibited. It would also permit local government to establish sharps collection points at medical establishments and police or fire stations and to create a U.S. Postal Service-approved sharp waste mail-back program.

The legislation is Senate Bill 793. It proceeds to the House for consideration.

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