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Bertino-Tarrant’s park district improvement initiatives signed into law

JBT081514The governor today signed into law two measures that make improvements to park districts, both locally and statewide.

The first is a measure that seeks to restore accountability to the Plainfield Park District Board.

Problems within the Park District Board have been a thorn in the side of the Plainfield community for more than a year. The board has been subject to numerous labor relations act violations, ongoing criminal investigations and allegations of waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.

“Given the seriousness of these allegations of misconduct, it is evident that our community needs this change,” Senator Bertino-Tarrant said. “This law will restore public trust to the Plainfield Park Board.”

The new law changes the makeup of the park board by adding two members who will be appointed by the General Assembly for a single two-year term. These appointments, one made by Senator Bertino-Tarrant and the other made by Representative Tom Cross (R-Oswego), would expand the board to seven commissioners and break up the current voting majority. When the appointments expire, all board members will be required to seek re-election should they be interested in maintaining their posts.

“As someone who represents the Plainfield community, it was important for me to address these widespread public concerns,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

Also signed into law today was a measure that will allow park districts to be granted short-term loans from financial institutions. 

The new law, also sponsored by Bertino-Tarrant, will ease a park districts ability to borrow money on a short-term basis for corporate purposes.

“We need to ensure that our park districts have the financial options to make the improvements necessary to keep our parks clean, safe and enjoyable for the children and families that frequent them,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

In the past, park districts have had to use tax anticipation warrants for borrowing purposes.  These loan options are much more expensive than a traditional short-term loan and take much longer to issue. Last spring, the General Assembly passed legislation that granted short-term borrowing options to counties. Bertino-Tarrant’s proposal would keep park district boards on par with counties in their ability to borrow money for corporate purposes.

Both laws go into effect immediately.

Moffitt, Sullivan legislation improves rural EMS care

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SPRINGFIELD – A newly signed state law allows nurses to provide the highest possible level of care when staffing rural ambulances.

Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) and Representative Don Moffitt (R-Gilson) sponsored the legislation – HB 4523 – in an effort to improve rural emergency care. It allows rural emergency medical services to operate their ambulances at the same level of certification as the nurses who staff them.

"With this legislation becoming law, the level of emergency medical services that may be provided in rural Illinois will be significantly improved. I commend Senator Sullivan for his leadership in the Senate in passing this bipartisan legislation. As a result, even more lives will be saved." Moffitt said.

"In some rural areas of the state an ambulance ride can last up to an hour. It only makes sense to allow nurses certified at a specific level to provide the highest level of care during the ambulance ride," Sullivan said.

Previously, nurses were only authorized to provide care up to the level that the ambulances they are riding in are certified for. Sullivan and Moffitt's new law allows rural, pre-hospital registered nurses to provide the same level of care they are trained to give.

A law passed last year permitted other paramedics to provide care at their highest possible level. The new law, signed Tuesday by the governor, simply extends the law to include nurses.

The new provisions regarding nurses take effect Jan. 1.

Hunter's new youth-focused laws reform DCFS

Hunter-dcfsIllinois youth will now have greater say in their quality of care under DCFS and better opportunities to attend college with new scholarships thanks to State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago).

House Bill 4773 is the latest Hunter-supported measure aimed at reforming DCFS. The law requires the agency director to listen to youth advisory board recommendations.

“The measure creates a system of accountability and transparency. By giving youth a voice in DCFS reforms, we are empowering them, protecting them and providing a voice that has gone unheard for too long,” said Hunter, Chair of the Illinois Senate Human Services Committee.

The Statewide Youth Advisory Board (SYAB) started in 1994 with a contract from DCFS. Under the proposed plan, six regional youth boards will represent children across the state.

Hunter also sponsored House Bill 4652, a new law that expands the number of DCFS scholarship recipients from a maximum of 48 to a minimum of 53.

“This law provides a financial boost for teens under the care of DCFS who otherwise could not afford college,” Hunter said. “Getting a higher degree is no longer an option but a prerequisite for becoming competitive in today’s job market. Our young students shouldn’t have to worry about the financial strain of furthering their education.”

The measure also extends scholarship support from only four consecutive years to at least five.

“We’re extending scholarship support to at least five years because it is taking students longer to finish degree programs,” Hunter said. “These competitive scholarships will accommodate the new reality facing college students.”

More freedom in vehicle use for farmers in Illinois

081214 js 0553RSPRINGFIELD - Legislation helping Illinois farmers was signed into law yesterday afternoon at the Illinois State Fair. The new law will allow farmers to use a wider range of vehicles for work without having to deal with CDL, medical card and hours of service restrictions.

Sponsored by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights), smaller trucks under 12,000 pounds with drivers possessing only a B or D license, no longer just trucks 16,000 pounds and heavier, may now be designated as covered farm vehicles when pulling a farm-plated trailer.

With the “covered farm vehicle” designation applying to more vehicles, farmers can now simply focus on crops and not on more trucking rules and regulations.

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