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Lightford protects consumers from misleading utility plans

lightford 060219SPRINGFIELD – To protect consumers from being taken advantage of due to misinformation from alternative retail electric suppliers, Senate Majority Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is leading legislation that now awaits the governor’s signature.

“The data clearly demonstrates that alternative suppliers focus their signup efforts on low-income neighborhoods, those where English is a secondary language and communities of color,” Lightford said. “I am proud to stand with Attorney General Raoul to protect our most vulnerable residents from unknowingly signing contracts that will result in rate hikes they cannot afford.”

According to the Attorney General’s Office, over the last three years consumers enrolled with alternative retail electric suppliers have paid almost $400 million more in electricity costs than consumers who stayed with their default public utility.

“Alternative retail electricity and gas suppliers attract customers with promises of free electricity or lower utility bills, but the truth is that almost no one pays less after signing a contract with one of these suppliers,” Raoul said. “The HEAT Act ensures that suppliers provide consumers with substantive information and price comparisons so that they can make informed decisions before signing contracts that could tie them to higher rates.”

Senate Bill 651 prevents alternative electric and gas suppliers from converting enrolled participants of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Percentage of Income Payment Plan from their current utility provider to an alternative supplier unless certain requirements are met.

The proposal requires all marketing materials and customer bills to contain a price comparison of utility supply rates. Suppliers will also have to notify customers when their rates will increase. Lastly, the legislation prevents automatic contract renewals that amount to a higher monthly rate without the customer’s consent and eliminates renewals from a fixed rate to a variable rate.

Bush passes sweeping reforms targeting harassment, discrimination and ethics

Sen. Melinda BushSPRINGFIELD – Private sector workers who experience sexual harassment and discrimination will have greater protections under the law thanks to a major piece of legislation from State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) that passed unanimously out of the Illinois Senate today.

“This bill gives victims of workplace harassment and discrimination more protections and ensures they are able to seek justice,” Bush said. “We’re not only changing the law—we’re changing the culture. We’re standing with victims and saying enough is enough.”

Senate Bill 75 also includes major reforms to the state’s ethics investigation process, including making the process more transparent and giving additional rights to victims of harassment and discrimination who file ethics complaints.

Ellman votes to cut spending, provide fiscal stability and invest in education

ellman 051019SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s passage of a balanced budget:

“While Illinois’ financial problems can’t be fixed in one year’s budget, the plan we approved tonight puts us on track toward long-term fiscal stability. This budget is balanced and responsible. We’re making our full pension payments, providing stable support for our municipalities and investing in priorities that matter.

“This plan includes record investments in P-12 education, increased funding for grants that help working and middle-class families send their kids to college and new funding for workforce development programming so that workers can get the training they need and businesses are able to find qualified applicants to fill positions.

“By streamlining government services and cutting millions of dollars in administrative spending, we were able to balance our budget, invest in what matters most and give residents and businesses confidence in sticking with Illinois.”

Cunningham votes for balanced budget that prioritizes education

cunningham 050919SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs, voted Friday in favor of a responsible, balanced state budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes greater investment in education at all levels.

“I’m proud to support a bipartisan, balanced budget that reflects the priorities of our state,” Cunningham said. “With the turmoil of the last few years behind us, we’re showing our commitment to leading Illinois down a path toward certainty and stability.”

Among the provisions in the budget are increases to education funding, including an additional $50 million for K-12 education that will bring property tax relief to homeowners. The plan also includes an extra $50 million for the MAP program and another $10 million for the AIM HIGH program, which provides grants to middle-income students who wish to pursue a college degree.

“An investment in our students is an investment in the future of Illinois,” Cunningham said. “Education funding has always been a priority for me and I’m glad to see that we’re making a commitment to improving the quality and accessibility of public education in our state.”

The budget also includes a full payment of the Illinois’ pension obligations for the seventh year in a row, the longest stretch in the state’s history.

“In the past, the General Assembly had a bad habit of kicking the can down the road in regard to our pension commitments,” Cunningham said. “The theme in this budget is stability and that’s paying our full pension obligation provides and has provided for almost a decade.”

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