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Senate approves prisoner entrepreneur training pilot program

keyboardSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate voted today to create a program that would teach Illinois prison inmates business skills. State Sen. Omar Aquino, a Democrat from Chicago, is the measure’s chief sponsor in the Senate.

The goal of the proposed law is to decrease recidivism by providing inmates with opportunities to acquire business skills for use after release. The legislation establishes a pilot program similar to one already in place in the Texas Department of Corrections.

“Because it is already tough to find employment with a felony conviction, this program gives inmates entrepreneurial skills beyond basic vocational and career training so that they can employ themselves,” Aquino said. “We want to give people the business skills that they need to create jobs and lead productive lives. This legislation will boost entrepreneurship and decrease recidivism at the same time.”

Cunningham: Time to provide necessary resources to handle mental health issues

DefendantSPRINGFIELD – Custody of defendants with mental health issues could become more streamlined and appropriate due to legislation that passed the Illinois Senate on Monday.

“We need to provide the necessary resources to ensure the mental health of those determined to be unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity be dealt with appropriately,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago). “It will only help to keep our communities safer in the long run.”

The legislation, House Bill 649, would create a formal process for the county sheriff and the Department of Human Services to handle custody of defendants found unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. It provides requirements regarding the evaluation and transportation of the defendant to a secure facility.

The legislation now moves to the governor’s desk for approval.

Schools could give housing assistance to homeless students

Homeless youthSPRINGFIELD – School districts will now be allowed to help students who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless under a plan passed the Illinois Senate.

Under House Bill 261, schools will have the option to use their own transportation funds to provide housing assistance to students in need if they determine it will be more cost-efficient.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate.

“This legislation allows schools to take steps to use existing funds to help these students add some stability to their lives,” Bennett said. “A student whose family is going through tough circumstances should be able to stay in their school, which will provide stability.”

Manar: Senate will continue to lead on budget, regardless of what governor chooses to do (AUDIO)

manar 042617SPRINGFIELD – The Senate’s balanced budget strikes a sensible balance that offers cuts and reforms while prioritizing what the people of Illinois want the state to deliver after two years of gridlock, said Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

“People want us to prioritize funding for education, for health care and for higher education so that we can repair that system. Our budget does all of this under the umbrella of spending limits that the governor put forward,” said Manar, chairman of one of the Senate’s two budget committees.

“That’s the result of both leadership and frustration on our part, because we continuously put forth issues that Gov. Rauner claims to value – and in some cases demands – but yet we are stuck with no movement from the executive branch.”

Manar noted that the Senate listened to Gov. Rauner’s demands for government reforms in exchange for signing a budget. The Senate approved term limits on legislative leaders, procurement reform, school funding reform, workers’ compensation reform and local government consolidation reform – all in conjunction with a balanced budget that cuts $3 billion in government spending.

“So regardless of what Gov. Rauner is going to do, the Senate is going to continue to lead,” Manar said. “That’s why we did the things that we have done this session that ultimately produced a budget that is balanced and sustainable that will help us put this behind us once and for all.”

Sen. Manar talks about the budget: