Bertino-Tarrant

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    After carefully negotiating changes requested by the governor, state agencies and other stakeholders, State Senator Andy Manar’s plan to modernize the voter registration process received unanimous support in the Illinois Senate today.

    “I am proud that the state Senate once again has voted to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois, and I hope the House will follow our lead and that Governor Rauner will sign it into law,” said Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill.

    If enacted, eligible Illinois citizens would be given the option to opt out of registering when they interact with certain state agencies, as opposed to the current system that requires citizens to opt-in.

    “At a time when we're seeing a major rollback of voting rights across the country, I'm proud that Democrats and Republicans came together and voted to expand access to the ballot in Illinois,” said Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago). “Voter registration laws disproportionately affect minorities, women, seniors and low-income individuals. Automatic voter registration will remove a barrier to voting and help ensure that all eligible Illinoisans are able to participate in our democracy should they so choose.”

    “I am happy to see this measure receive such great support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “The right to vote is a pillar of our democracy. Automatic voter registration will bring more participation and allow more voices to be heard in the legislative process.”

    “Automatic voter registration is important to the health of our democracy,” said Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora). “There are so many existing roadblocks to participation. Something as basic as registration should not be one of those roadblocks. I am dismayed by how low voter turnout is, especially in local and off-cycle elections, and I believe that automatic registration will give more people an opportunity to let their voices be heard in the political process.”

    Currently, there are more than 2 million Illinoisans who are eligible to vote but aren’t registered. Automatic voter registration will significantly reduce this number and will remove a barrier to voting for all eligible Illinoisans.

    “We should make it easier to vote, not harder,” said Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills). “This legislation will ensure that every Illinois resident who is eligible to vote doesn’t have to go through the sometimes burdensome process to register. This only enhances the voice of the voter during an election.”

    Rather than giving individuals the option to fill out a separate voter registration form when conducting business with a state agency, the measure would allow agencies to electronically transfer an individual’s data to the State Board of Elections. Automatically registering eligible voters will streamline bureaucracy, do away with redundant paperwork and save taxpayer dollars.

    “When it comes to modernizing state government, automatic voter registration checks all the boxes: it eliminates redundant paperwork, it cuts down on the number of times people have to interact with a government office, it curbs voter fraud, and it saves money,” said Manar. “The time is right for this reform.”

    “Not only does automatic voter registration remove a barrier to voting for eligible citizens, it is a common-sense way to modernize the registration process, reduce bureaucracy and duplication and save the state money,” said Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake). “I hope this good government reform receives the same bipartisan support in the House and from the governor as it did in the Senate.”

    “We should be making it easier, not harder, for people to vote and have a direct say in who represents them,” said Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood). “Making automatic voter registration law will save taxpayer dollars, streamline a government function and ensure the ballot box is as easily accessible as possible for voters.”

    In March 2015, Oregon was the first state to enact automatic voter registration. Since then, California, West Virginia, Vermont, Connecticut, Alaska and the District of Columbia have adopted automatic registration, and thirty other states introduced legislation this year.

    “In the end, this effort is going to register people to vote, no matter who they vote for – Democrats or Republicans. It’s going to save money, modernize government and streamline our system,” Manar said. “And it’s going to lead more citizens of our state, regardless of where they live or their party affiliation, to participate in our electoral process. That means we all win as citizens of the state of Illinois.”

  • BertinoTarrant03072017SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) issued the following statement in response to the Illinois General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) board voting to take away Dennis Hastert’s pension:

    “Dennis Hastert used his trusted position as a teacher and coach to prey on his young victims. I am glad that the board voted to ensure he doesn’t receive his taxpayer-subsidized pension.”

  • BertinoTarrant05192016SPRINGFIELD — Legislation that would keep tax credits in place for employers contributing to their employees’ college accounts has been introduced by State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

    The tax credit is set to expire in 2020, but Bertino-Tarrant’s plan would extend it to 2025. The senator’s legislation also increases the tax credit amount an employer would be eligible for by $500.

    “This tax credit is an important tool for incentivizing employers to help their employees pay for college,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “I am proud to be working with the Illinois Treasurer’s Office to sponsor legislation that would benefit both workers and businesses.”

  • Sen. Bertino-TarrantSPRINGFIELD— Legislation that would end deadlines for when someone could be prosecuted for sexual abuse against a minor was approved by the Illinois Senate yesterday.

    State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) voted for the measure and is its chief co-sponsor.

    “Passing this measure in the Senate was a positive step for victims’ rights and justice,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “If someone has been sexually abused, they deserve the time they need to report the crime and confront their abuser. We must do everything we can to protect victims and hold abusers accountable.”

  • nurse prisonPLAINFIELD — In response to the Rauner administration telling prison nurses that their jobs are being outsourced, State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) issued the following statement:

    “There are 17 nurses whose jobs at Stateville Correctional Facility are going to be outsourced. With Illinois not having a budget, the last thing the Governor should be doing is creating more chaos in state government.

    From a management perspective, this decision doesn’t make much sense. Outsourcing services would likely lead to less supervisory oversight and more problems in our correctional facilities. The governor has made the wrong decision.”

    It was reported yesterday that Gov. Rauner sent a letter to Alice Johnson, executive director for the Illinois Nurses Association, announcing that 124 unionized nurses working in 12 Illinois prisons will be laid off effective June 15.

  • hastert 031317SPRINGFIELD— A plan that would end deadlines for when someone could be prosecuted for sexual abuse against a minor has been approved by a Senate committee. State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is the chief co-sponsor of the measure.

    “There should not be a deadline on when victims can receive justice,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Minors who are sexually abused deserve time to come forward and report the abuse. Children are vulnerable, scared, and often take years to have the courage to confront their abuser.”

  • jbt 050316SPRINGFIELD— State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) joined fellow chairs of Senate Committees at a press conference today to discuss the fact that Governor Rauner’s agency directors have offered no new cuts to close out the $5 billion out-of-balance budget he proposed.

    “What’s frustrating is that we have a governor who has derailed budget negotiations and presented an unbalanced budget for next year,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

    When asked on several occasions before Senate committees, sixteen of Rauner’s agency heads were unable to identify a single dollar to cut from Illinois $36 billion operations budget.

    Bertino-Tarrant, the chair of the Illinois Senate’s Education Committee, questioned Superintendent of Education Tony Smith about what cuts he would make to close Rauner’s budget gap. His response was that Chairman James Meeks of the Illinois State Board of Education had directed him not to say anything about reductions.

    “Superintendent Smith said he, as well as Chairman Meeks, will not advocate for cuts,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The governor needs to face the fact that his leaders are unable to identify any more reductions.” 

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  • jbt041415SPRINGFIELD— State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) voted for a plan today that would make it easier for taxpayers to save money by abolishing duplicative township governments.

    “Illinois has more than 1,400 township governments,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “By opening up the opportunity for local government consolidation throughout the state, we are ensuring that taxpayer dollars can be saved and unnecessary or outdated township governments can be abolished.”

    Under Senate Bill 3, local government consolidation procedures that exist in DuPage, Lake and McHenry Counties are extended throughout the state. Townships could merge with one or more adjacent townships. A city or village could absorb a township that occupies the same geographical boundaries.

    Today, Bertino-Tarrant also voted to improve the way state government purchases goods and services, which was initiated because of concerns regarding procurement rules that can be difficult for vendors, state agencies and universities to navigate.

    “We could make government purchasing a lot more efficient if we eliminate red tape that slows down the process,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

    Senate Bill 8 expands the ability of state universities to purchase needed products and services without going through the procurement process. Illinois would be allowed to enter into joint purchasing agreements with other governmental units. Vendors would also be given more flexibility when registering or submitting a bid.

    Procurement reform and local government consolidation will have to be passed by the Illinois House before going to the governor for final approval.

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  • jbt hastertPLAINFIELD — State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) issued the following statement in response to the Illinois General Assembly Retirement System (GARS) board voting to suspend former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s $28,000 pension from his time as a state lawmaker:

    “I applaud the board’s decision. I’m glad the General Assembly Retirement Board made the right decision. Hastert is a child predator who should not get public pensions. The taxpayers should not have to pay for his retirement.”

  • jbt041415PLAINFIELD— State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is pushing for a solution that modernizes Illinois’ outdated education funding system and properly invests in students and schools.

    “Our current education funding formula has to be improved,” said Bertino-Tarrant, a lifelong educator and former Regional Superintendent for Will County. “Too many students aren’t getting an opportunity to achieve academic success because of a lack of resources in the classroom.”

    Bertino-Tarrant was appointed to the bipartisan Illinois School Funding Reform Commission this summer. The commission has started meeting and is reviewing the current funding formula and looking at how to fairly distribute state dollars to schools.

    It is anticipated that the commission will take a look at past education funding reform proposals and determine what parts should be used in finding a way forward. The commission is charged with recommending changes to school funding by Feb. 1, 2017.

    “While the commission’s meetings are useful, I would like to see results on education funding reform,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to do what’s right for our students and properly invest in their education. I look forward to continuing to work with the commission and am hoping that progress can be made.”

    During this year’s legislative session, Bertino-Tarrant voted for two education funding reform proposals, Senate Bill 231 and House Bill 3190. Both proposals were passed by the Illinois Senate but not voted on in the Illinois House.

    Bertino-Tarrant has also voted to increase state support for local schools.

    “I voted in 2015 and 2016 for education budgets that included more money for our schools, but that doesn’t solve the problem that our formula is outdated and unfair to students and taxpayers,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Keep in mind that the Chicago Urban League is suing because the way the state funds education isn’t fair. The courts should not have to step in and address a problem the legislature can fix.”

    In addition to the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) is also convening a group of stakeholders to discuss education funding reform.

  • jbt vetsbrkfstState Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) recently held a Veterans’ Breakfast.

    At the Veterans’ Breakfast, an estimated 60 veterans learned about programs and services offered by Homes for Heroes, Kendall County Veterans Assistance Commission, Military Mama Network and Will County Veterans Assistance Commission.

    “I’m honored to provide a small thank you and opportunity for area veterans to meet with representatives from different organizations who could help them access the benefits and services they’ve rightfully earned from their service to our nation,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

    Bertino-Tarrant spoke to attendees briefly about a new law she sponsored which creates a program at the Illinois Finance Authority allowing veterans to apply for and receive a loan to start a business.

    Attendees also heard from guest speaker Grant Swinger of the Illinois Attorney General’s Military and Veterans Rights Bureau. He provided an overview of the bureau, which is dedicated to ensuring veterans and active duty military service members receive the benefits they have earned.

    Some veterans expressed concerns about the problems they face in trying to get assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Bertino-Tarrant and Swinger sympathized with these concerns and let them know that the Illinois Attorney General’s Military and Veterans Rights Bureau can be a good resource for help when they run into difficulties.

  • jbt041415PLAINFIELD— In the wake of Scott Cross’ testimony regarding sexual abuse by former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, State. Sen Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Plainfield) is renewing her call for changing state laws so justice can be served.

    “Child predators like Hastert shouldn’t get away with sexual abuse just because no one caught them before some arbitrary deadline,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “When we know of an injustice, we should have the opportunity to set things right. We owe it to the victims and we owe it to the taxpayers.”

    Bertino-Tarrant is the lead Senate sponsor of HB 1127, which would remove legal deadlines for prosecuting criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse of a child. She’s also been outspoken in calling for state pension officials to rescind the taxpayer-funded pension Hastert receives from his time as an Illinois lawmaker.

    “As I sat there and listened to Mr. Cross summon the courage to talk to the committee about his abuse, it was unbelievable to think he was going to get away with it, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “That’s unacceptable.”

    Hastert is currently in prison after pleading guilty to financial fraud. He cannot face charges for the sexual abuse he admitted to because the statute of limitations for those offenses had expired. Following his conviction, the state’s Teachers Retirement System rescinded Hastert’s pension from his teaching days. The state’s General Assembly Retirement System, however, has only moved to reduce his pension.

    “The General Assembly Retirement System needs to do the right thing and end Hastert’s pension,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Families throughout my district work hard, and their taxes should not be paying for a child predator’s retirement.”

     

    The senator sent a letter requesting Hastert’s pension be immediately revoked. She also has filed legislation that would have allowed for Hastert’s General Assembly Retirement System pension to be taken away.

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  • JBT groundbreakingState Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a project that will bring businesses and jobs to Shorewood.

    The plan, which Bertino-Tarrant pushed for, will allow for land at the northwest corner of the intersection of Routes 59 and 52 in Shorewood to be redeveloped.

    “More businesses and jobs will be coming to Shorewood,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This initiative is good for the community, and I look forward to continuing to support projects that will enhance economic development throughout my district.”

  • JBT 082316SPRINGFIELD— Employees of lobbying entities would be ineligible for a taxpayer-funded pension under a new law spearheaded by State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

    House Bill 4259 was signed into law by the governor Friday.

    Under the law, employees of certain organizations can no longer collect a pension through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), State Universities Retirement System (SURS) and the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS).

  • jbt041415SPRINGFIELD— Legislation co-sponsored by State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) that would create minimum training standards for residential and community-based programs that offer dementia care has been signed into law.

    Prior to the law, residential and community-based programs could advertise that they specialize in providing dementia care without being adequately trained in how to work with dementia patients.

    “People who have dementia deserve the best care possible,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This new law ensures that staff have been trained, protects patients, and gives families peace of mind.”

    This initiative is necessary because some places have advertised that they are experts in dementia care without having the training to back up their claims.

    The Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 210,000 Illinois residents are affected by dementia. It is anticipated that there will be a 25 percent increase in dementia patients in nine years due to the aging baby boomer population.

    Senate Bill 2301 is effective immediately.