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  • safeplaceIt has been nearly two years since Illinois had a full budget. As a result, many human service providers have been forced to cut back on services and lay off staff. One organization that has been impacted is A Safe Place, a domestic violence support center in Zion that serves more than 15,000 individuals each year. 

    Since it was founded in 1980, A Safe Place has grown into a $2.2 million agency with seven offices across Lake County. Services include emergency shelter, a 24-hour crisis line, legal advocacy, permanent housing, case management, individual and group therapy, mentoring programs, supervised family visitation and custody exchanges, and more.

  • bush 042518SPRINGFIELD – Young people struggling with addiction or severe mental illness may soon see additional options for treatment thanks to a bill from Senator Melinda Bush that passed out of the Senate today.

    “Early detection and treatment can often determine whether or not a person is able to pursue their goals, stay in the workforce, and lead a healthy, productive life,” Bush (D-Grayslake) said. “This pilot creates a youth-focused, community support program that’s intended to treat mental illness early on and stabilize young people.”

    Seventy-five percent of severe mental health disorders manifest in young people and adolescents, but it takes on average 10 years for a person to be properly diagnosed.

    “Untreated mental illnesses and addiction can completely sideline a person, leaving them less likely to pursue school or participate in the workforce,” Bush said. “Early investments in treatment and community-support programs will save money in the long run and will help individuals struggling with mental illness and addiction stay on track.”

    Senate Bill 2951 creates the Early Mental Health and Addictions Treatment Act and requires the Department of Health and Family Services to create two pilot programs for Medicaid beneficiaries. The first pilot program provides community-based services for treatment of mental health conditions in youth and young adults. The second pilot program is the Assertive Engagement and Community-Based Clinical Treatment Pilot Program to treat youth and young adults with substance use disorders.

  • bush 022118SPRINGFIELD – Staff members of elected officials would be granted the right to file sexual harassment claims under a measure from Senator Melinda Bush that advanced out of the Senate Executive Committee today.

    “The claims that have come out over the past several months have made it clear that we need to change the way we handle sexual harassment and make sure everyone knows where to go to seek justice,” Bush (D-Grayslake) said. “The fact that staff of elected officials aren’t considered employees and therefore aren’t protected under the Human Rights Act is egregious.”

  • Road hazard

    GRAYSLAKE, IL – Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and Representative Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach) issued a joint statement in response to the governor’s visit to Lake County to tour flood sites:
     
    “Lake County residents have been working to pick up the pieces after major flash floods hit the area. The governor has not declared a state of emergency for Lake County, so residents with devastating property damage and no flood insurance have been unable to get access to low-interest loans that help people rebuild.
     
    “Today, the governor will be in Lake County touring flood sites. The devastation experienced by our constituents over the last few days needs to be seen to be understood. Clean up from this historic flooding is going to take all of us working together.
     
    “With more flooding expected to occur this weekend, we urge Governor Rauner to do what Governor Walker has already done, declare a state of emergency and call in the National Guard to provide much-needed relief to flood victims. Lake County residents need this help immediately.”

  • bush 050516SPRINGFIELD — To open schools on time, fund universities, maintain road projects and protect the state’s most vulnerable, State Senator Melinda Bush called on the General Assembly and Governor Bruce Rauner to pass stop gap funding measures.

    “The legislation we’re about to debate in Springfield reflects a compromise for both sides,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “We have a choice this week between fighting for ideology or coming together to fulfill our duty to students, businesses and the people who need our help the most. We must make the right choice.”

    A wide-ranging stop gap package includes an increase of $760 million to state schools, including increases to early childhood education at a level proposed by Governor Rauner, $1 billion to higher education to cover operational costs and tuition grants that have gone unpaid during the budget impasse, operational funds for state agencies to ensure facilities such as prisons can remain open, funding for Department of Transportation road projects and $650 million in funding for human services that include programs like autism relief, addiction treatment, and aid to those with mental illness, developmental disability and the blind and aged.

    “It is unfortunate that we’re here at the eleventh hour debating a stop gap measure, but it isn’t too late to do what Illinoisans have been clear in calling on us to do: Our jobs,” Bush said. “I call on the governor to do his.”

    The General Assembly convenes tomorrow to consider the legislation.

  • bush 050516GRAYSLAKE — State Senator Melinda Bush called on her fellow lawmakers to approve an education package that will increase preschool through 12th grade funding and school poverty grants to levels long recommended by the state.

    “Under this plan, the Lake County schools I represent in Springfield see much-needed funding increases,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “This plan ensures our schools open their doors on time and reflects an area on which the governor and I wholeheartedly agree: We must adequately fund schools. I ask all Springfield lawmakers to give this measure their full support.”

    Slated for consideration Wednesday, Senate Bill 2054 would increase General State Aid to schools by $760 million and include grants to school districts based on need. It also includes a $75 million increase to Early Childhood Education in keeping with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget. Funding would carry Illinois public schools through the remainder of the calendar year as the General Assembly continues to negotiate a 2017 budget.

    Under the new budget plan:

    • Round Lake District 116 would see an increase of $4,862,091.
    • Wauconda District 118 would see an increase of $1,835,817.
    • Grayslake District 46 would see an increase of $1,704,466, and high school District 127 would see an increase of $750,513.
    • Zion District 6 would see an increase of $1,794,422 and Zion-Benton high school District 126 would see an increase of $713,219.
    • Antioch District 34 would see an increase of $982,150.
    • Big Hollow District 38 would see an increase of $802,289.
    • Beach Park District 3 would see an increase of $696,693.
    • Warren Township District 121 would see an increase of $675,903.
    • Woodland District 50 would see an increase of $406,821.
    • Gavin District 37 would see an increase of $223,594.
    • Millburn District 24 would see an increase of $194,927.
    • Winthrop Harbor District 1 would see an increase of $192,118.
    • Emmons District 33 would see an increase of $8,653.
    • Gurnee District 56 would see an increase of $334,845.

    “This is a compromise that’s good for our students,” Bush said. “I’m looking forward to the General Assembly working together to pass it.”

    The Illinois General Assembly reconvenes June 29 to consider the legislation.

  • Sen. Melinda BushSPRINGFIELD – The Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention held its first meeting yesterday in Chicago. The task force was created by Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), who also serves as a co-chair.

    “For far too long, victims of sexual harassment and discrimination have been ignored and intimidated by a system that has allowed perpetrators to go unchecked,” Bush said. “This task force intends to rectify that.”

    The task force was created in response to the recent wave of harassment allegations in Illinois and throughout the country. The group will conduct a comprehensive review of the legal and social consequences of sexual harassment and discrimination, and will make recommendations on how to combat them in Illinois.

  • bush 050516SPRINGFIELD — To ensure individuals who are recovering from drug addiction can continue to take the most effective medical treatments available, State Sen. Melinda Bush advanced a proposal that would ensure defendants in drug court still receive prescription medication.

    “We need to shift our efforts toward treating drug addiction like what it is: A devastating health concern that becomes the root cause of other personal and societal ills,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “By ensuring that people going through drug court have access to these proven treatments, we’re fighting to cure an illness, not penalize it.”

  • bush 022818SPRINGFIELD – Staff members of elected officials are one step closer to being able to file sexual harassment claims thanks to a measure from Senator Melinda Bush that passed in the Senate unanimously.

    “The sexual harassment allegations that have come out in recent months made clear the need to re-examine our policies, work to change the culture in Springfield and do everything possible to make sure all victims are able to seek justice for sexual harassment,” said Bush (D-Grayslake). “The fact that staff of elected officials are not protected under the Human Rights Act is extremely problematic and needs to be changed.”

    Under the Illinois Human Rights Act, “immediate personal staff” of elected officials are exempt from the definition of employee and are therefore unable to report human rights violations, including sexual harassment, to the Department of Human Rights. Senate Bill 576 would delete this exemption.

    Bush, who chairs the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention, introduced the measure after hearing testimony from employees of the Illinois Department of Human Rights during a recent task force meeting. Representatives from the department testified that because of the lack of clarification as to who constitutes “immediate personal staff” of elected officials, the department does not know how to handle those claims.

    “Legislative staffers should have never been excluded from the Human Rights Act in the first place,” Bush said. “This bill will give legislative staffers the same rights as all other employees in the state – the right to seek justice and report human rights violations and sexual harassment in the work place.”

  • bush 110917SPRINGFIELD – A measure from Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) to reduce opioid abuse and “doctor shopping” advanced out of both legislative chambers with unanimous support.

    Senate Bill 772 would require prescribers of controlled substances to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database to see if a patient has been prescribed a controlled substance by another doctor prior to writing an initial prescription. This would make it harder for individuals to obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors, a practice known as doctor shopping.

    “Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States,” Bush said. “The prescription monitoring program can help curb opioid addiction and overdose by reducing the problem of overprescribing, but it will only be successful if prescribers actually check the database before writing a script.” 

    In 2015, Bush sponsored the legislation that required pharmacies to file daily reports of all controlled substances they dispense. Under the current law, however, prescribers of controlled substances are not required to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database before writing prescriptions. Studies show that as few as 14 percent of physicians always check the database before prescribing controlled substances.

    “Checking the prescription monitoring program database before writing a prescription is easy for doctors and an essential step in combatting the opioid epidemic in Illinois,” Bush said. “This measure will help curb doctor shopping, prevent overdoses and save countless lives.”

  • Sen. Melinda BushSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Melinda Bush’s (D-Grayslake) legislation to overhaul the process of investigating ethics complaints at the Capitol was signed into law this morning by the governor.

    “This is a vitally important first step in ensuring claims of sexual harassment and discrimination are taken seriously and investigated properly,” said Bush, Co-Chair of the Senate Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention Task Force. “We know our current culture won’t change overnight. But unless we take a stand and say ‘Time’s Up’, nothing will change in Springfield.”

  • bush 102517SPRINGFIELD – Lake County residents whose property was damaged during July’s floods could receive an income tax credit of up to $750 under a measure introduced today by Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake).

    “The flooding that occurred this summer cost Lake County residents thousands of dollars,” Bush said. “While some individuals have received insurance reimbursements, many are still waiting on the money they need to rebuild. This tax credit would provide much-needed relief to flood victims who have lost so much.”

  • bush 050818SPRINGFIELD – A task force would study the extent to which opioids are being overprescribed in Illinois under a measure from Senator Melinda Bush that advanced out of a Senate committee today.

    "There's no easy way to solve the opioid crisis in Illinois," said Bush (D-Grayslake). "In order to really get to the root of the problem, we have to take a well-rounded approach and come at the problem from all angles."

    HB 4707 creates the Prescription Drug Task Force to study the extent of over prescription of opioids to patients and make recommendations to address the issue. The Task Force will consist of legislators, the Department of Human Services, health care organizations, law enforcement and parents.

    "This task force will allow us to hear from experts across the state and come up with the best-possible legislative approaches to ending the opioid epidemic in Illinois," Bush said.

  • bush 053117SPRINGFIELD – Illinois legislators will not receive a planned, automatic increase in mileage reimbursements or per diem rates thanks to a measure from Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) that passed in the Illinois Senate today.

    “Today marks the 700th day since the state of Illinois has had a budget,” Bush said. “At a time when human service providers are being forced to shut their doors, state universities are laying off professors and administrators are wondering if schools will be funded and be able to open in the fall, it would be inexcusable for legislators to receive a pay increase.”

    House Bill 643 freezes the Illinois General Assembly's mileage reimbursement and per diem rates for the upcoming year. In addition, the initiative eliminates the planned FY 18 cost of living adjustment for the members of the legislature and other offices set by the Compensation Review Board. The Comptroller's Office states that the FY 18 cost of living adjustment would be 2.1% without the passage of a freeze.

    “Middle-class and working families rarely see pay raises, let alone automatic pay increases,” Bush said. “There is no reason that legislators should receive automatic cost of living adjustments.”

    Having passed both chambers with bipartisan support, House Bill 643 now goes to the governor’s desk.

  • bush 052517SPRINGFIELD – Legislation to curb opioid abuse and “doctor shopping” advanced out of the Illinois Senate today with unanimous support.

    Senate Bill 1607, sponsored by Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), would require prescribers of controlled substances to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database to see if a patient has been prescribed a controlled substance by another doctor prior to writing a script. This would make it harder for individuals to obtain prescriptions from multiple doctors, a practice known as doctor shopping.

  • bush 053018SPRINGFIELD – Zion would be able to apply for tax breaks for housing nuclear waste under a measure from State Senator Melinda Bush that passed unanimously out of the Senate today.

    “For years, Zion has shouldered the burden of housing spent nuclear waste—a burden that has led to a loss of jobs and tax revenue and 100 acres of lakefront property that has remained undeveloped,” Bush (D-Grayslake) said. “By adding spent nuclear waste sites to the list of qualifications for an enterprise zone, Zion can apply for tax breaks and incentives that can help attract new businesses to the area and make up some of the lost revenue.”

    House Bill 156 adds inactive nuclear powered electrical generation sites as one of the possible three criteria that an area must meet to be certified as an enterprise zone, which would allow Zion to qualify for tax exemptions.

    “It’s been 20 years since the Zion Nuclear Power Station was shut down, and the effects have been devastating for the community,” Bush said. “It’s time to provide some relief to Zion and help spur economic development in the area.”

    Because the Zion nuclear plant is inactive, it does not qualify for tax exemptions for power-generating facilities. Currently, the plant in Zion is the only nuclear power plant in the state that’s no longer operating.

  • bush 053118SPRINGFIELD – A measure from Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) to overhaul the process of investigating ethics complaints at the Capitol advanced out of the Senate today.

    “This is about changing the process of how ethics complaints are handled so that we can guarantee that any person who comes forward and files a claim with the legislative inspector general knows that their complaint is being reviewed in an independent, transparent and timely manner,” said Bush, Co-Chair of the Senate Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention Task Force.

  • “Abusers need to know they can’t hide from the law.”

    Bush pushes for more police training on domestic violenceSPRINGFIELD — To ensure more police officers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to respond to domestic violence as soon as they answer a call, State Sen. Melinda Bush advanced a proposal today that would provide for additional training for law enforcement.

    “One of the worst parts of domestic violence is how difficult it is to investigate and prosecute when so many people involved may have totally inaccurate, preconceived notions of what an abuse situation looks like,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “By requiring more training, we’re giving law enforcement more ability to fight this crime.”

    Currently, the law recommends but does not require police departments to coordinate domestic violence response training with service organizations and develop appropriate arrest procedures. The new training is aimed at the prevention of further victimization, focusing on looking beyond the physical evidence of domestic violence and giving officers an understanding of the deeper psychological aspects of abusive relationships.

    “Abusers need to know that our officers know what to look for,” Bush said. “They need to know they can’t hide from the law.”

    The legislation is HB 5538. Having passed the Illinois House 113-0, it is sponsored by Sen. Bush in the Senate. It passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee Wednesday and proceeds to the full Senate for consideration.

  • bush 040617SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) to increase transparency in pricing among service providers received the unanimous support of the Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

    Senate Bill 298 would require hair salons, barbers, dry cleaners and tailors to provide customers with a price list for services upon request, giving consumers the resources necessary to make educated choices when deciding which businesses to frequent.

    “Too often women are charged more than men for the same services, while at the same time being paid less for doing the same job. This is unacceptable,” Bush said. “Transparent pricing among service providers will help women know whether they are getting a fair deal for services.”

    Dry cleaners, barbers and tailors have frequently been examined in studies on gender-based pricing and have been found to charge women more than men for the same services. Bush hopes the measure will make service providers take a second look at their prices and charge women more fairly.

    Last session, Senator Bush’s “pink tax” legislation repealed sales tax on feminine hygiene products. This latest push builds on Bush’s work to remove economic barriers for Illinois women.