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  • bennett frerichs092815CHAMPAIGN- Illinois families worried about the financial security of loved ones living with disabilities will soon have another resource to promote their independence.  

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and Treasurer Michael Frerichs joined area advocates to raise awareness of a new law that will create a tax-exempt plan to help individuals and families save money to cover expenses for people living with disabilities. Senate Bill 1383 creates the Illinois Achieving a Better Life Expectancy Act (ABLE Act), which creates accounts similar to tax-advantaged college saving plans where income earned in the account is not taxable.

  • mcguire 15budgetSPRINGFIELD— Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) joined a majority of his Senate colleagues in voting to prevent a shutdown of services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities and mental illness. The Senate passed SB 2046 by a vote of 36-19, the bare minimum of “Yes” votes needed. All “Yes” votes were cast by Democrats.

    “While 90 percent of the state budget is effectively enacted, the stalled 10 percent is needed by organizations such as Cornerstone and Trinity Services to continue providing absolutely necessary services,” McGuire said. “I’ve been advocating for legislative action to help the children and adults who desperately need this help. This week’s Senate action is the important first step in doing so.”

    SB 2046 seeks to fund autism programs, early intervention services for infants with developmental delays, supportive housing for persons with disabilities, and other services not funded via court orders or consent decrees.  The legislation now moves to the House. If it is approved there, it goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his approval.

    “I beseech the governor to end the distress uncertain funding is causing people already beset with numerous physical and mental challenges,” McGuire said.

  • biss locpensSPRINGFIELD — State Senator Daniel Biss (D – Evanston) released the following the statement as the House passed legislation protecting eligibility requirements for older adults and persons with disabilities:

    “We cannot in good conscience change the eligibility standards for our citizens who rely on daily essential services. Keeping the eligibility score at 29 will allow Illinoisans to stay in their homes and receive minimal care instead of forcing people into costly nursing home facilities.

    This bill protects 24,000 adults in the Community Care Program and 10,000 persons with disabilities in the Home Services Program by allowing them to keep their care. I applaud its passage and I look forward to its ultimate signing into law.”

    Through the safeguards created by this prospective law, service recipients are protected should the eligibility tool change or a new tool be implemented to determine need, which will allow for a gradual transition and less disruption of services.

    The legislation has passed both Houses and now moves to the governor’s desk.

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  • haine alton godfrey rdSPRINGFIELD – On Monday, Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a measure offering relief to fatally injured burn victims by cutting the red tape to qualify for disability benefits.

    The act, also called the George Bailey Memorial Program, provides that burn victims who doctors expect to live for less than 18 months will immediately receive the five months’ pay they would have received from Social Security had there not been a mandatory five-month waiting period.

    “When people suffer traumatic and fatal injuries they should not be denied the funds they would have received under better circumstances. This measure offers relief to individuals and their families in a time of hardship,” said Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton).

    The measure was originally filed in the House by State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville).  

    “George Bailey’s family has worked very hard to see this law through,” said Hoffman. “The story of the late George Bailey is tragic, and I want to ensure that families do not have to go through the same painstaking process of waiting months for reimbursements. When someone suffers traumatic burn injuries, they should not have to wait to receive help with the high costs of medical care.”

    Currently under the Social Security Act there is a mandatory five-month waiting period applied to Social Security Disability Income claims. A disabled person may only receive payments beginning on the sixth month after their injury. This law removes that waiting period for severely injured burn victims.

    Janie Bailey, cousin of the late George Bailey said, “We are so excited that this legislation has passed. This bill will help so many people. Thank you to everyone that made this bill a reality and in the name of George Bailey.”

    The measure, HB 4006, was signed into law today by Governor Rauner and will go into effect January 1.

  • hutchinson loopholesSPRINGFIELD – Victims of domestic violence and individuals with disabilities will not have to worry about losing their homes if they contact authorities for help under a new law signed today by the governor.  

    “The last thing a survivor of a traumatic assault or someone struggling with a disability needs to worry about is being evicted simply for calling the police for help,” sponsor State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said.  

    Renters who contact authorities for help risk eviction in the more than 100 home-rule cities and villages that have implemented some form of crime-free ordinance. These ordinances are meant to give more control to municipalities in addressing public safety concerns. Many of them have specifically listed triggers that could lead to an eviction, including numerous calls to law enforcement.

    While the intent of crime-free ordinances is to deal with illegal activity, victims of criminal activity can be affected by the rules, especially in the case of domestic violence. Victims of domestic abuse aren’t always able to leave their homes immediately and are sometimes afraid to press charges, making it more likely they will have to contact the police more than once.  

    Individuals with disabilities are also endangered by these ordinances, as someone struggling with a disability might need assistance from authorities more often than someone without a disability.

    “We should not be penalizing renters with eviction simply for making legitimate calls for help,” Hutchinson said. “This new law strikes a balance between the safety needs of victims and the responsibility of municipalities to address public safety in their communities.”

    Senate Bill 1547 was signed today by the governor and becomes law in 90 days.

  • delgado childrens gradCHICAGO- After cuts proposed by the governor earlier this year threatened to shut down a majority of its operations The Children’s Place Association, a pre-K education facility, spent Thursday morning celebrating. State Senator William Delgado (D-Chicago) was in attendance as the facility and staff held a ceremony for their students’ graduation, as some of them will move up to Kindergarten.

    Children’s Place provides a wide variety of services to over 70 children a day. Most of whom come from low income families affected by debilitating diseases and disabilities including autism, HIV, heart ailments, epilepsy, spina bifida and hydrocephalus. For many of the children, this is the only early education facility they can attend due to their illness.

  • biss don 81815Seniors struggling to stay in their homes and people with disabilities in need of vital care would still have access to services under a plan passed by the Senate today. Without today’s action, substantial and detrimental changes to state-provided care proposed by the governor would force tens of thousands of older adults and adults with disabilities out of their homes and into costly nursing home facilities.

    “The governor is cutting much more than hypothetical dollars from the budget with his plan,” said State Senator Daniel Biss (D – Evanston). “He is cutting a lifeline for thousands of seniors and disabled Illinoisans who often rely on minimal and inexpensive services to ensure their basic health and safety.”