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  • Black History Month 2017 - The Crisis in Black EducationSenators comment on this year's Black History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.”

    Over the years the crisis in black education has grown significantly. In urban neighborhoods, public schooling systems lack resources and have overcrowded classrooms, which result to students of color reaping the disproportionate shortfalls of the racial achievement gap.

    In the past, whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America. Because of that, black students today are underperforming and are not advancing like their white counterparts.

    This year’s national theme, The Crisis in Black Education, focuses on the evolution of black education and its meaning as it empowers students to grow, achieve and prosper.

  • vets presser 031318SPRINGFIELD – Three years after the initial outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy, residents of that facility and others like it are still waiting for Gov. Bruce Rauner to be proactive in detecting and removing Legionella bacteria from state-run facilities.

    State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has taken charge in the governor’s absence, advancing bipartisan legislative measures this week to improve water management and notification requirements at state facilities.

  • Veterans presser 050317SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is working to combat alarming veterans suicide statistics in the nation.

    According to a recent study by the U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S.

    This week, Cullerton advanced House Bill 2647 with bipartisan support out of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

  • hustlehancockCHICAGO – The story of a young Ian Piet and his family recently has caused two Illinois legislators to join his fight against lung cancer. State Senator Bill Cunningham and Representative Kelly Burke have signed up to Hustle Up the Hancock on February 26, 2017.

    “I met Ian at the State Capitol and listened to his story about how his dad struggled with lung cancer,” Cunningham said. “When he asked if I could join his team to find a cure for respiratory diseases like lung cancer I was ready.”

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  • hastings 022218SPRINGFIELD – The state of Illinois currently has no procedure in place to alert police and emergency professionals of missing disabled persons, but State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D -Tinley Park) is working to change that.

    Hastings’ measure is aimed at reporting, quickly locating and returning missing disabled persons to their homes. It is motivated by the story of Greg*, a disabled man who went to Chipotle in Matteson, Illinois for a group-home excursion. During the outing, Greg wandered away from his group and it quickly became apparent there were few procedures in place to help find him.

    When his caretakers requested an Amber Alert be put out in order to locate Greg, the authorities said there was no system in place for individuals living with disabilities. After 21 excruciating hours, Greg was returned to his caretakers, and the incident left advocates wondering if more can be done to protect Illinois’ disabled populations.

    “It’s clear we can do more here, so I have sponsored this commonsense legislation to put protocols in place to help find and protect individuals living with intellectual and physical disabilities,” Hastings said. “This small change will help immediately alert authorities and emergency networkers to bring our loved ones home sooner.”

    Senate Bill 2265 changes the Missing Persons Identification Act to ensure "high-risk missing persons" includes persons living with a developmental or intellectual disability. This will cover these individuals under the Endangered Missing Person Advisory program, which would provide a regional system for the rapid dissemination of information of missing people.

    “As a community-based provider that supports adults with intellectual disabilities, I am excited to learn the Human Service Committee passed SB2265,” said Mary Pat Ambrosino, Chief Executive Officer of CTF Illinois. “Adults with intellectual disabilities are a vulnerable population, and by including them in the LEAD system you are not only providing a proven resource to families and providers but also giving us peace of mind knowing the safety of those we support is a priority.”

    Senate Bill 2265 passed the Senate’s Committee on Human Services with bipartisan support and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

    “I can’t help but think if this alert system had been in place, Greg may not have gone missing for 21 hours,” Hastings said. “We are taking the lessons of the past to give police departments the means to communicate quickly and effectively to disseminate missing persons reports.”


    *The name Greg was used to protect the identify and safety of the individual who experienced this event.

  • hastings 041216SPRINGFIELD – Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) responded to a court decision on Tuesday that will require the State of Illinois to add Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) to the medical marijuana pilot program currently underway in Illinois.

    “It is long overdue that people suffering with post-traumatic stress, a medical issue recommended by the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, will finally be able to participate in a program that can relieve some of their symptoms,” Hastings said. “This was about protecting the health and safety of veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress.”

    The judge in the ruling criticized Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah for not listening to the review board.

    “Director Shah hid from the people when it came to making a decision that could affect thousands of Illinois veterans who wanted relief from their symptoms,” Hastings said. “Rejecting their right to know why Shah denied post-traumatic stress for the medical marijuana program is simply unpatriotic.”

    The state has 30 days to comply with the court order to add PTS to the medical marijuana program. Governor Rauner currently has Senate Bill 10 on his desk that would bring the state into compliance with the court order.

  • hastings 0418 prefSPRINGFIELD – Computer hacking is a growing societal threat, and the perpetrators are willing to cross any lines – including into school databases.

    That’s why State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) passed Senate Bill 3201 on Monday, giving parents added recourse to protect their children and their data.

    The measure requires schools to notify the parent of a student within 48 hours after discovery of a breach of security that results in the unauthorized release, disclosure or acquisition of information from a student record.

  • hastings 011017TINLEY PARK – Citing his zero tolerance for sexual harassment, one Illinois State Senator is calling on Governor Rauner to sign legislation passed by the General Assembly during the Fall Veto Session.

    State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) says the tools needed to address the decades old problem are awaiting the governor’s signature.

    “It is time for Springfield to start addressing this issue which has been festering under the statehouse dome for too long,” Hastings said. “I implore the governor to sign the legislation we sent him so our new Inspector General can get to work.”

  • hastings 052617TINLEY PARK- During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, State Senator Michael E. Hastings reminds residents that domestic violence is a daily issue that affects many Illinoisans. 

    “As a state, it is our duty to condemn domestic violence in any form and continue our charge to support a safe living and work environment for all Illinois residents,” Hastings said. “Confronting an attacker is hard process for survivors of domestic violence. When someone is ready to take this step of bravery there are is a new measure in place to help provide them with justice.”  

    Hastings championed a measure to help protect victims of domestic violence in Illinois during the legislative session.

    The new law will improve the processing and review of sexual assault evidence by requiring the Illinois State Police to implement a new statewide sexual assault evidence kit tracking procedure. It also   creates the Sexual Assault Evidence and Reporting Commission to research and develop best practices to establish a statewide plan to track and report sexual assault evidence.

    “The justice system was created to give our citizens the opportunity to confront their abusers and for the innocent to be absolved of faulty accusations,” Hastings said. “This new law will ensure survivors of sexual assault are equipped with the right evidence to receive their fair day in court.”

    Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault reports that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. Illinois became the first state in the nation to a enact rape kit reform law in 2010. Hastings believes this new law is the next step in ensuring transparency and ending the backlog of untested evidence.

    “Transparency is key to ensure rape kits are tested responsibly and in a timely manner,” Hastings said. “Our hope is this new process will implement a system that stresses accuracy and accountably to give survivors of sexual assault some peace of mind.”

    House Bill 528 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The new law is now in effect.

  • hastings 110817SPRINGFIELD– Figures reported by U.S. Public Interest Research Groups found the federal government lost over $150 billion in revenue in 2013 due to offshore corporate tax havens. 

    State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) championed the override of the governor’s veto of House Bill 3419 to level the playing field among businesses that compete for state contracts and investments.

  • hastings 011017TINLEY PARK- Illinois residents’ cybersecurity could soon be at risk due to the Trump administration’s push to kill privacy regulations passed by the Federal Communication Commission last fall.

    The resolution passed the U.S. Senate 50 to 48 with a mostly partisan vote to end regulations that would require Internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to give explicit consent before sharing consumers’ web-browsing data and personal information with advertisers and other-third party companies. 

    Senator Michael E. Hastings is outraged at the Trump administration’s blatant attempt to disregard Illinois residents’ cybersecurity.

    “Trump’s administration just picked the interests of Internet service providers over the rights of our citizens,” Hastings said. “The way we use the Internet has evolved. We pay bills, buy groceries and receive our news online. Area residents should be able to pay their bills online without worrying a stranger has access to their personal data and records.” 

    Advocates from the ACLU, Public Knowledge and Free Press have criticized this move as a violation of free speech.

    Hastings is working at the state level to update Internet safety laws. His initiative, Senate Bill 1502, would require commercial websites that collect personal information to notify customers of the information they have collected as well as any third parties with whom they may have disclosed personal information with.

    “The need for state-level cybersecurity regulations is more important than ever,” Hastings said. “As the federal government continues their mission to erode the rights and privacy of our citizens, I will do whatever I can do in Illinois to protect residents’ privacy and security.”

    Senate Bill 1502 passed the Senate’s Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. Hastings hopes this measure will pass the full Senate within the next month.

  • Sen. Michael E. HastingsTINLEY PARK- A major barrier to prosecute rape and sexual assault cases against children is the short period of time survivors have to confront their attackers.

    State Senator Michael E. Hastings’ legislation, Senate Bill 189 that gives survivors of sexual abuse the ability to confront their attackers, was signed into law today.

    “At times, survivors of abuse need time to discover the courage to address these horrific and awful crimes.” Hastings said. “This new law will put in place the best practices for dealing with sexual assault cases statewide and puts a system in place that will encourage survivors to come forward and receive justice when they are ready to do so.”

  • hastings 021717SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) advanced a measure to expand veterans’ property tax exemptions to all qualifying surviving military spouses.

    “Military spouses have already made the ultimate sacrifice,” Hastings said. “This property tax exemption was meant to honor the families of our fallen heroes. Military families shouldn’t miss out due to a legislative technicality.”

    Currently the Disabled Veterans Standard Homestead Exemption only applies to surviving spouses whose veteran obtained an exemption prior their death or a veteran killed in the line of duty prior to 2015.

    SB 82 extends the Disabled Veterans Standard Homestead Exemption to all surviving spouses of qualifying disabled veterans or veterans killed in the line of duty.

    “This change will help restore this legislation to its original intention: to honor the sacrifices made by military spouses and families,” Hastings said.

    Senate Bill 87 passed the Senate’s Committee on Veteran Affairs with bipartisan support.

  • hastings 041216SPRINGFIELD—Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) passed legislation that would protect private information of K-12 students throughout Illinois.

    Senate Bill 229 would establish the Student Online Personal Protection Act. The legislation would prohibit the operator of a website or online service from using student data for anything that is not furthering the mission of the K-12 institution.

    “Student data that was entrusted with companies should not be abused,” Hastings said. “Companies should not be using information they received for educational purposes to then try and make money off the students or their parents.”

    Any violation of the legislation would constitute an unlawful practice for which the attorney general may take appropriate action under consumer fraud laws.

    The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration.

  • hastings 011017SPRINGFIELD- Illinois veterans and active duty military personnel may soon have additional guidance while searching for veteran resources at Illinois higher education institutions.

    State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) advanced Senate Bill 705 to require all state universities and colleges to post a veteran services guidebook on their websites.

    “It’s crucial for our returning heroes to be able to find available veterans resources with a click of the mouse,” Hastings said.  “This guide will serve as a tremendous resource as Illinois veterans and military personnel make important educational decisions.”

    Under this initiative, each public institution that serves more than 1,000 students is required to employ a Coordinator of Veterans and Military Personnel Student Services on each campus.

    Hastings believes the coordinator will serve as a centralized source for information on benefit programs and any available services for student veterans and military personnel.

    “We need a one-stop shop for all available veterans’ resources ,” Hastings said. “This guide will help serve that purpose and move the state toward centralizing veterans services to guarantee state and local military programs are readily available.”

    Senate Bill 705 passed the Senate’s Committee on Veterans Affairs with bipartisan support and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

  • hastings 050417SPRINGFIELD— State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) worked today to investigate the cybersecurity breach at the Illinois State Board of Elections.

    During the 2016 election year, 70,000 to 80,000 names from the State Board of Elections voter registration system were compromised.

    Hastings convened the Illinois Senate Subcommittee on Cybersecurity to receive a full report on the cybersecurity breach that the Illinois State Board of Elections experienced during the 2016 election year to ensure Illinois residents that protections are in place to protect their personal data and resolve unanswered questions.

    “Our elections are a sacred component of our nation’s democracy,” Hastings said. “I cannot stand up as foreign agents meddle in Illinois and U.S. elections. I do not care what political party the people of Illinois pick to represent them, but I do want outcome of our elections to be accurate.” 

    The Illinois State Board of Elections reported that seven IP addresses were linked back to the Netherlands. Two servers were reported to have participated in the attack, “Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear”, which are the two largest hacking groups rumored to be tied to the Russian federal security systems run by King Servers, which is stationed in Russia.

    Hastings reiterated that the hacking of voter registration data in Illinois was similar to security breaches at the national level and in France and Denmark.

    A key finding from the hearing, found as local election authorities synced and update data with the Illinois State Board of Elections, was that the local election authorities databases could possibly become compromised as well.

    Hastings is calling for the Illinois State Board of Elections to aid local election authorities to scrape their system of potential malware software to remove any type of security weakness. His office will be sending out a letter to every local election authority urging them to scrape election databases to prevent possible hackers and intrusive software that may be hiding within their systems.

    “I am extremely concerned that our local and state election authorities may have hackers hiding within our databases phishing for future attacks,” Hastings said. “Our democracy is important. It is important enough that I put my life on the line for our nation, as many others have. I will not rest until we take every precaution to ensure similar attacks on our liberties and righteous values do not happen again.”

    Hastings commended the representatives from the Illinois State Board of Elections for their forthright and honest answers.

    To hear the entire press conference please visit this link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/da29lmzd1kj9g7l/05-04-2017%20Sen.%20Hastings%20Press%20Conference.mp4?dl=0

  • hastings 011017TINLEY PARK – Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) released the following statement in response to the Attorney General’s request to terminate the injunction in place to allow state workers to be paid in absence of a budget:

    “The political games need to stop. If Governor Rauner actually cared about protecting our state employees and making Illinois kind or compassionate, we wouldn’t be starting year three without a budget in place. It’s time to lead, not hide behind the latest empty promise.”

  • hastings 011017SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) spent the week asking Illinois agencies to address Governor Bruce Rauner’s nearly $5 billion budget deficit.

    The $5 billion budget deficit would in turn mean a 20 percent budget cut across the board for Illinois agencies and programs.

    Hastings, chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Law, brought in agency directors from the Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Corrections to directly ask them where the 20 percent state agency cuts would come from.

    Illinois Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin did not appear in front of the committee or notify the committee of any scheduling conflicts.

    “The director of the Illinois Department of Corrections did not bother to notify the committee of his absence,” Hastings said. “It is offensive for directors to not come to Senate committees unprepared to answer questions. However, it is unimaginable for a director to not even bother to show up to committee. Come to work, do your job and explain the budget.”

    The Illinois State Police (ISP) is hoping for additional state funding to meet public safety needs. ISP needs to train additional cadets to fill workforce needs and keep Illinois safe.

    Governor Rauner did not seem to consult with the ISP while developing his proposed budget.

    “There is a void in leadership,” Hastings said. “The governor needs to lead our state forward, not obstruct progress. We are going on year three without a budget. We know our people are hurting. Governor, you need to step up and do your job.”

    ISP and IDOC did not list any potential budget cuts to meet the governor’s nearly $5 billion deficit.

    Hastings is looking forward to meeting with the Director Baldwin during Senate appropriations hearings.