Manar

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  • 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:

  • manar 052517SPRINGFIELD – After lecturing a panel of lawmakers Thursday about why the cash-strapped state of Illinois should lease rather than buy property, a senior Rauner administration official revealed that plans are underway for the state to purchase another building in Springfield.

    The revelation came as Senate Democrats attempted to get to the bottom of who and what prompted a series of expensive lease deals inked by the Rauner administration for warehouses in Springfield. Meanwhile, the Illinois Senate this week approved $3 billion in cuts to government spending to help balance the state’s budget and break the two-year budget stalemate.

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  • manar 051917SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar is urging Illinois school superintendents to be aware that misleading figures are being peddled about Senate Bill 1, the school funding plan that passed in the Illinois Senate this week.

    Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office this afternoon acknowledged the figures are inaccurate and outdated but stopped short of denouncing them.

    “This appears to be a textbook example of fake news. I am disturbed as to how and why this information was put out there and framed as official information from the Rauner administration, clearly with the intent of confusing and misleading people about Senate Bill 1,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat.

    “Senate Democrats have asked the executive inspector general to look into that, but right now I want to make sure school superintendents are aware that outdated information is fraudulently being passed off as up-to-date news about Senate Bill 1.

    “Furthermore, I hope Gov. Rauner and Education Secretary Beth Purvis will follow our lead and alert school officials about this misleading information to set the record straight. Anything less makes them complicit in a concerted effort to jeopardize Illinois’ shot at achieving meaningful school funding reform.”

  • manar fix 051717SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), a widely respected advocate for fair school funding in Illinois, issued the following statement regarding criticism leveled by the Rauner administration today immediately following the Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 1, a school funding reform measure sponsored by Manar:

    “The Rauner administration and Republicans want to behave like this is a vexing new problem that Illinois has never tried to tackle before. The truth is this is a more than 20-year-old problem that we have studied to death, repeatedly debated and willfully ignored.

  • manar 042617SPRINGFIELD – Thanks to a proposal State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) passed through the Illinois Senate this week, Illinois residents will be less likely to find themselves living in a new library taxing district without their consent.

    Manar’s proposal, Senate Bill 864, was approved 55-0 Wednesday in the Senate.

    “Taxation without representation was one of the principals our founding fathers fought against,” Manar said. “Libraries are important assets to our communities, but property taxpayers deserve to have a say on their property tax bill.”

    The measure was prompted by a municipal library in Macoupin County that converted to a public library district. The new public library taxing district included three additional communities that had not been included in the former taxing district.

    Similar situations are happening across the state. Because of ambiguous phrasing of current state law, residents in those communities did not have a direct say in whether they wished to be included in the taxing district for a library potentially many miles from their home.

    Senate Bill 864 bars a public library from converting to a library district that includes areas not previously taxed before the conversion without direct approval of local governments. It will close two loopholes currently in the law that allow municipal library to become a library district without the consent of municipalities and areas that would be included and taxes in the new district.

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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.”

  • dwight 050417SPRINGFIELD – During testimony before a Senate budget committee this week, the acting director of the Illinois Department of Corrections said he didn’t know why the former state women’s prison in Dwight had become unfit to serve as a warehouse for state paperwork. He told members of the committee that he would look into it and get back to them.

    The Rauner administration recently moved the paperwork out of Dwight to a former furniture store in Springfield. The deal cost taxpayers $2.4 million.

    Today, through news reports, the prison agency explained that the Illinois Department of Central Management Services is now responsible for the Dwight property.

  • conors law 050217SPRINGFIELD – Conor Vesper was a happy child, a joy to raise, a compassionate friend to all, an animal lover, valedictorian of his high school class, a college biology major on a full-ride scholarship and a young man with a bright future, his mother recalled through tears Tuesday.

    “We were blessed and honored to be a part of Conor’s life,” Alice Vesper said, addressing a panel of state senators with her husband, Jack, at her side and surrounded by photographs of their son taken at the family’s home in Staunton.

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  • manar nursesSPRINGFIELD – Prison nurses in communities around the state will get at least a temporary reprieve from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan to privatize their jobs, thanks to attention brought to their plight by two central Illinois senators.

    “This whiplash approach to governing is giving a lot of people a headache,” said Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “It’s never too late to do the right thing, but this entire situation, all the turmoil and stress for these workers and their families could have been – and should have been – avoided if the Rauner administration simply did a better job at running the state.”

  • manar 042617SPRINGFIELD – A controversial plan before Congress that would permit companies to fine workers who refuse to share their genetic information through workplace wellness programs has prompted Illinois lawmakers to tighten up a state law protecting workers from such repercussions.

    “We’re seeing changes proposed at the federal level that are concerning to me and to others,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and sponsor of Senate Bill 318. “The goal here is only to protect the genetic information of individuals when that information might be used against them in the employee-employer relationship.”

    The legislation advanced out of the Senate Labor Committee Wednesday. It was prompted by news that Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, in March proposed the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act (HR1313).

    Supporters said the measure would enable employers to have the “legal certainty” to promote good health while lowering health care costs. However, critics said it would allow employers to pressure workers to share their private genetic information by rewarding them with lower health insurance costs, while penalizing those who choose not to disclose such details.

    The Winston-Salem Journal, Foxx’s hometown newspaper, called the measure an example of “big government run amok,” in an editorial urging Congress to kill it.

    Under Illinois’ Genetic Information Privacy Act, employers must handle genetic testing consistent with the federal laws. It prevents employers from requiring genetic testing as a condition of employment, from changing terms of employment as a result of genetic information, or from classifying employees based on genetic testing. Further, it says testing done in the context of a workplace wellness program is available to employers only in aggregate form, not on an individual basis.

    Manar’s proposed update to the law would bar employers from penalizing workers who choose not to disclose their genetic information or do not participate in a program that requires disclosure of their genetic information.

    “I think we have a strong law in Illinois, but I don’t think it’s very strong about barring employers from penalizing employees,” he said.

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  • icash walletSenators Laura Murphy, Des Plaines, and Andy Manar, Bunker Hill, are working with Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs to return thousands of dollars in unclaimed property to constituents through the treasurer’s I-Cash program.

    By law, the state treasurer must safeguard unclaimed property until its rightful owner can be found. Currently, the Treasurer’s Office is holding approximately $2.7 billion in recovered cash and working with legislators to find its rightful owners.

    “In my district, I have been able to unite people with lost money: $40,000, $316,000, $356,000 in three instances alone,” Murphy said.

    As part of the I-Cash program, the Treasurer’s Office attempts to contact people who are owed unclaimed money and property. Frerichs said that it sounds odd, but giving people their money back is difficult because many people assume that the calls from the Treasurer’s Office are fraudulent. The treasurer works with Senators because they know their districts and are better equipped to contact individuals and businesses that are owed unclaimed property.

  • Senator Andy ManarSPRINGFIELD – Bipartisan legislation that would allow 124 Illinois prison nurses to breathe a sigh of relief about their future landed on the governor’s desk today, and two central Illinois senators who sponsored the measure are urging him to rethink his position on privatizing prison jobs.

    “There is no evidence that outsourcing these jobs, as Gov. Rauner proposed, will save money. You can’t just look at one side of the ledger and claim you’re driving a bargain for taxpayers,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a sponsor of Senate Bill 19, which would protect the jobs of 322 state employees who work for the Illinois Department of Corrections as nurses, medical technicians and mental health professionals.

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  • manar nursesSPRINGFIELD – The jobs of 124 state prison nurses at risk of being outsourced by the Rauner administration would be protected under a bipartisan plan that was approved by the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

    Senate Bill 19 would halt further privatization of health care and mental health services by the Illinois Department of Corrections. The legislation was approved 40-15.

    Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed laying off 124 unionized nurses employed by the Illinois Department of Corrections at 12 prisons around the state and outsourcing their positions with Wexford Health Sources, a Pennsylvania company that provides health care services nationwide.

  • manar inaSPRINGFIELD – Too many questions exist about Wexford Health Sources’ oversight of health care in Illinois prisons, which is reason enough for Gov. Bruce Rauner to cease efforts to outsource prison nurses to the Pennsylvania corporation, Senator Andy Manar said Tuesday.

    Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, is co-sponsoring a bipartisan plan to stop the governor from outsourcing additional medical and mental health service jobs from state prisons. Senator Sam McCann (R-Plainview) also is a co-sponsor of the plan.

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