Manar

  • manar 031418Plan is influenced by input from teachers in 48th Senate District

    SPRINGFIELD – Rural and downstate school districts will have more tools to help overcome the challenges of a statewide teacher shortage under a new law that is based on input from central Illinois educators.

    The plan, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, was signed into law today. It is influenced by suggestions from teachers in and near Macoupin and Montgomery counties who met with Manar in the fall to discuss the problem and possible solutions.

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  • manar rrsign 061418PANA – As the community of Pana today marks one year since the loss of five family members in a collision with a freight train, State Senator Andy Manar is reminding drivers and pedestrians about the dangers of rural railroad crossings.

    “Today, we’ll pause to remember five respected citizens who are missed terribly by their loved ones and friends,” Manar said. “We owe it to them and their families to do everything in our power to protect people around train tracks and ensure rail crossings are unobstructed and well maintained.”

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  • manar 052818SPRINGFIELD – Access to water and electricity, fair utility rates, decent cell phone and cable service, and safe railroad grades are all issues that are vitally important to rural Illinois consumers.

    Yet no rural or downstate residents today sit on the Illinois Commerce Commission, the powerful five-member state panel that regulates utilities, approves utility rates, licenses trucking and towing companies and oversees railroad safety and crossing improvements.

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  • manar 051718Bipartisan support for gradual update of Illinois’ minimum teacher salary after 38 years

    SPRINGFIELD – An effort to update Illinois’ minimum mandated salary for teachers – one that could attract more young people to the profession by sending a message that their work is valued – was approved by the Illinois Senate Thursday.

    Illinois has not updated its minimum mandated salary for teachers since 1980. For 38 years, state statute has required Illinois school districts to pay teachers a minimum salary of about $10,000. Based on decades of inflation, the minimum mandated salary should be about $32,000.

  • manar tc 051618SPRINGFIELD – Audit results released today regarding the Rauner administration’s pricey lease of a Springfield warehouse for paper storage confirms what some lawmakers have known all along: that the deal doesn’t pass the smell test.

    State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee, said he is troubled by the audit report.

    “At various points in the process, people chose to ignore rules, guidelines and best practices that are there to eliminate questions about backroom deals and political favors,” Manar said. “This was an unnecessary cost to taxpayers, and it seems to me the problems uncovered by this audit merit further scrutiny.”

  • STAUNTON—State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, the jbt 050818chairwoman of the Illinois Senate Education Committee, continued her statewide “Chalk Talk” tour of schools on Monday at Staunton Community Unit School District 6.

    Bertino-Tarrant and local State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) met with members of the District Improvement Team to discuss the teacher shortage faced by many schools in the area.

  • 0508 TeacherDayThis week is Teacher Appreciation Week, but Senate Democrats are working on behalf of public school teachers year-round to provide the resources and opportunities they need to educate our children.

    Last year, after nearly four years that included hundreds of hours of testimony from parents, teachers and students and dozens of bipartisan meetings, an unprecedented overhaul of how Illinois funds public schools was signed into law. State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) was the sponsor of the proposal, Senate Bill 1947, in the Senate.

  • Sen. Andy Manar

    SPRINGFIELD – Bruce Rauner can make a lasting, positive mark on Illinois government by outlawing the practice of concealing governor’s office salaries within state agency budgets, a practice known as “offshoring,” State Senator Andy Manar said today.

    The Illinois Senate today approved the Truth in Hiring Act with bipartisan support. The accountability and transparency measure, sponsored by Manar in the Senate, will be sent to the governor’s desk.

    “Offshoring didn’t start under this governor’s watch, but certainly he can be the governor who puts a stop to it,” Manar said.

  • manar 050118BUNKER HILL – A three-hour drug takeback event in Macoupin and Montgomery counties Saturday morning resulted in hundreds of pounds of old and unused medications being removed from homes and taken to local pharmacies for proper disposal.

    Participating pharmacies reported collecting 50 pounds or more of unwanted medications each, including dozens of bottles containing the kinds of controlled substances that fuel opioid addiction.

    State Senator Andy Manar expressed gratitude to everyone who participated – particularly the citizens who dropped off medications and the pharmacists who made their stores available as collection sites.

    “We put out the call for people to help us fight opioid abuse locally, and the response was incredible,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said. “I think people are grateful when an opportunity like drug takeback day comes along each year because it’s a useful reminder and a simple way to help the community and the environment.”

    Twelve independent pharmacy locations in towns throughout Macoupin and Montgomery counties served as collection sites for unwanted human and pet medications Saturday. Some of the results:

    • Michelle’s Pharmacy in Bunker Hill, Carlinville and Gillespie reported 150 pounds of medications returned at its three locations, including 84 bottles of controlled substances and more than $8,400 in mail-order pharmaceutical waste.
    • Sullivan’s Drugstore locations in Hillsboro, Litchfield and Raymond nearly filled a 30-gallon garbage can with pills after they were removed from the bottles.
    • Sav-Mor Pharmacy sites in Nokomis and Virden each collected more than 50 pounds of unwanted pharmaceuticals.
    • Sullivan’s Drugstore in Carlinville saw the return of numerous unwanted controlled substances, including hydrocodone, an addictive opioid pain medication.
    • Drop-offs were swift at Sullivan’s Drugstore in Staunton but less so than during last year’s takeback event, which was interpreted as a positive sign that people have been disposing of their medications.

    “The success of this event is a testament to the power of government, businesses, citizens and nonprofit groups coming together to achieve a common community objective,” Manar said. “By working together, we can help break the cycle of opioid addiction.”

    Saturday’s drug takeback was organized by Manar’s office with the assistance of county law enforcement authorities, public health officials, local independent pharmacies and others. This was the second year for the event, and plans are under way for next year’s takeback.

    Macoupin County sponsors included Sheriff Shawn Kahl, State’s Attorney Jennifer Watson, the Macoupin County Public Health Department and the Macoupin County Anti-Meth Coalition.

    Montgomery County sponsors included Sheriff Jim Vazzi, State’s Attorney Bryant Hitchings and the Reality Coalition.

    Many pharmacies and law enforcement offices offer permanent collection sites year round. Locally, they include the police departments in Litchfield, Hillsboro, Gillespie, Carlinville and Mount Olive, and the Macoupin and Montgomery sheriff’s departments. Customers also can check with local pharmacies for collection policies.

  • manar 042718Tuition waived for those who agree to teach in hard-to-staff schools

    SPRINGFIELD – College students who agree to teach science, math and vocational education in hard-to-staff schools could get a substantial break on the cost of their education under a plan introduced by State Senator Andy Manar.

    The proposal, which aims to get teachers into the pipeline and ease the statewide teacher shortage, received bipartisan support in the Senate Thursday and will move to the House for consideration.

    “We have every reason to incentivize our young people to attend Illinois universities, earn Illinois degrees, put down roots in Illinois towns, teach in Illinois schools and contribute to the Illinois economy,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said. “This is a bold plan, and done correctly, it can make a real difference for school districts in central and southern Illinois communities where the teacher shortage has been extremely difficult to overcome.”

    Senate Bill 3047 creates the Grow Your Own STEM and Vocational Education Teachers Act. Illinois public universities could waive tuition, fees and on-campus housing costs for students who agree to pursue bachelor’s or advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, math or agriculture and agree to teach related subjects in hard-to-staff Illinois schools.

    They then would teach such subjects as math, natural sciences, and career and vocational education, including agriculture, technology, industrial arts, trades, health care and information technology. These are all subject areas for which many schools have difficulty filling teaching vacancies.

    To take advantage of the offer, college students would have to maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and also would be required to reimburse the university if they fail to teach at least three years in a K-12 school or five years at a college or university.

    The legislation also creates the Create Your Own Dual Credit Teachers Program, which allows universities to waive tuition and fees for teachers who want to teach dual-credit courses in high school. Teachers must have a master’s degree and could pursue up to the maximum 18 graduate hours necessary to qualify to teach dual-credit courses. They would be required to teach at an Illinois high school at least five years and would have to fully reimburse the university if they breach the agreement.

    The initiatives would be subject to annual appropriation, and the state could cap the number of students who are able to take advantage of the programs based on the need for teachers in Illinois from year to year. The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and its Education Foundation, as well as various statewide education organizations, support the legislation.

    “Manufacturers applaud Senator Manar for helping address the skills gap that exists today in the workplace,” said Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “The Grow Your Own STEM Teachers Act will help ensure that we have the capacity in our schools to teach important vocational education.”

    Manar agreed.

    “We have to get more teachers into the pipeline and into classrooms,” Manar said. “With this plan, we can send a strong message that we’re willing to invest in our young people right here in Illinois, and we hope they’re willing to invest in us.”

  • Manar Litchfield TIFSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved extending the expiration date of a key economic development tool for the city of Litchfield.

    Senate Bill 424, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), would extend the life of the city’s tax increment financing district to 35 years from 23 years. The TIF was established June 2, 1998, and is set to expire at the end of 2021. The legislation would push the expiration to 2033.

    Manar presented the legislation to a Senate committee Wednesday, and he was joined by Litchfield officials including Mayor Steve Dougherty.

    “The city of Litchfield has what I would describe as an incredible number of positive economic development projects that are happening,” Manar said. “The certainty of this TIF is critical to many of the things the city is doing in an aggressive way for job creation for both Montgomery and Macoupin counties.”

    The committee approved the measure Wednesday, followed by the full Senate Thursday afternoon. It has been sent to the House for consideration.

    Pictured: State Senator Andy Manar (left) and Litchfield Mayor Steve Dougherty present legislation extending the expiration of Litchfield’s TIF district to the Senate Revenue Committee Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

  • manar 042618SPRINGFIELD – An effort to shed more light on the actual cost of educating Illinois public school students was approved by the state Senate Thursday.

    Senate Bill 3234, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), would require an annual state report on public schools to include each school district’s administrative costs.

    “Taxpayers deserve access to the most accurate information possible about how their money is used, and that includes the administration in public schools,” Manar said. “As we begin to implement the new school funding formula, it’s going to be more important than ever that everyone has the same information about the cost involved with providing an adequate education locally.”

    The Illinois State Report Card contains data about statewide and individual school districts’ student and workforce demographics, finance, curriculum. It includes such data as average class size; a breakdown of students’ racial and ethnic backgrounds; percentage of low-income, special education and limited English proficiency students; operating expenditures; per-pupil state pension contributions; and various calculations under the state’s new school funding formula.

    Districts’ administrative costs would be reported on a per-pupil basis under the measure.

    Senate Bill 3236 was approved by the Senate with no opposition and goes to the House for consideration.

  • manar 042518SPRINGFIELD – The severe shortage of substitute teachers available in rural and downstate school districts would ease under a measure that was approved by the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

    The plan, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), increases to 120 the number of days a retired teacher can return to the classroom as a substitute without affecting his or her retirement status. Currently, the limit is set at 100 days.

  • manar 041718Measure will help stabilize rural communities as consumer shopping habits evolve

    SPRINGFIELD – An effort to protect rural and downstate communities by ensuring distant online retailers are playing by the same rules as local brick-and-mortar retailers advanced out of the Senate Tuesday.

    The measure requires out-of-state retailers that do business with Illinois customers to collect a use tax under two conditions: their cumulative gross receipts exceed $100,000 or they have more than 200 separate transactions with customers in Illinois.

    State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is a chief cosponsor of the initiative, Senate Bill 2577. It passed the Senate 39-10 with bipartisan support.

    He represents central Illinois communities that have been hard hit by job losses and declining sales tax revenue for road and sewer projects as long-standing brick-and-mortar retailers have shuttered because of online competition and changing consumer habits.

    “Out-of-state corporations are gaming the system. It’s hurting the small and mid-size retailers our communities rely so deeply upon for goods, services, jobs and revenue,” Manar said. “Online shopping, while good and convenient for rural consumers, has contributed to a tidal wave of brick-and-mortar store closures, job losses and sales tax declines that have local mayors and county boards extremely concerned. I share their worries.”

    Federal law requires retailers with a physical storefront to collect the sales tax required by the jurisdiction where the business is located. If the retailer has a physical presence in a state, it must collect applicable state and local sales tax from customers, regardless of where the sales originates.

    However, if it does not have a presence in a particular state, it is not required to collect sales taxes.

    As consumer shopping habits shift online, local governments are finding their sales tax collections – money often used for local infrastructure improvements – on the decline or stagnant.

    Manar stressed that SB2577 is an effort to level the playing field, not a tax hike.

    “As the economy and consumer habits change, it’s vital that state government is vigilant and changes with them,” Manar said. “If we don’t try to rectify this imbalance, I don’t want to imagine what some of our rural communities will look like in a few years.”

  • manar 041318Clinic’s ability to address Decatur opioid crisis uncertain while state funding is withheld

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar is calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to release the $3 million in state money he promised to Decatur’s Crossing Healthcare during a splashy news conference in February.

    More than two months after the governor’s announcement, the Rauner administration has only approved $750,000 for the clinic.

    That’s unacceptable, said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat whose district includes Crossing Healthcare and much of Decatur.

    “Let’s revisit the governor’s track record with money for this clinic. He froze its funding immediately upon taking office in 2015. He blocked negotiations on the Senate’s ‘grand bargain’ budget last year and repeatedly vetoed budgets that would have provided the money the center was owed and desperately needed,” Manar said.

    “I have contacted the comptroller, and her office is prepared to release the full $3 million but can’t do that until Rauner submits the paperwork to do so. I would hate to think the governor could be so cruel as to dangle money in front of a clinic just so he could get in front of a TV camera.”

    Rauner previously froze a promised $3 million construction grant to the clinic for its Community Health Improvement Center.

    Crossing Healthcare is a federally qualified clinic that served more than 19,000 patients in Decatur in 2016. Among its many services is treatment for opioid addiction.

    “Gov. Rauner is going around claiming his administration is doing everything in its power to address the opioid problem. It’s baloney,” Manar said. “And, clearly, he’s not keeping his promises to Decatur.”

  • Sen. Andy ManarState’s oldest debt is outstanding wages for prison workers, caregivers and others

    SPRINGFIELD – An effort to compensate about 24,000 state workers for promised wages going back to 2011 took a step forward Thursday.

    A measure to set aside $63.25 million for the back pay was approved by a Senate appropriations committee. The legislation – Senate Bill 2269 sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) – was approved 14-2 with bipartisan support.

  • Manar 013118 sb444SPRINGFIELD – Legislation to set aside May 17 of each year to raise awareness of a rare and incurable form of childhood brain cancer was approved Wednesday by the Illinois Senate.

    The measure, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), was prompted by the advocacy efforts of Bunker Hill mother Kim Skief, whose 11-year-old daughter, Grace, died from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, in 2015.

    The Senate approved the measure, Senate Bill 2254, 56-0. It was sent to the House for consideration.

    “Grace’s story is a simple reminder that medical cures and care, sadly, are not guaranteed to all of us. That’s why I’m working with her mother to help raise awareness about this childhood cancer,” Manar said. “Although DIPG is rare, when it strikes it is painful, and unfortunately it is quick.”

    DIPG is an aggressive form of cancer that targets children almost exclusively – about 300 each year in the United States. It affects the part of the brain that controls the heartbeat, breathing, swallowing, sight and eye movement, and balance. It is in operable, and the survival rate is less than 1 percent.

    Grace Skief was a fifth-grader when she was diagnosed with DIPG in April 2015. She died three months later, on July 31, 2015.

    Twenty other states have set aside May 17 to raise awareness of this heart-breaking childhood cancer and the lack of a cure for it.

    Present in the Senate gallery during Wednesday’s vote were Kim Skief and her son, James, both of Bunker Hill; and Grace’s grandmother, Carol Robbins of Alton. Manar thanked them for their advocacy and their courage.

    “Any number of things could happen after tragedy strikes a family, as we often see when families visit us in the Senate,” he said. “At the lowest point the Skief family somehow mustered the strength and courage to move on and make something positive out of what undoubtedly is the most difficult situation anybody could go through.”

    For more information about DIPG, visit http://www.defeatdipg.org and http://www.cancer.gov.