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  • Automatic voter registration initiative becomes law (VIDEO)

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  • Budget cuts force Lake County domestic violence center to cut services

    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 and Yingling urge Rauner to declare a state of emergency for Lake County

    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 calls for compromise on budget legislation

    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 calls for support for new K-12 funding plan

    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.

  • Bush co-chairs first meeting of Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment

    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 fights for better drug treatment

    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 measure to reduce opioid abuse, prevent doctor shopping passes legislature

    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.”

  • Bush measure would provide tax relief to Lake County flood victims

    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 moves to prevent pay increase for legislators

    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 moves to reduce opioid abuse, prevent doctor shopping

    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 pushes for more police training on domestic violence

    “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 seeks to expose gender-based discrimination in pricing for services

    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.

  • Bush statement on override of Heroin Crisis Act veto

    bush narcan cmteGRAYSLAKE — State Sen. Melinda Bush issued the following statement as members of the Illinois House voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of House Bill 1, the Heroin Crisis Act, on Wednesday.

    “Citizens have demanded we address this public health crisis,” Bush said. “This comprehensive plan to reduce addiction and death must not be delayed further. I will cast my ‘Yes’ vote to override this veto and make this the law of the land, and I urge all my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”

    Among other provisions in the proposal is a section referred to as “Lali’s Law,” which would expand access to heroin overdose antidotes at local pharmacies. The law is so named for Alex “Lali” Laliberte, whose sister Chelsea formed the anti-heroin organization Live4Lali after her brother’s death by heroin overdose in 2008.

    Live4Lali has been promoting the wider distribution and awareness of Narcan, an antidote that immediately halts the lethal chemical effects of a narcotics overdose with no adverse side effects and can be used safely with minimal training. Law enforcement officers in Lake County carry the small kits and have already reported several deaths averted by their use over the past year.

    The legislation is House Bill 1. It proceeds to the Senate, where it requires a three-fifths supermajority vote to override the governor’s veto.

  • Bush supports fair school funding, property tax relief for Lake County school districts

    bush 022817SPRINGFIELD – Lake County school districts, some of which have been shortchanged for decades under Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation education funding formula, will see a significant influx of funding under a landmark school funding reform measure that passed in Springfield last week.

    “All children should have access to a quality education regardless of their zip code,” said Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake). “With Senate Bill 1, we created a more equitable school funding formula to aid school districts desperately in need of additional dollars, while ensuring that at a minimum we guaranteed current funding levels for every school district.”

    Senate Bill 1 has strong support from thousands of school administrators, superintendents, principals, educators, taxpayers and advocates for fair school funding. Illinois’ school funding formula has not been updated in more than 20 years and is considered one of the worst in the nation because it relies so heavily on local property wealth.

    “Senate Bill 1 not only ensures schools will be funded more equitably, it also provides property tax relief for high tax school districts,” Bush said. “Lake County has some of the highest property taxes in the country. I urge Governor Rauner to provide property tax relief for Lake County residents by signing Senate Bill 1 into law.”

    Funding Illinois’ Future – a coalition that advocates for school funding reform – released an analysis of Illinois State Board of Education figures last week. The analysis showed potential funding increases for local school districts under Senate Bill 1, an evidence-based model that accounts for factors such as students with disabilities, English language learners and low-income students.

    It also provides extra support for the neediest districts in the quest for adequate funding, and it offers property tax relief.

    Again, no school district would receive less funding under Senate Bill 1 than they have received under Illinois’ current school funding formula.

    The estimated overall gain some area school districts would experience under the Funding Illinois’ Future analysis of SB1 based on FY17 funding levels:

    • Round Lake Area School District 116 – $5.52 million
    • Zion-Benton Township High School District 126 – $1.95 million
    • Zion Elementary School District 6 – $1.62 million
    • Beach Park Community Consolidated School District 3 – $645,463
    • Grayslake Community Consolidated School District 46 – $353,068
    • Grayslake Community High School District 127 – $307,304
    • Warren Township High School District 121 – $282,621
    • Big Hollow School District 38 – $230,977
    • Wauconda Community Unit School District 118 – $215,152
    • Woodland Community Consolidated School District 50 – $192,036
    • Antioch Community Consolidated School District 34 – $90,190
    • Gavin School District 37 – $62,538
    • Millburn Community Consolidated School District 24 – $40,925
    • Winthrop Harbor School District 1 – $22,473

    In addition, under Senate Bill 1, those that live in the school districts with the highest property taxes would be eligible for property tax relief up to 1 percent of their EAV. The following districts are projected to qualify for property tax relief:

    • Grayslake Community Consolidated School District 46 – $3.96 million
    • Round Lake Area School District 116 – $3.61 million
    • Grayslake Community High School District 127 – $2.71 million
    • Beach Park Community Consolidated School District 3 – $2.27 million
    • Zion-Benton Township High School District 126 – $1.82 million
    • Zion Elementary School District 6 – $1.05 million
    • Wauconda Community Unit School District – $109,162

    These estimates are based on the funding levels proposed by the Illinois House of Representatives. As a result, these numbers may be higher than what the school districts will receive. To review the Funding Illinois’ Future analysis, visit fundingilfuture.org.

  • Bush supports funding for road maintenance, city government

    bush 120715Authorization passes Senate, will head to governor

    SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Melinda Bush issued the following statement after voting Yes today on an authorization that will release winter road maintenance funds, gaming revenue and higher education funding to local governments and public universities.

    The vast majority of funding in question is either federal pass-through dollars or the local shares of motor fuel and gaming taxes to which municipalities are already entitled.

    “After months of calling for budget compromise between legislative leaders, it’s about time we see progress being made,” Bush said.  “Today, we were able to ensure that funds that rightly belong in our universities and local governments are put to use. As lawmakers and as taxpayers, we must accept nothing less.”

    Besides releasing motor fuel taxes that help local governments buy road salt and authorizing federal money for state community colleges, the funds would, among other things:
    •    reimburse lottery winners who have gone unpaid.
    •    ensure Driver Services Facilities continue operation.
    •    provide the Attorney General’s Office with funding for victim advocacy and support for domestic violence survivors, among other programs.
    •    fund domestic violence shelters, 911 services, breast cancer research and veterans’ homes throughout the state.

    Senate Bill 2039 passed the Senate 53-0 after it passed the House with near-unanimous support last week. It awaits Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature to take effect.

  • Bush supports release of federal spending

    bush fedfundsCritical federal programs will continue after General Assembly vote Tuesday

    SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Melinda Bush issued the following statement Tuesday after a measure to release federal funds passed the Illinois Senate 57-0.

    “These funds include important programs that help veterans, mothers, seniors and so many others we have a duty to protect,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “I’m glad to see the Senate come together in a decisive move to release these federal funds, and I look to our colleagues in the House and to Governor Rauner to swiftly do the same.”

    Included in the federal funds dollars for homeless veterans and women’s health services like breast and cervical cancer screening, among a wide variety of others.

    Without its passage, the federal dollars in Senate Bill 2042 would not be available for use in the absence of a state budget. The legislation proceeds to the Illinois House for consideration, where it must pass and then be signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner to take effect.

  • Bush urges governor to eliminate “pink tax”

    bush interviewSPRINGFIELD — The Illinois General Assembly approved State Sen. Melinda Bush’s plan to repeal sales taxes on feminine hygiene products like tampons and menstrual cups Tuesday.

    “I’m glad to see this plan pass with such clear and overwhelming support. And I’m also glad we’re having conversations now about the unfair ‘pink taxes’ women face as they buy products priced higher than similar ones marketed to men, or in this case, as they have to spend on products that men don’t,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “I’d like to urge the governor to sign this into law and recognize these products as what they are: Unavoidable necessities for women.”

  • Bush urges Rauner to sign legislative pay freeze to avoid higher special session costs

    wagefreezeSPRINGFIELD – Special session could cost taxpayers more money if the governor fails to sign legislation to freeze reimbursements.

    “There’s a bill sitting on the governor’s desk that would freeze pay rates and reimbursements for legislators. It’s been on his desk since June 29,” said Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), sponsor of the legislation. “The governor’s special sessions are needlessly expensive, costing taxpayers upwards of $48,000 each day. If the governor doesn’t sign this bill, the special sessions he’s demanding become even more expensive.”

  • Bush, Cullerton honored for protecting mental health funding

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    SPRINGFIELD – The Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois (ACMHAI) presented awards to Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) for their efforts to protect mental health funding.

    Bush and Cullerton advanced legislation last year to push for greater local government consolidation.

    During negotiations, they learned that local health boards could be caught in the crossfire of potential government consolidation plans.

    They worked diligently to ensure local mental health dollars were protected by removing Community Mental Health Authorities from potentially disastrous effects.

    TC awd 040417

    Last year as the sponsor of House Bill 229, Bush worked to ensure funding for mental health and developmentally disabled are protected.

    “Consolidating local governments is good for Illinois. It saves taxpayer dollars and reduces government bureaucracy,” Bush said. “But I refused to allow potential cuts to mental health funding in return. We must always protect our most vulnerable residents, and ensuring local mental health providers are fully funded is a key part of doing so.”

    Cullerton, chief architect of the government consolidation model used in House Bill 4501, worked with ACMHAI to make sure DuPage County’s vulnerable populations were protected from unintentional consequences.  

    “The purpose of government consolidation is to streamline processes to make sure government is working in step with the needs of the people,” Cullerton said. “Government should be efficient and effective. But when we eliminate services for our most vulnerable residents, our efforts become counterproductive. I simply cannot stand for that.”  

    ACMHAI plans to continue working with Bush and Cullerton to advocate for state mental health funding.

    "Senators Bush and Cullerton have shown great leadership in their commitment to protect the $75 million in local mental health grant funding resources generated in local counties, townships and municipalities throughout the state of Illinois,” Debbie Humphrey, ACMHAI President said. “At a time when demand for mental health and substance abuse services is dramatically increasing while funding sources are shrinking, these valuable local funds serve as an important lifeline to those seeking access to treatment."