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  • Black History Month 2017 - The Crisis in Black Education (VIDEO)

    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.

  • Cullerton, Hastings work to advance monumental veterans legislation

    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.

  • Cunningham, Hastings, Burke to scale Hancock Building stairs to fight lung cancer

    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.”

  • Documents on ed funding published by governor's political allies (VIDEO)

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  • Hastings applauds court decision to add PTSD for medical marijuana

    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 denounces Trump administration’s degradation of privacy rights to consumers online

    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.

  • Hastings ends statute of limitations for sexual assault cases on children

    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 expands scope of veterans’ property tax exemptions

    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 fights to protect student privacy rights

    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 helps centralize veterans’ resources

    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 investigates cybersecurity breach at State Board of Elections

    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 issues statement on Attorney General’s court injunction

    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 looks for answers to address governor’s $5 billion budget hole

    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.

  • Hastings modernizing child support laws

    HastingsIncomeSharesSPRINGFIELD – Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) sponsored legislation to modernize the state’s child support laws by requiring both parents’ income to be considered in determining child support.

    “Illinois has a lot of archaic laws. The child support laws on the books do not consider the modern family when determining the necessary child support for many families,” Hastings said.

    House Bill 3982 would update a portion of  Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act for the first time since 1984.

  • Hastings moves to override the governor

    hastings 053116SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate has reconvened for their fall session to consider legislation that the governor either outright vetoed or amended. One piece of legislation would give home health workers and personal assistants a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

    “These home health workers and personal assistants are doing extremely difficult and stressful work,” Hastings said. “This proposal will give them a much needed wage increase, the opportunity for health insurance and the mandatory training they need to provide quality care to their clients.”

  • Hastings outraged at Rauner’s use of misuse of government documents

    hastings 051917SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) is outraged at Governor Rauner’s administration for leaking false education funding numbers to one of his many political operations.

    Hastings is joining his colleagues in urging the Illinois Executive Inspector General to investigate the misuse of state resources. 

    “Governor Rauner is bringing Washington politics to Springfield,” Hastings said. “Governor Rauner has compromised his integrity, information and is hindering our children’s ability to succeed. All of Illinois’ children should receive a fair chance to receive a good education regardless of their financial or socioeconomic background.”

    The Illinois Senate passed Senate Bill 1, school funding reform, on Wednesday, May 17.

    During the Senate debate, Hastings was informed that the governor’s administration did not have finalized accurate funding levels for school districts.

    However, on Thursday night, one of the governor’s many political organizations starting contacting school districts throughout Illinois with false numbers to campaign against senators who voted in support of giving students across Illinois the opportunity to succeed.

    “This is not the first example of the governor’s misuse of state funds,” Hastings said. “Within the last two months we have unveiled a $2.4 million warehouse leasing deal to benefit his buddies and using state resources for political purposes. What is next?”

    Under Senate Bill 1, schools throughout the state would not see a decrease in funding. However, schools that are not at proper funding levels will receive an increase in state dollars to ensure children across Illinois are given the opportunity to receive a good education regardless of the zip code they live in.

    “This is a clear violation of state law,” Hastings said. “Entities that receive state dollars cannot use the Illinois taxpayers’ dollars to campaign. We need to find who is responsible for attempting to sabotage negotiations to move our state forward and give our children a better future.”

    Illinois Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Illinois Executive Inspector General asking for a formal investigation.

    “Governor Rauner, stop screwing around,” Hastings said. “The children of Illinois need you to stop campaigning and do your job. They cannot afford to wait.”

  • Hastings passes key government consolidation initiative

    hastings 011017SPRINGFIELD- To start consolidating the more than 7,000 outdated government entities, State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) passed Senate Bill 3.

    Senate Bill 3 allows counties to dissolve certain units of local government through a voter referendum.

    “The goal is to save money, reduce taxes and make sure government is working for the people,” Hastings said. “It’s important that we continue to explore different ways to make sure government is working for the citizens of Illinois.”

    Senate Bill 3 expands the ability of townships to consolidate and create greater efficiencies for taxpayers. The plan allows adjacent townships to merge, allows townships to take over the duties of smaller township road districts, removes the current cap on township size and allows voters to approve for the dissolution of townships that are coterminous with a municipality.

    “This is one small step we can take to reduce taxes without sacrificing the quality of government service,” Hastings said.

    The Illinois Senate has passed structural reforms in hopes the governor will compromise and pass a bipartisan budget that will be kind and compassionate toward the residents of the Southland. 

    Hastings hopes the passage of the structural reforms leads the governor back to the table for budget negotiations to pass a balanced budget.

  • Hastings passes plan to streamline training credit transfers for veterans

    hastings 050117SPRINGFIELD— One of the biggest challenges returning servicemen and women face are figuring out how military training credits transfer to college credit. 

    To tackle this hurdle, State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) passed Senate Bill 736 to direct Illinois higher education institutions to establish a policy for awarding academic course credit for military training.

    “Our nation’s heroes have on-the-job training,” Hastings said. “It’s my honor to work with higher education facilities and the state legislature to ensure returning veterans receive credit for the valuable skills they acquire during their time in the military.”

    After talking to many returning veterans, Hastings found the current system is imprecise. This creates a complicated and inaccurate process to translate military experience into college credits at Illinois’ universities and community colleges.

    There are a number of reasons for the confusion, the main reason being the descriptions for military training and college courses do not always match up perfectly. Also, military acronyms on transcripts may also mean different classes or curriculum based on each branch of service. 

    Often it becomes a matter of the higher education institutions willingness to research ways to find equivalent civilian academic courses. A standardized system will end confusion and create an easier transition for our military personnel.

    According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, over 773,000 veterans are now using their GI Bill benefits to go to college, spending a collective of $11 billion a year.

    “Repeating coursework promotes a slow and unnecessarily expensive educational process for veterans,” Hastings said. “Here in Illinois, we have workforce shortages for registered nurses, EMTs and other medical specialties. Who is better equipped than our returning servicemen and women to fill these job openings?”

    Hastings’ initiative will require community colleges and universities to submit their policies for awarding credit to the Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board for review before June 30, 2019, and before June 30 every other year afterwards. 

    “This entire process can be complex and discouraging,” Hastings said. “It’s our duty to create an easy transition for Illinois’ veterans into civilian life, not force them through overcomplicated bureaucracy.” 

    Hastings passed Senate Bill 736 with bipartisan support, and it now moves to the House for consideration.

  • Hastings seeks to honor first African American Army general

    Hastings generalSPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) advanced a resolution to honor General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. by designating a day in his honor.

    Senate Resolution 212 seeks to declare August 2, 2017 as General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. Day to honor his extraordinary legacy of service and dedication to our nation.

    “It is extremely important for us to take the time to honor the sacrifices and milestones General Davis Sr. accomplished during his service to our nation,” Hastings said. “In his 50 years of service in the U.S. Army, he became the first African American general in the United States with a promotion to brigadier general. This is a big deal and a small example of the path and progress he carved out for future generations to come.”

    General Davis Sr. entered Howard University in 1897. A year later he enlisted as a volunteer soldier in the 8th U.S. Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War.

    “General Davis sought out ways to help our country,” Hastings said. “During divided times, he looked for ways to reunite our troops. This is testament to his leadership and character.”

    General Davis was appointed to the Committee on Negro Troop Policies, where he helped solve racial problems within the military and was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for combating segregation in the armed forces.

    “I’m proud to represent a VFW named in his honor,” Hastings said. “My hope is everyone will take a second to read about his life. Let’s keep him in mind when we face adversity and work toward ending discrimination once and for all.”

    Hastings urges area residents to visit his website, www.SenatorHastings.com, to read General Davis’ full biography and resolution honoring his life and the legacy he left behind.

    SR 212 passed the Senate’s Committee on Veterans Affairs with bipartisan support and will move to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Hastings shares students' concern over cuts to universities

    hutch hastings govstateTINLEY PARK- As lawmakers returned to Springfield for Tuesday’s session, so did bus loads of college students. They came to the capital to discuss their concerns over the cuts to higher education that the governor has proposed. The dramatic cuts to state universities and MAP grants could cause tuition rates and class sizes to rise, as well as force colleges to cut staff and administrative positions.  

    State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) had the opportunity to speak with students from Governor’s State University, located near the 19th district.

    “Governor’s State is an incredible university that prides itself on offering affordable tuition. If these cuts are implemented that would severely limit their ability to continue offering it,” Hastings said. “Cutting funding to universities would absolutely devastate the higher education system in Illinois.”

    This year, Senator Hastings and his colleagues voted multiple times to fund Illinois universities and MAP grants, but all of these measures failed to be signed into law.