SPRINGFIELD – Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) took an important step toward preventing Illinoisans from lead contamination by passing a measure, signed Friday, that will prevent the resale and sale of properties with high lead levels.
Senate Bill 2300 aims to protect children from lead exposure, which research shows negatively impacts children in classrooms and is cited as one of the causes of violence and aggression among youth. Currently, it is legal to sell and resell contaminated properties without warning owners and tenants of the hazardous effects.
"Illinois cannot afford to wait for lead poisoning to become a statewide epidemic before it takes action," said Trotter, who serves as Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate. “Far too many families are affected with lead toxins in their homes and it is our job to protect them and their children.”
Majority Caucus Whip and member of the Senate's Public Health Committee Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) also sponsored the legislation.
"Children in every neighborhood should have access to clean water and lead free homes,” Hunter said. “Unfortunately, low-income and minority communities are disproportionately affected by the side effects of lead poisoning. Families are living in homes where properties still have lead pipes that can cause brain damage for residents.”
Another notable member supporting the bill in committee was State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago).
“We must learn our lesson from the tragedy of Flint, Michigan, and work quickly and proactively to guard our youth against this preventable poison,” Collins said. “This law will empower renters and homeowners to protect their families.”
Furthermore, the bill will prevent the lease, sale, or renewal of properties with high levels of lead in building materials and paint.
SPRINGFIELD– It sounds like a weapon used in a James Bond film: ice missiles. But they are real, deadly and the target of a legislative proposal from Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago) to prevent them and to penalize those who cause them. In spite of the statistics on the dangers ice missiles present to motorists, the Senate Transportation Committee did not approve the proposal.
An ice missile is a large chunk of ice or snow that flies off a large truck on the highway. Many Illinois drivers have seen this occur and may have wondered what could happen if the split-second fall of ice were to hit another vehicle.
Sen. Silverstein’s proposal in Senate Bill 634 would require a person operating a vehicle weighing more than 8,000 pounds to remove ice and snow that poses a safety threat to other vehicles and drivers. Nearly 100 deaths and thousands of accidents happen each year.
“Each year in Illinois, we are almost guaranteed several days of winter weather that create these hazardous conditions, enough to warrant a change to the state vehicle code to protect drivers from this risk,” Silverstein said. “I believe it is reasonable to ask truck drivers who use Illinois roads for commerce to make an effort to protect motorists by clearing ice and snow from their trucks. With this bill failing in committee, I fear this kind of accident may happen again.
The legislation met with strong opposition from the Illinois Trucking Association, Midwest Truckers, National Waste and Recycling Association and Illinois Coal Association.
Pete Morano joined Sen. Silverstein in Springfield to tell his story to the Senate Transportation Committee. His injuries from an ice missile incident in 2010 left him without vision in his left eye after three surgeries to rebuild his face. Pete wants to prevent other families from the losses his family and the Stutson family have suffered.
“I understand their concerns and appreciate their willingness to tell their stories and advocate for change to prevent future ice missile accidents,” Silverstein said. “I know of manufacturers and motor carriers that offer a variety of snow-removal systems, and I do not believe this would be a burden on the trucking industry.”
CHICAGO — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement on the dismissal of police superintendent Garry McCarthy and the City of Chicago’s appointment of a task force on police accountability:
Yesterday’s announcements represent a positive step out of a dark time in our city. While no individual is solely responsible for the crisis of public confidence that has converged on the murder of Laquan McDonald and the culture of inaction and obfuscation that hid it from public view for more than a year, Superintendent McCarthy’s departure is a necessary step. It sends a signal of seriousness. But just as replacing a head coach does not automatically correct deeper weaknesses within a team, new leadership will not necessarily bring about the systemic change desperately needed in Chicago’s law enforcement and criminal justice apparatus.
That’s why I’m encouraged by the appointment of a police accountability task force made up of individuals with the integrity and experience to move beyond platitudes to real reform.
The choice of Deval Patrick, who was raised on the South Side, headed the civil rights division of the Department of Justice and served two terms as governor of Massachusetts, to advise the task force is a wise one. I’m optimistic that he will bring to the endeavor outside eyes but also a deep love for this city.
Inspector General Joe Ferguson, former State Police director Hiram Grau, Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, University of Chicago law professor and former Cook County public defender Randolph Stone and former federal prosecutor Sergio Acosta will round out the group, lending valuable experience and insight to the critical task of restoring public trust in the police. To move that process forward, they must determine patterns and practices that need to be overhauled. And our city’s leadership must exercise the will to follow their counsel.
I also stand behind Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s decision to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to undertake a civil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department. Rep. Elgie Sims and I met with her yesterday prior to her announcement, and I look forward to continuing to work with her on statewide policy solutions that build on the landmark law enforcement reform legislation Rep. Sims and I passed this year. The road ahead is long, but the journey has begun.
With this year’s main session of the General Assembly over, Illinois has several new laws that could make a significant impact on your daily life.
If you have kids, enjoy after-work cocktails or are a veteran, you should definitely check out our list of the most important and interesting new laws that took effect this summer.
SPRINGFIELD – Almost a year ago, a faulty exhaust pipe at North Mac Intermediate School in Girard sent 150 students and staff to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Since last September, the school has installed carbon monoxide detectors, but at the time there were none.
Legislation requiring schools to install carbon monoxide detectors was signed into law Thursday. State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) sponsored the proposal.
“Last year, Girard could have faced an unimaginably horrific tragedy. We have an obligation to protect children while at school and ensure something like this can’t happen again,” Manar said.
The law will require schools to install detectors within 20 feet of equipment that produce carbon monoxide. School buildings without carbon monoxide sources would be exempt.
“We always look for lessons learned, and installing the detectors was a preventative measure that we needed to take to assure everyone that our schools are safe from this threat,” said North Mac Superintendent Marica Cullen.
A similar incident occurred last October at Harper High School in Chicago when the school was evacuated and nine students were hospitalized.
State Representative Kathleen Willis (D-Addison) sponsored the proposal in the House.
The legislation was negotiated with the Illinois Association of School Boards and the Illinois School Management Alliance, which represent the interests of school administration in Springfield.
California, Connecticut and Maryland have similar requirements for carbon monoxide detectors in school buildings.
The new law, House Bill 152, takes effect Jan. 1, 2016.
With studies showing an alarming one-in-five undergraduate college women becoming victims of rape or attempted rape, a measure was signed into law recently that will prevent and ensure proper response to sexual assaults that occur on college campuses.
“College represents new experiences and new beginnings for thousands of young women and men each year,” sponsor Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “With thousands of college students heading to school, many of them for the first time, we are reminded of the importance in both preventing sexual assaults and responding with every single resource at our disposal when they do occur. Sexual assault cannot be tolerated anywhere.”
SPRINGFIELD — Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) sponsored legislation in the Senate that will make Illinois the first state in the nation to launch a pilot program to provide locking devices on prescription vials for painkillers containing hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin or Norco.
Today, her proposal was signed into law.
“Too many Illinoisans become addicted to these powerful medications,” Martinez said. “This legislation will help prevent individuals who haven’t obtained a written prescription from using hydrocodone, a dangerous drug when used without a doctor’s supervision.”
Physicians often prescribe painkillers such as hydrocodone for short- and long-term pain.
Under Martinez’s plan, participating pharmacies in Illinois will place numerical locking devices on pharmacy prescriptions with hydrocodone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990. Prescription painkillers cause nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses.
In Chicago, hydrocodone is the most available prescription painkiller to non-prescribed users.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will be charged with implementing the new program.
State Senator Melinda Bush promoted Attorney General’s legislation SPRINGFIELD — A new law that will prohibit health care providers from directly billing sexual assault survivors for the collection of evidence related to their attacks will take effect next year after Governor Bruce Rauner signed it Monday. House Bill 3848, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), was passed by the General Assembly unanimously and signed into law Monday.
The new law, put forth by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, will ensure compliance with the federal Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA) and remove a barrier that may prevent sexual assault survivors from going to the hospital after the crime.
“I strongly encourage anyone who is sexually assaulted to go quickly to a hospital emergency room for necessary care and to collect evidence of the crime,” Madigan said. “This law assures that in the aftermath of a sexual assault, a survivor will not be sent a bill for those critical ER services that play an important role in helping law enforcement make an arrest and work to achieve justice for the survivor.”
The invasive examinations that follow a sexual assault can last four to six hours and involve the collection of physical evidence from the survivor’s body. The “rape kits” are then sent to a crime lab for testing. The results provide a critical part of a criminal investigation. The new law would ensure that those who submit to those tests won’t also need to pay for them.
“The legal process survivors face often seems overwhelming,” Bush said. “This will ensure that survivors can come forward without worrying about shouldering the financial burden of an investigation.”
The law brings Illinois into compliance with the VAWA, which requires Illinois to certify that that sexual assault survivors are not being billed for medical forensic examinations as a condition of receiving federal grant funds. Failure to comply with VAWA could result in the loss of these federal funds which are used to provide services to victims, to train law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and to train Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), who work with victims to gather evidence and help them begin the recovery process.
The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.
SPRINGFIELD – Victims of domestic violence and individuals with disabilities will not have to worry about losing their homes if they contact authorities for help under a new law signed today by the governor.
“The last thing a survivor of a traumatic assault or someone struggling with a disability needs to worry about is being evicted simply for calling the police for help,” sponsor State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said.
Renters who contact authorities for help risk eviction in the more than 100 home-rule cities and villages that have implemented some form of crime-free ordinance. These ordinances are meant to give more control to municipalities in addressing public safety concerns. Many of them have specifically listed triggers that could lead to an eviction, including numerous calls to law enforcement.
While the intent of crime-free ordinances is to deal with illegal activity, victims of criminal activity can be affected by the rules, especially in the case of domestic violence. Victims of domestic abuse aren’t always able to leave their homes immediately and are sometimes afraid to press charges, making it more likely they will have to contact the police more than once.
Individuals with disabilities are also endangered by these ordinances, as someone struggling with a disability might need assistance from authorities more often than someone without a disability.
“We should not be penalizing renters with eviction simply for making legitimate calls for help,” Hutchinson said. “This new law strikes a balance between the safety needs of victims and the responsibility of municipalities to address public safety in their communities.”
Senate Bill 1547 was signed today by the governor and becomes law in 90 days.
Winnebago County's only domestic violence shelter today praised legislation passed by State Senator Steve Stadelman that helps victims escape abusive situations by giving them up to 60 days to pay initial deposits on gas, electric and water bills.
Under the law, deposits must still be paid but victims have more time to get their finances in order so they can move out. Many domestic violence victims are forced to stay in dangerous environments because they don’t have the resources to leave.
"This legislation is very beneficial for victims of domestic violence who are fleeing to safety," said Karen Gill, vice president of operations for Remedies Renewing Lives. "One of the biggest barriers for victims is setting all the pieces in motion, such as coming up with the money for utility deposits, to establish an independent residence."
SPRINGFIELD – With studies showing an alarming one-in-five undergraduate college women becoming victims of rape or attempted rape, a measure was signed into law today that will prevent and ensure proper response to sexual assaults that occur on college campuses.
While there have been efforts at the federal level to deal with the issue of sexual violence on campuses, universities have been left with a patchwork of recommendations and proposals without clear guidance on how they can reduce the incidence of violence on their campuses and effectively deal with the aftermath of sexual assaults.
Acknowledging this reality, Senator Hutchinson teamed with Attorney General Lisa Madigan to ensure colleges develop clear, comprehensive campus plans for dealing with sexual violence. Each plan will ensure victims have help immediately after an attack, including confidential advisers who can guide them to medical and legal resources. These advisers must also focus on often-overlooked issues, such as orders of protection and situations where housing and class schedules need to be changed.
House Bill 821 was signed into law today by the governor and takes effect immediately.
VILLA PARK - DuPage County’s Narcan program has trained more than 2,200 police officers to administer naloxone, saving over 66 individuals from overdosing on heroin.
As the growing heroin epidemic spreads throughout the state and nation, we are still waiting for the governor to sign State Senator Tom Cullerton’s (D-Villa Park) initiative, House Bill 1, to spread the success with battling the drug in DuPage County to communities across Illinois.
“We have the tools to save lives,” Cullerton said. “Every day, the governor waits, we are risking the chance another young person becomes addicted to heroin or worse yet, overdoses because they cannot afford treatment.”
House Bill 1 is a comprehensive package designed to address heroin and opioid abuse and addiction in Illinois. The legislation addresses heroin abuse on a variety of different levels. Three major points of the initiative include the following:
The legislation, which is modeled off of DuPage County’s efforts, creates a program for state and local police officers, fire protection personnel, firefighters and school nurses, to be trained in administering Narcan.
Narcan reverses the effects of an overdose for heroin, cocaine, Vicodin, OxyContin and Morphine. The drug can be administered either by injection or nasal spray.
Secondly, the initiative requires Medicaid to cover costs for addiction treatments and prescriptions. Currently, the second most common reason for Illinoisans to seek treatment is heroin, yet the state has the lowest rate of state-funded treatment compared to other Midwestern states, such as Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.
Expanding the scope of Medicaid to include some of these expenses will make treatment more readily available and bring Illinois up to speed with neighboring states.
Thirdly, requires the Illinois Department of Human Services and State Board of Education to develop a three-year heroin and opioid drug prevention program to address the heroin stronghold in Illinois. School districts will be given the option to adopt the program and DHS will work with the school districts to reimburse the costs.
Cullerton asserts the legislation was worked on with legislators from both sides of the aisle because everyone recognizes drug overdoses and addiction can happen to people regardless of their age, socioeconomic background or ethnicity.
“This measure is a great example of legislators working together in a bipartisan effort to address this problem and work to save lives,” Cullerton said. “I hope the governor will work with us and move quickly to address this growing epidemic.”
SPRINGFIELD – August is National Immunization Awareness month and hospitals all over the state are urging patients to become more aware of the benefits of vaccinations. Without vaccinations, preventable diseases such as pertussis or measles can often spread unchecked, causing serious health issues and even death.
Earlier this year, a measles outbreak at a day care center in Palatine ultimately effected 41 children. Currently, Illinois has a vaccination rate among school children of 97%. A recent outbreak of meningitis has caused a stir in the Chicago area, leading many residents to obtain the vaccination.
With so much attention drawn to the state’s ongoing budget impasse, historic accomplishments are too often overlooked.
This year, lawmakers in both chambers and from both sides of the aisle did find compromise on a number of issues to improve the lives of Illinoisans and the safety, health and economic future of our state.
Springfield’s NPR radio station, WUIS, covers developments at the Capitol. Recently, the station published an article looking past the friction to find positive achievements during the 2015 legislative session. Their story includes an interview with Charlie Wheeler, director of UIS’ Public Affairs Reporting program, and Jamey Dunn, Editor of Illinois Issues. Their analysis focused on achievements in criminal justice, including Senate Bill 1304, a comprehensive law enforcement package expected to be a model for reform across the US.
SPRINGFIELD - Wards of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services who run away or go missing from the system will now have additional protections to help find them and keep them out of the hands of predators. Two pieces of legislation, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, were signed into law to help create a system to locate missing wards that are reported as well as enhancing penalties for criminals who exploit those missing wards.
“The protection of our children, regardless of circumstance, is a priority. With the passage and signing of these important pieces of legislation, our most vulnerable children will have better protection and, hopefully, a better life,” said Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat.
Senate Bill 1775, also known as the Safeguard our Children Act, spells out what is required from DCFS once a youth in their custody is reported missing. The legislation states that DCFS must report the missing youth to local law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Illinois State Police must also develop a network to help with locating missing DCFS wards.
From 2011 to 2013, residential DCFS facilities reported 29,425 incidents of missing wards, averaging 27 runaway reports per day. Many residential facilities do not report the runaways to local law enforcement.
“There have been numerous cases of DCFS wards going missing, where, unfortunately, law enforcement was not made aware of the missing child,” Cunningham said. “This new law will help us to find runaway wards as quickly as possible, helping protect them from possible exploitation.”
Also signed into law was Senate Bill 201, which allows sentencing courts to consider a defendant’s knowledge of a prostitution victim’s DCFS status when sentencing. Many wards of the state are extremely susceptible and are in need of extra judicial protections. The legislation specifically states that judges may consider the fact that a criminal knew their victim to be a ward of DCFS and consider that knowledge as an aggravating factor when imposing sentences.
"A series of recent articles reported that human traffickers often specifically target and recruit wards of the state who reside in group homes. Predators see them as especially vulnerable and susceptible to being lured into a life of prostitution," Cunningham said. "The new law would enable judges to enhance the sentences imposed on pimps and traffickers in those cases."
Cunningham has worked closely with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart over the years to help craft good public policy in the criminal justice and corrections field. These two new laws are a direct result of that good working relationship.
“I’m proud to have worked with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office on this. We will continue to work together to protect our most vulnerable children and make their protection a priority,” Cunningham said.
SPRINGFIELD – New legislation creating law enforcement reforms was signed into law today. State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago, 3) supported the bipartisan push for officer-worn body camera protocols.“Law enforcement reforms help protect the safety of both officers on duty and citizens. Our communities are stronger when there is trust and practices in place to create accountability,” Hunter said. The proposal, Senate Bill 1304, would make Illinois one of the first states in the nation to adopt the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The law implements the following recommendations:
The measure also bans the use of chokeholds by police and expands the Traffic Stop Statistical Study –which provides insight into racial disparities in motor vehicle stops and searches—to include pedestrians whom officers “stop and frisk” or temporarily detain for questioning.The state is set to become the first state with standards and protocols for the use of body cameras by any of the state’s law enforcement agencies. These policies include:
The law goes into effect on January 1.
SPRINGFIELD – Legislation creating law enforcement reforms was signed into law today. State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago 17) supported the bipartisan effort to create new body camera protocols, making Illinois one the first states in the nation to adopt the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
“Now, more than ever, Illinois needs to lead the country in pushing for the use of body cameras by officers. Reforming law enforcement practices will go a long way in reducing the distrust between the public and the police,” Trotter said.
Senate Bill 1304, sponsored by Chicago Democrats Representative Elgie R. Sims, Jr. and Senator Kwame Raoul, implements several recommendations of the federal task force by:
The measure also bans the use of chokeholds by police and expands the Traffic Stop Statistical Study –which provides insight into racial disparities in motor vehicle stops and searches—to include pedestrians whom officers “stop and frisk” or temporarily detain for questioning.
The state is set to become the first state with standards and protocols for the use of body cameras by any of the state’s law enforcement agencies. These policies include:
The commission will be created immediately. The bill goes into effect on January 1.
CHICAGO – State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) introduced a measure in the Senate last week to ban replica firearms in response to the latest trend of mobile phone cases shaped like handguns.
“Gun violence in our country is out of control and accidental shootings take and destroy lives,” Silverstein said. “The development of mobile phone cases – as well as lighters and cameras – shaped like handguns is a dangerous, terrible idea. It is only a matter of time before a replica gun is mistaken for a real gun and its owner is shot.”
Law enforcement officials are warning these items look authentic and may result in the shooting of someone carrying a gun-shaped phone case.
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