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  • Sen. Andy Manar

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar on Wednesday joined a coalition of labor, higher education and health care advocates in calling for vertical construction projects to be included in a comprehensive statewide infrastructure plan.

    “Illinois needs cranes on campuses and bulldozers at building sites. Construction projects signal that Illinois is open for business,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who is leading conversations in the Senate about statewide construction priorities.

    “Highway and bridge repairs are vitally important, but any statewide infrastructure plan has to balance those priorities with our need for new schools, modern hospitals and 21st century college facilities. There has to be a healthy mix.”

    The newly formed Build Up Illinois coalition comprises groups and associations representing K-12 school districts, community colleges, universities, the Illinois hospital system, the Illinois AFL-CIO and affiliated building trades.

  • fair tax

    As outlined by Gov. Pritzker in his budget address this year, we have three viable options to fix our state’s finances:

    • Raise taxes by 20% on everyone. In order to raise the needed revenue to pay down our bill backlog, we would have to raise taxes on everyone by 20% within our current flat tax system.

    • Make drastic, 15% across the board cuts to state agencies. If we are not going to raise revenue, we have to cut spending in order to pay down our bill backlog. The kind of cuts necessary to save that kind of money would be devastating to public safety, public education, transportation and social services.

    • Adopt a fair tax that raises taxes on only 3% of Illinoisans – the wealthiest, most prosperous among us. Under Gov. Pritkzer’s proposal, 97% of Illinoisans would either so no change in their tax rate or would see a decrease. Those who make less would be taxes less, and vice versa. Only the top 3% of earners in Illinois would see a modest increase in their tax rate, and we would bring in the revenue necessary to pay our bills.

    Why is a fair tax necessary?

    • After years of fiscal instability and with a $3.2 billion budget deficit this year alone, Illinois must act now to shore up our finances.

    • As a state, we can’t keep shortchanging students, undermining universities, decimating social services, watching our roads and bridges crumble.

    • With a flat tax in Illinois, lower-income may pay the same rate as higher-income people, but that amount places a greater burden on them than on those making more. A fair tax with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes will bring tax relief for working families and produce stable and sustainable revenues in Illinois to get the state on stable financial footing.

      • Taking into account all taxes Illinois families pay, the lowest 20% of income-earners, or those making less than $21,800 a year, pay 14.4% of their income toward taxes. The top 1%, or those earning more than $537,800, pay only 7.4% of their income toward taxes.

      • This makes Illinois one of the most regressive tax states in the country – one of the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy’s “Terrible Ten” states.

    • A fair tax combats growing income inequality by making sure the wealthy pay their fair share. Over the past decades, nearly all the income growth has been made by the top income levels. Nationally, income inequality is the worst it’s been since 1928 – the year preceding the Great Depression. The current tax system doesn’t allow Illinois to capture that growth because the same rate applies to high- and low-income earners.

    How do we implement a fair tax?

    • Currently, the Illinois Constitution prohibits the state from imposing a graduated income tax. In order to change that, three-fifths of both the Senate and the House must pass legislation that would place a question on the November 2020 ballot asking whether voters support a fair tax.

    • In order for the Constitution to be amended, the fair tax must receive support from either 60 percent of those voting on the specific question or a majority of all those casting votes in the election.

    • This means the current legislation (SJRCA 1 – sponsored by Senator Harmon) would not automatically change the Constitution if it passes. It would simply put the question of a fair tax on the ballot, allowing voters to decide.

    How do we set the rates?

    • SJRCA 1 does not set a specific tax rate structure; it only deletes the provision in the Constitution prohibiting a graduated income tax.

    • If the amendment is adopted following the process outlined above, the General Assembly may pass legislation setting specific rates.

    • Gov. JB Pritzker has announced proposed rates. These are being discussed with members of the General Assembly as part of ongoing negotiations to introduce legislation setting rates.

    Learning about the Fair Tax Plan:

  • Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. MartinezSPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) is continuing her work to ensure all qualified applicants are eligible for professional licenses, regardless of their citizenship status.

    “If anyone in our state wants to contribute by working hard and paying taxes, they should not be denied because of where they were born,” Martinez said. “I am glad to continue the work we started last year by expanding the ability for immigrants to apply for professional licenses.”

    Martinez passed a law last year ensuring that citizenship is not required for licenses issued by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional or State Board of Education. It also requires the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to allow an applicant to use a taxpayer identification number as an alternative to a Social Security number.

  • National Child Abuse Prevention Month Facebook ImageSPRINGFIELD – After years of working with advocates and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) has passed a proposal reforming the confusing set of state rules governing reporting child abuse in Illinois.

    “The first step in addressing potential child abuse is the reporting of that behavior,” Morrison said. “If abuse is not being reported – or if individuals don’t know the signs of abuse or who to even report to – the entire system is in jeopardy of not working, leaving abused children in dangerous situations.”

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  • Sen. Rachelle CroweSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) is pushing legislation for stronger sentences on those who intentionally harm a child’s physical, mental or emotional health.

    The measure creates a mid-level offense for a guardian who knowingly deprives a child of food, shelter, supervision and health care.

    “Deliberately punishing a child to the point of starvation is despicable,” Crowe said. “This legislation is critical to holding parents and guardians accountable for their actions for the well-being of the child.”

  • AlcoholSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) advanced legislation today that would set a statewide standard for alcohol delivery from retailers.

    Senate Bill 54 would allow grocery stores and other licensed retailers to deliver alcohol to the homes of consumers if certain conditions, including age verification and training, are met.

    “More and more people are ordering their groceries online,” Harmon said. “We want to keep up with this modern way of shopping and make sure that any retailers who want to provide this service to their customers are confident that they will be able to deliver anywhere in the state.”

  • Hotel EmployeeSPRINGFIELD – Legislation to improve the safety of hotel and casino employees passed the Senate today.

    “I’m proud that the first piece of legislation I filed in Springfield proactively ensures that workers at hotels and casinos are protected against sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Senator Villivalam (D-Chicago) said. “One of my top legislative priorities is furthering protections for working people in Illinois, and this bill protect some of the hardest working people in the hospitality industries.”

    Senate Bill 75 calls for hotels and casinos to ensure that a sexual harassment policy is in place to protect their employees. In addition, it requires that employees who work in closed spaces have access to a safety button or notification device that would alert security to the presence of assailants.

    Similar measures have been adopted in Chicago, Seattle, New York City, and Miami Beach. In the wake of this movement, a number of prominent hotel operators have voluntarily pledged to roll out safety buttons by 2020, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and InterContinental Hotels Group.

    “No one deserves to feel unsafe in their work environment,” Villivalam said. “By following the example of some of the nation’s most populous cities, we will provide a safer and more productive workplace to those who work at these facilities. I also want to thank UNITE HERE, the Hotel and Motel Association and Caesars Entertainment for their advocacy on this legislation.”

    The legislation now moves to the House for consideration.

  • ellman 051019NAPERVILLE – Non-traditional students pursuing vocational training would be eligible for a new scholarship program under legislation from State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville).

    “Let’s encourage more students, especially later in life, to take advantage of our trade schools by taking the financial burden off of their shoulders,” Ellman said. “This scholarship gives opportunity to those who are seeking new jobs thus fueling our markets and economy.”

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  • Sens. Elgie R. Sims Jr., Emil Jones III, Iris Y. Martinez and Kimberly A. Lightford

    SPRINGFIELD – Senate lawmakers and advocates gathered Thursday to stress the importance of getting a full and accurate count in Illinois during the 2020 Census.

    Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez spoke to the potential consequences of an undercount.

    “The census is used to determine federal funding and representation for our state,” Martinez (D-Chicago) said. “That means, if we are undercounted, we stand to lose billions in federal funding, along with two congressional seats and two Electoral College votes.”

    Martinez is the sponsor of legislation, contained in Senate Bill 1408, that would appropriate $25 million to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide grants to community providers and local governments for the purposes of encouraging full participation in the 2020 federal census.

  • koehler 040319SPRINGFIELD – A resolution sponsored by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) honoring the 100 years of work done by Easterseals, America’s largest nonprofit health care organization, was adopted by the Illinois Senate today.

    “The work in the community that Easterseals does is irreplaceable,” Koehler said. “This resolution helps us honor that work and remind people of the struggles the different communities Easterseals serves are faced with every day.”

    Senate Resolution 199 declares April 3, 2019, as “Easterseals Day” in Illinois, 100 years to the day Edgar Allen founded the National Society for Crippled Children, which grew into the Easterseals.

  • Senator MunozSPRINGFIELD – Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) is leading legislation in response to an oversight by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency that left McKinley Park residents blindsided by the construction of an asphalt plant in their neighborhood.

    “The public has every right to know when a facility that may affect their health is moving into their community,” Munoz said. “There is no reason why McKinley Park residents weren’t given ample notice regarding the asphalt plant, and we don’t want to see another community put in the same situation.”

    Last year, McKinley Park residents received only a two week notice before construction on an asphalt plant began. Munoz held a town hall in July to discuss the issue with the community resulting in the legislation that was approved in the Senate on Thursday.

    Senate Bill 1847 requires the IEPA to provide notice when a permit is required to construct a new facility to the state senator and state representative of the district where the construction is to occur and post the information on its website, searchable by ZIP code.

    A permit is required to construct any facility capable of causing or contributing to air and water pollution or designed to prevent air and water pollution. If no action is taken by the IEPA within 90 days of filing the application, the permit is considered issued.

    The measure heads to the House for consideration.

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  • morrison 032719SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), Chair of the Senate Human Services Committee, released the following statement this afternoon after news that Gov. Pritzker has nominated Marc D. Smith to lead the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS):

    “Today’s announcement by the governor begins what I hope will be a new chapter for an agency that has been marked by instability for years. DCFS has failed to live up to its primary role, which is first and foremost the safety of children. Audit findings and high-profile deaths of toddlers who had been visited by DCFS staff only highlight the systemic dysfunction at this agency.

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  • beagle 032119SPRINGFIELD –A measure regarding animal welfare sponsored by State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) has passed the Illinois Senate.

    Senate Bill 241 amends the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to prohibit importation or sale of cosmetic products or ingredients that use animal testing after January 1, 2020. Modern testing alternatives are less expensive, faster and more predictive of human reactions than past practices of painful tests on animals to assess the safety of chemicals used in cosmetics.

  • morrison belt 032019SPRINGFIELD – A tax credit introduced by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) and State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Cahokia) that would incentivize businesses which offer paid leave of absences to their employees for donating an organ or bone marrow passed the Senate Revenue Committee this afternoon.

    “Last year, 3,402 Illinois residents were candidates for a kidney transplant. By the end of the year, however, only 798 people actually received a transplant. That represents less than a quarter of patients who are on the organ donation waiting list,” Morrison said.

  • Sen. Ram VillivalamSPRINGFIELD – Efforts to modernize the state’s water infrastructure present an opportunity for job growth under a plan State Senator Ram Villivalam introduced this morning alongside environmental, faith and labor advocates.

    “The ongoing crisis in Flint, Michigan is a prime example of what can happen to communities when their water infrastructure is neglected by their government for long periods of time,” VIllivalam (D-Chicago) said. “By creating this program, we will provide the training necessary to help Illinois communities avoid a similar fate.”

    SB 2146 would require the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to create a Clean Water Workforce Pipeline Program that would provide grants and other financial assistance to prepare people for careers in water infrastructure.