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Haine presents widow husband’s 68 year-old medals

White Smith HaineWOOD RIVER, Ill. – Lonnie Smith was honorably discharged from the Marines when he was 23 years old. Like any other veteran, there was lots of paperwork.

Somewhere, somehow something got lost in the shuffle and Lonnie never received three awards he earned during his service in the Pacific theater in World War II.

Lonnie Smith went on to work as a welder. He married Fern Smith and they had a son.

Lonnie died April 2013 at the age of 90, having never received his medals.

On Thursday, state Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) presented Fern with her husband’s three missing medals during a ceremony at the Fox Grove Supportive Living Community.

"We have a humble duty to remember the veterans who have served and sacrificed for this country. Sadly, we couldn't give these to Lonnie while he was alive, but I hope that they can be a comfort to Fern and remind us of our obligation to every veteran," Haine said.

“I didn't know what to expect. I’m thrilled – this was unbelievable,” Fern said

The process of getting the medals began when Fern talked to Fred Smith, a family friend, about Lonnie's medals. Fred is a member of the Illinois Patriot Guard – a group of motorcycle riders who support the families of fallen veterans and first responders through honor missions and by shielding funeral services from unwanted protesters.

“Lonnie was a tough old boy and his wife is a sweetheart. I want his family to have something to remember – what we do is all about the families. If what we do gives them a memory to hold onto we’ve done our job,” Fred said.

Fred turned to Haine’s office for help. During the presentation, Haine praised the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs for getting Lonnie's military records released.

“All the men and women who have served: Let’s not forget them and their service to our nation," Earl White Southern Division Field Supervisor for the department said. White, Veterans’ Service Officer Ed Barnes and Field Services Manager Harry Sawyer procured the medals.

During the event White also presented Fern with an Illinois State Flag.

Haine had the honor of presenting Fern with The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, China Service Medal and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal that her husband earned serving our country.

The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal is awarded to Marines who land on foreign territory, engage in operations against armed opposition or operate under circumstances that earn special recognition and when no other campaign medal has been awarded. This medal was first issued in 1919 and is still awarded today.

The China Service Medal was awarded to members of the Navy and Marine Corps who served in China or its territorial waters in either the lead up or aftermath of World War II.

The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal was awarded to members of the armed forces who served in the Pacific theater of World War II.

Lawmakers push for police-worn camera funding

091114 js 0037SPRINGFIELD— Last month’s police shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., sparked national debate over police procedures and practices. In Illinois, Brown’s death has renewed an effort to expand the use of vehicle-mounted and officer-worn cameras.

Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) and Representative Jehan Gordon Booth (D-Peoria) announced, during a press conference Thursday, their commitment to pass a plan this fall that will increase funding for police departments to buy more cameras.

“Every day, the courageous men and women of Illinois law enforcement put their lives on the line to protect us. Cameras like these help prosecute crimes, protect civil liberties and – ultimately – help save officers’ lives,” Haine said.

The plan, House Bill 3911, brings more money to an existing grant program enabling local police departments to purchase cameras. It also secures additional funds for the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Boards.

“I hope that the tragic recent events in Ferguson, which has brought the value of officer and vehicle-mounted cameras to national attention, may serve as a catalyst to enact legislation that protects our brave police officers as much as it does the general public,” Gordon-Booth said.

“The use of cameras serves as a layer of transparency to document disputed encounters between law enforcement and citizens,” NAACP Illinois State Conference President George Mitchell said.

The proposal increases an existing court fee by $6 to fund the camera grant program and increase funding for ILETSB. The $6 fee is estimated to bring in between $4 million and $6 million per year.

“We live in a visual society. These types of videos will be invaluable,” Illinois State’s Attorneys Association President Brian Towne said.

Lawmakers return to Springfield in November for the annual fall session. Gordon-Booth and Haine plan to call HB 3911 then.

Haine-backed law means stronger discipline for Illinois professionals

052614 js 0094CHICAGO – Professionals in Illinois who break the rules of their licenses could face steeper penalties thanks to a new state law pushed by State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton).

A new law signed Monday by the governor gives regulators more flexibility when disciplining severe breaches of professional conduct.

"We need to hold professionals in Illinois to higher standards. This law is about accountability for egregious actions," Haine said.

Haine sponsored the plan following a court case where a doctor was only given a 6-month suspension after having sex with and giving alcohol and marijuana to a 20-year-old patient.

In the court case Kafin v. IDFPR, the court overturned an Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation attempt to strip the doctor's license. Haine's plan strengthens the department's ability to enforce its existing rules.

The department handles professional certification and licensing. It regulates jobs ranging from locksmiths to barbers and doctors to pawnshop managers.

The new law –Senate Bill 232 – takes effect Jan 1.

Shipping, logistics facility expands along Mississippi

central-portMore Metro East communities will have new opportunities for economic growth, investment and job creation under a new law expanding the Tri-City Regional Port District.

The district operates America’s Central Port in Granite City and provides much-needed programs to reduce operating costs for new and expanding businesses in the region.

“Shipping on the Mississippi has an enormous economic influence on the entire region. We are expanding the benefits of the port district to match that wide-ranging impact,” State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) said.

Haine sponsored the new law, Senate Bill 499, to expand the Tri-City Regional Port District boundaries to include the Wood River, Alton, Godfrey and Elsah townships. The district currently serves Granite City, Venice, Nameoki and Chouteau Townships in Madison County. The legislation was signed by the governor in Granite City on Friday.

America's Central Port is a 1,200-acre shipping and logistics facility handling river and rail freight along the Mississippi. The port also features warehouses, office space and residential apartments.

This expansion is part of ongoing construction and economic development projects in the Metro East: $695 million for the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Mississippi River, $75 million for a new Science Building at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Southwestern Illinois College’s new $19.1 million Liberal Arts Complex addition in Belleville.

The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2015.

Sen. William R. Haine

haine 150

Assistant Majority Leader
56th District

Years served:
2002 - 2018

Committee assignments: Criminal Law; Insurance (Vice-Chairperson); Judiciary; Licensed Activities and Pensions; Veterans Affairs.

Biography: Born 8 August 1944, in Alton, Illinois. United States Army Veteran; one tour of duty, Vietnam (1967-69); Bachelors Degree, St. Louis University (1967); Juris Doctorate, St. Louis University School of Law (1974). Member, Madison County Board (1978, 1982-86); Metro-East Transit District Board of Trustees (1981-88); Madison County State's Attorney (1988-2002). Wife, Anna, 7 children, 31 grandchildren.