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Holmes measures for local government reforms signed into law

holmes 052419SPRINGFIELD – Two pieces of legislation from State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) to improve how local governments operate have been signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker.

“Measures to put decisions in the hands of voters and to streamline local government functions will save taxpayer dollars and make operations more transparent,” Holmes said. “Citizens need to know their municipal officials are representing them effectively.”

House Bill 910 lets the Aurora Public Library change its board of trustees from appointed to elected. The measure would require a referendum asking voters to decide and, if passed, provides for the number of trustees and the manner of their election. Currently, the board is appointed by the city’s mayor with council approval.

House Bill 2473 allows Fire Protection Districts to enter into supply contracts of $20,000 through participating in joint out-of-state purchasing programs that require a competitive solicitation and procurement process.  Supported by the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts, Illinois Fire Chiefs Association and the Illinois Municipal League, this measure could ensure fire protection districts receive better pricing on preferred brands of equipment.

The measures take effect immediately.

Holmes’ new law ends statute of limitations for sexual assault

holmes 052119SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Linda Holmes’ (D-Aurora) measure to remove the statute of limitations for any criminal sexual assault was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker today.

A law was enacted in 2017 to remove the statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse for victims under the age of 18 years old (PA 100-0080). Holmes’ House Bill 2135 removes that limit for all victims.

“In the event of an individual choosing to pursue justice for their attack years after the event, or in situations where an investigation is delayed for some reason, we need to be sure justice is still accessible for any sexual assault victim,” Holmes said. “The possibility of a perpetrator not being brought to justice is a risk to public safety.”

Mary Ann Brzoska testified with Sen. Holmes in the Senate Criminal Law Committee earlier this month about her daughter’s experience after being raped at age 19 by two men. Three years later, an investigation is just now underway. Brzoska worries the statute of limitations could spare an attacker from prosecution if the pace of an investigation lags as it has in her daughter’s case.

“More than one-third of the 10-year statute of limitations has already passed, and I would hate to see another family face this situation with the pressure of delays,” Brzoska said. “If it has taken this long to get an investigation started, it seems possible time could run out. That’s not justice.”

House Bill 2135 will take effect January 1, 2020.

New Holmes law overhauls child abuse reporting from psychiatric hospitals

holmes 053119SPRINGFIELD – After an October report from ProPublica revealed allegations of abuse and neglect of children at the Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, concerns were heightened about coordination between the Department of Children and Family Services and other state agencies.

State Senator Linda Holmes’ (D-Aurora) House Bill 831 requires better reporting to rectify those cases by requiring DCFS to notify the Director of Public Health and the Director of Healthcare and Family Services when they occur. Gov. JB Pritzker signed the bill into law today.

“After DCFS found neglect and sexual abuse by staff, as well as failure to provide a safe environment and monitor these children’s care and medication at this psychiatric hospital, it became obvious more oversight is needed to prevent this from happening,” Holmes said. “Federal and state investigations have revealed these tragedies and we must do everything we can to stop it.”

The Department of Public Health inspects and licenses hospitals, including psychiatric hospitals where children in need of that care reside. DPH has the authority to revoke, deny or suspend a hospital’s license. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services is responsible for providing healthcare coverage for adults and children who qualify for Medicaid, which covers many children in these hospitals’ care.

“These agencies must be engaged to help investigate and correct the conditions that lead to cases of abuse and neglect,” Holmes said. “Whenever DCFS receive a report by any means, at any facility, they should notify the directors of DPH and HFS so they can take action. The numerous charges against DCFS in safely caring for children under their supervision are disturbing and this is just one of many legislative actions underway to reform child welfare.”

Among the cases investigated were children who had been cleared for discharge weeks or months before, but they were languishing in the hospitals because DCFS had failed to find other places for them.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Holmes: Transit, municipalities and schools benefit in new capital construction plan signed by governor

holmes 032119Aurora, Ill. – State Senator Linda Holmes looks forward to infrastructure improvements locally and statewide after Gov. JB Pritzker signed the $45 billion “Rebuild Illinois” capital funding plan into law today.

“We will finally be able to upgrade our roads, bridges, freight and passenger rail, transit, airports and waterways – which creates good jobs in our communities,” Holmes said. “Having dedicated resources for horizontal and vertical infrastructure projects means this is not just a one or two year plan, but a means for continual modernization.” 

The list of appropriations set for the 42nd District includes $100 million for the Regional Transportation Authority to extend Metra train service beyond Aurora into Kendall County, bringing public transit to the fastest growing region in Illinois.

“I’ve met so many people who drive in to the Aurora Metra station because there’s no alternative, and I’m so pleased this project will be able to provide better access and reduce highway congestion for commuters,” Holmes said.

Projects included in the capital plan include infrastructure and building improvements for the municipalities of Montgomery, North Aurora, Oswego and Aurora; Fox Valley Park District; and School Districts 129 and 131. It also provides funds to area human service facilities that provide substance abuse treatment and support, homeless services, domestic and sexual violence healing and shelter, and support for Spanish-speaking families.

“These are long-overdue projects our communities have needed for years,” Holmes said. “I told our local officials I would advocate for this funding to fix and build for our growing region’s needs, and I’m pleased to be able to deliver.”

From the higher education system’s appropriations budget is $6.68 million to the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora for renovation of residence halls and other capital improvements. IMSA continues to draw more students from throughout the nation and the world for its science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

Locally and statewide, some projects will begin as soon as design and engineering phases are complete; other projects will be funded over the next few years. New funding approaches mean projects will continue to be funded as needed each year going forward.

Sen. Linda Holmes

holmes-15

42nd District

Years served:
2007 - Present

Committee assignments: Agriculture (Vice-Chairperson); Committee of the Whole; Executive; Labor; Local Government (Chairperson); Telecommunications & InfoTechnology.

Biography: Elected to the Senate in 2006; born March 16, 1959, in Chicago; received a bachelor's degree from the National College of Education (now National-Lewis University); First woman president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry; Full-time state legislator.

Associated Representatives:
Linda Chapa LaVia
Stephanie A. Kifowit