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New Holmes law improves accessibility for persons with disabilities

holmes 071916SPRINGFIELD — The governor signed legislation by State Sen. Linda Holmes and Attorney General Lisa Madigan to streamline some state laws to improve accessibility for people with disabilities in Illinois.

“Simplifying and streamlining codes makes it easier to comply with laws, and making accessibility laws easier to follow will help ensure equal access for people with disabilities who live in and visit our state,” said Holmes. “I applaud Attorney General Madigan’s leadership on this issue and thank the governor for signing it into law.”

Attorney General Lisa Madigan called for the legislation, sponsored by Holmes, to update the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act (EBA). First enacted in 1985, that statute authorizes the Attorney General’s Office to enforce accessibility laws mandating that public buildings and multi-story housing units in Illinois be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities.

“Our commitment to equality for all must extend to making sure people who have disabilities have equal access to facilities within their communities,” Madigan said. “People who have disabilities lead active lives, and our laws should enhance their ability to do so.”

The legislation that passed today amends the EBA to update state law with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design and streamlines the existing state statute so architects have an easier time referencing the law.

Changes to the Environmental Barriers Act under this update include:

  • Updating definitions to conform with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and corresponding updates to the Illinois Accessibility Code;
  • Replacing an outdated state standard for accessibility with an easier-to-use standard that mirrors the ADA;
  • Clarifying which version of the EBA and the Illinois Accessibility Code applies to new construction and alterations; and
  • Updating the enforcement provisions to reflect the current emphasis on working with businesses to resolve issues and alleviate future barriers for individuals with disabilities.

The legislation was Senate Bill 2956. It becomes effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Holmes calls on state lawmakers to pass higher ed, IMSA funding

holmes consolAURORA — Ahead of the end of the Illinois fiscal year Thursday, State Senator Linda Holmes voiced her support for legislation that would release $1 billion in funding to state universities and community colleges.

The funding includes $5 million in funding to the Illinois Math and Science Academy for operational expenses and $151 million to pay out the remainder of Monetary Award Program grants to college students for the 2016 school year.

“The same week we take up funding for K-12 education, we must address the promise of higher education in Illinois,” said Holmes, D-Aurora. “Our next generation of workers have waited long enough for this fight to end. We need to do right by our brightest young students and our hardest-working college aspirants and pass this legislation.”

Senate Bill 2056 also includes funding for adult education and career and technical education programs, as well as various other grant programs through the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and Illinois Community College Board.

The General Assembly reconvenes June 29 to consider the legislation.

Holmes’ push for building redevelopment heads to governor

holmes 053116SPRINGFIELD – Looking to continue parts of a successful building redevelopment program that will help repurpose an unused power station in Aurora, State Sen. Linda Holmes pushed for legislation that passed the General Assembly without opposition Sunday.

“The River Edge Redevelopment Zone program was designed to help developers take old, unused property and renovate it to meet today’s needs,” Holmes said. “We’re simply making sure developers have enough time to make use of these incentives. I urge the governor to sign this and extend the cost-sharing provisions to continue support for an important project.”

Sen. Holmes and Aurora-area state Reps. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, and Stephanie Kifowit, R-Oswego, sponsored the legislation, which extends the expiration date of some cost-sharing arrangements under the development program.

“This legislation is an example of how the State and the City of Aurora can work together to continue the redevelopment of the downtown," Kifowit said. "The proposed developments will revitalize the city's core and surrounding neighborhoods and I'm happy to see this legislation passed.”

Developers hope to use it to help replace an old power station in downtown Aurora with a residential development along a 33-acre stretch along the Fox River.

“The plan is to move the downtown substation and replace it with a residential development that will create high-paid construction jobs, enhance the quality of life in Aurora and bring in additional property tax revenues,” Holmes said.

“The recession hit shortly after this portion of the River Edge Redevelopment Zone Act was passed and Aurora needs more time to complete possible residential projects in the downtown area,” Chapa LaVia said.

The relevant section of the law was set to expire in July of 2017, but the measure would extend it to August 1, 2020.

The legislation is Senate Bill 321. It must be signed by the governor to become law.

Holmes: We must act now to protect health care for children

holmes 051116Sponsors health insurance proposal in the Senate

SPRINGFIELD — Calling on her colleagues in the Senate and Gov. Bruce Rauner to act quickly to avoid the loss of crucial federal matching funds intended to provide health insurance to children, State Sen. Linda Holmes called for an extension to the Covering All Kids Health Insurance Act.

“This is a program aimed squarely at ensuring children are covered by health insurance,” Holmes said. “For the past decade, this program has been supported by both sides of the aisle, and it shouldn’t be at risk now. I urge the Senate to pass this measure extending the sunset date on this important and inexpensive program, and that Governor Rauner swiftly sign it.”

The program covers an estimated 41,000 children from working poor families, regardless of their immigration status, and is one reason Illinois has the second highest rate of health coverage for Latino children in the nation at 95.5 percent. It constitutes roughly one half of one percent of the state’s health insurance spending while bringing in $40 million in federal matching funds.

The Covering All Kids Health Insurance Act will end July 1 unless the legislation, House Bill 5736, passes the General Assembly and is signed into law. That proposal extends the sunset date to October 1, 2019.

Having passed out of the Senate Human Services Committee last week, the legislation is now before the full Senate for consideration.

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