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Holmes, Comptroller Munger strengthen state auditing, seek transparency in spending

holmes-comptrollerSPRINGFIELD — Collaborating with Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger to enforce greater fiscal discipline and seek out efficiencies and transparency in state funding, State Sen. Linda Holmes sponsored two proposals that passed the Illinois Senate today.

“I was happy to work with Comptroller Munger on these two common sense proposals,” Holmes said. “As we work together to address the state’s fiscal difficulties, I’m looking forward to further bipartisan work.”

Senate Bill 1404 further clarifies a law meant to bring the accounting practices of all state agencies into line with one another. A 2011 report by the Auditor General’s Office discovered that the state had been using more than 260 different accounting systems, many described as “antiquated.” The proposal clarifies the auditing practices of state agencies that don’t have their own internal auditor.

Originally introduced by Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka before being taken up again by Munger, Senate Bill 1405 creates a task force with the aim of studying state funds and searching for funds that can be consolidated or otherwise eliminated. Doing so would potentially promote greater efficiency and transparency in state operations. Currently, the state maintains over 900 funds. In contrast, the State of Wisconsin maintains about 60 funds, Comptroller Munger said.

“Illinois has more funds than any other state by far, which makes it incredibly difficult to see how state money is spent,” Munger said. “There is no reason to have a Fish and Wildlife Fund and a separate Salmon Fund. Isn’t salmon a fish?”

“I thank Sen. Holmes for her leadership on these two important bills in the Senate that will go a long way toward improving efficiencies and increasing transparency in state spending,” Munger added.

“Our first responsibility to the people of Illinois is good stewardship of state government,” Holmes said. “With these initiatives, we’re working toward being more watchful and less wasteful.”

The two pieces of legislation proceed to the House for consideration.

Holmes pushes for safe disposal of hazardous medical waste

holmes-sharpsSPRINGFIELD — To improve waste disposal worker safety and prevent the potential spread of disease, State Sen. Linda Holmes has put forth a plan to prohibit the disposal of sharp medical waste with other recyclable materials.

“‘Sharps,’ like syringes, are a fact of life for one out of 12 Illinoisans, and that means one out of 12 Illinoisans are disposing of them somehow,” Holmes said. “We need to ensure that our sanitation workers are not being exposed to potential biohazards as they do their jobs.”

For proper disposal, syringes and other “sharps” should be collected in an appropriate sharps disposal container and can be disposed of in your regular trash. Even when placed in the appropriate plastic container, sharps should never be disposed of with recyclables.

Under the proposal, which passed the Illinois Senate today, disposing of sharp waste like syringes in recycling would be prohibited. It would also permit local government to establish sharps collection points at medical establishments and police or fire stations and to create a U.S. Postal Service-approved sharp waste mail-back program.

The legislation is Senate Bill 793. It proceeds to the House for consideration.

State Sen. Linda Holmes’ statement on 2015 state budget agreement

holmes-15budgetSPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, issued the following statement after voting No on a plan to close a budget gap using significant sweeps from the state’s road fund.

“Today’s outcome for me is bittersweet. While I ultimately could not support this plan, I also am thankful that daycare centers in my district like the Aurora Child Development Center and the Fox Valley Day Care Center can continue to assist families who are just trying to make sure their kids are safe while they go to work,” Holmes said. “I only wish we could have reached an agreement that wouldn’t leave state roads in disrepair and harm jobs in the near-term.”

“Now that this has passed, I am eager to begin considering next year’s budget,” Holmes said. “I am hopeful that we can see a similar bipartisan effort during that process, even if I did not agree with the methods in this one.”

Holmes, Attorney General move to reform employment agency law

holmes-empl-agenciesSPRINGFIELD — Working alongside Attorney General Lisa Madigan to crack down on unlicensed employment agencies, State Sen. Linda Holmes advanced a plan out of committee Wednesday.

“Employers who are flouting the law are exploiting some of the most vulnerable workers in some the lowest-paid jobs,” Holmes said. “At the urging of Attorney General Madigan, I’m putting this proposal forward to toughen enforcement and make sure jobseekers are protected.”

Agencies that refer jobseekers to employers for a one-time fee are regulated under an act that has not seen substantive updates in decades. Those regulations also provide inadequate tools for the Attorney General’s Office to enforce compliance.

Workers who have been placed by such unregulated agencies have alleged instances of abuse they have suffered at the hands of employers, including being made to work 6-day work weeks of 12-hour shifts to pay off referral fees, being referred to jobs that pay below the minimum wage, being housed in crowded and substandard conditions and being denied medical treatment for on-the-job injuries.

“My office initiated this legislation after uncovering instances of low-income and immigrant workers being subject to dangerous and often illegal working conditions. They were placed in those conditions by employment agencies that were frequently operating without licenses,” Madigan said. “This bill will strengthen our laws so that we can stop licensed and unlicensed employment agencies from taking unfair advantage of Illinois workers.”

In addition to providing civil penalties for such violations, Holmes’ proposal directs the Department of Labor to create and maintain a database of employment agencies with suspended or revoked licenses, requires employment agencies to keep records of their placements longer and provides whistleblower protection to employees who report misconduct.

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