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Morrison seeks solutions to failing DCFS system

morrison 081518SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) convened the Senate Human Services Committee Tuesday afternoon to seek solutions to the continuing problem of Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) youth being held longer than medically necessary in psychiatric hospitals across the state.

“Abused or neglected children with mental health conditions should receive the care they need and transition to an outpatient or residential setting as soon as possible,” Morrison said. “Languishing in a psychiatric hospital can cause affirmative harm for a child. The state must do a much better job caring for these vulnerable children.”

Morrison’s proposal to require SMA testing in newborns signed into law

babies 081518SPRINGFIELD – Illinois newborns will now be tested for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) under a proposal passed by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) that was signed into law on Tuesday.   

“Medical advancements have made all the difference in treating this horrific disease that affects our youngest children,” Morrison said. “Including testing for SMA in regular newborn screenings will ensure treatment can begin immediately to prevent the disease from progressing and causing life-time harm or even death.”

Morrison’s new law, passed under Senate Bill 456, requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to test for SMA during the newborn screening test. The department is required by the new law to begin testing by 2020 at the latest.

SMA is the most common genetic disorder linked to infant death worldwide and affects between 1 in 6,000 to 1 in 10,000 U.S. births. It is a terminal, degenerative disease that causes severe symptoms that eventually prohibit a child from walking, standing, eating, swallowing and even breathing. Most children with the genetic disorder will not live past 18 months.

Fortunately, advances in medical treatment led the FDA to approve the first treatment for SMA in December 2016. The drug is only effective, however, if given early before symptoms fully develop, making testing of paramount importance.

“I am proud Illinois is taking a lead in ensuring all children are tested for a painful disease that can now be both tested for and treated,” Morrison said.

Senate Bill 456 was signed into law on Tuesday and takes effect immediately.

New Morrison law requires school buses to use safety equipment

bus carouselSPRINGFIELD – Every school bus in Illinois carrying children will now be required to use the stop signal arm and flashing signal lights under a proposal signed into law today that was passed by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) earlier this year.

Current state law gives an exception and even prohibits school buses from using the safety technology if students are not being transported to school or if the bus is not being used for specific youth camp or child care purposes.

“Any school bus transporting children should without exception be using the safety equipment already installed,” Morrison said. “This is an example of state bureaucracy getting in the way of common sense.”

Senate Bill 2482, signed into law today, requires all buses carrying children under the age of 18 to have operational stop signal arms and flashing signal lights. 

Morrison introduced her proposal after a child in Highland Park was struck by a car when exiting a school bus coming back from a sports day camp. Because the camp did not meet strict state requirements, the bus driver could not use the stop arm, and the “school bus” sign had to be concealed.

“While we unfortunately cannot go back in time and prevent this incident, we can ensure children exiting buses are safe going forward,” Morrison said. “That includes always utilizing safety equipment to alert drivers that children are exiting a bus.”

Senate Bill 2482 was signed into law today and takes effect on January 1, 2019.

Morrison’s proposal improving care for sexual assault survivors signed into law

morrison 053018SPRINGFIELD – A proposal passed by State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) to improve medical care for survivors of rape and sexual assault was signed into law today.

“Survivors of rape or sexual assault face many hurdles, including physical and mental obstacles that can prevent healing and justice,” Morrison said. “This new law will ensure our medical facilities and their staff are able to provide top-notch care to victims and help them overcome at least some of the obstacles.”

Morrison’s new law, passed under House Bill 5245, House Bill 5245 is a package of reforms meant to expedite the overall medical care of sexual assault survivors. The proposal would ensure survivors of sexual assault receive prompt medical treatment within 90 minutes of arriving at a hospital and also that medical personnel are trained to perform rape kits and other examinations needed after a sexual assault.

Ensuring all rape kits and examinations are performed in a timely manner by trained medical professionals makes prosecuting offenders much more attainable.  

Attorney General Lisa Madigan championed the proposal after increased attention has been drawn to the issue of untrained medical professionals treating survivors of sexual assault.

House Bill 5245 was signed into law today and takes effect immediately.

Sen. Julie Morrison

morrison 150

29th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Environment and Conservation; Human Services (Vice-Chairperson); Education; Committee of the Whole; Commerce and Economic Development; Transportation.

Biography: Born in Beardstown; received a bachelor's degree from Knox College; served as supervisor of West Deerfield Township, married to husband Joe with three grown children.

Associated Representative(s): Elaine Nekritz, Scott Drury