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Tom Cullerton advances suicide prevention initiative

tc-suicideprevSPRINGFIELD- For people between the ages of 15 and 34 in Illinois, suicide is the third leading cause of death. And for every reported suicide among young people, there are at least 100 attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.

These are just a few of the statistics that help illustrate the need to equip educators in Illinois with the thoughtful training and educational materials to help detect early warning signs of suicide.   

To address this need, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) sponsored Senate Bill 1793, which works toward promoting youth suicide awareness and prevention programs.

“Our children shouldn’t ever feel like they don’t have any other avenue than to take such drastic steps. This legislation will help us catch early warning signs and arm teachers with the tools they need to help students,” said Cullerton.   

This initiative ensures school districts require educators in school buildings serving students in grades 6 through 12 to participate in four hours of training in youth suicide awareness and prevention every five years.

“The statistics are alarming. Suicide is preventable and we need to ensure our children have the necessary protections in place as well as reassurance that there is someone to turn to,” said Cullerton.  

SB1793 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now moves to the House for consideration.

Tom Cullerton works towards protecting families

tc-savingsSPRINGFIELD- Families with disabled family members may soon have an important resource to provide a secure financial future for their loved ones.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed Senate Bill 1383, which creates a tax-exempt plan to assist individuals and families in saving money to cover the expenses for people with disabilities.

“We need to give family members the right tools to provide their loved ones with disabilities the means to live their lives with pride and respect,” said Cullerton.

SB1383 creates the Illinois Achieving a Better Life Expectancy Act (ABLE Act), which creates accounts similar to tax-advantaged college saving plans where income earned in the account is not taxable. This legislation comes after the federal government passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 with bipartisan support.

Last week, Virginia was the first state to enact the program since the federal legislation was passed.

“This plan would lighten the load a bit and make it easier for families to save money as they continue to make important life decisions for their future,” said Cullerton.

Under this initiative, the Illinois Treasurer’s office would be responsible for creating ABLE accounts in accordance with federal rules and regulations. The accounts can be used to pay for qualifying expenses such as education, health, housing and transportation costs.

SB 1383 passed the Senate and moves to the House for consideration.

Tom Cullerton promotes good schools

tc-schlbdelectSPRINGFIELD- Local school boards make critical decisions concerning curriculum, negotiating teacher contracts and budgets.  However, only about 20 percent of registered voters show up to vote for these important positions.

Illinois residents may be given the opportunity to vote for their school board members alongside candidates for the White House and U.S. Senate under legislation Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed in an effort to fight voter fatigue.

“Good schools translate to good businesses in our communities. Voting in local school board elections means voting for the success of our students and economy,” said Cullerton. “We need to do as much as possible to increase voter participation for school board elections. We can’t force people to go out and vote but we can take steps to make it easier.”

Cullerton introduced Senate Bill 669 after observing an extreme decrease in voter participation during consolidated elections. In the 23rd State Senate District alone there was a 58 percentage drop off in voter turnout in the 2013 consolidated elections compared to 2014 general elections.

“We rely on school board members to make vital decisions about the future of our children and property tax dollars. These are decisions they shouldn’t take lightly and neither should voters,” said Cullerton.  

Under this measure, school board elections will remain nonpartisan.

SB 669 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and will now move to the House for consideration.

Tom Cullerton sponsors legislation to address O’Hare noise issue

tc-ohareSPRINGFIELD- Residents of Cook and DuPage counties may be one step closer to alleviating noise pollution caused by O’Hare International Airport.

A report released shows the Chicago Department of Aviation reported 39,500 noise complaints in the O’Hare area in January of this year. The noise complaints are part of an ongoing problem that continues  to escalate in communities surrounding the O’Hare Airport.

This week, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) moved one step closer to fixing this problem with his support of Senate Bill 636 and Senate Bill 637.

Under the new proposals, O’Hare would keep the existing runways intact, which would allow air traffic to be more evenly distributed. Currently some runways are only running at roughly 3 percent capacity. The effect of not using runways evenly has forced 97 percent of the air traffic and noise to communities directly east and west of the airport. This has resulted in the increased number of noise complaints.

“Residents of DuPage and Cook counties have legitimate complaints. There continues to be a definite negative impact on the quality of life for the residents of these communities,” said Cullerton. “These initiatives will move us one step closer to finding a long-term solution to alleviate these communities from unnecessary disturbances.”

Cullerton is also circulating a petition to urge the Federal Government to issue a study to examine the environmental and human health impacts caused by O’Hare International Airport. The petition is available online at SenatorTomCullerton.com.

He has been working on this issue with Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and intends to present copies of the petition to U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.

SB636 and SB637 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now moves to the House for consideration.

Sen. Tom Cullerton

tcullerton-hs

23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Insurance; Labor; State Government; Transportation; Veterans Affairs (Chairperson); Sub. on Utility Rate Regulations (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: Born Sept. 20, 1969; studied at the University of Kansas; former village president and trustee of Villa Park; married (wife Stacey), three sons.

Associated Representatives:
Deb Conroy
Diane Pappas