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Tom Cullerton calls for end to bans on winter greenhouses

GreenhouseSPRINGFIELD – An Elmhurst family may soon be able to extend their backyard gardening season, thanks to State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park).

The Senate’s Local Government Committee heard testimony on Wednesday in support of Cullerton’s measure, Senate Bill 1675, which would stop municipalities from banning the construction of a season extension or crop protection device such as a hoop house from October 1 to April 15 every year.

“Hoop houses allow residents to extend growing season to grow fresh produce all year round,” Cullerton said. “It’s a shame that the state needed to get involved to allow local residents to take advantage of countless health benefits throughout our winter months. My hope is the City of Elmhurst reaches a swift and responsible decision in the next week to avoid the state’s involvement.”

The issue began in 2015, when city officials told Nicole Virgil and her husband, Dan, that their hoop house violated city rules and directed them to take it down. The Virgils had designed and built a hoop house, which is a series of large hoops or bows—made of metal, plastic pipe or wood—covered with a layer of heavy greenhouse plastic. The plastic is stretched tight and fastened to baseboards with strips of wood, metal or wire. Hoop houses can be used to grow some crops year-round.

Since then, the Virgils have been battling zoning restrictions to get the city’s permission to extend their backyard gardening season. The Elmhurst City Council voted on the matter again in February, blocking the hoop house with the mayor casting a rare tie-breaker vote.

“Local and state government exists to preserve the rights of the people,” Nicole Virgil said. “I would like units of local government to respect and support the benign backyard activities of residents.”

The initiative is supported by the Illinois Environmental Council, Sustain DuPage, Urban Canopy, DuPage County Farm Bureau, DuPage NAACP, Eco-Justice Collaborative, Sierra Club and Elmhurst Hoop House. Nearly 1,500 supporters have expressed their support for the measure.

Cullerton hopes the City of Elmhurst will enact policies that will allow residents like Virgil to keep backyard gardens year round. The matter remains under discussion in the Senate’s Local Government Committee.

Senate passes measure to fly POW, MIA flag at local airports

pow mia flag 030719SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ lost heroes may soon be recognized at local airports, thanks to Senator Tom Cullerton.

Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed Senate Bill 1127 on Thursday to require the Division of Aeronautics under the Department of Transportation fly the Veteran Missing in Action flag at all of the airports in their jurisdiction.

“Our lost heroes should never be forgotten,” Cullerton said. “This small gesture helps keep our missing heroes from all wars in our hearts and minds.”

Cullerton: We need a long-term solution to protect the health and safety of our veterans

tc 052918MANTENO— State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is praising Gov. JB Pritzker’s move to protect Illinois’ veterans.

On Friday, Pritzker issued an executive order to examine and get to the bottom of the Legionnaires’ crisis in the state’s veterans’ homes.

Pritzker’s administration is directing the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to issue a report 120 days that will provide a comprehensive review of weaknesses, strengths and opportunities for improvement of policies, protocols and procedures related to ensuring the health and safety of residents and employees at Illinois veterans’ homes.

Cullerton law makes government consolidation easier

tc 042018VILLA PARK— Starting Jan. 1, 2019, Illinois residents will have a faster method to speed up the government consolidation process, thanks to Villa Park Democrat State Senator Tom Cullerton.

The new law will accomplish this by decreasing the waiting period from 150 to 60 days after the first mandated county audit is performed.

“Consolidating government the right way will help lower property taxes for DuPage County residents,” Cullerton said. “Speeding up the process will help residents experience government savings sooner rather than later.”

Previously, it could take over two and a half years for some Illinois counties to consolidate local government entities.

In 2013, Cullerton worked with DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin to implement an effective government consolidation model to eliminate redundant forms of government. Last year, Cullerton continued to advance his mission of making sure government is working in tune with the needs of Illinois’ residents.

“Government should change to fit the needs of the people,” Cullerton said. “Outdated and ineffective government entities are a blatant disservice to the public. This commonsense change will ensure government works more efficiently and effectively to serve the citizens of Illinois.”

When the original DuPage pilot program was created in 2013, Cullerton agreed to a number of provisions, including a 150-day waiting period after the first audit was performed. House Bill 5777 reduces that waiting period from 150 to 60 days to speed up the process and help counties receive results more promptly.

“DuPage County is proof government consolidation works,” Cullerton said. “Saving vital taxpayer money while working toward effective government is a win for everyone involved.”

Sen. Tom Cullerton

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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