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Secretary of State reopens facilities for new drivers, renewals beginning in June

Published: Wednesday, May 27, 2020 11:10 AM

fine floor 052320GLENVIEW – As offices and businesses across the state begin to reopen under new health and safety guidelines, the Illinois Secretary of State will reopen driver services facilities to offer limited services starting June 1, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) announced Wednesday.

“There’s no rush to get to a facility, since expiration dates have been extended and services are still available online,” said Fine. “But it’s good to see the Secretary of State’s office reopening their facilities with employees’ and customers’ safety in mind.”

Driver services facilities to open in June for new drivers and renewals

Published: Tuesday, May 26, 2020 04:34 PM

sosfacility3 051820DES PLAINES – To begin to address the volume of expired vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses and ID cards in Illinois, the Illinois Secretary of State will open driver services facilities with limited service beginning June 1, State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) announced Tuesday.

“Closing driver services facilities was necessary to protect workers and customers from the spread of COVID-19,” said Murphy. “Expiration dates have been extended, so you have plenty of time to renew, but I’m glad to see these offices reopening for service now that the curve is flattening.”

All Secretary of State departments and offices will reopen for business starting June 1. Driver services facilities across the state will reopen the first week of June with expanded hours of operation. Through July 31, these facilities will only serve new drivers, customers with expired driver’s licenses and ID cards, and vehicle transactions. Find nearby locations, opening dates and hours using the Secretary of State’s Facility Finder tool.

To ensure current documents remain valid and lessen the rush of customers when these facilities open, the Secretary of State has extended expiration dates for driver’s licenses, IDs and vehicle registrations by at least 90 days after the governor’s disaster proclamation ends. The federal deadline to obtain a REAL ID has also been extended to October 1, 2021.

Residents are still encouraged to visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com to avoid waiting in line and take advantage of online services, including replacements and renewals of registrations, driver’s licenses and ID cards.

Ellman returns to Capitol to pass state budget and address COVID-19 challenges

Published: Tuesday, May 26, 2020 02:29 PM

ellman 052320SPRINGFIELD - Last week, State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) and the Illinois Senate reconvened in Springfield to pass the state budget after a nearly three months of cancelations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s no doubt that these were unusual circumstances under which to pass a state budget,” Ellman said. “We came together as a governing body and passed a responsible budget.”

Ellman emphasized a provision in the budget that expanded the eligibility of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program through June 2021. LIHEAP is a program to assist low income households who are struggling with their utility bills. 

“This pandemic has effected all of us, but it’s more likely to affect the financial security of those who are already having trouble paying their bills,” Ellman said. “Expanding the eligibility for this program was a necessary step to make sure that those who are already struggling don’t fall though the cracks.”

Ellman also highlighted that with this budget, the state is committed to maintaining and making full pension payments, as well as holding the line for K-12 and higher education funding.

“We have a responsibly to hold up our end of the bargain and continue to maintain the state’s pension payments and education funding,” Ellman said. “Now more than ever, it is absolutely imperative that we provide confidence for our students and educators in these uncertain times.”

In addition, this year’s budget fully funds the Local Government Distributive Fund. The fund provides local governments with a share of the state’s income tax revenue and will help them make up for budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Bill 264 passed the full Senate with a vote of 37-19-0.

“What the General Assembly accomplished this week is just a start. We did what was needed to begin moving forward,” Ellman said. “Make no mistake, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but I believe if we continue to come together as a state, we can tackle this challenge, and when we do, we will be stronger for it.”

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Bush legislation seeks to address limited options on rape kit testing during COVID-19 crisis

Published: Sunday, May 24, 2020 12:43 PM
bush floor 052320

CHICAGO – Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) have passed emergency legislation to address concerns related to ensuring that survivors of sexual assault have access to care and evidence collection during the COVID-19 crisis. Under current law sexual assault survivors’ only option for a forensic exam and evidence collection is to go to an emergency department. Many survivors seeking treatment at alternative sites have expressed fear of being exposed to COVID-19 at hospital emergency rooms.

Senate Bill 557 seeks to allow approved federally qualified health centers (FQHC) to perform rape kit examinations and collection during public health emergencies such as COVID-19.

“We know sexual assaults are not stopping during this time. Survivors should not have the added worry of being exposed to the virus, they deserve better,” Representative Cassidy said. 

Advocacy groups and experts in the industry know that sexual violence is not decreasing during this time. Resilience, Chicago’s largest comprehensive rape crisis center has reported a 49% decrease in call volume from hospitals since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile Howard Brown Health Center a federally qualified health center, has seen its volume of sexual assault cases double.

"Currently, the only place a survivor of sexual assault can get a rape kit or medical help is a hospital. With survivors citing COVID-19 and the health risks associated with going to a crowded hospital as a reason to stay away, it's more important than ever to allow federally qualified health centers to perform rape kits and give survivors additional options to seek help," Bush said. "The need for alternative options has never been more important than right now." 
 

In order to provide these exams FQHCs would need to apply to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Facilities must also abide by strict guidelines including working with emergency departments, rape crisis centers and offer wrap around services to survivors.

"With many survivors uncomfortable going to a hospital during the pandemic, it's critical to provide other places where they can access safe treatment and compassionate care," said Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx. "Expanding these options will also allow for evidence collection, which is vital to bringing survivors justice. I'm grateful to the sponsors and advocates who share our trauma-informed, victim-centered approach and moved quickly to advance this important legislation."

This legislation represents an initiative by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Chicago Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Office of the Attorney General and the Illinois Department of Public Health. The bill passed the House by a vote of 107-1 and the Senate 56-0. 

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