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Morrison urges House to act on Human Service funding plan

Published: Monday, May 09, 2016 12:09 PM

morrison 050516SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ colleges and universities have begun receiving funding from the state for the first time since June thanks to a plan supported by Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) and signed by the governor. A similar plan to provide nearly $450 million to struggling human service providers, however, has yet to receive a vote in the House.

“Every day that goes by, another provider is that much closer to announcing staff layoffs, service interruptions or even closure,” Morrison said. “I urge the House to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and pass funding for our human service providers immediately.”

The Senate sent Senate Bill 2047, which passed without opposition, to the House on April 22. The proposal provides nearly $450 million in funding to a host of human service providers, including funding for autism services, sexual assault programs and mental health supportive housing.

“We came together to keep our colleges and universities open. Our human service providers deserve the same action,” Morrison said. “Funding for this plan is available – the money is sitting in an account in a dedicated fund. The state never stopped collecting taxes when the budget impasse began. Distributing these funds to the many agencies providing vital services to Illinoisans must be a top priority.”

Senate Bill 2047 is currently in the House Rules Committee awaiting action.

Martinez helps students get college credit for foreign language courses

Published: Monday, May 09, 2016 12:03 PM

martinez 050616SPRINGFIELD — Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) has advanced legislation that will help students meet foreign language requirements when they apply for college.

Under Martinez’s plan, state universities and community colleges would have to accept the State Seal of Biliteracy as the equivalent of two years of foreign language learning taken during high school. The State Seal of Biliteracy, which Martinez established through a law she sponsored, is awarded to high school students demonstrating proficiency in English and at least one more other language.

“The State Seal of Biliteracy was an important step in encouraging foreign language learning, which helps students acquire the skills necessary for competing in the global economy,” Martinez said. “Now I am trying to improve the program by ensuring that a student who completes it gets the foreign language credits he or she deserves.”

House Bill 4330 provides that the rules the Illinois State Board of Education establishes for the program must ensure that a student meets two years of foreign language requirements for college admissions purposes.

It’s optional for schools to offer a State Seal of Biliteracy to students. For the 2015-2016 school year, 54 Illinois schools were approved for the State Seal of Biliteracy.

Martinez’s bill also requires state universities and community colleges to establish criteria to translate a State Seal of Biliteracy into course credit.

The senator’s proposal passed out of the Senate’s Education Committee this week and now must be approved by the Illinois Senate.

Hastings votes to help higher education

Published: Friday, May 06, 2016 05:59 PM

Hastings votes to help higher educationSPRINGFIELD – Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) voted to send emergency funding to state universities and community colleges.

Senate Bill 2048 would ensure that all state universities, community colleges and MAP grants would receive some emergency funding to help with the current fiscal year. This is in addition to the Senate Bill 2059 which also sent emergency appropriations.

“Amidst our budget standoff, schools like Governor’s State and Chicago State were being starved and forced to make unfortunate decisions,” Hastings said. “Though a full higher education budget is still necessary, this will allow schools to continue to educate our students without making drastic decisions that only harm our students.”

The legislation would also send funding to schools that accept MAP grants to pay for a portion of the amounts that were awarded prior to the start of the fiscal year.

The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration

Bush pushes for more police training on domestic violence

Published: Friday, May 06, 2016 05:51 PM

“Abusers need to know they can’t hide from the law.”

Bush pushes for more police training on domestic violenceSPRINGFIELD — To ensure more police officers are equipped with the knowledge and skills to respond to domestic violence as soon as they answer a call, State Sen. Melinda Bush advanced a proposal today that would provide for additional training for law enforcement.

“One of the worst parts of domestic violence is how difficult it is to investigate and prosecute when so many people involved may have totally inaccurate, preconceived notions of what an abuse situation looks like,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “By requiring more training, we’re giving law enforcement more ability to fight this crime.”

Currently, the law recommends but does not require police departments to coordinate domestic violence response training with service organizations and develop appropriate arrest procedures. The new training is aimed at the prevention of further victimization, focusing on looking beyond the physical evidence of domestic violence and giving officers an understanding of the deeper psychological aspects of abusive relationships.

“Abusers need to know that our officers know what to look for,” Bush said. “They need to know they can’t hide from the law.”

The legislation is HB 5538. Having passed the Illinois House 113-0, it is sponsored by Sen. Bush in the Senate. It passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee Wednesday and proceeds to the full Senate for consideration.

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