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Villivalam urges residents to take advantage of new tollway initiative

Published: Wednesday, July 08, 2020 12:36 PM

villivalam 022720CHICAGO – State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is urging residents to take advantage of a new initiative announced by the Illinois Tollway this summer. TOLLING 2020 is a new tolling reform package that will significantly reduce the costs of unpaid toll fees.

“Thanks to this relief period, motorists who have been unable to pay outstanding fees due to COVID-19 will be able to catch up,” Villivalam said. “I believe customers will save under the new invoice process and violation relief.”  

For the remainder of 2020, the Tollway is reducing all outstanding violations with the Illinois Tollway, and all existing $20 and $50 fines per toll will also be reduced to $3 per toll, providing an opportunity for relief to thousands of motorists. Any unpaid tolls that occurred between March 9 and June 25 during the Stay at Home Order will not incur additional fines or fees.

Here are some important takeaways for customers under this new program:

  • As always, customers can continue to avoid fees completely for at least 14 days by paying online.
  • Vehicle owners who fail to pay a toll will now initially face a notice with a $3 invoice fee for each unpaid toll rather than a notice with a $20 violation fine, an 85% reduction. (Currently, a $20 fine is assessed for each unpaid toll if left unpaid. That penalty escalates by another $50 if the notice remains unpaid for an additional 60 days.)
  • Customers looking to take advantage of the significant reduction in fines can visit the Tollway’s website to review and pay their updated balances through the end of the year, even if they were previously at collections. (No special arrangements are necessary.)
  • Customers with unpaid tolls during the COVID-19 period will receive an invoice for their unpaid tolls only and are able to pay those tolls online as well.

The Illinois Tollway is still operating all-electronic toll collection to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so tolls should still be paid online to avoid any fines and fees. Anyone who wants to learn more about the program, or how to pay unpaid tolls and violations, should visit the Illinois Tollway’s website at www.illinoistollway.com

Crowe announces local grant recipients for adult literacy programs

Published: Wednesday, July 08, 2020 11:33 AM

adult literacy 070820Skilled tutors encouraged to volunteer services

MARYVILLE – In an effort to promote statewide literacy, the secretary of state has announced its grant recipients, and State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) congratulates two Metro East programs and encourages experienced, local tutors to volunteer.

“By funding grant programs in a statewide effort to support adults overcoming literacy barriers, Illinois is assuring people have adequate resources for learning to communicate effectively,” Crowe said. “I encourage members of our community with a passion for educating to consider applying for a volunteer tutoring position.”

Local recipients and awarded grant amounts in the 56th Senate District include $113,045 for Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey and $48,177 for the Metro East Literacy Project in O’Fallon, totaling $161,222.

According to the secretary of state’s office, more than 13,500 students will be served by adult literacy programs throughout Illinois. Supported by $5.6 million in state funds, the programs will depend on nearly 6,000 volunteer tutors to provide skills training for students.

Adult literacy projects focus on improving reading, writing and math and are targeted at Illinois adults who read below the 9th-grade level or speak English at a beginning level.

If someone is interested in becoming a volunteer tutor, they can contact the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline at 1-800-321-9511.

Villanueva encourages youth employment assistance providers to apply for state grant

Published: Wednesday, July 08, 2020 10:23 AM

teens 070820CHICAGO – With young people facing high rates of unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) announced that the Illinois Youth Investment Program is extending its grant application deadline to Aug. 3, 2020.

“For most of my career I have been dedicated to the development of young people and am continuously amazed at the things that they can accomplish,” Villanueva said. “Organizations looking to help at-risk young people should apply for these grants so that they have the necessary resources to set them up for success.”

Pritzker signs Manar proposal to cover cancer clinical trials for Medicaid beneficiaries

Published: Tuesday, July 07, 2020 07:01 PM

manar 031120SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Medicaid recipients are now eligible for life-saving clinical trials to treat cancer and other serious diseases.

This afternoon, Governor Pritzker enacted Senate Bill 1864, a health care package that includes a proposal by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) requiring the state’s Medicaid program to cover routine care costs incurred for an approved clinical trial involving the prevention, detection, or treatment of cancer or any other life-threatening disease, as long as Medicaid would normally cover those same routine care costs for a non-clinical procedure.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that this law will save lives. For too long, some people were granted access to the most advanced and potentially life-saving cancer treatment, and others weren’t, simply depending on which insurance plan they had. That injustice ended today,” Manar said. “I appreciate Governor Pritzker’s demonstrated commitment to advancing equity in health care.”

Initially introduced and carried through the Senate by Manar, the initiative was included in a broader health care package passed by the General Assembly during the abbreviated special session in May.

More than 20% of Illinoisans are covered by Medicaid, making it the second largest type of insurance behind Medicare.

Medicare and private insurance carriers are already required to provide coverage for routine care costs in clinical trial participation. Medicaid is not. This legislation would align Medicaid coverage for clinical trials with coverage under those insurance plans.

Because routine costs would be paid for by Medicaid if the patient were not on a clinical trial, there is minimal cost difference for Medicaid to cover these costs within a clinical trial.

Manar worked closely with the American Cancer Society to draft the proposal.

“The state has taken an important step to ensure the viability of new cancer research in our state and to allow an additional 20% of Illinois residents to have access to the latest treatments and therapies,” said Shana Crews, Government Relations Director at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “We look forward to working with state leaders to further reduce Illinois’ cancer burden.”

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