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Castro pleased with passage of COVID-19 protections for first responders

Published: Saturday, May 23, 2020 10:11 AM

castro floor2 052120SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro and her colleagues in the Illinois Senate passed a bill Thursday that contained protections for first responders who are affected by COVID-19 as a result of their duties.

“Now more than ever, the first responders and front-line workers who are risking their lives to keep us safe during a pandemic deserve our undying thanks and gratitude,” Castro said. “The very least we can do as a legislature is provide these brave men and women with protections since they are risking their lives every single day.”

The legislation provides expanded worker’s compensation protection for COVID-19 first-responders and front-line workers, including people employed as a police officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic, health care provider (including nursing home, rehabilitation and homecare workers), corrections officer, or anyone employed as an essential worker.

“No one deserves to have their lives ruined as a result of contracting COVID-19, and especially not people who have no choice but to be exposed to it,” Castro said.

The first-responder protections were part of House Bill 2455, a labor protection package that also addressed issues with unemployment insurance. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and will be sent back to the House of Representatives for a final vote.

Peters celebrates expansion of vote-by-mail program

Published: Saturday, May 23, 2020 10:06 AM

votebymail 052320SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) supported a plan expanding the state’s vote-by-mail program that moved through the Illinois Senate on Friday.

“In this time of crisis, it’s important that we not only look to preserve people’s health, but also their right to participate in the democratic process,” Peters said. “People deserve to cast votes without having to worry about getting sick, and expanding vote-by-mail provisions accomplishes that.”

The expansion came as part of a larger election package that made several changes to state election code in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal requires election authorities to automatically send a vote-by-mail application to every person who voted in the 2018 general, 2019 consolidated or 2020 primary elections or registered to vote after the 2020 primary election. Under current law, voters must specifically request a vote-by-mail application.

“A lot of people aren’t aware that voting by mail is available,” Peters said. “Automatically sending vote-by-mail applications gives voters the opportunity to make use of an option they didn’t know they had,” Peters said.

In addition to vote-by-mail expansions, Senate Bill 1863 extends early voting windows, establishes curbside voting programs, modifies required qualifications for election judges and makes election day a state holiday, among other changes. Having passed both chambers of the General Assembly, it will be sent to the governor for approval.

Villanueva votes to make 2020 election safe and accessible

Published: Friday, May 22, 2020 10:17 PM

Sen. Celina VillanuevaSPRINGFIELD – With public health concerns surrounding the 2020 General Election, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) voted to pass a historic election package out of the Illinois Senate.

“Participating in our democracy is a right, not a privilege,” Villanueva said. “Voters need to be able to cast their ballot without putting themselves or others at risk.”

Koehler works to provide financial relief for property owners

Published: Friday, May 22, 2020 09:04 PM

koehler chair 052220SPRINGFIELD – To provide much needed flexibility and relief as businesses and counties begin to reopen, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) sponsored legislation that would give property owners the means to continue meeting the challenges presented by COVID-19.

"I led the Senate’s economic revitalization working group with one goal in mind. We had to provide people with real, tangible solutions to the enormous challenges brought on by the pandemic,” Koehler said. “Implementing property tax relief measures and extending payment deadlines is where we have to start as we begin to work toward the recovery of our local economies.”

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