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Bennett outlines plan to reopen child care in Illinois

Published: Saturday, May 23, 2020 07:45 PM

bennett floor 052220CHAMPAIGN - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is confident in the state’s cautious approach to reopen child care centers when the Central Region enters phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, likely next week.

“As businesses begin reopening and Illinoisans prepare to return to work, child care is a top priority for many families,” Bennett said. “The availability of child care that enables them to go to work is crucial. New guidelines have been put in place for child care centers to plan and prepare for a safe reopening.”

The Stay at Home Order issued on March 20 and amended on April 20 closed all child care programs, later establishing an emergency childcare structure to provide care for essential workers.

Under phase 3 and 4 of the governor’s reopening plan, all child care facilities will be able to open, as long as they create their own reopening plan that keeps both children and staff safe and healthy, and adhere to the guidelines set by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

That plan must include what to do if a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, daily symptom checks and a face covering requirement, among other things.

Under the governor’s plan, no more than 10 children will be allowed in a classroom at a time for four weeks. After that, if the center has met proper health, social distancing and sanitation requirements, it will be able to expand to larger group sizes.

Additionally, child care programs that have been open since the start of the Stay at Home Order will be allowed expand capacity as their region enters phase three.

“Reopening child care centers will not only relieve parents when they return to work, but it will also give children access to educational resources in a safe learning environment,” Bennett said.

 

All regions of the state are on track to move to the next phase as early as May 29.

Sims supports plan allowing voters to cast ballot safely by mail

Published: Saturday, May 23, 2020 05:39 PM

sims floor 052220SPRINGFIELD—State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) offered his full support of a plan expanding vote by mail for the upcoming general election due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This proposal allows the state to act reasonably to protect its citizens,” Sims said. “We are facing an unprecedented pandemic. This measured approach will ensure that voters can safely cast their ballots from the safety of their homes.”

Individuals who have voted in the past two years — either in the 2018 General Election, 2019 Consolidated Election or 2020 Primary Election — will be mailed an application for a vote-by-mail ballot.

Those who registered to vote after the 2020 Primary Election will also receive an application.

Under the plan, individuals who aren’t automatically sent an application will still be able to apply for a ballot via the State Board of Elections’ website. Applications will open the day the law takes effect.

This legislation does not prevent in-person voting opportunities on and before Election Day.

“Many have fought, bled and died for our right to vote, and we need to ensure that every eligible voter has the opportunity to exercise that right,” Sims said. “I am confident this plan will help voters throughout Illinois do so without risking their health.”

Senate Bill 1863 now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.

Villanueva votes to give essential workers more benefits, protect retail workers who enforce mask etiquette

Published: Saturday, May 23, 2020 05:11 PM

villanueva 052320SPRINGFIELD – With essential workers facing more risks on the job, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) voted to pass a labor package that increases public employee benefits, protects retail workers and expands collective bargaining rights.

“Working people deserve dignity on the job,” Villanueva said. “Expanding paid disability leave, legal protections and the right to negotiate a fair wage will ensure that they have a safety net.”

Senate Bill 471 would expand paid disability leave for first responders by 60 days due to decreased access to rehabilitative services. The legislation would also elevate a charge of battery of a retail employee to aggravated battery if the incident took place during or up to six months after a declared public health emergency. Aggravated battery would also apply to incidents that occur while an employee is performing duties that include relaying directions for health and safety precautions.

“Retail employees are facing harassment and worse for enforcing face mask requirements,” Villanueva said. “We need to proactively expand legal protections to working people who put themselves at risk every day to provide essential services.”

In addition to those provisions, the legislation would also require existing racetracks with 10 or more employees to engage in collective bargaining if the track wishes to expand to include a casino. While the horse racing industry is excluded from federal collective bargaining laws, Illinois has extended similar protections to most businesses.

“As these facilities expand operations, they will also be expanding their workforce with janitorial, food service and other backstretch employees,” Villanueva said. “This measure will create a huge opportunity for those workers to improve their lives and receive the wages they deserve through the opportunity to collectively bargain.”

 Not all backstretch employees would be covered under this bill. Villanueva plans to introduce legislation to expand coverage during veto session.

Senate Bill 471 passed the Illinois Senate 47-3.

Crowe votes to expand protections for Fairmount Park Racetrack employees

Published: Saturday, May 23, 2020 05:03 PM

crowe floor 052220SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) supported legislation expanding coverage to horse racing industry workers while adding more protections for essential employees.

“Previously excluded from coverage, employees at horse racetracks like Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville will have protected collective bargaining rights,” Crowe said. “For the unique circumstances workers are experiencing, it’s crucial for them to have added security for themselves and their families.”

Last year's state gaming expansion created new licenses for horse racetracks to expand operations to include casinos, or “racinos.” With this expansion, increasing staff was necessary to meet the need. This legislation extends collective bargaining rights coverage from the state for employers and employees of the horse racing industry.

The legislation also adds protections for first responders and retail workers deemed essential. For injuries related to the COVID-19 pandemic, this measure gives an additional 60 days of paid disability leave to firefighters, law enforcement and other public sector employees.

“Thanking them for their sacrifices in the fight against the pandemic, offering first responders an extended leave is the least we can do to thank them for their bravery and willingness be in harms way for the sake of everyone’s safety,” Crowe said.

Also recognizing the important work of essential retail workers, acts of physical violence against employees performing duties such as relaying instructions for health care or safety will be enhanced to aggravated battery.

This initiative has the support of AFL-CIO, Local 881 UFCW and AFSCME.

Senate Bill 471 passed the Senate Saturday and now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

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