• Bertino-Tarrant applauds plans to invest in Illinois’ education system

    Senator Bertino-TarrantSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) was thrilled to hear Gov. JB Pritzker’s plans to increase investments in the state’s education system during the State of the State address on Wednesday.

    “The most important investment we can make is in our children’s education,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Increasing investments in child care and early childhood education will ensure that we are providing the best resources to help train the future leaders of our great state.”

  • Bertino-Tarrant applauds state’s commitment to fight opioid crisis and reduce racial disparities

    jbt 041118 2SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is applauding the state’s commitment to better address racial disparities in responding to the opioid crisis by establishing the Governor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention and Recovery Steering Committee.

    Illinois is also dedicating $4.1 million state dollars to expand recovery and prevention services for individuals with opioid use disorder.

    “I applaud Gov. JB Pritzker’s efforts to help end the opioid crisis that has plagued communities throughout Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The $4.1 million investment will help increase the state’s investments in communities that need them the most and help create a comprehensive plan to fight the opioid crisis.”

    Pritzker’s executive order also focuses on harm reduction strategies that promote safer use of opioids to save lives. These strategies will help reduce both the risks of infectious HIV, HCV and Hepatitis A and fatal overdoses. The plan includes supervised consumption sites, where individuals with opioid use disorder are under the supervision of trained staff with the goal of ensuring the safety of both the individual and the general public.

    “Opioid addiction isn’t dependent on age, socioeconomic standing or race; it does not discriminate,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “If we’re to fight this national epidemic, we need to treat every life as precious.”

    The Governor’s office, along with the state’s Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council, will create an Opioid Social Equity Committee to make legislative recommendations on how to address social and racial disparities in the opioid crisis. The group will also create local recovery-oriented systems of care councils in communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the crisis in order to engage individuals in all stages of recovery.

    To ensure accountability of available resources, the state will also create an online listing all opioid use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery resources.

  • Lawmakers seek answers to abuse of seclusion rooms in schools

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  • Manar joins lawmakers, diabetes advocates in Joliet to demand lower insulin costs

    Manar 101819JOLIET – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) gathered with fellow state lawmakers and diabetes health advocates in Joliet Friday to urge support for a new measure aimed at reducing the skyrocketing cost of insulin.

    “Absurd insulin costs are making it nearly impossible for some individuals to afford the life-saving medication they need,” Manar said. “It’s time we take a stand on this issue and finally bring some relief for people who are being forced to pay exorbitant prices just to stay alive.”

    Senate Bill 667, introduced by Manar in May, would cap out of pocket insulin expenses at $100 for a 30-day supply.

    Manar was joined by State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood), State Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) and State Rep. John Connor (D-Lockport) to push for the legislation’s passage and hear from individuals who have been directly impacted by rising insulin costs.

    According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes, 7.4 million of which require prescription insulin every day to survive. However, the increasing costs associated with the medication have led many patients to ration their supply or seek care outside of the country.

    “Insulin is a life-saving prescription drug,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “It is outrageous that drug manufacturers are often placing profit before people. If they are going to utilize greedy profit schemes to make money off of this crucial medication, it is time for the state to intervene.”

    The legislation would make Illinois just the second state in the country to cap out of pocket insulin expenses. Colorado became the first earlier this year.

    The measure has also garnered the support of several advocacy organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Pharmacists Association and AARP.

    “AARP Illinois supports this measure on behalf of our 1.7 million members, many of whom have told us about the hardships they face in paying for their prescription drugs,” said State Director Bob Gallo. “We commend Sen. Manar, Rep. Guzzardi, and other legislators for recognizing that everyday Illinois residents are having to make heartbreaking choices about whether to pay for medicine or other basic necessities with their fixed incomes. And we hope that SB 667 will be a stepping stone to getting further reforms that will lower the cost of prescription drugs for everyone.”

    Manar expects to call the bill for a vote during the fall veto session.

  • Bertino-Tarrant’s new law ensures reliable and experienced teachers in Illinois’ classrooms

    Sen. Jennifer Bertino-TarrantPLAINFIELD – Illinois now has a new law in place to help address the teacher shortage by allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom without coming out of retirement, thanks to Illinois Senate Education Chair Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

    Bertino-Tarrant’s championed House Bill 1472, which addresses findings that 89 percent of Central Illinois districts and 92 percent of Southern Illinois districts have issues with staffing teaching positions with qualified candidates. The law was signed on Friday.

    “Our retired teachers should not be penalized for returning to classrooms to help our school districts meet their needs,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We want teachers in our classrooms with experience in the profession to help ensure our children are receiving a strong education.”

  • Bertino-Tarrant acts to preserve five-hour school days in Illinois

    05072019CM0083RSPLAINFIELD –Illinois’ five-hour classroom time will now ensure students receive a balanced education, thanks to the Senate’s Education Chair Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

    Bertino-Tarrant’s measure, Senate Bill 28, reinstates a minimum of 5 hours of instruction per day in schools, allowing exemptions for students enrolled in dual career, supervised career development experiences and youth apprenticeships.

    This section was repealed in the Evidence Based Funding for Student Success Act trailer bill, leaving each school district to determine what counts as an instructional day. The fix was signed into law on Friday

    “Utilizing technology in our curriculum helps our children learn better,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “In the 21st century, we need to continue to look for ways to incorporate innovative teaching methods to guarantee our children are prepared to compete in the modern world. However, there needs to be clear and concise guidelines in place to ensure students are receiving the best possible educational opportunities.”

    Schools that have received approval from Illinois State Board of Education may still utilize e-learning days to satisfy school day requirements.

    Bertino-Tarrant is committed to working with ISBE, educators and advocates to create a streamlined process that will allow school districts to utilize e-learning, especially in cases when schools are forced to cancel days in the classroom.

    “E-learning is a valuable tool,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We just need to make sure there are clear standards in place to prevent abuse of the program.”

    Senate Bill 28 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The measure go into effect on July 1, 2019.

  • Bertino-Tarrant fights workplace discrimination

    Sen. Bertino-TarrantPLAINFIELD – Women across Illinois will soon have remedies to fight sexual harassment and discrimination in work places, thanks to a measure supported by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

    Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) championed Senate Bill 75, which clarifies the ethics investigation process, including making the process more transparent and giving additional rights to victims of harassment and discrimination who file ethics complaints.

    “This monumental legislation is helping shift the culture in the work place,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Stopping sexual harassment and ending discrimination helps provide a safe work environment for everyone.”

  • Crucial I-80 bridge repairs included in statewide construction plan

    jbt mcguire 060319Capital construction plan passes with support from McGuire, Bertino-Tarrant

    SPRINGFIELD — Included in a statewide construction plan that addresses hospitals, schools and roadways will be funding dedicated to repairs ensuring the long-term safety of the I-80 bridge spanning the Des Plaines River. The plan passed with support from State Senators Pat McGuire and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

    “We took two giant steps toward safety on I-80 by devoting millions in state funding for needed repairs and by clearing the way for the privately funded Houbolt Road Bridge,” McGuire said.

    “Local residents cannot continue to tolerate poor roads and bridges,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “It is imperative that the state invest in the I-80 bridge to ensure safety, economic growth and eliminate traffic.”

    State inspectors signaled an urgent need to repair the bridge, which conveys traffic across the Des Plaines River in the Joliet area. The bridge scored a 6 out of 100 in an IDOT sufficiency assessment – anything below an 80 is considered deficient.

    The bridge work is part of a $45 billion plan that will address roadway and building needs all over the state of Illinois, including at public universities, hospitals, and other travel infrastructure.

    The construction plan passed the General Assembly today, and awaits the governor’s signature to be enacted.

  • Bertino-Tarrant urges Illinois government agencies to buy American

    Sen. Jennifer Bertino-TarrantSPRINGFIELD – To help keep jobs in America, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant is sponsoring House Bill 356, which would require state agencies to purchase goods made in the United States.

    “State tax dollars should be spent to create jobs in our local economies,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This legislation displays the state’s commitment to supporting American businesses.”

    House Bill 356 is similar to the federal Buy American Act of 1933, which mandated that the federal government must give preferential treatment to American-made goods.

  • A crime so horrible

    jbt 041118 2SPRINGFIELD –  To combat the alarming rise of female genital mutilation in the nation, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant passed a measure that would give survivors the means to pursue justice.

    Bertino-Tarrant passed House Bill 3498, which removes the statute of limitations for the prosecution for female genital mutilation also known as FGM, if the victim is under 18 years of at the time of the offense.

    “Survivors of FGM are often too young to report this horrific crime,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The repercussions of it are lifelong, and so there should be no statute of limitations. This measure will allow them time and assure them that justice does not have an expiration date.” 

    Under current law, the statute of limitations for FGM is three years, which is the standard for a felony offense. Long thought to be a foreign problem, Bertino-Tarrant stressed that FGM is happening in Illinois. It is estimated that 10,000 to 25,000 women and girls have been cut or are at risk for being cut.

    Procedures are mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and adolescence, and occasionally on adult women.

    “This painful and dangerous procedure is often performed at an extremely young age,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to allow young girls to come forward in their own time and allow them to receive the support they need and deserve.”

    The measure was supported by the Illinois National Organization for Women.

    According to CNN in 2017, currently only 25 states in the nation have laws that make FGM a crime.

    House Bill 3498 passed the Senate with unanimous support and now heads back to the House for approval before being sent to the governor.

  • Education Committee Chair Bertino-Tarrant passes measures to address Illinois teacher shortage

    Sen. Jennifer Bertino-TarrantSPRINGFIELD – To help alleviate the teacher shortage in Illinois, the Senate’s Education Chair, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant passed a series of measures on Thursday.

    Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) passed House Bill 423 with bipartisan support, which places a hold on requiring educators to take a controversial licensing exam.

    “This costly test may be ineffective in determining whether an applicant is qualified to teach in our classrooms,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to take some time to evaluate this requirement to ensure we are not deterring qualified teachers from joining the profession.”

  • Bertino-Tarrant passes measure to declare Teacher Appreciation Week in Illinois

    Teacher Week Facebook ImageSPRINGFIELD – Senate Education Chair Jennifer Bertino Tarrant lead the Senate in declaring May 6 to 10 as Teacher Appreciation Week in Illinois.

    Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) passed Senate Joint Resolution 40 which emphasizes the General Assembly’s gratitude for teachers across Illinois.

    “Our teachers are responsible for developing the minds of our future leaders,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Their days do not end when the last school bell rings. Educators across Illinois provide knowledge, support and skills that positively impact students. This week the Senate honors teachers across Illinois for their hard work and dedication to our children.”

    In 1985 when the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week as the first full week of May.

    Senate Joint Resolution 40 passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

  • Assault allegations by teachers to be reported immediately under plan by Bertino-Tarrant

    jbt 041118 2SPRINGFIELD – In response to alarming findings about sexual assault by faculty and staff in schools, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) advanced House Bill 3687 on Tuesday, which requires the State’s Attorneys across the state to immediately notify school officials when a school employee is accused of harassment or assault.

    “Our children should be safe at school,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This measure ensures school administrators have all of the facts in order to make decisions in the best interest of students. If an accused school employee or educator has direct contact with students, steps will need to be taken to change that.”

    House Bill 3687 requires the State’s Attorney to provide school administrators with a copy of the complaint, indictment, or other information pertaining to the charges.

    Last summer, as the Senate’s Education Chair, Bertino-Tarrant called a hearing to address the findings of a Chicago Tribune investigation which detailed improper reporting of sexual misconduct in Chicago schools. The investigation found 72 Chicago Public Schools employees were accused of misconduct over a 10-year period and not properly reported to authorities.

    "It is unacceptable that sexual predators were not only near our children, but in positions of trust," Bertino-Tarrant said. "Everyone should be outraged that these abusers were able to prey on students because of insufficient oversight."

    The Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance are in support of the measure.

    House Bill 3687 passed the Senate’s Education Committee with bipartisan support and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Senators join students for Tech Day 2019

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  • Bertino-Tarrant supports plans to end the teacher shortage crisis

    jbt 041118 3SPRINGFIELD – To address Illinois’ teacher shortage, Senate Education Chairwoman Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant announced her support for legislation intended to aid a new generation of teaching students.

    “We need to equip our school districts with the tools to recruit the best and brightest to train them,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “To attract that kind of talent, the Senate has recently passed several commonsense reforms that cut red tape, streamline the licensure process and give educators a higher wage. The demands to meet the academic, as well as social and emotional needs of our students, demands a salary to match our expectations."

    Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is a lead cosponsor on Senate Bill 1952, which removes unnecessary redundant testing, permits K-12 student teachers and early childhood student teachers to receive compensation and allows early childhood student teachers to be paid and receive credit.

    “As a former educator, I know Illinois needs to make substantial changes to the way we license our teachers,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

    The Senate also passed Senate Bill 1809, which helps students enter the teaching field by expanding the eligibility of MAP grant recipients to include students who have already received bachelor degrees or have 135 credit hours, if they are seeking to earn their teaching certificate through an educator preparation program. The measure keeps recipients in state by requiring them to stay in Illinois for three of the next five years.

    “Teachers are concerned about graduating college with unmanageable student loan debt,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Raising the starting salaries for our educators while promoting need-based grant assistance for those pursuing a teaching degree in the state will help encourage more students to pursue the profession while remaining here in Illinois.”

    These two measures that passed the Senate have taken input from educators and administrators in Illinois to help ease the teacher shortage crisis.

    “We cannot solve the teacher shortage crisis overnight,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “However these measures are a step in the right direction to give quality educators the opportunity to be successful in Illinois’ classrooms.”

    Bertino-Tarrant urges local residents to visit sign up for her e-newsletter to stay-up-to-date with legislation as it progresses this spring.

  • Bertino-Tarrant aims to cut new red tape for businesses

    Sen. Jennifer Betino-TarrantSPRINGFIELD – State government would be required to study the necessity of new red tape for businesses under a plan by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

    Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) passed Senate Bill 1756, which would require the state to assess whether newly proposed regulations on an industry or occupation are necessary for protecting the public.

    “Unnecessary red tape makes it harder for companies and job seekers to do business in Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Streamlining the licensure process in our state will promote entrepreneurship in our communities.”

  • Bertino-Tarrant calls for less pay for short-term appointees

    Senator Bertino-TarrantSPRINGFIELD – The temporary appointees who fill vacant seats in the General Assembly and often serve on committees which never meet in the interim period should not be paid an extra stipend, said State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood), who passed legislation to that effect on Thursday.

    Bertino-Tarrant’s measure, Senate Bill 112, prohibits short-term appointed lawmakers from receiving taxpayer-funded stipends. It would apply to any member of the General Assembly who is appointed to the House of Representatives or Senate after May 31 of an even-numbered year, and prohibit them from receiving additional salary for service as a chairman or minority spokesman.

    “Handing out careless taxpayer-funded stipends is an obvious abuse of vital state funds,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We cannot afford to waste a single dime in our state’s budget. Tax dollars should be directed toward funding vital programs, not lining the pockets of political insiders.”

    Bertino-Tarrant was astounded at news that an appointment made to fill a short-term gap for an outgoing senator not only received full pay, but also an extra stipend to serve on a committee that had no meetings scheduled.

    “It’s imperative that the legislature work in a bipartisan manner to end financial waste and abuse,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to root out all forms of political insider deals to send a message to those attempting to take advantage of Illinois taxpayers.”

    Senate Bill 112 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now heads to the House for consideration.

  • Bertino-Tarrant passes law to fight for tougher penalties on financial abuse of elders, disabled

    jbt 041118 3SPRINGFIELD – Criminals targeting Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens may soon face tougher penalties, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

    Bertino-Tarrant passed Senate Bill 69 which institutes tougher penalties on Class 2 felony offenses against an elderly person or a person with a disability.

    “There are malicious criminals cheating our seniors every day,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “To discourage this rising epidemic, we need to put laws in place to protect the financial and emotional well-being of Illinois’ seniors and people with disabilities.”

    Senate Bill 69 expands the Class 2 felony offense of theft by deception of more than $5,000 to include offenses committed against a person with a disability.

    It also clearly states that consent cannot be used as a defense in a case of financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability if the accused knew or should have known that the victim lacked the ability to consent.

    Scam artists perceive senior citizens as vulnerable and relatively wealthy due to their ability to access retirement accounts and pensions, which makes them a prime target.

    A 2015 report estimated that older Americans lose $36.5 billion each year to financial scams and abuse.

    “It is easier to financially exploit aging senior citizens who live alone than to rob a bank,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “And unfortunately, this makes them a less risky target. It’s important that we educate seniors, family members and community stake holders so they are aware of the latest scams and warning signs of financial exploitation.”

    Bertino-Tarrant urges seniors to reach out to the Attorney General’s Office to report consumer fraud scams by calling the free hotline at 1-800-243-5377 or 1-800-964-3013 (TTY).

    Senate Bill 69 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now heads to the House for consideration.

  • Bertino-Tarrant seeks tougher penalties on financial abuse of elders, disabled

    jbt 041118 3SPRINGFIELD – To protect some of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Plainfield) is seeking higher criminal penalties for felonious scams that target the elderly and disabled.

    Bertino-Tarrant advanced Senate Bill 69, which would institute tougher penalties on Class 2 felony offenses against an elderly person or a person with a disability.

    “There are scammers actively cheating our seniors every day, partly because they are lucrative while being comparatively less risky than other forms of crime,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “To discourage this growing epidemic, we must put laws in place to protect the financial well-being of Illinois’ seniors and people with disabilities.”

    This measure expands the Class 2 felony offense of theft by deception over $5,000 to include offenses committed against a person with a disability.

    It also clarifies that consent cannot be used as a defense in a case of financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability if the accused knew or should have known that the victim lacked the ability to consent.

    Nearly 5 million older Americans are financially exploited. While scammers are to blame, more than half of cases involve exploitation by a family member. A 2014 study by Mark Lachs, co-chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital found that almost 60 percent of cases involve a perpetrator who is a family member.

    Lachs also reported that elder abuse victims—including those who suffer financial exploitation—die at a rate three times faster than those who haven’t been abused.

    “This measure would give law enforcement officials further resources to prosecute those attempting to exploit elderly Illinoisans,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “These higher restrictions will help make scammers think twice before attempting to manipulate seniors and people with disabilities.”

    Senate Bill 69 passed the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Law with bipartisan support and is scheduled for consideration before the full Senate.

  • Bertino-Tarrant cuts red tape for seniors

    jbt 041118 3SPRINGFIELD – Illinois seniors may soon no longer need to reapply for Senior Citizens Homestead Exemptions, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

    Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) introduced Senate Bill 140, which would eliminate the need for senior citizens to reapply for an exemption once the assessor or chief county assessment officers grants a Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption.