• Shared priorities, common ground yield budget action (AUDIO)

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  • Morrison urges action on construction funding

    pavingSPRINGFIELD – More than $2 billion in construction projects in Illinois could grind to a halt if action isn’t taken in Springfield before Friday.

    Locally, construction on the $18.1 million Deerfield Road Construction Project would cease unless legislation allowing the expenditure of funds is approved. 

    “The recently announced stoppage of the Deerfield Road Reconstruction Project is just another example of why the state cannot effectively operate without a finalized budget plan in place,” State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) said. “Walking away from a major construction project that isn’t completed would not only cause horrific traffic delays but could also be a serious public safety concern for motorists.”

    Deerfield Road is currently in the middle of an $18.1 million resurfacing and reconstruction project between the Metra viaduct in Deerfield and U.S. Route 41 in Highland Park. While the 2.39-mile long reconstruction project is largely paid for with federal funds, the state will soon not be legally able to appropriate federal funds due to the lack of a finalized budget plan for Fiscal Year 2017, which begins on Friday.

    “It is my understanding there is an agreement in place that will allow projects like the Deerfield Road construction project to continue,” Morrison said. “I am hopeful legislators from both sides of the aisle will join me in supporting this plan when the Senate and House reconvene on Wednesday.”

  • Morrison leads Senate in expanding protections for domestic violence victims

    morrison 052916SPRINGFIELD – A plan that would make it easier for domestic violence victims to file temporary orders of protection passed the Senate this afternoon.

    “Survivors of domestic violence or abuse often have a very difficult time coming forward and reporting their abuse,” State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) said. “In instances where there is an immediate threat to the safety of an individual, filing a temporary order of protection is vitally important.”

  • Medical patients would see greater rights under Morrison plan

    morrison ethics 030116SPRINGFIELD – For many patients suffering from chronic medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, mental illness or chronic pain, finding the right medication for treatment of serious symptoms can be difficult. For patients who do find a medication that works for them, staying on that medication is vital.

    State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) passed a plan out of the Senate yesterday afternoon that would give more flexibility to patients who are benefiting from a certain drug but are required by their insurance companies to take a less-costly medication.

    “Patients who have been prescribed a certain medication by their doctor should not have to jump through hoops with an insurance bureaucrat to get their medicine,” State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) said. “This proposal is the culmination of a yearlong negotiation process that I am proud to say is an agreement between the insurance industry and patient advocates.”

    Morrison’s plan, contained in House Bill 3549, expands what is known as step-therapy exceptions. Step-therapy is the process by which a patient tries other medications first before “stepping up” to drugs that are costlier. While the process can save insurance companies money, for many patients who have already tried generic drugs or who are stable on their current prescriptions, the issue can be a serious health concern.

    “Expanding the ability of patients to advocate for the use of prescription medications which would be best for their unique medical circumstance is an important tool in the health care delivery process for patients and doctors alike,” said Patrick Stone, Associate Director of State Government Relations at the National Psoriasis Foundation.

    House Bill 3549 passed the Senate without opposition and now heads to the Illinois House for a concurrence vote.

  • Senate approves stopgap funding for social services (AUDIO)

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  • Morrison urges House to act on Human Service funding plan

    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.

  • Senate passes Morrison plan closing public safety loophole

    morrison ethics 030116Plan ensures mentally ill do not have access to firearms

    SPRINGFIELD – A plan by State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) ensuring individuals with mental illness do not have access to firearms passed out of the Senate late last week.

    “Individuals struggling with mental illness should in no way have access to firearms,” Morrison said. “Guarding against guns getting in the wrong hands is as important for the safety of the general public as it is for the safety of the individual with mental illness.”

    Currently, Illinois law requires circuit court clerks to relay information to the Illinois State Police when a person passes through the court system and is deemed to have a mental disability or is involuntarily committed to a mental institution. The information is used to ensure FOID cards, which are required to legally own a firearm in Illinois, are not administered.

    Morrison’s proposal, contained in Senate Bill 2213, would ensure the state police are receiving information from every Illinois county by requiring circuit court clerks to report bi-annually if no person has been adjudicated as a person with a mental disability or if no person has been involuntarily admitted.

    “While Illinois’ mental health reporting laws are strong, we must ensure the process is actually working to protect the public’s safety,” Morrison said.

    Senate Bill 2213 passed the Senate without opposition on Friday and heads to the Illinois House for further debate.

  • Township consolidation proposal passes Senate

    morrison 042116SPRINGFIELD – A plan by State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) that would empower townships and local residents to dissolve or consolidate certain services passed the Illinois Senate yesterday.

    “Illinois law currently prevents many proposals that would make local government more efficient and have the potential of saving taxpayers’ money,” Morrison said. “My proposal, while entirely permissive, would empower townships and local residents to make decisions that are in the best interests of local residents.”

    Morrison’s plan, contained in Senate Bill 389, would remove the state cap on the size of townships, currently set at 126 square miles, giving townships that want to merge the ability to do so. The plan also allows townships to absorb a road district with less than 15 miles of road. In many areas of the state, especially in the suburbs, municipalities have annexed and grown to include many areas once maintained by townships.

    Morrison’s plan would also allow county boards in Will, Lake and Kane Counties to absorb the responsibilities of drainage districts. There are 19 drainage districts located in the three counties.

    Senate Bill 389 passed the Illinois Senate yesterday on a 36-9 vote and heads to the Illinois House for further debate.

  • Senator Morrison on Child Advocacy Centers

    Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) discusses the importance of Child Advocacy Centers for abused and neglected children at a press conference.

  • Morrison proposal acknowledges consolidation efforts by Village of Deerfield

    morrison deerfieldSPRINGFIELD – Efforts to consolidate emergency dispatch services in Illinois led to the passage of a state law last year requiring dispatch agencies serve at least 25,000 residents. The new law was meant to ensure all communities have access to responsive emergency services while providing efficiencies for taxpayers.

    For the Village of Deerfield, which already operated a consolidated emergency dispatch service with neighboring Bannockburn and Riverwoods before the state law, the minimum population requirement would require additional consolidation and cost to the community.

    State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) passed a proposal out of a Senate committee this week that would allow the Village of Deerfield more time to comply with the new state law.

    “The intent of the consolidation effort last year was to ensure agencies were providing responsive services in an efficient way,” Morrison said. “The Village of Deerfield was ahead of the curve when consolidating their 911 call center with Bannockburn and Riverwoods.”

    Currently, the consolidated emergency dispatch agency serving the three communities serves 23,619 residents. The population figures are based on 2010 census information, however, and don’t take into effect increases in construction and daytime population for the area.

    “Our service area includes a large number of major corporations that bring in an estimated 12,000 workers each day,” Deerfield Police Chief John Sliozis said. “We are not objecting to consolidation, as our history has proven.”

    Senate Bill 461 passed the Energy and Public Utilities Committee on Thursday and now heads to the Senate floor for further debate.

    Photo: Senator Morrison (middle) with Deerfield Police Chief John Sliozis (left) speaking in support of Senate Bill 461 in the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee

  • Morrison proposal would close public safety loophole

    morrison 040516Plan ensures mentally ill do not have access to firearms

    SPRINGFIELD – A proposal by State Senator Julie Morrison (D–Deerfield) to ensure individuals with mental illness do not have access to firearms passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

    “Unfortunately, we have seen what can happen when firearms get in the wrong hands,” Morrison said. “While Illinois is fortunate to have a strong mental health reporting system already in place, we must ensure information for every county is being reported.”

  • Suburban senators: Save our community colleges

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  • Morrison ethics package would increase lawmaker accountability

    morrison ethics 030116SPRINGFIELD – Two proposals that would increase the level of accountability among Illinois lawmakers were recently introduced by State Senator Julie Morrison (D - Deerfield).

    Senate Bill 3107 would require state legislators to publicly disclose potential conflicts of interest before casting a vote on any legislation. While some lawmakers currently make conflict of interest disclosures public, the practice is not required under state law.

    “The public has a right to know when lawmakers have a conflict of interest,” Morrison said.

  • New law prohibits minors from possessing e-cigarettes, other nicotine products

    morrison ecig 0216SPRINGFIELD – A new law that prohibits minors from possessing e-cigarettes and other tobacco-free nicotine products was signed on Friday by the governor. State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) introduced the proposal last year in hopes of updating Illinois law to protect children from the dangers of this increasingly popular product.  

    “Current Illinois law prohibits the selling of these products to kids,” Morrison said. “It only makes sense that they should also be prohibited from being in their possession.”

    In Illinois, it is already illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess cigarettes, cigars and all other forms of tobacco. The penalty for the first violation is a fine of $25 or 15 hours of community service, and the maximum penalty for repeated violations is a fine of $100 and 30 hours of community service.

    Morrison's plan would impose the same penalties for the possession of e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products.

    While e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they still pose potential health risks, especially for minors. Nicotine, an addictive chemical, can affect fetal brain development and can alter growth and function of the nervous system. The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes have not yet been thoroughly evaluated.

  • Senate Democrats react to State of the State address (VIDEO)

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  • Caffeine powder ban set to become effective

    caffeine powderPLAINFIELD— It will soon be illegal for toxic caffeine powder to be sold to anyone under age 18 in Illinois.

    The new law was sponsored by State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) in response to the death of 18-year-old Logan Stiner of Ohio from a caffeine powder overdose.

    According to local reports, Stiner was found by his brother, collapsed on the floor of his home. The same day his brother found him, his mother discovered several bags of caffeine powder in their house. Sadly, Stiner, a popular student-athlete, was one week away from graduating from high school.

    The county coroner’s report said that Stiner suffered cardiac arrhythmia and a seizure as a result of ingesting toxic amounts of caffeine. One teaspoon of the powder is equal to drinking approximately 25 cups of coffee.

    In order to prevent a death like Stiner’s from occurring in Illinois, Bertino-Tarrant championed the new law making it illegal for toxic caffeine powder to be sold to anyone under age 18.

    “Logan Stiner’s death was a tragedy, and I wanted to be proactive about preventing minors in Illinois from being able to use a substance that, by simple mistake, could be deadly,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

    Powdered caffeine is nearly 100 percent pure caffeine and difficult to measure with common kitchen tools.

    Senate Bill 9 is effective Jan. 1, 2016.

  • U.S. Supreme Court upholds Highland Park assault weapons ban

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  • Morrison looks to spur budget conversation, solutions with new proposal

    morrison sb2190 presserSPRINGFIELD – At a time when the public increasingly wonders whether the governor and legislative leaders are meeting to try to resolve Illinois’ budget crisis, State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) held a press conference today to introduce a proposal she hopes will prod those leaders to the negotiating table.

    The measure, Senate Bill 2190, would require the governor and the four legislative leaders to meet publicly at least once per week to negotiate on the budget whenever the state enters a new fiscal year without a spending plan in place.

  • Lame-duck appointments ban becomes law

    morrison biz license webSPRINGFIELD – A law to prevent future governors from engaging in last-minute patronage takes effect today.

    State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) introduced the proposal after former Gov. Pat Quinn appointed a political operative to a $160,000-per-year state job at the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority a month after he lost his election last year.

    Her plan affects any director appointed to a governor-controlled board or commission after the governor loses an election. They will be limited to 60 days in the position, allowing the newly elected governor to find the best person for the position. Morrison’s legislation extends beyond the ISFA to include similar government organizations.

    “People are sick and tired of Illinois public officials abusing their positions,” Morrison said. “We shouldn’t need this law, but Gov. Quinn made it clear that we do. Fortunately, now this loophole is closed forever.”

    The Illinois Sports Finance Authority – a government entity – owns U.S. Cellular Field, home of the White Sox, and provided the majority of the financing for the renovation of the Bears’ Soldier Field. It receives subsidies from the state and the city of Chicago, income from the White Sox rental agreement, and revenue from a 2 percent tax on all hotel rentals in Chicago.

    The legislation was originally House Bill 4078.

  • Morrison transparency law will force big political spenders to come clean

    morrison transp finalSPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by state Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) will let the people see who’s really paying for political campaigns, shining a light on those trying to buy influence at the state Capitol.

    It requires political organizations that make independent expenditures – buying ads or paying for commercials on candidates’ behalf without their explicit permission – to report how much money they spend and how they spend it.

    Any time a political action committee or some other person or organization spends more than $1,000 on a candidate, it will be required to report its actions to the State Board of Elections within five days. In the two months leading up to the election, they will have to report expenses within two days.

    “The people deserve to know which people and businesses are trying to influence elections and politicians,” Morrison said. “They shouldn’t be able to hide behind ‘independent spending’ and bypass our campaign finance laws.”

    According to the Campaign for Political Reform, which worked with Morrison to introduce the law, there were nearly $2.3 million in independent expenditures in 2011-2012. In 2013-2014, when the governor’s race was on the ballot, Illinois saw more than $18 million in independent expenditures. Even when you take out spending on the governor’s race, independent expenditures increased by nearly 60 percent, going from $2.3 million to $3.6 million.

    The law was Senate Bill 248. It takes effect January 1, so it will apply to the 2016 election.