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Clearing up misinformation on the state budget

mulroe-fire-police“If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed.” Mark Twain said this, and could just as well have been speaking about the Illinois media covering this week’s work by the General Assembly to negotiate with the governor on a budget.

This week, the Senate and the House both voted on measures to provide one-month funding for core state services to provide more time for negotiations for a full year budget. The governor’s response was that he would veto this offer as he has our full 2016 budget, with the exception of the education budget we sent him which he signed without one Republican voting for that bill.

The media’s coverage of these developments? That we failed to pass anything. This is totally inaccurate. The Senate passed a measure to shield Illinois' most vulnerable residents from the impact of Gov. Rauner's disastrous decision to veto most of the state budget the General Assembly sent to him last month.

I voted for the Senate’s emergency measure to prevent interruptions in services to people with developmental disabilities, wards of the state, abused and neglected children, senior citizens who need in-home assistance, veterans, individuals receiving addiction treatment and parents who rely on WIC for help purchasing infant formula and food for their young children. The one-month stopgap budget would also pay prison guards, parole officers who monitor sex offenders, state troopers, disaster preparedness personnel and the National Guard. Finally, it would allow the state to continue reimbursing doctors, hospitals and clinics for providing Medicaid services, including adult dental care, that were covered under last year's budget.

This proposal was merely a one-month budget for essential programs to continue while the overall negotiations continue. Yet Republicans in the House and Senate refused to vote even for this basic, stopgap measure, and the governor has said he will not sign it if sent to his desk. While the Senate passed Senate Bill 2040, the House fell short of the votes needed to approve an identical piece of legislation, House Bill 4190.

I urge the governor to change course and sign the stopgap budget while negotiations continue. Please call him at (312) 814-2121 or email him here to tell him not to penalize vulnerable people who did not create the state's fiscal difficulties or contribute to the current standoff.

I am working every day for a responsible budget that balances prudent spending with the revenue needed to fund important state functions, from education to health care to public safety. I believe our first duty is to protect those whom the governor seems determined to hold hostage to his inflexible demands.

Mulroe legislation supports firefighters, police

mulroe-fire-policeSPRINGFIELD – Two new proposals have passed the General Assembly that would aid police and firefighters. Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) sponsored both measures in the Senate.

The first, a senate bill, would require that AED machines be accessible in police stations with more than 100 staff. The second, a house bill, would charge individuals who assault first responders acting in the line of their duties with a Class 4 felony rather than a misdemeanor.

“The last thing the men and women we task with protecting us need is to worry any more about their safety than they need to,” Mulroe said. “This pair of plans is common sense and goes a long way to protecting the people in harm’s way.”

Police officers often are placed in intense situations within seconds causing extreme stress on their bodies and health, and Officers have died as a result. The proposal will affect only those facilities with 100 or more employees. Under the original AED Act, county sheriffs and municipal police departments are exempt from civil liability.

Under the previous Criminal Code of 2012, an individual who assaulted a first responder in the line of duty was charged with a Class A misdemeanor provided a weapon was not used. The language in the new proposal states those charges would automatically become a Class 4 felony.  The sentence for a Class 4 felony can carry anywhere from one to three years in prison.

“Every day these men and women work hard to keep our streets safe,” Mulroe said. “With these proposals we are doing more to ensure they stay safe.”

Both proposals move to the governor’s desk.

Senator Mulroe: O'Hare noise levels are unbearable

mulroe-ohare-presserCHICAGO  – Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) discussed legislation to address the growing noise from O’Hare International Airport at a press conference today. Collaborating with Mulroe are Congressman Mike Quigley and Representative John D’Amico as well as many other state lawmakers, Chicago aldermen, suburban mayors, Cook County commissioners and the FAiR Coalition.

“The noise levels are unbearable for people and we are working hard to address those concerns,” Mulroe said. “This legislation was drafted with the intention of seeking a compromise with the airport and the residents in communities bordering the airport. I want there to be a little less talk and a little more action.”

Passed on April 16 from the Senate by a staggering majority, Senate Bills 636 and 637 act as companion pieces to address the noise concerns. SB636 would raise the number of active runways O’Hare could have from eight to 10, while SB637 stipulates that the existing runways must all remain active and at full capacity.

Prior to 2013, reliance on the existing runways diverted air traffic not only east-west but also on a diagonal pattern northeast-northwest. Since that time, the parallel east-west runways have moved to 97 percent capacity, while the diagonal runway’s traffic has dwindled to 3 percent.

“We need a fairer distribution of arrivals and departures among O’Hare runways to ease the flood of aircraft noise inundating our neighborhoods,” Rep. Quigley said. “I appreciate Senator Mulroe’s leadership and partnership as we continue to pursue every avenue that reduces noise without compromising safety.”   

Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) was not present at the press conference but released the following written statement: “While I agree that a state-of-the-art and efficient O’Hare Airport is a key component to our area’s economy and transportation system, I firmly support expansion of noise and air pollution monitoring and greater public involvement in decision making.”

In addition to the legislators, a family from Schiller Park, which borders O’Hare on the village’s northwest side, will testify to their experience with the noise levels prior to 2013 and since the opening of the most recent parallel runway.

New proposal to aid those coping with mitochondrial disease

mulroe-mitochondSPRINGFIELD –The Senate Insurance Committee heard testimony today from Andrew Lawson, a young man who suffers from mitochondrial disease. A new proposal, Senate Bill 1515, would cover vitamins for sufferers of mitochondrial disease and is sponsored in the Senate by Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago).

“I lost my vision one day when I was in high school,” Lawson said. “I was changing classes and I went from one room to the next, and BOOM, it was gone, like that.”

Lawson is a sufferer of mitochondrial disease, which causes systemic failure because of non-functioning mitochondria. Mitochondria are organelles within the cells of the body that produce the vast majority of the energy humans need to consume to function. Mitochondrial disease occurs when mutated mitochondria in the body stop working. There is no cure.

As a result of his diagnosis, Lawson is on a constant stream of vitamins, as there is currently no medication that corrects this problem. Under current law, health insurance providers do not cover vitamins, and while many over-the-counter vitamins are available, they are not potent enough for his needs and often contain fillers that make absorption difficult.

“Andrew needs something more to truly live his life, because his cells aren’t doing what normal cells do,” Mulroe said. “Moving forward we ought to do everything we can to assist people like Andrew in achieving a better quality of life.”

The measure is currently being considered in the Senate.

Sen. John G. Mulroe

mulroe-2014-150

10th District
(Retired)

Years served: 2010 - 2019

Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Criminal Law; Executive; Insurance (Vice-Chairperson); Judiciary (Chairperson); Public Health; Subcommittee on Const. Amendments.

Biography: Born July 21, 1959, in Chicago; BBA, accounting, Loyola University; J.D., Loyola University School of Law; member of Chicago and Illinois State Bar associations; full-time attorney; former assistant state's attorney and arbitrator for Cook County; certified public accountant; married (wife, Margaret), four children.

Associated Representative:
Robert Martwick
Michael P. McAuliffe