Cullerton takes charge as governor continues to lag on Legionella remedies (VIDEO)

vets presser 031318SPRINGFIELD – Three years after the initial outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy, residents of that facility and others like it are still waiting for Gov. Bruce Rauner to be proactive in detecting and removing Legionella bacteria from state-run facilities.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has taken charge in the governor’s absence, advancing bipartisan legislative measures this week to improve water management and notification requirements at state facilities.

“If the governor’s administration refuses to take charge to make our state-run facilities Legionella free, the legislature will continue to aggressively work toward a meaningful solution,” Cullerton said.

Cullerton pointed out that Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah said cases of Legionnaires’ disease continue to grow in Illinois, yet the legislature, not Shah, is working to combat the spread of the bacteria.

With support of State Senator Sam McCann (R-Plainview), Cullerton advanced Senate Bill 272, which creates the State Facility Public Health Water Management Plan Act. The act will require every state-operated residence facility to create plans for water management and Legionella culture sampling.

Cullerton also advanced Senate Bill 3301, which requires an Illinois veterans home to notify facility residents and their emergency contacts within 24 hours if two or more residents in the home are diagnosed with an infectious disease within a one-month period.

“These are commonsense bills that I believe can and will save lives,” McCann said. “We owe it to our veterans, our hard-working employees, and all those in the care of the state of Illinois to do everything in our power to ensure their safety.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner has played politics and created powerless taskforces to study possible solutions to the spread of bacteria, but even some of the task force members believe they fall short. Included on one such task force is State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton), who is not pleased with the progress being made.

“The governor’s handling of the Quincy veterans home has become a political treadmill – there has been a lot of movement, but no forward progress,” Haine said. “It’s past time for the governor to introduce a concrete plan to protect our veterans instead of announcing another media tour or task force. These heroes’ lives are at stake.”

Despite Cullerton’s efforts, this morning he received news of opposition to the proactive legislation from the governor’s agencies – more than a month after the legislation was filed.

Cullerton said he will continue to work in a bipartisan manner – with or without help from the governor’s office – to protect the United States veterans who have sacrificed so much to protect Illinoisans.

“The governor’s administration needs to learn to be proactive,” Cullerton said. “Coming in at the 11th hour to voice opposition to these bipartisan measures is counterproductive and creates road blocks in our quest to provide our veterans with the best possible care.”

To State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park), the problems at the Quincy veterans home rest on the lack of leadership from Gov. Rauner.

“We are looking for leadership and consistency from Gov. Rauner. Three years later we have yet to see either,” Hastings said. “Our nation’s heroes have lived in the veterans home three years without a solution or any semblance of a strategy. When can we expect a real plan?”

Sen. Tom Cullerton


23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Insurance; Labor; State Government; Transportation; Veterans Affairs (Chairperson); Sub. on Utility Rate Regulations (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: Born Sept. 20, 1969; studied at the University of Kansas; former village president and trustee of Villa Park; married (wife Stacey), three sons.

Associated Representatives:
Deb Conroy
Diane Pappas