McNamara joins Stadelman on behalf of River Edge Tax Credit
 
rockfordmayorRockford Mayor Tom McNamara joined State Senator Steve Stadelman in the Illinois Senate Revenue Committee to testify in support of legislation to making investing in downtown Rockford easier for developers. Senate Bill 3527, introduced by Stadelman, adjusts River Edge Zones in Rockford, Aurora, East St. Louis, Elgin and Peoria to provide additional incentives for redeveloping these communities.
 
“These tax credits have a proven record of spurring economic growth in areas like downtown Rockford,” Stadelman said. “These additional changes will promote even more economic development in our communities.”
 
Under Stadelman’s proposal, developers would be eligible for a one-time 25 percent credit of the eligible expenses of the project. They would also be subject to additional oversight to ensure they qualify for the tax credits.
Stadelman's bill will now be heard by the Illinois House of Representatives, having been approved by the full Senate this week.

Stadelman proposal to educate students on college debt advances

College students would be able to make more informed decisions about financing their education under a measure State Senator Steve Stadelman passed this week. Stadelman’s proposal, Senate Bill 2559, creates a three-year pilot program that requires each public university and community college to send an annual letter detailing the current loan and annual repayment amounts to all students with college loans.

“Every year, thousands of Illinois students graduate from college and are faced with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. For many of these students, it’s the first time they completely realize the full expense of their education,” Stadelman said. “This proposal ensures students know up-front how much they will owe and gives them the information to make smart financial decisions early to save money in the long run.”

Student loan debt in the United States has skyrocketed from $833 billion to an all-time high of $1.4 trillion, according to recent studies. On average, college students graduate with more than $34,000 in debt, up 62 percent in the last decade.
In 2012, Indiana University began sending new and returning students a letter projecting the amount of debt they were expected to graduate with, along with what their monthly payments would be. After implementing this system, the university saw a decline in the amount of education loans taken out by students. The state of Indiana passed a similar law to cover all state universities and community colleges in 2015.

Stadelman’s bill passed the full Senate with a vote of 51-1. It will now move to be heard in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Stadelman delivers state honors for RAMI winners

StadelmanbandFor a fourth consecutive year, State Senator Steve Stadelman awarded Certificates of Recognition from the Illinois Senate to recipients of the annual Rockford Area Music Industry awards. Stadelman also presented RAMIs in the People's Choice category for Special Event and Artist of the Year, the later going to the band On My Six, whose members -- Stu Kuhlman, Rick Soeprasetyo, Joshua Creviston, Daniel Adams and Lucas Dwyer -- are pictured with Stadelman backstage.

Category: Week in Review

Stadelman stands up for hungry students

In school districts across Illinois, students who are unable to pay for lunch can be stigmatized with a special wristband or hand stamp and even denied lunch. To stop this practice known as “lunch shaming,” State Senator Steve Stadelman passed Senate Bill 2428 through the Illinois Senate Education Committee this week.

“Lunch shaming punishes kids for the mistakes of their parents,” Stadelman said. “All students, no matter what their background or parents’ income level, deserve to eat. In some cases, this may be the only hot meal a student eats all day.”
 
Under Stadelman’s proposal, every school will be required to provide a meal to a student who requests one. While the school can contact the parents directly to request they pay for children’s lunches, the school cannot throw out meals, force students to wear wristbands or otherwise stigmatize them.  If parents owe $500 or more and a reasonable effort to collect the debt has been made, the school district can request the Illinois Comptroller withhold tax refunds to parents to pay off the debt.
 
“The top priority of our schools is to educate our children,” Stadelman said. “Forcing hungry children to sit through class makes it nearly impossible for them to focus and could have a long-term impact on their education.”
 
Stadelman's bill passed in committee on a vote of 9-2-1 and now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.


Senate passes Equal Rights Amendment
 
ERApicAfter a nearly 50-year-long battle, the Illinois Senate took a historic vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and solidify equal rights for all.  Introduced in Congress in 1923 and sent to the states for ratification 46 years ago, the ERA declares that equality of rights will not be denied by the United States or any state on account of sex.

"In voting to ratify the ERA, Illinois lawmakers are listening to and standing up for women across the state who are demanding action that is long overdue," State Senator Steve Stadelman said in support of the measure.  "The ERA cements legal protections for women that otherwise are subject to shifting political winds in the White House and on Capitol Hill."

Several advancements for women's rights, such as the Equal Pay Act and Title IX, could be repealed by a majority vote in Congress. The Executive Branch could also reduce enforcement of these acts.

Currently, 36 states have voted to ratify the ERA, with Nevada being most recent. To be ratified to the Constitution, 38 states must approve the amendment. Illinois' legislation now moves to the House for further consideration. For Illinois to ratify the ERA, three-fifths of House members must vote in support.

The Illinois Senate Women's Caucus also gave the Equal Rights Amendment its support at a press conference before the vote, the first piece of legislation to earn the bipartisan group's backing. Watch the press conference HERE.
 
Stadelman bill to increase transparency on car rental agreements advances
In response to the proliferation of cashless tolls, State Senator Steve Stadelman has advanced a proposal that offers protection for rental car drivers. After returning a rental car, many drivers may be surprised to find they were charged additional fees for a tollway collection device, similar to an I-PASS. Stadelman won committee approval this week for legislation to allow drivers to opt-out of using these devices.

“Drivers deserve to know up front what they are paying for, instead of finding out when it is already too late,” Stadelman said.

Under Stadelman’s proposal, rental car companies must allow renters to opt-out of the tollway collection device. The company also must post the terms and conditions in the rental agreement and in a visible location in the business. If a company fails to offer a customer the ability to opt-out, the fees are capped at $2 per day that the device is used, in addition to the cost of the tolls.

 “Many people may not be aware they can avoid these costly fees by using their own transponders, paying cash or paying the fees online,” Stadelman said. “This additional level on transparency can only benefit consumers.”

Stadelman’s proposal, Senate Bill 2522, passed through the Illinois Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee with a vote of 7-2-1. It will now head to the full Senate.

•    Video of Senator Stadelman commenting on legislation

Category: Week in Review

Stadelman listens to student concerns about gun violence

Students from East High School met with Senator Steve Stadelman this week to share their thoughts on gun violence in America and learn about legislation to regulate firearms at the state level. Alondra Lavariega, Rachell Alvarado (center) and Simon Davis helped organize the recent March For Our Lives at Davis Park and an earlier protest at East.

Stadelman discussed two gun safety measures approved this month in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly:
•    ban on the sale of assault weapons to anyone under age 21
•    72-hour waiting period after purchase of an assault weapon

Neither piece of legislation has been acted on by Governor Bruce Rauner, who vetoed a third measure to require state licensing of gun shops. Stadelman explained to the students that what happens to that bill depends on whether enough Republicans are willing to cross party lines in the Illinois House because the Illinois Senate can override Rauner on the votes of Democrats alone.

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Stadelman commended the students' efforts and noted that his four children participated in the local March For Our Lives, one of more than 800 nationwide and two dozen across Illinois.

"You're moving the needle," he said. "The fact that you're taking action could lead to legislation no one today would have envisioned."

Category: Week in Review

Marijuana question may go on November ballots statewide
Illinois voters may get the chance to let their voices be heard on legalization of cannabis under legislation passed in the Illinois Senate last week. The legislation, Senate Bill 2275, would place an advisory question on the 2018 ballot asking Illinois voters if they are in favor of marijuana legalization.

State Senator Steve Stadelman, who voted in favor of putting the issue before voters in November, says the advisory referendum will help legislators gauge public opinion on the subject. Most states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana have done so through ballot initiatives.

As proposed, the referendum would ask this “yes” or “no” question: "Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?"

If passed in the House and signed by the governor, the bill only would set the non-binding referendum in motion, not legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.

Legislative committee investigates Rauner inaction on veterans home
Lawmakers in Springfield expressed frustration this week over Bruce Rauner's failure to rid the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy of the deadly Legionella bacteria after a top official in governor's administration revealed a change of strategy that is presumed will only cause more delays.

During a legislative hearing this week, Veterans Affairs Director Erica Jeffries said the Rauner administration now plans to tear down the residence halls where 13 deaths have been attributed to Legionnaire outbreaks since 2015. Jeffries had no cost estimate for the solution, only a timetable of three to five years. Previously, the governor was exploring the cost of replacing old plumbing.

Later in the week, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) once again urgently requested from Rauner a detailed plan of action for ensuring the safety of residents, family and staff at the home. They also pressed for acceptance of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ offer of technical assistance – which includes a site visit to the Quincy home – as well as ongoing VA financial support and expert assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Rauner administration claims a preliminary report will be issued by March 31.
 

In case you missed me on Facebook ...

Steve Stadelman added 3 new photos.
March 7 at 8:54pm ·
Another boost for downtown Rockford! The popular City Market is expanding. A "wall breaking" ceremony starts construction on an indoor City Market building next-door. Congratulations to Rock River Development Partnership for its work in making the project possible.
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 Steve Stadelman
February 20 ·
 
Congratulations to members of Unity Church in Rockford who presented the results of their Teddy Bear Project to Children Home + Aid today. The gently used stuffed animals were kept in the church sanctuary as they were being collected, and thye were held by churchgoers who "filled them with love" during Sunday services. Organizers like Alice Stacionis hope The Teddy Bear Project brings comfort to vulnerable children in stressful circumstances.
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Category: Week in Review

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