Senate to probe deadly disease outbreak at veterans home
Persistent outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease at a state-run home for veterans in Quincy and the Rauner administration’s response is the focus of a special legislative hearing in Chicago this week.

Thirteen people have died of the disease at the Illinois Veterans Home, a 132-year-old facility with nearly 400 residents. A new federal report states the water system at the home may never be completely rid of the bacteria that causes Legionnaire’s and cautioned that more cases could occur.

Concerned about keeping the facility open and safe, representatives from the state departments of Veterans Affairs and Public Health, the Rauner administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been invited to testify before a joint Senate-House Armed Services Committee.

Veterans benefit from new laws in 2018
Several new laws take effect Jan. 1 to support  veterans in Illinois including three that:

* require the state public health department to promote cancer-screening programs and awareness for veterans;
* permit county coroners to include military service information on death certificates; and
* offer a Coast Guard decal for military service license plates.
 
Learn more about other new laws affecting Illinois veterans.
 
Divorce law allows for "best interest" of pets
Illinois judges can consider a pet’s best interest when approving divorce settlements since a new Illinois law went into effect Jan. 1.  Under the law, judges may treat pets more like children than property when dissolving marriages.

Pet custody cases rarely reach court – most couples decide custody on their own – but when they do, the new state law will help offer guidance to judges on how to proceed with their decision.

Category: Week in Review

Two Stadelman-inspired laws make Top 10 list

State Senator Steve Stadelman passed two of the 10 new state laws deemed most important for 2018. The measures introduced by Stadelman empower victims of domestic violence and protect freedom of speech for Illinois consumers.

Senate Bill 1898 allows consumers to post unflattering online reviews of products and services without being subject to threats of lawsuits or financial penalties. Under the "Right to Yelp" law, "non-disparagement clauses" in sales contracts, which  forbid consumers from offering negative feedback about retailers, are now prohibited.

Stadelman, a former TV journalist, introduced the legislation to protect the right of consumers to voice their opinions, an increasingly powerful tool with the rise of internet review sites like Yelp. Illinois is one of few states to provide this consumer protection.

Senate Bill 57 gives victims of domestic violence the ability to leave abusive relationships without giving up their cell phone plans.

When petitioning the court for an order of protection, abuse victims now can ask a judge for the right to continue use of a phone number. If granted, wireless providers would be required to allow victims to separate their cellular accounts from their abusers. The law removes a financial obstacle for victims without the money to start a new phone plan and allows them to more easily find housing and employment because they can keep contacts, emails other digitally stored data.

More than 200 new laws take effect Jan. 1; many refine and update existing laws to reflect changing times and needs.
•    Review the full Top 10 list

Initiative to curb 'doctor shopping' signed into law
A measure supported by State Senator Steve Stadelman to reduce opioid abuse will become state law on Jan. 1.
Before prescribing a controlled substance, doctors will be required to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database to see if a patient previously was written a prescription for the drug by another doctor. The goal is to make it more difficult for people to obtain prescriptions from multiple physicians, a practice known as doctor shopping. In 2015, Illinois began requiring pharmacies to file daily reports of all controlled substances they dispense. Until now, however, physicians weren't required to check the monitoring database before writing prescriptions.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 772 last week in East St. Louis.
•         Sign up: Get updates about efforts to reduce opioid abuse in Illinois

Category: Week in Review

Stadelman signs appeal to Congress to save historic tax credits
State Senator Steve Stadelman joined a bipartisan plea to the U.S. House of Representatives to retain the Federal Historic Tax Credit, which has helped create $3.5 billion in development and 45,000 jobs in Illinois since 2012.

"Rehabilitation projects across our state could be at risk if the FHTC is eliminated," states a letter from the Democratic and Republican co-chairs of the Illinois Historic Preservation Caucus and signed by lawmakers including Stadelman. "The FHTC ... is a proven economic development tool and a local jobs creator. "

The letter to Illinois' delegation on Capitol Hill cites eight Rockford projects at risk if Congress cuts FHTC including conversion of the vacant Amerock building into a riverfront hotel, indoor expansion of the popular outdoor City Market and redevelopment of the abandoned Barber Coleman industrial complex on South Main Street.

Loss of the federal program also jeopardizes the state's River Edge Historic Tax Credit, which Stadelman successfully fought this year to extend through 2022. State law that requires pairing  River Edge with FHTC would have to be amended, and Illinois "likely would not be able to make up the difference of lost credits at the federal level," according to the letter issued last month.

U.S. House members later approved a tax reform bill that included an elimination of FHTC; on Saturday, the Senate passed its own version. Now the two overhaul plans must be reconciled in committee and returned to each chamber for final votes before the end of the year.

State Senators: Time to stop using flawed Crosscheck system
The state's Board of Elections no longer would be allowed to share sensitive voter information with a controversial voter registration system under a new measure introduced in the Illinois Senate.

Senate Bill 2273 would prohibit the state from sharing any voter information with any interstate voter registration program other than the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). In doing so, the state's participation in the controversial Interstate Voter Registration Data Crosscheck Program would be halted. Crosscheck, which was pioneered by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is seen by many as nothing more than an attempt to keep minorities from voting.

State Senator Steve Stadelman said he shares the concerns of the bill's sponsors regarding racial bias and the susceptibility to hackers of voters personal information.

In the news
CBS Chicago: Democratic lawmakers push for bill to stop Crosscheck system
U.S. News & World Report: Democrats unveil plan to remove Illinois from voter database

Memorial for fallen military personnel dedicated at Capitol

goldstartreeA memorial remembering fallen soldiers and their families was recently dedicated at the Illinois State Capitol. The memorial is sponsored by America's Gold Star Families, an organization that helps the families of fallen servicemen and women.

The Tree of Honor, located just east of the rotunda, is adorned with ornaments bearing names and pictures of members of the military from every branch who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The tree was decorated by military families with ornaments commemorating fallen soldiers from every conflict all the way back to the Civil War. It will remain up at the capitol through the holiday season.

 

Category: Week in Review

Lawmakers roundly reject governor’s vetoes
 
Last week was a good week for Illinois student borrowers and taxpayers who want more accountability from the government, as lawmakers overrode numerous vetoes to enact reasonable measures on behalf of their constituents. State Senator Steve Stadelman voted for all of the overrides:
•    The state's new Debt Transparency Act demands better accounting and reporting practices by state agencies so that the comptroller can understand the true extent of the bill backlog at any given time.
•    House Bill 302 requires insurance companies to search electronic records back to the year 2000 to determine if life insurance policyholders have died and take steps to get money to beneficiaries. The legislation protects average families who don't have financial advisors to keep track of paperwork that is easily lost in a move or forgotten about with the passage of time or onset of dementia.
•    Student Loan Bill of Rights  helps protect college students from predatory lenders when they borrow money to pay for their education. The governor's rejection was reversed in the House after having been previously overturned by the Senate.

Women receive free health services at annual Wellness Fair
womensfairpicNonprofit agencies, local businesses and government offices provided free medical and alternative health services such as flu immunizations, cholesterol and blood-glucose testing, referrals for breast and cervical cancer screenings, massage and aromatherapy demonstrations and skincare consultations at Senator Stadelman's third annual Women's Wellness Fair.
Guests also enjoyed harp and flute duets by Emerald Wind and refreshments including Rockford Roasting Company gourmet coffee Sunday afternoon event at Riverfront Museum Park.
"The uncertainty surrounding health care these days has left many people confused and without affordable options," Stadelman said. "This event offers a place to turn for them to turn."
•    WIFR-23 news report

 

Category: Week in Review

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Springfield Office:
Senator 34th District
121A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8022
 
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Rockford, IL 61101
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