Fishing buddies honored for river rescue of capsized kayaker

State Senator Steve Stadelman presented Certificates of Recognition from the Illinois Senate to Jake Kaltved and Logan Bohnenkamp for their heroic efforts last month that saved a kayaker who had tipped over and become trapped in the current below the Fordam Dam on the Rock River.

Kaltved and Bohnenkamp explained to Stadelman how they spotted the distressed kayaker while fishing during their lunch break from their metal fabricating jobs, hurried to the other side of the river and dropped a chain to the kayaker until a rescue squad arrived. The coworkers were able to point to the scene from the windows of Stadelman's office in the nearby Zeke Giorgi Center.

"Listening to what they went through and how they acted so quickly is amazing," Stadelman said. "They saved a life."

•    WIFR-23 News Report on Stadelman's presentation

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Stadelman backs rebooted automatic voter registration bill

Senator Steve Stadelman continues to push to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois.

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation last year despite bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

Under the latest proposal, which Stadelman supports, qualified voters would be automatically registered to vote when they visit driver services facilities or other state agencies for services. Voters could opt out of the system, and a series of checks would ensure no one is registered to vote who should not be.

Stadelman said the new legislation addresses concerns the governor cited in his veto message last year.

Seniors full of questions during legislative update

Senator Steve Stadelman offered a legislative update this week to residents of Spring Ridge Senior Housing and answered questions on topics ranging from presidential politics to local development proposals.

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Category: Week in Review

300pxStadelmanClose call leads Stadelman to introduce emergency prescription refill legislation

State Senator Steve Stadelman realized the importance of allowing pharmacists to fill dispense prescription drugs on a family vacation a few years ago, and he is now advancing legislation to allow emergency refills in Illinois.

Stadelman’s son, who was 13 at the time, has Type 1 diabetes. During their vacation, he realized that he had no insulin or needles. Because it was a Saturday, the pharmacy was unable to reach the doctor to authorize a refill.

“This really drove home to me that getting a prescription filled quickly can be a matter of life or death,” Stadelman said. “I started to do research and saw that many other states allow emergency refills to take place.”

Stadelman’s legislation would allow pharmacists to refill a prescription without a doctor’s authorization if abruptly discontinuing the medication would cause medical harm or danger to the person. It would not allow emergency refills of controlled substances. Pharmacists could fill a prescription for a time deemed reasonably necessary.  

Senate Bill 1790 passed the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions committee this week and will move to the full Senate for consideration.

Stadelman advances bill to direct federal funds to at-risk students

State Senator Steve Stadelman advanced legislation through committee to prevent federal funding for low-incoming students from being diverted to pay teacher pensions. The measure could free up millions of Title 1 dollars for classrooms in the Rockford School District.

“Right now, school districts are being required to use federal funds that are meant to go to students to pay down the state’s pension debt,” Stadelman said. “This disproportionately affects at-risk students in the districts that need help the most.”

Dr. Ehren Jarrett, the superintendent of Rockford's public schools, testified in favor of the legislation.

“What we’re advocating for is to let those federal dollars go to what the teachers and the principals in those schools say they need most, which is support for struggling students,” Jarrett said. “This is an opportunity for equity for those schools.”

Senate Bill 195 would allow school districts to pay into federally funded teachers’ pensions at the same rate as all other teachers, cutting the districts’ contribution from 45 percent to 7 percent. Individual teachers’ pensions would not be affected.

The legislation passed overwhelmingly in the Licensed Activities and Pensions committee and now heads to the Senate floor for consideration. Stadelman is a sponsor of companion legislation that passed in the House of Representatives this week.

Rauner demands cuts but can't name any

More than a dozen of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agency directors testified in Senate committees last week about cuts they would make to reduce the $5 billion hole in the governor's budget proposal. The grand total of the Rauner administration’s savings proposals: $0.

Agency directors were unable, unwilling or unprepared to offer any savings or program cuts. Worse, the governor’s prison system director didn’t even show up to answer budget questions. This comes as a new state financial report shows Rauner’s budget is more unbalanced than initially feared – the deficit is now just short of $5 billion.

The Rauner administration’s inability to point to cuts presents a confusing scenario for lawmakers. For the third year in a row, the governor has asked lawmakers to give him the power to make cuts to balance spending. But when asked to identify reductions, his handpicked agency heads balk.

Senators constructed a budget and reform package containing a dozen proposals. Nearly half won bipartisan approval, but the governor pulled Republican votes off the final deal even as he publicly acknowledged that he was relying on it to balance his own budget.

At the moment, the Senate budget solution remains on hold while Senate Democrats await word that there is Republican support for the proposals the GOP helped put together. On several occasions this year, the Senate has been poised to vote on the budget compromise, only to have Republicans bail out at the last minute.

Category: Week in Review

300pxStadelmanBudget compromise stalls

An anticipated vote on a bipartisan "grand bargain" to end the state's two-year budget impasse was canceled. Democrats blamed Gov. Bruce Rauner for pressuring Republicans to abandon their support.

Negotiations in the Senate have produced to a 12-bill proposal considered to be a possible bridge in the divide between House Speaker Mike Madigan and Rauner over Rauner's insistence that a budget deal include his "turnaround agenda" -- legislation Rauner portrays as pro-business but Democrats see as anti-labor. Five of the bills, including one to bring gaming to Rockford and four other communities, have been approved.

Senator Steve Stadelman pointed out the state's $12 billion debt grows by $11 million every day Illinois operates with court-ordered and piece-meal spending that exceeds revenue.

Stadelman bill will help victims escape domestic abusers

Senator Steve Stadelman presented a bill this week to the Senate judiciary committee to allow victims of domestic violence to continue using their cell phone plans after separating from their abusers.

“Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult, and there are many roadblocks you might not think about unless you’ve been in that situation,” Stadelman said. “Anything we can do to make it easier to leave is a positive step.”

The measure requires wireless providers to allow victims to transfer phone numbers on accounts they share with abusers. Similar legislation was recently enacted in California, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Senate Bill 57 passed unanimously in committee and will move to the Senate floor for consideration.

Stadelman votes to bring casino to Rockford

Senator Steve Stadelman voted this week for legislation to authorize a new casino in Rockford. The measure, part of the Senate’s grand bargain, passed 31-26.  

“I’m tired of seeing buses of Rockford residents going to casinos in Wisconsin and Iowa,” Stadelman said. “Those entertainment dollars should be spent in Illinois to help pay for our schools, roads and other improvement projects.”

The legislation also authorizes new casinos in Chicago, Lake County, South Suburban Chicago, Danville and unincorporated Williamson County.

Category: Week in Review

stadelman education forum rNo disagreement at forum: State needs to reform education funding

State Senator Steve Stadelman was joined by public school superintendents Ehren Jarrett of Rockford and Julie Morris of Harlem for a discussion of the outlook for education in Illinois' spring legislative session.

Much of the conversation at the League of Women Voters forum centered on the longstanding need to reform the way the state funds schools in a way that reduces the reliance on local property taxes.

Stadelman told the crowd at the North Suburban Library in Loves Park that Illinois currently pays about a quarter of the cost of operating schools across the state, which puts an unfair burden on poorer communities where teachers need more resources but where low property values produce less tax revenue to cover the state funding gap.

"Wealthy suburbs of Chicago spend twice as much per student, but their tax rates are two times lower," Stadelman said. "That creates great inequity across the state. We probably have the most inequitable funding system in the country."

Stadelman said he is hopeful that the Illinois Senate passes a bipartisan 2017 budget compromise that includes education funding reform among one of 13 pieces of legislation. A vote to advance the so-called grand bargain to the Illinois House could come as soon as Feb. 28.

•    WREX-13 report on League of Women Voters education forum

Pressure builds for Senate to bail out Rauner

Gov. Bruce Rauner last week unveiled a budget at least $4.6 billion out of balance that relies on the success of a Senate grand bargain to save the state’s finances. A deeper dive into the plan showed it actually may be unbalanced by more than $7 billion, according to analysts including the governor's own budget chief.

At a recent hearing, Senate Democrats asked the governor’s budget chief to defend the unbalanced proposal. From the Chicago Tribune's report on that hearing:

"Meanwhile, at the Capitol, Senate Democrats spent hours dismantling Rauner's budget proposal, hammering administration officials about the exact size of the plan's multibillion-dollar deficit. By the end of the contentious hearing, Rauner budget director Scott Harry acknowledged the spending plan is $7.2 billion out of whack without various savings and revenues built into the proposal that rely on changes in law which are far from fruition."

Category: Week in Review

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Springfield Office:
Senator 34th District
121A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
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