Legislature overrides Rauner veto of school funding reform
Steve Stadelman was among lawmakers from both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly who last week rejected the governor's attempt to rewrite historic legislation to reform the way Illinois funds public education. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of SB 444 threatened to stall implementation of a more equitable school funding formula that relies less on property taxes, a system that favors wealthy communities with fewer at-risk students.

SB 444 proposed simple technical cleanups to the original reform legislation that had received bipartisan support and that Rauner had signed into law. The governor, however, tried to insert substantive changes including an expansion of the new Invest in Kids program to provide tax credits for people who donate to private school scholarships.

Rauner's failed bid to amend the legislation only stalls the release of $350 million in new funding for classrooms, said Stadelman, noting that public schools in Rockford and Harlem benefit under the new formula. Despite the veto override, he said, the Rauner administration is now citing additional technical discrepancies that could continue to hold up distribution of money to schools.

Stadelman reacts to governor's annual speech
Illinois senators returned to Springfield last week for the start of the 2018 legislative session, a week during which Bruce Rauner delivered the State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly. Senator Steve Stadelman says the speech was once again long on empty promises and short on detail.

“While the governor laid out broad ideas, he failed to present a plan to accomplish them," Stadelman said. "In each of the last three years, we have seen the governor present extensive goals but fail to achieve them due to combative, partisan politics. It’s my hope the governor will finally be able to present a balanced budget that will attain bipartisan support and bring our state back to financial stability.”
•    Video response to State of the State address

Keep on chugging, Stadelman urges passenger rail group
stadelmanrailforumSenator Steve Stadelman encouraged the efforts of a citizens group trying to resurrect passenger rail service between Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa, but also warned of obstacles and advised that identifying funding is key.

Chief among those obstacles, Stadelman told representatives of Ride the Rail, is Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who pulled the plug on a $233 million project to bring train services from Chicago to Rockford when he took office in 2015. Stadelman worked with former Gov. Pat Quinn to get the project, first announced in 2010, back on track after negotiations broke down with one of two possible rail lines.

Ride the Rail is campaigning to "Bring Back the Blackhawk" by renewing interest in passenger rail from Chicago to Iowa through Rockford, Freeport and Galena. Stadelman said he firmly believes in the value of train service in stimulating the local economy but reminded the group of Illinois' current financial trouble and pointed out that trends in passenger rail involve public-private partnerships, with public money coming from local, state and federal sources.

Stadelman commended Ride the Rail for helping keep public conversation on the issue alive and expressed dismay that a recently released Federal Railroad Administration proposal for development of a Midwest passenger rail network omits Rockford.

"It won't be in the next year or two, but passenger rail will happen eventually," Stadelman said, "and we can't afford to remain off the grid."
•    WIFR-23 report

Category: Week in Review

Rauner veto could cause chaos for public schools statewide
Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a simple trailer bill creates potential chaos for every Illinois school that stands to benefit from long-overdue funding reform.

The last-minute veto of Senate Bill 444 -- a piece of technical cleanup legislation requested by the Rauner administration and passed quickly by the General Assembly two months ago -- boggles the mind, said State Senator Steve Stadelman, a vocal advocate for school funding reform since taking office in 2013.

"While the legislative process may sound complicated, the result is not: The governor's action threatens to unravel a long-sought, bipartisan solution to an unfair system for funding public edcuation," Stadelman said.

In November, the General Assembly responded immediately to a request from the Illinois State Board of Education by again passing additional bipartisan legislation to help to more quickly implement the new school funding formula. But rather than promptly sign the resulting SB 444, Rauner sat on the measure and issued an 11th-hour amendatory veto. That veto now could derail implementation of the new formula.

"ISBE is part of the Rauner administration, and ISBE had indicated being ready to move forward as soon as the trailer bill became law," Stadelman said. "Now, because of the governor's inexplicable veto, underfunded schools in Rockford and Harlem, which have been subject to an unfair formula for years, will have to continue waiting."

Lawmakers will address the veto when they return Jan. 30 for the first week of their spring session.
•    WREX-13 report on veto

Free mammograms for women without health insurance
A Silver Lining Foundation is offerings referrals for free mammograms to uninsured women in Winnebago, Boone and Ogle counties with the help of a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois.

To obtain a referral for a free mammogram at Mercyhealth or UW Health-SwedishAmerican, contact ASLF at 877-924-1126.

ASLF, a Chicago-based nonprofit, played a key role in launching Senator Stadelman's Women's Wellness Fair in 2015 and has participated every year since, promoting mammograms for early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Commission issues mandatory workers' comp reminder
In Illinois, if an employer has one employee, even a part-time employee, the employer must provide workers' compensation insurance. The mandate includes family members of the owner(s) who are employed by the company.

An employer who knowingly and willfully fails to provide workers' compensation insurance may be fined up to $500 for every day of non-compliance, with a minimum fine of of $10,000. Corporate officers who are found to have negligently failed to provide insurance are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Sole proprietors, corporate officers and business partners may elected to come under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act or opt out, unless they operate in industries deemed to be extremely hazardous such as construction and trucking.
For more information, call the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission at 312-816-6611 or visit www.iwcc.il.gov.

Category: Week in Review

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

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 34th District
121B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8022
District Office:
200 S. Wyman St., Suite 301
Rockford, IL 61101
(815) 987-7557