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Bennett raises Heterotaxy awareness

bennett-heterotaxySPRINGFIELD- Hallie is a beautiful 9 year old girl. She loves fashion and spends her time drawing her own fashion line. One day, Hallie would like to learn how to sew so she can make her designs a reality.

However, unlike most children, Hallie spends a lot of time with doctors and in hospitals because she was born with Heterotaxy Syndrome.

Heterotaxy is a disorder where certain organs form on the opposite side of the body. For example, instead of the heart normally forming on the left side of the chest, it will be located on the right side.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed Senate Resolution 436 to declare May 4 Heterotaxy Awareness Day in Illinois.

“Heterotaxy is a fairly unknown disorder. It’s important to raise awareness to provide children like Hallie with the best possible treatment,” said Bennett. “If we want to continue to find innovative methods of care, we need to educate as many medical professionals and people as possible.”

For every 1,000,000 babies born, four of them will have Heterotaxy. Often those diagnosed spend their lives with a team of doctors to stay in reasonable health. Bennett’s daughter Emma was born with a mild form of Heterotaxy.

“My wife and I are lucky Emma is in great health; however, there are children diagnosed with Heterotaxy, who spend more time in a hospital than any child should have to in order to receive treatment and stay healthy,” said Bennett.

Babies with Heterotaxy are usually first identified because they have structural problems with their hearts or livers. It has been known to affect development of the heart, liver, lungs, intestines and spleen.

SR 436 passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

Senator Mulroe: O'Hare noise levels are unbearable

mulroe-ohare-presserCHICAGO  – Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) discussed legislation to address the growing noise from O’Hare International Airport at a press conference today. Collaborating with Mulroe are Congressman Mike Quigley and Representative John D’Amico as well as many other state lawmakers, Chicago aldermen, suburban mayors, Cook County commissioners and the FAiR Coalition.

“The noise levels are unbearable for people and we are working hard to address those concerns,” Mulroe said. “This legislation was drafted with the intention of seeking a compromise with the airport and the residents in communities bordering the airport. I want there to be a little less talk and a little more action.”

Passed on April 16 from the Senate by a staggering majority, Senate Bills 636 and 637 act as companion pieces to address the noise concerns. SB636 would raise the number of active runways O’Hare could have from eight to 10, while SB637 stipulates that the existing runways must all remain active and at full capacity.

Prior to 2013, reliance on the existing runways diverted air traffic not only east-west but also on a diagonal pattern northeast-northwest. Since that time, the parallel east-west runways have moved to 97 percent capacity, while the diagonal runway’s traffic has dwindled to 3 percent.

“We need a fairer distribution of arrivals and departures among O’Hare runways to ease the flood of aircraft noise inundating our neighborhoods,” Rep. Quigley said. “I appreciate Senator Mulroe’s leadership and partnership as we continue to pursue every avenue that reduces noise without compromising safety.”   

Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) was not present at the press conference but released the following written statement: “While I agree that a state-of-the-art and efficient O’Hare Airport is a key component to our area’s economy and transportation system, I firmly support expansion of noise and air pollution monitoring and greater public involvement in decision making.”

In addition to the legislators, a family from Schiller Park, which borders O’Hare on the village’s northwest side, will testify to their experience with the noise levels prior to 2013 and since the opening of the most recent parallel runway.

More courses to be available to students with limited options

lightford-courseoptionsSPRINGFIELD – Students in school districts with limited course options may soon be able to access a wider variety of courses thanks to legislation pushed through the Senate by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood). The option of taking classes from an outside authorized provider would be available to students who can demonstrate an impediment to being able to take another course at school or participate in another academic activity.

“A student’s potential should not be limited by his or her ZIP code,” said Sen. Lightford. “The courses available to students in one area of the state should be available to students everywhere to ensure we are giving all our young people the most comprehensive education possible. Equality of opportunity at the high school level now will lead to more equitable opportunity as the next generation applies for college and enters the workforce tomorrow.”  

Starting with the 2016-17 school year, qualifying juniors and seniors would be allowed to take up to two of these special courses a semester. By the 2018-19 school year, all qualifying high school students would be able to enroll.

Under this prospective law, the State Board would authorize course providers who meet a specific set of criteria for a period of three years, and the Board would also maintain a public catalog of courses available for students. The cost of each course would be negotiated between the provider and the State Board, which would transfer course payments to the provider on behalf of the responsible school district.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1679, now goes to the House for consideration.

Link visits food bank in Waukegan

IMG 1851Waukegan - State Senator Terry Link visited the Cool Ministries Food Bank in Downtown Waukegan recently. Diane Thackston, Executive Director of Cool Ministries, guided the senator throughout the facilities and showed the work they do in the North Shore area.

Cool Ministries has been operating for over 32 years and, currently, it feeds 7,000 people each month.

“I dearly remember my humble beginnings when I had the fortune to have a simple meal before going to school. As a state senator, I work hard to make sure that our children and their parents will not go to school or to work with an empty stomach,” said Link.

Cool Ministries also offer temporally housing options to people in need who meet certain criteria. To do this fine work, they heavily rely on volunteers who are vital to operate.

“Despite the challenging economy that makes it harder to get donations or public funding, our enthusiasm does not cease for helping those in need of a helping hand to get back on their feet,” said Director Thackston.

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