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Kotowski legislation passes committee; aims to protect people, not special interests

kotowski-sb274SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) issued the following statement after passing legislation through the Senate Appropriations I Committee that would divert nearly $280 million in funds normally set aside for special interests to provide childcare for working parents.  

“This legislation prioritizes working people over special interests and high-powered lobbyists. We need to shake up Springfield by moving negotiations that effect needy parents and children out of backrooms and into the public forum. A month has passed since we listened to mothers who will no longer be able to work and provide care for their children if we don’t fund the Child Care Assistance Program. Senate Bill 274 gives Governor Rauner the opportunity to do exactly what he asked—protect working parents without raising taxes or increasing borrowing.

“I have led the charge to reform our state budget to protect taxpayers who have worked hard and played by the rules. We must continue to tap into the nearly $1 billion in excess funds reserved for special interests. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in putting people over potholes.”

Forby questions constitutionality of right-to-work zones

forby-rtwzonesIn the ongoing fight to protect working families from overreaching anti-employee initiatives, State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) sent a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan to inquire about the constitutionality of right-to-work zones.

Across the country, right-to-work laws have crippled unions’ ability to protect workers’ rights. Studies of other states concluded that right-to-work laws drive down wages and benefits and do not improve a state’s business climate or create jobs.

Governor Rauner wants to experiment with their anti-worker policies at the state level.

“Right-to-work zones are the opening shot to roll back the protections we take for granted,” Forby said. “I want to know if the Governor’s proposal is constitutional because it doesn’t seem legal.”

Workers living in right-to-work states earn about $1,500 less per year than workers in states without these laws.

“Our economy is finally getting back on its feet,” Forby said. “Right-to-work zones mean a pay cut to the middle class, which goes against what the people in Illinois voted for last November.”

Forby's letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan is here.

Bennett advances legislation to protect Central Illinois’ water supply

bennett-acquiferSPRINGFIELD- The Mahomet Aquifer serves as the primary water supply for 15 counties across Central Illinois including Champaign and Vermilion counties.  State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced Senate Bill 1698 to protect residents across Central Illinois from contaminated drinking water.

“The Mahomet Aquifer serves as a lifeline for our region. It’s our duty to protect this important resource for the sake of our children and generations to come,” said Bennett. “This proposal will further the mission of the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance by instituting guidelines to protect our underground water source.”

The Mahomet Aquifer Protection Alliance is a group of Central Illinois citizens who are committed to keeping the Mahomet Aquifer free of contamination. Local communities across central Illinois have banded together to fight the disposal of dangerous toxins at the Clinton Landfill, which sits atop the Aquifer.

As a result of their efforts, last year the Mahomet Aquifer was designated as a Sole Source Aquifer, which provides federal protection.  

Representative Carol Ammons has introduced similar legislation in the House. Bennett and Ammons will continue to work together to find an equitable solution to protect the aquifer from contamination.

SB 1698 passed the Senate’s Committee on Public Health and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Holmes supports consolidating local governments

holmes-locgovsSeeking to eliminate some redundancy from local government, State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, voiced her support for legislation aimed at bringing separate forest preserve districts into county government.

Most of Illinois’ 102 county boards regulate local forest preserves. DuPage County, which includes parts of Aurora and Naperville, has a separate Forest Preserve Board of DuPage County, something local voters have questioned the necessity of in the past.

“Illinois is cited time and again as having too many layers of government, more than any other state in the country,” Holmes said. “We need to find efficiency where we can. If most counties in the state can manage their forest preserves within county government, DuPage County can do the same.”

The legislation, sponsored in the Illinois House by state Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Elmhurst, would mandate that separate forest preserve districts in counties like DuPage become part of county government by November of 2018.

The legislation is House Bill 3099. It awaits debate in the Illinois House.

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