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Senator Harris working to improve health care to athletes

harris-athletehealthcareSpringfield, IL – Legislation sponsored by Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey), allowing certain out-of-state health care professionals to practice medicine in Illinois while on contract to provide care to an athletic team, passed the Senate today.

Currently there is no exemption for health care professionals in contract with athletic teams to provide care to athletic team members, coaching staff or families traveling with the athletic team in Illinois without a license to practice in the state.

“This measure would allow for teams to travel with their health care professionals, thereby allowing individuals to receive treatment from someone who is better informed on their medical history,” Harris said. “As a former professional athlete myself, I know firsthand the importance of traveling with a qualified physician who knows my medical history. This bill allows skilled health care professionals to provide the medical attention athletes need while they travel in Illinois.”

Senate Bill 785 gives exemption to health care professionals for 10 days per sporting event with an option to extend the exemption up to 30 days.

The legislation passed the Senate with 54–0 and will be sent to the House.

Kotowski leads bipartisan coalition to restore funding for autism

kotowski-sb274SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) today passed a plan in the Illinois Senate to undo the cuts to social services recently enacted by Gov. Rauner.

“This legislation is a byproduct of lengthy negotiations with Governor Rauner, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans. By using surplus funds normally reserved for special interests, we can now restore funding for autism, epilepsy and substance abuse prevention.

“These aren’t just numbers on paper; these are cuts that affect real people. I applaud the Governor and both parties in our chamber for coming together to find a solution, without borrowing or raising taxes, to take care of our most vulnerable children and families.”

Victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, protected from eviction under Hutchinson plan

toi-042215SPRINGFIELD – Victims of domestic violence and individuals with disabilities will not have to worry about losing their homes if they contact authorities for help under a proposal that passed the Senate today.

“The last thing a survivor of a traumatic assault or someone struggling with a disability needs to worry about is being evicted simply for calling the police for help,” sponsor State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said.  

Renters who contact authorities for help risk eviction in the more than 100 home-rule cities and villages that have implemented some form of crime-free ordinance meant to give more control to municipalities in addressing public safety concerns. Many of these ordinances have specifically listed triggers that could lead to an eviction, including numerous calls to law enforcement.

While the intent of crime-free ordinances is to deal with illegal activity, victims of criminal activity can be affected by the rules, especially in the case of domestic violence. Victims of domestic abuse aren’t always able to leave their homes immediately and are sometimes afraid to press charges, making it more likely they will have to contact the police more than once.  

Individuals with disabilities are also endangered by these ordinances, as someone struggling with a disability might need assistance from authorities more often than someone without a disability.

“We should not be penalizing renters with eviction simply for making legitimate calls for help,” Hutchinson said. “This proposal strikes a balance between the safety needs of victims and the responsibility of municipalities to address public safety in their communities.”

Senate Bill 1547 passed the Senate today on a 53-0 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives.

Holmes, Comptroller Munger strengthen state auditing, seek transparency in spending

holmes-comptrollerSPRINGFIELD — Collaborating with Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger to enforce greater fiscal discipline and seek out efficiencies and transparency in state funding, State Sen. Linda Holmes sponsored two proposals that passed the Illinois Senate today.

“I was happy to work with Comptroller Munger on these two common sense proposals,” Holmes said. “As we work together to address the state’s fiscal difficulties, I’m looking forward to further bipartisan work.”

Senate Bill 1404 further clarifies a law meant to bring the accounting practices of all state agencies into line with one another. A 2011 report by the Auditor General’s Office discovered that the state had been using more than 260 different accounting systems, many described as “antiquated.” The proposal clarifies the auditing practices of state agencies that don’t have their own internal auditor.

Originally introduced by Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka before being taken up again by Munger, Senate Bill 1405 creates a task force with the aim of studying state funds and searching for funds that can be consolidated or otherwise eliminated. Doing so would potentially promote greater efficiency and transparency in state operations. Currently, the state maintains over 900 funds. In contrast, the State of Wisconsin maintains about 60 funds, Comptroller Munger said.

“Illinois has more funds than any other state by far, which makes it incredibly difficult to see how state money is spent,” Munger said. “There is no reason to have a Fish and Wildlife Fund and a separate Salmon Fund. Isn’t salmon a fish?”

“I thank Sen. Holmes for her leadership on these two important bills in the Senate that will go a long way toward improving efficiencies and increasing transparency in state spending,” Munger added.

“Our first responsibility to the people of Illinois is good stewardship of state government,” Holmes said. “With these initiatives, we’re working toward being more watchful and less wasteful.”

The two pieces of legislation proceed to the House for consideration.

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