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Manar calls to remove barrier to high school graduation

mortarboard 051619SPRINGFIELD – The Senate Education Committee passed legislation Tuesday sponsored by State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) that would remove barriers to graduation for some high school students.

House Bill 2165 would remove the requirement that all students must complete an algebra II course in order to graduate high school.

The change is designed to eliminate a barrier to graduation for students who do not wish to pursue a post-secondary degree or choose to work in a vocational field.

“Algebra II is an important course for many high school students, but not everyone graduates high school with the intention to continue their education at the post-secondary level and it’s time we acknowledge this and provide more options for students who want to enter the workforce immediately,” Manar said. “Every child is different and a one-size-fits-all curriculum is not going to effectively serve the diverse needs of Illinois students.”

High school students would still be required to take three years of math as a requirement for graduation under the legislation, one of which must be algebra I and one of which must include geometry content.

The measure was approved by the Education Committee unanimously. It will now go before the entire Senate.

Cunningham advances measure improving access to benefits for Chicago police

cunningham 030719SPRINGFIELD – The Senate State Government Committee passed a bill sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham Tuesday that would ease the financial burden on Chicago police officers who litigate to receive certain benefits.

House Bill 2470 would require the Policeman’s Annuity Benefit Fund of Chicago (PABF) to pay court costs, litigation expenses and reasonable attorney fees for members who were unfairly denied duty or occupational disability benefits.

“Chicago police officers work hard to earn their benefits and they should not have to risk financial ruin to access them,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “These men and women spend their careers protecting us and we need to do the same for them.”

Under current law, the board of trustees for the PABF can issue a denial of the continuance of a duty or occupational disability benefit for a member. Members can appeal the denial, but the cost of litigating the appeal can be a heavy burden.

House Bill 2470 passed the State Government Committee on a bipartisan 7-2 vote. It will now go before the entire Senate.

Grassroots effort leads to dropping of controversial rail expansion

morrison 051519 2LAKE FOREST - The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has dropped a proposal to install holding tracks for freight trains in Lake Forest and Glenview after pressure from State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) and a coalition of grassroots citizens in the North Suburbs who voiced their opposition to the proposal.

“The recent announcement by IDOT represents a hard fought win for the many homeowners and concerned citizens who stood up and made their voices heard,” Morrison said. “It was a pleasure to advocate and ultimately be successful for the thousands of area residents who stood up and refused to accept this ill-advised proposal.”

Morrison expressed concern with the project after plans were submitted that would have led to the construction of extra rail lines just feet from property and businesses across the region.

Morrison publicly called on IDOT and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to investigate whether another suitable location – away from high population centers – could be found. She also requested the completion of a freight impact study before the project could commence.

An increase in potential accidents, increased air and noise pollution and a decrease in the overall quality of life were some of the many concerns raised by area residents about the project that would have greatly benefited Wisconsin at the expense of North Suburban homeowners and businesses.

“This project had the potential to greatly disturb the quality of life for many communities in the 29th District,” Morrison said. “This latest development demonstrates the power of committed and engaged residents in the 29th District.”

Manar supports suing drug companies for price gouging

manar 031219SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) commended Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s decision this week to join a 44-state coalition suing the some of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers for artificially inflating prices for lifesaving medications.

“Pharmaceutical companies have been expanding their profit margins and reducing competition for years at the expense of men and women who need their products to survive,” Manar said. “I’m glad to see that Attorney General Raoul recognizes the dire consequences these artificially high prices can have on Illinoisans and that he’s committing our state to standing up to the prescription drug industry.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, names 20 pharmaceutical companies and 15 executives who are responsible for manipulating prices and limiting the availability of prescription medications.

The complaint alleges that the drug manufacturers conspired to fix prices for name-brand medications and restrain trade for more than 100 generic drugs. In some cases, coordinated price increases were over 1,000 percent.

“In my district, I’ve seen firsthand the serious financial implications these price increases can have on working families – particularly in rural communities where consumers have limited access to pharmacies,” Manar said. “Now is the time to take these bad actors to task and this lawsuit is a good step toward doing so.”

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