Voters would decide whether local governments merge, dissolve
SPRINGFIELD — Responding to recent calls for more efficiency in local government, the Illinois Senate passed legislation Thursday by State Sen. Melinda Bush that would allow for the consolidation of township government with the approval of local voters.
“We’ve heard calls for township consolidation for many years,” said Bush, D-Grayslake. “It’s important that as we pursue that, we preserve local control. This measure is an important compromise and I urge my colleagues in the House and the governor to make it the law.”
Senate Bill 388 would, among other things:
• allow a township to merge with one or more adjacent townships.
• allow a township to be dissolved and absorbed by two townships with which it shares a boundary.
• allow a township which shares the same geographical area with a municipality to be dissolved by resolution and its duties adopted by the municipality.
• Remove a barrier to the consolidation of townships by allowing counties that eliminate townships countywide via a petition and referendum process to retain their county board form of government, rather than transition to a commission form of government (as under current law).
Any dissolution or merging of townships would occur only after the township boards in question adopt a resolution calling for the question to be put before voters, and after a majority of voters approve a referendum to that effect at the next election.
Currently, the law doesn’t provide any method to merge or consolidate township government. Townships have only three statutory functions: Maintaining roads, assessing property and providing general assistance. There are 1,430 townships in Illinois, more than any other state.
The legislation is Senate Bill 388. It passed the Senate 53-0 and proceeds to the Illinois House for consideration.
Listen to Sen. Bush on SB 388:
Proposal will be first under new universal specialty plate law
SPRINGFIELD — To create a program to preserve the monarch butterfly in Illinois, State Sen. Melinda Bush put forth a proposal that would create a new butterfly-themed specialty license plate sticker.
“What we propose is fairly straightforward: The monarch butterfly needs milkweed plants to lay its eggs and feed itself, and our highway medians are the perfect place to cultivate them,” Bush said. “This lets drivers pledge their support toward preserving our state insect by giving them a little home that’s easy to reach by wing and hard to disturb on foot.”
The monarch population in Illinois has decreased 90 percent in the past 20 years due to changes in the creatures’ natural habitat.
A different law passed recently requires new specialty license plates to adhere to a standardized system to make recording plate numbers easier for law enforcement officers. If enacted, the new monarch plate stickers would be the first under that reimagined system.
“This proposal works in concert with new rules called for by the men and women who patrol our roads and it makes efficient use of our median strips to help preserve an important part and lovely part of our ecosystem,” Bush said. “I urge all my colleagues to support this innovative solution.”
The legislation is Senate Bill 2882. It passed out of committee yesterday and will be considered before the full Senate.
Authorization passes Senate, will head to governor
SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Melinda Bush issued the following statement after voting Yes today on an authorization that will release winter road maintenance funds, gaming revenue and higher education funding to local governments and public universities.
The vast majority of funding in question is either federal pass-through dollars or the local shares of motor fuel and gaming taxes to which municipalities are already entitled.
“After months of calling for budget compromise between legislative leaders, it’s about time we see progress being made,” Bush said. “Today, we were able to ensure that funds that rightly belong in our universities and local governments are put to use. As lawmakers and as taxpayers, we must accept nothing less.”
Besides releasing motor fuel taxes that help local governments buy road salt and authorizing federal money for state community colleges, the funds would, among other things:
• reimburse lottery winners who have gone unpaid.
• ensure Driver Services Facilities continue operation.
• provide the Attorney General’s Office with funding for victim advocacy and support for domestic violence survivors, among other programs.
• fund domestic violence shelters, 911 services, breast cancer research and veterans’ homes throughout the state.
Senate Bill 2039 passed the Senate 53-0 after it passed the House with near-unanimous support last week. It awaits Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature to take effect.
GRAYSLAKE — State Sen. Melinda Bush issued the following statement as members of the Illinois House voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of House Bill 1, the Heroin Crisis Act, on Wednesday.
“Citizens have demanded we address this public health crisis,” Bush said. “This comprehensive plan to reduce addiction and death must not be delayed further. I will cast my ‘Yes’ vote to override this veto and make this the law of the land, and I urge all my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”
Among other provisions in the proposal is a section referred to as “Lali’s Law,” which would expand access to heroin overdose antidotes at local pharmacies. The law is so named for Alex “Lali” Laliberte, whose sister Chelsea formed the anti-heroin organization Live4Lali after her brother’s death by heroin overdose in 2008.
Live4Lali has been promoting the wider distribution and awareness of Narcan, an antidote that immediately halts the lethal chemical effects of a narcotics overdose with no adverse side effects and can be used safely with minimal training. Law enforcement officers in Lake County carry the small kits and have already reported several deaths averted by their use over the past year.
The legislation is House Bill 1. It proceeds to the Senate, where it requires a three-fifths supermajority vote to override the governor’s veto.
Sen. Melinda Bush
31st Legislative District
Years served: 2013 - Present
Committee assignments: Environment and Conservation; Revenue; State Government & Veterans Affairs; Committee of the Whole; Human Services; Commerce and Economic Development (Vice-Chairperson); Education.
Biography: Born March 18, 1956; former member of the Lake County Board, Forest Preserve Board and former Grayslake village trustee; married (Andy) with one adult son (Chris).