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.
State Senator Melinda Bush promoted Attorney General’s legislation
SPRINGFIELD — A new law that will prohibit health care providers from directly billing sexual assault survivors for the collection of evidence related to their attacks will take effect next year after Governor Bruce Rauner signed it Monday. House Bill 3848, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), was passed by the General Assembly unanimously and signed into law Monday.
The new law, put forth by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, will ensure compliance with the federal Violence Against Women Act of 2013 (VAWA) and remove a barrier that may prevent sexual assault survivors from going to the hospital after the crime.
“I strongly encourage anyone who is sexually assaulted to go quickly to a hospital emergency room for necessary care and to collect evidence of the crime,” Madigan said. “This law assures that in the aftermath of a sexual assault, a survivor will not be sent a bill for those critical ER services that play an important role in helping law enforcement make an arrest and work to achieve justice for the survivor.”
The invasive examinations that follow a sexual assault can last four to six hours and involve the collection of physical evidence from the survivor’s body. The “rape kits” are then sent to a crime lab for testing. The results provide a critical part of a criminal investigation. The new law would ensure that those who submit to those tests won’t also need to pay for them.
“The legal process survivors face often seems overwhelming,” Bush said. “This will ensure that survivors can come forward without worrying about shouldering the financial burden of an investigation.”
The law brings Illinois into compliance with the VAWA, which requires Illinois to certify that that sexual assault survivors are not being billed for medical forensic examinations as a condition of receiving federal grant funds. Failure to comply with VAWA could result in the loss of these federal funds which are used to provide services to victims, to train law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and to train Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), who work with victims to gather evidence and help them begin the recovery process.
The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.
SPRINGFIELD — State Sens. Linda Holmes and Melinda Bush issued the following statements on their support of legislation dealing with social services and higher education grant funding.
Holmes and Bush voted in favor of House Bill 2482, which would maintain the current threshold individuals must meet in order to qualify for social services like in-home elder care. Gov. Rauner proposed increasing the threshold, which would disqualify thousands of applicants.
“We are not a state that denies care to the elderly and the sick by claiming they are magically no longer in need,” Holmes said. “Services like the Community Cares Program, which helps seniors continue to live in their homes, actually save the state money down the road. Kicking people off of these services is the wrong thing to do for so many reasons.”
“I oppose taking such a callous approach to finances,” Bush said. “By making it harder to qualify for social services, the governor is attacking an important social safety net for a vulnerable population, all for cuts that we know will cost us more in the foreseeable future.”
Bush and Holmes also voted in favor of MAP grant funding at the same level proposed by Gov. Rauner, which would constitute a 2.25 percent increase over the previous year. The governor vetoed an earlier spending plan that included a higher level of funding.
“For families sending their proud high school graduates off to college this month, these grants are absolutely crucial,” Holmes said. “We’re meeting Governor Rauner halfway by adopting funding at these levels. Today I took action to ensure the grants are there for the middle class families whose students have worked hard to get into college.”
“Governor Rauner made the right call when he proposed an increase to these grants, and the wrong one when he held these funds hostage during this budget process,” Bush said. “Though I would have preferred to fund them at the higher level the Senate approved earlier, it is more important that they are released to the families whose students need them to get a quality education.”
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).