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Illinois colleges to have a uniform policy to accept military training

TINLEY PARK- Starting hastings 011017Jan. 1, Illinois universities and colleges must establish a policy for awarding academic course credit for military training, thanks to State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park).

One of the biggest challenges facing returning servicemen and -women is figuring out how military training credits transfer to college credit. The new law will help standardize the process.

“Illinois’ veterans have valuable on-site educational experience,” Hastings said. “It’s our duty and honor to ensure returning veterans receive credit for the life and academic expertise they gained while serving our nation.”

Under the current system, universities and community colleges attempt to translate military experience into college credits, with confusion arising from inconsistencies such as descriptions for military training and college courses that don’t always match up perfectly. A military acronym on a transcript may also refer to a different class or curriculum depending on which branch of service uses it.

Often a credit transfer becomes a matter of the higher education institution’s willingness to research ways to find equivalent civilian academic courses. A standardized system would end confusion and create an easier transition for our military personnel, Hastings said.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, over 773,000 veterans are now using their GI Bill benefits to go to college, spending a collective $11 billion a year.

“Requiring veterans to take repetitive and redundant academic classes is a waste of time and money,” Hastings said. “The entire process can be discouraging. We need to help streamline the process to promote an easy transition for veterans into civilian life by cutting out the bureaucracy.”

Hastings believes returning veterans may be the key to solving workforce shortages in Illinois.

“The quicker our military men and women complete their college degrees; the faster they can enter the workforce,” Hastings said. “Our veterans have real life in the field training. Their experiences in high pressure situations make them ideal candidates to fill vacancies as registered nurses, EMT’s and other medical professions.”

House Bill 3701 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

Hastings outraged at federal roll back of net neutrality rules

net neutralityTINLEY PARK- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) is outraged at the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to eliminate net neutrality protections across the United States.

Today the FCC voted in favor of rolling back the 2015 net neutrality rules that were put in place to empower and protect Illinois consumers and their rights to an open internet. 

“Big corporate utility corporations will now serve as gatekeepers of the world wide web,” Hastings said. “The rollback of net neutrality rules means that the needs of consumers will now be put on the back burner as broadband providers engineer plans to profit and infringe on the privacy and freedoms we once had.”

Hastings was a proponent of protecting those freedoms, and earlier this year he introduced a resolution in the Illinois Senate urging President Donald Trump and members of the United States Congress to continue to protect net neutrality and open internet access.

Supporters of net neutrality argue that rules that took effect in 2015 are the only thing standing between greedy utility companies and impaired internet use. Without net neutrality, those companies could have the power to throttle traffic, charge for expensive "fast lanes" and completely block sites that displease corporate entities.

This means those corporate entities would have full control over information transmitted into homes or business via the internet.

On Black Friday, over 200 companies such as Twitter, Pinterest and Airbnb signed a letter warning FCC Chairman Ajit Pai not to roll back net neutrality protections. The letter states that record Black Friday sales are "a testament to the power of the free and open internet to encourage entrepreneurship, drive innovation, make our lives easier, and to support a healthy economy."

“Our military men and women have fought to protect our democratic principles,” Hastings said. “Freedom of information is a fundamental right our nation was founded upon. The fact Illinois citizens, organizations and businesses may now have to pay a toll to use the internet freely is a direct assault on our sacred values.”

Currently, 47 nations across the globe have laws or regulations protecting net neutrality, including the European Union, Argentina, Norway, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Japan, Mexico and India.  

“Net neutrality shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Hastings said. “The decision made today will not only impact U.S. citizens but our friends and allies across the world. It’s our duty to work together to stand up against this injustice and I urge our federal officials to do the same. We cannot afford to accept policies that impede our basic freedoms.”

Hastings looks forward to future hearings and discussions addressing net neutrality in Illinois during the legislative session.

Hastings urges federal leaders to stand up against attack on net neutrality

net neutralityTINLEY PARK- State Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) has joined the fight to keep federal net neutrality rules in place.

Hastings filed Senate Resolution 1117 which urges President Donald Trump and members of the United States Congress to continue to protect net neutrality and open internet access.

“Big money utility companies should not have the power to obstruct our access to information,” Hastings said. “I will not stand by as Trump’s administration continues its attacks on our democracy and freedom.

Hastings: Time for Illinois to walk away from Crosscheck

hastings crosscheck 111517CHICAGO – Illinois legislators grilled election officials today on the State Board of Elections’ decision to remain a part of a controversial voter registration system. The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck, or Crosscheck for short, compares names of registered voters across states to see if anyone is registered twice.

However, critics argue the unsecure system is designed to suppress minority voters. Communities of color are more likely to have the same last names, which the program flags as a potential double voter. Additionally, the program does not check middle names or suffixes such as Junior or Senior.

The result is that voters with similar names can often be mistaken by the program as double-registered voters, which could have them potentially thrown off the voter rolls.

Security concerns have also been raised as Crosscheck does not use secure networks and passwords to access the database have been sent on unsecure emails.  

State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) says he’s worried the state is leaving the personal information of Illinois voters in danger by remaining in the program.

“Keeping sensitive voter information on an unsecured database is a hacker’s dream,” Hastings said. “The state of Illinois should walk away from the Crosscheck program and use more reliable systems that don’t expose the private information of Illinois residents.”

The state of Illinois is also a member of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) which is considered to be more reliable in determining the accuracy of voter registration.

Sen. Michael E. Hastings

hastings 150
19th Legislative District

Years served: 2012 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations I; Appropriations II; Financial Institutions; Insurance; Judiciary (Vice-Chairperson); State Government & Veterans Affairs; Committee of the Whole.

Biography: Born October 6th, 1980, in Orland Hills; B.S. in Leadership and Management, Civil Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, M.S., Business Administration, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; former US Army Captain; Bronze Star recipient; former trustee and vice president for High School District 230.