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Crashes prompt Manar to seek IDOT review of deadly I-55 stretch

manar 052517BUNKER HILL – A series of deadly and serious car crashes near a work zone on Interstate 55 in northern Madison County has prompted Senator Andy Manar to request a review by state transportation officials.

The latest crash on Friday involved 10 vehicles and sent numerous people to the hospital, including a Livingston woman who died from her injuries Monday night.

That pileup was near the site of a grisly November wreck that killed four young women and injured numerous others. Two of the victims were from Staunton and were Manar’s constituents.

Several other crashes have occurred in the area of the construction zone between Hamel and Illinois 143 since late October, according to police and local officials. That’s when traffic was reduced by one lane in each direction for road repairs. The work is expected to last through late September 2018, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“Clearly, there is a problem that needs to be addressed,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill), whose district begins just north of the construction zone. “I have constituents who drive this stretch of highway every day, or have loved ones who do, and they are extremely concerned about their safety in light of these crashes.”

Manar sent a letter to IDOT Secretary Randall Blankenhorn today asking him to determine if more can be done to minimize crashes and improve safety on behalf of motorists and construction crews who are working on the highway project.

“I don’t know if drivers need more warnings to slow down and pay attention, if more police patrols are required, or if some other measure is needed to ensure this stretch of I-55 is safe,” Manar said. “I am confident that IDOT will assess the situation responsibly and recommend changes that will help protect drivers and put people’s minds at ease, particularly during this busy holiday travel season.”

Copy of letter attached.

Manar presented with ‘straight talk’ award for work on major reforms

manar 032417SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar’s commitment to public service and his ability to talk openly with leaders on both sides of the aisle earned him this year’s Dawn Clark Netsch “Straight Talk” award from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Manar was presented with the award Monday night. It is given annually in honor of Netsch, who was an ICPR board member and public servant who spent decades working on behalf of Illinoisans as a state senator and state comptroller. The award acknowledges her legacy as a straight talker who was known for her ability to tell it like it is.

A tireless advocate for schools and voter access, Manar was presented with the award because of his outstanding efforts on major legislation this year, including school funding reform and automatic voter registration.

“I am honored to receive the ‘Straight Talk’ award from ICPR, but it must be said that neither of these historic reforms was successful because of the work of one individual,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “They each passed because I had the help and support of countless state legislators, passionate advocates and grassroots organizations.”

Sarah Brune, executive director of ICPR, said that, like Netsch, Manar’s approach to government can serve as a model for honesty and openness for leaders today.

“Manar’s commitment to public service and his ability to talk openly with leaders on both sides of the aisle recall the tireless spirit of the late Netsch,” Brune said. “ICPR congratulates Senator Manar on his successes this year, and we look forward to working with him on important initiatives moving forward.”

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform was founded in 1997 by the late U.S. Senator Paul Simon and former Lieutenant Gov. Bob Kustra. Its mission is to initiate reforms and promote public participation in government; address the role of money in politics; and encourage integrity, accountability and transparency in government. Among its areas of focus are campaign finance law, government ethics, judicial selection and voter education.

Manar tours Pana Community Hospital

PCH11292017 3PANA – Senator Andy Manar toured Pana Community Hospital and the site of its $20.1 million expansion project, currently under construction.

The visit was part of his district-wide health care listening tour, during which he met with local hospital leaders to learn more about the challenges they face in providing health care in central Illinois, as well as suggestions they have for regulatory changes that could be addressed through legislation.

“I continue to be impressed by the hard work, innovation and leadership that occur every day at Pana Community Hospital,” Manar said. “The institution’s roots in Pana run deep, and I’m excited that it continues to expand and invest in the people who live here by offering the finest health care, good-paying jobs and excellent community stewardship.”

Manar met with Trina Casner, hospital president and CEO; James Moon, hospital chief financial officer; Carol Schramm, hospital board chairman; and Dave Slater, hospital board member.

Casner led Manar on a tour of the hospital and the site where workers have begun construction of an addition to the hospital, its first major expansion in decades.

“We’re thankful Senator Manar took the time to visit Pana Community Hospital and appreciate his support of rural health care providers,” Casner said. “It is important to be able to sit down with our elected officials to voice concerns and struggles we face in providing quality health care in a rural setting. It was also exciting to share plans for our building project and show the senator our plans for the future.”

Manar visited the hospital on Nov. 29.

The tour, which included stops at every hospital and federally qualified health center in the 48th Senate District, highlighted the importance of rural health care in Illinois and called attention to the need for continued investment in this vital sector of the economy.

Significant topics of discussion among the hospitals and clinics were:

  • issues with implementation of the state’s Medicaid managed care program;
  • staffing and recruitment challenges, particularly with regard to a shortage of specialists, nurses and medical technicians in rural areas;
  • telehealth, especially a desire for more telepsychiatry and the current use of teleneurology assessments for stroke patients;
  • changes to the federal tax plan and a possible fiscal cliff, and how each could affect federally qualified health centers in central Illinois that rely on federal funding to operate;
  • the ongoing need for better access to adult and child dental care;
  • the effects of the Affordable Care Act on rural and downstate health care, the gains hospitals and clinics have made under the ACA and the negative implications that a roll-back could have on the delivery of services and employment in the region.

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By the numbers

According to the Illinois Hospital Association, hospitals in the 48th Senate District employ 9,043 full-time equivalent employees and have a combined payroll of nearly $685 million.

More than 22,000 additional jobs are created as a result of hospitals operating in the district.

Hospital spending on payroll, other goods and services, and capital projects – combined with the additional jobs the institutions support – have a total economic impact of $4.15 billion on the 48th Senate District and on the state economy.

Senate overrides veto of Manar measure to address shortage of substitute teachers

manar 052517SPRINGFIELD – Active substitute teachers will be able to seek a refund of the $50 fee they’re required to pay when they apply for a state license under a new law sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

“This is an example of what we can do to ease up on the government bureaucracy that’s got a stranglehold on the teaching profession in Illinois,” said Manar, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “We have empty classrooms because of a statewide teacher shortage, a rapidly shrinking pool of substitutes and students who are suffering as a result. Curbing fees and eliminating unnecessary red tape will help address some of these problems.”

Sen. Andy Manar

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48th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Agriculture; Appropriations I; Appropriations II; Higher Education; Committee of the Whole; Executive Appointments (Vice-Chairperson); Education; Labor.

Biography: Born November 15, 1975, in Bunker Hill; B.A. in History, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; past chairman of Macoupin County Board; married (wife, Trista), has three children.