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  • The Majority Report 05/18/20 - Senate returns for special session next week

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    Harmon calls for cooperation heading into COVID-19 special Senate session

    Sen. President Don HarmonSPRINGFIELD — Illinois Senate President Don Harmon issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s return to session later this week.

    “Time and again the Illinois Senate has shown its members can work together to solve problems and produce results for the people of this great state. That cooperative spirit of bipartisan achievement is needed now more than ever. This global pandemic has decimated our state and local economies regardless of political affiliation. From far flung living rooms, kitchen tables and home offices, Senators have been working together while apart to figure out what we can and need to do now."

    Read more.

     


    Lightford, Castro talk session, reopening on Chicago Tonight

    Lightford, Castro talk session, reopening on Chicago TonightCHICAGO — Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) and Sen. Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) appeared via video teleconference on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight for an interview with Carol Marin last week.

    Lightford and Castro answered questions regarding Gov. JB Pritzker’s plan to reopen Illinois and the upcoming return to Springfield to hold session on May 20, 21 and 22. They spoke of legislative priorities for the busy yet pandemic-shortened session period, how to balance reopening the economy with public safety, the safety concerns surrounding legislators convening and what needs to be done to address the needs of struggling families in Illinois.

    You can watch the full interview here.

     


    Hastings, Senate Working Group push for additional energy consumer protections during the coronavirus pandemic

    Sen. Michael E. HastingsCHICAGO — As the world adapts to unprecedented change from coronavirus, a bipartisan group of legislators is urging state regulators to strengthen consumer protections to keep the lights on for residents and businesses turning to recovery in Illinois.

    The Illinois Senate Energy Working Group, led by Chairman Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park), last week sent a letter to the Illinois Commerce Commission urging the commission to adopt several reforms that would protect small and large energy consumers once Illinois emerges from the coronavirus shutdown.

    Read more.

     

     


    Bennett encourages self-advocates at virtual Going Home Rally

    Nursing home PPECHAMPAIGN — State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) joined hundreds of advocates from across Illinois virtually last Thursday to speak on the plight of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “This year’s advocacy day looked a little different than in years past, but it’s critical that advocates continue to raise their voices about issues that impact people with disabilities,” said Bennett. “The coronavirus pandemic has been overwhelming for everyone, but especially for individuals with disabilities whose routines have been disrupted abruptly.”

    Read more.

     

     


     

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Christopher Belt, Centreville: Illinois dentists able to resume routine care as of this week | Illinois Business Journal

    Senator Patricia Van Pelt, Chicago: Illinois State Senator To Call For Donations For Seniors | CBS 2 Chicago

    Senator Ram Villivalam, Chicago: Chicago Refugee Group Making Masks For Those In Need — Here’s How You Can Help | Block Club Chicago

     


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  • The Majority Report 05/11/20 - New drive thru-testing sites, Senator distributes masks and a call for PPE transparency

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    New drive-thru COVID-19 testing site available in Waukegan

    TestingWAUKEGAN — A new drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility in Waukegan is now open to area residents, State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) announced.

    “It remains critical that we continue to test as many individuals as possible to help us better understand the presence of this virus in Lake County and help limit its spread,” Link said. “If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, I highly encourage you to stop by this new site and get tested.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    Munoz distributes masks to local organizations

    Assistant Majority Leader Tony MunozCHICAGO — To help prepare local residents for the new face covering requirement, Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) partnered with Joann Fabrics in donating 5,000 masks to local businesses and organizations on Friday.

    “My volunteers and I are more than grateful to be able to provide masks to local residents,” Munoz said. “I thank Joann Fabrics for their partnership and work during these trying times.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    Several Senate Democrats urge IDPH to release nursing home PPE distribution numbers

    Nursing home PPECHICAGO — Before reaching an agreement with their managers, nearly 70 nursing homes across the state planned to go on strike because of unsafe working conditions. In response to the initial strike proposal, several Illinois Senate Democrats wrote a letter to the Illinois Department of Public Health and many local health departments requesting to know the amount of Personal Protective Equipment that has been distributed to those nursing homes and the process by which it was distributed.

    The request comes from members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus who have at least one nursing home in the district they represent where management received strike notices last week. Employees of 64 nursing homes across the state sent strike notices to management, saying facilities do not have enough PPE, safety protocols, and adequate hazard pay.

    Read more.

     


    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Scott Bennett, Champaign: Helping small businesses and their workers during COVID-19 | myRadioLink

    Senator Cristina Castro, Elgin: Latinos represent highest number of COVID-19 confirmed cases | Daily Herald

    Senator Robert Peters, Chicago: Senate Democrat proposes six month rent, mortgage holiday to ease pain of pandemic | WSIL TV

     


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  • The Majority Report 05/04/20 - Thanks to all serving during this difficult time

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    Thanks to all serving during this difficult time

    Thank you

    From Illinois Senate President Don Harmon and members of our Democratic Caucus, this is a thank you to all who are serving our communities through this very difficult time. From hospitals to grocery stores, post offices to nursing homes, and restaurants to truck drivers, we have so much to be grateful for as Illinoisans.

    And to everyone staying at home with families and friends, buying locally and connecting by phone and internet, please accept our humble thanks.

     

     

     


    Downstate Senate Democrats push to double funding for local health departments

    TestingSPRINGFIELD — To help local health departments sustain their COVID-19 response efforts in addition to their basic functions, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and other Downstate Senate Democrats are pushing to double state funding to support local health departments for the coming year.

    Manar’s plan would increase funding for Local Health Protection Grants to $36 million in the state’s next budget, which Manar says is key to opening up the economy.

    Read more.

     

     


    Collins: Gambling has rapidly expanded into poor communities with no study of impact

    Sen. Jacqueline Y. CollinsCHICAGO — State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) spoke to WTTW's Carol Marin this week about the vast and rapid expansion of video gaming in Illinois, even as the state has repeatedly refused to study the effect it's having on poor communities and those who struggle with addiction, even as it is now home to more gambling positions than the state of Nevada.

    "I see a lot of red," Collins said, looking at a map of the 16th Illinois Senate District with dozens of markers indicating gambling sites. "I see a lot of poor people losing their livelihoods on false promises."

    Read more.

     


    Glowiak-Hilton: Alzheimer's Association is here to help

    Alzheimer'sWESTERN SPRINGS — To support residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia and their families, State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs) highlighted resources available from the Alzheimer’s Association.

    “No one should face Alzheimer’s alone,” Glowiak Hilton said. “The Alzheimer’s Association is here to help families and caregivers during these unprecedented times.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    Murphy hosts virtual meeting to help small businesses navigate assistance

    Sen. Laura MurphySCHAUMBURG — To help local business owners navigate state and federal financial assistance programs during the COVID-19 crisis, State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-8th) co-hosted a virtual meeting with the Schaumburg Business Association on Monday, April 27.

    The conversation focused on economic issues facing the small business community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and featured presentations from financial experts, followed by a Q&A.

    Read more.

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Christopher Belt, Centreville: Here's how to file for unemployment if you're self-employed | Illinois Business Journal

    Senator Rachelle Crowe, Glen Carbon: Crowe notes virus help for small businesses | The Telegraph

    Senator Celina Villanueva, Chicago: New Aurora COVID-19 testing site expects to see hundreds on 2nd day | ABC7

     


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  • The Majority Report 04/27/20 - Parks, some businesses reopen in May

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    Unemployment and the CARES Act: What you need to know

    Umemployment

    SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Dept. of Employment Security has released updates on unemployment insurance programs that have been put in place in response to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Illinoisans’ jobs.

    Employees who have become unemployed through no fault of their own are eligible for unemployment insurance. A new program covers those workers who are considered part of the “gig economy” or other independent contractors who were not eligible before.

    There are three new federal programs under the CARES Act, the coronavirus stimulus package recently passed by Congress: The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

    Read more.

     


    Lightford announces expansion of COVID-19 testing in black communities

    Sen. Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordCHICAGO — Senate Majority Leader and Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chair Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is backing Gov. JB Pritzker’s efforts to expand COVID-19 testing in African-American and other minority communities across Illinois.

    “Governor Pritzker’s leadership has been incredible throughout this devastating crisis,” Lightford said. “His announcement today shows his commitment to people from every part of our state, and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus will continue to work alongside him to support his efforts.”

    Read more.

     

     

     

     


    Bertino-Tarrant reacts to governor's school closure Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

    PLAINFIELD — State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) said Friday she supports Gov. JB Pritzker’s decision to close in-person classes for the rest of the school year as a way to keep children and families safe from COVID-19.

    “The decision made by our governor Friday afternoon to close schools for the rest of the academic year is best for the safety and health of our community and all of Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Thanks to the hard work and support from our teachers, students will continue education through e-learning and other at-home programs.”

    Read more.

     

     


    McGuire urges people to donate blood, register as organ donor Donate Life

    JOLIET — To help the many people who will need it during the pandemic, State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) urged residents to donate blood, bone marrow and organs during April, which is National Donate Life Month.

    “The pandemic is a cruel double whammy,” McGuire said. “Patients need blood now, and those who survive might need organs later in life due to the virus' damage to the body. People need donated blood and organs for lots of other medical conditions, too.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Christopher Belt, Centreville: New coronavirus testing site to open in East St. Louis | Belleville News-Democrat

    Senator Rachelle Crowe, Glen Carbon: Crowe asks residents to be aware of signs of abuse during Child Abuse Prevention Month | Advantage News

    Senator Patrick Joyce, Essex: Only trust information on COVID-19 from reliable sources | Daily Journal

     


    Copyright 2020 - Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus - All Rights Reserved

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  • The Majority Report 04/20/20 - What you need to know about unemployment and the CARES Act

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    Unemployment and the CARES Act: What you need to know

    Umemployment

    SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Dept. of Employment Security has released updates on unemployment insurance programs that have been put in place in response to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Illinoisans’ jobs.

    Employees who have become unemployed through no fault of their own are eligible for unemployment insurance. A new program covers those workers who are considered part of the “gig economy” or other independent contractors who were not eligible before.

    There are three new federal programs under the CARES Act, the coronavirus stimulus package recently passed by Congress: The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

    Read more.

     


    Lightford announces expansion of COVID-19 testing in black communities

    Sen. Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordCHICAGO — Senate Majority Leader and Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Chair Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is backing Gov. JB Pritzker’s efforts to expand COVID-19 testing in African-American and other minority communities across Illinois.

    “Governor Pritzker’s leadership has been incredible throughout this devastating crisis,” Lightford said. “His announcement today shows his commitment to people from every part of our state, and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus will continue to work alongside him to support his efforts.”

    Read more.

     

     

     

     


    Bertino-Tarrant reacts to governor's school closure Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

    PLAINFIELD — State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) said Friday she supports Gov. JB Pritzker’s decision to close in-person classes for the rest of the school year as a way to keep children and families safe from COVID-19.

    “The decision made by our governor Friday afternoon to close schools for the rest of the academic year is best for the safety and health of our community and all of Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Thanks to the hard work and support from our teachers, students will continue education through e-learning and other at-home programs.”

    Read more.

     

     


    McGuire urges people to donate blood, register as organ donor Donate Life

    JOLIET — To help the many people who will need it during the pandemic, State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) urged residents to donate blood, bone marrow and organs during April, which is National Donate Life Month.

    “The pandemic is a cruel double whammy,” McGuire said. “Patients need blood now, and those who survive might need organs later in life due to the virus' damage to the body. People need donated blood and organs for lots of other medical conditions, too.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Christopher Belt, Centreville: New coronavirus testing site to open in East St. Louis | Belleville News-Democrat

    Senator Rachelle Crowe, Glen Carbon: Crowe asks residents to be aware of signs of abuse during Child Abuse Prevention Month | Advantage News

    Senator Patrick Joyce, Essex: Only trust information on COVID-19 from reliable sources | Daily Journal

     


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  • The Majority Report 04/13/20 - How state and local organizations are providing assistance

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    Martwick reminds residents expiration dates for drivers licenses, vehicle registration extended

    DMV

    CHICAGO — State Senator Rob Martwick (D-Chicago) wants to remind residents that expiration dates for driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations and document filings will be extended at least 30 days after Driver Services facilities reopen.

    “It’s important to take as many steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 as we can,” Martwick said. “The secretary of state’s office is taking great steps to protect the public and its employees.”

    Read more.

     

     

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    Senator Fine urges Illinoisans to be mindful of mental health during COVID-19

    Sen. Laura FineGLENVIEW — To help Illinoisans manage their mental health from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) is sharing resources she hopes will offer support to those struggling.

    “We talk a lot about hand washing, social distancing and other measures to protect physical health during this pandemic, but what about mental health?” said Fine. “We’re all experiencing added stress during this time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I urge you to reach out.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    Jones announces additional support to essential workers Sen. Emil Jones III

    CHICAGO — State Senator Emil Jones, III (D-Chicago) announced Monday the expansion of support to childcare workers and other essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Essential workers do not have the luxury of staying home during this crisis,” Jones said. “Doctors and nurses are working day in and day out so it’s important these childcare centers are sustained to support these essential employees."

    Read more.

     

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Michael Hastings, Tinley Park: Working remotely: Illinois Senators discuss plans to revitalize state’s economy, stabilize energy operations | WGEM

    Senator Linda Holmes, Aurora: Domestic violence services expanded due to pandemic | Chicago Tribune

    Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Legislature in limbo, lawmakers 'going as fast as we can' to help everybody | The State Journal-Register

     


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  • The Majority Report 03/30/20 - Assistance offered amid COVID-19 outbreak

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    Every week we see new impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic — from the effect it has on the tax deadline to the need for more donations at food pantries.

    State agencies and local communities have proven one thing, however: We are stronger together.

    Keep reading to learn about deadline extensions and how you can help in your community.

    Tax deadlineTax Deadline Extended

    Illinois taxpayers will have three extra months to file taxes this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Gov. JB Pritzker announced last week the Illinois Department of Revenue will delay the tax filing deadline until July 15, as the federal government previously announced.

    The state will continue to process refunds to those who are owed one and filed prior to the deadline. For more information, visit MyTax.Illinois.gov.

    Emergency Loans

    The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity established the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to offer low-interest loans of up to $50,000 to struggling small businesses.

    Small businesses located outside the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 may apply. Applications can be found by visiting the DCEO’s website here.

    Small businesses within the city of Chicago can apply to a similar loan program here.

    Real ID REAL ID Deadline

    The deadline to get a REAL ID has been pushed back a year to October 2021.

    The date change is intended to foster social distancing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

    Current Illinois driver’s licenses or ID cards will continue to be accepted at airports, military bases and secure federal facilities until Oct. 1, 2021.

    Donate to food pantries

    As local grocery stores have been wiped of essential products and many Illinoisans are experiencing layoffs due to COVID-19, more families are leaning on food pantries.

    It is more important than ever to help our neighbors put food on the table. If you feel fortunate enough to donate to a food pantry, please do so. Your simple gesture will make a difference. Use this online locator to find your nearest food bank.

    Senate Democrats roll out COVID-19 webpage

    To create a one-stop shop for resources, announcements and the governor’s daily briefings related to COVID-19, the Illinois Senate Democrats rolled out a new webpage.

    The page will be updated daily as new information is made public. It can be found by visiting illinoissenatedemocrats.com/covid-19.

    For the most up-to-date information, please continue to check the link above or the governor’s coronavirus response website found here.

    We will continue to send periodic updates. Rest assured that together, we will get through this trying time.

     


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    Lightford minimum wage increase now under effect
  • The Majority Report 04/06/20 - Giving back during the COVID-19 pandemic

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    Sims and Cullerton to donate disinfectant to first responders

    Cleaning supplies

    GLENDALE HEIGHTS – State Senators Elgie Sims and Tom Cullerton worked with PathoSans/Klarion Technologies, a division of Spraying Systems Co., to spearhead efforts to make disinfectant and sanitizer more readily available to first responders across Illinois.

    Sims (D-Chicago) and Cullerton (D-Villa Park) partnered with PathoSans Technologies to secure up to 5,000 gallons per day of its PathoCide® disinfectant and sanitizer, which will allow the state to clean vehicles, work surfaces, and facilities to keep government personnel and citizens safer during the coronavirus crisis.

    Read more.

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    Manar, McClure call for senior meal delivery volunteers

    Senior mealsSPRINGFIELD – State Senators Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Steve McClure (R-Springfield) are issuing an urgent call to action for Central Illinois residents to fill the Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland’s (AgeLinc) volunteer shortage.

    AgeLinc needs volunteers to assist with meal preparation and delivery for seniors in multiple cities, as well as help to package meals for delivery at the Senior Services of Central Illinois meal preparation site.

    Read more.

     

     

     


    Bennett encourages community to donate PPE Face mask

    CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) encourages community members, groups and businesses to donate unused personal protective equipment (PPE) to their local health departments, hospitals and first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The shortage of personal protective equipment like masks, gloves and face shields have created a desperate need for healthcare workers,” Bennett said. “If you have essential supplies, please donate them to help protect patients, providers and staff during this critical time.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Rachelle Crowe, Glen Carbon: Crowe encourages new medical practice permits | The Telegraph

    Senator Ann Gillespie, Arlington Heights: Teachers and students create protective gear for essential workers in coronavirus battle: ‘I realized... I have the exact skill that people are calling out for’ | Chicago Tribune

    Senator Steve Stadelman, Rockford: Illinois rolls out financial support to help keep small businesses afloat | www.mystateline.com

     


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    Lightford minimum wage increase now under effect
  • The Majority Report 03/23/20 - Stay at Home Order takes effect, economic assistance offered

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    It’s no longer “business as usual”—the coronavirus has disrupted many of our jobs, social lives and daily routines. For the sake of the health and safety of everyone in our communities, we must continue to follow the advice of our public health experts and do our part to help contain the virus.

    Stay at homeGov. Pritzker issued a ‘stay at home’ order for the State of Illinois beginning, March 21 at 5 p.m. until April 7.

    The executive order requires Illinoisans to practice a more rigorous form of social distancing, staying home as much as possible aside from meeting their basic needs. The order permits a range of essential activities, including but not limited to:

    • For health and safety: seeking emergency services, obtaining medical supplies or medication or visiting a health care professional

    • For necessary supplies and services: obtaining groceries and food, household consumer products, supplies they need to work from home, and products necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences

    • For outdoor activity: walking, hiking, running or biking – including going to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas, except for playgrounds

    • Economic AssistanceFor certain types of work: Providing essential products and services at Essential Businesses or Operations or otherwise carrying out activities specifically permitted in the order, including Minimum Basic Operations

    • To take care of others: Caring for or transporting a family member, friend or pet in another household

    While certainly an inconvenience, and a detriment to our economy, this measure could spare the lives of thousands of Illinoisans and is absolutely critical to the survival and stability of our hospitals.

    More information on Governor Pritzkter’s shelter in place order can be foundhere. For a list of frequently asked questions, click here.

    Please know despite rumors circulating online, Gov. Pritzker has emphasized that essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations will never close.

    State agencies and local organizations are working tirelessly to make sure those affected by business and school closures are provided with help, support and relief. For more information on what assistance is offered, keep reading.

    Economic Assistance

    The Illinois Department of Employment Security is allowing workers who are unemployed due to COVID-19 to apply for unemployment.

    Sheriffs in Cook, Will and Lake Counties have suspended enforcing evictions for at least 30 days. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued a moratorium on evictions of single-family homes with federally insured mortgages for the next 60 days. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also offering mortgage assistance.

    The Small Business Administration is providing disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

    Resources for Students

    The Illinois State Board of Education is working to provide meals every day to all students, no questions asked. Grab-and-go meals are available statewide for students who need them, and some schools are even offering delivery. Contact your child’s school district for more information. For more updates and resouces, click here.

    Updates for Restaurants & Businesses

    RoadsDespite school and restaurant closures, Gov. Pritzker assures that essential services—including pharmacies, grocery stores and gas stations—will remain open. It’s a good idea to be prepared, but only buy what you really need. Hoarding supplies prevents others from accessing the basics. Experts recommend keeping on hand about what you need for two weeks at a time.

    All bars and restaurants are closed through April 7. Restaurants will have take-out, drive-thru and delivery options still available.

    Many grocery stores are offering special shopping hours for seniors.Residents can contact local stores for their specific hours.

    To provide some relief to local eateries during the coming weeks, Grubhub is suspending commissions and Uber Eats is waiving delivery fees on orders from independent restaurants. Some larger restaurants are offering free delivery. Many delivery services have introduced no- or low-contact delivery options.

    Utilities Support

    Ameren and ComEd are suspending any disconnections and waiving late payment fees. Other major utility companies, like People’s Gas and Nicor, are suspending disconnections as well.

    The Illinois Commerce Commission has banned utility service disconnections during the outbreak and has pledged to assess late fees through at least May 1. AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum, Viasat and others are offering accommodations to those in need of telecom services during the crisis.

    State Services

    The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation hasextended license expiration dates and continuing education deadlines.Licensees may complete continuing education requirements and other coursework online.

    The Office of the Illinois Attorney General encourages residents to file a complaint if they notice price gouging on essential items related to the coronavirus outbreak, including hand sanitizer, cleaning products and protective gear.

    All Illinois Secretary of State offices and Driver Services facilities are closed to the public through March 31. Expiration dates for driver’s licenses, ID cards, vehicle registration and other transactions will be extended by 30 days. More information and some services are available online.

    All emergency food relief (SNAP), cash assistance (TANF) and medical (Medicaid eligibility) applications will continue to be availableonlineor by phone at 800-843-6154. Home Services & Vocational Rehab resources will remain available through DRS’ statewide network of counselors who will continue working remotely.

    For the most up-to-date information, please continue to check the governor's coronavirus response website found here.

    We will continue to send periodic updates. Rest assured that together, we will get through this trying time.

     


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    Lightford minimum wage increase now under effect
  • The Majority Report 03/16/20 - An update on coronavirus from Senate President Don Harmon

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    Illinois Senate cancels this week's session days to "do its part" to slow speed of coronavirus

    Sen. President Don Harmon

    SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Senate President Don Harmon announced Wednesday the cancellation of this week’s Senate session days as part of a public health initiative to limit exposure and hopefully slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

    Read President Harmon's statement here.

     

     

     

     

     


    Senators Martwick, Villivalam host Facebook Live with public health experts

    State Senators Robert Martwick and Ram Villivalam SPRINGFIELD — State Senators Robert Martwick and Ram Villivalam held a Facebook Live Thursday night alongside public health experts. Susan Reisberg, a Nursing Supervisor at Skokie Health Department and Evonda Thomas-Smith, Assistant Director at Illinois Department of Public Health, joined the senators to field questions from viewers submitted online. The event reached over 12,000 people.

    You can watch the full the video by clicking here.

     

     

     


    Turn to the CDC and IDPH for coronavirus updates COVID-19 infographic

    SPRINGFIELD — The coronavirus is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated on the IDPH website found here and and on the CDC website found here.

    For general questions about COVID-19 and Illinois’ response and guidance, call 1-800-889-3931 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


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    Lightford minimum wage increase now under effect
  • The Majority Report 03/09/20 - Senators unveil legislation to support first responder's mental heatlh, sick airline employees

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    Martwick introduces policy to support first responder mental health data

    Sen. Robert Martwick

    SPRINGFIELD – Illinois is taking steps to facilitate and assist the mental health needs of emergency first responders under legislation sponsored by State Senator Robert Martwick (D-Chicago).

    Martwick introduced Senate Bill 3333, which requires the Department of Human Services to create and maintain an online database and resource page of mental resources geared toward first responders on its website.

    Read more.

     

     

     


    Hastings unveils plan to expand sick leave for airline employees

    Sen. Michael E. HastingsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) partnered with Southwest Airlines employees to hold a press conference advocating for the expansion of sick leave for airline employees Wednesday.

    “The fact that hardworking individuals are unable to use their earned sick time to care for their loved ones is unacceptable,” Hastings said. “Since this is an issue with federal law, we’re doing what we can at the state level to demonstrate that in Illinois, we put workers and their families first.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    Hayli's lemonade law passes Public Health Committee Sen. Patrick Joyce and Hayli Martinez

    SPRINGFIELD – As the heat of summer approaches, some kids are working to make a little bit of cash mowing lawns, babysitting or establishing a lemonade stand outside their home.

    Hayli Martinez, an 11-year-old girl from Kankakee, had the perfect idea last summer to sell lemonade with different flavors in order to earn money for her college funds.

    However, after much success, her lemonade stand was flagged by Kankakee Health Department officials and it was shut down soon after.

    To prevent other kids from losing their lemonade stands, State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) introduced Hayli’s Law.

    Read more.

     


    Lightford and United Way launch report on Illinois ALICE families Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford and Sen. Celina Villanueva

    SPRINGFIELD – Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) joined the United Way in releasing their report on Illinois ALICE households – asset-limited, income-constrained and employed.

    The report focuses on families living above the federal poverty level, but below the threshold of a basic survival budget of $57,144 for a family of four and $19,212 for a single adult.

    “People all over Illinois are struggling to get ahead. We know this intuitively, and we see it in our communities. I see it every day in my west side and west suburban district,” Lightford said. “ALICE allows us to put some real data behind that intuition.”

    Read more.

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: Senate Panel OKs measure to add mental health hotline info to student IDs | Daily Herald

    Senator Sara Feigenholtz, Chicago: Illinois lawmaker proposes bill removing retail wine shipping ban | WREX

    Senator Laura Fine, Glenview: Illinois bill aims to ensure fairness for inmates' families | Daily Herald

    Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Prescription drug prices to be focus of Decatur town hall | WAND

     


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  • The Majority Report 03/02/20 - Opioid committee hearing, a new suicide prevention bill and how lawmakers are going to tackle high medication costs

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    Suicide prevention should be as easy as a 911 call

    Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton

    SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs) is calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a 3-digit suicide hotline for Americans experiencing mental health crises.

    “Mental health crises are becoming more prevalent, specifically in young people, and we need national leadership on this issue,” Glowiak Hilton said. “Creating a dedicated emergency hotline for this will save lives.”

    Read more.

     

     


    Crowe holds opioid committee on ISP, DOI testimonies

    Sen. Rachelle CroweSPRINGFIELD — Hearing reports from agencies to update lawmakers on the implementation of the 2018 State Opioid Action Plan (SOAP), members of the Senate’s Special Committee on Opioid Crisis Abatement met Tuesday under the leadership of State Senator Rachelle Crowe.

    “Exploring opioid-related issues from every angle, from expanding mental health services to reporting and treating overdoses, is the only way we will see effective change in our communities,” Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) said. “By holding these hearings, we’re getting legislators and stakeholders in the same room for the opportunity to create solutions and increase access to opioid prevention, treatment and recovery programs.”

    Read more.

     

     

     


    Manar announces legislation to create Prescription Drug Affordability Board to set prescription price limits Sen. Andy Manar

    SPRINGFIELD — Over half of Illinois residents are burdened by the high cost of health care and prescription drugs, according to a new Consumer Healthcare Experience State Survey (CHESS), commissioned in January 2020 by Protect Our Care Illinois and Altarum’s Healthcare Value Hub, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

    The survey, announced last week by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) found that 54% of respondents are either “worried” or “very worried” about affording the cost of prescription drugs, and 28% of Illinois adults have rationed or gone without medication due to the skyrocketing cost of prescription medication.

    Read more.

     


    Illinois Senate welcomes students from Illinois Math and Science Academy Sens. Elgie R. Sims and Dave Koehler with IMSA Students

    SPRINGFIELD — Students from the Illinois Math and Science Academy traveled to Springfield Tuesday as a part of the academy’s first annual State Capitol Day trip.

    Students shadowed their respective Senators throughout the day.

    “This is a remarkable opportunity for these students to see firsthand how their government functions,” State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) said. “It also gives my colleagues and me the chance to connect with some of the best and brightest students our state has to offer. The future is undeniably promising for each and every one of them, and I look forward to following their progress.”

    Read more.

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Scott Bennett, Champaign: Bill would let parents exempt kids from school shooter drills | WAND TV

    Senator Laura Fine, Glenview: Bill targets pavement sealant linked to health hazards for public disclosure | The Southern Illinoisan

    Senator Julie Morrison, Lake Forest: State lawmakers introduce bills to reform DCFS | WAND TV

    Senator Celina Villanueva, Chicago: A State Senator Had Thousands of Dollars in Ticket Debt. Now She’s Fighting to Make Sure Others Won’t. | Route Fifty

     


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  • The Majority Report 02/26/20 - Illinois Senate Democrats react to governor's Budget Address

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    Illinois Senate Democrats see hopeful signs in Pritzker's second budget address

    Senate Democrats

    SPRINGFIELD — Democratic members of the Illinois State Senate were encouraged by Governor JB Pritzker’s second budget proposal. His address last week highlighted that they and the governor share many of the same priorities to move Illinois forward and achieve permanent budget stability and government functionality.

    The governor’s budget included large proposed increases to early childhood education funding, need-based financial aid programs for college students, innovative job training programs, and for a number of important social services programs that help grant people with disabilities and seniors lives filled with comfort and dignity. Democratic senators commented on many of the items they felt were most important in the proposal.

    Read more.

     


    Holmes bill to cut pet restrictions in public housing

    Sen. Linda HolmesSPRINGFIELD — Pets are part of two out of three households in America, including 72% of renters. Restrictions in public housing can prevent a family from keeping a pet based on its size, weight or breed. That results in pets being surrendered to already-burdened animal shelters.

    Senate Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes introduced Senate Bill 2973, which would allow any tenant living in housing acquired, constructed or rehabilitated with state funds for low-income housing to keep a pet dog or cat regardless of its size, weight or breed.

    Read more.

     

     


    A February Tradition: Go Red for Women Day Go Red for Women

    SPRINGFIELD — Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association's national movement to end heart disease and stroke in women.

    Every February, the General Assembly holds a Go Red for Women Day at the Capitol to increase awareness of women’s heart health issues and help improve the lives of women throughout Illinois.

    Read more.

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senators Cristina Castro, Elgin and Julie Morrison, Lake Forest: Illinois Democrats, Republicans Blast Trump's Commute of Blagojevich | WBEZ

    Senator Sara Feigenholtz, Chicago: Heated discussion on DCFS mechanical restraints bill during committee hearing | WGEM

    Senator Pat McGuire, Crest Hill: Where the sidewalk ends might be far from your Metra station, study finds | Daily Herald

     


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  • The Majority Report 02/10/20 - Senate unveils new public safety committee, calls for answers on DCFS insurance switch, and protects aviation repair jobs

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    Senators call for answers on DCFS insurance switch

    Sen. Julie A. Morrison

    SPRINGFIELD — Following a glitch that left more than 2,500 adopted children and former foster children without insurance for days, State Senators Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) and Heather Steans (D-Chicago) led a conversation about the issue and the oversight of Medicaid managed care.

    “The state is responsible for these children and must make sure they have access to health care,” Morrison said. “I wouldn’t want my own child to be enrolled in this poorly managed program.”

    Read more.

     

     

     

     


    Senate Dems unveil public safety priorities

    Sen. Robert PetersCHICAGO — In an effort to improve safety in communities and reform the criminal justice system, the Illinois Senate announced the formation of the Special Committee on Public Safety Thursday.

    The committee, chaired by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), will be tasked with hearing a number of measures, including one to put a stop to cash bail.

    “I’ve dedicated my adult life toward the fight to reimagine and to win real safety and justice, and last year I passed several laws with this goal in mind, including one to abolish private detention centers,” Peters said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to personally head up the Special Committee on Public Safety, and I am confident that the committee will lead to a society that is fair, equitable, just and, most importantly, safe.”

    Read more.

     


    Crowe secures override protecting aviation repair jobs Sen. Rachelle Croew

    SPRINGFIELD — Recognizing the necessity of the thousands of highly-skilled, highly-paid jobs jet repair companies provide to people in the state, the Illinois Senate overrode the governor’s veto of House Bill 3902 in a bipartisan manner Wednesday.

    State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) led the efforts to protect jobs in the Metro East.

    “I refused to sit idly by and allow thousands of people to lose their jobs because of a mistake by a former administration,” Crowe said. “Labor workers in the aviation repair industry contribute vital economic growth in the Metro East region and across the state, and this measure is an affirmation of support to them and their families.”

    Read more.

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Mattie Hunter, Chicago: Will lawmakers finally put the brakes on red-light cameras? | Chicago Sun-Times

    Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, Maywood: Sen. Lightford honors longtime friend Greg Reives | WGEM NBC

    Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Lawmaker floats plan to cut prescription drug prices | The State Journal-Register

     


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  • The Majority Report 02/03/20 - Black Caucus sets 2020 priorities, Ethics Commission's plan to hold lawmakers accountable and an update on DNA evidence backlogs

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    Black Caucus: State has made great strides, but there's still work to be done

    Illinois Legislative Black Caucus

    SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) responded to Gov. JB Pritzker’s State of the State address on Wednesday.

    Leaders of the Black Caucus discussed key issues brought up by the governor’s address that specifically affect black communities throughout the state, including early childhood education, health care and criminal justice reform.

    Read more.

     

     

     

     


    Ethics commission seeks more accountability for legislative wrongdoers Ethics commission

    SPRINGFIELD — Members of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform sought input on what could have been done to prevent recent high-profile conflicts of interest and what more must be done to hold lawmakers accountable at a hearing Thursday.

    The joint commission touched on a number of ethical issues, including disclosures of conflict of interest and transparency of finances for public officials.

    State Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-Chicago), who serves as co-chair of the group, said it is pertinent lawmakers are voting in the best interest of their communities.

    Read more.

     

     


    Mourning families receive update on DNA evidence backlog Sen. Patricia Van Pelt

    SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) listened as families relived the terrible days their loved ones were murdered during a Senate Public Health Law committee hearing Tuesday afternoon.

    “Our voice is not being heard," said Kristena Hopkins, director of Missing and Murdered Women and Girls, whose cousin, Shantieya Smith, was slain back in 2018. “I feel like they want us to just shake it off and keep moving, but I refuse to because she has a eight-year-old daughter who deserves to know what happened to her mom.”

    Read more.

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Melinda Bush, Grayslake: State law seeks to improve harassment protection in the workplace | The Daily Northwestern

    Senator Rachelle Crowe, Glen Carbon: Illinois adds $4.1M to opioid battle, Crowe says support needs have been ID’d | The Telegraph

    Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton, Western Springs: Senate bill would outlaw using live animals as carnival prizes | Daily Herald

    Senator Ram Villivalam, Chicago: Lawmakers aim to end state-to-state corporate poaching | Daily Herald

     


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  • The Majority Report 01/17/20 - Ethics commission considers full diclosure of lobbying

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    Ethics commission considers full disclosure of lobbying

    Sen. Elgie R. Sims

    CHICAGO — Across Illinois on a daily basis, people are likely being paid to lobby governments without ever having to register as lobbyists or disclose any information.

    It’s a reality that emerged Wednesday from the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform. Illinois state government, the city of Chicago and Cook County are the main entities that require lobbyist registration and disclosure. But there are hundreds of units of local government throughout Illinois. By and large, those entities have no such lobbying requirements.

    “I think it’s naïve for anyone to think those are the only three places where lobbying is going on,” said Senator Elgie R. Sims, a joint commission co-chair. “If the public has the right to know in these jurisdictions, why shouldn’t it know everywhere else? We need a more holistic approach to lobbying throughout Illinois, because it seems to me there’s a lot probably going on in the dark right now.” Read more.

     


    New law allows earlier access to senior tax break Seniors

    SPRINGFIELD — A new measure sponsored by State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) that would accelerate access to a property tax break for seniors was signed into law Tuesday.

    “This bill is an opportunity to test a more efficient process while still providing the same or better level of service,” Ellman said. “This particular example prioritizes the needs of seniors on fixed-incomes and ensures awareness of relief programs available to our older population. I will continue to seek more efficient processes that serve Illinoisans.” Read more.

     

     


    Castro wants to close legislative pay loophole Sen. Cristina Castro

    SPRINGFIELD — A loophole in legislative pay law allowing legislators to receive an entire month’s pay despite not serving the full month would be closed under a proposal by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin).

    “In any other job, a person would not be compensated for an entire month if they only worked one day,” Castro said. “This is a glaring loophole that has been exploited far too many times at the taxpayers’ expense, and I’m sick of it. It needs to be closed.” Read more.

     

     

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Michael Hastings, Tinley Park: ISVMA gives Senator Hastings its president’s award as leader | Patch

    Senator Linda Holmes, Aurora: Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton visits Kane County jail to discuss criminal justice reform | Kane County Chronicle

    Senator Laura Murphy, Des Plaines: After another pedestrian is hurt, lawmakers want safety improvements along Touhy Avenue | Daily Herald

     


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  • The Majority Report 01/13/20 - Lawmakers react to possible rape-cover up, seek answers of abuse of seclusion rooms

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    Women's caucus reacts to possible rape cover-up

    Illinois State Senate Women's Caucus

    SPRINGFIELD – Outraged by a possible sexual assault cover-up, the Illinois Senate Women’s Caucus is asking anyone with information to come forward.

    The request comes in response to a WBEZ article regarding a 2012 email to officials within then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration that references someone keeping quiet about “the rape in Champaign.”

    “That email is horrifying. If anyone has any information about this crime, please contact authorities. Sexual assault will not be tolerated. We need to get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable,” said Senator Linda Holmes, an Aurora Democrat and co-chair of the Senate Women’s Caucus. Read more.

     

      


    Lawmakers seek answers to abuse of seclusion rooms Joint Education Committee

    CHICAGO – Members of the joint bipartisan Illinois Senate and House Education Committees met Tuesday to examine the abuse of seclusion rooms in public schools.

    State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) introduced Senate Bill 2315 to ban the use of these rooms as a punitive measure.

    “We must end the abusive practice of de facto solitary confinement and improper use of restraints,” Gillespie said. “At the same time we must meet the unique needs of students, honor their dignity and ensure a safe environment for all. This is the needle we must thread with our legislation, and I look forward to working closely with all the stakeholders to achieve immediate and sustainable changes to the culture and practices in our schools.” Read more.

     


    Belt helps create military liason for IDFPR Sen. Christopher Belt

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) sponsored an initiative that lead to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation hiring its first military liaison to help military families through the licensure process.

    The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation created a military liaison position to help service members and their spouses navigate the licensure process. Read more.

     

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Patrick Joyce, Essex: Talks continue in bringing natural gas to Pembroke Township | Daily Journal

    Senators Kimberly Lightford and Heather Steans, Chicago: Transgender daughters are a bond between Kim Lightford, Heather Steans | Chicago Sun-Times

    Senator Julie Morrison, Deerfield: State lawmakers say new FDA policy on vaping doesn’t go far enough | The Daily Herald

    Senator Celina Villanueva, Chicago: Representative Villanueva occupies vacated seat once held by Senator Sandoval | Lawndale News

     


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  • The Majority Report 01/06/20 - A glance at new laws that took effect Jan. 1 and a look back at the top laws from the 2010s

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    More than 250 new laws take effect Jan. 1

    New Laws 2020

    On behalf of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus, we want to wish you a happy holiday season and a new year filled with health, happiness and prosperity.

    With the start of the new year comes more than 250 new laws. Legalization of adult-use cannabis, an increased minimum wage and new regulations on kennels are just a few recently passed measures that take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

    Read the full list of new laws here.

    Watch our slideshow about the new initiatives here.

     

      


    Lightford minimum wage increase now under effect Sen. Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

    SPRINGFIELD — Minimum wage earners statewide will see a $1 per hour increase their next paycheck under a law spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was signed in February to gradually increase Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 by January 2025.

    “Many working families have waited for this increase for almost a decade,” Lightford said. “I stand firmly on the belief that workers deserve a decent wage and I am committed to standing with them as we continue the fight for a living wage.” Read more.

     

     


    Murphy law gives students ability to self-administer medication Sen. Laura Murphy

    SPRINGFIELD — Students are now allowed to self-administer prescribed medication while at school under a law sponsored by State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines).
    Murphy’s measure requires schools to allow students with an action plan to self-administer prescribed medication with permission from their parent or guardian. Read more.

     

     

     

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senate President John J. Cullerton, Chicago: Illinois Senate President John Cullerton talks about Blagojevich, bipartisanship and changes brought by social media as his time in Springfield comes to an end | Chicago Tribune

    Sen. Linda Holmes, Aurora: No one wants the dreaded callback after a mammogram. Under a new Illinois law, at least there's a good chance you won't have to pay | Tucson.com

    Sen. Heather Steans, Chicago: Recreational marijuana becomes legal in Illinois | CBS Chicago

     


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  • The Majority Report 12/23/19 - More than 250 new laws take effect Jan. 1

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    More than 250 new laws take effect Jan. 1

    New Laws 2020

    On behalf of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus, we want to wish you a happy holiday season and a new year filled with health, happiness and prosperity.

    With the start of the new year comes more than 250 new laws. Legalization of adult-use cannabis, an increased minimum wage and new regulations on kennels are just a few recently passed measures that take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

    Read the full list of new laws here.

    Watch our slideshow about the new initiatives here.

     

      


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  • The Majority Report 12/16/19 - Senators Protecting and Promoting the People of Illinois


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    Bertino-Tarrant protects consumers across Will County

    Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant

    SPRINGFIELD — Starting Jan. 1, 2020, Illinois residents’ genetic testing results will be protected, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

    Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) championed House Bill 2189, which prohibits companies that provide direct-to-consumer commercial genetic testing such as ancestry.com and 23andMe, from sharing any test results with health or life insurance companies without the consumer’s consent. Read more.

     

     

     


    State keeps promise to Machesney Park

    Rock River

    ROCKFORD — On Tuesday, State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) announced that the state is finally reimbursing the Village of Machesney Park for the boat ramp built on the Rock River back in 2015.

    “Frankly, this should have happened earlier,” Stadelman said. “This is proof that Illinois is turning a fiscal corner and is finally keeping its promises to communities like Machesney Park.” Read more.

     

     

     


    Harris creates access to statewide projects for minorities Sen. Napoleon Harris III

    SPRINGFIELD — More minority owned business will be included in statewide construction projects under a proposal sponsored by Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Harvey) which was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker Tuesday.

    “In order to build a healthy and comprehensive economy, we must supply minority businesses with full and fair access to local and state contraction opportunities.” Harris said. “I applaud Governor Pritzker for seeing the significance of this measure, and hope to see local governments taking advantage of the state’s model business enterprise program to decrease the inequality gap for minority, veterans and female-owned businesses.” Read more.

     


    In case you missed it

    MEMBERS IN THE NEWS

    Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood: Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant urges residents to buy safe toys | Patch

    Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Sen. Manar to kick off golden apple program to tackle state's teacher shortage crisis | RiverBender

    Senator Ram Villivalam, Chicago: Menorah added to holiday display in Capitol | The Daily Herald

     


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