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Equitability topic of most recent Illinois School Funding Reform Commission

Members of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission met Sept. 7, as lawmakers and the Governor’s office attempt to get a handle on the challenges of changing the way schools are funded in Illinois. Defining equitability and what that means for Illinois students was the focus of the commission meeting.

Proposal would expand services to help mentally ill, addicts

The state plans to pursue federal approval for a Medicaid waiver that would bring $2.7 billion in new federal dollars to help care for persons with mental illness and those battling substance abuse problems, benefiting as many as 800,000 Illinois residents with behavioral health issues. The waiver would not expand Medicaid eligibility, but would allow the state to provide health-care assistance to many individuals currently living without much-needed treatment or assistance. Twenty-five percen

Bill backlog, job loss underscore need for government reform

An announcement during the week that the state is investing $26 million in the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab (IBRL) at the University of Illinois underscored the importance of pursuing projects that will make Illinois a destination for employers as a way to help the state grow its way out of the current budget mess. Funding for the IBRL, which will help Illinois compete for up to 20,000 jobs in a new industry sector, was secured by the stopgap budget signed into law on June 30.

For sake of state, bipartisanship must extend beyond education

As students throughout Illinois begin another school year, Senate Republican lawmakers are stressing that even with the historic investment in education funding that Republican lawmakers pushed for, more work must be done to ensure schools—and other Illinois programs and services—receive the state resources they rely on.

TRS changes investment rate of return assumption

Senate Republican lawmakers are working with the Governor’s office and their legislative colleagues on options, in response to the recent decision by the non-elected Teacher’s Retirement System Board that will cost taxpayers additional millions in future pension payments.

Illinois prisons report drop in population

The Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) recently reported a reduction in the state’s inmate population of more than 4,200 since fiscal year 2014. The DOC reported a total prison population at 44,680 as of July 1, 2016, down from 48,921 in June 2014.

Illinois ranks 20 in personal freedom

The CATO Institute, an independent public policy organization, recently released its 2016 Freedom in the States report that ranks the American states based on how their policies promote freedom in the fiscal, regulatory and personal realms. While Illinois ranked 44 in the states, it ranked number 20 in personal freedoms.

Law requires insurance companies to locate beneficiaries

A recently signed law requires insurance companies to more quickly locate beneficiaries of unclaimed life insurance policies and distribute amounts they are owed by the policy.

September is National Preparedness Month

The recent flash floods that shutdown the Illinois State Fair in August underscore the importance of recognizing that inclement weather can happen at any moment. September is National Preparedness Month, an initiative that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of individuals, businesses and organizations planning and preparing for unexpected disasters.

Supreme Court rules against redistricting initiative

Though nearly 600,000 Illinoisans signed a petition to put a Fair Map Amendment on the ballot so that people—not politicians—draw legislative district maps, the Illinois Supreme Court voted 4-3 to throw out the Amendment Aug. 25.

Protecting communities from gun violence

Strengthening laws against gun trafficking is the aim of a law signed Aug. 23 by the Governor to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and off our streets.

Bill signed creating task force to combat human trafficking

Another new law seeks to help combat the growing problem of human trafficking across Illinois.

New law suspends fines for late vehicle registration renewals

The Secretary of State will be prohibited from imposing a delinquent registration renewal fee if a vehicle’s registration expires during a period of time in which no notice was sent to the vehicle owner.

Low Income Energy Assistance Program enrollment starts Sept. 1

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Energy Assistance has announced that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities beginning September 1, 2016.

Gabby’s Law aims to save lives of those with sepsis

The tragic death of a five-year-old girl led to a new law that requires Illinois hospitals to be better prepared to recognize and treat patients with sepsis or septic shock. Gov. Rauner signed Senate Bill 2403/Public Act 099-0828 at a press conference Aug. 18 at the Presence Covenant Medical Center in Urbana.