Senator Steans

February 16, 2018

Dear Friends,

 

Senator Steans listens to the governor's budget address.This week the governor unveiled his fourth budget proposal. This is the closest he has ever come to presenting a real, balanced budget, which I appreciate. That said, I have some serious concerns about his cuts to human services, Medicaid and retired pensioners to whom we have a contractual obligation.

 

The governor’s budget proposes spending $37.6 billion while bringing in $37.9 billion. However, many of his proposed savings require significant legislative action or implementation of an employee contract in order to actually be achieved. If those legislative changes are not achieved, it is estimated that his budget would be more than $1 billion out of balance.

 

One of the biggest ways the governor proposes savings is by shifting 25 percent of teacher pensions and some health care costs onto local school districts. He also seeks to punish Chicago children for a pension problem they did not create by requiring CPS to pick up its entire pension cost – the only school district in the state that would have to bear this burden. These changes would undermine the bipartisan evidence-based school funding formula, which was passed over the summer to improve education funding for all school districts.

 

Though the governor claims to increase education funding by $330 million, his pension and health care cost shifts would result in a cut to education funding. He also eliminated funding for afterschool programs, advanced placement programs, parent mentoring and more. This cost shift and programmatic reduction may leave school districts with the tough choice of reducing classroom support or increasing local property taxes.

 

The governor also proposed reducing Medicaid reimbursement rates by 4 percent, which he estimates would lead to a $150 million savings. This could make it more difficult for Medicaid patients to access health care. He proposed this cut even though Illinois already has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation.

 

He outlined cutting funding for human services by $292 million. Many human service agencies are still struggling from the detrimental budget impasse. As a government, we have a responsibility to take care of our neediest citizens. I do not believe slashing funding for human services is a compassionate approach to governing.

 

The governor suggested eliminating health care support for retired teachers to save $129 million. This would likely double their out-of-pocket costs. Most of these retirees do not receive Social Security benefits to offset that change. Additionally, this point could be challenged in court because of the state’s contractual obligation to pensioners.

 

Senator Steans in a committee hearingThe governor failed to address the backlog of bills in his budget proposal, which currently sits at nearly $9 billion. The backlog soared to $16 billion during the budget impasse. Through a measure sponsored by Senate Democrats, the state was able to borrow $6 billion to pay off some of the debt and received more than $2 billion in matching funds from the federal government. This shifted the burden of debt from small businesses to investors. Without further action, the backlog of bills will continue to accrue late interest penalties.

 

Now that the governor has submitted his proposal, we will begin to conduct budget hearings in the Senate. Agencies will testify about their funding needs, and I will work with my colleagues across the aisle to find a compromise. Based on these hearings, we will propose and vote on a budget. The governor will have the option to approve or veto the budget once the Legislature approves it.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or reach out online with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

Hospital assessment update

 

For the past several months, I have been working to create a new hospital assessment program that is fair to hospitals and patients. This program was designed to leverage federal matching funds to cover the cost of services provided to Medicaid patients in Illinois hospitals. From this program, hospitals receive a flat payment based on a variety of factors, such as the number of patients it serves. Nearly half of the annual Medicaid payment funds are set to expire under Illinois statute on June 30, 2018. We are working diligently to create a new assessment program before that date so as not to disrupt service. This assessment will need state and federal approval before it can take effect.

 

Upcoming events in the district

 

Loyola Climate Change Conference flyer

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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Senator Steans

February 6, 2018

Dear Friends,

 

Senator Steans in a committee hearingThis is shaping up to be a busy week in Springfield. In addition to our regularly scheduled committee hearings, the Senate is holding four subject matter hearings. These hearings will include an update from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget on his cost-cutting initiatives, an in-depth look at the legionella outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy, information on the implementation of the evidence based funding model, and a report from the Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force.

 

I have included a list of noteworthy bills that are scheduled to be heard in committee this week below. Please note that if a bill is not called in a committee hearing, you need to submit a new witness slip the next time the bill is scheduled to be heard. Each witness slip is tied to a specific committee hearing.

 

There are several reasons why a bill might not be called even though it was posted, such as a scheduling conflict or ongoing meetings with proponents or opponents, among others. For directions on how to submit a witness slip to show your support or opposition to a particular bill, click here.

 

I am always looking for ways to improve this newsletter. If you have thoughts on how to make it better, please reply to this email or call my office. If you have friends or family who might be interested in receiving this weekly newsletter during the legislative session, please encourage them to sign up here.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or reach out online with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

Noteworthy bills in committee this week

 

Commerce and economic development issues

  • Entrepreneur learners permit - SB 2281 expands the Entrepreneur Learner's Permit pilot program to encourage and assist beginning entrepreneurs in certain business sectors by reimbursing them for State fees associated with starting a business. This legislation is sponsored by Sen. Righter and is scheduled in the Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

Consumer protection issues

  • Resident privacy - SB 572 repeals the requirement for condo boards to maintain a current listing of condo residents' phone numbers and email addresses. Under current law, that information is available to condo residents upon request and for a purpose related to the association. This legislation is sponsored by Senator Raoul and is scheduled in the Judiciary Committee.

  • Net neutrality - SR 1196 and SR 1117 address the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality and urge continued access to free and open internet. Net neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers from speeding up, slowing down, charging for, or blocking any content, applications or websites. Both resolutions are scheduled in the State Government Committee.

Education issues

  • Civics - HB 1252 requires every public elementary school to include at least one semester of civics education in its 6th, 7th or 8th grade curriculum. This legislation is sponsored by Senatior Tom Cullerton and is scheduled in the Education Committee.

Pensions and state contract issues

  • State contracts - SB 2279 prohibits the State of Illinois from entering into or awarding any contract if there is not funding in place for the contract. This legislation is sponsored by Senator Murphy and is scheduled in the State Government Committee.

  • Teachers' pensions - SB 2307 eliminates teachers' vehicle allowance from counting as pensionable earnings. This applies to the downstate teachers' pension code. This legislation is sponsored by Senator Morrison and is scheduled in the Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee.

Public health issues

  • Tobacco 21 - SB 2332 raises the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 in Illinois. This legislation is sponsored by Senator Morrison and is scheduled in the Public Health Committee.

  • Alternatives to opioids - SB 336 would allow patients who have been prescribed opioids to apply for a temporary medical marijuana card instead through an expedited process. This legislation is sponsored by Senator Harmon and is scheduled in Executive Committee.

  • Flu vaccine - HB 2984 allows local health departments and facilities to implement a flu vaccination policy, including a mandatory flu vaccine. Employees may be exempt from the flu vaccine for medical or religious reasons. This legislation only applies to local health departments with a jurisdiction of 500,000 or more residents. This legislation is sponsored by Senator Cunningham and is scheduled in the Public Health Committee.

Public safety issues

  • Victims of domestic violence - SB 2330 allows victims of domestic violence to waive the publication requirement when filing a name change petition. This legislation is sponsored by Senator Hutchinson and is scheduled in the Judiciary Committee.

  • Metal detectors in hospitals - SB 2334 requires hospitals to have a metal detector at each public point of entry into the hospital and makes all members of the public subject to screening by a metal detector. This legislation is sponsored by Senator Murphy and is scheduled in the Public Health Committee.

Committee schedule for Tuesday, Feb. 6

All committee hearings are held in the Capitol building unless otherwise noted.

 

  • Senate Education Committee subject matter hearing on the State Board of Education's implementation of the evidence based funding model
    1:30 p.m., Room 212
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Public Health Committee
    1:30 p.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Human Services Committee subject matter hearing on Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force
    2:30 p.m., Room D-1 Stratton Building
    Please note that this is a joint committee hearing with the House Special Needs Services Committee.

  • Senate Judiciary Committee
    2:30 p.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

Committee schedule for Wednesday, Feb. 7

 

  • Veterans Affairs Committee subject matter hearing on the legionella outbreak and response at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy
    9 a.m., Room 212
    Please note this is a joint hearing with the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

  • Executive Committee
    1 p.m., Room 212
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee
    1 p.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • State Government Committee
    1 p.m., Room 409
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Appropriations I and Appropriations II Committees subject matter hearing on an update from the Governor's Office of Management and Budget on fiscal year 18 revenue, budget implementation and cost-cutting initiatives
    2:30 p.m., Room 212

  • Senate Insurance Committee
    4 p.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Revenue Committee
    4 p.m., Room 212
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

Committee schedule for Thursday, Feb. 8

 

  • Senate Agriculture Committee
    9 a.m., Room 409
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee
    10 a.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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www.SenatorSteans.com

 

Senator Steans

January 30, 2018

Dear Friends,

 

Senator Steans in a committee hearingThis week kicks off the spring legislative session. I look forward to reviewing new legislation as well as measures that were not addressed last year.

 

I have provided a list of noteworthy bills that are scheduled to be heard in committee this week, as well as the committee hearing itinerary below. The Senate plans to discuss legislation to end Illinois’ participation in the Crosscheck voter registration system, create restrictions to the tax credit scholarship program for private schools, and review legislation to combat the opioid epidemic, among other proposals this week.

 

I encourage you to read more about these pieces of legislation and submit a witness slip to indicate whether you support or oppose a bill. For directions on how to submit a witness slip and make your opinion known, click here. You can listen to committee hearings or floor debate in real-time here.

 

The governor will give his State of the State address this Wednesday at noon in the House chambers. Here’s a link to watch and listen to his presentation.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or reach out online with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

Noteworthy bills in committee this week

 

Commerce and economic development

  • Local first - HB 1023 creates the "Support your Neighbor Commission" to increase the number of products made in the United States and Illinois that are bought and sold by the State. (Murphy)

  • Entrepreneur learners permit - SB 2281 expands the Entrepreneur Learner's Permit pilot program to encourage and assist beginning entrepreneurs in certain business sectors by reimbursing them for State fees associated with starting a business. (Righter)

Consumer protection

  • Crosscheck - SB 2273 ends Illinois' participation in the Crosscheck voter registration system, a program for sharing voter data among states that poses cyber security risks and has been the basis for discriminatory purging of voter rolls in other states. (Raoul)

  • Russian hacking - HJR 59 creates a task force to address threats from Russian cyber security hackers. (Cunningham)

Education

  • Tax credits - SB 2236 prevents donors from receiving a tax credit for scholarship donations if the state doesn't meet minimum school funding levels. (Bertino-Tarrant)

  • Civics - HB 1252 requires every public elementary school to include at least one semester of civics education in its 6th, 7th or 8th grade curriculum. (Cullerton, J)

  • Common application - SB 2234 establishes a uniform admission process for public colleges and universities in Illinois. (Rose)

  • Tax credit for in-state tuition - SB 2259 allows qualified Illinois parents or students to claim a tax credit based on the family's income needs for higher education expenses at any qualified public or private university, community college, vocational school, or other post-secondary educational institution in Illinois. (Murphy)

Pensions and state contracts

  • Pensions for legislators - SB 2292 makes General Assembly members who retire after 2019 responsible for 50 percent of their General Assembly Retirement System cost. (Bivins)

  • State contracts - SB 2279 prohibits the State of Illinois from entering into or awarding any contract if there is not funding in place for the contract. (Murphy)

Public Health

  • Alternatives to opioids - SB 336 would allow patients who have been prescribed opioids to apply for a temporary medical marijuana card instead through an expedited process. (Harmon)

Taxes

  • Retail store valuations - SB 1793 seeks to end the practice of large retail stores seeking lower assessed valuation and shifting the property tax burden to taxpayers. (Stadelman)

  • Senior property tax exemption - SB 2305 raises the income limit to $75,000 for senior citizens to claim the assessment freeze homestead exemption on their property taxes. The cap currently is $65,000. (Murphy)

Veterans

  • Legionnaires' outbreak - SR 1186 requires the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs' management of the Legionnaires' disease outbreaks in veteran homes. (Cullerton, T)

Committee Schedule for Jan. 30

All committee hearings are held in the Capitol building unless otherwise noted.

  • Senate Executive Committee Hearing
    1:30 p.m., Room 212
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee
    1:30 p.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate State Government Committee
    1:30 p.m., Room 409
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Education Committee
    2:45 p.m., Room 212
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  •  Senate Veterans Affairs Committee
    2:45 p.m., Room 409
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Higher Education Committee
    4 p.m., Room 212
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Revenue Committee
    5:15 p.m., Room 212
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

Committee Schedule for Jan. 31

 

  • Senate Local Government Committee
    9 a.m., Room 409
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Criminal Law Committee
    2:30 p.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

Committee Schedule for Feb. 1

 

  • Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee
    10 a.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

Unsubscribe

www.SenatorSteans.com

 

Senator Steans

January 23, 2018

Dear Friends,

 

Click here to sign the petitionRight now, numerous Illinoisans are suffering from intractable pain, a severe form of chronic pain that is constant and incurable. The only thing standing in their way is the Rauner administration and its refusal to allow these patients access to medical cannabis.

 

Illinois has a fairly strict medical marijuana program, with only about 40 approved conditions. Ann Mednick is a north suburban woman who suffers from a form of intractable pain. She takes opioids to cope but sought a treatment plan with fewer side effects. She sued the Illinois Department of Public Health after it rejected her petition to add intractable pain to the state’s list of qualifying conditions for medical cannabis.

 

Last week, a Cook County judge sided with Mednick and ordered IDPH to add the condition to the list.

 

However, given a choice between showing compassion for those suffering from chronic pain or pursuing a costly legal battle, the Rauner administration chose the latter. The administration has said it will appeal the judge’s ruling.

 

Do you think a court appeal is a good use of taxpayer resources? I don’t. That’s why I started a petition to call on Gov. Rauner to drop his fight and add intractable pain to the qualifying condition list for medical cannabis. If you agree, click here to sign the petition.

 

Together, we can work to expand access to medical cannabis and help those who are seeking relief from severe, life-altering pain. Click here to sign the petition telling the governor to drop the lawsuit.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or reach out online with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

Unsubscribe

www.SenatorSteans.com

 

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District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
Office: 773-769-1717
Fax: 773-769-6901

Springfield Office
623 Capitol Building
301 S. Second St.
Springfield, IL 62706
Office: 217-782-8492