Senator Steans in CommitteeSPRINGFIELD – As her first act on the Senate Government Reform Committee, Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) introduced legislation to close the revolving door between state government employees, officials and lobbying firms.

“It is high time that we strengthen ethics laws in Illinois and tighten regulations on the revolving door,” Steans said. “The General Assembly last passed revolving door reforms nearly 10 years ago. While those acts were undoubtedly progress, elected officials and state employees should not be able to immediately translate relationships built on state time into lobbying connections upon leaving public service.”

Senate Bill 615 requires employees and officials to wait one year after leaving a position with the state before accepting a position or compensation for lobbying state government. The legislation also bans state employees and officials from negotiating employment terms or compensation from lobbying entities while employed or serving as an appointee of the state.

“SB 615 restricts legislators and state employees from lobbying for at least one year after their departure from state government, bringing Illinois in line with a majority of other states who restrict this kind of activity,” said Sarah Brune, executive director of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “This legislation is an important step in closing the revolving door of state government in Illinois and encouraging openness and transparency in the political process."
This legislation awaits its committee assignment.

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fountainFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 10, 2017

SPRINGFIELD – Elementary children and daycare attendees will now be better protected from lead exposure under legislation sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago). Senate Bill 550, which requires testing water sources in schools and daycares for lead, passed the Senate today.

“Lead exposure in children is a serious issue that can cause developmental delays and learning disabilities,” Steans said. “We need to proactively tackle the issue of lead exposure in schools and arm parents with information. That’s exactly what this legislation does.”

Senate Bill 550 requires schools and daycares constructed before 2000 that are used by students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade to test drinking water and water used for food preparation for lead. If samples exceed 5 parts per billion of lead, the school district is required to notify parents and legal guardians.

“I hope that parents will be able to rest a little easier knowing that they will now be informed if the water in their children’s schools is contaminated by lead,” Steans said. “I encourage the governor to sign this bill as soon as it reaches his desk.”

Both the House and the Senate have approved SB 550, which will take effect immediately when signed by the governor.

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) issued the following statement on today’s passage of a compromise budget that funds human services and state government operations through Floor 6 30 16 webJanuary and K-12 schools for the full fiscal year:

Today’s vote allows schools to open on time, relieves uncertainty about their ability to stay open this year and staves off disaster for our remaining social services providers and the vulnerable populations they serve. It is – unequivocally – progress. But it is also a step that should have been taken more than a year ago and one that will not fully or immediately revive the many organizations that have already cut staff and/or closed their doors.

I don’t intend to let the good news of a short-term budget compromise become an excuse for complacency. Instead, this legislation is a model for what can be accomplished when partisan barricades are abandoned and trust is built on a foundation of shared priorities. The rank-and-file working group process eventually bore fruit through a hard-won trust that launched a productive conversation with and among leadership.

I look forward to a continued conversation about responsible budgeting and the revenue and reforms needed to sustain it. While pressure can incite action, it can also take a tremendous human toll on individuals and families who are in no way to blame for the state’s fiscal crisis. That’s the wrong way to govern, but we’ve seen it happen time and again in the past year and a half, and it will continue unless we not only budget appropriately for the future but repair the damage inflicted during the impasse.

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) issued the following statement after chairing a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this morning on the urgent need to resolve a nearly $300 million funding shortfall in the Child Care Assistance Program:

Losing access to child care is not just a budget crisis; it's an urgent human and economic crisis. Failure to fill the funding gap will force many parents to quit their jobs or put their education on hold, increase reliance on other forms of government assistance and keep at-risk children out of high-quality early learning programs.

There are funds we can move to the Child Care Assistance Program immediately so providers that serve mostly low-income families won't be forced to close their doors due to delayed state payments. I was disappointed that today, top Rauner budget advisers testified they want the General Assembly to give the administration unprecedented emergency budgetary authority before they take action on child care assistance.

I'm participating in the ongoing negotiations in good faith, but I also think the Rauner administration owes the public an explanation of how it intends to keep low-income parents on the job. The possibility of passing narrowly tailored legislation to save CCAP while we have the broader budget conversation is not off the table, and it's one I'll continue to pursue. I certainly hope the Rauner administration does not intend to hold child care assistance hostage in the service of its overall agenda.

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