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In an age of divisive language and culture wars, Illinois schools can combat negativity by promoting an inclusive curriculum that celebrates the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, State Senator Heather Steans said.

Today, such a measure passed the Illinois Senate.

“By teaching students an inclusive curriculum, Illinois classrooms will promote acceptance and a more accurate portrayal of history,” said Steans, a Chicago Democrat and the legislation’s sponsor. “LGBT students will also learn about people who had some similar qualities to them and became historical role models.”

Under Steans’ proposal, students will learn about the contributions LGBT individuals made to Illinois and the United States while learning about history. Currently, Illinois schools are required to teach students about the role and contributions of African-Americans and other ethnic groups, as well as about women’s history and disability history.

According to a 2015 survey conducted by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, nearly 70 percent of LGBTQ students in Illinois have been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation.

“I hope that with this legislation, more LGBT students will feel safe at school and that there will be fewer instances of harassment on the basis of sexual orientation,” Steans said.

Under Senate Bill 3249, only public schools in Illinois would be required to teach an inclusive historical curriculum.

The measure passed the Senate with a vote of 34-18. It now moves to the House for further consideration.

Senator Steans

May 1, 2018

Dear Friends,

 

Senator Steans in a committee hearingPlease find a list of noteworthy bills that will be heard in the Senate this week below. I encourage you to continue to fill out witness slips on issues that are important to you. Witness slips are read into the record at the beginning of each hearing and provide lawmakers with additional information on where the public stands on each bill.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or reach out online with any questions or concerns. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on my legislation and what’s happening in the district.

 

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

 

Noteworthy bills in committee this week

 

Criminal law issues

• Parking penalties - HB 3920 lowers the penalty for driving with a driver's license suspended for an unpaid parking ticket, automated camera or unpaid child support to a petty offense.
     o Sponsor: Senator Kimberly Lightford
     o Committee: Senate Criminal Law


• DCFS employees - SB 2272 expands the offense of aggravated battery to include battery committed against employees of the Department of Children and Family Services
     o Sponsor: Senator Tim Bivins
     o Committee: Senate Criminal Law


• License plates - SB 880 establishes that recorded license plate recognition system data can only be used for legitimate law enforcement purposes.
     o Sponsor: Senator Antonio Munoz
     o Committee: Senate Executive

 

Education issues

• School psychologist - HB 4409 streamlines the certification process for school psychologists by stating that a valid Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential suffices.
     o Sponsor: Senator Kimberly Lightford
     o Committee: Education


• Medical cannabis in schools - HB 4870 would permit the administration of medical cannabis infused products on school premises or on a school bus to students who participate in the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
     o Sponsor: Senator Cristina Castro
     o Committee: Senate Education


• Bachelor's degree - HB 4956 works to address the teacher shortage by creating a three-year bachelor's degree in teaching completion program.
     o Sponsor: Senator Bill Cunningham
     o Committee: Senate Education


• Retired teachers - HB 3080 allows downstate retired teachers to return to work for a school district for a limited time without impairing their retirement status.
     o Sponsor: Senator Andy Manar
     o Committee: Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions

 

Environmental issues

River• Foxconn - SR 1600 urges Wisconsin to consider the environmental and public health concerns over Foxconn. The Wisconsin legislature approved a measure that would allow Foxconn to discharge dredged materials or fill wetlands without a permit and forego environmental impact statements. The location of the Foxconn development sits in the Des Plaines watershed, which extends into Illinois.
     o Sponsor: Senator Melinda Bush
     o Committee: Senate Environment and Conservation

 

Finance issues

• Credit unions - HB 4541 adds credit unions to the list of financial institutions from which municipalities may borrow.
     o Sponsor: Senator David Koehler
     o Committee: Senate Financial Institutions


• Pawn - HB 4733 clarifies that when a person is found to be the owner of stolen property that has been pawned, the pawnbroker must return that property at no cost to the owner.
     o Sponsor: Senator Don Harmon
     o Committee: Senate Financial Institutions

 

Human service issues

• Medicaid providers - HB 4383 allows a Medicaid enrollee to switch managed care organizations if their current MCO terminates a contract with their primary care provider in order for the Medicaid patient to stay with their primary care provider.
     o Sponsor: Senator Heather Steans
     o Committee: Senate Human Services

 

Public health issues

• Vaccine information - HB 4440 requires the Department of Public Health to provide all nursing home facilities with educational information on all vaccines recommended by the CDC.
     o Sponsor: Senator John Mulroe
     o Committee: Senate Public Health

 

State government issues

• Use of state funds - HB 4243 prohibits state funds from being paid to any person in exchange for his or her silence or inaction related to an allegation or investigation of sexual harassment.
     o Sponsor: Senator Tom Cullerton
     o Committee: Senate Government Reform

• Severance agreements - HB 4242 requires local governments, school districts, community college districts and other local taxing bodies to provide public information about severance agreements with employees or contractors who have engaged in sexual harassment or sexual discrimination.
     o Sponsor: Senator Tom Cullerton
     o Committee: Senate Judiciary

• Environmental and social policies - SR 1606 urges the members of the General Assembly to come together in a bipartisan manner to develop policies that consider both our environmental and social systems.
     o Sponsor: Senator Bill Cunningham
     o Committee: Senate Judiciary

• Zoning - HB 4711 clarifies that counties, townships and municipalities, as well as the officials serving them, cannot be sued based on zoning violations for acts related to enforcing, administering or implementing zoning regulations unless the violation relates to county-owned property.
     o Sponsor: Senator John Curran
     o Committee: Senate Local Government

• Benefits - HB 5760 freezes the General Assembly's mileage reimbursement and per diem rates and provides that there will be no cost of living adjustment next year for members of the General Assembly.
     o Sponsor: Senator Tom Cullerton
     o Committee: Senate Government Reform

• Dissolution of election commission - HB 5123 would allow a county board to dissolve its election commission and transfer its functions to the county clerk.
     o Sponsor: Senator Tom Cullerton
     o Committee: Senate Executive

 

Transportation issues

• Design build - SB 3002 authorizes the Illinois Department of Transportation to use the design-build and construction manager-general contractor delivery method of source selection for highway construction projects.
     o Sponsor: Senator Martin Sandoval
     o Committee: Senate Transportation


• Two-year registration - HB 4259 permits the Secretary of State to register motor vehicles for a two-year period.
     o Sponsor: Senator Dan McConchie
     o Committee: Senate Transportation


• Rear-facing seat - HB 4377 requires any child under the age of two to be properly secured in a rear-facing child restraint system.
  Texting while driving   o Sponsor: Senator Michael Hastings
     o Committee: Senate Transportation


• Texting while driving - HB 4846 makes the first offense of using a cell phone while operating a moving vehicle a moving violation. Currently, the first offense results in a warning.
     o Sponsor: Senator Cristina Castro
     o Committee: Senate Transportation

 

Committee schedule for Tuesday, May 1

 

• Senate Education Committee | 3 p.m., Room 212
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Public Health Committee| 3 p.m., Room 400
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Veterans Affairs Committee | 3 p.m., Room 409
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Higher Education Committee | 4:15 p.m., Room 212
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Judiciary Committee |4:30 p.m., Room 400
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Human Services Committee | 5:15 p.m., Room 409
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Transportation Committee | 5:30  p.m., Room 212
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Subcommittee on CLEAR Compliance | 5:30 p.m., Room 400
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Criminal Law Committee | 5:35 p.m., Room 400
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

Committee schedule for Wednesday, May 2

 

• Senate Local Government Committee | 9:15 a.m., Room 409
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Financial Institutions | 10:30 a.m., Room 409
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Government Reform Committee| 10:30 a.m., Room 400
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Subcommittee on Special Issues | 3 p.m., Room 212
Subject matter hearing on SB 2310, SB 3512 and SB 3542
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate State Government Committee| 3 p.m., Room 409
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee | 3 p.m., Room 400
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Executive Committee | 3:45 p.m., Room 212
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Insurance Committee | 4:45 p.m., Room 400
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

• Senate Revenue Committee | 4:45 p.m., Room 212
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

Committee schedule for Thursday, May 3

 

• Senate Environment and Conservation Committee | 10 a.m., Room 409
To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

 

District Office

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

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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Low pay, burnout, turnover problematic for profession

SPRINGFIELD – Long-underpaid workers who assist developmentally disabled Illinoisans at rates set by the state would earn a livable wage under a measure sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans.

Senate Bill 3508 would require the Illinois Department of Human Services to increase rates so that direct support and frontline workers earn a base hourly wage of $13.50 by July 1, 2018, and $15 by July 1, 2020.

“Direct support personnel provide an incredibly valuable service to our community. Their wages should reflect that,” Steans (D-Chicago) said.

Direct support employees work closely with developmentally disabled adults. They offer assistance with personal care, teach life skills, distribute medications, help them be otherwise engaged in their communities, and generally ensure the health and safety of their clients.

The hourly starting wage for direct support workers averages $10.59. Low pay is among the reasons why Illinois facilities have had difficulty attracting and retaining qualified direct support staff, leading to frequent turnover and high vacancy rates. Direct support employees often must work overtime as a result, leading to burnout and perpetuating the turnover problem.

It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be addressed, Steans said.

“Who suffers the most under this scenario? Vulnerable developmentally disabled individuals who can’t find safe, reliable group home care because of a human resources crisis that we have the ability to resolve by paying a fair, livable wage to hard-working frontline support personnel,” Steans said.

Senate Bill 3508 passed the Senate today and now moves to the House for further consideration. Steans has worked for several years to increase wages for direct support personnel. She passed a similar measure during the previous legislative session.

Proposal gets money into hands of business owners more quickly


04112018CM0971SPRINGFIELD – An innovative proposal from State Senator Heather Steans could help businesses and state government at the same time by paying down Illinois’ backlog of bills more quickly.

Steans’ measure would allow the state treasurer to take over debts more than 90 days old, pay the vendors and clear the bills from the state’s ledgers. The approach would enable Illinois to pay off old debts more quickly, slow the accrual of interest penalties and inject money into local economies where businesses have been harmed by the state’s ongoing budget difficulties.

“This is a winning strategy to make more headway on the bill backlog. Every taxpayer benefits,” said Steans, a Chicago Democrat and a Senate point person on budget matters.

“If the treasurer has funds sitting there unused, why shouldn’t that money logically be available for this need? It won’t solve the entire bill backlog problem, but it will get us to a resolution more quickly.”

The proposal, Senate Bill 2858, would allow the state treasurer to pay bills more than 90 days old if the vouchers in the comptroller’s office exceed funds available by $1 billion. It would save the state additional money by implementing a 0.3 percent monthly late payment interest penalty – rather than the 1 percent under current law – on balances paid off by the treasurer’s office through the Vendor Payment Program.

Last year, Illinois paid more than $1 billion in late interest penalties – an outrageous and inefficient use of taxpayer dollars that could have been directed to other needs, Steans said.

“This legislation will help stop the accrual of interest on late payments and enable us to turn around payments to companies that do business with the state in a more reasonable amount of time,” Steans said.

Senate Bill 2858 passed the Senate today and now advances to the House for further consideration.

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