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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Senator Steans

January 17, 2017

Dear Neighbor,

 

The Senate is working on a bipartisan package of bills to end the budget stalemate. Illinois is in its 19th month without a State budget – longer than any state in history has been without a budget. This impasse is devastating children, seniors, single parents, universities, school districts and health and human service providers across the state.

 

Below is an overview of the 12 bills that comprise our package. While anyone may quibble with individual pieces of this plan, it is a comprehensive effort to provide a balanced budget – with additional revenues and spending cuts – and improve our economic climate. In the words of Senate President Cullerton, “I think we’ve made it clear that the Senate is not afraid to take tough votes to solve problems and move this state forward.”

 

1. Two year property tax freeze (SB 13). Establishes a two year property tax freeze for home rule and non-home rule districts with exemptions for bond payments and pension contributions. It also provides mandate relief for school districts, including greater flexibility in scheduling physical education, using commercial driving schools for driver education, and contracting with third parties for non-instructional services.


2. Local government consolidation (SB 3). Extends local government consolidation procedures that exist in DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties to the entire state, allowing counties to dissolve local governments by referendum. It allows townships to merge with adjacent townships or if the township is coterminous with a municipality, to be dissolved. It further allows a township to absorb a township road district.


3. Pension reform (SB 11). Addresses the constitutionality of changing pensions by using a contractual approach. Employees are offered 3 items in exchange for eliminating the compounded 3% annual increase in their pensions: 1) a payment equal to 10% of the previous pension contributions; 2) a 10% reduction in future pension contributions; and, 3) a promise that all future salary increases will be pensionable. The bill also closes the General Assembly pension to future members, establishes an optional defined contribution plan, and makes changes recommended by the Governor in his last budget proposal.


4. Workers’ compensation reform (SB 12). Makes a number of changes to workers compensation, including: 1) cuts reimbursement for cost outliers on the medical fee schedule; 2) requires the Workers’ Compensation Commission to establish a prescription drug formulary; 3) creates a legal standard for traveling employees; 4) freezes the maximum wage benefit level for four years; 5) allows crediting for repeat injuries to the same part of the spine; and, 5) adopts other cost savings and efficiency measures.


5. Minimum wage increase (SB 2). Increases the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9 starting 7/1/17 and by 50 cents each year thereafter until it reaches $11.


6. Procurement reform (SB 8). Improves the efficiency of the procurement process to save money while maintaining transparency.


7. Borrowing to pay off the backlog of bills (SB 4). Allows the state to bond $7 billion to pay down bills (currently the state has over $11 billion in unpaid bills), paying off bonds over seven years.


8. FY17 supplemental appropriations (SB 6). Funds higher education, human services, group health insurance, and state operations for the remainder of this fiscal year.


9. Revenue bill (SB 9). Makes progressive changes to revenue as follows: 1) increases the personal income tax rate from 3.75% to 4.95% as of 1/1/17 and increases the corporate income tax rate from 5.25% to 7% as of 1/1/17; 2) implements a new tax of $0.01 per ounce on soda; 3) eliminates three corporate tax “loopholes”; 4) increases the Earned Income Tax Credit by 50%; 5) eliminates the corporate franchise tax; 6) increases the cap on education expense credit to $750 and creates a tax credit up to $250 for teachers who use personal funds to purchase classroom supplies; 7) reinstates the research and development tax credit and extends the sunset for the film tax credit; and, 8) reduces LLC filing fees.


10. Gaming bill (SB 7). Similar to a gaming bill passed by the General Assembly but vetoed by Governor Quinn, creates six new casino/riverboat licenses (one in Chicago w/full oversight by the Illinois Gaming Board), allows existing racetracks to obtain gaming positions, and increases the number of gaming positions at existing riverboats. The bill will generate almost $1 billion in up-front revenue and increase annual tax collections.


11. Pension parity for Chicago Public Schools (SB 5). Requires the state to pay the employer normal cost for Chicago teachers beginning FY17 to achieve parity in how Illinois pays for local teacher pensions.


12. Term limits for Senate Leaders (Senate Resolution 3). As its first act of business after electing Senate President Cullerton and Minority Leader Radogno last Wednesday, the Senate passed a new rule to limit leaders to five 2 year terms (10 years of service). We intend to vote on a constitutional amendment later to apply to both chambers.

 

These bills all include language that only allows them to become law when all of the bills are enacted into law; no single item can alone become law. I intend to vote for the most progressive package we can put on Governor Rauner’s desk at the earliest time possible to end the shameful destruction of our health, human services and educational systems here in Illinois. I welcome any feedback and suggestions.

 

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

122 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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Senator Steans

January 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Today the Illinois State Senate approved legislation that I sponsored to require testing water sources in schools and daycares for lead. This is a huge step forward in protecting children from the negative effects of lead exposure.

 

Lead exposure is a serious issue that can cause developmental delays and learning disabilities. We need to proactively tackle the issue of lead exposure in schools and arm parents with information so that they are not blindsided as many were in Flint, Michigan. 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. To help schools pay for the cost of lead testing and any possible repairs, they will be able to use funds from the Fire Prevention and Safety Fund.

 

Additionally, water suppliers are required to inventory all materials that they use in their service lines. If there is any maintenance work on water mains or lead services lines, water suppliers must provide notice to affected residents.

 

It is my 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.

 

This legislation passed both chambers and heads to the governor’s desk for approval. It will take effect immediately once it is signed.

 

As always, please feel free to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or 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

122 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

Unsubscribe

www.SenatorSteans.com

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

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Springfield, IL 62706
Office: 217-782-8492