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50th District Update: Protecting Families

Dear Friends,

Recently I was able to pass legislation through the Illinois Senate and House that would stop the Illinois Department of Corrections from firing nurses and outsourcing their jobs. This was in response to a recent announcement from the Governor that 124 of the nurses would be laid off in June. The reason given was to save money by outsourcing the jobs to an out-of-state company.

Saving money sounds great, especially in these tight fiscal times, but unfortunately we don't have any good evidence of what savings we would actually see, other than over-inflated estimates. Additionally, the company involved in the outsourcing has been providing medical care at correctional facilities for several years under a sweetheart, $1 billion plus contract. During that time, there have already been multiple lawsuits over sub-standard care, in addition to some scathing investigation findings. Further, to me, it just doesn't make sense to take money out of the pockets of these hard working Illinois residents and send it out of state.

These nurses work in an environment that most people would absolutely dread, trying to help people that much of society has given up on. We should be giving them the respect they deserve, not taking their jobs away. Our state is in a massive, historic budget crisis, but attacking people like these nurses is not the answer. I can not, and I will not agree to try to balance our budget on the backs of working families. That has happened too many times already, and we can't go down that path again. Until our state leaders decide to lead, we will be stuck in the constant cycle of chaos and crisis.

At the same time, I've read several articles discussing positive tests for lead in the drinking water at some of our schools. I am glad that it is being discovered, though it wasn't an easy fight to get these tests going. At one point I was the only Republican in two Senate committees to vote in favor of lead testing requirements. Eventually we were able to corral "yes" votes from nearly every member of both chambers, which I think represents one of those rare times when common sense and good policy won out. We need more of that at the Capitol right now.

These are both examples of how we can work to protect our families, whether it's the hard working parents or our young children. Strong families create communities, which creates strong counties, which creates a strong state and a strong nation. They are our foundation.

In the meantime, if there's anything I can help you with, please don't hesitate to contact my office at 217-782-8206 or via email at SenatorMcCann@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

State Senator Sam McCann

Recently during the annual Ag Legislative Day, Senator McCann welcomed FFA students to the Capitol from Greenfield (pictured), New Berlin, North Green, Southwestern, Calhoun, and Pleasant Hill High Schools.

Senator McCann had the pleasure of meeting a group of Special Olympics competitors and volunteers at the Illinois Senate.

A group of Pittsfield High School students joined Senator McCann during a visit to the Illinois State Capitol.

Senator McCann was honored to attend the Grand Opening of the new Springfield Vets Center.

Senator McCann welcomed a Cub Scout pack to the Illinois Senate for a tour.

Senate Week in Review

Senator McCann passes legislation to protect prison nurses

Both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly have now passed legislation that would prevent corrections nurses from losing their jobs do to private outsourcing. The bill was sponsored by State Sen. Sam McCann (R-Plainview).

“These are extremely hardworking professionals who operate in dangerous environments to heal individuals that many others have given up on,” said Senator McCann. “They deserve our respect, instead of being made into victims of some half-baked outsourcing scheme.”

The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) recently sent out layoff notices to 124 correctional center nurses, telling them their positions would be eliminated on June 15. The nurses would be replaced by employees of Wexford Health Sources, Inc., a for-profit, Pittsburgh-based company that currently has a 10-year, $1.36 billion contract. The company has since been sued dozens of times and noted in several audits that found “sweeping problems” in the IDOC medical system.

Senate Bill 19 would block IDOC from bidding contracts that would reduce the number of employees engaged in medical and/or mental health services, as their headcount stood on January 1, 2016. Similar legislation passed with a bipartisan majority during the administration of Governor Quinn, when he similarly moved to outsource and lay off corrections employees.

“IDOC currently is having a hard time filling the nursing positions that are open, so why would we be laying off the nurses we have?” said Senator McCann. “There is also no reason we should be sending taxpayer money out of state when we can put it in the pockets of hardworking Illinois residents who live, work, and pay taxes in the Land of Lincoln.”

Senate Bill 19 passed both chambers with a bipartisan majority and is now headed to the Governor for his consideration.

New education funding legislation would advance true parity for schools

After years of bipartisan negotiations, two more legislative proposals have been advanced to reduce the inequity and inadequacy that has plagued the state’s more than 800 school districts, and truly address questions of school funding parity.

There are currently several bills in the General Assembly that are based on the framework advanced by the Governor’s bipartisan Education Funding Reform Commission, and each would establish an evidence-based school funding formula.

The evidence-based system establishes a formula that would take into account the vast and unique differences that exist between the state’s many districts—ranging from urban Chicago schools to rural downstate and suburban districts. Notably, the evidence-based system drives dollars to where they are most needed and where the additional resources can do the most good.

The evidence-based funding model takes into account 27 different variables in order to set individual adequacy targets for each school district that are based on the districts’ real costs, accepted best practices, and student demographics.

That data will be used to establish four funding “tiers,” which would ensure that additional funding goes to the state’s neediest districts. Tier 4 would encompass the districts that are financially the strongest, with spending already exceeding their adequacy target. Tier 1 would include struggling school districts that are spending far below their adequacy target.

The four-tiered system would also be used to protect the most vulnerable schools, ending the regressive nature of “proration.” Proration is the result of the state’s past practice of cutting school funding. Under proration, the districts with the most need often saw the most significant budget cuts.

Senator McCann has worked to help advance several different bipartisan proposals that would aim to end the inequity and inadequacy inherent in the current funding formula, acknowledging that there are many different ways that could utilize different approaches help fix the situation.

Legislation pending in the Senate to ease rural teacher shortage

In response to a teacher shortage impacting school districts in many of Illinois’ rural communities, legislation pending in the Senate would help these rural school districts struggling to attract good teachers choose from a much larger pool of applicants.

Acknowledging that a mastery of standardized testing doesn’t necessarily translate into good teachers in Illinois classrooms, Senate Bill 1123 would add an additional avenue for students to receive their teaching license—by achieving a minimum grade point average of 3.0 out of a 4.0 scale in the core education curriculum classes at the universities they attend.

Currently, students seeking a career in teaching must score at least 22 on their ACT test or 1110 on their SAT test, or pass the Academic Proficiency (TAP)/Basic Skills test in order to receive their teaching licenses.

A 2016 report from Teachers of Tomorrow found Illinois’ schools have some of the highest levels of unfilled teaching positions in the nation, to the tune of 6,381.

https://www.teachersoftomorrow.org/blog/insights/teacher-shortage

Senate seeks to protect abuse victims

Seeking to give victims of child abuse additional time to report the crime, the Senate advanced legislation March 29 that would eliminate the statute of limitations on certain sexual abuse crimes against a minor.

Senate Bill 189 was approved by the Senate unanimously, and proponents say the bill will help prevent child predators from escaping justice. Frequently, victims of child sexual crimes require years to come to terms with the abuse. If signed into law, the measure would enable greater numbers of individuals who had been victimized as children to come forward.  Advocates also noted that eliminating the statute of limitations will encourage state’s attorneys to investigate old claims, even if they decide not to bring charges against the accused.

The proposal eliminates the statute of limitations on the prosecution of child sex crimes in cases where the victim is younger than 18 at the time of the offense, to allow for prosecutions of criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or felony criminal sexual abuse.

Senate Bill 189 removes a current requirement that corroborating physical evidence be available, or that an individual who was required to report an alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act failed to do so.

Currently, under Illinois law, in child sex cases where corroborating physical evidence is available, or if an individual who was required to report the alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act failed to do so, a prosecution can take place at any time.

However, if those circumstances aren’t met, and the victim is younger than 18 at the time of the offense, a prosecution for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, or felony criminal sexual abuse, or a prosecution for failure of a person who is required to report an alleged or suspected commission of any of these offenses under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, may be commenced within 20 years after the child victim attains 18 years of age (before the victim’s 38th birthday). When the victim is younger than 18 at the time of the offense and the prosecution is for misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse, the prosecution must be commenced within 10 years after the victim becomes 18.

Legislation advanced to ease epinephrine costs

As a response to the high costs of epinephrine auto-injectors, a Senate Public Health Committee advanced Senate Bill 2038 to allow authorized, trained entities to administer less-costly epinephrine from a glass vial, ampule or pre-filled syringe.

The proposal seeks to make life-saving epinephrine more available in cases of deadly allergic reactions by making it less cost-prohibitive for schools and universities, companies, restaurants, etc. to keep the medication on hand.

It is estimated that allowing entities to obtain an epinephrine prescription from a health-care practitioner in these less expensive forms could save hundreds and even thousands of dollars every year. Epinephrine auto-injectors can range from $300 to $2000 for a pack of two, while in contrast a glass vial of epinephrine from a pharmacy costs approximately $10 to $50.

Getting around Illinois

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has updated their “Getting Around Illinois” website, which is a web-based interactive mapping site that provides visitors with the ability to search and display several sources of transportation data. 

Those who visit the site can find information on road construction locations, trucking routes, and winter road conditions. 

Begin planning your trip today by visiting https://gettingaroundillinois.com

Get your kicks on Route 66

Route 66, the famous stretch of highway connecting Chicago to southern California, has been placed on this year’s “Most Endangered Historic Places” list by Landmarks Illinois.

Since 1995, Landmarks Illinois has asked preservationists, community leaders and concerned citizens throughout the state to nominate threatened or endangered historic properties for its annual list, the Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.

The purpose of the list is to focus attention on sites threatened by deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds, or inappropriate development, as well as bolster local advocacy efforts and build support for each property’s eventual preservation. The Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list also draws attention to important policy issues that affect these properties and historic properties throughout the state.

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