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The Illinois School District Library Grant Program recently announced the recipients of Fiscal Year 2018 grants. The list includes several school libraries in the 20th district.  

Image result for School District Library Grant ProgramThe program is designed to help provide more library books and materials for the students of public schools in Illinois. The state legislature has authorized up to a $.75 per pupil expenditure for qualifying schools. The grant award is based on funds appropriated by the General Assembly and the official enrollment as of the previous September 30th of a school district.

The program was started by Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian, Jesse White:

“As a former public school teacher and administrator, I know our school libraries are very important in helping students learn and prepare themselves for the future. Illinois was the first state to implement a school district grant program for libraries, and I am pleased that we can continue to provide them with some of the financial resources they need to produce well-educated students.”

East Maine School District #63 will receive the largest grant in the district, at nearly $2,500. The other libraries include Ridgewood Community High School District #234 and Schiller Park School District #81.




Image result for quincy veterans home hearingThe Illinois House and Senate Veterans' Committees held a joint session this week in Chicago to investigate the continued outbreak of Legionnaire's disease at the Quincy Veterans Home. Thirteen residents at the home have died from the disease over the past three years, including 12 who died in 2015 and one death last fall- two years after the initial outbreak.



At the hearing, the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Erica Jeffries, and the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Nirav Shah, defended the actions undertaken since the onset of the outbreak. Both agency heads said they took immediate steps toward remediation, implemented every protocol suggested by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and ultimately would not have done anything differently. 

Legionnaire's disease can be contracted when people inhale infected water vapor through showers, sinks, and fountains. Since 2015, the state has imposed new treatment protocols and spent nearly $6.4 million on emergency upgrades to the complex’s water treatment system.

In December, the CDC released its most recent report on the outbreak noting that Illinois agencies have committed considerable time, effort, and resources to address the problem, but complete eradication of Legionella in any large, complex building water system may not be possible. Director Jeffries said that the water in the facility is now tested more than 3,000 times each month.

"We owe our state’s veterans the best treatment and care possible," Rep. McAuliffe said. "As the Republican Spokesperson on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, I stand ready and willing to work together with those in the General Assembly and our state agencies to find a permanent solution to ensure the health and safety of our veteran’s at the Quincy Home."

Lawmakers at the hearing suggested a new capitol bill to pay for a complete overhaul of the plumbing at the home and to finance a new facility on the campus to replace one of the older infirmary buildings. Both the Senate and the House will hold additional hearings on the outbreak and the progress being made at the home. In addition, Governor Rauner plans to create a task force dedicated to investigating and remediating the issue. 
A number of new laws will take effect beginning with the new year. Some of the major pieces of legislation include:

Providing for taxpayer-funding of elective abortions for state employees and Medicaid recipients
Provides that taxpayer funds may be used to cover abortion costs through the state insurance program and through Medicaid for any reason, including elective abortions. Federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for abortion procedures beyond issues involving rape, incest or health risks to the mother. Due to the federal Hyde amendment, Illinois will not be eligible for the 50 cents-on-the-dollar federal reimbursement for elective abortion procedures done through Medicaid.


Law Enforcement Sexual Assault Investigation Act
The Law Enforcement Sexual Assault Investigation Act requires each law enforcement agency to have a written policy regarding the investigation of an officer-involved sexual assault. Any investigations must be conducted by at least two investigators with specialized sexual assault investigation training from either the Law Enforcement Training Standards Board or the State Police. If a
complaint is made against a member of the Chicago Police Department, Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority will conduct the investigation.

Research Dogs and Cats Adoption act
A research facility, after the completion of its research, must assess the health of the dog or cat, and determine whether or not the animal is suitable for adoption. For the animals determined to be fit, the research facility must make a reasonable effort to have them adopted. Facilities that provide the animals to adoption agencies are immune from liability except when willful or wanton misconduct takes place. Research facilities must also post their animal policies online.

Barack Obama Day
Designates August 4th each year as Barack Obama Day. This is not an official state holiday, state government does not shut down.

Police officers PTSD training
Amends the Illinois Police Training Act for probationary police officers to receive training on effective recognition of and responses to stress, trauma, and post-traumatic stress experienced by police officers. 

Outlaws hospital “no admit” lists
The law prohibits hospitals from maintaining a list of individuals that may not be admitted for treatment. It does not prohibit a hospital from recommending an alternate provider, coordinating an appropriate transfer, or arranging access to care services that best meet the needs of an individual patient. 

Free access to feminine hygiene products in Illinois schools
Feminine hygiene products will now be available, at no cost to students, in the bathrooms of school buildings under this new mandate to Illinois school districts. “Feminine hygiene products” means tampons and sanitary napkins for use in connection with the menstrual cycle.

Cybersecurity training for state employees
Requires state employees to annually undergo training by the Department of Innovation and Technology concerning cybersecurity. The Department will be able to make the training an online course, and it will include information on detecting phishing scams, preventing spyware infections and identity theft, and preventing and responding to data breaches. 

Illegal electronic monitoring
This act creates the offense of illegal electronic monitoring, to protect citizens’ privacy and safety from spyware and tracking software being unknowingly installed or downloaded onto cell phones.

State Grain
Designates corn as the official state grain of the state of Illinois.

Read the rest of the over 200 bills becoming law on January 1st here
A statewide helpline has been launched to provide immediate assistance for those impacted by addiction to opioids and other substances. The telephone service line, 1-833-2-FINDHELP (1-833-234-6343), will be operated through the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances is funded by federal grant dollars secured by the State of Illinois and can be accessed free of charge. 
The helpline is the latest step in Illinois lawmakers’ commitment to tackle the opioid crisis and combat the growing number of overdose deaths related to heroin, other opioids, and synthetics like fentanyl. Earlier this year the Governor unveiled the Opioid Action Plan and signed an executive order creating the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The task force, chaired by Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and IDPH Director Nirav Shah, was charged with building strategies that would help reduce projected opioid overdose-related deaths by one-third within the next three years. It has been holding hearings and gathering testimony from public-health professionals and law enforcement leaders on the dimensions of the crisis.  

Another policy established under Executive Order 2017-05 was a Standing Order to make the overdose reversal drug Naloxone (Narcan) available to first responders and members of communities across Illinois, without a prescription. 

Data shows that opioid overdoses are dramatically increasing, with 1,946 people killed in Illinois in 2016 up from 1,382 in 2015. In Cook County there were 970 opioid deaths in 2016, up from 546 in 2015. Opioids are killing more people every year than homicides or motor vehicle accidents. In addition, data from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) estimates that approximately 248,000 Illinois residents need, but do not receive, treatment for illicit drug use.

The helpline will provide a confidential outlet for individuals experiencing opioid use disorders, their families and anyone affected by the disease. It will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by specialists trained in evidence-based approaches to help connect callers with treatment and recovery-support services. 
Illinois celebrates it's birthday on December 3rd, the day the territory of Illinois was admitted to the union as the 25th State in 1818. On December 3rd, 2018, Illinois will celebrate it's 200th birthday. The State, historical organizations, towns, and others will spend the next year leading up to the bicentennial with a yearlong multimedia campaign and events across the state.  

Image result for illinois 200The Illinois Bicentennial Commission, created by Governor Rauner, is promoting a campaign called "Born Built, and Grown" to honor the people, places, and things that make Illinois great. 

You can learn more about the bicentennial and Illinois' history here.

I hope you and your family had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Giving Tuesday
Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, a social media holiday designed to kick off the charitable season. This unofficial holiday is appropriately celebrated the Tuesday after the blessings of Thanksgiving and the shopping “holidays” of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

Over the weekend my family and I donated toys to the New Hope Food Pantry in Norwood Park.
I encourage you to do something this holiday season for those less fortunate. Everyone can give something, whether it is a gift, money, or just your time and effort. Click here to find local organizations and non-profits in your community.

SB1905
The House recently debated, and failed to pass, a hotly contested piece of legislation. Senate Bill 1905 would have prohibited local governments from enacting “Right to Work” zones in their communities. It would prohibit local communities from allowing individual workers a choice in whether or not they want to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

I respect the great work unions do for our middle class and our communities. I do not support turning Illinois into a right to work state nor do I believe that Illinois is in danger of becoming one.

However, the bill went much further than I was comfortable with. One of the components of the bill would have made violations of the Act a criminal misdemeanor. This could have resulted in the jailing of local elected officials, which is an obvious overstep.

Image result for small business saturday

Saturday, November 25th is Small Business Saturday. This unofficial holiday began in 2010 to encourage people to shop local and shop small. Statistically, the weekend after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. This year, according to the National Retail Association more than 164 million people are expected to shop over the weekend and Cyber Monday.

"Small businesses are vital to the Illinois economy, their success is our success", Rep. McAuliffe said. "If you plan to shop this weekend, I encourage you to visit many of the small and family owned businesses in our community."

Illinois small business statistics:

  • ​1.2 million small businesses in Illinois (99.6% of Illinois businesses)
  • 2.4 million small business employees in Illinois (46% of all Illinois employees)
  • 311,609 minority-owned small businesses in Illinois
  • Small business makes up 90% of Illinois’ exporters
  • Small business created 43,836 net jobs in 2014
  • Construction, real estate & arts, entertainment & recreation are the three largest small business employers in Illinois
Small businesses can create personalized #shopsmall online marketing tools here