From the Governor's Office:

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed legislation that expands the Illinois Veterans' Home at Quincy and cuts the red tape on future construction projects, allowing the administration to move quickly to build a new state-of-the-art facility at the campus.

"We're building a brand new facility and making sure our veterans have a safe place to call home," Rauner said. "Building this new facility should not be caught up in the bureaucratic process. Our veterans deserve the best. They have fought to secure our freedom and we're fighting to make sure they have the care they need for generations to come."

Rauner signed Senate Bill 3128, allowing the state to use the design-build delivery method to renovate, rehabilitate and rebuild the Illinois Veterans' Home at Quincy. This method will eliminate redundant steps in the traditional state construction process, shave months off the overall project time and save taxpayer dollars.

"More than 360 veterans call the Illinois Veterans' Home at Quincy home and we're excited about moving forward with this project," said Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Acting Director Stephen Curda. "This home is a staple in the community and we hope that never changes. We are all proud of this home and just last week, we gave Quincy residents an opportunity to learn more about the new home development process and provide ideas on what it could look like."

Rauner also signed House Bill 5683, which makes the recently purchased Sycamore nursing facility an official part of the Illinois Veterans' Home at Quincy. Renovations are already underway on the Sycamore unit and are expected to be complete by the end of the year. Securing this unit will ensure continuity of care and temporary housing for veterans while construction on the new facility at the existing campus is ongoing. 

"We continue to move quickly on a number of initiatives to serve our veterans," said Mike Hoffman, senior adviser to the governor. "This includes the renovation of the Sycamore building, ongoing water management projects, and development of a new master plan for the Quincy campus."

State legislators applauded today's actions.

"Securing the design-build contract is one of the final steps to kick-start the Quincy Veterans' Home $52 million capital development plan," said Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy. "Over the next five years, the campus will undergo a major rehabilitation to update the care facilities and residence to ensure it is up to code and safe for all of our veteran residents and their families. I'm glad to see the governor taking such swift action to begin construction on one of Quincy's most important landmarks."

"The heroes who live at the Quincy Veterans' Home deserve the very best care that can be provided, and today we took a major step in ensuring that will happen," said Rep. Randy Frese, R-Quincy. "Our veterans and the entire Quincy community are thankful and are looking forward to a remodeled and revitalized Quincy Veterans' Home."

"The acquisition of the (Sycamore) transitional facility is an important step toward making sure our veterans receive the best care possible," said Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo. "I commend not only Gov. Rauner, but the bipartisan working group that identified this as a solution to keeping our veterans in Quincy at a site they call home."

"This is part of a multi-pronged effort to provide top notch facilities for our state's veterans in Quincy," said Rep. Mike McAuliffe, R-Chicago. "It will guarantee that the veterans that are moved to Sycamore during ongoing renovations to Quincy are still seeing the same familiar, caring faces."
This month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing out the new Medicare cards to residents in Illinois

In 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. This law requires the removal of Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards by April 2019 and the issuing of new Medicare cards to replace the old ones. This new initiative is to protect against fraud and identity theft. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the Social Security Number (SSN)-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status and claim status.


The new Medicare card will have a completely different and randomly assigned identifier that will be 11 characters long, containing a mix of numbers and uppercase letters. This is the MBI. CMS is also removing the gender and signature line from the new Medicare card. The MBI is confidential like your SSN and should be protected as personal health information.

If a beneficiary is new to Medicare after April 2018, the beneficiary will receive the new MBI card. CMS has until April 2019 to mail out new cards to all 60 million national Medicaid beneficiaries. Current Medicare cards will be accepted until December 31, 2019, after which only the new MBI card will be accepted.

The new card will not impact current Medicare benefits or status. Beneficiaries are asked to destroy, not throw away, their old Medicare cards once the new one is received.

If you need to update your mailing address you can do so online here or by calling 1-800-772-1213.


Springfield, IL... State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) is pushing for legislation to strengthen Illinois's state laws to protect students from sexual predators in schools. A recent Chicago Tribune investigation found that CPS failed to protect its students from sexual abuse and assault over a 10 year period. The Chicago Tribune identified 72 school employees as alleged perpetrators and detailed the various ways in which CPS poorly responded and mistreated student victims. 

"Sexual predators have no place in our society, let alone our schools," Rep. McAuliffe said. "The fact that CPS does not have a set procedure for what is clearly a pervasive problem, and that they failed to report it to the Department of Child and Family Services as required by law is absolutely unacceptable. This investigation shined a light on serious lapses not just in CPS policy, but state law."

House Bill 5914 requires a school board to establish a hearing procedure for student victims of alleged sexual assault or sexual abuse by a licensed educator that allows a student victim to testify. School districts may not interview a student without their parent or guardian's permission. It would also require all complaints of abuse be forwarded to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and require the removal of an educator under investigation from the classroom. In addition, it makes it a crime for a school authority figure to have sex with a student regardless of age. Current state law limits this crime to the age of 17. 

"School administrators should not be in charge of these investigations; they are not equipped to handle them," Rep. McAuliffe continued. "Not only did CPS and individual schools mishandle sexual abuse cases as they occurred, but some of these predators should not have been allowed to step foot in schools in the first place."

The Tribune’s investigation found CPS conducted negligent background checks when hiring teachers and a failure to report suspected abuse to the proper authorities. Some teachers that were investigated by CPS were later hired elsewhere. 

HB 5914 mandates that ISBE be aware of, and monitor, the process with regard to each individual background check conducted by school districts. It also amends the Freedom of Information Act to allow school districts to disclose to another school district the disciplinary records and internal investigative findings of personnel relating to sexual abuse. Any arresting agency is required to share its reports pertaining to the arrest of a licensed educator with the superintendent of any school district that employs the educator.

HB 5914 has been filed with the Clerk and awaits committee assignment. The Illinois House and Senate will hold hearings this summer to further investigate the issue and consider additional policy recommendations. 

Springfield, IL… State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) has successfully shepherded a bill through the House and on to the Governor that will be an important part of the efforts to effectively address the Legionella outbreaks that have occurred since 2015 at the Quincy Veterans Home. 

“We need to be able to use every tool and every avenue we have until the situation at Quincy is fully rectified,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Any and all options should be on the table to make sure our veterans are getting the care that they deserve. With this bill we are ensuring that IDVA can move forward with any renovation plans and know that veterans will have a place they’re taken care of in the interim.”
Image result for quincy veterans home
House Bill 5683 changes the definition of "Veterans Home" to include a facility operated and maintained by the Department of Veterans' Affairs in the City of Quincy that provides housing to residents of the Veterans Home at Quincy. The idea to use a nearby vacant Sycamore Healthcare nursing home as a temporary facility for the Quincy veterans was among the many proposals to come from the task force created by the Governor in January to study solutions to the ongoing outbreak. The State would purchase the home for veterans to live in while the Quincy home is extensively renovated. The bill was proposed by the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs and if efforts are made to move forward with the former Sycamore facility, it will be staffed by State of Illinois employees.

The bill was carried in the Senate by Senator Paul Schimpf (R-Murphysboro). It passed both the House and Senate Unanimously.

Springfield, IL... Today in an unprecedented move, the Illinois House passed a balanced budget with overwhelming bipartisan support.  State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) joined colleagues on both sides of the aisle in supporting the budget and released the following statement:


"For the first time in what feels like forever the General Assembly managed to handle the budget process in a meaningful manner and negotiate a bipartisan balanced budget. I am most proud that this budget will ensure that we are following up on our commitment to education by ensuring an additional $350 million for our K-12 schools and fully funding MAP grants. It will also provide much needed money for the Quincy Veterans Home in addition to putting significant funding towards other capital investment projects, including ones in the 20th district.

The budget is not perfect, but it does manage to offer new pension reforms and cut spending while protecting our State’s priorities. It is a great first step and proves that we can work together to achieve better policies and reforms in the future."
Anticipated FY19 projects are in green. Anticipated FY20-24 projects are in red.
The Governor announced a plan today to invest $11.05 billion in the state’s roads and bridges over the next six years, including $2.2 billion of state and federal funding in the upcoming fiscal year. The Illinois Department of Transportation Multi-Year Proposed Highway Improvement Program will focus on projects that provide the greatest economic benefit to communities and take advantage of long-term strategies that save money over time.

Based on current funding levels, the FY2019-2024 Proposed Highway Improvement Program aims to improve a total of 1,945 miles of road and 525 bridges maintained by the state. The multi-year program also includes funding for upgrades to more than 750 miles of local roads and 922,933 square feet of local bridges.

This multiyear plan is the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) first to embrace asset management strategies that commit to smaller repairs avoiding the higher costs of deferred maintenance. Using this approach, IDOT will realize savings over multiple years to eventually invest in other projects throughout the state. The plan also builds upon the latest in data-driven tools to help identify projects that provide the most value to the public while improving quality of life and regional mobility.

The plan in its entirety can be found here. Specific projects affecting infrastructure in the 20th district can be found here
Click here to read about the new laws taking effect on June 1st.
Springfield, IL… Legislation introduced by State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) has unanimously passed both legislative chambers. The bill requires women to be informed if they have dense breast tissue, which raises a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. It also requires mammography providers to inform them of additional tests that may be needed for a proper diagnosis of breast cancer.
Non-dense breast tissue appears dark and transparent on a mammogram. However, many women have dense breast tissue, which appears as a solid white area on a mammogram. This makes cancer much more difficult to detect as it is difficult to see through and because cancer tumors also appear white. In these cases, a mammography alone can miss cancer diagnoses; as often as one third of the time.
 “The earlier cancer is detected and treated, the better the outcome,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Unfortunately, many women are left unaware that their mammogram results were inconclusive and that they have a right to additional testing.”
In 2017, Illinois passed legislation to require that insurance cover MRIs or ultrasounds in addition to mammograms if a mammogram shows the presence of dense breast tissue. House Bill 4392 will serve to improve that mandate by requiring mammography providers to inform women if they have dense breast tissue and advise them of any supplemental tests they may need.
HB 4392 was sponsored in the Senate by Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago). It now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Chicago, IL … State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) is set to offer his yearly Senior Driving Seminars in collaboration with the Illinois Secretary of State. The classes are offered through June and give senior citizens an opportunity to refresh their memory for the written driving test when renewing their licenses. The seminars are taught by an instructor from the Secretary of State’s Office and include an extensive overview of the contents of the Rules of the Road booklet and sample test.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office imposes additional requirements and measures for senior drivers:
·                 Illinois drivers can renew their licenses for 4 years between ages 69 and 80.
·                 Until the age of 86 licenses drivers can renew for 2 years and after 87 years the license needs to be renewed annually.
·                 All drivers have to take a vision test.
·                 Drivers will be asked to take a written knowledge test every 8 years, unless they have no traffic violations. If your driving records indicate an accident, then you will need to pass a written and/or driving test.
·                 Drivers over 75 years have to take a road test at the time of renewal.

“Every year the seniors in my district express to me the importance of these driving seminars. They really accredit their successes on the written portion of the driving test to attending this refresher course,” explained Rep. McAuliffe. “I invite any and all senior citizens to these driving seminars as I know they will benefit greatly.” 

WHAT: Senior Driving Seminars 
WHEN: Thursday, June 7th at 6pm – Olympia Park, Chicago
Tuesday, June 12th at 10am – Oriole Park, Chicago 
Friday June 15th at 10:30am – White Eagle Banquet Hall, Niles

If you have any questions or would like to attend, please RSVP by calling Rep. McAuliffe’s office at 773-444-0611 or register via the button on the right hand side of the website. 

Springfield, IL… Recognizing the need to change the culture both in the public and the private sectors, State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) overwhelmingly advanced legislation through the House to require sexual harassment training for state licensees.
Last fall hundreds of female legislators, lobbyists, and staff signed on to a letter revealing the open secret of Springfield’s culture of sexual harassment. The General Assembly took action, passing new ethics legislation and creating the Illinois Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Task Force. Rep. McAuliffe serves on the task force and has heard firsthand how prevalent the issue in both government and politics as well as in private businesses.

“Over the course of the past six months we’ve conducted a thorough review of the legal and social consequences of sexual discrimination and harassment,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Given what we’ve heard, this legislation is sorely needed. Everyone has the right to feel comfortable in their place of work.”
House Bill 4953 requires professions licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) that have continuing education requirements include at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training. The newly required training would take effect for license renewals beginning in 2020. IDFPR already requires training on other issues including domestic violence.
“If IDFPR requires licensees to be trained in a number of issues, it is common sense that ensuring a safe workplace environment be included,” Rep. McAuliffe continued.

HB 4953 unanimously passed the House, 103-0. The bill is awaiting further action in the Senate and is sponsored by Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake).
###
The Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force, created by Governor Bruce Rauner to analyze infrastructure needs and develop key strategies on how to improve the health and safety of residents at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy (IVHQ), has submitted a final report to the Governor and General Assembly.

The Task Force provided four recommendations for continued remediation efforts at the home and notes that “anything less than complete reconstruction will fall short” of its full support. The recommendations include: 

  • Building a new, state-of-the art skilled nursing care facility that could house up to 300 residents.
  • Constructing a new, underground water loop that feeds existing buildings and new construction.
  • Develop an alternate water source and make improvements to the existing water treatment facility as necessary.
  • Purchase and renovate the closed, off-site nursing facility to provide a safe and comfortable temporary living environment for up to 180 IVHQ residents. The facility could hold up to 90 residents permanently.
The estimated cost of complete reconstruction is between $202 and $245 million dollars, which requires the approval and appropriation of the General Assembly.

The Task Force report also put forth the following legislative initiatives that will expedite the process on rebuilding the campus and protecting Illinois’ heroes for generations to come.
  • Pass SB 3128, which will extend the sunset date for the Design Build Act (30 ILCS 537/5) and permit CDB to use the design-build delivery method on public projects.
  • Pass SB 667, SB 3127, and SB 3144, which will allow the state to access federal reimbursement funding for capital projects. There is currently more than $12 million in the fund, with an additional $4 million expected in the near future.  The bills have cleared the Senate and are currently awaiting action in the House.
  • Increase thresholds for financial disclosures in the Illinois Procurement Code. Section 50-35 of the Procurement Code (30 ILCS 500/50-35) requires financial disclosures from all vendors and subcontractors with a contract over $50,000 prior to work beginning on a project.  Waiting for compliance from vendors and subcontractors can slow the project start time.  Increasing the threshold for financial disclosure requirements form $50,000 to $250,000 can help expedite the projects referenced in this report.
  • Modify the Veterans Affairs Act, granting licensing and control of off campus buildings to ensure continuity of care for residents who are housed at the off-site nursing facility.
The full report is available here.

Springfield, IL – Today State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) joined other representatives in introducing a measure widely supported by both the business and labor communities. House Bill 5864 would create the Blue Collar Jobs Act, legislation designed to incentivize construction projects in the State of Illinois and create jobs for the middle class.
“Our state workforce is unmatched; they deserve an economy that can put them to work,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Cook County has an unemployment rate of 5.5%, higher than the state average of 4.8% and the national average of 4.1%. This Act will spur much needed economic development and help strengthen the State’s middle class by creating good paying jobs.”
The Blue Collar Jobs Act offers tax incentives to companies making significant capital improvements in Illinois based on the withholding tax paid to construction workers. It does this through the creation of four new tax credits, including:
-          High Impact Business construction jobs credit
-          Enterprise Zone construction jobs credit
-          New Construction EDGE Credit
-          River Edge construction jobs credit
The program will work under the same structure as the current EDGE program:
-          Tax credit value is 50% of Illinois income tax withheld of workers covered under the agreement;
-          Tax credit value rises to 75% of Illinois income tax withheld of workers covered under the agreement in areas designated to be in an underserved area that meets certain poverty, unemployment, and federal assistance rates;
-          Tax credit is issued to the organization that builds, renovates or expands the building just as the EDGE tax credit goes to the company hiring the workers. The tax credit is meant to incentivize the company to construct new buildings or improve existing buildings which can’t be built without the use of Illinois labor.
“With an unemployment rate ranked at number 40, Illinois lags behind the rest of the country in ensuring people have access to quality jobs,” Rep. McAuliffe continued. “Illinois needs to encourage investment and growth if we are ever going to stop the population outflow. ”
The tax credits only become available after the work has been fully completed. There is no risk to the State for a company not meeting its requirement as the State has already captured the withholding tax prior to the tax credit being issued.


Springfield, IL… In response to the State’s slow moving efforts to expand newborn screening tests, State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) unanimously advanced legislation to help speed up the implementation process of additional tests like Krabbe disease.

Krabbe disease is a rare neurological illness that must be identified as soon after birth as possible if it is to be treated. By the time symptoms appear in babies, it is often too late to receive treatment. A state law passed in 2007 added Krabbe to the newborn screening panel, a state-mandated public health program designed to catch certain genetic, metabolic, and congenital disorders in newborn babies. Ten years later and testing is still slow to be administered. Five children in Illinois have died of Krabbe since the statewide screening should have begun.

“Early identification can literally mean life or death in these tragic situations,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “The sooner we can get these tests implemented, the more babies lives we will save. Bureaucratic red tape should not stand in the way of that.”

New tests and screenings as well as medical advancements require new equipment. House Bill 4745 amends Illinois’ procurement law so that it no longer applies to contracts for services, information technology purchases, commodities, and equipment to support the delivery of timely newborn screening services provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The procurement process, while intended to make sure we’re getting the best use of taxpayer dollars, is often lengthy and cumbersome. Last fall IDPH testified before the House Health Care Availability and Access Committee and said that the nearly two year procurement process is partly to blame for the delayed implementation of new testing.

HB 4745 passed out of the State Government Administration Committee 7-0 and will now be considered by the full House of Representatives.
Springfield, IL… State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) unanimously advanced legislation to require women to be informed if they have an increased risk of breast cancer or if they need to seek additional tests.
Statistics suggest that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Around half of women have dense breast tissue, which makes the cancer much more difficult to detect. According to the Mayo Clinic, nondense breast tissue appears dark and transparent on a mammogram while dense breast tissue appears as a solid white area, which makes it difficult to see through. Cancer tumors also appear white. Often a mammography alone, the gold standard for breast cancer screening, can miss cancer diagnoses; as often as one third of the time. Dense breast tissue also raises a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
“Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among women and the earlier the detection, the better the odds of survival,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Many women don’t know that they have dense breast tissue and that they need more than the standard mammography test.”
A few years ago Illinois passed legislation that stated that if women have dense breast tissue they may be afforded an ultrasound covered by insurance. House Bill 4392 will serve as an educational enhancement to that mandate. It requires mammography providers to notify women who have dense breast tissue and inform them of the implications so that they can go to a doctor and discuss supplemental tests and breast imaging tools that may be necessary for a proper diagnosis.
HB 4392 passed the House Human Services Committee today on a 12-0 vote. Along with Rep. McAuliffe the committee heard testimony from Dr. Georgia Spear, Chief of Mammography at NorthShore University HealthSystem, and Bridget Pargulski and Patricia Beyer, two women who received breast cancer diagnoses after inaccurately clean mammograms.
The bill now heads to the floor for a full House vote. Similar legislation is in the Senate sponsored by Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago).
Springfield/Budget
The Illinois House and Senate are adjourned until April 9th. Speaker Madigan sets the schedule and all told the House has met for just 12 days this year. When the House returns, we will be in session nearly every day until scheduled adjournment on May 31st. By then we are expected to have passed a budget. However, the House has yet to adopt a revenue estimate and has failed to do so for years. This estimate serves as a taxpayer protection so we don't spend more money than we have available. As a result, over the past few years we have had budget deficits ultimately culminating in last year's tax hike.
It can be incredibly difficult to pass meaningful legislation and make tough budgetary choices in an election year. Increasingly partisan politics means neither side wants to give the other a "win".

Gun Legislation Update
Both within Illinois and across the nation, public safety is under threat from gun violence and mass shootings. We need to give our law enforcement officials, our regulatory agencies, and our communities the tools they need to help prevent tragedies across the state. We can do that while maintaining a respect for an individual's 2nd amendment rights.The Illinois House has responded with the following legislation:
Today House Republican Leader Jim Durkin appointed State Representative Michael McAuliffe to serve on the Firearm Public Awareness Task Force. The task force was created by House Resolution 648, which passed the House on February 28th. 

HR 648 reconstitutes a task force that expired in 2012 and was originally responsible for finding and analyzing data from states with concealed carry laws and the number of handgun crimes in each state before and after the laws went in to effect. Illinois’ own concealed carry law was adopted in 2014. 

The new reiteration of the Firearm Public Awareness Task Force will analyze the distribution of shootings in regions across the state, the flow of illegal guns into Illinois from other states, the conditions and gun dealer practices that facilitate straw purchases, and states with the best practices for regulating handguns and rifles. 

Rep. McAuliffe was one of five members of the Illinois House Republicans to be selected for the task force and the only one whose district includes parts of Chicago, a city plagued with gun violence. In addition to state legislators, the task force will include representatives from the policing community, gun violence advocates, the Illinois’ Department of Public Health and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.  

State Representative Michael McAuliffe successfully passed a resolution to honor Brian Urlacher on his induction in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Urlacher played linebacker for 12 years for the Chicago Bears from 2000-2012. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility on February 3rd. 

Image result for brian urlacherIn his first season, Urlacher recorded 124 tackles and eight sacks, breaking the franchise rookie record. He was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000. He holds the Chicago Bears record for total career tackles; 1,353. As an incredibly popular player with nationwide recognition, Urlacher was voted in to eight pro bowls. Throughout his career he received numerous accolades including the Ed Block Courage award for sportsmanship and courage on and off the field. Urlacher is just the 28th Chicago Bear to enter the Hall of Fame.

The resolution was passed by the 100th General Assembly on February 13th. It applauds Brian Urlacher on his accomplishments, hard work, and the positive impact he has had on the Chicago Bears and the City of Chicago. Copies of the resolution will be presented to Urlacher and the Chicago Bears Organization.
At Governor Rauner's State of the State Address, Rep. McAuliffe and fellow state representatives wear black in solidarity against sexual harassment and discrimination

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.