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.