Senate passes Curran’s legislation targeting Sterigenics crisis
The Illinois Senate has unanimously passed legislation championed by Senator Curran that would protect Illinois residents, like those Willowbrook residents impacted by Sterigenics, from the hidden dangers of ethylene oxide. Curran has led the fight against Sterigenics since it was first discovered they were emitting dangerous levels of ethylene oxide into the community. The measures he introduced, and which passed in the Senate, fulfill the pledge he made to residents that the legislature would take action to protect the public’s health, which remains his number one priority.
“This legislation will allow us to create real standards for ethylene oxide levels and it will empower the Illinois EPA to enforce them,” said Curran.
Senate Bill 1854 prohibits any facilities from having any fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide 6 months after it takes effect. In addition, it requires the IEPA to study ethylene oxide levels throughout the state to set a baseline for the levels.
In addition, it would subject facilities to stack testing, which tests emissions at all release points at least once per year. The facilities would also be subject to ambient air testing, at random, four times per year. Any facility that emits Ethylene oxide at a level higher than standards set in the federal Clean Air Act or by the IEPA would be required to immediately cease operations until sufficient changes are made to reduce the emissions below both federal and state standards.
“This legislation would allow regulators to stop ethylene oxide emissions and shut down facilities that release the dangerous gas,” said Curran.
Curran also passed Senate Bill 1852, which in the case of an ethylene oxide leak, requires facilities to notify local government officials and affected property owners within 2500 feet of the leak.
Legislation to fight wage theft passes Senate
The Illinois Attorney General’s office may soon have a dedicated team of lawyers working to combat wage theft and other unsafe conditions for employees, after the Illinois Senate unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senator Curran on April 11.
“This legislation protects both workers and businesses by helping to stop unlawful practices that hurt law-abiding businesses,” said Senator Curran.
Senate Bill 161 Establishes the Worker Protection Unit and the Worker Protection Unit Task Force in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. The new additions would be focused on ensuring that employees are properly paid and have safe workplaces, which would help eliminate unfair competition from businesses that aren’t following the rules.
The legislation was an initiative of Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who testified in committee with Senator Curran on behalf of the proposal.
“I have long advocated against wage theft and unlawful employment practices that harm law-abiding employers. As a state senator, I sponsored this bill to give the Attorney General supplemental authority to enforce state wage laws,” Raoul said. “I would like to thank my former colleagues in the Senate for passing this bill today that includes the strategic enforcement tools my office needs to protect lawful businesses and the most vulnerable workers.”
The legislation passed the Senate unanimously and is now headed to the Illinois House for approval in that chamber.
Senator Curran had the honor of presenting Grace Hou as the nominee to serve as Secretary of the Department of Human Services.
Curran had recent chat with Laurel Poe Gallager and Janice Miller from the League of Women Voters at the Capitol. "Thanks for taking time to visit!"
Two University of Illinois students, Susan Zhou (Downers Grove) and Ritish Bhimavarapu (Naperville) met with Senator Curran in Springfield to advocate for funding for the University of
Illinois and the Discovery Partners Institute. "Very impressive presentation and both will have great success after graduation."
Members of the Chamber360, Western DuPage Chamber, Bolingbrook Chamber, and Elmhurst Chambers recently meet with Senator Curran at the Capitol.
Curran recently had the pleasure of meeting current Miss Illinois Grace Khachaturian in the Senate. "She is doing a great job representing her state and the University of Illinois Community."
The Senator was excited to welcome Father Thomas Coys from St. James Parish in Lemont to the Capitol last week along with a group of constituents from the area.
Suheera Qureshi from Downers Grove also visited with Senator Curran at the Capitol. She was here with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.
Curran recently held his first meeting with his Education Advisory Committee.
"I'm looking forward to continuing to work with them on education policy."
Senate Approves Bill to Increase School Safety
The Senate passed legislation during the week aimed at letting Illinois schools utilize an affordable and easy-to-use option for locking classrooms to protect students in case of an intruder or other threat to students’ safety.
Senate Bill 1371 allows school districts to use door locking mechanisms that attach to the door and are lockable and unlockable from the inside of the classroom without a key. The mechanisms must be unlockable from the outside by a key or tool, and police and fire departments would be informed of the locations of the locks.
The legislation offers a way for teachers and students to lock their classroom securely from the inside in the event of an emergency.
Current regulations prevent schools from investing in such locking mechanisms. The legislation’s sponsor, State Sen. Chapin Rose, noted that his legislation corrects this “ridiculous” policy while increasing student and teacher safety.
This legislation was a suggestion of Rose’s constituent Tuscola School Superintendent Mike Smith. It’s a good example of what can be accomplished when concerned citizens actively participate in the legislative process.
Bill to Address Teacher Shortage Passes Senate
Legislation aimed at helping to relieve the current teacher shortage also passed out of the Senate during the week.
Senate Bill 1809, sponsored by State Sen. Don DeWitte aims to help students enter the teaching field, by expanding the eligibility of MAP grant recipients to include students who have already received bachelor degrees or have 135 credit hours, but are seeking to earn their teaching certificate through an educator preparation program.
The bill also requires that the recipients must teach in Illinois for three out of the next five years, and states that they can only be eligible to receive the grant for one academic year.
Senate Bill 1809 passed with a 56-1 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Legislation Exempts School Lunches from Sales Tax
Legislation to exempt school lunches also cleared the Senate during the week. Under current law, sales tax is only exempt if the school itself provides meals to the students. If a school has outside businesses provide food directly to students, however, those sales are subject to sales tax.
Under Senate Bill 1755, the lunches from outside providers would also be exempted from sales tax. The goal is to put schools on a more even ground, even if some school don’t have the ability provide meals to students.
Legislation would require SOS to include Scott’s Law reminder in renewal notices
In an effort to promote on-the-job safety for Illinois State Troopers, the Senate has passed legislation that would require the Secretary of State to include information about Scott’s Law with every vehicle registration notice it sends to motorists.
Senate Bill 947 is an effort to make Illinois’ roadways safer by informing drivers about Scott’s Law, which states that drivers must move over, if possible, and slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle.
The legislation was a direct response to the recent tragic deaths of three Illinois State Troopers, all happening within the year. In total, the number of troopers hit by vehicles has drastically increased in 2019, with 16 reported incidents in the past three months. In 2018, eight troopers were hit; 12 were hit in 2017; and five in 2016.
Scott’s Law, enacted in 2002, is named after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department, who was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while assisting at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway.
A person who violates Scott’s Law can be fined up to $10,000.
COWL announces $2,500 scholarship program for women 25+
The Conference of Women Legislators (COWL) is encouraging women throughout the state, who are seeking to earn undergraduate college degrees, to apply for one of their $2,500 scholarships. Applicants must be 25 years or older.
COWL is a bipartisan, bicameral, nonprofit organization of women legislators in the Illinois General Assembly. Their yearly Scholarship Award Program is a part of the group’s mission to promote economic independence, community service, and leadership development.
Scholarship applicants are required to enroll in an Illinois accredited college or university for a minimum of six credit hours to qualify, making the scholarships available to part-time and online students.
Applications must be postmarked or emailed by April 30. Awardees will be notified by May 31.
More information and application materials can be found here.
IEMA offers tips to help residents in disaster recovery
April is Recovery Preparedness Month, and IEMA has released a helpful guide on how residents can be prepared to quickly and efficiently recover from disasters.
Here IEMA’s five tips:
- Get Organized. Secure and organize financial and critical personal, household, and medical information. Having these items in a safe place can expedite insurance claims and other emergency expenses.
- Savings. Saving is the best financial defense against disasters. A little bit at a time can go a long way. A rainy day fund can help you invest in your family’s safety.
- Insurance. Obtain property (homeowners or renters), health, and life insurance if you do not have them.
- Inventory. Make an inventory of your possessions using photographs and/or videos of your belongings.
Communication. Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes. Develop a Family Communication Plan. This will outline how you will contact one another when a disaster strikes.