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Illinois Legislature considers several initiatives

Savings accounts for computer buys
    SPRINGFIELD – College students needing to buy a new computer for school use or who utilize special needs services could be allowed to use their Illinois’ College Savings Plan to do.
    Senate Bill 1758 would add computers and other technology based expenses to the definition of qualified expenses for the purposes of one’s Illinois’ College Savings Plan. Expenses from special needs services connected with enrollment or attendance would also be defined as qualified expenses.
    The measure passed the full Senate unanimously. It remained in the House at month’s end.
Beiser, Stuart backing Illinois steelworkers
    SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, is sponsoring a resolution calling on the state to use steel and iron products made in Illinois.
    “Steel is used to create a variety of objects including construction equipment, cars, surgical instruments, silverware and ovens,” Beiser said. “In our community, we have several steel manufacturers that provide good-paying jobs to families across the region. We need to be supporting this local industry, instead of sending out dollars overseas for lesser products.”
    According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of steel jobs in the United States has declined more than 35 percent since 2000. Locally, U.S. Steel’s Granite City operations has been idled for well over a year. Beiser is sponsoring House Resolution 372 urging the state of Illinois to buy steel and iron made in Illinois to help support local businesses and middle-class families. The Chicago Transit Authority recently decided to buy steel for its railcars from a manufacturer in China, sending dollars overseas instead of back to employers and workers in Illinois.
    Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, said she is backing House Resolution 372.
Measure would help veterans with college
    To help veterans returning to civilian life after serving in the military, state Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, supported legislation that would require colleges and universities to give academic credit for military training.
    “The men and women who bravely serve in our armed forces undergo an enormous amount of training,” Beiser said. “However, when they go to back to school after completing their duty, they often have to go through training and classes for skills they have already mastered during their service. This legislation would help make sure that we are not forcing veterans to waste time and money on unnecessary classes.”   
    Beiser supported House Bill 3701, which would require institutions of higher education to implement policies that allow veterans of the armed forces to receive academic credit for their military service. Each institution would be allowed to adopt their own policies and would outline which military training courses qualifies for academic credit.
    If signed into law the measure would require that polices be adopted before June 1, 2018.
Financial disclosure by politicians
    SPRINGFIELD – A plan by state Sen. Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, that would increase transparency and modernize financial disclosure forms filled out by politicians, judges and certain state employees passed the Senate and was awaiting action in the House.
    “Our current financial disclosure process is antiquated and not built to properly disclose vital information that is the purpose behind this process,” Morrison said. “Taxpayers should be assured that their lawmakers are operating under the highest levels of ethics and transparency.”
    Morrison’s plan, contained in Senate Bill 1289, updates the Statement of Economic Interest form, a financial disclosure form meant to increase transparency among elected officials and state employees involved with bidding and state contracts. The form has undergone few changes since it was enacted in 1972.
    Senate Bill 1289 would increase financial disclosure of investment real estate, certain financial assets, additional income, debts and economic relationships with individuals or companies. The bill also requires disclosure of any immediate family members registered to lobby in Illinois.
Stuart seek safety funds for police
    EDWARDSVILLE – State Rep. Katie Stuart, D- Edwardsville, met with Madison County police chiefs and Illinois State Police in May to discuss public safety funding and her legislation to keep officers safe.
    Stuart supports a budget that fully funds public safety initiatives so local police can better protect their communities. Additionally, Stuart sponsored House Bill 778, which would help protect police by making it a hate crime to commit a crime against an officer because of their profession.
    Stuart is also a sponsor of Senate Bill 207, which would instruct the Illinois Lottery to offer a special scratch-off ticket with proceeds to go to the Criminal Justice Information Projects Fund and be used to help fund police memorials.
Business contracts for women, minorities
    SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. James F. Clayborne, D-Belleville, passed a measure through the Illinois Senate that aims to increase the number of minority-owned, female-owned and veteran-owned enterprises with which Illinois companies contract.
    The measure, Senate Bill 262, would require Illinois companies to submit a report outlining their procurement goals and highlighting minority ownership of businesses they contract with.
    “This measure is about ensuring corporations do not continue to overlook minority-owned businesses,” Clayborne said. “I want to ensure that companies are investing back into the communities they provide service. If a company is supplying services in a community like East Saint Louis, they should do everything they can to contract with businesses in that community.
    If companies fail to report their efforts showing their diversity goals to the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Business Enterprise Council, they would be barred from bidding on state contracts for one year.
    The legislation was in the House for consideration.

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