As governor settles in, state chambers remain busy in Illinois

Minimum wage ideas being floated
    
    Illinois lawmakers are exploring a regional approach to raising the state’s minimum wage that could require businesses in the suburbs of Chicago to pay workers more than businesses in Decatur.
    Senators met in Springfield to talk about the state’s $8.25 per hour minimum wage. Some legislators want to know if Illinois can mandate different minimums based on geographic boundaries.
    Although no vote was taken, lawmakers reviewed draft of legislation that appeared to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour statewide over several years with exemptions for businesses with fewer employees.
    Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, will likely sponsor legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage. She said she was open to the idea of regional minimum wages, but said there could be constitutional issues with that concept.
    The minimum wage should be $15 across the state, said Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, a union that represents 90,000 health-care workers.
    “Our analysis suggests that $15 is sort of the bare minimum for folks throughout the state regardless of where you live,” he told lawmakers.
    Many areas of Illinois have a median wage that’s below $15 an hour.
    The last time lawmakers raised the state’s minimum wage was in 2010. Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a $15 an hour bill in November.
    – Illinois News Network
    
Opiod alternative pilot program launched
    
    Individuals looking to register for the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program can now do so on-line through the Illinois Cannabis Tracking System at https://etk.icts.illinois.gov. The OAPP, which is part of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, was created through the Alternative to Opioids Act of 2018. The OAPP allows access to medical cannabis for individuals who have or could receive a prescription for opioids as certified by a physician licensed in Illinois.
    The Opioid Alternative Pilot Program was designed to provide people with an option to manage their pain. Opioids can be highly addictive in a very short period of time and the pilot program offers qualifying individuals an alternative.
    The first step is for individuals to see their physician. The patient’s physician must complete a certification using the Illinois Cannabis Tracking System. After the physician certification, patients will create a user account to register online, at a licensed medical cannabis dispensary, or at a local health department that offers assistance.
     Along with the physician certification, a passport-like photo, copy of driver’s license/state ID, proof of Illinois address, and $10 payment are required. Once all the required information is uploaded into the system and the payment is submitted, the individual will receive an electronic medical cannabis registry card. The registered patient must present the eRegistry card at the dispensary they selected to purchase medical cannabis as soon as the same day. The OAPP registration is valid for 90 days. If the physician agrees the patient should continue to use medical cannabis, a new registration can be submitted for another 90-day period.
    More information can be found www.dph.illinois.gov website.

Bristow, Stuart sponsor resolution on opioids
    
    State Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Alton, and state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, have introduced House Resolution 58 to address the growing opioid epidemic in the state of Illinois.
    “In 2018 alone, Madison County suffered 109 drug and opioid related overdoses, the highest it has ever seen,” Bristow said. “I have sponsored various pieces of legislation, hosted round table discussions and panels about this problem and will keep working with law enforcement officials, health-care agencies, and legislators on both sides of the aisle in order to find a solution to this ever-increasing problem.”
    House Resolution 58 encourages the Illinois Department of Public Health to adopt new guidelines around the distribution of painkillers to help stop the opioid crisis. Both Bristow and Stuart have introduced legislation to help combat the opioid epidemic, such as further guidelines and restrictions on opioids and related substances, and creating stronger protections for law enforcement and first responders who may come into accidental contact with synthetic opioids, like fentanyl.
    “We have so much information about how prescription opioids are the first step that lead some people to rely on harder drugs and resort to street heroin or fentanyl, and we need to ensure that these medications are prescribed appropriately, and not over-prescribed to patients,” said Stuart. “There is a legitimate need for some of these drugs, but we need to make sure they are given responsibly.”
    
Measure would to put women on exec boards
    
    Under a proposal recently introduced by Sen. Cristina Castro, D-Elgin, could see more women in the boardroom.
    Senate Bill 76 would require every publicly held domestic or foreign corporation whose executive offices are in Illinois to have a minimum of one woman on its board of directors.
    “Having a diverse board is good for business,” Castro said. “Women are largely underrepresented in the boardroom and it’s time for that to change.”
    If passed and signed into law, all boards would need to meet this new requirement by July 31, 2020. If a corporation doesn’t comply, it could be fined $100,000 the first time and for subsequent offenses it could be fined $300,000.
    
Plummer announces office locations
    
    Sen. Jason Plummer, R-Edwardsville, says his offices are now open for business. The senator will have staff on hand to help constituents on a full-time basis in two locations within District 54 and Springfield. He and his aides can be reached in downtown Vandalia, across from the old state capitol and at the current statehouse.
    “After seeking feedback from constituents in District 54, I’m certain I’ll be best suited to help them by operating offices in both Vandalia and Springfield,” said Plummer. “During my time in office, I plan to focus on creating an environment of opportunity in southern Illinois. We need more quality jobs, less taxation, and a growing economy.”
    Sen. Plummer and staff can be reached at the following locations:
    Springfield Office:
    Illinois State Capitol, M 103F
    401 S. 2nd St.
    Springfield, Ill. 62706
    Hours: Weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Phone: (217) 782-5755
    Legislative Aide: Sarah Hessenauer, [email protected]
    Vandalia Office:
    310 W. Gallatin St.
    Vandalia, Ill. 62471
    Hours: Weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Phone: (618) 283-3000
    District Director: Tara Hall, [email protected]
    More information and resources can be discovered on Sen Plummer’s new legislative website at senatorjasonplummer.com and on Twitter @jasonplummerusa.
    Plummer was elected to the seat formerly occupied by Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, who opted not to run. Plummer and his family live in Edwardsville, where he serves as vice president of R.P. Lumber, a family owned and operated business with dozens of locations throughout Illinois and Missouri.
    The 54th State Senate District encompasses all or portions of Bond, Clinton, Effingham, Fayette, Madison, Marion, St. Clair, and Washington Counties. It stretches from Edwardsville to Effingham, covering suburbs of St. Louis and historic rural communities, including Vandalia, Illinois’ previous capitol city. The 54th District is home to over 200,000 people.
    
Pritzker signs bill to attract top talent
    
    Gov. JB Pritzker has signed SB 3531, a bill that will allow the administration to attract top talent to state government.
    The bill allows the administration to offer salaries that are 15 percent higher to directors and assistant directors at key agencies, so that the state can attract the talent necessary to put Illinois back on track. It also provides a mechanism to keep compensation competitive, with the assistance and consent of the legislature.
    The bill will not require a new appropriation and takes effect immediately.
    
Administration adds several agency heads
    
    Gov. JB Pritzker has made several additions to his administration:
    Sol Flores will serve as deputy governor. Flores is the founding executive director of La Casa Norte, a non-profit organization that serves youths and families confronting homelessness. He is from Chicago.
    John Kim will serve as director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Kim served in many senior roles under five governors of both parties.
    Jim Bennett will serve as director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Bennett served as the Midwest Regional director at Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to securing the civil rights of the LGBTQ community and people with HIV.
    Michael Kleinik will serve as director of the Illinois Department of Labor. Kleinik currently serves as executive director of the Medical Cannabis Alliance Of Illinois. He previously served as the executive director of the Chicago Laborers’ District Council’s Labor-Management Cooperation Committee from 2008 to 2018. He began his career as a deputy sheriff in Bond County.
     Several of the appointments require confirmation by the Illinois Senate.
    Previous appointments to the administration include:
    State agency directors:
    • Brendan Kelley, to head the Illinois State Police. He’s formerly the state’s attorney of St. Clair County
    • John Sullivan, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture
    • Janel L. Forde, director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services
    • Erin Guthrie, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
    • Alicia Tate-Nadeau, director of the homeland security and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency
    • Theresa Eagleson, director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
    • Heidi Mueller, director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice
    • David Harris, director of the Illinois Department of Revenue
    • Alexis Sturm, director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget
    • Matt Perez, Illinois Fire Marshal
    Office of the Governor:
    • Anne Caprara, chief of staff
    • Dan Hynes, deputy governor
    • Christian Mitchell, deputy governor
    • Jesse Ruiz, deputy governor
    • Nikki Budzinski, senior adviser
    • Ann Spillane, general counsel
    • Emily Bittner, deputy chief of staff for communications
    • Jordan Abudayyeh, press secretary
    • Sean Rapelyea, deputy chief of staff for external affairs
    • Tiffany Newbern-Johnson, deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs
    
Governor joins U.S. Climate Alliance
    
    Gov. JB Pritzker took executive action joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, becoming the 18th governor to uphold the environmental protections despite President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
    Advancing a key environmental priority, the governor officially signed on to the U.S. Climate Alliance which commits the state to the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement in order to protect Illinoisans from the damaging effects of climate change. President Trump pulled out of the international agreement on June 1, 2017.
    Executive Order 2019-06 also directs the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to monitor the Trump administration’s environmental proposals and identify opportunities to protect Illinoisans from environmental harm. The executive order took effect immediately.
     
Governor’s order backs reproductive rights
    
    On the 46th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Gov. JB Pritzker took executive action making Illinois the most progressive state in the nation for women’s reproductive rights.
    “On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I’m proud to declare under my administration, the State of Illinois will be the most progressive state in the nation when it comes to guaranteeing the right to choose for every single woman,” said Pritzker.
    Through the executive order, the governor directed the Department of Central Management Services to review all state employee group health insurance plans, identify barriers to women exercising their right to choose, and present recommendations to bring all health insurance plans into compliance with the law within the next 60 days.
    The governor signed the executive order at Planned Parenthood of Illinois surrounded by women’s health advocates and co-sponsors of the legislation.

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