Representatives Launch Petition Against SB16
Several suburban State Representatives have launched an on-line petition to gather signatures against SB16. As written and approved in the IL Senate, SB16 would strip millions away from hundreds of Illinois school districts and channel the money toward Chicago and downstate schools. DuPage County schools stand to lose approximately $140 million if this bill is approved and signed into law.
SB16 is a massive rewrite of the school funding formula that determines how General State Aid (GSA) is distributed to Illinois’ school districts. It does not add any additional funding toward education. In its current form, it is very punitive to collar county taxpayers who already shoulder a disproportionate share of the cost of educating Illinois children. If you have not already signed the petition, please go to http://www.ilhousegop.org/sb16_petition and sign it today. I would appreciate it if you would also take the added step of sharing the petition link with your friends. Your voice is important on this issue.
In addition to helping with the petition drive, I am the Chief Sponsor of HouseResolution 1276, a measure that denounces SB16 and encourages a comprehensive and fair funding reform process that is inclusive of all stakeholder points of view. I believe there is no gray area with SB16. Lawmakers either support it or they oppose it, and if they oppose it, they should be listed as a sponsor on HR1276. I would encourage you to contact members of the House of Representatives and ask them to vote against SB16 and to sign on as a sponsor of HR1276. A full list of House of Representative members can be found at www.ilga.gov, under the House Members link. By clicking on each Representative’s name, an email address and phone number should be available.
Ebola Hotline Launched; Ebola Screenings Begin at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport
The Illinois Department of Public Health opened a toll-free hotline on Thursday, October 16 to answer the public’s questions about the Ebola virus. The hotline number is 1-800-889-3931. Read more on this story at The Caucus Blog.
The hotline will be staffed by members of the Illinois Poison Control Center. They will be able to answer standard questions about Ebola, its symptoms, how it is transmitted, and what is being done to prevent it from coming to Illinois or to contain it if it gets here. The high level of public concern about this virus could lead to significant waiting times on the hotline. The hotline will not practice medicine over the phone and specialized questions about the viral outbreak should be shared with health care professionals.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has expanded its Ebola screening system to cover arrivals at O’Hare International Airport. The four international airports where screenings were set began on Thursday, October 16 serve Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, and Washington, D.C. Screenings had previously been set in place at New York City’s Kennedy Airport.
Metra Chief Calls for 68% Fare Hike over 10-Year Period
The most recent Metra board meeting revealed a proposed plan which would include significant fare hikes over an extended period of time to address certain system needs. Funds from the fare hike would cover a variety of fiscal challenges, including the replacement of much of the system’s rolling stock. 52 locomotives would be bought, and 85 would be rebuilt. 367 new passenger cars would be purchased, and 455 cars would be rehabilitated. I am a member of the House Mass Transit Committee, and while I am aware of Metra’s equipment needs, I am deeply concerned with the level of the proposed fare hike. I believe most riders who rely on Metra for their daily travel to and from work would find the kind of increases Metra is proposing to be excessive and unaffordable.
The fare-hike plan was presented by Metra Chairman Martin Oberman on Thursday, October 9, and Metra’s board approved the hike package by a vote of 10-1. The proposed fare hike would create financial backing to borrow $400 million in debt, which would be an essential element of the overall $2.4 billion financing plan. More than half of the required funds, $1.3 billion, would come from the State of Illinois. Further tax and fee hikes could be required to cover this state aid program.
Crain’s Chicago Business has more information on the fare hike request.
Sandack Presents Honorary Resolution to Darien-Woodridge Fire District
Last week I had the honor of presenting the Darien-Woodridge Fire Protection District with a House Resolution recognizing their recent receipt of the 2013 Life Safety Award. The award, given out annually by the National Association of State Fire Marshals’ Fire Research and Education Foundation and the Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company, recognizes those departments who have shown an extraordinary commitment to fire prevention efforts in their communities. To be considered for the award, a department must have a record of zero fire-related deaths in residential structures or a 10% reduction in fire deaths in their districts over a one-year period. The departments must also document active and effective fire prevention programs in their communities. Congratulations to the hard-working men and women from the Darien-Woodridge Fire Department!
Sentiment Shifting Towards Routine Police Use of Body Cameras in Field
With the recent introduction of light, durable digital video collection devices, voices are starting to be heard calling for increased use of these devices in day-to-day police work by officers on active duty. The presentation of videos showing interaction between police officers and the general public in real time could provide additional information to investigators and courts of law, particularly in situations where only two persons were present and both have different memories of what was said and done.
Recent events have led to renewed discussions about the issuance of body cameras to police officers as a component of their uniform. Questions remain on the budgetary consequences of the move, the move’s impact on police labor relations, and under what circumstances (if any) the use of police body cameras should be mandated in the field. I sit on the House Judiciary Committee, where a hearing was held Friday, October 17 about the issue.
Rep. Sandack and Senator Connelly Speak at Lisle Chamber Meeting