This electronic newsletter is an opportunity for you to learn more about what we’ve accomplished in Illinois government, and how you can get involved. Whether it’s volunteering in a Serve Illinois volunteer project, receiving state services, or learning about new laws and programs, I want to ensure that you know what’s happening in your government.
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Governor Quinn announced on June 1 that all couples in Illinois are now able to receive the rights and protections of marriage. The Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act went into effect statewide, giving everyone in Illinois, regardless of gender, equal access to the status, benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities of marriage. The law also allows the conversion of a civil union to marriage and makes the marriage date retroactive to the date of the civil union.
Global online marketplace leader eBay Inc. is expanding in Illinois and will create 360 new jobs in downtown Chicago, announced Governor Quinn on June 16. eBay Inc., which acquired online and mobile payment platform Braintree in 2013, is relocating its Chicago employees later this year to accommodate continued expansion. To encourage the move, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity provided eBay Inc. with a tax credit worth an estimated $12 million over 10 years.
Governor Quinn gave voters the chance to make their voices heard when he signed House Bill 3814, which places an advisory question on the November 4 ballot that asks if the state’s minimum wage for those over the age of 18 should be raised to $10 by January 1, 2015.
Should the Illinois minimum wage be increased to $10 an hour, a half-million Illinois consumers would make an extra $4,800 a year. Much of that extra income is typically spent at local businesses on food, clothing and furniture, providing a strong boost to the local economy.
Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation on June 16 to modernize and improve Illinois’ Medicaid system. The new law will benefit Illinois’ three million residents who currently receive Medicaid, as well as the state’s 200-plus hospitals and 1,200 nursing homes by restoring adult dental and podiatric care, providing increased protections and more. The legislation makes important reforms by creating uniform requirements for Managed Care Organizations and Accountable Care Entities, providing stability for hospitals and nursing homes, and giving a huge boost to the redesign of Medicaid. It also aligns Illinois law with federal law, providing Medicaid coverage for children who have been without private insurance for three months.
Governor Pat Quinn was joined by 12-year-old Chloe Stirling and her parents at their Troy home on June 10 to sign legislation that supports home kitchen businesses in Illinois. The “cupcake bill” was drafted after county health officials shut down Chloe’s home-based cupcake baking business. The bill creates a new category of “home kitchen operators” for those who make less than $1,000 from producing food in their own homes to sell either by themselves or for a religious, charitable or nonprofit organization. Such operators cannot be regulated or shut down by local governments or health departments unless there is a complaint or health safety issue.
Governor Quinn was joined by CEOs from some of Illinois’ top companies and rising startups on June 24 to announce the successful results of the inaugural “Corporate-Startup Challenge” program. The pilot program, conceived by the Illinois Innovation Council and managed by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, has resulted in 18 startups actively pursuing partnerships with leading Illinois corporations.
As part of his ongoing budget review, Governor Quinn announced that the state of Illinois had again cut property leases to save an additional $55 million by continuing to downsize the space it leases in the upcoming fiscal year. This brings the total savings accomplished since the Governor took office to $220 million in property leases through consolidation, elimination or negotiation. For more information on Governor’s Quinn’s budget cuts visit: http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/budget/Documents/Cuts_to_Budget_FY09-FY15.pdf
Governor Quinn signed legislation on June 7 to automatically clear arrest records for less serious, non-violent juvenile cases. Senate Bill 978 automatically clears a juvenile’s arrest record on his or her 18th birthday if that arrest did not result in criminal charges, and if there are no other subsequent arrests or juvenile delinquency petitions. The new law eliminates the need to navigate the court process to get a juvenile arrest record of this type expunged and prevents a minor arrest from doing permanent damage to a young person’s life.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller has officially launched a new initiative aimed at using dedicated funds to make Illinois state parks great parks. During the last year, the agency has been using new sustainability funds to hire more staff and replace aging maintenance equipment at state parks. The “State Parks, Great Parks” initiative will continue the effort to rebuild the Illinois State Park System this summer with infrastructure improvements throughout Illinois.
Governor Quinn proclaimed June 14 as “Borinqueneers Day” in Illinois to honor the veterans of the legendary 65th Infantry Regiment, the all-Puerto Rican unit that distinguished itself in every United States war from 1898 to 2008. The term “Borinqueneers” is a combination of the Taino name for the island of Puerto Rico and the English word “buccaneers.” The United States Congress voted in May to issue the Congressional Gold Medal to the Borinqueneers.
Governor Quinn announced that 47 Illinois museums that attract 16.5 million visitors annually will receive $20 million in state capital investments to improve their facilities and develop new exhibits. The maximum grant award was $750,000, and matching funds were required in many cases based on the museum attendance levels from the previous year. Institutions receiving funding range from the nationally recognized to the locally beloved, including the Rockford Art Museum, Quad City Botanical Center, the Ellwood House Museum, and the Field Museum of Natural History.
Governor Quinn signed legislation to support early childhood education funding and make it easier to give incentives for teacher excellence. House Bill 4440, sponsored by State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) and State Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), increases the percentage of Early Childhood Education Block Grant program funds that must be set aside for children ages 0 to 3. The bill raises that percentage from 11 to 14 percent in Fiscal Year 2015, and to 20 percent by Fiscal Year 2016. House Bill 5393, sponsored by State Representative Emily McAsey (D-Lockport) and State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), streamlines the requirements to provide a $1,500 annual incentive to teachers who achieve Illinois Master Teacher certification through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.
On June 8, Governor Quinn signed legislation to make Illinois the first state in the nation to ban the manufacture and sale of personal care products containing synthetic plastic microbeads. The new law will require synthetic microbeads to be removed from manufacturing by the end of 2018 and bans the sale of such items by the end of 2019 in Illinois. “Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow,” the governor said. “Lake Michigan and the many rivers and lakes across our state are among our most important natural resources. We must do everything necessary to safeguard them."