Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Give Voters a Voice in Increasing the Minimum Wage
Referendum to Ask Voters if Minimum Hourly Rate Should Rise to $10 by 2015
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today gave voters the chance to make their voices heard on an important issue that would benefit hundreds of thousands of working people across Illinois. Governor Quinn today 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.
Governor Quinn first proposed raising the minimum wage in his 2013 State of the State address and earlier this year met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and senior administration officials at the White House in Washington, D.C. to discuss raising the minimum wage. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to build an economy that works for everyone.
“This November, Illinois voters will have the opportunity to send a clear signal to lawmakers that we must do the right thing for working families across Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “This is about dignity and decency. Raising the minimum wage will support hardworking men and women across our state and boost local economic growth. As we work to raise the minimum wage in Illinois, this referendum will help us get the job done.”
House Bill 3814, sponsored by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), adds the question “Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults over the age of 18 be raised to $10 per hour by January 1, 2015?” to the November 4 ballot. The legislation was supported by human rights organizations, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, local chapters of the SEIU and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.
"This referendum will build a strong consensus to lift thousands of Illinois families out of poverty. Governor Quinn is playing an important role in this effort," Speaker Madigan said.
“The minimum wage should be a living wage,” Senator Lightford said. “If you work full time, you shouldn’t have to rely on government support to put food on your family’s table or a roof over your head.”
The Illinois minimum wage is currently $8.25, less than half of the average U.S. hourly wage. A full-time minimum wage worker in Illinois makes approximately $17,000 annually, which is well below the Federal Poverty Threshold of $19,790 for a family of three. Six in 10 minimum wage employees are women, including many single parents. By increasing the Illinois minimum wage to $10 an hour, a half-million Illinois consumers will make an extra $4,800 a year and much of that extra income will typically be spent at local businesses on food, clothing and furniture, providing a strong boost to the local economy.
Studies conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago show that an increase of $1 in the minimum wage generates approximately $3,000 in household spending per year, greatly improving purchasing power and strengthening our economy. Nearly two-thirds of small business owners support raising the federal minimum wage because they believe it will help the economy and in turn enable them to hire more workers, according to a recent survey conducted by the Small Business Majority.
Leaders from large companies such as Costco, Starbucks, The Gap Inc. and Stride Rite also have supported increasing the minimum wage as a way to reduce employee turnover and improve workers’ productivity. The Gap Inc. recently acted to raise its own minimum wage to $10 for all U.S. employees. The move is expected to impact 65,000 American workers and more than 4,000 employees in Illinois.
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Assist With Local Fire Truck Purchases
New Law to Ensure Fire Departments Have Necessary Equipment to Keep Illinois Communities Safe
MOLINE – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to help local governments purchase firefighting vehicles. The law increases the maximum amount municipalities may borrow at no or low interest from the state to make these purchases. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure the safety of all people in every community across Illinois.
“Firefighters shouldn’t have to worry about whether they have the equipment necessary to do their jobs,” Governor Quinn said. “This new law helps firefighters invest in modern equipment that will help them save lives.”
“I thank the Governor for making this program a priority,” State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis said. “Since the beginning of this program more than $25 million has been loaned to Illinois fire departments. This new law will increase the amount of money some of our most needy fire departments can borrow to buy fire trucks, which are much more expensive than they were 10 years ago. By increasing the maximum, our fire departments will be able to buy better equipment to do their jobs and protect the people of Illinois.”
The Office of the State Fire Marshal currently provides zero percent and low interest loans for fire trucks, engines and brush trucks through the Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program.
Senate Bill 2690, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Representative Donald Moffitt (R-Gilson), increases the loan ceiling cap for zero and low-interest loans to local fire departments for the purchase of new or upgraded fire trucks, brush trucks and fire engines under the Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program. The old limit on these loans was $250,000, but the new law raises the limit to $350,000 per fire department or fire protection district. The change reflects the increase in the cost of fire protection equipment since the law was last updated. The legislation is effective immediately.
“I want to commend Governor Quinn for signing this bill,” Representative Mofitt said. “This very successful program has been in place for 11 years and this increased loan cap is needed as it reflects the increased costs of a new fire truck. By signing this legislation, Governor Quinn has made it possible for many fire departments in Illinois to buy a new truck using the interest-free loan that otherwise they would not have been able to afford. The interest-free revolving loan program has been extremely important for downstate rural fire departments as they have more limited financial resources to purchase fire trucks and other needed equipment. The net result is with the Governor’s actions, Illinois becomes a safer state.”
The Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program is funded primarily through payments municipalities make on its loans, in addition to a $35 additional fee for serious traffic violations. The program is administered jointly with the Illinois Finance Authority.
Governor Quinn today also signed House Bill 4462, sponsored by Representative Moffitt and State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), which allows the $35 additional fee for serious traffic violations to remain a funding source for the Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program through Jan. 1, 2020. The fee originally was set to expire as a funding source for the program on Oct. 13, 2014. The legislation is effective immediately.
Governor Quinn has long supported firefighters in Illinois. He expanded the revolving loan program in 2012 to allow fire departments to purchase brush trucks with no or low interest loans. The Governor invested $4 million this year to help 193 fire departments across the state purchase safety equipment, protective clothing, breathing apparatus and other tools for firefighters – almost 100 more fire departments than last year. He also signed legislation to streamline the testing and hiring process of local firefighters.
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Improve Safety in Schools Across Illinois
New Laws Will Help Keep Illinois’ Students Safe
ROCKFORD – Governor Pat Quinn today visited RESA Middle School in Rockford to sign three new pieces of legislation that help increase safety, ensure crisis planning and provide security improvements at all Illinois schools. Today’s actions are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to provide a safe learning environment for all Illinois students.
“Nothing is more important than keeping our classrooms safe,” Governor Quinn said. “Preparation and knowledge are part of that curriculum – preparing for emergencies we hope will never occur, and knowing what to do if confronted with a crisis.”
“Parents need to have confidence that their children will be safe throughout the school day and kids should be able to focus solely on their studies,” State Schools Superintendent Christopher A. Koch said. “These new laws provide the impetus and resources to make schools safer.”
Senate Bill 2710, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) and State Representative Lawrence M. Walsh Jr. (D-Elwood), extends a key school safety measure that currently covers public schools to the state’s approximately 1,800 private schools. A law proposed and signed by Governor Quinn last year requires all school districts to conduct an annual safety drill, in conjunction with law enforcement officials, which prepares students for potential shooting situations. That law requires public school districts to do an annual review in light of that drill of each school’s emergency and crisis plans and procedures. Senate Bill 2710 requires that private schools conduct that same annual review of their crisis plans to better protect the 300,000 private school students in Illinois. The legislation is effective immediately.
Senate Bill 2934, sponsored by State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) and Representative Walsh, makes one of Governor Quinn’s initiatives to fund school safety improvements an official part of state statutes. Earlier this year the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) awarded $25 million for security improvements to public K – 12 schools. This legislation allows this school safety program to continue when funds are available and also adds private K – 12 schools, area vocational centers, regional safe schools and public colleges and universities to the list of eligible schools. The new law is effective immediately.
“This is an excellent opportunity to improve local schools and the safety of our children,” Senator Stadelman said. “The safety grants are possible because of the work we have done to ensure that students in K-12 deserve a safe learning environment just like those in higher education.”
“I’m proud to work with IEMA, local schools and area vocational schools to make sure when grants become available through IEMA, all entities are qualified and able to apply for these grants to make our schools safer and prepared for any emergency that may arise,” Representative Walsh said.
House Bill 5716, sponsored by State Representative Rich Brauer (R-Petersburg) and Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), allows public school districts to make updated emergency and crisis plans available to first responders, teachers and administrators through electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets and laptops. The legislation is effective Jan. 1, 2015.
Governor Quinn is committed to ensuring school safety across Illinois. As part of his Illinois Jobs Now! construction program, he recently announced $25 million for more than 1,300 projects to enhance security at schools across Illinois.
Following the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December 2012, Governor Quinn convened top experts from across the state for a School Safety Summit to develop short- and long-term actions to further strengthen school safety. The summit included school district organizations, law enforcement agencies and state agencies, including IEMA. The Governor also led the charge in passing legislation requiring all Illinois schools to hold active safety drills with local law enforcement to ensure they are as prepared as possible in the event of a shooting incident.
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Expand Medical Services to Those in Need
Also Signs Bill to Increase Access to Flu Vaccines
PEORIA – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to expand medical access to those in need by expanding volunteer opportunities by medical professionals and allowing additional qualified medical professionals to administer flu vaccines. Today’s actions are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all people have access to quality healthcare.
“Retired or inactive doctors healthcare professionals can and want to help those in need, and we should let them,” Governor Quinn said. “It’s just common sense to broaden access to health care, which is a fundamental right as a human being.”
House Bill 4593, sponsored by State Representative Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) and State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago), authorizes the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to issue volunteer licenses to healthcare professionals such as physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurses, advanced practice nurses and optometrists who meet all licensure qualifications and who wish to volunteer at a free medical clinic for no compensation. The law waives the licensure fee for the first 500 volunteer licenses and afterwards allows for a fee waiver or fee reduction. A healthcare professional may not hold a non-volunteer license and a volunteer license at the same time. The new law takes effect immediately.
“As chairperson of the Health Care Licensing Committee, I am always striving to increase access to high quality medical care,” Representative Zalewski said. “I thank Governor Quinn for signing this bill as it will be an important step toward keeping Illinoisans healthy.”
“When it comes to health care access, Illinois is a study in contrasts — home to state-of-the-art hospitals and highly educated specialists, but also to chronically underserved urban and rural areas,” Senator Martinez said. “Today we are making it easier for medical professionals to serve vulnerable populations, and we’re saying thank you to those willing to work for the public good without compensation.”
“We look forward to providing retired professionals the credentials they need to continue their life-long commitment to providing health care, especially to Illinois communities that have a greater need for access to health care,” IDFPR Acting Secretary Manuel Flores said.
Senate Bill 3409, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Representative Laura Fine (D-Glenview), allows dentists with the appropriate training to administer flu vaccines to patients 18 years of age or older who have a prescription or physician’s order for the immunization. The new law takes effect immediately.
“The Affordable Care Act is allowing many more people access to health care,” Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “To help ensure we have the workforce needed to meet this demand, the state is identifying and implementing strategies to increase those able to provide health care – such as allowing dentists to administer flu vaccines.”
“In many parts of the state, locations that offer flu vaccinations are too few and far between. This new law will increase access to flu shots for Illinois families and hopefully, reduce the number of flu outbreaks in our communities," Senator Manar said. “I'm pleased the Governor signed the bill, and I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support.”
“Difficulty obtaining access to care can be a frustrating roadblock to good health,” Representative Fine said. “This bill will create a new, convenient avenue for patients to receive an important and sometimes lifesaving immunization. It will allow people greater opportunities to protect themselves against the flu."
Today’s bill signing took place at the Third Mission of Mercy, an Illinois State Dental Society Foundation event where dentists from across Illinois volunteer for a weekend to provide free dental services to those in need.
Governor Quinn has long supported affordable and effective health care for all. He signed a law in 2010 to expand needed access to dental services by allowing licensed dentists to provide volunteer care at a nonprofit health clinic, which can then receive payments from the state. The clinics can use the Medicaid funding to pay for dental care costs such as equipment and supplies. The law will help encourage more dentists to treat low-income families throughout Illinois.
Also under Governor Quinn’s leadership, Illinois proposed a five-year plan to transform the state’s healthcare system, including strengthening the state’s health care workforce, to meet the needs of Medicaid beneficiaries. If approved, the proposal would allow the state to obtain $5.2 billion in federal matching funds over five years to implement the plan.
Governor Quinn has signed multiple pieces of legislation to clarify and expand the scope of practice for certain health care professionals in order to ensure that Illinois residents have access to the health care they need. He also supports efforts to streamline and expedite veteran applications for professional licenses to benefit military families seeking employment and consumers seeking access to qualified health care professionals.
Governor Quinn Signs Legislation to Support Illinois’ Farmers’ Markets
New Law Will Increase Consumer Safety and Encourage Residents to Shop Locally by Standardizing Regulation of Farmers’ Markets
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that will create uniform, statewide standards to regulate farmers’ markets and help increase protections for consumers who shop locally. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protecting and improving the health of the people of Illinois.
“This new law will encourage people across Illinois to get out and buy local,” Governor Quinn said. “Farmers’ markets offer uniquely local goods and we need to ensure they are safe for all Illinois shoppers. Establishing statewide standards for farmers’ markets will help vendors and consumers know what to expect no matter where they sell or buy produce in the state.”
House Bill 5657, sponsored by State Representative Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) and State Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria), directs the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to set rules and regulations regarding food sampling and testing at farmers’ markets throughout Illinois. This will lead to easier navigation of farmers’ markets by consumers and increased compliance among vendors. The bill requires vendors to inform consumers of the origin of specialty crops or raw agricultural products and limits the fee local health departments can charge for monitoring farmers’ markets to $25. The legislation is effective immediately.
“Farmers’ markets can help fill a gap and provide fresh foods in areas considered food deserts, where fruits and vegetables are not readily available,” IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “But we want to make sure foods sold at farmers’ markets are safe and don’t cause illness from accidental bacterial contamination, like salmonella. Standardized regulations will help local health departments conduct food inspections and increase compliance among vendors. This will enhance food safety at farmer’s markets and help inspectors identify products that may be contaminated and causing illness.”
“This law will benefit the small- and medium-sized farms that grow most of our specialty crops,” Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Bob Flider said. “The uniform market standards it establishes will raise confidence in our food system, and as that trust grows, so, too, will demand for our fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Illinois ranks third in the nation for number of farmers' markets, with more than 375 known markets in 2013. Only California and New York have more.
“Farmers markets are such an important link between the people who truly grow our food and the consumers,” Senator Koehler, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, said. “Creating a single, statewide standard will make it easier for more farmers to participate in more markets.”
Governor Quinn has long worked to support the safe handling and sale of food products in Illinois and has signed legislation designating the first Saturday of each month at “Eat Local, Buy Illinois Products Day.” The Governor has also signed into law the Farmers’ Market Technology Improvement Program Act which allows individuals to use LINK cards to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and other items at farmers markets across the state as well as legislation creating a uniform standard for cottage food operations to prepare and sell their products at farmers markets in Illinois.