Republican Legislators Call for Action for Choate Mental Health and Development Center
Following another report by ProPublica detailing disturbing mistreatment of residents at Choate Mental Health and Development Center in Anna, IL, Senate Republicans are calling for action to not only address these recent allegations but also the decades-long mismanagement of the downstate facility, which serves as a home to approximately 270 residents.
Last week, Senators signed a letter requesting public hearings to discuss the serious concerns regarding the downstate facility, and some stood together at a press conference at the Capitol Feb. 23 to outline potential solutions, some of which include:
- Implementing ongoing staff training,
- Instituting a mass hiring of qualified staff,
- Tracking staff incidents by location and trends,
- Increasing administrative and security inspections,
- Improving overall accountability of staff performance, and
- Assigning an interim director or assistant director.
Choate Mental Health and Development Center has been in the news cycle for multiple instances recently related to abuse and general poor conditions at the facility. State Senator Terri Bryant says it’s imperative that the Governor’s Administration work with the Legislature to address these issues so that this vital facility can continue to serve the state’s most vulnerable residents.
Illinois Supreme Court Sets Hearing Date for the SAFE-T Act Appeal
The Illinois Supreme Court has set the date of March 14 to begin hearing oral arguments on whether the no-cash bail provision of the SAFE-T Act is constitutional. In late December, a judge in Kankakee County ruled in favor of more than 60 State’s Attorneys as it declared the controversial provision violated the Illinois Constitution.
The no-cash bail system was set to go into effect on Jan. 1; however, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Dec. 31 to halt the implementation of the no-cash bail system following the lower court’s ruling. The Supreme Court’s ruling was issued to make sure different systems weren’t being used in different counties while the court case moved forward. In its order, the Illinois Supreme Court said the ruling was to “maintain consistent pretrial procedures throughout Illinois” as 65 counties were included in the lawsuit while the other 37 counties were still planning on implementing the no-cash bail system.
While Illinois courts are still deciding the fate of the no-cash bail system, other portions of the SAFE-T Act are already being implemented, including requiring body cameras on law enforcement, more police training, and new guidelines for the decertification of police officers.
Senate Republicans Move Bills through Committee Process
The spring legislative process is in full swing as committee action picked up this week in the Senate. Legislators presented a wide variety of bills to their respective substantive committees.
Before legislation can make its way to the Senate Floor for a vote, it must first be vetted through the committee process. Bills that receive a successful number of votes in committee then move on for consideration of the full Senate.
Several Republican measures made their way out of committee this week including,
Senate Bill 240 (Senator Terri Bryant): Provides that the Department of Public Health shall adopt a rule requiring informational material about testicular cancer to be provided as part of the health examination of any male child entering the ninth grade. Provides that the Department of Public Health shall develop the content of the informational material to be provided.
Senate Bill 1356 (Senator Tom Bennett): Requires the Illinois Board of Higher Education to annually compile a list of the most in-demand jobs in Illinois, along with the starting and median salaries for those occupations, and the education levels required to enter those fields.
Senate Bill 1595 (Senator Jason Plummer): Allows families of veterans who have been honorably discharged to receive a free certified death certificate.
Senate Bill 1534 (Senator Tom Bennett): Requires that if a veteran with a surviving spouse dies while an application for a veteran’s homestead exemption is being reviewed, the review of that application will continue, and any subsequent approval granted to the veteran will carry over to the surviving spouse as long as the spouse meets the specified requirements.
Senate Bill 1485 (Senator Seth Lewis): Provides that if a park district board’s membership has been expanded or reduced by referendum or resolution, the additional members will be elected not earlier than 197 days after the referendum or resolution to ensure that candidates that have filed petitions for office are not impacted by the new terms.
To track legislative action throughout the spring legislative session, go to www.ilga.gov.
Valentines for Seniors Delivery 2023
Senate Republicans recently finished up delivering more than 60,000 valentines to local long-term care residents across the state as part of our annual Valentines for Seniors Card Drive. Click on the video below to check it out.