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Afternoon roundup

Wednesday, May 10, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker was joined today by Lieutenant Governor Julianna Stratton, Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza, elected officials, and first responders to sign the Act-of-Duty Bill into law. HB 3162 retroactively provides Chicago police officers and firefighters disability benefits for the time they were unable to serve due to contracting COVID-19 between March 9, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

“Since the darkest days of the pandemic, our first responders — police officers, firefighters, and EMS workers alike — have been on the ground, putting their own health and safety at risk to protect others,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “When our first responders are disabled on the job, they deserve comprehensive benefits. HB 3162, a bipartisan Act-of-Duty Bill, ensures they get the benefits they are entitled to.”

“Our first responders serve and protect, heal and care, comfort and support, Illinois residents in their time of greatest need,” said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. “During the pandemic they continued to answer the call, many at great cost to themselves and their families. This law will provide them with full disability benefits they deserve for the selfless sacrifice they have made on behalf of the people of Illinois.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic gripped our nation in the early months of 2020, first responders jumped into action assisting the sick, dispersing testing kits, transporting infected patients to the hospital, and more. When officers contracted the virus themselves, even after taking precautions and wearing PPE, they often needed to be hospitalized and many were left without the salary and healthcare coverage they needed. For the past three years, COVID-19 was the leading cause of law enforcement deaths - far surpassing firearm and traffic-related deaths.

“Chicago police and firefighters should not have to die to qualify for full COVID disability benefits. And that was the unfortunate message the city’s pension disability board was sending with its rulings against my brother and Officer Diana Cordova-Nestad – and the other first responders disabled by COVID in the days before vaccines were available who are waiting to go before the board,” Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza said. “That’s unforgivable. I can’t thank everyone enough - my sponsors, Representative Hoffman and Senator Cunningham, legislators, and Governor Pritzker, for fixing this injustice for my brother and all our first responders.”

“Our first responders put their lives on the line to ensure we could rely on emergency services in the darkest days of the pandemic,” Assistant Majority Leader Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville). “The least we can do is make sure they receive the benefits they are rightly owed. I am appreciative of the strong advocacy on this topic from Comptroller Mendoza, first responders and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”

“Today, we have taken a significant step towards recognizing the sacrifices of Chicago police and firefighters who have suffered from the long-term effects of COVID-19,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago). “This action puts Chicago police and fire in parity with the rest of the state by giving them access to the full disability benefits they deserve.”

The Illinois Works Jobs Program Act has already been revised to ensure that families of the COVID-19’s fallen first responders receive their benefits. The Act-of-Duty Bill furthers this initiative, giving those who were disabled due to the virus the benefits that they deserve.

Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 100 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and more than one million of those were left with long-term COVID-related disabilities.

“I am proud to stand with Comptroller Mendoza in support of our police officers and firefighters across the state. This legislation provides Chicago police officers and firefighters with the same COVID-19 disability benefits as our officers and firefighters in downstate Illinois,” said Deputy Republican Leader Norine Hammond (R-Macomb). “These brave officers and firefighters who fell ill and were injured in the line of duty deserve our utmost support and with today’s action, they will finally receive the financial support they’ve earned. We cannot thank them enough for their service to the people of Illinois.”

“In the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, our first responders put their lives on the line to ensure the health and safety of our communities. Now when they need us, we need to be there for them,” said Assistant Majority Leader Natalie Manley. “By including the rebuttable presumption for first responders who have become disabled as a result of COVID-19, we are correcting a great injustice and ensuring that our first responders have the resources they need to live fulfilling lives.”

“While most of us were at home during COVID trying to protect ourselves, our police and firemen were in the midst of the virus, serving on the frontlines to serve and protect our communities,” said Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg). “It’s incredibly important we support them through this legislation, because they are the everyday heroes of our communities, and they shouldn’t have to stress about compensation in an event of a COVID exposure leading to a disability.”

“As a strong advocate for our law enforcement officials, I’m proud to continue supporting them by ensuring they receive the benefits they deserve,” said State Senator Meg Loughran Cappel (D-Shorewood). “We have to continue prioritizing the men and women who protect our communities.”

* This bill has passed both chambers…

To increase the baseline financial penalty for civil rights violations, State Senator Robert Peters championed a measure to create the Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act.

“Business enterprises receiving federal funds should not be immune to the consequences of discriminating against people,” said Peters (D-Chicago). “Protecting businesses from punishment when they knowingly commit discriminatory acts goes against Illinois values.”

House Bill 2248 was created in response to the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, P.L.L.C. that ruled emotional distress damages are not recoverable in a private action under the anti-discrimination provisions of either the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The bill would allow state claims for violations of federal civil rights laws to be heard in any court with jurisdiction. It further provides that Illinois courts may award no less than $4,000 in damages or other relief for violations.

“Illinois has maintained the status of being a welcoming state for everyone,” Peters said. “The Civil Rights Remedies Restoration Act will serve as a source of relief for those seeking assistance for emotional distress due to discrimination. Considering previous court rulings that have prevented Illinois courts from intervening, this measure eliminates the red tape and allows victims to pursue financial justice.”

* Press release…

“The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) supports legislation passed today by the Senate that will prohibit the use of e-cigarettes everywhere that smoking is prohibited under the state’s smoke-free law. ACS CAN supports everyone’s right to breathe clean smoke-free air.

“E-cigarettes pose a potential risk to people who do not use them through secondhand exposure to toxicants in the aerosol. Prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in workplaces, including restaurants, bars and gaming facilities, can protect the public’s health by preventing nonusers from being exposed to nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals in the aerosol emitted by these products. No one should have to choose between their health and their job.

“ACS CAN commends the General Assembly for passing this important legislation and looks forward to seeing Gov. Pritzker sign it into law.”

* Pitch…

Hello,
Writing to you about an international finance industry-backed bill (HB73) that would do away with portions of consumer protection laws that were recently put in place.

Last year, former Senator Collins, the legal funding industry, and advocacy groups negotiated a bill that gave a regulatory framework with consumer protections to ensure loans cannot be larger than $100k — the Consumer Legal Funding Act (CLFA) was signed into law.

But HB73 wants to do away with portions of that law:

    • The bill would add a carveout to the Consumer Legal Funding Act (CLFA) for legal funding greater than $500k
    • Under HB 73, the sky’s the limit on the principal amount, finance charges, and fees which could be harmful to consumers
    • There is only one known proponent–the International Legal Finance Association. According to a WSJ article, foreign-funded shell companies underwrite many patent-infringement lawsuits against U.S. firms in industries critical to national security.

I wanted to offer you an interview with a rep from Woodstock Institute, an organization that works to advance economic justice and racial equity within financial systems.

* Press release…

The CHANGE Illinois team has successfully pushed legislation through the Illinois General Assembly! Our bill, HB 1496, is designed to fairly and effectively implement the ban on prison gerrymandering to ensure fairer representation for all Illinoisans.

We asked our supporters to take action and send an email to their representatives to call HB 1496 for a Senate floor vote. With your help, we were able to successfully shepherd it through both the Illinois House and Senate and get it one step closer to being signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker.

* Equality Illinois…

A statement from Myles Brady Davis, Communications Director of Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) Illinoisans:

“We are extremely excited by Clare Killman’s historic inauguration to the Carbondale City Council. Killman is the first Trans person to serve on a city council in Illinois and she is one of only five Trans people now elected to office in Illinois. Killman’s inauguration is impactful for Carbondale, which has become a significant community of safety and refuge in Southern Illinois for folks seeking access to reproductive healthcare and gender-affirming healthcare that is otherwise limited, prohibited, or criminalized in their home states.

“Killman will be a powerful voice for change and will inspire more Trans people to run for office in their communities. We know Trans people remain severely underrepresented in all levels of government. At this time when more than 700 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state capitols across the country in 2023, when the opponents of equality are working hard to take healthcare away from Trans people, when anti-Trans forces have tried to silence an elected Trans state legislator in Montana, we need many more Trans voices in rooms of power. Now more than ever.”

* Isabel’s afternoon roundup…

       

1 Comment
  1. - Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, May 10, 23 @ 4:27 pm:

    Kudos to Comptroller Mendoza


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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