As 2015 comes to a close, I am happy to see all that we have been able to accomplish. This has been a challenging yet productive year and there are many important issues that have been resolved.

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Although we remain in the midst of a statewide budget impasse, this year I fought hard on issues of education, local government and legislation that will improve our state.

 

2015 highlights

 

Education

 

In May, as schools in the Metro East were wrapping up the school year, I supported a $7 billion state education plan that would allow schools to open on time this year. We worked hard in the Senate to get this measure passed. We must continue to work to ensure our schools remain funded.

 

Additionally, I have been a strong supporter of higher education. I voted against a proposal that would have cut funding to SIUE.

 

Metal Theft

 

Metro East communities will soon get an answer to the pervasive issue of recyclable metal theft. A measure I sponsored in the Senate that creates the Recyclable Metal Theft Task Force takes effect Jan. 1.

 

Metal theft is a major issue both in the Metro East and throughout the state. It is important we combat this problem head on, and that is exactly what this task force will do. When people steal the copper out of utility lines, it causes issues resulting in power disruptions and revenue loss. This can lead to major electric outages and expensive repairs that impact ratepayers. This task force protects consumers and reduces costs associated with metal theft.

 

Organ Transplant

 

This year I sponsored a measure that will improve the organ and tissue transplant process throughout the Metro East. I was thrilled to see this legislation gain such great support and to see it signed into law. Every minute counts when it comes to tissue and organ donations. This legislation allows for a better process so those who need organ and tissue donations are able to receive them quickly, thereby increasing the likelihood of successful recovery and saving lives.

 

Police Body Cameras

 

The Illinois Senate passed a measure this year, which I co-sponsored, providing policies and standards for the use of police body cameras. Any law enforcement agency that uses body cameras must have them on at all times when law enforcement officers are responding to calls for service, or are engaged in law enforcement related activities.

 

This legislation helps keep law enforcement and those they protect safe. It also creates a better review process of what happens out in the field and allows for greater protections for our courageous police officers.

 

Dental Bill

 

Illinois’ most vulnerable children will have better access to dental care next year. A measure lifting restrictions on dental hygienists performing routine dental procedures was signed by the governor last week.

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This session I sponsored legislation to create a comprehensive approach to provide better access to dental care for children under 12 who are eligible for Medicaid or live in a household where income is below 200 percent poverty. Children with rotting teeth who are not eligible for Medicaid or treatment feel the impact on their life, the way they view their life, and their ability to function as a student. Healthy teeth are so important to anyone’s quality of health. This measure is a major expansion of access to preventative care – especially for at-risk children.

 

Workers’ Compensation

 

This year I sponsored legislation clarifying that the Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund is only required to pay up to $500,000 on excess indemnification policies issued by self-insuring companies that are reimbursed for workers' compensation claims they have already paid. This measure helps to further assure the solvency of workers’ compensation to protect responsible employers from paying higher premiums.

 

Moving Forward

 

MAP Grant Funding

 

Illinois is entering its sixth month with no budget to operate public universities or fund the state’s program that helps students afford college. The Monetary Award Program is the state’s college affordability program that helps roughly 140,000 Illinois students attend college.

 

Investing in a student’s future is one of the most useful things the state can do. Thousands of students rely on this assistance, and they are making their voices heard. We can’t afford to turn our backs. I will continue to work for our students.

 

Fighting for local funding

 

Millions of dollars owed to local communities will soon be on their way. Earlier this month the Illinois Senate voted to approve funding for items such as winter road maintenance, critical funding for mental health facilities and funding for community colleges.

 

This measure is a great step forward in getting Illinois back on track. These funds are important to local communities and should have never been tied up in the first place. Fortunately, we were able to compromise and now municipalities across Madison and St. Clair counties will receive the funding they need to provide essential services. I am pleased to see that Governor Rauner is willing to compromise with us on this important issue.

 

Continuing to make sure this funding does not keep getting tied up is important. This is the funding that allows our police and firefighters to keep us safe. We must not let this budget impasse affect these critical services.

 

Stay tuned and stay informed

 

Please be on the lookout for announcements of future events, and information on legislative measures. I encourage you to visit my website for information on events, news and opportunities. Additionally, you can follow me on Facebook for more updates.

 

As always, please feel free to contact me if I can ever be of assistance to you. It is an honor to serve as your senator.

 

Happy Holidays to you and your families, and have a very blessed new year!

 

Sincerely,
William Haine
Senator Bill Haine
56th District – Illinois

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