Weekly Senate Update

Senator Syverson Rides 57 Miles Across District on 57th Birthday

From left to right, Chad Tuneberg, Don Thayer, Senator Syverson, Antwon Harris, and Brent Johnson

On June 29, Senator Dave Syverson rode his bike from the Northern part of the 35th Senate District, from the Wisconsin border down to the city of Dekalb. The Senator was joined by his son in law and 3 friends. 

“The purpose of the ride was multi-fold, one to get different view of district than you normally would get, and the second was to meet a challenge to ride 57 miles on my 57th birthday,” said Syverson. 

The Senator’s bike route began in the village of Rockton in Winnebago County. The cyclists then turned Eastward through Roscoe to Poplar Grove in Boone County. Next, Syverson’s group turned back South to the city of Belvidere and into Dekalb County through the towns of Genoa and Kingston. The last leg of the journey took them South again to Sycamore and then finished up in city of DeKalb

According to Syverson, one of the really bright spots of the ride was when the group was about 40 miles into the ride, just outside the town of Sycamore. There, in the mid-day heat, they rode past an old fashion ice cream social event at the Old North Grove School on Brickville Road.

“The cold, hand-pumped well water was so refreshing, and the root beer floats were a god send,” said Syverson. “All the volunteers there were so nice and welcoming.”Senator Syverson also had the opportunity to speak with Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy who happened to be at the social.

“The ride was a good way for me to remind these young kids in their 20s, including my son-in-law, that we can still do what they do,” joked Syverson. “It just takes a little more Advil afterwards.”

 Syverson is currently planning to take another ride across the district later this summer. 



Senate Week in Review

Improving access to health care is the goal of two measures that have now been signed into law, according to Senator Syverson.

Senate Bill 2187 allows clinical psychologists to prescribe medicine under specified circumstances, while SB 3409 would allow dentists to provide flu vaccines to their patients with a doctor’s prescription. Both measures were among bills signed by the Governor in recent days.

Also, several other previously approved new laws are scheduled to go into effect July 1, including a new mandate lowering the compulsory school age from seven years to six.

Subpoenas approved in Quinn program

While Governor Quinn continued to review and approve legislation sent to him by the General Assembly, attention remained focused on a controversial grant program he started shortly before the 2010 election, that has since become the subject of several investigations, a highly critical state audit and now, the likely topic of subpoenaed testimony from several of his former aides.

The bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission approved subpoenas for seven former Quinn administration officials, to compel them to testify before the commission July 16-17. The controversy stems from the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI), a $55 million program that drew questions almost from its beginning as reports surfaced of questionable spending, poor record keeping and indications of political cronyism in the awarding of grants.

The latest, in what has become almost weekly revelations of problems, is the news that the NRI paid thousands of dollars for a non-existent program that was supposed to help young offenders return to society. In fact, there is no evidence that Project Hope, Inc., did anything for the $15,770 it received and its address was actually that of a day care center in a different community than the one it claimed to be based in.

Some lawmakers have urged Governor Quinn to come before the Legislative Audit Committee to testify, since the program was created by him and several of his top aides at the time were responsible for its design and implementation.

Psychologists prescribe medicine

Certain clinical psychologists will now be able to write prescriptions for their patients under SB 2187. The new law requires clinical psychologists to meet high education and training standards before applying for a license to prescribe medicine. Illinois is now the third state, along with New Mexico and Louisiana, which allow patients to get necessary medication from a psychologist.

Proponents argued that in many areas of the state, particularly in rural areas, limited access to psychiatrists has meant that persons suffering from mental illness have a difficult time getting medication that can help them manage their illness.

Previously, clinical psychologists could provide mental health services to patients but were not able to write prescriptions. Typically, an individual sees a psychologist (a Ph.D.) for therapy and a psychiatrist (an M.D.) for their medication.

The new law sets educational requirements that psychologists must meet; limits the types of drugs they are able to prescribe; requires prescribing psychologists to have a collaborative agreement with a physician; and prohibits clinical psychologists from prescribing for patients under 17, older than 65, pregnant women or persons with serious medical conditions. 

Dentists provide flu shots

Another healthcare measure would allow patients to get their flu shots at their dentist’s offices.

Senate Bill 3409 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 intent is to provide an additional place where persons can get a flu shot in an effort to increase immunizations by making it more convenient for patients.

The dentist must be contracted with and credentialed by the patient’s health insurance, HMO or other health plan to specifically provide the vaccination. Vaccinations may only be given to Medicare or Medicaid enrollees if the dentist is authorized to do so by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services or the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. 

Other Bills signed into law recently:

Several other measures were also signed into law recently, including an advisory referendum on whether or not Illinois should increase its minimum wage. House Bill 3814 places a non-binding advisory question on the November 4, 2014, ballot asking: “Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults over the age of 18 be raised to $10 per hour by January 1, 2015?”

Measures signed into law in recent days include:

Volunteer Medical Licensures (HB 4593/PA 98-0659): Creates a “volunteer” licensure classification for medical professionals, the legislation would benefit recently retired professionals who may want to offer free clinic services or might want to practice part time without receiving compensation.

Farmers’ Market Regulation (HB 5657/PA 98-0660): Provides that regulation of farmers’ markets by local authorities may not be more stringent than regulation by the Department of Public Health. This legislation streamlines regulation of local farmers’ markets under one statewide code. Under current law, local governmental units may regulate farmers’ markets as they see fit. This has led to non-uniform regulations across the state.

School Safety Plans (HB 5716/PA 98-0661): Provides that when school districts update their school building’s emergency and crisis response plans, consideration may be given to making the plans available to first responders, administrators and teachers for use on electronic devices.

TIF District Extensions (SB 504/PA 98-0667): Extends the life of three TIF Districts – the City of Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal District; the City of Chicago Read/Dunning TIF District and the Naperville Water Street TIF District.

Increase Revolving Fire Truck Loan Cap (SB 2690/PA 98-0662): Increases the amount of money that can be loaned out to fire departments or fire protection districts for the purchase of a fire or brush truck from $250,000 to $350,000. The cap of $100,000 per truck is kept intact. 

Annual Safety Review (SB 2710/PA 98-0663):  Requires an annual safety review at no cost to schools (public and private) and requires non-public schools to hold a minimum of one meeting annually to review safety drill programs. Appropriate first responder organizations must be invited to the meeting.  This will bring non-public schools in line with what is required of public schools.

List of new laws going into effect July 1, 2014

Adult Driver’s Tests (HB 772/PA 98-0167): Persons aged 18-21 must pass an adult driver education course before being issued a license. The course need not have a driving component, however.

Child Abuse Reporting (HB 2245/PA 98-0408): Provides that within one year of initial employment and at least every five years thereafter, school personnel required to report child abuse must complete mandated reporter training.

Commercial Driving Permit (SB 1757/PA 98-0176): Replaces the state’s Commercial Driver Instruction Permit with a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). This will bring Illinois into compliance with federal requirements. The permit authorizes persons to operate a commercial motor vehicle (typically large trucks, such as semi-trailers, buses, or vehicles transporting hazardous materials) when accompanied by a holder of a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) who is providing behind-the wheel-training.

Compulsory School Age (SB 1307/PA 98-0544): Lowers the compulsory school age, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, from 7 to 6 years old.  Applies to children six years old or older on or before September 1 each year. 

CPR Training (HB 3724/PA 98-0632):  Requires training on how to properly administer CPR and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator to be included as a basis for curricula in all high schools. Provides that no student shall be required to take or participate in any training on CPR or AED use if his or her parent or guardian submits a written objection.

Early Childhood Grants (HB 4440/PA 98-0645): Requires that not less than 14% (currently 11%) of the Early Childhood Block Grant must be used to fund programs for children ages 0-3.  That percentage is to be increased to at least 20% by Fiscal Year 16 (currently Fiscal Year 15).

School Reform Modifications (HB 5546/PA 98-0648): Makes several changes to school reform legislation passed in 2011 (PA-97-008) including giving limited recall rights to teachers who have been dismissed or removed due to one “Needs Improvement” rating on either of the last two performance evaluations, provided that the other performance evaluation is “Satisfactory,” “Proficient” or “Excellent;” they are qualified to hold the position available; and were removed by honorable dismissal.

Teacher Certification Process (HB 5393/PA 98-0646): Makes several changes to the Illinois Teaching Excellence Program. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) is makings revisions to the National Board Certification Process and they are trying to align the current law of all states to match those changes.


Dave Syverson

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