This week, Illinois received federal approval to launch a sweeping $2 billion behavioral health initiative designed to deliver better outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Meanwhile, two measures are moving through the General Assembly that would boost education opportunities for high school students. Additionally, students from more than 100 schools across the state traveled to Springfield as part of TECH 2018 to share their technology projects with state lawmakers.
Also during the week, lawmakers joined firefighters and their families from around the state to participate in the 25th Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Ceremony.
And Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz is urging Illinois firearm owners to file paperwork early to renew their FOID cards.
Behavioral health initiative announced
In the midst of a national conversation on mental health and how it plays a part in public safety, Illinois received federal approval to launch the Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to deliver better outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Better Care Illinois gives Illinois an opportunity to use $2 billion in Medicaid funds differently to increase the efficiency and quality of care for Medicaid populations. The state received the go-ahead this week to launch the initiative from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Beginning July 1, 2018, Illinois can begin investing $2 billion of federal funds in 10 pilot programs to demonstrate better care alternatives and outcomes. The pilot programs will help Illinois address a variety of vexing societal problems that are impacted by behavioral disorders: mental health, violence, public safety, and opioid abuse.
Legislation aims to boost education opportunities
Two measures advancing through the General Assembly would give more opportunities to high school students who are college bound or looking for vocational training.
Senate Bill 2527 increases access to dual credit courses for all Illinois high school students by removing limits on the number of dual credit courses a student may enroll in and how many credits a student may earn via dual credit courses.
Dual credit courses allow students to get a head start on college, helping them to earn their degrees on-time or even ahead of schedule, while reducing the overall cost of their college education.
Additionally, Senate Bill 3033 allows schools to apply for and receive grants for land, facilities, and equipment for vocational education programs based on manufacturing careers. The goal is to improve students’ access to career paths that require specialized training but that typically don’t require a college degree.
Both bills are focused on enhancing educational opportunities for students while strengthening schools.
Senate Bill 2527 and Senate Bill 3033 both passed the Senate and now head to the House of Representatives.
Senator Syverson recommends early renewal of FOID cards
With the first wave of the 10-year Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) cards expiring this summer, Illinois State Police (ISP) are anticipating a significant backlog of renewal applications. In response, Senator Syverson is joining Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz in urging Illinois firearm owners to file paperwork early to renew their FOID cards.
More than 50,000 FOID cards are expiring between June 1 and August 1. To allow for sufficient time to process the paperwork and issue a new card before it expires, ISP recommends gun owners submit their renewal applications at least one to two months in advance.
Illinois State Police has already sent renewal notices to those whose cards will expire June 1. Applicants can visit the ISP’s Firearms Services Bureau website at ispfsb.com to renew online, or call ISP at 217-782-7980 and a call-taker will complete the application over the phone. The cost of the card is $10.
Applicants must be Illinois residents and include their driver’s licenses or state ID card numbers. Applicants younger than age of 21 must have a parent’s signature on the application. Applicants are encouraged to ensure the name and address on FOID applications match their records on file at the Secretary of State’s Office, otherwise the renewal process will be further delayed.
The Illinois State Police oversee the FOID card system and issue the cards that are required to buy or possess a firearm or ammunition in Illinois. FOID card applications require state and federal background checks, as well as review of the database from the Illinois Department of Human Services to confirm applicants have not been in a mental institution in the past five years. Persons with common names may find additional delays as identities are confirmed.
Honoring fallen firefighters in Springfield
On May 8, Senate Republican lawmakers joined firefighters and their families from around the state who traveled to Springfield to participate in the 25th Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Ceremony. The ceremony takes place every year in May and honors those who have made the supreme sacrifice, and those who have demonstrated extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism to protect fellow firefighters and civilians.
The Illinois Firefighter Memorial, which sits on the Capitol’s southwest lawn, lists the names of those who have given their lives in the line of duty. This year, two names were added: John “Mike” Cummins of the Homer Fire Protection District and Lawrence Matthews of the Village of Dolton Fire Department.
State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) and State Rep. Bob Pritchard (R-Hinckley) welcome members of the Belvidere Fire Department to the Illinois State Capitol Complex on May 8th, 2018 for the annual firefighters memorial ceremony. The Belvidere firefighters were honored for their actions in saving the lives of 8 individuals during a March 2017 fire on West Jackson Street.
Senator Syverson also welcomed members of the Dekalb and Sycamore fire departments to the Capitol during the week to discuss issues and legislation important to their departments.