Higher Education Working Group
Senator Paul Schimpf’s week in Springfield began with a meeting of the Higher Education Working Group. This bipartisan group of legislators from the Illinois House and Senate has been meeting since December to identify ways the Illinois legislature can support our state universities and community colleges.
After listening to universities discuss their strategies for recruitment and retention of applicants, the working group reached tentative agreement on reforms to increase the likelihood that Illinois students will stay in state for higher education.
- Changes to a common application
- Reforms to merit scholarships
- Reforms to tax credits
The working group will turn next to the structure of higher education governance in Illinois.
“No” votes on gun bills
This week Sen. Schimpf voted against the two pieces of gun control legislation that came before him in the Illinois Senate.
“In my opinion, these bills are more concerned with scoring political points than ensuring the safety of our students,” said Schimpf. “They both significantly limit our Second Amendment rights.”
Senator Schimpf voted against HB 772 which would set up a process where an individual’s immediate and extended family can petition a judge to order the confiscation of their firearms without notice to the individual in question. This is a problem because the process sets the lowest possible burden of proof for the judge to grant the request. In essence, the law would be setting up on-demand weapon confiscation with no legal safeguards for the firearm owner.
“This bill is unnecessary,” said Schimpf. “Illinois law already provides that a person who is subject to an existing order of protection may not lawfully possess weapons under the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act.”
Sen. Schimpf also voted against legislation to implement SB 1657. The bill would create a new gun dealer licensing bureaucracy within Illinois government.
“I have concerns that this proposal doesn’t treat big box stores, like Walmart, the same as the local ‘mom and pop’ stores in our communities,” said Schimpf. “This proposal will make doing business much more difficult for Southern Illinois gun stores. This is another example of politicians placing Chicago solutions on the rest of the state.”
Despite the Senator’s “No” vote – both bills passed, SB 1657 is awaiting further action by the Governor. HB 772 had to return to the House because the Senate amended the bill. The House has to concur on that amendment before it can receive final approval and be sent to the Governor.
Hospital Assessment Vote
Changes are coming to Illinois’ Hospital Assessment Program following the overwhelming passage of bipartisan legislation to authorize the continuation of the Hospital Assessment Program. The program will enhance Medicaid managed care transparency and oversight.
The program brings in $3.5 billion annually to support access to healthcare for over three million Illinoisans who are insured by Medicaid. The program is fully financed by hospitals and the federal government—there is no cost to the state. The goal of all lawmakers from the very beginning was to direct limited dollars to those individuals who need it, in the fairest possible way.
The final package will preserve access to healthcare for all Illinoisans, especially vulnerable populations in rural and urban communities, including those served by Safety Net and Critical Access Hospitals.
Veterans’ Affairs Committee to Meet
The Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy will likely make headlines again next week as the fourth Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing is slated for Monday, March 5, in Chicago. The outbreaks at the facility have turned into a wicked problem, confounding elected officials, medical professionals, and healthcare administrators, alike.
Despite efforts by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to eliminate the bacteria through heating, chemical treatment, and filtration, four residents have recently tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease—the most recent being the week of Feb. 19.
“Since December 2017, I have visited the site and participated in several legislative hearings, conference calls, and meetings,” Schimpf said. “Despite this information gathering, I cannot fathom why the home still tests positive for Legionella. I will continue holding our Veterans’ Affairs and Public Health leaders accountable until we can identify why our veterans are at risk.”
Life Skills Re-Entry Center Soon to Re-open
On Friday, March 2, Sen. Schimpf spoke at a ceremony at the Pinckneyville Correctional Center where more than 60 cadets graduated from the training academy. The new correctional officers are bound for new roles at the Life Skills Re-Entry Center in Murphysboro.
“Without question, this is a positive day for these people, our new cadets, the City of Murphysboro, and the State of Illinois,” said Schimpf. “I’m proud to be a part of it all, witnessing the changes we need to see in our region unfold. I commend Governor Bruce Rauner, Representative Terri Bryant, and the Department of Corrections for their hard work in reopening this facility.”
Honorary Pages for a Day
Earlier in the week Sen. Schimpf was lucky to be in the company of Trico Senior High Schoolers Haleigh Turner, (left), Jade Kranawetter, and Juhle Prange in Springfield. The three seniors had a jam-packed day of learning on Tuesday, Feb. 27, as his Honorary Pages.
Then on Wednesday, Alexandria Ebbler, (below), also from Trico Senior High School Served as his page. The program gives high school students from the 58th Senate District the chance to learn about the legislative process and interact with lawmakers. Students experience first-hand what it is like to be a legislator on the Illinois Senate Floor.