SPRINGFIELD  Recognizing the need for stability for a state dealing with an unprecedented crisis, State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) returned to Springfield to vote on a responsible new budget to help bring relief to struggling Illinoisans. 

“We are living through a nightmare, but we can’t afford to shut down and wait for it to end while families and small businesses struggle to survive,” Bush said. “This isn’t a normal year, and this budget will reflect the unique circumstances under which it’s being passed. It already has nearly $1 billion in cuts from the governor’s original budget proposal.” 

The new budget will address key priorities including:

  • Providing more than $600 million in funding for businesses impacted by COVID-19
  • Preserving$12.6 billion in P-12 education funding
  • Providing an additional $30 million for mental health and substance abuse programs affected by COVID-19
  • Providing nearly $180 million in additional DCFS funding 
  • Providing $396 million to the Illinois Housing Development Authority for grants to help people who lost their income due to COVID-19 make rent and mortgage payments
  • Providing IDES with $60 million in additional funding to address challenges with the unemployment system

“This pandemic has exposed the shortfall in resources for our children’s education, as well as the lack of help for families and individuals who live paycheck to paycheck who now find themselves struggling to pay their rent or mortgage,” Bush said. “The most responsible thing to do right now is to provide resources to those who need them immediately.”

Senate Bill 264 passed the Illinois Senate 37-19.  

Category: Press Releases

Senator Melinda BushCHICAGO – Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) have passed emergency legislation to address concerns related to ensuring that survivors of sexual assault have access to care and evidence collection during the COVID-19 crisis. Under current law sexual assault survivors’ only option for a forensic exam and evidence collection is to go to an emergency department. Many survivors seeking treatment at alternative sites have expressed fear of being exposed to COVID-19 at hospital emergency rooms.

Senate Bill 557 seeks to allow approved federally qualified health centers (FQHC) to perform rape kit examinations and collection during public health emergencies such as COVID-19.

“We know sexual assaults are not stopping during this time. Survivors should not have the added worry of being exposed to the virus, they deserve better,” Representative Cassidy said. 

Advocacy groups and experts in the industry know that sexual violence is not decreasing during this time. Resilience, Chicago’s largest comprehensive rape crisis center has reported a 49% decrease in call volume from hospitals since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile Howard Brown Health Center a federally qualified health center, has seen its volume of sexual assault cases double.

"Currently, the only place a survivor of sexual assault can get a rape kit or medical help is a hospital. With survivors citing COVID-19 and the health risks associated with going to a crowded hospital as a reason to stay away, it's more important than ever to allow federally qualified health centers to perform rape kits and give survivors additional options to seek help," Bush said. "The need for alternative options has never been more important than right now." 
 

In order to provide these exams FQHCs would need to apply to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Facilities must also abide by strict guidelines including working with emergency departments, rape crisis centers and offer wrap around services to survivors.

"With many survivors uncomfortable going to a hospital during the pandemic, it's critical to provide other places where they can access safe treatment and compassionate care," said Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx. "Expanding these options will also allow for evidence collection, which is vital to bringing survivors justice. I'm grateful to the sponsors and advocates who share our trauma-informed, victim-centered approach and moved quickly to advance this important legislation."

This legislation represents an initiative by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Chicago Coalition Against Sexual Exploitation, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Office of the Attorney General and the Illinois Department of Public Health. The bill passed the House by a vote of 107-1 and the Senate 56-0. 

Category: Press Releases

Senator Melinda BushGRAYSLAKE — Spurred by a law passed by State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), the Illinois Department of Human Rights recently released a new model sexual harassment prevention training program that can be used by businesses throughout the state.

Bush believes sexual harassment training remains important during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“During this pandemic, we still have many essential workers who are required to go to work every day. Unfortunately, sexual harassment didn’t stop with the Stay at Home Order,” Bush said. “This new model will help businesses in Illinois teach their workers that sexual harassment – or harassment of any kind – will not be tolerated.” 

Gov. Pritzker signed Bush’s Workplace Transparency Act in August 2019. The law, which Bush introduced after hearing from victims, advocates and members of the business community, requires all Illinois employers to train workers on sexual harassment prevention by December 31, 2020, and on an annual basis thereafter. 

Employers must either use the new IDHR model training or develop their own sexual harassment prevention training that equals or exceeds the minimum standards for sexual harassment training outlined in the Illinois Human Rights Act.

“I introduced this law because too many women and men face sexual harassment at work,” Bush said. “We need to change the culture – both in government and at private businesses – and proper training is an important part of that change.”

To learn more about the new IDHR sexual harassment training model or for more information, please visit IDHR’s Training Institute website at www.illinois.gov/dhr/training

Category: Press Releases

GRAYSLAKE — In an effort to help people struggling to pay their student loans during the unprecedented economic challenges facing the state and country, State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) highlighted relief options that could benefit nearly 140,000 Illinoisans. 

“If you are struggling with student loan debt, please contact your loan providers immediately to discuss a repayment plan that incorporates expanded relief options during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Bush. “Illinoisans should not have to worry about how they will repay their student loans during a national crisis.”

Under the initiative, spearheaded by Gov. JB Pritzker and Secretary Deborah Hagan of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, people with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans who are having a hard time making their payments due to COVID-19 will be eligible for expanded relief. 

Borrowers who need assistance are asked to immediately contact their student loan provider to set up a plan. 

Relief options are based on a person’s individual needs and include:

  • Providing a minimum of 90 days of forbearance,
  • Waiving late payment fees,
  • Ensuring that no borrower is subject to negative credit reporting,
  • Ceasing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days,
  • Working with borrower to enroll them in other borrower assistance programs, such as income-based repayment.

If a person is having problems contacting their student loan servicer, they can contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Division of Banking at 217-785-2900 or the attorney general’s student loan helpline at 1-800-455-2456. If Illinois residents have difficulty contacting state agencies at those numbers, they are encouraged to reach out to their state senator’s office. 

Senator Bush’s District Office is serving constituents remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, so please call (847) 548-5631 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for assistance.

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
121C Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-7353

District Office:
10 N. Lake St., Suite 112
Grayslake, IL 60030
Phone: (847) 548-5631