During an unprecedented health crisis, it is difficult to focus on anything else. I certainly hope you are all taking this as seriously as I am -- observing social distancing best practices, washing your hands frequently and taking steps to protect the most at-risk individuals in your life.

At the same time, sometimes other circumstances also demand our attention. I write this op-ed because, frankly, circumstances demand we act now if we want to end gerrymandering in Illinois.

Gerrymandering is the process by which party leaders redraw political maps after the census every 10 years. It is an imminent threat to our democracy because, among many things, it allows party leaders to blunt the will of the people and protect incumbents by stacking districts with like-minded voters. Ending the gerrymandering process this year requires the passage of the Fair Maps Amendment (SJRCA 18) -- a constitutional amendment written by a broad, bipartisan coalition of citizens, organizations and elected officials.

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Category: In The News

I want to thank the residents of Lake County, and frankly all Illinoisans, for your strength, courage, and resolve throughout this coronavirus pandemic. We are living through an unprecedented and complex situation, but your actions make me confident we will get through this together and will come out stronger than ever. 

The next couple of weeks and months ahead won't be easy. As the coronavirus continues to make its way across our country, I am committed to providing timely and accurate information to the residents of the 31st District and I will be providing new up-to-date information as often as I can.

Below is a a list of updates from the Governor, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control to keep you informed during these troubled times. 

STARTING SATURDAY, MARCH 21ST AT 5:00 PM, ILLINOIS RESIDENTS WILL BE SUBJECT TO A STAY AT HOME ORDER

  • The order extends through April 7th
  • Read the Executive Order HERE
  • The order is designed to further implement social distancing measures, which are the best tools Illinoisans have to combat the spread of COVID-19

  • You can still do things like go to the grocery store, pharmacy, medical office or gas station, and go outside for exercise while practicing social distancing. This order is designed to limit non-essential activities. Read the Executive Order for details

  • This is NOT a lockdown, or martial law. Do NOT run to grocery stores if you don’t need supplies – the Illinois supply chain to businesses is, and will continue to be, functioning

  • Roads, bridges, airports and public transportation will still be open

  • Non-essential businesses must stop operating. See the Executive Order for details

STATE OF ILLINOIS NEW COVID-19 WEBSITE

  • The State of Illinois has created a website to centralize information about COVID-19’s spread in Illinois and what programs / services are available for affected residents and businessowners. Please visit www2.illinois.gov/sites/coronavirus for all information relating to the virus.

STATE OF ILLINOIS COVID-19 HOTLINE NUMBER

  • If you have any questions regarding COVID-19 in Illinois, please call the hotline number: (800) 889-3931

GROCERY STORES WILL DEDICATE SPECIFIC HOURS FOR SENIORS ONLY

  • Governor Pritzker, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and store owners across the state convened a workgroup to further positive health outcomes for Illinoisans. Grocery store owners across the state will be offering dedicated hours for seniors only, to shop for their goods without other shoppers present. This dedicated period will also feature heightened social distancing measures.
  • Contact your local store to get more information about what their individual hours are.

UPDATE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND RESTAURANTS

  • Over 20,000 small and medium-sized bars and restaurants will be allowed a 2-month delay in sales tax payments to the State and local jurisdictions, as well as waiving late filing fees and interest payments starting Friday, March 20th.
  • As of Friday, March 20th, Illinois small businesses in every county are eligible to apply for low-interest Coronavirus disaster assistance loans. If you want to apply, go to https://disasterloan.sba.gov

HEALTHCARE UPDATE

  • The State of Illinois’ emergency notification tool, SIREN, will be used to share updated healthcare information directly to doctors. The State of Illinois is asking doctors to sign up for SIREN immediately, either by emailing their contact information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visiting www.SIREN.illinois.gov
  • The Governor signed an Executive Order significantly expanding telemedicine for both Medicaid patients and those insured by private companies.

ALL RESTAURANTS AND BARS WILL BE CLOSED TO DINE IN GUESTS THROUGH MARCH 31st

  • Curbside pickup, drive-through, take-out and delivery are all being permitted. Contact restaurants directly or work through your major delivery service provider.
  • Price-gouging in delivery fees and in general will not be tolerated. Constituents should report all incidents of price gouging to www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.

ALL ILLINOIS K-12 SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED THROUGH MARCH 31st

  • Meals will continue to be distributed to children who qualify for free and reduced lunch via delivery or pickup options depending on the school district.
  • Check with your local school district for expanded meal options for all students.

ALL ILLINOIS DMV's / DRIVER'S LICENSE FACILITIES WILL CLOSE UNTIL MARCH 31st

  • Expiration dates for licenses and vehicle registration will be extended for 30 days.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE IS BEING EXPANDED

  • Unemployment Insurance is being expanded to cover those without access to paid sick leave or who aren’t able to work due to COVID-19. Please visit www2.illinois.gov/ides for more information.
  • Most utility companies have agreed to a moratorium on service shutoffs for those who can’t afford to pay their bills during this period.

GATHERINGS OF 50 PEOPLE OR MORE ARE CANCELED PER CDC GUIDELINES THROUGH MARCH 31st

  • Public health officials across the country recommend residents stay home if they can continue to do so and practice social distancing.
  • Essential services like grocery stores, gas stations, etc. will be open during this time.

Please take every opportunity to demonstrate your gratitude to those who continue to provide essential services, like healthcare workers, first responders, law enforcement officers and grocery store employees.

Category: In The News

Capitol News Illinois - March 20, 2019 | original article

SPRINGFIELD — A package of bills to increase private-sector protections for sexual harassment victims has advanced out of the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

The four bills, sponsored by Grayslake Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush, add to lawmakers’ work last session to address sexual harassment and ethics issues in the legislature.

“Last year, we dealt with a lot of things that happened under the dome,” Bush said. “So this year, a lot of the recommendations from the task force were how we deal with different issues in the private sector.”

The task force is the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention. It was formed in May 2018 in legislation that, among other things, allowed sexual harassment complaints at the Capitol to be investigated by the Legislative Inspector General without prior approval from the state ethics commission.

The task force’s most recent suggestions take shape in Bush’s bills, which were advanced Tuesday to the Senate floor with bipartisan support.

“They were the issues that came up over and over again,” Bush said. “But the big one is the nondisclosure agreements.”

Senate Bill 30, or the Workplace Transparency Act, would protect employees from being forced to sign nondisclosure agreements relating to sexual harassment, retaliation and unlawful discrimination.

“You’re seeing these agreements used as ways to protect perpetrators,” Bush said. “Victims are not able to talk about the issues or seek civil remedy for them.”

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Category: In The News

Senator Melinda Bush discusses Ethylene OxideLake County News-Sun - February 22, 2019 | original article

Joining a chorus of voices demanding air quality testing in Lake County areas near local two plants generating ethylene oxide emissions, state Sen. Melinda Bush on Friday sent a letter Friday to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and introduced a joint resolution in the General Assembly calling for the testing.

The Grayslake Democrat said in a letter to EPA officials that the major gulf between ethylene oxide (EtO) emission self-reporting results from Sterigenics in Willowbrook and subsequent ambient air monitoring by the federal EPA in the area around the company led to it being shut down by order of the Illinois EPA.

“Public health and safety must be the state and federal government’s overriding concern,” Bush said in the letter. “These reports prove it is unwise, and unsafe, to trust emitters of carcinogens to accurately self-report their emissions.

“The USEPA simply must conduct its own air monitoring to protect the public interest,” Bush added.

Bush also said a joint Senate resolution, calling for federal EPA ambient air testing for EtO in Lake County near the Vantage and Medline plants in Gurnee and Waukegan respectively, was filed Friday and expected to be heard by the Senate March 5.

Bush added she believes the resolution will pass both the Senate and House quickly and be forwarded to federal officials in the near future.

While Bush is carrying the resolution in the Senate, state Rep. Joyce Mason, D-Gurnee, will carry it in the House.

Although some resident groups are demanding “independent testing” near the Vantage plant in Gurnee and the Medline plant in Waukegan, Bush and other local officials stressed the need for federal EPA involvement.

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Category: In The News

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