Capitol buildingNBC 5 Chicago - February 28, 2017 | original article

By Tom Schuba

The Illinois Senate approved portions of its bipartisan “grand bargain” Tuesday, passing a spending bill that would fund the state's beleaguered social service agencies and public colleges through June.

Throughout much of the nearly two-year budget stalemate, Illinois' social service agencies and public colleges and universities have suffered without state funding. The Senate plan, which still requires approval from the Illinois House and Gov. Bruce Rauner, would also fund Monetary Award Program grants for low-income students in the state.

“Today, the Illinois Senate did what the governor and House leaders have failed to do, put the people of Illinois ahead of political games,” state Sen. Melinda Bush said in a statement. “Senators from both parties came together in an effort to end the budget impasse and finally move Illinois forward."

The supplemental funding is part of the Senate’s broader budget plan, which is comprised of a series of interdependent bills. The Senate passed some of those measures Tuesday, including bills to fund Chicago teacher pensions and expand gaming revenues by authorizing six new casinos throughout the state.

However, Senate President John Cullerton’s pension reform bill failed Tuesday for the second time. Cullerton placed the measure on postponed consideration so it can be voted on later, which is important because all the bills in the package need to pass for any to become law.

In addition, the Senate passed bills Tuesday that would reform the state’s procurement process and consolidate local governments. Those measures also await approval from the House and the governor.

During his annual budget address earlier this month, Rauner lauded the Senate plan, which includes a Democrat-favored income tax increase alongside elements of his turnaround agenda.

The Republican said he's open to raising the income tax and expanding the state's sales tax to get the Senate deal done, but claimed it's "not fair" to include a permanent income tax increase with only a temporary property tax freeze. Instead, he encouraged members of the General Assembly to pass a permanent property tax freeze, like the one passed in the House last month.

Despite his newfound flexibility, Rauner noted that he wouldn't support new taxes on food, medicine or retirement income.

The Senate will reconvene in Springfield Wednesday.

Category: In The News

shirtsColumbia Chronicle - February 20, 2017 | original article

By Carolyn Bowen

Women paying more for the same goods and services than men solely because of gender is a form of discrimination, said State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake.

Bush said she never questioned the validity of the practice until recently. But now that she has, she is trying to put an end to it.

“Women are making 70 cents on the dollar and African-Americans and Latinos are making substantially less than that,” Bush told The Chronicle. “We certainly shouldn’t be paying more for the services we are using.”

In a Feb. 8 press release, Bush announced she is expanding legislation, called Pink Inc., to reduce economic barriers for Illinois women. Bush said the bill will make it illegal in Illinois for hair salons, barber shops, dry cleaners and tailors with a unisex clientele, to charge women more than men for similar services.

“This is a fairness issue, and it is really just time that it is addressed,” she said.

Pink Inc. is an extension of previous legislation Bush sponsored to end the “pink tax” on feminine hygiene products—specifically tampons, sanitary napkins and menstrual cups—which went into effect in Illinois Jan. 1.

Bush is working with representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to establish the details of the bill.

Khadine Bennett, the ACLU’s  Illinois director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs, said discrimination for public accommodations is already illegal under the Human Rights Act, but many customers do not know businesses are breaking the law. Women are often paying $2–$3 more than men at dry cleaning businesses for almost identical pieces of clothing, and more for the same short haircuts, Bennett added.

“[Pink Inc]  will hopefully make stores and service providers think twice as to whether they really need to charge that extra amount, or are they just doing it because they have in the past,” she said.

According to Bennett, Pink Inc. would require businesses to post signs providing the prices of services, as well as a notice stating that discrimination based on gender is illegal under the Human Rights Act. The bill may also create a hotline for customers to report gender-based discrimination complaints to the Department of Human Rights, which would follow with repercussions for the accused business.

For businesses including salons that frequently provide extra services to women, Bennett said charging more for those services is legitimate.

Travis Smith, lead instructor at Sassoon Academy, a hair design school, said in the six years he has worked there, the salon’s standard has always been to charge men and women equally for haircuts.

He said the bill could potentially affect smaller businesses including those in his industry that still abide by stereotypical gender constructs when it comes to haircuts.

“Some say men’s hair take less time because they would typically do men’s hair shorter, but [today] that’s very wrong,” Smith said.

Bush said this bill will always face opponents but hopes to get a signature from the governor by the end of the year.

According to Jesse Hathaway—research fellow at the Heartland Institute Center on Taxes and the Economy—Bush’s proposed legislation should not be a top priority for state legislators.

“Instead of worrying about whether the local barber is charging the same amount as the local Great Clips, Sen. Bush needs to be focusing on what she can do as a lawmaker to help the state government reduce its spending, reduce its taxes and encourage businesses to relocate into Illinois,” Hathaway said.

While Hathaway said senators should focus on building an economy that brings people back to the state, Bush said she is putting Illinois women at the forefront of her priorities.

“Women are coming together and saying, ‘We want to be recognized, treated equally and fairly, and we are not going to take this anymore,’” Bush said. 

Category: In The News

Listen to Senator Bush's interview on WBEZ's Morning Shift to find out what she thought of Governor Rauner's State of the State address.

 

Category: In The News

AKHAN picYahoo Finance - Oct. 4, 2016 | Original article

AKHAN Semiconductor, Illinois State Senator Melinda Bush and Economic Development Director Ellen Dean are pleased to announce a successful meeting with the Costa Rica Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE), having taken place on October 4th, 2016. AKHAN senior leadership was in attendance to welcome the visiting dignitaries including company founder & Chief Executive Officer Adam Khan, President & Chief Operating Officer Carl Shurboff, and Chief Financial Officer Kristie King.

This introductory meeting discussed promoting and enabling research and development in the semiconductor hardware space in the United States’s close relatives in Central and South America. In the meeting, AKHAN and CINDE discussed laying the groundwork for future deals with Costa Rican companies as well as created a development roadmap for partnership opportunities for product research, pilot development and high volume commercialization.

The meeting also focused on partnership opportunities for clean technology, and how CINDE can potentially license and collaborate on research with AKHAN, whose diamond-based semiconductors are pioneering electronics and engineering processes that minimize pollution and environmental waste.

“We are extremely excited to welcome officials from CINDE to our global HQ in Gurnee,” says AKHAN’s COO Carl Shurboff. “AKHAN’s advanced diamond materials, such as the Miraj Diamond™ Glass platform have allowed for synergistic discussions with the Costa Rican officials for expanding product manufacturing and collaborating on advanced R&D opportunities. AKHAN has been working quite effectively with both international businesses and officials, and we look forward to growing the bilateral opportunities with Costa Rica.”

Lucía Gross, Investment Promotion Manager Life Sciences sector at CINDE, notes that Costa Rica is interested in exploring new opportunities for collaboration with high level companies such as AKHAN. “Our country is the perfect location to develop research activities in several areas related to high tech manufacturing. We are very excited to establish contact and explore future agreements with [AKHAN]”.

"I'm pleased to continue working with AKHAN as they do exciting work in Lake County and take steps to forge important international partnerships," says State Senator Melinda Bush. "This kind of cooperation is key if we seek to thrive in the global economy."

Adds Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik, “The Village [of Gurnee] is pleased to welcome officials from CINDE to Gurnee! Costa Rica is home to companies which are providing advanced electronics for aerospace, automotive, and other industries, including R&D for new microchip tech design. There are many exciting opportunities for synergy between Gurnee's own AKHAN Semiconductor, which is ushering in the 'Diamond Age' of computing technology, and its Costa Rican counterparts in these fields. We look forward to seeing the fruits of this collaboration in the future!”

AKHAN Semiconductor is a technology company specializing in the fabrication and application of electronics-grade diamonds as functional semiconductors.

Founded in 1982 CINDE is a private, non-profit, non-political organization declared of public interest in 1984, responsible for the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Costa Rica.

Read the original article here.

Category: In The News

opioid crisis button