Capitol News Illinois - February 25, 2019 | original article

SPRINGFIELD – With more in the works for the new session, 12 bills became law last year as a result of a yearlong investigation by the Senate Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Awareness and Prevention.

“Task forces many times meet, and many times there isn’t a lot of actual legislation that comes out and is signed into law,” said Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat who co-chaired the task force. “So we’re really proud of the work that has been done here.”

Surrounded by several other members of the task force, Bush and fellow co-chair Sen. Jil Tracy, a Quincy Republican, held a news conference Tuesday to discuss the task force’s newly-released report, and to detail some of the legislation that resulted from its investigation last year.

The outcomes included, among other things, legislation that requires lobbyists, legislators and state employees to receive harassment training; extends the statute of limitations for sexual conduct offenses; gives assault victims more rights at medical facilities; and requires taxing bodies to notify the public if an employee is fired for sexual harassment or discrimination.

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Category: In The News

The State Journal Register - February 20, 2019 | original article

SPRINGFIELD — Two senators who co-chaired the Senate's sexual discrimination and harassment awareness task force said Tuesday they want an omnibus bill passed this year to combat harassment in the workplace.

Sens. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, said Senate Bill 1829 will address a wide range of issues to combat sexual harassment, including:

  • Limits on employers requiring non-disclosure agreements, forced arbitration clauses and non-disparagement agreements of employees when it comes to sexual harassment
  • Require employers to have sexual harassment prevention training
  • Require large employers to report on numbers of sexual harassment settlements against them
  • Prohibit court orders that cover up acts of harassment
  • Provides unpaid leave from work for victims of sexual harassment or sexual violence.

A dozen bills were passed by Illinois lawmakers last year after the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace -- including in the Illinois Capitol -- got national attention.

"We know there's a lot more work to be done in this arena and we plan on continuing," Bush said.

In addition to the omnibus bill, bush and Tracy said they want to see enactment of legislation requiring hotels and casinos make panic buttons available to certain employees. The buttons can be used to summon help if the employee feels threatened.

"I do want to say they have already been very proactive and are working to move pieces like that forward in the industry," Bush said.

Category: In The News

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, in her local downtown Grayslake office Monday. (Jim Newton /News-Sun)Lake County News-Sun - May 15, 2018 | original article

By Jim Newton

A new Illinois Senate resolution, sponsored by Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake, asks the Wisconsin state legislature to reconsider the state’s abandonment of multiple environmental regulations to pave the way for the planned Foxconn plant near Racine.

Bush, a Democrat, said Monday Wisconsin’s actions raise major concerns about flooding and air and water quality. For example, she said she’s heard from several residents in Gurnee concerning the project’s potential to worsen local flooding along the Des Plaines south of Racine.

“Obviously air quality is really important, but my biggest concern with this, if built, is that it will be able to skirt federal and state requirements and we will have more flooding,” Bush said in her Grayslake office Monday.

Of considerable local concern is that part of the deal passed by the Wisconsin General Assembly allows Foxconn to fill wetlands without a permit, a reversal of longstanding multi-jurisdictional efforts to utilize wetlands located within the Des Plaines River watershed as a major tool to reduce river flooding.

Racine County, the Foxconn site and Lake County all sit in the Des Plaines watershed, Bush said, and flooding in the Des Plaines River watershed and throughout Lake County has caused billions of dollars in damage in recent years, including record flooding in July.

“The fact that Wisconsin leaders are willing to sacrifice the health of humans and the environment for jobs is unacceptable,” Bush said. “Lake County residents deserve better. I hope Wisconsin leaders will put people before profits and reconsider the Foxconn deal.”

The Senate resolution, passed by Illinois senators last week, also asks Illinois agencies to take whatever actions possible to protect against the loss of water, potential flooding and other ecological impacts that might result from the Foxconn deal.

Mike Warner, executive director of the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission, said that group is keeping a close eye on the Foxconn approval and development process.

“The Foxconn development site is in the headwaters of the Des Plaines River, so any impact (such as wetland filling) without mitigation would eventually come down into Lake County and affect us,” Warner said Monday.

The resolution urges Wisconsin leaders to put more thought into the “serious environmental and public health concerns that may threaten Illinoisans” as a result of the planned Foxconn Technology Co. plant planned for Mount Pleasant, near Racine.

“The decisions from Wisconsin leaders and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to allow Foxconn to skirt environmental protections are irresponsible and short-sighted,” Bush, a Democrat, said. “The environmental impacts don’t stop at the Wisconsin border. Lake County residents will be affected, but because Foxconn is exempt from environmental regulations, we don’t know the full impact.”

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Category: In The News

The Village of Mundelein's police chief, Eric Guenther (R), and the City of Dixon's former police chief and current city manager, Danny Langloss (L), backed the deflection bill at a Senate hearing in Springfield.Chicago Tribune - April 19, 2018 | original article

An Illinois Senate panel has approved a bipartisan plan that authorizes local police departments and community partners to develop local strategies to fight the Illinois opioid crisis.

The Senate Human Services Committee on April 10 voted, 8-0, to advance legislation, Senate Bill 3023, that encourages local law enforcement to "deflect" from criminal arrest individuals who have overdosed or who have substance use problems, directing them instead into substance use disorder treatment.

The "Community-Law Enforcement Partnership for Deflection and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Act," sponsored by State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and State Senator Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), provides a "roadmap" for partnerships between law enforcement, substance use treatment providers, and community members to guide the development of deflection programs in their communities, according to one of the bill's chief proponents.

"Traditionally, local police have had two choices when faced with someone who they believe may have a substance use disorder-to arrest or to not arrest," said Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) President Pamela Rodriguez. "With the opioid crisis raging across the state, deflection provides a third option, to connect people with community-based substance use treatment services that address their underlying substance use problems. This bill lays out a roadmap to municipalities, offering guidance, program features, and a range of options."

The number of Illinois overdose deaths from all opioids increased by 82% from 2013 to 2016.

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Category: In The News

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