SPRINGFIELD – Running for elected office calls for a lot of long days, late nights and busy weekends. It can be discouraging for people with children – especially single parents – to chase their desire to serve their communities.

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To enable more women – and all parents – to seek public office, State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) spearheaded a movement to allow campaign finances to pay for child care.

“The window is narrow for women who have young children to run – and it’s time to change that,” Bush said. “No one should have to choose between serving their community and being a parent.” 

Senate Bill 536 would allow campaign funds to be used for child care or dependent elder adult care for not only candidates – but also staff and volunteers.

Currently, Illinois campaign finance law does not expressly say whether campaign funds may be used to pay child care expenses. However, there is a common fear among candidates that child care could be considered as a campaign finance violation if deemed a personal expense.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 35% of Illinois legislators are women – a number 6% higher than the national average. However, while the number in Illinois is greater than the national average, Bush said she would like to see more female representation in Springfield – and believes that starts with better access to child care.

“I always had a desire to help and serve others, but I couldn’t do so until my son was much older,” Bush said. “We must support parents who want a seat at the table. By prioritizing working parents, we’re prioritizing help for all working families.”  

The measure passed out of Senate Thursday and now heads to the House for final consideration.

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SPRINGFIELD – A no-contact order typically instructs a defendant not to have any in-person contact with a victim. However, unless a measure passed through the Senate by Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) becomes law, they could still hound their accuser via text message, email or social media.

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“When a person pursues a no-contact order against someone, there is nothing stopping the perpetrator from sending threatening texts or leaving harassing voicemails,” Bush said. “In the age of technology and online dating, far too many people have experienced unwarranted communications after drawing the line.”

Electronic contact – which includes texting, emailing and calling – would be considered a violation of a person’s stalking no-contact order under Bush’s proposal. If a person were to break the order, they would face the same repercussions as they would for in-person contact.

Under current law, electronic contact is not considered means of correspondence. Without the clarification found within Senate Bill 1677, a stalker could contact someone virtually and harass them without facing consequences. 

“Once a no-contact order is in place, no one should have to worry about hearing from their abuser,” Bush said. “As technology evolves, so too must the measures we take to help people feel safe.”  

The measure passed the Senate Wednesday and now heads to the House for further consideration.

 

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GRAYSLAKE – State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is announcing that school districts in the 31st District will receive more than $90 million in additional funding to help address the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Overnight, teachers were forced to get creative and find ways to connect and guide their students through the ever-changing battles brought forth by the pandemic,” Bush said. “They did so with little guidance and funding, but with a lot of grace and leadership.”

The funding comes as part of the most recent federal COVID-19 relief packages. Schools, students and parents have overcome challenges that no one could have imagined before the pandemic began, including remote and hybrid learning, digital connection issues, new processes for receiving state and federal aid that normally flow through schools, and more.

Local school districts are set to receive the following amounts:

  • Winthrop Harbor SD 1: $799,625
  • Beach Park CCSD 3: $4,449,621
  • Zion ESD 6: $5,249,246
  • Millburn CCSD 24: $546,180
  • Emmons SD 33: $257,950
  • Antioch CCSD 34: $804,130
  • Gavin SD 37: $1,496,092
  • Big Hollow SD 38: $1,470,308
  • Grayslake CCSD 46: $2,966,400
  • Woodland CCSD 50: $5,516,722
  • Round Lake CUSD 116: $21,569,241
  • CHSD 117: $27,085,963
  • Wauconda CUSD 118: $4,504,623
  • Warren Twp HSD 121: $3,520,999
  • Zion-Benton Twp HSD 126: $8,025,622
  • Grayslake CHSD 127: $1,895,910

The majority of the funding comes from the American Rescue Plan, which gives local schools a great deal of flexibility in how they can use the money over the next 3 ½ years. At least 20% of the funding must be used to address learning loss, but beyond that, school districts can use the money to address many different issues and costs. For example, it can be used to better equip schools for safe learning, to prevent layoffs, to address students’ social and emotional needs, to fund summer programs, or to ensure all students have access to reliable Wi-Fi and technology.

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The State Board of Education, in collaboration with other state agencies that address education, has produced a guide for local school districts to help them decide how to best use their resources. While the guide and other state-sponsored services are completely voluntary, the state aims to support local districts during this difficult time.

“While the end of the pandemic is in sight, the educational struggles it provoked may linger,” Bush said. “However, I am confident this additional funding will allow schools to move forward in a way that’s best for all students and staff.”

In total, Illinois received nearly $7 billion to support local school districts.

 

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SPRINGFIELD – When a person with a mental health condition calls 911, they don’t always need the hospital – but are typically taken to an emergency room rather than the mental health facility they require. State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is leading a measure that would change that by allowing EMS workers to take patients where they’ll most benefit.

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“Imagine going through a mental health crisis, then being taken to an emergency room, rather than a place that can actually help you,” Bush said. “That’s going to cause anger and frustration – let alone waste time that could be used to begin treatment.”

Currently, EMS providers can only take a patient to an emergency room, where a medical professional can then determine if they would be better suited for a mental health facility. To bypass the extra – often unnecessary and costly – step, Senate Bill 693 allows direct transport to proper assistance. 

EMS workers would have the opportunity to request bypass of the hospital if the patient has no immediate life-threatening injury or illness, is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and does not have an obvious need to be seen by emergency room personnel.

Behavioral health patients are increasingly putting pressure on emergency departments. They often occupy emergency rooms at disproportionate rates due to a limited number of psychiatric inpatient beds, limited community resources or a lack of access to care. Not only does this put a burden on overflowing emergency rooms – especially in the age of COVID-19 – it also can be financially cumbersome.

“Being admitted to the emergency room – no matter if you have insurance or not – can be very expensive,” Bush said. “Let’s work to ensure people can get the fastest treatment possible without unnecessary fees.”

The measure passed the Senate Behavioral and Mental Health Committee Tuesday and heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

 

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

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