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Monday, June 20

PROTECT: June 2016 Legislative Update

Kyle Hillman, CMP
Director, Legislative Affairs and Meetings Management
NASW Illinois Chapter

This article is intended to help you better understand how to Protect the Profession. If you have insight on legislation and advocacy that supports the social work profession, please consider contributing an article! Submit your article proposal online here.


While we wait for movement (any movement) on the Illinois budget crisis, I wanted to update you on some of the NASW Illinois Chapter initiatives as well as other like-minded organizations’ initiatives which we supported. Also, please watch your e-mail for future action alerts regarding the Illinois budget. If previous years are any indication, any deal that gets done will likely leave very little time for advocates to chime in. In the meantime, write to Governor Rauner and ask him to sign Illinois Senate Bill 2332 (SB2332, Social Work Medicaid Reimbursement) and Illinois Senate Bill 2038 (SB2038, partial funding of Human Services).

SOCIAL WORK MEDICAID REINBURSEMNT

One of NASW Illinois Chapter’s longest running agenda items was to finally get rules written and approved to allow licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) in all settings to bill Medicaid. With your help we took a major step forward in getting this done. The bill requires the department to write rules within 90 days of signing. At this point, Governor Rauner has not yet signed. You can send him an e-mail by submitting our action alert here: Send Action Alert.

Bills: Sen. Biss/Rep. Nekritz SB2332

HUMAN SERVICES FUNDING

While the NASW Illinois Chapter would have rather seen a full and responsible budget, after higher education was partially funded, we reluctantly supported this bill which would partially fund some human service programs using funds that already have dollars to utilize. The bill, while having bipartisan support, still sits on the governor’s desk.

Bill: Sen. Cullerton/Spkr. Madigan SB2038

MEDICAID

A bill that would dramatically improve Medicaid Managed Care directories passed both chambers by a bipartisan roll call. Besides making provider information accurate, the bill mandated multiple formats that the directory should be provided.

Bill: Sen. Biss/Rep. Ammons HB6213

EDUCATION

After many rounds of amendments, a bill that would allow Chicago to join the other school districts around the state in having an elected school board passed the Illinois House with a large bipartisan vote. It is inexplicably being held without a vote in the Illinois Senate for partisan reasons related to the Chicago mayor. Considering the abysmal social worker to student ratios, the NASW Illinois Chapter strongly supports and will continue to advocate for this critical public representation change.

Bill: Sen. Raoul/ Rep. Martwick HB557

CANNABIS

For a second time in two years, a bill that would create a statewide uniform penalty for possession of small amounts of cannabis is headed to the governor. The governor is expected to sign the bill as it includes all of his recommended changes this time. The measure would impose fines between $100 and $200 for possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis but no jail time.  Governor Rauner also said he supports a plan that would extend the state's medical marijuana pilot program to July 1, 2020. The current program is set to end in 2017. The plan would also add post-traumatic stress disorder and terminal illnesses to the list of approved conditions to use the drug.

The NASW Illinois Chapter supported both bills in Springfield. As many are aware, we also supported the cannabis bill in 2015, and it was on our legislative agenda at our annual Advocacy Day both years. We are very hopeful it won’t have to appear on the 2017 agenda.

Bills: Sen. Steans/Rep. Cassidy SB2228and Sen. Haine/Rep. Lang SB10

AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION

Lawmakers approved a plan that originated from Chicago Votes and championed by Cook County Clerk Orr which would automatically register people to vote when they filled out paperwork with state agencies for various reasons. People would have the option to opt out of the automatic signup. The NASW Illinois Chapter strongly supported this bill.

Bill: Sen. Manar/ Rep. Gabel SB250

WOMEN'S RIGHTS/HEALTH

A measure eliminating the state sales tax on tampons, menstrual cups, and other feminine hygiene products got approval from lawmakers. The Illinois legislature also approved plans that would ensure pregnant women receive information from doctors about all treatment options, especially during emergencies. They also passed a great bill that expands and protects a women’s choice of contraceptive, including allowing for extended quantity of birth control at time of purchase.

Bills: Rep. Bush/Rep. Guzzardi SB2746, Sen. Biss/Rep. Gabel SB1564, Sen. Hutchinson/Rep. Nekritz HB5576

DRINKING WATER IN SCHOOLS

Illinois lawmakers also passed out of the Illinois Senate (it may still move this summer) a bill that requires all schools to test for lead in their drinking fountains. While this bill came late in the session, NASW Illinois Chapter strongly endorsed this.

Bill: Sen Steans/Rep. Harper SB550

GUN TRAFFICKING AND FOID CARDS

A plan criminalizing gun trafficking (and carried by both Republican leaders) got unanimous support from lawmakers in a rare sign of cooperation in Illinois. This is a serious issue for the state and, in particular, Chicago.

Another bill that would prevent a person with a restraining order from possessing a gun permit passed with bipartisan support. As social workers are often involved in these tense situations, this was a responsible restraint for protection of the victim and the practitioner.

Both bills were strongly supported by the NASW IL Chapter.

Bills: Sen. Radogno/Rep. Durkin HB6303, Sen. Cunningham/Rep. Cassidy HB6331

STINGRAY DEVICES

While perhaps not the most obvious bill for social workers to support, social workers active in protesting can appreciate it. Legislators approved a plan that would restrict law enforcement's use of cell-site simulators, called Stingrays, which mimic cell towers so police can track phones in criminal investigations. Under the measure police have to get a warrant before they use the devices, and they have to delete data from people who are not subject to an investigation. It was being used to track protestors, and for that the NASW Illinois Chapter supported the initiative.

Bill: Sen. Biss/Rep. Williams SB2343

LGBTQ RIGHTS

Legislators in the Illinois Senate approved a resolution condemning states putting into place discriminatory laws focused on the LGBTQ+ community. The resolution also called for Governor Rauner to restrict all nonessential travel to those locations.

A bill that didn’t pass but that we will continue to work on would have changed the legal requirement for transgender individuals to change their birth certificate gender after a mental health professional signed off on the change (rather than the current standard of prerequisite surgery). Unfortunately the bathroom laws and hysteria that followed made this bill difficult to run, but advocates are continuing to push ahead. The NASW Illinois Chapter is part of the coalition working to get this passed.

Rep. Harris HB6073

CHILD SUPPORT

A bill that would not count a portion of child support towards family income in relation to TANF qualification passed both chambers on pretty much partisan lines. It is unsure if the governor will sign. The NASW Illinois Chapter strongly supported this bill.

Bill: Sen. Lightford/Rep. Wallace SB2340

WORKERS RIGHTS

Legislators also passed a bipartisan bill that would mandate paid bereavement leave when a child passes away. The bill would allow for the employees to make arrangements for burial without losing their job.

Legislators also passed (this time along mostly party lines) numerous bills raising the minimum wage for low-income health care workers to $15.00 per hour. While we would like to see a living wage across the state, it was an important first step.

The NASW Illinois Chapter supported these initiatives.

Bill: Sen. Bertino-Tarrant/ Rep. Manley SB2613

Posted on 06/20/16 at 08:00 AM

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