votebymail2 052220SPRINGFIELD – A new measure backed by State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) that would help ensure Illinois voters can safely participate in the November 2020 General Election was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker today.

“With the possibility COVID-19 will still be a problem in our state in the fall, it’s critical that we ensure voters can participate in the election, even if they do not feel safe going to their usual polling place,” Link said.

Senate Bill 1863 expands Illinois’ vote-by-mail program for the 2020 General Election. Under the new law, anyone who has voted in the last two years will receive a vote-by-mail application. New voters registering online may also automatically request a vote-by-mail ballot rather than having to apply.

The measure also establishes Election Day, November 3, 2020 as a holiday for Illinois schools and universities. Some schools and universities will be used as polling locations and will be properly cleaned before students and staff return. 

The law further allows election authorities to establish a curb-side voting program and extends early voting hours at polling locations.

“We can’t allow the novel coronavirus infringe on anyone’s ability to exercise their democratic right,” Link said.  “This law will help ensure every eligible voter can participate in our process.”

Senate Bill 1863 takes effect immediately.

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Ed stock photoNORTH CHICAGO – North Chicago CUSD 187 will receive a $200,000 grant from the Illinois State Board of Education to implement teacher residencies, State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) announced Thursday.

“Illinois is facing a teacher shortage, and it’s essential that we provide school districts with all the tools available to recruit and retain qualified teachers,” Link said. “Teacher residency programs provide yet another pathway to help schools ensure they can put high-quality teachers in classrooms.”

Teacher residency programs offer an alternative to the traditional teacher preparation experience. In partnership with state-recognized higher education institutions that have approved teacher preparation programs, residency programs provide clinical experience alongside mentor teachers while also providing additional staffing in high-need areas.

The State Board of Education is also now accepting applications for the next round of Teacher Residency Planning Grants. The grant application is open to local education agencies that serve high numbers of students of color or low-income students, or have a high demand for new teachers.

For more information or to apply, visit https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Educator-Effectiveness-Grants.aspx

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3Link TWINDIAN HILLS – The state budget signed into law today by Gov. JB Pritzker preserves essential services that Illinoisans need most during the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Hills) says.

“We returned to Springfield last month to ensure our state’s most important resources remain available for its residents, and that’s what’s in this budget,” Link said. “People are struggling, and now isn’t the time to make cuts that would eliminate services – not when people need them most.”

Illinois’ Fiscal Year 2021 budget includes full funding for P-12 education, a total investment of $12.6 billion. That includes $7.2 billion for the state’s evidence-based funding system, ensuring that school districts won’t be receiving less in state funding than last year.

The budget also holds funding flat for the state’s public colleges and universities, ensuring they won’t be forced to make steep cuts and eliminate services. 

Further, the spending plan once again makes Illinois’ full required pension payment.

“This budget provides stability in the face of the unprecedented challenges the people of Illinois are facing as a result of COVID-19,” Link said. “I’m glad we were able to retain critical services that will help Illinois residents cope with this pandemic.”

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Link floorWAUKEGAN – Waukegan’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing site is reopening Thursday in a new location, State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) announced.

“I’m glad to see that this critical testing service is available once again for area residents who suspect they may have been exposed to COVID-19,” Link said. “It remains essential that we continue to test for this virus to understand its presence in Lake County and throughout the state. If you’re experiencing symptoms or may have come in contact with COVID-19, I encourage you to stop by and get tested.”

The testing site has moved from its location on Northwestern Avenue in order to allow vehicle emissions testing to resume at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s facility there. It is now located at 102 W. Water St.

Testing will be available from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. daily while supplies last.

All individuals experiencing COVID-like symptoms are encouraged to seek testing. Testing is also available for the following individuals regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms:

  • Health care workers
  • First responders
  • Employees of correctional facilities
  • Individuals exposed to confirmed COVID-19 patients
  • Employees that support critical infrastructure (grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, restaurants, public utilities, factories, childcare and sanitation)
  • All local and state government employees
  • Individuals with compromised immune systems or chronic medical conditions

People seeking tests must be seated at a functioning window and are not permitted to exit their vehicles for the safety of testing personnel. Testing is free, but individuals will be asked to show photo identification and a health care employee or first responder identification, if applicable. 

For a full list of testing sites in Illinois and for contact information and guidelines on eligibility for testing, visit https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/testing-sites

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