04102019CW0503SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) released the following statement in response to Governor JB Pritzker’s budget proposal Wednesday:

“The Department of Children and Family Services has long been in need of major changes, and I’m glad to see that Governor Pritzker is committed to making a significant investment in the agency. The proposed $147 million in additional funding is going to make a serious difference in ensuring that all children receive the care they need.

“The governor’s proposal also makes needed investments in education. The proposed increases of $50 million to the early childhood block grant and $350 million in evidence based funding for K-12 schools will help make Illinois a destination for parents looking to send their kids to high quality schools.

“This proposal marks a good starting point as we work to create a budget for the state of Illinois. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in the legislature to develop a balanced budget that will keep Illinois moving forward.”

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FloorWAUKEGAN – State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) applauded Medline Industries’ decision to temporarily close its Waukegan sterilization plant while working to decrease ethylene oxide emissions.

“It’s clear just how dangerous exposure to ethylene oxide can be,” Link said. “I’m glad to see that Medline is taking the health consequences of people who live near the plant seriously.”

The company announced Tuesday that it will temporarily halt sterilization operations at the Waukegan facility to install nearly $10 million worth of upgrades to comply with new state laws regulating ethylene oxide.

Last year, Link co-sponsored a law that set emission limits for non-sterilizations facilities that emit ethylene oxide and requires them to obtain permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. He also sponsored a law to prevent renewal of permits for facilities that violate state or federal standards for ethylene oxide emissions.

Both measures took effect in June.

“We need tight regulations on ethylene oxide to ensure that the public health is protected in communities that neighbor these plants,” Link said. “The laws we passed last spring are a good step forward, but we still have a lot of work to do on this issue.”

Last year, a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found higher levels of ethylene oxide in the blood of people who live near plants that emit the chemical. Further studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization and the National Toxicology Program have all demonstrated a link between ethylene oxide and cancer.

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PensionsSPRINGFIELD – A bipartisan measure to consolidate most police and firefighter pension funds throughout the state passed the Illinois Senate Thursday with support from State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek).

“This proposal retains benefits while also making our system more productive and efficient,” Link said. “The pension crisis is one of the biggest issues we’ve been dealing with in this state for years, and the legislation we passed today marks a major step toward solving that problem.”

Senate Bill 1300 would consolidate all of the state’s nearly 650 police and firefighter pension funds outside of Chicago into two individual and separate funds over a 30-month transition period.

Consolidation of these pension funds is expected to provide them with a greater return on investments and save taxpayers an estimated $160 million each year, while not affecting individual pension amounts.

The legislation also allows local pension fund boards to retain authority to rule on benefits.

“We wanted to ensure that we preserved local authority over pension benefits while also providing enhanced investment opportunities and saving taxpayer dollars,” Link said. “This measure makes financial sense for pension recipients, the pension funds themselves and Illinois taxpayers.”

The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 42-12. It will now be sent to the governor’s desk for approval.

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Public vapingSPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) that would ban public consumption of e-cigarettes passed the Illinois state Senate Tuesday.

“It’s only fair that we treat these products the same way we treat cigarettes,” Link said. “It’s still unclear what the health effects of these devices are, and people shouldn’t be forced to be exposed to them in public places if they don’t want to.”

According to the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 1,600 cases of vaping-related ailments reported, including 34 deaths across 24 states.

Senate Bill 1864 would expand the Smoke Free Illinois Act by prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products in public places, places of employment and within 15 feet of building entrances.

The measure could also help curb youth-cigarette use.

The recently released 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that e-cigarette use among high school students increased by 78% from 2017 to 2018. In total, 20.8% of all high school students use e-cigarettes.

“The data is perfectly clear on this issue: we now have a vaping epidemic going on in our schools,” Link said. “Big tobacco has been specifically marketing these products to high school students for years to line their own pockets, and it’s time for us to take a stand against this predatory practice.”

Senate Bill 1864 passed the Senate in a 41-11 vote. It will now go before the Illinois House of Representatives for further consideration.

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