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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Floor seatedSPRINGFIELD – A measure co-sponsored by State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Hills) aimed at reducing skyrocketing prescription insulin costs for diabetics passed the Illinois Senate with bipartisan support Tuesday.

“Drug companies know that diabetics and their families will pay virtually anything for the insulin they need, and they’re taking advantage of that,” Link said. “It’s time we take a stand for the people we represent and put them ahead of the profits of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Senate Bill 667 caps out of pocket insulin expenses at $100 for a 30-day supply and directs the Illinois Attorney General’s office to investigate reasons for rising insulin costs.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are more than 30 million Americans with diabetes, 7.4 million of which require prescription insulin every day to survive. However, the increasing costs associated with the medication have led many patients to ration their supply or seek care outside of the country.

“For diabetics, this medication isn’t optional, it’s necessary to survive,” Link said. “In Illinois, we need to ensure that all people have access to the medication they need, and this legislation is a major step toward achieving that goal.”

The measure would make Illinois the second state in the country to cap out of pocket insulin costs. Colorado became the first earlier this year.

Senate Bill 667 passed the Senate by a vote of 48-07. It will now move to the Illinois House of Representatives for further consideration.

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04122019CM0607RSPRINGFIELD – After a high-profile loophole allowed several Lake County Board members to draw their Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension while still serving on the county board, State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) passed a proposal to end the practice.

On Friday, Link’s proposal was signed into law by Gov. Pritzker.

“No elected official should be both serving in office while also drawing a retirement check for the work done in that capacity,” Link said. “It is a clear violation of the public trust and an integrity issue, as county board members have the ability to pass measures that could increase their own retirement benefits.”

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