02062019CM0116CHICAGO – Members of the joint bipartisan Illinois Senate and House Education Committees met Tuesday to examine the abuse of seclusion rooms in public schools.

A report released by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois found that school officials disciplined misbehaving children by locking them in seclusion rooms alone, sometimes for hours. The practice has been found to be harmful to children’s well-being. In response to these alarming reports, State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) introduced Senate Bill 2315 to ban the use of these rooms as a punitive measure.

Senate Chairperson Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) convened the committee to hear testimony from a number of key education stakeholders, including the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Association of Social Workers, Equip for Equality and Illinois Education Association, along with many others.

“The alarming number of reported violations of the use of isolation rooms in our schools is absurd,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The goal of our committee is to keep our students safe and ensure the needs of the school population are met. While we cannot simply ignore safety protocols, we need to certify our educators are well-trained in techniques and procedures, and are supported by proper staffing numbers. Our children deserve the best opportunities to be successful, and that can’t happen while this misconduct occurs.”

The governor’s office has issued an emergency ban on the practice. Gillespie, Bertino-Tarrant and other members of the General Assembly are working to ensure the proper steps are taken to keep children safe in classrooms across the state.

“We must end the abusive practice of de facto solitary confinement and improper use of restraints,” Gillespie said. “At the same time we must meet the unique needs of students, honor their dignity and ensure a safe environment for all. This is the needle we must thread with our legislation, and I look forward to working closely with all the stakeholders to achieve immediate and sustainable changes to the culture and practices in our schools.”

20180314 KS 3900 RSPLAINFIELD – State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) urges Illinoisans to educate themselves on new driving laws that go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

In light of the increase in accidents and deaths of Illinois State Police troopers, Bertino-Tarrant backed Senate Bill 1862, which tightens up Scott’s Law in Illinois. The law clarifies drivers need to slow down, change lanes and proceed with caution when emergency vehicles are stopped on the side of the highway.

“Every day, our officers and first responders put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to work to ensure it is second nature for drivers to slow down and move over when any vehicle is stalled on the side of the road. This simple step will help keep our police and first responders safe.”

Fines will also double for illegally approaching, overtaking or passing stopped school buses under House Bill 1873.

Every year, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services conducts a one-day count of illegal school bus passing incidents across the nation. In 2018, school bus drivers in 38 states participated and recorded 83,944 incidents during that one-day count. NASPDTS concluded as many as 15 million vehicles could be illegally passing school buses and their students each 180-day school year.

“Our children should be safe as they get on and off their school buses,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We need to discourage, prevent and punish careless driving. Our children’s lives on the line.”

Bertino-Tarrant said keeping people safe is also the goal in construction zones, as construction season returns in Illinois. Senate Bill 1496 increases the maximum penalty for hitting a construction worker to $25,000 from the current $10,000 fine.

“Driving recklessly through construction zones to shave off a few minutes of your travel time can end up being the difference between life and death for our construction workers,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We will increase these penalties in the earnest hope the higher fine makes drivers think twice as they enter a construction zone.”

Bertino-Tarrant urges drivers to research these new driving rules that will go into effect at the start of the year. If residents have any questions or concerns, she encourages them to reach out to her office at 815-254-4211.

“Safe driving saves lives,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We all must work together to be better drivers and keep our streets safe.”

02062019CM0116PLAINFIELD – Starting Jan. 1, 2020, Illinois residents’ genetic testing results will be protected, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) championed House Bill 2189, which prohibits companies that provide direct-to-consumer commercial genetic testing such as ancestry.com and 23andMe, from sharing any test results with health or life insurance companies without the consumer’s consent.

“In the last couple of years, genetic testing has become easily accessible and affordable to consumers,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Will County residents should be able to rest assured that their personal health information will remain private as they make informed decisions to manage their health care.”

The number of people who have had their DNA analyzed with direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy tests more than doubled during 2017 and exceeded 12 million in 2018.

Last year, an estimated 1 in 25 American adults now have access to personal genetic data.

“We have the responsibility to ensure personal data is used ethically,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “As technology evolves it is imperative that laws advance with the needs of the people of our state.”

Representative Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) was the lead sponsor in the House.

House Bill 2189 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The measure was signed into law in July.

toy safety 1PLAINFIELD – State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) urges residents to reference the Illinois Attorney General’s annual safe shopping guide this holiday season.

This year’s guide includes information about more than 30 products deemed safety hazards that range from choking hazards, articles of clothing that do not meet the government’s flammability standard and furniture that can injure children if not assembled correctly.

“The holidays are a special time for us all,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We want to make sure the children in our lives get everything on their wish list but I urge Will County residents to take a second to reference the shopping guide to ensure gifts are safe for the children who will play with them.”

The list includes certain bath toys, handmade knit dolls, power wheels toys, boots, socks, pajamas and more. The guide, which also features photos of the hazardous products, is meant to help Illinoisans more easily spot the goods, so shoppers do not purchase them or can remove them from homes.

A complete list of product warnings and recall information can be found on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website, www.recalls.gov. The Attorney General’s Office also has a recall hotline, 1-888-414-7678, for Illinoisans seeking more information.

The safe shopping guide can be found at http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/safe_shopping.html The Trouble in Toyland report can be found at uspirg.org/feature/usp/trouble-in-toyland-2019.

 

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