State Roundup: Governor visits IDOT listening tour, told he’s wrong on Turnaround

From Illinois News Network

The Governor got an earful during his presentation in front of an Illinois Department of Transportation listening tour stop in Springfield. Governor Bruce Rauner was addressing the IDOT gathering about his “Turnaround Illinois Agenda” when Sean Stott, the Director of Government Affairs for Laborer’s International Union, got up to say a few words. Afterwards Stott said the Governor’s statements on right-to-work zones are factually inaccurate.

“The federal government has said and the courts have ruled repeatedly for decades that local governments cannot establish local right-to-work zones as he would promote.”

But Governor Rauner says the federal law is clear.

“We’re highly confident that federal labor law allows local governments to decide for themselves labor issues if the state authorizes them to do it.”

Rauner says he’s pushing for a statewide law that would allow local governments the option of becoming a right-to-work zone and he expects any measure on right-to-work issues will be litigated. The Governor also says that he’s working with legislative leaders to hash out some of the proposals and hopes to have the package of bills introduced in the next few weeks.

Right-to-work zones resolutions in front of local governments

Meanwhile nearly 30 local governments have approved non-binding resolutions supporting the Governor’s “Turnaround Illinois Agenda”. That’s according to the the Governor’s office. The resolution, shopped out by the Illinois Municipal League and other government association groups, includes employee empowerment zones which are also referred to as right-to-work zones. The resolutions also include proposed reforms to workers’ compensation, insurance costs, business regulations and issues concerning project labor agreements and prevailing wage. Unions oppose the resolutions saying implementation of the measures would mean disintegration of the middle class. But Governor Rauner says the reforms are necessary to make the state’s business climate more friendly. A City of Chicago committee will hold a hearing on a resolution supporting the Governor’s proposals Tuesday with a possible vote next month.

Youth concussions focus of Senate Bill

Awareness about youth concussions is one thing. Setting up policies and procedures to integrate children who get concussions back into a learning environment is another. Senate Bill 7 from Democratic State Senator Kwame Raoul would do several things, including mandating schools, from elementary up to high school, craft policies and procedures of getting kids suffering from concussions back into school settings. Raoul says he was meeting with various parties about amending the concussion legislation and got a call that his son received a concussion. But it didn’t stop there. Raoul says his daughter then called with complaints about headaches, saying she had recently fallen and hit her head. Raoul says he didn’t initially recognize the symptoms.

“If I as a legislator working on this policy was blind to this invisible injury imagine how teachers at school who don’t fully understand or would not know to accommodate for the injury.”

It’s not just sports, 40 percent of concussions are from falls or other injuries outside of athletics, according to, Dr. Cynthia LaBella. She says concussions impact the brain of children who are also students.

“And they all have to go to school. And I find that one of the struggles in my clinic particularly is that recovery period and integrating that child back into school after a concussion.”

Current law only address head injuries for high school sports, not for elementary school-age kids, and that’s something SB 7 would address. The measure would also require schools to create concussion action plans to get kids back into the learning environment and hold concussion action drills once a year.

Bill would mandate concussion emergency drills

Raoul says it’s not just about kids returning to sports.

“That the questions that we deal with aren’t limited to returning to the field or returning to the court, it’s also about how you return to the classroom.”

Illinois High School Association Assistant Executive Director Kurt Gibson says the awareness level is there, but there needs to be more focus on transitioning kids back into the classroom. But the legislation would also mandate concussion emergency action drills.

“Having venue specific emergency action plans in place for athletic facilities is also a development that shouldn’t be overly burdensome for our schools. I would really liken the development practice and implementation of these similar to what schools are doing right now for fire and disaster training.”

Senator Raoul says there’s no teeth in the proposed law, but families could put pressure on schools to enact the policies to limit their liability. The measure remains in the Senate Education Committee.

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