Springfield: Measure to keep state museum open moves to governor

A measure to keep the Illinois State Museum and its branch locations throughout the state open passed both chambers and is now on to Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk.

The measure, which picked up several republican votes, would change state law to mandate the facilities stay open to the public. The governor announced the museum would close because of the budget impasse. Republican Representative Tom Demmer said it’s a feel-good measure and funding remains murky.

“I don’t think this bill is drafted in its appropriate form and we should really come back and look at this from an operational side to know what kind of commitment we’re making and the appropriate place to do that is the budget process.”

Supporters said the museum system’s accreditation is threatened and the branches across the state are tasked with preserving the state’s history.

The measure received 82 votes, eleven more than what’s needed to override a potential veto. Museum facilities have been closed to the public since October 1st.

Unemployment insurance measure moves to House

It’s onto the House with an agreed measure to avert large increases in unemployment insurance costs for employers and decreases in benefits for unemployed. Senators on Tuesday passed House Bill 1285, something Democratic Senator Terry Link said is the outcome of a team effort.

“This was part of the governor’s Turnaround Agenda and I’m extremely proud to be the sponsor and hopefully the beneficiary of passing the first Turnaround Agenda on an agreed upon situation. Let’s now try that in a budget.”

Governor Rauner announced the measures earlier this week saying it was an effort between lawmakers, his office, and the business and labor community. The measure passed the Senate unanimously and, if passed in the House, is expected to save $470 million in unemployment insurance taxes and $300 million in benefits.

Senators pass dental hygienist measure

Sponsor of Senate Bill 500 Democrat Bill Haine says dentists were opposed to the concept of giving hygienists the authority to perform some dental operations on patients but continued pressure from public health advocates changed their mind. Other supporters say the measure helps provide access to people who need dental services. However, Republican Senator Dale Righter said he has concerns about relaxing regulations for dental health care providers.

“You are carving out for individuals who are in poverty, who are on Medicaid, and saying ‘these will be served by these lesser qualified people.’ And I’m not saying ill-qualified or unqualified because I’m not a dental expert, but lesser qualified.”

Righter equated the move to lessening safety standards for homes and automobiles to make things more affordable for poorer populations, something he didn’t recommend. Haine fired back that his dental coverage through the state is top notch, something that’s not the case for people on public assistance.

“A person on Medicaid doesn’t have any care. They won’t get a Cadillac but they’ll get a well running Ford.”

If the bill is approved by the House and governor, the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules, or J-CAR, will work out particulars of implementing the proposed regulations. If passed, the measure would sunset in 2021.

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