03072017CM1130bw3Chicago Sun-Times, March 15, 2017 | Original opinion piece

By Mary Mitchell

We’ve all had bad days.

But what about those periods when it seems like all of the troubles of the world have landed on your doorstep?

Unfortunately, all too often the person walking under this kind of cloud has nowhere to turn. That sense of isolation is even more dangerous when a gun is close at hand.

A bill that would make it easier for family members and police officers to intervene in such a mental health crisis passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

HB 2354 and SB 1291 would create a “Lethal Violence Order of Protection,” similar to an order of protection in domestic violence cases.

“The heart of this is looking at the intersection between mental illness and gun violence,” said Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition.

Under the proposed legislation, a petitioner could file an affidavit alleging that the gun owner poses an “immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another possessing or receiving a firearm.”

The duplicate bills are the initiative of the Coalition and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and are opposed by the National Rifle Association.

Among other things, the proposed law would allow an immediate family member of a law enforcement official to petition the court for an order of protection. The court also would be allowed to restrain an individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm for one year.

Anyone filing a false petition could face criminal penalties.

A gun owner would have the right to appeal the court’s decision once that year, and then get their guns back, if successful in their petition.

Under current federal law, a person who involuntarily goes into a mental health facility is prohibited from owning a firearm. In Illinois, if someone voluntarily goes into a mental health facility, that person is prohibited from owning a firearm for five years.

“This is an alternative. A person could get treatment and not lose their right [to own a gun] for that long,” Daley said of the proposed legislation.

State Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) is one of the chief sponsors of the Senate bill.

Read more: Sun-Times: Bill aims to address mental health crisis and guns

I joined representatives of the American Heart Association and my fellow members of the Illinois Conference of Women Legislators yesterday for 2017's Go Red For Women event. Heart disease kills far too many women each year. I stand with my fellow legislators to raise awareness and fight for women.

Sen. Collins

Sen. Collins

Senator Collins with Barack ObamaThe Peoria Journal-Star - Feb. 3, 2017 | Original article

by Brian Robbins

President Barack Obama's birthday may become the next state holiday, if some Illinois Democrats have their way.

House Bills 231 and 503 and Senate Bill 55 all make Obama's birthday, Aug. 4, an official holiday.

Both House bills would make Aug. 4 a "legal holiday," in which state government offices shut down, and schools and businesses have the option of closing. The Senate bill's "Barack Obama Day" would be commemorative only.

Rep. Andre Thapedi, a Chicago Democrat who is sponsoring HB 231, had tried making Obama's birthday a state holiday last year, but the bill stalled in a House committee.

The chief co-sponsor of SB 55, Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, said she hopes Republicans can appreciate the achievements of the former president.

"I hope we don't descend to what we see at the federal level," Collins said. "As a Democrat, I have no problem honoring President Lincoln. There should be reciprocity between parties, Obama belongs to Illinois, and Illinois belongs to all people, Republicans and Democrats."

See the full article at the Peoria Journal-Star.

2017 01 25 Collins SotSLast year, as we began 2016 without a budget, I said that I wanted to see some understanding from the governor. That he understands the effect his policies have on real people. That he understands that these aren’t just numbers, but our seniors, our students, our social service providers, our disabled family members and our young college students who need grants to fund their higher education.

2017 01 25 Northwestern students

This past Wednesday, as we heard the governor’s State of the State address, I was proud to host students from Northwestern University in Springfield. Driven, capable young people like this year's Truman Fellows, Olyvia Chinchilla, Imani Wilson, Kevin Corkran, Matthew Guzman and Kathleen Nganga, are among those who, for the past 18 months, have wondered whether the state of Illinois will ever cast aside partisan bickering and resume fulfilling its obligations. Students like these are going to be the future of Illinois, and the past two years have made them unsure whether a state that does not fund its universities is where they want to settle.2017 01 25 KathleenNganga

Governor Rauner spoke of ensuring we are competitive enough as a state to be compassionate. Kathleen pointed out that prioritizing competition can often negatively impact those who are already marginalized. And I add that to be truly competitive, we must ensure a level playing field for all. That means funding higher education and fostering opportunity for students like Kathleen and her fellow students.

As Governor Rauner tries to highlight positives, we are once again entering the year without a budget – not due to a lack of vision, but a lack of cooperation. The Senate has repeatedly put forth spending plans, and all have been rejected because the governor wishes to fight over non-budgetary concerns.

We are still working on proposals aimed at breaking this impasse and funding the services that help the people of Illinois. As we do, I hope the governor will understand that compromise means setting aside oneself for the greater good.

ed funding petition

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