CollinsFloor8The Senate recently adopted a resolution I sponsored to thank Congress for preserving Saturday postal service. Individuals and businesses have relied on six-day mail service for the timely delivery of packages, letters and documents since 1912. Eliminating Saturday delivery – as the Postmaster General has attempted to do – would adversely affect many Americans but particularly rural residents, senior citizens, small businesses and working families. A reduction in delivery days would create a backlog of undelivered mail and increase the cost of postal service as employees work overtime to cope with the same volume of mail in only five days.

I applaud Congress for recognizing the duty of the Postal Service to operate in the public interest and urge our elected officials to continue to block USPS management from eliminating Saturday delivery in the future.

001collinsSPRINGFIELD — State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) issued the following statement after voting against Senate Bill 1739, the gaming expansion package that passed the Senate today:

I have strongly and consistently condemned the devastating education cuts proposed by Gov. Quinn.

But I cannot condone replacing this money at the expense of families destroyed by gambling. At a time when government must act responsibly to protect its citizens and preserve core services, we should not rely on the financial irresponsibility of our own residents (and those of other states) to meet needs. To do so would be not only immoral, but self-defeating, requiring greater expenditures to assist the children and families who suffer when we make excessive gambling a more omnipresent temptation. This legislation does just that, offering vast new opportunities to wager one’s livelihood. None of the ethical safeguards advertised as improvements on earlier versions alters its ultimate and intended effect — to encourage more gambling in our state, particularly in its largest city.

The bargain we were offered today — gaming expansion in exchange for filling the threatened $400 million hole in the K-12 and higher education budgets — is a deceptive one. It promises to dull the urgency of our budget crisis without requiring lawmakers to make tough decisions and spread the pain equitably, taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable among us. It is a short-sighted fix, and I hope my colleagues in the House and the governor possess the courage and wisdom to reject it.

CollinsFloorShot7SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) has introduced legislation that would implement a new nursing home reimbursement system six months earlier than allowed by last year’s Medicaid reforms.

“It is absolutely imperative that we implement this critical reform without delay so senior citizens unable to stay in their homes can receive the best possible long-term care,” said Collins, co-sponsor of landmark nursing home reform legislation in 2009. “The new system provides a financial incentive to shift the focus in long-term care away from simply filling beds and toward serving the patients whose needs are most acute.”

Last year’s SMART Act (Senate Bill 2840) made cuts to numerous Medicaid services but also required a transition by Jan. 1, 2014, to the Resource Utilization Groups (RUGs) long-term care reimbursement system, which is already used by 26 states’ Medicaid programs and nationally by Medicare. The goal was not only to cut costs but to realign long-term care in Illinois so beds are available for patients who cannot live independently. RUGs proponents argue Medicaid shouldn’t foot the bill for unneeded services or care that could have been provided more cheaply in the patient’s own home.

Collins wants RUGs in place by July 1, 2013.

“Many long-term care facilities that are doing the right thing and caring for our most vulnerable seniors are in danger of going out of business because the way they are paid by the state does not accurately reflect what they offer,” Collins said. “For years, I’ve been fighting substandard nursing home services and supporting facilities that provide high-quality care and employ registered nurses and other skilled staff. Moving forward with RUGs will help homes that are already offering great care to the patients who most desperately need it.”

Last week the Senate Executive Committee heard testimony on Collins’ legislation, SB 1476, but did not take a vote on the measure. A vote of the committee and debate by the full Senate are expected in the coming weeks.

CollinsFloorShot6Police must partner with schools on shooting incident and suspicious person drills

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) sponsored legislation, which passed the Senate without opposition Tuesday, requiring schools to conduct drills that simulate shooting incidents and incidents of suspicious persons on school property.

“After Newtown, Columbine and other tragic school shootings, we owe it to our children and teachers to prepare for the worst, even as we address mental health and the root causes of school violence,” Collins said. “Students will be safer if police, school security officers, administrators and teachers all understand best practices for protecting occupants in the event that a person enters the school intent on doing harm.”

Public and private schools in Illinois are already required to conduct drills that teach students and personnel to respond to a fire or natural disaster. They may also simulate bomb threats, hazardous materials and other law enforcement situations. Collins’ legislation, Senate Bill 1625, would require schools to prepare for suspicious person incidents and shootings as well as natural events. It also requires local law enforcement agencies to participate in these drills and to notify schools if they find deficiencies in their response plans.

 “Fostering an active relationship between school personnel and police is one of the most effective ways to safeguard students,” Collins said. “Open lines of communication and common protocols should be in place before a crisis ever occurs. My legislation underscores that this partnership is critical, not optional.”

SB 1625 will next be considered by the House.

Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607

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