|Plummer-sponsored legislation to Help Victims of Human Trafficking Signed into Law Part of Senator Plummer’s Work to Combat Human Trafficking Illinois now has another tool to help victims of human trafficking move forward and establish a new life. House Bill 2418, co-sponsored by Senator Jason Plummer, will help victims to expunge criminal records of crimes they were forced to take part in. “This legislation will help victims to recover as they attempt to establish a new life far away from their past trauma,” said Sen. Plummer. “This is an important step in our ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking and to help victims recover.” House Bill 2418 allows victims of human trafficking to petition for expungement, vacation, or immediate sealing of offenses that were committed because of their victimization by traffickers. To avoid undue hardship or potential risks of harm, the new law also allows victims to utilize remote hearings. Also included is a provision allowing for the sealing of the petitions in situations where the filing of the petition would expose the victim to future harm. Fighting human trafficking has been a long-term focus for Senator Plummer, as he has co-sponsored several bills dealing with the issue, including a comprehensive Human Trafficking Omnibus that involved the input and participation from prosecutors, international anti-trafficking organizations, law enforcement, and others from across the country. The Omnibus, unfortunately, has been held up in Springfield because it enhances penalties on the traffickers who victimize these vulnerable victims and, for some backwards reason, the majority party in Springfield seems intent on not advancing legislation that enhances penalties on criminals, including the worst of the worst like human traffickers. Senator Plummer has also been diligent in bringing to light potential issues with seemingly unrelated bills that would threaten efforts to combat trafficking or help victims. “It’s an honor to see this legislation become law,” said Senator Plummer. “But there is still a tremendous amount more work to be done to bring justice to victims of human trafficking and hold their abusers accountable. Right now, the State of Illinois is failing the victims of human trafficking and we must do better.”
|Governor Signs Several Bills into Law With the spring legislative session ending, hundreds of bills that passed the General Assembly now await the Governor’s signature before officially becoming law. Late last week, the Governor acted on more than 80 of those bills, many of which were initiatives of Senate Republicans. From addressing needs in the education field to helping victims of human trafficking, these new laws seek to improve the lives of Illinois citizens across the state. Two notable measures that are now law seek to address the teacher shortage that many public schools are facing. House Bill 1297 provides teachers with the flexibility to move from the private sector into public schools with the ability to buy back two years of their time in the public retirement system. Senate Bill 1468 allows retired teachers to return to the classroom to cover temporary vacancies and serve as substitutes for 120 days or 600 hours in each school year. Senate Bill 1115 allows university police to receive the same disability benefits as city police and provides them with benefits based upon 65 percent of their pay if injured in the line of duty.
|Worst Illinois Drought Conditions in a Decade The latest drought monitor revealed that Illinois is seeing the worst drought conditions in a decade. While severe drought is not unusual in Illinois, the number of counties under severe drought conditions is higher than normal. According to the drought monitor’s data, more than 14 percent of the state is under severe drought conditions. This is the highest number of counties since the 2012 drought conditions. While drought conditions are ongoing, it is still too early to have a large impact on agriculture. Right now, crops and trees are only starting to show signs of stress. But if drought conditions continue then potential yield could start to be impacted. While impacts are only moderate on larger farms, more specialty crop growers are facing either increasing damages to crop yields or rising costs to irrigate.
|June is PTSD Awareness Month June is National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, intended to raise public awareness about issues related to PTSD, reduce the stigma associated with PTSD, and help ensure that veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war receive proper treatment. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is encouraging veterans to take part in Screening Day on June 27 to determine if their behaviors are related to PTSD so they can proactively seek effective treatment. More information on Screening Day and other PTSD resources are available at www.ptsd.va.gov. Individuals who are experiencing suicidal feelings or self-destructive urges should get help immediately. The National Suicide Crisis Hotline is 9-8-8. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.