Working for Illinois Caucus

House Downstate Democrats work for the good people of Illinois



St Sen. Rezin and St. Rep. Yednock celebrate bill ending nuclear ban passing the Illinois House

St. Sen. Sue Rezin and St. Rep. Lance Yednock are celebrating the passing of a bill ending the state’s nuclear ban. Rezin says she thanks the stakeholders who helped get the bill called and passed in the Senate, especially Rep. Yednock who carried the bill and helped work the roll call. Yednock says when the Future Energy Jobs Act and the Clean Energy Jobs Act were passed; the state saw a spike in energy costs for coal and natural gas plants.
Now he says nuclear is the next best investment. But, it could take 10-15 years before any new projects.
Rezin says the bill could especially benefit the southern part of the state where coal-fired power plants are shutting down. The bill has to return to the Illinois Senate for a vote after some language in the bill changed during the House vote.

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May 19, 2023 at 08:26AM

Millions of dollars in state funding helping entrepreneurs get back to business

ROCKFORD  — Illinois Back to Business grant program application is open providing funding to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Local business owners were given the opportunity to learn more about the grant and the application process during an informational forum hosted by Positive Reflections Community Outreach.

“Things like this help not only new business owners but existing business owners or entrepreneurs to grow and prosper,” said Yolanda Nikki Green, Owner of Grace Wood Estates and Property.

The Illinois Back To Business (B2B) grant program consists of $175 million allocated between eligible businesses. 

$75 million for hotels, $50 million for restaurants, and another $50 million for business in creative arts according to State Representative Maurice West. 

Representative West wants to see every penny go to a business in need. 

“We need to make sure that no stone is left unturned, and no money is left coming back to the state. This money is truly meant to help our sectors come back to life and get back to a place where they can provide great services for our community,” said Representative West.

“It will give us better leverage as far as tools that we need to keep moving,” Shawna Young, Owner of Dust and Clean added. 

According to Representative West businesses that previously received COVID relief of $10,000 or more will not be eligible for the grant. 

Applications for the Back to Business (B2B) grant program opened on April 5th and will close on May 10th and can be found here

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April 23, 2023 at 09:29PM

Mobile Drivers’ Services team to hold event at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora – Chicago Tribune

State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, and Fox Valley Mall in Aurora will host the Illinois Secretary of State’s Mobile Drivers’ Services team for a mobile DMV event on May 6 at the mall.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the first floor Center Park courtyard area of the mall.

“A trip to the DMV can be extremely difficult for seniors, those who have trouble standing for a long time and those with demanding work schedules.” said Kifowit in a press release about the event. “With this mobile DMV event we are hoping to bring services to residents in a more convenient and accessible way.”

The unit operates like a regular DMV and offers driver’s license and state ID renewals, replacements and corrections, in addition to vehicle renewal stickers and motor voter registration, officials said. Seniors 65 years old and older can get state IDs renewed free of charge at the event.

For some services people will still have to go to a regular DMV location. Driver’s license renewal will not be available for seniors over the age of 75 at the event, and Real IDs will not be available.

For more information on the event, go to or call 630-585-1308.

The style and techniques of mid-century artist Ruth Van SIckle Ford will be explored on a free walk through the current exhibit of her work at the Aurora Historical Society at 2 p.m. April 29, event organizers said.

Art conservator Scott Sherwood will speak, discussing what he sees in the 34 oil and watercolor paintings on display at the PIerce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Place in Aurora. Sherwood is a museum assistant for the Aurora Historical Society and has worked on restoring several of the Ford paintings in the show.

Although the program is free, donations are appreciated, Aurora Historical Society officials said. Guests are encouraged to register for the event at or by calling 630-755-5657.

Geneva’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force will be hosting a virtual inclusive language session from 11 a.m. to noon May 11.

Residents and community stakeholders are invited to participate in the online session, which will focus on why the words we use are important to promote healthy conversations, event organizers said.

The task force’s facilitator will moderate the session to review guiding principles on keeping up to date, honoring preferences and navigating up to 24 categories of diversity, according to a press release about the session.

The session will be conducted via Zoom. The event will be recorded and later be available to watch on the city of Geneva’s YouTube channel.

In addition to the inclusive language session, the task force will conduct other public engagement events in the coming months and develop a community survey. Based on the findings and community feedback, the facilitator will assist the task force in formulating a recommended action plan that will be presented to the Geneva City Council in 2023, according to the release.

More information about Geneva’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force is available on the city’s website at

John Swalec, former president of Waubonsee Community College, received the Illinois State University Distinguished Alumni Award Friday at the annual Alumni Awards Celebration, according to a press release about the event.

The award recognizes the achievements of Illinois State University alumni and is the highest honor presented by the Alumni Association, according to the release. Selection is based upon significant accomplishments in one’s chosen field, leadership and outstanding contributions made to the recipient’s community, state or nation.

Swalec’s career in education and athletics began at Illinois State. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at ISU that helped launch a career in teaching and coaching. He later returned to campus to earn a doctorate and went on to become president of Waubonsee Community College.

Swalec guided the community college from 1981 to 2001. The college grew by more than 50% during that time and added campuses in Aurora and Plano, according to the release.

His legacy at Waubonsee lives on through the John J. Swalec, Jr. President’s Achievement Award scholarship, officials said.

Swalec earned ISU’s Alumni Association Achievement Award in 1987. He was inducted into Illinois State’s College of Education Hall of Fame in 1997 and Waubonsee Community College’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

Swalec was a standout wrestler and track and field athlete at Illinois State, and he was inducted into the Illinois State Athletics Percy Family Hall of Fame in 1983. He served as University High School’s first wrestling coach, coached at several other northern Illinois high schools, and later guided Joliet Junior College to a National Junior College Athletics Association national championship.

Swalec’s work in athletics earned him induction into the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 4 Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley will host a free tutor training workshop from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, May 9, 11, 16 and 18, at the St. Charles Public Library, 1 S. Sixth Ave. in St. Charles.

Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley helps adults communicate in English by matching them with trained volunteer tutors one on one, group officials said.

Once tutors are trained, they will meet with their learner for one hour each week at a time and location that is convenient, most often public libraries.

The program needs 30 volunteers to help the 30 adults who are waiting to learn, officials said.

Volunteers do not need a teaching background or a second language to be effective, group officials said. The workshop provides materials and instruction so anyone can help, according to organizers.

For more information about the workshop or to register, go to or call or text 630-584-4428.

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April 23, 2023 at 08:41AM

Illinois state representative on theater collapse in Belvidere

Illinois state Rep. Dave Vella (D-Loves Park) said he was out to dinner with his wife in nearby Rockford, and rushed to Belvidere once he found out about the collapse.

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March 31, 2023 at 10:17PM

Illinois to vote on Vietnam Veterans Day resolution on 50th anniversary of troops withdrawn

CHICAGO (WLS) — Down in Springfield, the House is expected to vote on a resolution, officially making Wednesday, March 29 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in Illinois.

Meanwhile, veterans and their families met along the Chicago Riverwalk Wednesday morning, commemorating this day in history.

At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Wacker Drive and Wabash Avenue, a wreath laying ceremony was held, honoring those who gave their lives to the United States.

“And we were the lucky ones. We got to come home. The names on that wall, that’s why we do this here,” veteran Kevin Calkins said.

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of when the last combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam in 1973.

More than 58,000 members of the United States Armed Forces lost their lives in Vietnam. More than 300,000 were wounded.

Carlos Saladino was one of those wounded, taking Wednesday to reflect on the young lives lost.

RELATED: Biden awards Medal of Honor to Black Vietnam War hero after paperwork ‘lost’ twice

“It’s all volunteer Army now. Back then, it was drafting. And people don’t understand draftees. I turned 19 years old when I was over there, and so the life that was lost then. I see myself, I’m 73 years old and I’ve got four children, married my wife, had a good job with the Chicago Police Department, met so many good friends, and what they missed,” Saladino said.

Nearly 3,000 of those killed in Vietnam were from Illinois.

Their names are on display at the memorial site.

Each veteran took turns passing the microphone, saying the names of their fallen friends aloud.

“We can all relate in a certain way, just by being there, and it makes a difference, keeps us closer together,” veteran Barron Buchunas said.

In Springfield, the House resolution will be voted on Wednesday.

The session is expected to start at noon.

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March 29, 2023 at 12:35PM

Bill allowing multi-occupancy bathrooms to be gender neutral passes Illinois House

A measure that would allow multiple occupancy public restrooms to be labeled gender-neutral was passed by the Illinois House on Thursday with the bare minimum of votes.

The bill, which now moves to the Senate, would amend the Equitable Restroom Act of 2019, which required all single-occupancy public restrooms to be available to all genders. The amendment would only allow restrooms with two or more toilets to be available to all.

“The bill does not require gender-neutral bathrooms,” Rep. Katie Stuart, an Edwardsville Democrat who was the first sponsor of the bill, said. “Builders would choose what bathroom facilities to offer, and would be required to meet appropriate standards for toilet and urinal privacy.”

The floor debate before the vote took all of two minutes. House Republican Floor Leader Rep. Patrick Windhorst of Metropolis asked Stuart to confirm that this bill contained the same language as a bill from the previous session that was passed by the House but died in the Senate.

The bill passed with 60 yes votes, with all but one of the 40 House Republicans voting no.

“Average Illinois residents are just not for this type of agenda,” GOP Rep. Joe Sosnowski of Rockford, who voted no on the legislation, said in an interview after the vote. “If there is an issue with identification, well, you got two separate bathrooms. Why do you need multi-use, multi-gender bathrooms? It isn’t doing anything to address that in my opinion.”

Restroom preference has become another issue feeding the national culture wars. Earlier this week, Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law a measure that prevents transgender people in public schools from using restrooms matching the gender with which they identify.

The Illinois bill is not specific to schools, though it allows for any multiple-occupancy restroom to be identified as an all-gender facility. It would require the restroom to have specific signage, stall dividers and partitions for urinals.

The bill also requires sufficient numbers of toilets or stalls to be available for male and female patrons. The Illinois Department of Public Health would be tasked with establishing rules for enforcing the measure, and these bathrooms would also be subject to health or building inspections.

The bill passed through the House Human Services Committee on Feb. 22 in a 6-3 party-line vote. Stuart noted during the hearing that a similar bill passed through the House a few years ago but didn’t make it through the Senate.

She said the bill allows for businesses, universities and other places the option to create a multi-stall gender-neutral restroom.

State Rep. Charles Meier, a Republican from Okawville, raised concerns during the hearing about whether some larger facilities could be equipped to handle multi-stalled, gender neutral bathrooms.

“Think of in large arenas where you’ve got people stacked high and low, you only have so much space. A lot of people will not want to go into an all-gender restroom, and you won’t have no space,” Meier said at the hearing. “You know, when buildings are plumbed you’re plumbing is run through certain areas that are heated and they’re air-conditioned so they don’t freeze. And other parts of these big outdoor arenas aren’t. And so, you’re adding a lot of cost into that.”

Stuart stressed that arenas that are worried about space don’t have to include such restrooms because they would be optional.

“If an arena is worried about the space they do not have to create such a restroom,” she told Meier. “That’s why it’s permissive and it’s because we understand types of constraints like that.”


©2023 Chicago Tribune. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

This story was originally published March 23, 2023, 8:59 PM.


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March 23, 2023 at 09:17PM

Rep. Yednock Supports Law Requiring Costs Of Pregnancy To Be Split Between Parents

A bill that requires costs related to pregnancy, including delivery and insurance premiums, to be split between both parents has advanced in Springfield.

The Pregnancy Expenses Act passed the House on Tuesday and is now headed to the Illinois Senate for consideration. The bill’s sponsor cited the high costs of pregnancies as a reason for the legislation. Opponents objected to the inclusion of abortion costs. The potential bill wouldn’t apply to sperm donations or surrogates.

Democratic State Representative Lance Yednock voted in support of the proposal to split pregnancy costs.


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March 23, 2023 at 12:55PM

Local legislator reacts to closure of St. Mary’s labor & delivery floor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – HSHS St. Mary’s announced that their labor and delivery floor would close at 5pm on March 9, 2023. 

Representative Sue Scherer (96th district) said she and other legislators have done all they can to stop the closure. She said people forget that HSHS is a private company, and legislators can’t stop them from closing departments. 

Scherer  is concerned for local women who may have to travel outside the county for OB/GYN care if their insurance is not accepted by Decatur Memorial Hospital. Scherer said this is particularly dangerous when women are already in labor. 

“People will have to know, ‘I have to go to DMH if I want to stay in Decatur or I’m going to just have to go in with the mindset I have to go out of town,’ which I would not like that at all,” said Scherer. “One of my daughters has that precipitous labor. So, you know, she has like 20 minutes to from contraction to birth. So that would be very nerve wracking.”

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Scherer said she is concerned more women will now have to deliver their babies in local emergency rooms instead of dedicated labor and delivery spaces. 

The representative did say there are positive elements to the closure. By sharpening the focus of the care they provide, Scherer said the hospital has more money to do renovations. 

“They’re pouring $90 million of new money into St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur and its main focus is going to be on the emergency room, the surgery rooms and on the patient rooms,” said Scherer. “The new patient rooms are going to all have their own shower and all be updated and it’s long overdue for some of that.”

St. Mary’s hospital is still seeking approval to close their inpatient rehabilitation and inpatient behavioral health services departments. 

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March 9, 2023 at 06:56PM

Process to build Illinois’ next budget underway

PEORIA, Ill. – The work is underway at the state capitol to craft the fiscal year 2024 budget.

Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) is the lead budget negotiator for her party as both sides of the aisle work to determine what will and will not be funded.

“It’s now more important than ever that we practice fiscal discipline. We got our 7th credit upgrading about a week and a half ago, and I think it’s important for us to stay on a consistent part to really righting our fiscal ship,” Gordon-Booth says.

Gordon-Booth says preliminary work to shape the budget is currently being done in committees. She says one big focus is determining what is a need for the state and what is a want.

“We have to focus on the needs. And the needs range from the health and human services needs, the education needs, frankly that take up over 80% of our budget, to then having about 20% to do some of the other things that we look to do,” Gordon-Booth said.

Education is one of the priorities that Gordon-Booth says should be a priority in the budget. In addition, she also wants to see a focus on economic development, and funding to help address workforce shortages in the state.

“There’s a lot of conversation that you hear about the teaching shortage, which is real. Lot of conversation around the nursing shortage, which is real,” Gordon-Booth said. “But frankly, when you look across the spectrum of economic and unemployment, everybody is short workers.”

One solution Gordon-Booth says is to have funding in the budget to support training programs to address unemployment.

The deadline to have a budget up for approval is May 19th.

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March 9, 2023 at 01:12PM

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