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State Rep. Wants Lessons On ‘Sexting’ To Be Apart Of Sex Education

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A state lawmaker from Rockford is proposing children in Illinois schools be taught about the dangers and consequences of “sexting.”

State Representative Maurice West said children are now exposed to cellphone technology at younger and younger ages and may feel comfortable sharing explicit photos, not realizing how their lives could take a turn for the worse in doing so.

"Five, 10, 15 years from now, this can hurt you. This can come back and haunt you when you try to go into a career, when you try to go in to get a job. Let’s say you even try to get into politics," he said.

Representative West said his proposal would not cost schools any more money, because the sexting lessons in 6th through 12th grades could be folded into already-required sex education classes.

He said a constituent gave him the idea for the proposed law.

"Even though that this is a topic that may make adults uncomfortable, we have to address the elephant in room. We have to have these conversations with our youth," Rep. West said.

He said it’s really needed, because of how comfortable students are getting with cellphone technology at younger ages.

"I remember having my first phone as senior in high school, but now my goddaughter is eight and she got an iPhone for her birthday," he said.

West said children need to understand that sending someone an explicit photo of themselves or others could get them into criminal trouble, or in the very least, follow them through life as they try to get into schools or look to advance in their careers.

"Once it’s out, there’s nothing you can do about it. You have zero control," Rep. West said.

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January 9, 2020 at 08:21PM

Bristow to Host Coffee and Conversation in Granite City Jan. 17 |

GRANITE CITY – To help meet with local residents and learn about their thoughts or concerns with local and state issues, state Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Alton, will be at Duke Bakery in Granite City on Jan. 17 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for Coffee and Conversation.

“As we look towards the spring legislative session, I want residents to have the opportunity to talk with me about what they want to see done in state government and listen to any ideas on potential legislation that could be introduced in the new year,” said Bristow. “I want to hear from citizens about their ideas and their thoughts so I can be the strongest voice possible for our communities in Springfield.”

Bristow regularly hosts coffee and conversation events to provide residents with every opportunity to meet with her and share their concerns. Bristow will be at Duke Bakery’s Granite City location at 3202 Nameoki Rd. on Friday, Jan. 17 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public and no reservation is required.

“Coffee and Conversation events are a way for me to talk with residents but to also help support one of our great local businesses,” said Bristow. “I look forward to talking with many old and new friends over coffee or a donut.”

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January 9, 2020 at 06:46AM

Bill would add ‘sexting’ to sex ed classes in Illinois

House Bill 4007, introduced by Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, would require sex education curriculum in grades 6-12 to include material on the legal and social risks of sharing sexually explicit images, messages and videos.

“This is something that a lot of our students are dealing with and are partaking in without really understanding what the consequences could be,” West said.

Issues surrounding sexting that would be required in curriculum include long-term consequences, bullying and harassment, resisting peer pressure and using the Internet safely. Lessons would also have to highlight school and community officials who students can reach out to with a problem.

“There’s no telling what our children are doing on their phones,” West said, “so instead of trying to intrude into their privacy, let’s just make sure they’re educated on even the things that make us adults uncomfortable.”

The bill defines sexting as “sending, sharing, receiving, or forwarding a sexually explicit or sexually suggestive image, video, or text message by a digital or electronic device, including, but not limited to, a mobile or cellular telephone or a computer.”

New Jersey’s law, signed in 2018, requires schools to teach the “social, emotional, and legal consequences” of sexting.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, America’s second-largest, added the risks and consequences of sexting to its curriculum in 2015.

Driver says including sexting in sex education is a “smart response” to a growing practice.

“Young people generally think short term, in the immediate, and so providing the education before it becomes punitive … is a very responsible way to address sexting,” she said.

A 2018 study of 110,000 teenagers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 15 percent had sent sexts and 27 percent had received them. Twelve percent also admitted to sending a sext of someone else without their consent.

Sexting between minors is illegal in 25 states including Illinois, according to a 2018 analysis by the Cyberbullying Research Center. Illinois law forbids minors from sharing sexual images and videos of themselves via any electronic method, such as texting, social media and smartphone apps. The penalty is usually community service or counseling.

Illinois is one of 24 states plus the District of Columbia that require sex education. School codes require sex education lessons in Illinois to be age-appropriate, evidence-based and medically accurate. Parents have the option to take their children out of class if they object to the material.

“It is my hope that schools will be understanding of this because this is one thing that we really can’t control,” West said.

Ben Schwarm, deputy executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, predicts his organization will oppose the bill once it is assigned to a committee.

“We oppose all new curricular mandates. It has just really grown out of control,” he said.

Schwarm calls the bill unnecessary because school codes already mandate instruction on related topics like Internet safety and cyberbullying.

West, however, said he does not believe it would be an unnecessary mandate.

“We’re just simply saying we need to acknowledge the elephant that’s in the room,” he said.

West said sexting has already come up among a group of middle school boys he mentors.

“I’m telling them the ramifications to it and telling them how, though you may feel that this is pretty cool now, it can be detrimental later,” he said.

“But that’s just with six boys that I mentor. There’s a lot more out there that may not be getting that same kind of guidance.”

Driver said she agrees that sex education should meet young people where they are.

“I think very much how we’re trying to keep up with technology, we need to be keeping up with sex education at the same time so that one doesn’t happen without the other,” she said.

West introduced the bill in December and is reaching out to fellow lawmakers from both sides of the aisle for support as the General Assembly prepares for its 2020 session beginning Jan. 28.

15 new laws in Illinois for 2020

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January 8, 2020 at 06:44PM

Rep. Moeller: You’re Invited for Coffee and Conversation

This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

Neighbor News

State Rep. Anna Moeller starts up her Coffee and Conversations meeting during the 2020 legislative session to talk with constituents.

By Cassie Calloway, Neighbor
Rep. Moeller: You're Invited for Coffee and Conversation

ELGIN — Got something on your mind about what’s going on in Springfield? Rep. Anna Moeller wants to hear about it.

The state representative for our area is inviting constituents to join her one Monday each month for the length of the legislative session for updates and discussion:

State Rep. Anna Moeller is inviting local residents and business owners to help her better advocate in Springfield this spring, over coffee.

Rep. Moeller, D-Elgin, has scheduled five Coffee and Conversations meetings during the 2020 spring legislative session. All of the meetings will run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Blue Box Café, 176 E. Chicago St., in Elgin:
· Monday, Jan. 13
· Monday, February 10
· Monday, March 9
· Monday, April 13
· Monday, May 11

Each meeting will give Moeller a chance to update constituents on the issues being debated in Springfield as they develop, and let constituents share their perspective on state and local issues.

"I can best serve the 43rd House District and the people of Illinois when I am talking and meeting regularly with them, explaining our debates in Springfield and seeking their input on my positions on key issues," Moeller said. "I encourage everyone to join me for these lunch discussions at the Blue Box for a lively back and forth over coffee."

Questions? Contact Rep. Moeller’s district office at 847-841-7130 or


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January 6, 2020 at 08:26PM

Clean Energy Jobs Act heads into smoke-filled veto session

Legislators, activists say it smooths transition from fossil fuels to solar, wind

The Midwest Generation Power Plant: “The question isn’t if the Waukegan coal plant will close, but when,” says state Rep. Rita Mayfield. (Flickr/Cheepshot)

The Midwest Generation Power Plant: “The question isn’t if the Waukegan coal plant will close, but when,” says state Rep. Rita Mayfield. (Flickr/Cheepshot)

By Ted Cox

Prospects are cloudy for the Clean Energy Jobs Act as it heads toward the General Assembly’s fall veto session next week.

Legislators and activists held a teleconference call Wednesday to urge passage of “the only energy legislation that comprehensively tries to act on the climate, but also give real support to Illinois energy workers and the communities that depend on them,” in the words of state Sen. Scott Bennett of Champaign, one of the lead sponsors.

Gov. Pritzker has been iffy about the bill’s immediate prospects, however, saying earlier this month, “I don’t know that we’ll be able to get to it during the veto session.”

“It is not lost on us that it has not been scheduled for a committee vote,” said Tracy Fox, of the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance and Illinois People’s Action. “I find it very disappointing, as does the coalition, that the veto session may pass without action on CEJA.”

Fox said, “There is a true urgency” to pass the bill, given that Vistra Energy has already announced plans to close coal power plants in Peoria, Canton, Havana, Hennepin, and Coffeen, while Peabody is pulling out of a mining complex in Saline County, which she called “one of the most depressed areas in southern Illinois.”

Bennett said that, without a “proactive” transition program, “the cost and impact of these closures fall on Illinois families and taxpayers.” He added that the purpose of CEJA is to “try to make sure that polluting energy corporations are the ones responsible for supporting this transition” from fossil fuels to clean energy sources like wind and solar.

Under CEJA, he said, fossil-fuel companies closing up shop would have to clear several hurdles. “They have to support local communities,” Bennett said. “They have to replace the lost tax revenue. And they have to bring in new investments” in the form of businesses creating new jobs to replace the old ones lost.

Bennett said it would make Illinois “a national leader in climate action,” adding, “It also revitalizes the economy while providing 100 percent clean energy.”

Renner Barsella, of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, said CEJA “establishes a robust climate and economic transition plan that specifically helps workers and communities adapt and forge resilient, economic futures.” He added that, in the past, “systematic problems have created too few opportunities in growing industries like wind and solar for new workforce development from impacted communities and populations previously undertapped by the energy industry.”

Bennett pointed to coal ash in the Vermillion River as a primary reason CEJA is necessary. Pritzker signed a bill into law this summer dealing with coal ash, but CEJA would build on the bipartisan Future Energy Jobs Act enacted under the Rauner administration to take a more comprehensive approach to retraining workers in new fields and providing relief to communities as they make the transition.

State Rep. Rita Mayfield of Waukegan said she wanted the new law in place to deal with the inevitable closure of the Midwest Generation Power Plant in her community. “This plant has been operating for decades without a permit,” she said. “The question isn’t if the Waukegan coal plant will close, but when.

“We need to ensure that Waukegan isn’t left with an environmental mess on our hands,” she added. “Lands need to be reusable after the plant closes.

“It is absolutely essential that we have a transitional plan for energy and this coal plant that’s in my district,” Mayfield said. “We don’t want the taxpayers to have to pay for the cleanup.

“They’re polluting our air. They’re polluting our water. We need them to close, and we need a transition plan in place.”


“They’re polluting our air. They’re polluting our water. We need them to close, and we need a transition plan in place.”

State Rep. Rita Mayfield (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Juliana Pino of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization said solutions under CEJA would be “localized and community-driven,” as in training programs moving people into clean-energy jobs in wind, solar, electric cars and trucks, and general energy efficiency. “As we know, these industries are burgeoning,” she added.

A $20 million program on energy entrepreneurship and a contractor incubator would help generate new businesses and potentially move workers into their own clean-energy companies.

Fox said it would also create a Displaced Worker Bill of Rights, including demands for advanced notice of impending plant closures beyond the relatively short times the Vistra Energy communities have been given to confront life after the plants close. She said a $22.5 million part of the bill, on energy-empowerment zones and tax credits, would grant tax breaks to companies that hire displaced energy workers, while attracting clean-energy companies to those enterprise zones.

The bill, including a $210 million Energy Community Reinvestment Act, would be paid for in part through additional taxes on coal and gas power plants.

“We don’t just throw money at the problem,” Fox said. “We ensure that there are jobs at the end of the pipeline.”

Mayfield echoed the notes on urgency. “I think it is imperative that the Clean Energy Jobs Act gets called during the veto session,” she said. “We cannot hold this bill up while ComEd and Exelon work out their legal troubles. That is just not fair to the citizens of Illinois.”

Mayfield added that it was not the higher vote threshold required during the veto session that was snagging the bill. “I’ve talked with several of my colleagues,” she said. “I can confidently say that we have the votes in the House to pass the bill.”

Fox pointed to the Illinois Youth Climate Strike student protesters who’ve adopted CEJA as a key issue. “We saw the passion of our youth and their concern about their future with the climate strikes,” she said, “and we know the climate can’t wait.”

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