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December
2005


December 29, 2005
Governor Blagojevich announces new labor laws that ensure fair wages and better conditions for thousands of workers
Strengthened laws effective Jan 1 will protect over 300,000 day laborers and provide stiffer penalties for violations of the Prevailing Wage Act
CHICAGO – Thousands of workers across Illinois will be better protected against abuses by unlawful day labor agencies, will enjoy improved working conditions and will be protected in their rights to fair wages, thanks to two new labor laws signed by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich last summer and that go into effect January 1, 2006. The strengthened Day and Temporary Labor Services Act will make Illinois the most aggressive state in the nation regarding protecting day laborers against illegal wage deductions and other abuses, and imposing stiffer penalties against violators. The amended Prevailing Wage Act increases penalties against contractors who repeatedly fail to pay construction workers the prevailing wage.


December 29, 2005
State of Illinois Gives the Gift of Improved Vision this Holiday Season by Donating Record Number of Eyeglasses to the Lions of Illinois
Illinoisans urged to donate their unneeded glasses to charity
SPRINGFIELD – In keeping with the holiday season, the State of Illinois today gave the gift of improved vision to hundreds of people through the donation of 815 pairs of eyeglasses to the Lions of Illinois, the well-known organization that refurbishes and reallocates prescription lenses to those in need around the world.


December 28, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces start of healthcare expansion for 56,000 more working parents
FamilyCare expansions and All Kids program part of larger effort to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for Illinois’ working families
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that beginning January 1, 2006, eligibility for the FamilyCare health insurance program will be expanded to an additional 56,000 working parents. The new income threshold marks the third expansion of the FamilyCare program under the Blagojevich administration, and – along with the All Kids program – is a key part of the Governor’s larger effort to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for working families across the state.


December 27, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces significant jump in child support collections in 2005
Governor’s initiative has led to a nearly 57 percent increase in New Hire collections; 10 percent increase in overall collections
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that child support collections resulting from state-gathered employment records have increased by nearly 57 percent in the last year as a result of his New Hire Initiative, and child support collections overall have grown by just over 10 percent. Over the past two years, Gov. Blagojevich has launched a series of new child support initiatives that have resulted in record-breaking collections that will help provide 386,000 Illinois parents with the money they need to care for their children.


December 27, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich celebrates the third night of Chanukah by lighting menorah at Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich joined Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz of the Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois and other members of Chicago’s Jewish community tonight in a celebration of the third night of Chanukah at the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center in Chicago. Governor Blagojevich lit the menorah to mark the third night of the Jewish Festival of Lights, which continues through January 1st. The program also included performances by musician Ruby Harris and the Cheder Lubavitch Boys Choir.


December 27, 2005
First Lady and Illinois Poet Laureate encourage young authors to participate in statewide writing contest
SPRINGFIELD – First Lady Patti Blagojevich and Kevin Stein, Illinois’ poet laureate, today encouraged Illinois students to submit their original work to the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE) Best Illinois Poetry and Prose Contest. The contest is open to students from 6th through 12th grades. Entries must be postmarked by January 31, 2006. This is the second year the First Lady has partnered with IATE to promote the competition.


December 23, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich’s Keep Warm Illinois campaign receives $500,000 matching grant from Northern Illinois Energy Project
Funds will help state pay for 55,000 energy conservation kits to help low-income families lower heating bills by as much as 30 %
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the Northern Illinois Energy Project (NIEP) will provide a $500,000 matching grant to the Keep Warm Illinois campaign. The grant will enable the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to pay for and distribute 55,000 Home Energy Conservation Kits free of charge to low-income families across the state. Weatherization can reduce heating costs by as much as 30 percent.


December 22, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich names new Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety; Carl Hawkinson retires from state service
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, manager of the Emergency Response Center at Argonne National Laboratory, to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety. Col. Morgenthaler replaces Carl Hawkinson, who is retiring from state government after almost 30 years of public service. The Governor thanked Hawkinson for his three years of service to the administration.


December 21, 2005
Illinois Department of Corrections graduates nineteen new parole agents to support public safety efforts in Illinois communities
New parole agents support Governor’s Operation Spotlight Parole Reform Program addressing public safety, reducing recidivism and taxpayer spending
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Director Roger E. Walker, Jr. today congratulated 19 parole agents at a graduation ceremony held in Springfield. Including this latest class of agents, the second graduating class of the year, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Operation Spotlight Parole Reform Initiative has resulted in placing more than 100 new parole agents in communities and more than doubling contacts with parolees in many communities. The Governor launched Operation Spotlight in 2003 as way to increase supervision and monitoring of parolees in an effort to reduce crime.


December 21, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces completion of rehabilitation work on Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) will make ride for motorists smoother and safer
Rubblization technique used to save time and money
DIXON – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the Illinois Tollway has completed a major rehabilitation of the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), providing a better, safer and more durable road for thousands of motorists in Western Illinois. The 30-mile pavement rehabilitation project, commemorated today, was completed only five months after it began, with significant savings. The final cost of $48 million is significantly lower than the $70 million price tag estimated by Tollway planners for the rehabilitation project. The Governor credited the use of “Rubblization” with significantly reducing the cost and completion time of the project.


December 20, 2005
Open Road Tolling Lanes Now Available at Nine Toll Plazas on Illinois Tollway
Longtime Tri-State Tollway commuter praises non-stop tolling at Cermak Road, 82nd Street and 83rd Street Plazas, says she can now spend more time with her family; Illinois Tollway Meets 2005 Congestion-Relief Goals To Provide As Many Open Road Tolling Lanes As Possible, As Quickly As Possible
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today debuted Open Road Tolling lanes at the Cermak Road Toll Plaza on the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), which means there are now 9 mainline toll plazas where I-PASS users can travel at highway speed while their tolls are collected electronically and will no longer have to slow down or stop at tollbooths.


December 17, 2005
Honoring Illinois' Fallen
United States and Illinois flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, December 17, 2005
The Department of Central Management Services has received notice from Governor Blagojevich's Office to fly the United States and Illinois flags at State occupied buildings at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, December 17, 2005


December 16, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich launches All Kids Pre-Registration in Chicago’s Northern Suburbs
Pre-registration helps expedite application process so children can enjoy benefits as soon as All Kids takes effect July 1
GURNEE— First Lady Patti Blagojevich today launched a pre-registration campaign in the northern suburbs of Chicago for the All Kids program that will provide access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every uninsured child in Illinois. At the Gurnee Mills Mall, the First Lady talked with holiday shoppers about the benefit of All Kids and the advantages of pre-registering. Families can now pre-register by calling 1-866-ALL-KIDS to receive a form by mail. Starting January 1, 2006, families will be able to pre-register for All Kids online at www.allkidscovered.com. The mall is offering incentives for those who fill out registration forms.


December 16, 2005
Fifty-one new officers added to State Police frontline with Cadet Class 110 graduation; Blagojevich administration’s commitment to boost public safety continues
Cadet Class 111 training to begin on January 8, 2006, with 58 applicants invited to attend State Police Training Academy
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry G. Trent today congratulated Cadet Class 110 and welcomed them to the Illinois State Police force. After a ceremony at the Illinois State Police Armory where Attorney General Lisa Madigan was the keynote speaker, 51 new Troopers joined the ranks of the Illinois State Police. Including this latest class of cadets, 166 new Troopers have been added to Illinois’ frontlines under the Blagojevich administration.


December 15, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces $500,000 for education programs at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
Grant will support school tours, youth outreach, art classes and family festivals at the nation’s largest Latino cultural institution
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $500,000 in funding for educational programs at Chicago’s Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum. The funds will allow the museum to offer more school tours, strengthen its youth outreach programs, offer arts classes to more area schools and continue holding a spring festival that has been attracting thousands of families every year to its Pilsen location.


December 15, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich makes case for junk food ban in Illinois elementary and middle schools
State Board of Education puts new junk food proposal out for 45 days of public comment; Junk food ban builds on Governor’s ongoing efforts to help children stay healthy
SPRINGFIELD – As the Illinois State Board of Education began hearing public comment on a proposal to ban junk food and soda from Illinois schools, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today explained that banning junk food will remove the temptation for young children to replace nutritious meals with candy, soda, pizza, chips and gum. The Governor also cited research that shows healthier students have higher attendance rates, better behavior, and superior test scores.


December 14, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES THAT INDIANA GOV. DANIELS IS JOINING ILLINOIS’ BID TO LAND $1 BILLION FUTUREGEN CLEAN COAL PROJECT
CHICAGO - Chances for the Midwest attracting the $1 billion FutureGen project got an important boost today with the signing of an agreement through which Illinois and Indiana will make a united bid to attract the breakthrough clean-coal development to the Illinois Coal Basin. The Memorandum of Understanding between Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels states that Illinois’ strong financial support and appealing geologic features make the state the ideal host for the federally supported FutureGen project – the near-zero emissions power plant that will also produce hydrogen fuel and allow capture and possible use of carbon dioxide.


December 13, 2005
Durbin and Emanuel introduce legislation to help states provide access to health insurance for all children
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) today introduced the All Kids Health Insurance Coverage Act of 2005, modeled after Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s All Kids health insurance legislation. Durbin and Emanuel’s bill will help states provide access to health insurance for all children by expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).


December 12, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES OPPORTUNITY RETURNS SUPPORT FOR MT. STERLING FOOD REDISTRIBUTOR TO SPUR EXPANSION OF FACILITY AND CREATION AND RETENTION OF 100 JOBS
One of Western Illinois’ Largest Employers is Building New 165,000 Square Foot Warehouse
MT. STERLING – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns program today announced the awarding of nearly $800,000 in Opportunity Returns support for Dot Foods in Mount Sterling, the nation’s largest food redistributor, which will allow the company to construct a 165,000 square foot warehouse, creating 50 new jobs and retaining 50 existing jobs. Dot Foods, with more 1,500 full and part-time employees, is one of the largest employers in Western Illinois. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin joined other state and local officials to make the announcement today in Mt. Sterling.


December 12, 2005
Honor Illinois' Fallen
United States and Illinois flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Monday, December 12, 2005
The Department of Central Management Services has received notice from Governor Blagojevich's Office to fly the United States and Illinois flags at State occupied buildings at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Monday, December 12, 2005


December 11, 2005
Indy 500 Champion Bobby Rahal Joins Gov. Blagojevich to Debut Open Road Tolling at Touhy Plaza
Rahal Drives 2005 Indy 500 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car Through New Non-Stop Toll Collection Lanes on I-294
CHICAGO – On Sunday, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich was joined by Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal at the Touhy Avenue toll plaza on the Tri-State Tollway to debut the three new Open Road Tolling lanes that will allow drivers with I-PASS to get to their destinations faster on I-294 because they no longer have to slow down or stop at tollbooths.


December 11, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich launches program to help working families in immigrant and minority communities buy homes
Program is only second in the nation to accept alternative credit and ITIN numbers
CHICAGO –Building on his commitment to help working families realize the American Dream of homeownership, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today launched a new mortgage program designed to help hardworking, taxpaying individuals and families from the immigrant and minority communities. The program, called Opportunity I-Loan, will help those individuals and families who do not have a traditional checking account or have not been able to establish a credit history, qualify for low-interest mortgage loans and buy their first home. This program will make Illinois only the second state in the nation to provide affordable, 30-year fixed rate mortgage loans for qualifying individuals and families that live and work and pay taxes but have no credit history or social security numbers. The program will also offer further protections from predatory home loans.


December 10, 2005
Honoring Illinois' Fallen
United States and Illinois flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, December 10, 2005
The Department of Central Management Services has received noticed from Governor Blagojevich's Office to fly the United States and Illinois flags at State occupied buildings at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, December 10, 2005


December 9, 2005
Governor Blagojevich announces All Kids Pre-Registration campaign in Metro East, Carbondale
Pre-registration helps expedite application process so children can enjoy benefits as soon as All Kids takes effect July 1; State launches holiday All Kids outreach across Illinois; Metro East, Carbondale shopping centers offering incentives to parents who pre-register children
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced pre-registration events in the Metro East and Carbondale areas for the All Kids program that will provide access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every uninsured child in Illinois. Several shopping centers across the state, including St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights and University Mall in Carbondale, will host weekend pre-registration events on December 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th. The malls are offering incentives for those who fill out registration forms.


December 7, 2005
Governor Blagojevich Launches All Kids Pre-Registration Campaign; Forms available through new hotline, website and at local shopping centers
Pre-registration helps expedite application process so children can enjoy benefits as soon as All Kids takes effect July 1
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the start of pre-registration for the All Kids program that will provide access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every uninsured child in Illinois


December 7, 2005
Honoring Illinois' Fallen
United States and Illinois flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, December 7, 2005
The Department of Central Management Services has received notice from Governor Blagojevich's Office to fly the United States and Illinois flags at State occupied buildings at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, December 7, 2005


December 6, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich receives Pro-Choice Leadership Award from Personal PAC
Mrs. Blagojevich honored for outstanding commitment to reproductive rights and contraceptive equity
CHICAGO— First Lady Patti Blagojevich today received the Personal PAC Pro-Choice Leadership Award for her outstanding commitment to reproductive rights and contraceptive equity. Earlier this year, Mrs. Blagojevich launched a website to help Illinois women obtain insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives and gain access to lower-cost contraceptives. She has also supported Gov. Blagojevich’s Executive Order requiring pharmacies that stock contraceptives to fill all valid prescriptions for birth control without hassle or delay. Personal PAC is a bi-partisan political action committee dedicated to advancing pro-choice interests.


December 5, 2005
Governor Blagojevich directs state regulators to aggressively enforce new Payday Loan Reform law; stop efforts to bypass new lending restrictions
New law goes into effect Tuesday, provides unprecedented protection against predatory short-term loans
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today directed the state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulations (IDFPR) to aggressively start enforcing the new Payday Loan Reform law when it goes into effect tomorrow, with particular attention paid to lenders who may try to get around the new restrictions. The law provides new protection against ploys used by lenders to lure borrowers into potentially devastating predatory loans.


December 3, 2005
State of Illinois Wins National Award for Efficiency Efforts
Department of Central Management Services is Honored for Saving $529 Million Successful Move to Coordinate Back-Office Functions Lauded as National Model
CHICAGO – Efforts that have saved $529 million for Illinois taxpayers by making State government run more efficiently and effectively should serve as a model for other states to follow, a national good-government group announced today.


December 2, 2005
Honoring Illinois' Fallen
United States and Illinois flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday, December 2, 2005
The Department of Central Management Services has received notice from Governor Blagojevich's Office to fly the United States and Illinois flags at State occupied buildings at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday, December 2, 2005


December 2, 2005
Governor Blagojevich reiterates need for common sense restrictions on violent and sexually explicit video games; Vows to appeal Federal Court decision enjoining Illinois law
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich vowed to appeal a decision issued late today by U.S. District Court Judge Kennelly to stop implementation of the Safe Games Illinois Act. The legislation, proposed by the Governor and approved by the Illinois General Assembly in May, was set to take effect on January 1. The Act would restrict minors’ access to sexually explicit and excessively violent video games.


December 2, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces more Keep Warm Illinois Home Energy Workshops to be held at community colleges statewide
Illinois residents invited to learn important tips to conserve energy and weatherize their homes this winter
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today urged Illinois residents to participate in the upcoming Keep Warm Illinois workshops scheduled at community colleges across Illinois. With record natural gas prices anticipated for this winter’s heating season, Illinois households will face significantly higher utility bills, with costs up to 70 percent higher than last winter. While every family in Illinois will be affected, higher home heating costs will create a particular hardship for senior citizens and families already struggling to get by. These workshops will educate Illinoisans about do-it-yourself energy-saving strategies to help reduce the cost of this winter’s heating bills through conservation and weatherization techniques. People can now also call the Keep Warm Illinois hotline, 1-877-411-WARM, for information about energy conservation, energy assistance or to find a home energy savings workshop near them. The hotline is available Monday – Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm.


December 1, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich proclaims World AIDS Day in Illinois; Illinois marks the national observance by dimming lights at Capitol and other state government buildings
Governor urges Congress to reauthorize and increase federal appropriations for the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act; IDPH sponsors more than 20 HIV/AIDS testing and awareness events across the state
SPRINGFIELD – Continuing his efforts to address the alarming spread of HIV/AIDS, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed World AIDS Day in Illinois and urged Congress to reauthorize and increase federal appropriations for the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act - the nation’s largest source of federal funding for HIV/AIDS-related services. Illinois also paid tribute to those impacted by HIV/AIDS by dimming lights at the Capitol dome and other state government buildings to coincide with the dimming of lights at the White House. World AIDS Day 2005, themed “Stop AIDS. Keep the promise,” urges individuals to hold government leaders and policymakers accountable for their pledges and promises of funding for HIV and AIDS education and prevention.

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