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February
2005


February 28, 2005
Gov. Rod Blagojevich releases progress report showing TEAM Illinois initiative is bringing hope to four economically depressed Illinois communities
Unprecedented coordination of state resources provides much needed social services and boosts economic development
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today released an 18-month progress report for TEAM Illinois, an initiative involving virtually every state agency. Gov. Blagojevich said the initiative has made great strides in providing assistance to four of the state’s economically troubled communities. TEAM Illinois, a partnership among state agencies, the private sector and community stakeholders, is bringing infrastructure and opportunity to Pembroke Township, Savanna, Alexander County, and Aurora’s East Side.


February 28, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich introduces legislation to keep excessively violent and sexually explicit video games out of the hands of Illinois children
State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and State Sen. Deanna Demuzio sponsor bill to ban sale and rental of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors under age 18
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today introduced legislation following through on his pledge to help parents across the State of Illinois protect their children from violent and sexually explicit video games. State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) filed the measure in the House of Representatives, and State Sen. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) will be the lead sponsor in the Senate. The legislation would make Illinois the first state in the nation to ban the sale and rental of violent and sexually explicit video games to children under age 18. Currently, nothing under Illinois law prohibits children from buying or renting video games, no matter how violent or sexually explicit they may be.


February 24, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich urges federal investigation into online purchases of airline pilot uniforms
Governor supports state legislation to make impersonating a pilot in secure airport areas illegal
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today renewed his call for a federal investigation into the availability of commercial airline pilots’ uniforms to the general public. In letters to members of the U.S. Senate and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Gov. Blagojevich outlined his concern that terrorists may be able to easily obtain pilots’ uniforms from the Internet and then use them to breach airport security.


February 24, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich celebrates African-American History Month
Governor names stretch of highway after “Free Frank” McWorter, first African-American to incorporate a town in the nation
SPRINGFIELD – In honor of African-American History Month, Governor Rod Blagojevich and local leaders today reflected on the contributions made by African-Americans to this state. During the celebration at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Gov. Blagojevich paid special tribute to “Free Frank” McWorter, a slave who purchased his family’s freedom and freedom for himself and later founded the town of New Philadelphia in Western Illinois. Today, the Governor named a portion of Interstate 72, which runs through Pike County where New Philadelphia once stood, after “Free Frank” McWorter.


February 22, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich proposes consumer-notification requirements to deal with identity theft
On the heels of public disclosure of the massive ChoicePoint security breach, Governor pushes for law that ensures quick consumer notification and motivates businesses to upgrade computer security
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today proposed legislation that would require companies both inside and outside Illinois to quickly notify Illinois consumers if their personal information is compromised due to a breach in company security. The Governor’s action comes days after public disclosure of a massive security failure in October involving Georgia-based ChoicePoint, which resulted in the theft of personal information, including social security numbers, of approximately 145,000 people in all 50 United States – including roughly 5,000 in Illinois.


February 22, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES MAJOR OPPORTUNITY RETURNS INVESTMENT TO BRING LEADING MANUFACTURER AND 480 JOBS TO MACOMB
MACOMB - Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced the awarding of up to $7 million to Pella Corporation, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium-quality windows and doors, that will help the Iowa-based company to expand manufacturing operations and locate a new 275,000 square-foot manufacturing facility on 45 acres in Macomb. The new facility will create 480 new jobs. This investment is a part of Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns strategy to create and retain jobs throughout Illinois. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Jack Lavin joined company and local officials for the official announcement in Macomb today.


February 18, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich welcomes Vermont to the I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program
Gov. Douglas signs legislation making Vermont fifth state to Gov. Blagojevich’s program providing access to safe and affordable prescription drugs
CHICAGO – Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich welcomed the State of Vermont to the I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program -- the first program in the nation to allow citizens to purchase lower cost, safe prescription drugs from state-approved pharmacies in Europe and Canada.


February 17, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich requests Small Business Administration disaster declaration for flood damage in Iroquois County
SBA Loan program could help with uninsured loss at homes and businesses in Iroquois and adjacent counties
SPRINGFIELD – Based on an assessment of damage to homes and businesses caused by last month’s flooding, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is requesting that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issue a disaster declaration for Iroquois County.


February 16, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich proposes major reforms to ensure fiscal solvency in Fiscal Year 2006 and beyond
Governor’s $43.56 billion operating budget balances $1.1 billion structural deficit without raising income or sales taxes, reforms pension system, Medicaid and employee health insurance
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod Blagojevich today unveiled a $43.56 billion budget plan for Fiscal Year 2006 that puts the state on a roadmap to fiscal solvency. The Governor’s budget includes major reforms to eliminate the state’s structural deficit, it invests more in schools, provides health care to more people who need it, builds roads, builds schools, cleans the environment and funds mass transit, without raising the income tax or sales tax.


February 15, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES FOREIGN TRADE MISSION TO CANADA TO HELP ESTABLISH NEW MARKETS FOR ILLINOIS FOOD BUSINESSES
Seven Illinois Firms Will Benefit from State-Led Trade Mission to Toronto
CHICAGO - In an effort to help stimulate more foreign trade opportunities for Illinois businesses, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced that the state would be escorting seven food companies on a foreign trade mission to Canada. The Illinois Food and Beverage Trade Mission to Toronto, Canada gets underway on February 20 and runs through February 22, and comes as a part of Opportunity Returns, the Governor’s economic development strategy designed to create jobs and spur economic growth throughout the state.


February 15, 2005
Governor Blagojevich signs law requiring more schools to serve breakfast
Studies show proper nourishment aids cognitive abilities
CHICAGO – Governor Rod Blagojevich today signed the Childhood Hunger Relief Act, requiring more Illinois schools to implement a breakfast program. House Bill 756, sponsored by Rep. Susana Mendoza (D-Chicago) and Sen. Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago), stipulates that all schools in which at least 40 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch must also provide a breakfast meal. Such programs have been proven to help children perform and behave better in school.


February 15, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich congratulates Vermont lawmakers for passing bill to ease burden of Rx drug costs; Urges Vermont Governor Douglas to quickly sign legislation and join the I-SaveRx program
CHICAGO- On the heels of the Vermont Legislature’s approval today of a bill authorizing the state to join the I-SaveRx drug importation program, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich sent a letter to Governor Jim Douglas urging him quickly sign the legislation so Vermont residents can soon begin to enjoy significant savings on their prescription medications. I-SaveRx was developed by Illinois and is the first state sponsored program in the nation to allow residents to import prescription drugs from inspected and approved suppliers in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom at savings between 25 and 50 percent.


February 14, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH CONTINUES COORDINATED CAMPAIGN TO SAVE ILLINOIS’ MILITARY BASES
Sends DCEO Director Jack Lavin, community leaders for meeting with top Pentagon official to present compelling case for why Illinois bases should continue defending our country
WASHINGTON, DC – Gov. Rod Blagojevich sent Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Jack Lavin to Washington, DC today for an important meeting with the Pentagon’s point person on base closings to present Illinois’ compelling case for why the state’s bases should continue serving our country with distinction. Director Lavin, along with local officials from St. Clair County and the Quad Cities, met with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Installations Phil Grone to highlight why the Scott Air Force Base and the Rock Island Arsenal should not end up on the Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list and to explain why both are ripe for expansion. This follows a similar meeting with Assistant Secretary Grone in December with DCEO officials and a delegation from Springfield and Peoria to discuss the merits of the Air National Guard bases in those cities. Gov. Blagojevich was also recently in Washington, DC for a series of meetings on this issue. The Governor is leading a coordinated effort with the Illinois Congressional Delegation, other elected officials and local leaders to prevent any of these bases from ending up on the BRAC list. These bases contribute more than $2.5 billion to the state’s economy each year and support nearly 70,000 jobs.


February 14, 2005
Governor Blagojevich Sends Sustainable Energy Plan to Illinois Commerce Commission
Plan outlined in State of the State address requires Illinois utilities to generate at least eight percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2012 Aggressive plan expected to give wind power major boost
CHICAGO – As he outlined in his State of the State address last week, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today submitted his proposal for an Illinois Sustainable Energy Plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission. The plan calls for greater use of renewable energy and energy efficiency that would create jobs, boost investment in rural communities, protect the environment, promote energy independence and help stabilize energy prices.


February 12, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich launches the Children’s Reading Club
First Lady selects “The Tale of Despereaux” by Kate DiCamillo as February’s featured book
CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today announced the start of the Children’s Reading Club—a recommended reading list made up of books that the First Lady and her daughters enjoy at home. Mrs. Blagojevich selected The Tale of Despereaux (Copyright 2003) by Kate DiCamillo as February’s featured book. Each month’s book selection will be featured on the First Lady’s website, http://www.illinois.gov/firstlady.


February 11, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich advocates sustaining Community Development Block Grant program in letter to Bush
Governor calls on President to maintain funding for crucial economic development tool
CHICAGO – In response to the President’s proposed federal budget, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today voiced his opposition to eliminating the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. CDBG provides crucial funds to the state and directly to 47 counties and communities across Illinois, and are used for economic development, housing, public infrastructure, and critical social service programs, such as senior centers, day care programs and homeless shelters.


February 10, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich blasts President Bush’s proposed budget for threatening health and stability of Illinois’ heartland
Governor urges Bush to fund programs that will spur economic growth and improve the quality of life in rural Illinois
CHICAGO – In a letter to President George W. Bush today, Governor Blagojevich urged the President to reconsider proposed budget cuts that would significantly reduce federal funding in rural Illinois communities. The Governor’s letter is in response to the proposed federal budget that slashes farm subsidies, funding for rural transportation services, rural healthcare grants, and structural improvement grants, among other things.


February 10, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich urges President Bush to reverse proposed cuts to education funding
Governor calls on President to restore funding for key education programs serving Illinois children
SPRINGFIELD – In a letter to President George W. Bush, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today expressed serious concerns over proposed federal funding cuts for education in the United States. The Governor’s letter is in response to specifics in the President’s proposed federal budget that would eliminate proven, successful education programs that serve those most at risk.


February 9, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum to open in April with four days of public celebrations
New attraction reinvents the presidential museum with unparalleled size, originality and educational promise
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod Blagojevich today officially announced the schedule of activities for the grand opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, to be held this April. The four-day public celebration will recreate “The Great American Story” of Abraham Lincoln’s life through exhibits that employ state-of-the-art technology never seen before in a presidential museum.


February 9, 2005
Governor Blagojevich announces electronic disease reporting for hospitals, health care providers
Secure Web-system will help direct state response to biological attacks, reports of emerging infectious diseases
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced that hospitals, doctors and other health care providers now can electronically report infectious diseases to the state and local health departments as part of a continuing effort to improve the state’s ability to respond to public health emergencies.


February 8, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH URGES PRES. BUSH TO REVERSE PROPOSED CUTS TO PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE
Governor calls on President to restore funding; protect service enjoyed by more than 3 million in Illinois every year
CHICAGO – In a letter to President George W. Bush, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today voiced his concern over proposed federal funding cuts for passenger rail service in the United States. The Governor’s letter is in response to provisions in the President’s proposed federal budget that dramatically increase the burden on states to keep passenger rail service up and running.


February 7, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich signs bill that will help many get their lives back on track
Senate Bill 3007 aims to reduce recidivism and give ex-offenders more opportunities to find jobs
SPRINGFIELD –Governor Blagojevich took action today to help some former offenders rebuild their lives and become fully productive members of society, by signing Senate Bill 3007, which allows certain criminal records to be sealed.


February 7, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $2.8 MILLION IN OPPORTUNITY RETURNS SUPPORT FUELING USF HOLLAND EXPANSION AND BRINGING 230 NEW JOBS TO MADISON COUNTY
EDWARDSVILLE – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced the awarding of $2.8 million in Opportunity Returns support to USF Holland, an operating company of USF Corporation, to construct a new terminal in Edwardsville that will give the company added capacity to meet growing demand in the marketplace and create 230 new jobs for the state of Illinois. The support comes through Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns program, his historic, regional strategy to spur economic growth and create jobs across the Southwest region and throughout the state.


February 7, 2005
Governor Blagojevich signs law expanding voter registration
Legislation extends voter registration deadline to 14 days before election
CHICAGO - Governor Rod Blagojevich today signed legislation allowing prospective voters to register 14 days before an election, instead of the previous 28 days before an election. By creating the two-week "grace period," Senate Bill 2133 allows voters more time to register or change their address and still have the chance to vote in the next election.


February 7, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES CRITICAL OPPORTUNITY RETURNS INVESTMENT IN HN AUTOMOTIVE, BRINGING NEW JOBS TO EFFINGHAM AND SOUTHEAST ILLINOIS
Opportunity Returns Strategy For Southeast Region Unveiled; Governor Highlights How Jobs and Economic Growth Are Returning to the Region and Throughout Illinois
EFFINGHAM - Further delivering on his Opportunity Returns promise to spur economic development and job growth, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today visited HN Automotive, Inc. and announced a new investment package that will create 35 new jobs and retain 95 other jobs at this local auto parts manufacturer. More than $1 million in Opportunity Returns support will help ensure the long-term viability of the plant and spur $16 million in private investment. Gov. Blagojevich, standing alongside business and community leaders from throughout Southeast Illinois, also laid out his aggressive Opportunity Returns strategy to bring increased entrepreneurship and economic opportunity to the Southeastern region. His announcement comes in the wake of lower unemployment numbers statewide, including 6 percent in the Southeast region, which has seen its unemployment rate drop .7 percent, down from 6.7 percent a year ago. In 2005, Illinois is expected to create between 65,000 and 75,000 jobs.


February 4, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces 2005 Illinois State Fair theme
‘All Roads Lead to the 2005 Illinois State Fair’ selected to represent Illinois’ premier agriculture showcase
SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick and Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke today announced the theme for the 2005 Illinois State Fair and Twilight Parade --- “All Roads Lead to the 2005 Illinois State Fair.”


February 4, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich signs law allowing state to consider the effects of outsourcing in awarding state contracts
SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to curb the practice of outsourcing domestic jobs overseas, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today signed Senate Bill 2375, requiring companies bidding for state business to certify whether the terms of the contract will be performed in the U.S.


February 4, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich leads Illinois’ National Wear Red Day campaign as Governor proclaims February Women’s Healthy Heart Month
Event raises awareness about heart disease in women
CHICAGO– Today, Illinois First Lady Patti Blagojevich, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the American Heart Association called on all Illinoisans to wear red in support of women’s heart disease awareness. Participating in an informational and interactive program at the Thompson Center for National Wear Red Day, Mrs. Blagojevich stressed the danger of heart disease in women and advised simple measures to help women lead healthier lives.


February 3, 2005
Governor Blagojevich lays out aggressive agenda in 2005 State of the State Address to give Illinois families tools to prosper
Focuses on building the economy, expanding health care, strengthening education and improving the quality of life
SPRINGFIELD – During his 2005 State of the State Address delivered today before a joint session of the General Assembly, Governor Rod Blagojevich detailed plans to help Illinoisans achieve their goals of earning a good living, providing a solid education to their children, obtaining affordable health care and spending more time with their families. The Governor reviewed the strides the state has made in these areas during the first two years of his administration and unveiled new plans to do more.


February 3, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich urges Vermont officials to join the I-SaveRx program
Blagojevich calls on House Speaker Symington and Governor Douglas to pass and sign legislation that authorizes Vermont to join multi-state prescription drug importation program
CHICAGO- Governor Rod Blagojevich today sent letters to Vermont House Speaker Gaye Symington and Governor Jim Douglas urging them to pass and sign legislation that would authorize Vermont to join the I-SaveRx prescription drug program. I-SaveRx is the first state sponsored program in the nation to allow residents to import prescription drugs from state inspected and approved suppliers in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom at savings between 25 and 50 percent. The House legislation, if passed, would give Vermont Governor Jim Douglas authorization to enter Vermont into the program. The Vermont Senate passed a similar bill unanimously last week.


February 1, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces several Lincoln sites to resume seven day per week operation
Expanded schedules coincide with opening of Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced several of the state’s most-visited Abraham Lincoln sites administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) will return to seven-day-per-week operations to coincide with the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.


February 1, 2005
Governor’s Safe Games Illinois Task Force holds first meeting
Chatham mother named convener of advisory board
CHICAGO – The Governor’s Safe Games Illinois Task Force held its first formal meeting today, and named Christine Westerlund of Chatham the convener of the task force. Gov. Blagojevich created the Safe Games Task Force – which is made up of parents from across Illinois as well as community leaders, clergy, teachers, medical experts and child advocates from across the nation – to work with his office on developing outreach efforts to parents about the dangers of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors.

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