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March
2006


March 31, 2006
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Cites Illinois as Top in Midwest for Safety Belt Zones
Primary seat belt law signed by Gov. Blagojevich has led to increased seat belt use, 100 fewer traffic deaths a year
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Division of Traffic Safety (DTS) was singled out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from other Midwestern states for its efforts to increase safety belt usage. NHTSA recently awarded IDOT with a specially engraved Louisville Slugger baseball bat for stepping up to the plate on its safety belt enforcement efforts.


March 31, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich rallies with Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and hundreds of medical students for affordable, quality health care for all Illinoisans
Gov. Blagojevich awarded “Hero of Health Care” Award from leading national health care advocacy group for his landmark All Kids plan and commitment to the Health Care Justice Act
CHICAGO - First Lady Patti Blagojevich today rallied with the Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care, U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, and hundreds of medical students and advocates in support of affordable, quality health care for all Illinoisans. The First Lady discussed the groundbreaking health care advances that have been made in Illinois, and called on leaders to continue to work towards implementing Health Care Justice Act, which Gov. Blagojevich signed into law in 2004. On Wednesday, Gov. Blagojevich was awarded the “Hero of Health Care” Award from America’s Agenda: Health Care for All, a national health care advocacy group, for his landmark All Kids plan, expanding health care coverage to over 400,000 Illinoisans, and for signing the Health Care Justice Act into law.


March 30, 2006
Illinois chosen to receive National Governors Association Grant for Early Childhood Summit
Grants awarded to seven states that demonstrated strong gubernatorial commitment to closing the persistent achievement gap in America; Summit will promote need for Early Childhood Education
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois has been chosen by the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices as one of seven states selected to receive grants of $10,000 to support Governors’ Early Childhood Summits. The Summits are an effort to encourage state and local leaders to advance a comprehensive “birth-to-five” state policy agenda.


March 30, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich’s “Less Red Tape” bill wins House approval, heads to Governor’s desk for his signature
SPRINGFIELD – One of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s education initiatives to help schools operate more efficiently and better meet students’ needs won approval today in the Illinois House. Senate Bill 2829, known as the “Less Red Tape” bill that will eliminate unnecessary state bureaucracy burdening teachers and school administrators, passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.


March 30, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich joins the Women’s Business Development Center to celebrate two decades of advancement amongst women entrepreneurs in Illinois
Mrs. Blagojevich addresses over 300 women at the celebration; discusses her personal experiences as a business owner and highlights state resources available to businesswomen
CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich this evening joined local women entrepreneurs and business leaders to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Women’s Business Development Center. Addressing more than 300 women, the First Lady discussed Illinois’ business friendly and equality oriented environment that helps further empower women to develop and run their own businesses. Mrs. Blagojevich, who is the first sitting First Lady in Illinois to own a business, talked about her personal experiences as a working mother and highlighted available state resources to aid businesswomen throughout the state.


March 30, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich helps with pre-registration at multi-ethnic All Kids event; hundreds of children signed up for comprehensive health coverage
Governor’s Office, state officials, Consul Generals, and over 90 multi-ethnic organizations partner to pre-register children at Northeastern University
CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today joined state officials, over 90 multi-ethnic community organizations, members of Chicago’s Consular Corps, and hundreds of families at Northeastern University to pre-register children for the All Kids health insurance program. Pre-registration will help expedite the application process for All Kids so children can start enjoying benefits as soon as the Governor’s landmark healthcare program takes effect July 1, 2006.


March 29, 2006
Tougher penalties for police impersonation win final legislative approval; Governor Blagojevich pledges to sign
Legislation would increase jail time for police impersonation, create new offense for impersonation while carrying a deadly weapon, and broaden definition of peace officer to include local, state, and federal officials
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today praised the Illinois State Senate for passing House Bill 5336, a bill that will increase penalties for impersonating a police officer or fire fighter. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago) and Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton), would toughen penalties for anyone who impersonates a police officer or fire fighter while committing a more serious crime and would broaden the definition of Peace Officer to include local, state, or federal officials. The Governor proposed the legislation in January in response to a Chicago Sun-Times series that highlighted more than 1,000 police impersonation cases in the Chicago area over the last 3 years. The bill passed the House unanimously in February and now moves to the Governor’s desk. The Governor will sign the bill.


March 27, 2006
Governor Blagojevich introduces new rule to ensure women’s access to prescription contraceptives after new tactic to deny women access to birth control surfaces
Governor’s proposed rule would require pharmacies to post signs letting women know their rights and how to file complaints; Women who think they were lied to about their contraceptive being out of stock can call 1-800-280-4149 to file a complaint
CHICAGO – After learning of new tactics employed by some pharmacists to get around a rule that prohibits pharmacies from refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a series of steps to ensure that women have access to contraceptives.


March 25, 2006
Governor Blagojevich urges Treasurer Topinka to support assault weapons ban
Governor sends letter to Topinka urging her to use position as state’s only republican office holder to lobby other republicans to support ban
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today sent a letter to State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka urging her to change her position and support a statewide assault weapons ban. The Governor believes Topinka, as the only republican statewide officer holder, can help convince republican lawmakers to vote for the ban. The Governor’s letter follows a lobbying effort at the State Capitol in Springfield on Thursday when he joined families of victims of assault weapons, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and other gun safety advocates today to call on the Illinois General Assembly to pass a statewide assault weapons ban.


March 23, 2006
Governor Blagojevich, victims’ families, advocates urge lawmakers in Springfield to pass statewide assault weapons ban
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich joined families of victims of assault weapons, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and other gun safety advocates today to call on the Illinois General Assembly to pass a statewide assault weapons ban. Supporters of the ban on assault weapons took the cause to the Capital City after the tragic murders this month of two young girls from Englewood. Police report 14-year-old Starkesia Reed and 10-year old Siretha White were both killed by gunfire from assault weapons that would be illegal to buy, own, or sell in Illinois under the proposed ban.


March 22, 2006
Governor’s Drought Response Task Force convenes first meeting of year
Task force reports improvement in statewide situation; drought conditions persist in some regions of the state
SPRINGFIELD – Members of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s Drought Response Task Force met today in Springfield to analyze current conditions and discuss what affect conditions will have on the state’s natural, environmental, and agricultural resources. Preliminary findings show that despite normal to above normal precipitation during the month of March, much of northern and western Illinois remains in a severe drought. The southern and east-central regions of Illinois are not experiencing a drought.


March 21, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich urges the U.S. House of Representatives to reject legislation that would roll back critical Illinois consumer protection laws
Financial Data Protection Act would prevent proposed Illinois restrictions on cell phone “pretexting”
CHICAGO – Continuing his effort to protect the privacy rights of Illinoisans, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today sent a letter to members of Illinois’ Congressional Delegation, urging them to reject federal legislation that would roll back existing state identity theft notification laws and prevent new laws intended to protect Illinois residents from having their cell phone records and other personal information released through a practice known as “pretexting”. Under the Financial Data Protection Act, companies would be able decide whether or not they need to notify consumers about security breaches that put their personal information at risk.


March 20, 2006
Governor Blagojevich, Lt. Gov. Quinn, and Comptroller Hynes tour Children's Memorial Research Center, join forces in urging lawmakers to approve proposed $100 million state stem cell research fund
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich was joined today by Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes for a tour of Children’s Memorial Research Center’s (CMRC) state of the art stem cell research facility, where president and scientific director Mary J.C. Hendrix, PhD, and investigators are doing cancer research on federally approved embryonic stem cell lines. The state leaders also met six scientists from around the country, including Columbia University Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, who are visiting Dr. Hendrix’s lab to be trained through a National Cancer Institute grant in tumor stem cell technology. The three statewide officials, along with Secretary of State Jesse White and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, are pushing for passage of the Governor’s proposal to provide $100 million in state grants for stem cell research over the next five years.


March 18, 2006
Governor Blagojevich and Mayor Daley lead march against violence; renew call to ban assault weapons in the wake of recent deadly shootings
CHICAGO – Continuing the effort to protect Illinoisans from gun violence, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, and the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) led a march against violence through the Englewood neighborhood today and renewed their call for members of the Illinois General Assembly to pass a statewide Assault Weapons Ban. Today’s march follows the tragic murders of two Englewood youths, Starkesia Reed age 14, and Siretha White age 10. Early reports indicate that both children were killed by assault weapons that would be illegal to buy, own, or sell in Illinois under the proposed ban.


March 17, 2006
Illinois Efficiency Initiatives Lauded as Best Practice
Respected, bipartisan organization honors Illinois efforts
CHICAGO-The CMS-led efficiency efforts that saved Illinois more than $529 million have been placed "front and center" by the National Governor's Association.


March 17, 2006
Governor Blagojevich asks President Bush for federal assistance following damaging tornadoes and storms
Federal disaster declaration would aid individuals, businesses and local governments hard-hit by severe storms
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today asked President Bush to declare several tornado-ravaged Illinois counties as federal disaster areas. A federal disaster declaration would enable people, businesses and local governments in areas hit by severe storms last weekend to apply for grants and loans to help with storm-related losses. Counties in the Governor’s request include Greene, Logan, Morgan, Randolph, Sangamon, and Scott.


March 16, 2006
ISBE adopts Gov. Blagojevich’s proposal to ban junk food in Illinois elementary and middle schools
State Board of Education approves rules that will allow children to have a healthier diet in school
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today adopted rules to officially ban junk food and soda in Illinois elementary and middle schools. In November, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich asked the nine board members to ban junk food and soda in Illinois elementary and middle schools. Research shows that healthier students have higher attendance rates, better behavior, and superior test scores.


March 15, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich asks U.S. Secretary of Energy to include State of Illinois in upcoming meetings with major oil companies about the lack of availability of E-85
The Governor wants to continue his innovative efforts to lessen our addiction to foreign oil
CHICAGO – In his ongoing effort to lessen our country’s addiction to foreign oil, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich sent a letter today to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman asking him to include the State of Illinois in upcoming meetings he says he is arranging with the major oil companies to increase the availability of E-85 in Illinois and across the country. Secretary Bodman pledged to hold these meetings at the recently held Governors’ Ethanol Coalition meeting in Washington, DC.


March 14, 2006
State, federal officials assess damage from weekend storms
Governor Blagojevich calls for public health precautions in aftermath of weekend storms
SPRINGFIELD – After Governor Rod R. Blagojevich declared seven Illinois counties state disaster areas Tuesday following devastating weekend storms, staff from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today began assessments in the Springfield area to determine the extent of storm damage to homes, businesses and local government. The Governor also today urged Central Illinois residents to take public health precautions in the aftermath of the storms and the massive power outages they caused.


March 13, 2006
Governor Blagojevich Offers Clean Up Assistance to Storm-Ravaged Springfield; State Continues to Assess Damage
SPRINGFIELD – Last night Springfield and other communities throughout Central Illinois and the Metro East suffered damage from severe storms and tornadoes. The State Emergency Operation Center in Springfield was activated last night. Staff has been on duty overnight and will continue coordinating with local officials today.


March 13, 2006
Governor Blagojevich directs state resources to assist communities damaged by storms
Seven counties declared disaster areas; Governor mobilizes state response to help in recovery effort
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today declared seven Illinois counties state disaster areas following a round of storms that moved quickly through the area this weekend, causing severe damage and approximately two dozen minor injuries. While staff with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is still assessing the damage, no fatalities have been reported as of mid-day Monday, March 13, 2006.


March 10, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich addresses Illinois farmers to raise awareness of economic, environmental and health benefits of local organic farmingat the 2nd Annual FamilyFarmed.org EXPO
At 2nd Annual FamilyFarmed.org Expo, Mrs. Blagojevich salutes the contributions of family farms to the organic farming industry
CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today addressed Illinois farmers and consumers at the 2nd Annual FamilyFarmed.org EXPO, to raise awareness of the economic, environmental and health benefits of local organic farming. Organic foods, typically produced by local family farms, are one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture in the United States.


March 10, 2006
Governor Blagojevich launches e-government expansion to make it easier to do business with the State
Illinois entrepreneurs and licensed professionals have easier access to government at www.business.illinois.gov
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the expansion of the State of Illinois’ online business portal, www.business.illinois.gov, which now offers access to more than 1,400 licenses, permits and applications that are regularly submitted by many businesses and licensed professionals.


March 9, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH RALLIES WITH LEADERS IN WILL COUNTY FOR PASSAGE OF CAPITAL PLAN TO FUND WIDENING OF I-55 AND OTHER KEY LOCAL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
Governor’s proposed $3.2 billion capital bill would create 230,000 jobs statewide, build better roads, improve mass transit and ease school overcrowding
BOLINGBROOK – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich joined business and labor leaders and elected officials in one of the fastest growing counties in the country today to aggressively advocate for the passage of a $3.2 billion capital bill that would help build new roads and schools and improve mass transit throughout region. Northeast Illinois would receive roughly $1.5 billion in funding, including $67 million to expedite the widening of I-55 in Will County from Weber Road to I-80.


March 8, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich rallies support for his $1,000 per student college tuition tax credit proposal
Credit would help tens of thousands of middle and low-income working families send their children to college
PEORIA – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today joined students and education leaders at Bradley University to call on lawmakers to approve his proposal to help parents send their children to college. As part of his Fiscal Year 2007 budget, the Governor proposed a $1,000 tax credit for every child an Illinois family has enrolled in any college in Illinois, public or private. The tax credit applies to freshmen and sophomores who maintain a B average.


March 8, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH RALLIES WITH LEADERS THROUGHOUT NORTHWEST ILLINOIS FOR THE PASSAGE OF A $3.2 BILLION CAPITAL BILL THAT WILL CREATE 230,000 JOBS
Jobs Bill Will Build Better Roads, Improve Mass Transit and Ease School Overcrowding Throughout The Region
GALENA – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich joined business and labor leaders and elected officials in Galena today to aggressively advocate for the passage of a $3.2 billion capital bill that would include approximately $194 million for several critical road projects across Northwest Illinois.


March 7, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH RALLIES WITH LEADERS THROUGHOUT SOUTHEAST ILLINOIS FOR THE PASSAGE OF A $3.2 BILLION CAPITAL BILL THAT WILL CREATE 230,000 JOBS
Jobs Bill Will Build Better Roads, Improve Mass Transit and Ease School Overcrowding Throughout The Region
EFFINGHAM – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich joined business and labor leaders and elected officials today to aggressively advocate for the passage of a $3.2 billion capital bill that would help build new roads and schools and improve mass transit throughout the state. Southeast Illinois would receive nearly $90 million in funding.


March 6, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich calls for critical school construction funding for Rochester and other school projects across Illinois
Many Illinois schools desperately need funding to build new schools and ease overcrowding
ROCHESTER – Emphasizing the critical need for a statewide commitment to school construction projects around Illinois, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today called on the Illinois Legislature to approve $550 million in school construction and maintenance projects, including about $10.2 million which would go to Rochester Community Unit District 3A. The funding is included in the Governor’s $3.2 billion capital plan.


March 3, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich praises Illinois House for passing mine safety legislation
House Bill 2197 moves to the Senate
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded members of the Illinois House for unanimously passing legislation to provide additional safety precautions to protect Illinois miners. House Bill 2197, sponsored by Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Sparta) would aid both rescuers and miners if an accident occurred. Gov. Blagojevich proposed the legislation in January following the tragic West Virginia mine accidents that killed 14 miners. HB 2197 now moves on to the Senate.


March 3, 2006
Illinois residents can purchase State government’s surplus property on March 15
Auction will sell unneeded farm equipment, snow blowers, tools, boats, exercise equipment and furniture
SPRINGFIELD – Residents from across the state can bid on and win the State of Illinois’ unneeded property being auctioned on Wednesday, March 15. The Surplus Property Auction will feature items including boats and boat motors, snow blowers and lawnmowers, tools, exercise equipment, farm and construction equipment, and athletic lockers, among many other items.


March 2, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich’s school district reorganization legislation wins Senate approval
Governor’s “Less Red Tape” bill also passes
SPRINGFIELD – Two of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s education initiatives to help schools operate more efficiently and better meet students’ needs won approval today in the Illinois Senate. Senators unanimously passed Senate Bill 2795, which would make it easier for school districts to merge with each other to improve operations and Senate Bill 2829, known as the “Less Red Tape” bill, which eliminates unnecessary state bureaucracy burdening teachers and school administrators.


March 2, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich celebrates National Read Across America Day and the Birthday of Dr. Seuss
First Lady encourages parents to start reading to their children as early as possible as a way to positively impact their mental and emotional development of children
CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today celebrated the National Read Across America Day, by reading excerpts from a Dr. Seuss’ book to elementary school children and highlighting the positive impact early reading has on the development of children.


March 1, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich to propose legislation to protect rape victims from being forced to view videotape of the crimes committed against them
Governor applauds Judge’s ruling saving rape victim from viewing videotape of assault
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that he would introduce legislation to prevent rape victims from having to view videotape of their assaults. The Governor’s announcement follows learning about the case of a Naperville woman who was nearly forced by the courts to view a videotape of her rape four years ago. Cook County judge Kerry Kennedy ruled today that the woman can continue her testimony during the trial of one of the men accused of her rape without viewing the tape.


March 1, 2006
Businesses owned by minorities, women, and persons with disabilities achieve greater access to State of Illinois business in FY05
State contracts to diverse entrepreneurs grow by 9%, increase attributable to outreach and workshops to diverse audiences
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that businesses owned by minorities, women or persons with disabilities had increased access to state business in FY05 and were awarded $387 million in contracts for goods and services, up from $353 million in FY04.

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