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April
2006


April 28, 2006
Blagojevich Administration announces initial results of crackdowns on unlawful mortgage brokerage firms
Unannounced inspections net $190,750 in fines and one license suspension; On-site, unannounced inspections of mortgage firms to continue
CHICAGO – As the result of a series of aggressive, new inspections by state regulators into mortgage lending practices, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $190,750 in fines for 22 licensed residential mortgage offices and the suspension of one office in Oak Brook for failing to comply with state regulations. Earlier this year, the Governor ordered the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to begin a series of unannounced inspections of licensed mortgage companies in response to reports of growing instances of mortgage fraud. This sweep is the first of planned quarterly reviews of the mortgage industry to help protect homebuyers from predatory mortgage lenders.


April 27, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich dedicates Illinois’ first Reading Park
First Lady encourages parents to read with their children as a way to positively impact their mental and emotional development
CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich joined Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Chicago Alderman Edward M. Burke, and over 100 students from St. Bruno Elementary School to dedicate Illinois’ first “Reading Park” at Catalpa Park in Chicago. The reading park will feature special reading nooks, benches, and thousands of new trees and flowers to create an inviting space for children to read. Chicago was one of nine cities selected for creation of a community reading garden by Troy-Bilt, a supplier of lawn and garden equipment and a national sponsor of the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup program.


April 27, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces large-scale exercise to test state’s ability to handle highly contagious communicable disease and terrorist events
Governor signs law to ensure life-saving medications are distributed quickly during public health emergencies; Illinois is first state to test lessons learned from TOPOFF exercise
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today said a three-day exercise next week will test the state’s ability to respond to an influenza pandemic and terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction (please note: this is an exercise only, designed to improve emergency planning and preparedness). Last September, the Governor called for a major test of the state’s preparedness following Hurricane Katrina, when emergency response in the Gulf Coast was overwhelmed by the nation’s largest natural disaster in history. Also today, the Governor signed Senate Bill 2921, legislation that will ensure that life-saving medications can be quickly dispensed during a health crisis, such as a pandemic flu outbreak, by allowing local emergency officials to enlist large numbers of health care volunteers to assist with distribution.


April 26, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich’s school district reorganization bill wins approval in the House and goes back to the Senate for final approval
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s proposal to make it easier for school districts to merge with each other to improve operations passed unanimously today in the House of Representatives and will go back to the Senate for final approval. Senate Bill 2795, sponsored by State Senator George P. Shadid (D-Peoria) and State Representative Michael K. Smith (D-Canton), returns to the Illinois Senate for final consideration.


April 25, 2006
Governor Blagojevich proclaims Equal Pay Day in Illinois
First Lady Patti Blagojevich highlights enforcement and outreach efforts to ensure pay equity in all Illinois workplaces
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed April 25 as Illinois Equal Pay Day to highlight the state’s law that requires pay equity in the workplace. Gov. Blagojevich issued the proclamation in conjunction with National Equal Pay Day to heighten awareness of gender-based pay discrimination in Illinois, as First Lady Patti Blagojevich met with working women from around the state to discuss enforcement successes, outreach efforts and challenges to ensure that women are paid the same wages as men for the same work.


April 25, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces first Illinois agriculture laboratory certified to test for Avian Flu
Certification means faster test results and response time in suspect cases of Avian Influenza
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the Illinois Department of Agriculture laboratory in Galesburg is the first lab in the state to receive certification to perform viral testing for avian influenza (AI). The updated status of the lab will significantly cut down the time it takes to determine whether a suspected case of bird flu may in fact be positive, allowing Illinois to quickly activate the response.


April 24, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich, Comptroller Hynes announce $10 million in state stem cell research grants
Ten grants awarded to Illinois hospitals and universities to conduct critical stem cell research
CHICAGO - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Comptroller Dan Hynes today announced ten grants worth a total of $10 million for the life-saving work of stem cell research at several Illinois hospitals and research institutions. Last summer by Executive Order, Governor Blagojevich and Comptroller Hynes created the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute (IRMI), making Illinois the first state in the Midwest, and only the fourth state in the nation, to commit public funds to stem cell research. Researching and studying stem cells allows scientists and doctors to better understand what causes serious medical illnesses and conditions such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, spinal cord injury, stroke, and heart disease, in hopes of discovering new ways to treat or even cure them.


April 22, 2006
Governor Blagojevich signs new law to reduce toxic mercury emissions
Governor urges Illinois Pollution Control Board to approve aggressive new mercury emission standards
CHICAGO – On Earth Day, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed a new law creating a statewide program to remove and collect mercury-containing switches from retired vehicles before they are processed as scrap metal and are emitted into the environment. Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal that can cause permanent brain damage, autism, deafness and blindness as well as reduce IQs and slow motor functions. Recent studies indicate that as many as 10 percent of babies born each year in the United States are exposed to excessive mercury levels in the womb.


April 20, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces 2006 Student Historians of the Year
16 Junior and senior high school students who had the best essays published in a statewide history magazine
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the 2006 Student Historians of the Year. The 16 student historians are being recognized for their outstanding essays published in Illinois History magazine - the nation’s oldest history magazine written by and for junior and senior high school students. The students published the essays during the past year in Illinois History magazine on topics ranging from “John Mason Peck, Zealot of Education” to “Michael Crichton’s Mark on the Science Fiction World” to “Sara Lee Bakery Group.”


April 19, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich appoints members of Bicentennial Commission to plan for Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday
Commission will lead state planning efforts for Lincoln’s 200th birthday celebration
SPRINGFIELD – As the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum celebrates its first anniversary, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the members of the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Created by Executive Order in February, this Commission will lead Illinois’ planning efforts to commemorate the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration, scheduled for February 2009. In addition to statewide constitutional officers and other elected officials, the Commission includes members representing academia, business, the arts, community development, civil rights and historic preservation communities.


April 19, 2006
Honoring Illinois' Fallen
United States and Illinois flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, April 19, 2006
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, April 19, 2006


April 18, 2006
Governor Blagojevich and Chicago Public Schools announce All Kids partnership
Third largest school district in the country to help enroll uninsured children and promote program as parents receive report cards tomorrow
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan joined parents and students today at Lake View High School to announce a new partnership between the State of Illinois and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to enroll uninsured children in All Kids, the state’s new program to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance to children. As parents arrive to pick up report cards tomorrow and Thursday, nearly all of the 600 CPS schools will be distributing information about All Kids. In addition, 100 schools will help enroll children in the program.


April 18, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $200,000 FOR NEW ENTREPRENEURSHIP CENTER TO HELP HIGH-GROWTH COMPANIES AND CREATE MORE JOBS ACROSS CHICAGO’S SOUTH SUBURBS
DCEO Director Jack Lavin Highlights Work of the CenterPoint Entrepreneurship Center at Governors State University
UNIVERSITY PARK - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s top economic development official visited the CenterPoint Entrepreneurship Center at Governors State University today to announce $200,000 in funding for the new e-center, which will help local entrepreneurs and small business owners and their promising ventures develop into successes in the marketplace.


April 16, 2006
Governor Blagojevich announces expanded seven-day schedule for many of Illinois’ historic sites during tourist season
Expanded site operations will attract more visitors, pump more revenue into local economies
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that many of the state’s historic sites will be open seven days a week starting tomorrow and continuing through Labor Day. Expanding site operations during the busy tourism season will attract more visitors to Illinois and generate additional dollars for many communities.


April 16, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs legislation toughening penalties for police impersonation
Legislation increases jail time for police impersonation; creates new offense for impersonation while carrying a deadly weapon; and broadens definition of peace officer to include local, state, and federal officials
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation to increase the penalties for impersonation of a police officer or fire fighter. House Bill 5336, sponsored by Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago), toughens penalties for anyone who impersonates a police officer or fire fighter while committing a more serious crime and broadens the definition of Peace Officer to include local, state, or federal officials. The Governor initiated 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 legislation passed both houses unanimously.


April 14, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces Illinois’ coal mine industry record 3rd consecutive year without a fatality
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that Saturday will mark the third consecutive year Illinois coal mines have gone without a fatality, a milestone never before achieved in Illinois. While the past 36 months are proof that the state’s aggressive mine safety measures are helping to keep miners safe, Gov. Blagojevich also proposed legislation being considered in the General Assembly to improve further mine safety. Senate Bill 929, sponsored by Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) and Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Steelville), includes provisions to aid both rescuers and miners in an accident.


April 13, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces new Veteran Service Officers have helped thousands of additional veterans in first quarter of 2006
Added staff helped more than 5,500 additional Illinois veterans apply for benefits and services in first quarter of 2006
SPRINGFIELD – Building on efforts to help the state’s veterans get the federal benefits and services they have bravely earned, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that more than 5,500 additional veterans and their families have been helped by the state since the hiring and deployment of 25 more Veteran Service Officers across the state at the start of 2006.


April 13, 2006
State of Illinois to host Tornado Aid Benefit Concert to raise support for victims of recent devastation in Central Illinois
Local residents invited to family-friendly concert at the Illinois State Fairgrounds that will help the local American Red Cross’ storm relief efforts
SPRINGFIELD – Responding to the needs of local residents impacted by tornadoes and violent storms that have recently swept through the greater Springfield region, the State of Illinois will host a Tornado Aid Benefit Concert to raise money for the American Red Cross – Illinois Capitol Area Chapter – that has assisted many people after the storms.


April 12, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs legislation preventing condo boards from interfering with religious practices
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed Senate Bill 2165, legislation that will guarantee condo owners can freely observe the doctrines of their religion at home, including being able to display objects on their front door. The bill, which unanimously passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, was sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D – Chicago) and Sen. Ira Silverstein (D – Chicago) and will go in to effect on January 1, 2007.


April 10, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH WELCOMES THE WORLD TO CHICAGO FOR THE “OLYMPICS OF BIOTECH”
The Governor Kicks Off International Convention That is Expected to Attract More Than 20,000 People From All 50 States and 60 Countries
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich officially welcomed the world to Chicago today for BIO 2006, which is the first time that this prestigious international life sciences conference is being held in the Midwest. The conference, which runs through April 12th, is a unique opportunity for Illinois to showcase its growing biotech business to the more than 20,000 people and 2,500 biotech organizations attending from across the U.S. and 60 countries. The annual BIO convention is the industry's largest gathering of researchers, major international and domestic biotech corporations, start-ups, regulators and investors. Illinois is already home to nearly 60,000 employees at more than 1,100 biotech firms. Business Facilities Magazine rated Illinois the top state in the nation for biotech growth in 2005.


April 8, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich promotes Gov. Blagojevich’s All Kids program at the YMCA’s 15th annual Healthy Kids Day
First Lady joins local “Put Play in their Day” at Pilsen YMCA to celebrate healthy living and encourage families to choose an active lifestyle
CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today joined thousands of children and their parents at the “Put Play in Their Day” event in the new state-of-the-art Rauner Family YMCA in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. The First Lady addressed the importance of keeping Illinois’ children healthy and safe, and the role of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s All Kids program in accomplishing that goal. All Kids is the first health care program in the nation to provide comprehensive and affordable health insurance for every uninsured child in Illinois.


April 7, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich participates in 36th annual mock press conference with elementary students
SPRINGFIELD—First Lady Patti Blagojevich today hosted a mock press conference for 4th grade students from Harristown Elementary School at the Executive Mansion. This marks the 36th anniversary of the event, started by Jeff Deremiah, a retired language arts teacher at Harristown Elementary. Prior to retiring, Deremiah had been bringing his “student reporters” to the Capital City to meet with Governors’ wives since 1970. The tradition continued this year with teachers Mary Sobek and Beckie Poole.


April 7, 2006
Governor Blagojevich announces Lincoln Academy Laureates
Six individuals receive state’s highest award
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that six world-famous Illinoisans who have excelled in communications, medicine, business, the arts and social service will become Laureates of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. This is the highest honor the state can bestow for outstanding achievement to people who were born or have lived in Illinois.


April 6, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich hosts Easter Egg Hunt
SPRINGFIELD - First Lady Patti Blagojevich, along with her daughters Amy and Annie, hosted an Easter Egg Hunt Thursday afternoon at the Executive Mansion for children from the Springfield Boys and Girls Club. Joined by Mrs. Illinois/America 2006 Julie Rinehart of Flora, Mrs. Blagojevich and the children enjoyed games, crafts projects, and a magic show.


April 6, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $200,000 IN GRANTS TO TRAIN CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN THE GROWING FIELD OF BIOTECHNOLOGY
Innovative Grants Prepare Tomorrow’s Workforce on the Eve of the “Olympics of Biotech” Coming to Illinois
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $202,000 in grants to prepare both Chicago area students and teachers in the field of biotechnology. There will be $130,000 in High Technology School-to-Work training grants awarded to the Argonne National Laboratory and Jakpan Enterprises, Inc., which will be used to prepare Illinois students, at both the high school and college level, to transition from school to high-skilled, high-paying biotech jobs, and more than $72,000 is helping 12 Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers and other teachers across the state attend the Biotechnology Institute’s “Teacher-Leader” professional development program to gain content knowledge and strategies to incorporate biotechnology into their classrooms. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) are administering the grants.


April 6, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich urges Republican lawmakers to put politics aside and support jobs program that would put 230,000 people to work
Jobs bill will build better roads, improve mass transit and ease school overcrowding throughout Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – After Illinois Senate Republicans voted against a capital construction program, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich urged them to put partisan politics aside and support a plan to build better roads and schools and improve public transportation and put 230,000 people to work. After extensive debate, the Illinois Senate tonight rejected along party lines a capital program, Senate Bill 668 to fund school construction and Senate Bill 3053 to fund road projects, mass transit and higher education. Neither bill received the required three-fifths majority, or 36 votes. All 32 Senate Democrats voted for the two bills, but Senate Republicans voted against both.


April 5, 2006
Governor Blagojevich declares 18 counties state disaster areas after latest round of severe storms
Declaration enables state to assist hard-hit communities with their extraordinary storm-related costs
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today declared 18 counties state disaster areas following another round of storms that moved quickly through the state Sunday evening, severely battering homes and businesses. Communities in those counties will be eligible to receive partial compensation for extraordinary expenses they incurred for response and recovery from the storms.


April 5, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich announces April selection for Children’s Reading Club: Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning Number the Stars
ROCHESTER – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today joined approximately 140 Rochester Elementary 3rd grade students to announce the April selection for her Children’s Reading Club - Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning Number the Stars. The First Lady read an excerpt from the book with the children, along with Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. The First Lady also gave each student a copy of either Number the Stars or a previous Reading Club selection, which include Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.


April 5, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich celebrates grand opening of first Y-ME Illinois Wig and Prosthesis salon to serve breast cancer patients in downstate Illinois
Y-ME Illinois Wig and Prosthesis Salon to offer wigs, hats, scarves, breast prosthetics and prosthetic bras at no cost to patients with limited resources
SPRINGFIELD – First Lady Patti Blagojevich joined Y-ME Illinois, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, and the Illinois Department of Public Health Office of Women’s Health today to celebrate the grand opening of the Y-ME Illinois Wig and Prosthesis Salon, the first Y-ME salon in downstate Illinois to help women cope with the effects of cancer treatments. The new salon, located in the Baylis Medical Building in Springfield, will offer wigs, hats, scarves, breast prosthetics and prosthetic bras at no cost to breast cancer patients and other cancer patients with limited financial resources. Today’s celebration included a spa night that offered hair, skin and nail care along with complimentary massage therapy and free food, drinks and musical entertainment.


April 4, 2006
Governor Blagojevich announces new hotline to help stop elder abuse in Illinois
24-hour hotline, (866) 800-1409, will be staffed by state caseworkers trained to respond promptly to abuse complaints
SPRINGFIELD – Stepping up efforts to fight elder abuse, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a new hotline where seniors and their loved ones can report elder abuse or exploitation and quickly get help. Beginning today, the new Elder Abuse Hotline, (866) 800-1409, will be staffed around the clock by trained state caseworkers who will be prepared take reports of elder abuse, and forward them promptly to local service agencies or law enforcement.


April 4, 2006
Governor Blagojevich announces IDOC staff, inmate work crews logged nearly 11,000 hours of clean up work after tornadoes and severe storms
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that since damaging storms moved across Illinois three weeks ago, the Illinois Department of Corrections staff and inmate work crews logged nearly 11,000 hours helping communities clean up and recover from the storms. After two tornadoes swept through Springfield and high winds and strong storms wreaked havoc on the region, the Governor declared seven Illinois counties state disaster areas and after the Governor’s request, President Bush declared Sangamon County a federal disaster area.


April 4, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich Encourages Communities Across Illinois To Nominate Outstanding Volunteer Efforts for the 25th Annual Home Town Awards
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today invited Illinois’ cities, towns and villages to proudly recognize the outstanding contributions of their communities by nominating their distinguished volunteer efforts and accomplishments for the 25th Annual Home Town Awards. Each year, the Governor’s Home Town Awards recognizes Illinois’ hard working and dedicated volunteers who greatly improve the communities in which they live.


April 3, 2006
With deadline for Federal Medicare Part D Plan rapidly approaching, Gov. Blagojevich, U.S. Reps Emanuel, Schakowsky urge IL seniors to enroll in Illinois Cares Rx to avoid facing gaps in coverage
Governor, Rep. Emanuel reiterate support for Schakowsky plan to postpone Medicare Part D deadline to allow more time for Illinois seniors to enroll
CHICAGO – With the May 15th deadline to enroll in Medicare Part D without penalty rapidly approaching, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today joined Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-5) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-9) at North Park Village Senior Center in Chicago to urge Illinois seniors, who have yet to enroll in the new Medicare Part D program, to enroll in the state’s generous Illinois Cares Rx program to avoid facing gaps in their insurance coverage. Governor Blagojevich and Representative Emanuel also expressed support for Rep. Schakowsky’s legislation to extend the May 15th deadline for the federal program (Illinois’ program is designed to fill in the gaps in the coverage offered by the federal program).


April 2, 2006
Blagojevich Administration Moves to Shut Down Unscrupulous Short-term Lenders
Governor Pushes Rules to Enhance Consumer Protections for Short-term Loans; Issues Revocation Order against four locations owned by The Payday Loan Store of Illinois, Inc.
CHICAGO –Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that the licenses of four The Payday Loan Stores of Illinois, Inc. (PLS) have been revoked for failing to run their business honestly and fairly under the constraints of the Consumer Installment Loan Act (CILA). In response to evidence that PLS and other lenders are circumventing the strong consumer protections enacted in last year’s pay day loan reforms, the Governor is supporting new rules that would stop unscrupulous lenders from forcing customers into loans that they cannot afford repay.


April 2, 2006
Governor Blagojevich activates State Emergency Operations Center to monitor severe storms moving through the state
State stands ready to assist communities hard-hit by latest round of severe weather
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich tonight activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield about 7 p.m. this evening to assess damage caused by a long line of severe storms and possible tornadoes that began moving through the state early this evening. The SEOC has received initial reports of storm damage from several parts of the state and is working closely with local emergency management officials to determine the extent of the damage and if state assistance is needed. Already, Illinois Department of Transportation trucks are responding to debris on state routes to clear those as quickly as possible.

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