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May
2006


May 31, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs legislation toughening penalties against owners of vicious dogs that endanger the public
Illinois becomes first state in the nation to ban felons from owning or possessing unaltered dogs that could be used as weapons
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed new laws toughening the penalties for owners of vicious and dangerous dogs if their pets attack someone. The laws also include the nation’s first restrictions banning convicted drug dealers and violent offenders from using dogs as weapons, and increased penalties for dog fighting.


May 30, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs legislation to release $5.2 million in additional funding for energy assistance
New funding will help prevent utility shut-offs and provide supplemental energy assistance benefits for thousands of Illinois families
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich last night signed Senate Bill 2030, which amends the Illinois Energy Assistance Act to allow the Supplemental Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund to receive an additional $5.2 million immediately. The new funding will contribute to the state’s ongoing efforts to prevent low-income families from having their utilities shut off and will enable the state to provide supplemental benefits up to $100 to hundreds of thousands of households that received benefits through LIHEAP this past year.


May 29, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH SETS THE STAGE FOR MORE FILM AND TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS COMING TO ILLINOIS
Expanded Film Tax Credit Will Help Attract More Movies and Television Productions, Jobs and Revenue to Illinois
CHICAGO – Expanding on the tremendous recent growth of the Illinois film industry, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich helped ensure the revitalization of movie and television production in Illinois continues by enhancing the successful film and television production tax credit. Much of this success is due to the legislation signed by the Governor in 2003. Today, Gov. Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 2030 at the Chicago premiere of Universal Pictures’ The Break-Up, a romantic comedy that was filmed last summer in Chicago starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. Senator Rickey Hendon (D-Chicago), State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), State Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago) were sponsors of SB 2030.


May 28, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs landmark veterans health insurance legislation
Veterans Care will provide thousands of veterans with access to affordable, comprehensive medical coverage
CHICAGO– On the eve of Memorial Day, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed into law his landmark veterans’ health insurance initiative that will provide access to affordable, comprehensive health care to thousands of veterans across Illinois. In his State of the State address, the Governor proposed the creation of Veterans Care, and in May, both Houses of the General Assembly unanimously passed legislation creating the Veterans Care program. The program will help up to 9,000 veterans in Illinois who currently earn too much to qualify for Veterans Administration Healthcare but cannot afford to purchase health insurance in the private market.


May 26, 2006
Illinois residents to purchase State police cruisers and other State vehicles at June 10 auction
The State of Illinois will auction 175 vehicles from its fleet including cars, pick-up trucks and police cruisers on Saturday, June 10, as part of the Department of Central Management Services’ (CMS) ongoing effort to raise revenues by selling items no longer needed by state government.


May 26, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs consumer protection law for active duty military personnel
New law imposes hefty fines for companies that cancel life insurance policies, turn off heat while soldiers are deployed
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that strengthens consumer protections for active military members. The new law imposes hefty financial penalties for companies that violate special protections that are granted to military personnel and their families.


May 26, 2006
Illinois State Fair Announces Plan To Improve Safety and Tempo of Twilight Parade
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Steps are being taken to make the Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade safer and more orderly for onlookers and participants.


May 26, 2006
State provides safety tips for families visiting amusement parks, street festivals and carnivals this summer
Illinois Department of Labor conducts safety inspections statewide to ensure rides and attractions are safe for millions of families expected during the Memorial Day Weekend and throughout the summer
Agency highlights enforcement of amusement ride safety laws


May 26, 2006
Governor Blagojevich signs bills to help protect thousands of jobs in the state’s horse racing industry
New laws will allow Illinois racetracks to remain viable and competitive
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed into law two bills designed to help protect thousands of jobs associated with the state’s horse racing industry, and to help Illinois racetracks remain viable and competitive. The Governor signed House Bill 1918, creating the Horse Racing Equity Trust Fund, which will provide $36 million a year for racing purses and racetrack improvements for the next two years. In addition, the Governor signed House Bill 4377, which reduces the state tax due on bets placed at Fairmount Racetrack in Collinsville from 1.5% to .25%.


May 26, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich names acting director of new Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice
New department to provide treatment and services to juvenile offenders
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named Kurt Friedenauer as the acting director of the new Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. Last fall, the Governor signed legislation creating the new department that will provide treatment and educational, vocational, social and emotional services to the state’s young offenders to help them get on the right track. Friedenauer currently serves as the Deputy Director of the Juvenile Corrections Division within the Illinois Department of Corrections.


May 25, 2006
Governor Blagojevich signs law to curb abuse of cough syrup medication
New law makes it illegal to sell or purchase pure dextromethorphan
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation making it illegal to sell or buy the pure form of dextromethorphan (DXM) – a drug commonly used in cough syrups such as Triaminic or Robitussin. House Bill 4300, sponsored by Rep. Chapin Rose (R-Charleston) and Sen. Dale Risinger (R-Peoria), will help counter the availability of highly concentrated DXM on the internet. The level of DXM in prescription and over-the-counter medications is safe in correct doses, but when taken incorrectly it can have hallucinogenic effects similar to PCP and ketamine.


May 25, 2006
Governor Blagojevich Encourages Illinoisans to “Light The Way Home” for Missing Children
Proclaims May 25 Missing Children’s Day in Illinois; Illinois Press Association joins AMBER Task Force
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, along with members of the Illinois AMBER Task Force and the Department of Children and Family Services, joined people throughout the state in observing today, May 25, as Missing Children’s Day in Illinois. “Light the Way Home” is an opportunity for family and friends to plan events in their communities to raise public awareness about the serious issue of missing children.


May 25, 2006
State breaks ground on new 80-bed addition to LaSalle Veterans’ Home
Increased capacity will allow home to serve more of the state’s veterans
LASALLE – Top officials from Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s administration today broke ground on a new 80-bed addition to the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. Gov. Blagojevich directed $13 million to build the 60,000-square-foot unit that will allow the facility to serve dozens more of the state’s disabled veterans.


May 24, 2006
IDOT Gives Motorists a Break for Memorial Day Weekend
Despite high gas prices, travel is expected to be up
SPRINGFIELD– With thousands of people traveling over the upcoming holiday weekend, and no end in sight to the high gasoline prices, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced they will be suspending roadwork where possible to make for a smoother drive. Despite high gas prices, people are not expected to put aside travel plans and do the one thing to cut their fuel costs-drive less.


May 24, 2006
Governor Blagojevich calls on Veterans Administration to provide immediate protection to veterans whose personal information was stolen
Governor signs new law allowing consumers to safeguard credit reports; Urges federal VA to provide similar protection immediately to 26.5 million veterans whose personal information was recently stolen
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today sent a letter to Secretary James Nicholson of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs calling on him to take immediate steps to protect veterans from identity theft and financial devastation after it was revealed that data belonging to millions of veterans nationwide had been stolen. In the letter, Governor Blagojevich urged the Secretary to immediately reach out to the three credit reporting agencies and negotiate a no-cost security freeze for each of the 26.5 million veterans whose personal information was stolen. The Governor today signed legislation that gives every Illinoisan the ability to freeze their credit, starting January 1, 2007, if they believe their personal information may have been compromised.


May 23, 2006
First Lady Patricia Blagojevich celebrates the grand opening of the Kohl Children’s Museum’s two-acre interactive outdoor exhibit: Habitat Park
First Lady stresses the importance of early childhood education; discusses Preschool for All and encourages parents to take advantage of museums as an innovative, hands-on approach to education
GLENVIEW – First Lady Patricia Blagojevich today celebrated the grand opening of the Kohl Children’s Museum’s new two-acre interactive outdoor exhibit, Habitat Park. Habitat Park offers fun and educational programming for a diverse audience of young children, their families, caregivers and teachers. At the museum, the First Lady talked about the importance of early childhood education and highlighted Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s landmark Preschool for All plan - a program that makes Illinois the only state in that nation to offer high-quality preschool to every three and four-year-old child.


May 23, 2006
Governor Blagojevich unveils bold new plan to reform Illinois schools
Governor’s plan includes extending the school year, merit pay for teachers, mandatory after school tutoring, taking over failing school districts, school construction, parental involvement initiatives, textbook replacement, full day kindergarten, new school technology, and new accountability measures; Plan would provide $6 billion in new funding for schools over next four budgets
Building on the work of the previous four budgets and legislative sessions which saw more than $3.8 billion in new funds invested in Illinois schools, the creation of universal preschool in Illinois, and raising graduation standards to require students to take more reading, writing, math and science, Governor Rod Blagojevich today unveiled his new plan to continue reforming and improving schools.


May 22, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs budget expanding access to preschool, health care, increasing education funding, boosting public safety, economic development
Illinois the only state to give every 3 and 4- year-old the opportunity to attend high-quality preschool; Funding included to educate more nurses, make college more affordable, put more police on the streets, expand health care for veterans, give seniors one-stop access to comprehensive assistance, streamline state government, and create the Prairie State DNA Institute in fiscal year beginning July 1
SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed the Fiscal Year 2007 budget, making historic increases in funding for education and health care and allocating funding to make college more affordable, increase the number of nurses in the state, help seniors and veterans with more comprehensive assistance and continue to streamline state government.


May 22, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces town hall meetings to begin hiring process at Thomson Correctional Center
Correctional officer cadet training class to begin in late June
THOMSON-- Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a series of town hall meetings in Thomson, Port Byron and Morrison to inform residents about the job opportunities that will become available as the Illinois Department of Corrections begins the correctional officer hiring process for the Thomson Correctional Center.


May 22, 2006
Honoring Illinois' Fallen
United States and Illinois flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Monday, May 22, 2006
The Department of Central Management 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, May 22, 2006


May 21, 2006
Governor Blagojevich signs legislation to expand property tax relief for thousands of Illinois seniors
Increases in income eligibility, exemption and tax deferral will help up to 700,000 seniors save on property taxes
SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed House Bill 4789 into law, to help thousands of Illinois seniors remain in their homes by expanding and protecting property tax relief previsions. The bill increases the value of the Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption and expands eligibility for the Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral Program. The bill also reauthorizes the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption, allowing thousands of seniors in Illinois to get up to $600 a year in property tax relief.


May 21, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs legislation creating Jane Addams Day
December 10th will honor Hull House founder each year
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed House Bill 5243, which designates each December 10th as Jane Addams Day in honor of the native Illinoisan’s important contributions to her home state and the world. Today’s bill signing coincides with the 71st anniversary of Ms. Addam’s death. The legislation, an initiative of Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, was sponsored by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D – Chicago) and Sen. Mattie Hunter (D – Chicago).


May 20, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs law authorizing the use of photo enforcement at red lights
New law gives local governments another tool to improve traffic safety
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod. R. Blagojevich today signed a traffic safety measure designed to make Illinois’ roads safer by giving local governments the ability to use photo enforcement at traffic signals. The Governor signed House Bill 4835, which authorizes counties in Northeastern Illinois and the Metro East area to use photo enforcement at red lights. Red light cameras are already in use in Chicago.


May 20, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs new law to create Illinois African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund
Fund will focus on preventing spread of HIV/AIDS within the African-American community
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a law that will create the Illinois African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund to address the disproportionate rate of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community. The Fund will be used for HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and to establish a system for delivering HIV/AIDS services to reduce transmission among African Americans. The recently-approved budget for fiscal year 2007 includes $3 million for the Fund.


May 20, 2006
Governor Blagojevich acts on pledge to help the state’s veterans get federal benefits through “Supermarket of Veterans Benefits” in Springfield
One-stop-shop links Central Illinois veterans with information about benefits, services and job opportunities; Governor also names state of Illinois’ May “Veteran of the Month”
SPRINGFIELD– Responding to Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s pledge to help the state’s veterans get the federal benefits they have bravely earned, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today hosted the “Supermarket of Veterans Benefits” in Springfield to assist Central Illinois veterans and their families in signing up for benefits and services, find out about educational opportunities and apply for jobs. The event was held today at the Illinois Building on the State Fairgrounds in Springfield from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


May 19, 2006
ONLY ONE MORE WEEK LEFT TO CALL AND APPLY FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE
Only one week remains for Illinois residents and business owners to call and apply for state and federal assistance to replace losses from the March 11-13 severe storms and tornadoes, which struck central Illinois.


May 19, 2006
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE ANNOUNCES 2006 COUNTY FAIR SCHEDULE
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A favorite Illinois pastime begins this year in Clark County when the first of the state’s 105 county fairs opens an eight-day run on June 11 in Marshall.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture today released the complete schedule of 2006 county fairs. Copies can be obtained by calling the department’s Bureau of County Fairs and Horse Racing at (217) 782-4231 or visiting its website at www.agr.state.il.us. The electronic version on the internet includes a database that is searchable by both date and location.


May 19, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs law directing Treasurer’s office to release hundreds of millions of dollars for Medicaid providers, reduce payment cycle by 20 days
If Treasurer’s Office releases additional funds budgeted for Fiscal Year 2006, the state can generate a total of $900 million for providers before June 30th
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 14 into law today requiring the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office to stop holding up hundreds of millions in fund transfers that were approved a year ago to pay down bills owed to state Medicaid providers. The fund transfers that have been blocked by the State Treasurer qualify for federal matching funds and would generate a total of $900 million for payments to Medicaid providers, and would bring down the payment cycle by 20 days to approximately 56 days.


May 19, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs law that will prevent home fires and save lives
As of January 1, 2008, all cigarettes in Illinois must be “low ignition”
SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to prevent fires that are caused by cigarettes, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed Senate Bill 2302, sponsored by Sen. William Haine (D-Alton) and Rep. Daniel Burke (D-Chicago). SB 2302 requires that beginning January 1, 2008, all cigarettes sold in Illinois must be certified as low ignition according to standards established by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). Low-ignition cigarettes are wrapped in special paper that contains a fire-retardant band, which automatically extinguishes the cigarette when it burns to the band without being puffed.


May 18, 2006
Governor Blagojevich honors Illinois heroes for response in emergency situations
Awards given for heroic behavior in recognition of Emergency Medical Services Week
SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker today awarded twenty-one people from around the state for their heroic acts of courage as part of IDPH’s 19th Annual Emergency Medical Services Awards.


May 18, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH, CITY OF CHICAGO AND CHICAGOLAND CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ANNOUNCE KICK-OFF OF DISABILITYWORKS INITIATIVE TO PROMOTE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Gov. Blagojevich Announces $648,000; City of Chicago $160,000 in Support of Initiative
CHICAGO – In collaboration with the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (MOWD), the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the kick-off of the disabilityworks initiative, which was celebrated at a breakfast reception at Harold Washington College. Gov. Blagojevich is contributing $648,000 to the initiative, which builds on a $160,000 investment from the city of Chicago, which includes grant funding to the Chicagoland Chamber to implement the disabilityworks initiative.


May 17, 2006
State joins in National Employee Health and Fitness Day to encourage employees to stay active
Kick off to Governor’s Fit 4 Life initiative State Agency Walking Challenge
SPRINGFIELD – As part of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) Fitness Day, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, and Carol Adams, Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary, officially launched a State Agency Walking Challenge as part of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Fit 4 Life initiative.


May 17, 2006
Corrections Officers of the Year for 2006 Recognized
Corrections Officers of the Year for 2006 Recognized Five Illinois Department of Corrections front line employees awarded top honors
SPRINGFIELD – On behalf of Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Director Roger E. Walker Jr. today recognized five outstanding front line employees as 2006 Correctional Officers of the Year at a ceremony in Springfield.


May 17, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich signs “Let Them Rest in Peace Act” allowing families to peacefully grieve fallen soldiers
New law makes protesting within 200 feet of a funeral or memorial service a crime
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law to shield grieving military families from protests during funerals and memorial services of fallen soldiers. Senate Bill 1144, the “Let Them Rest in Peace Act,” requires protesters to stay at least 200 feet away from family and friends as they mourn soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. The Governor signed the law today after learning of a potential protest at the upcoming funeral of an Effingham man who was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan earlier this month. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, who have staged numerous disruptive and disrespectful protests during funerals for fallen soldiers, told local authorities and state officials they plan to picket Christopher Donaldson’s services, which will take place on Friday.


May 16, 2006
Liquor Commission accepts largest ever fine, suspension of retailer license
The Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) has leveled a $300,000.00 fine and seven-day suspension, of which three days will be served, as part of a negotiated settlement with Sam’s Wine & Spirits.


May 16, 2006
Illinois Department of Agriculture to Begin Gypsy Moth Treatments
Applications scheduled in Cook, DuPage and Kane counties
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Weather permitting, the Illinois Department of Agriculture will begin its 2006 Gypsy Moth treatment program Wednesday, May 17.


May 16, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich extends Illinois Cares Rx protection until end of year for seniors and persons with disabilities who have not signed up for Medicare Part D
Prevents thousands of vulnerable residents from falling through cracks between now and December 2006
CHICAGO – In light of the fact that thousands of Illinois’ low-income seniors and persons with disabilities did not enroll in a Medicare Part D plan by the federal deadline of May 15th, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that the state’s Illinois Cares Rx program will continue to cover this population through December 2006. Open enrollment for Medicare Part D does not start again until November 15, 2006, which means they will not be able to receive benefits until January 1, 2007.


May 16, 2006
Governor Blagojevich signs law to give local governments the ability to use photo enforcement at railroad crossings
New law give local governments a high tech tool to improve traffic safety and free police for other duties
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod. R. Blagojevich today signed a traffic safety measure designed to make Illinois’ railroad crossings safer by giving local governments the ability to use photo enforcement at rail crossings. The Governor signed Senate Bill 2865, sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Angelo “Skip” Saviano (R-Elmwood Park), which gives local governments authority to use photo enforcement to crackdown on drivers who go around lowered crossing gates. The legislation comes in response to an accident the evening before last Thanksgiving, when a Metra express train crashed into several cars trapped in rush-hour traffic at the Grand Avenue railroad crossing in Elmwood Park, injuring 16 people.


May 15, 2006
Governor Blagojevich signs new law banning smoking in college dorms, sororities and fraternities
New law to reduce smoking-related fires, protect students from second-hand smoke
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law to reduce the risk of second-hand smoke and smoking-related fires by banning smoking in dormitories at all public and private colleges and universities in the state.


May 14, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces new expansion of state’s breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment program
New funding means more women will be able to get screened and treated; Women Who Need Access to Screenings or Treatment for Breast or Cervical Cancer Should Call 888-522-1282
CHICAGO – On Mother’s Day, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich joined doctors, nurses and breast cancer survivors to announce an expansion of the state’s program to help uninsured women get access to screening and treatment for breast and cervical cancer. The new plan expands the income threshold for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), enabling thousands more women to get free cancer screenings and treatment.


May 12, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces expanded hours to help seniors sign up for Medicare Part D and Illinois Cares Rx before May 15 deadline
State agencies will expand weekend hours, add staff, keep hotline open until Midnight on May 15th
CHICAGO – With time running out, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that state agencies will extend weekend staff and hotline hours through midnight on May 15th to ensure last minute applications for the federal Medicare Part D program and the state’s Illinois Cares Rx program are processed in time. In addition, enrollment events are taking place across the state, and the nearly 200 Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) locations and 13 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) will continue to provide one-on-one assistance through Monday.


May 12, 2006
First Lady Patricia Blagojevich addresses parents and early childhood education advocates on Gov. Blagojevich’s Preschool for All plan
First Lady also reads her May book selection for the Children’s Reading Club to children at the DuPage Children’s Museum
NAPERVILLE – First Lady Patricia Blagojevich today joined parents, children, and early education advocates at the DuPage Children’s Museum to highlight Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s landmark Preschool for All Plan- a program that will make Illinois the first state in the nation to offer high quality preschool to every three and four-year-old child.


May 11, 2006
Illinois Urban Fishing Program Ready For The Season
Youth Fishing Clinics and access to fishing locations announced
Teaching young people how to fish and enjoy the outdoors are goals of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) free Urban Fishing Clinics, planned for nearly 40 locations throughout the state this summer.


May 11, 2006
Southern Illinois Fifth-Grader Wins National Award for Drawing Unique Vision for Transportation Safety
Work to be shown in 40,000 Work Zone Safety Calendars Across Illinois
MADISON, IL-The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is recognizing 11-year-old Dennis Hampton II, of Madison for placing third in the National American Traffic Safety Services Foundation (ATSSA) Calendar Contest by awarding him $50 in addition to the prizes already won at the state level.


May 11, 2006
“Supermarket of Veterans’ Benefits” coming to Central Illinois on May 20
Springfield event to link Illinois veterans with important information about benefits, job opportunities
Information on special programs that help those looking to make a career change into teaching, construction will also be available


May 11, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich honors fallen firefighters, recognizes 28 other firefighters for extraordinary acts of bravery
Thousands of firefighters attend 13th annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial, Firefighter Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today thanked firefighters for their bravery and personal sacrifice as thousands of firefighters from across Illinois gathered near the State Capitol for the 13th annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Ceremony.


May 10, 2006
Governor Blagojevich announces first of its kind veterans lottery ticket surpasses $1 million mark in first 3 months
Veterans Cash generates money to help provide wide range of services to Illinois veterans
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that just three months after going on sale, the state’s first lottery ticket to benefit Illinois veterans and their families has generated more than $1 million for veterans. Veterans Cash is the first instant ticket in Illinois Lottery history where a portion of the proceeds will help fund state programs and services for veterans.


May 10, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH CELEBRATES THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF A THIRD SHIFT AT CHRYSLER GROUP’S NEWLY RETOOLED BELVIDERE ASSEMBLY PLANT THAT WILL CREATE ANOTHER 1,000 NEW JOBS
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich applauded the Chrysler Group’s decision today to add a third work shift beginning in June 2006 that will create approximately 1,000 new jobs to its 2,650-employee Belvidere Assembly Plant facility. The Belvidere plant started building the all-new 2007 Dodge Caliber in January 2006 and will begin production of the all-new Jeep® Compass this month. Production of the all-new 2007 Jeep Patriot will begin later this year. In January of 2005, Gov. Blagojevich announced almost $36 million in Opportunity Returns support that allowed the company’s Belvidere plant to undergo a $419 million major retooling that added a second shift and 1,000 new jobs to the regional economy.


May 9, 2006
Air and Rail Passenger Service to expand in Fiscal Year 2007 budget
FY 2007 budget doubles funding for Amtrak; Increases funding to bring air service to rural Illinois
SPRINGFIELD - The Fiscal Year 2007 budget includes new investments in air and rail passenger service, ensuring public transportation options remain viable throughout Illinois. Under the new state budget, funding to ensure Amtrak service in Illinois would increase to $24 million and the I-FLY program would receive $1.6 million to bring new regular passenger service to Quincy, Decatur and Marion.


May 9, 2006
Governor Blagojevich signs legislation to regulate professional fundraisers
New law is in response to Chicago scam that cheated charities & their donors
SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to protect both charities and the people who donate to them from being swindled, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation that will require stricter reporting requirements for fundraisers. House Bill 4315 was sponsored by State Rep. James Brosnahan (D – Oak Lawn) and State Sen. John Millner (R – St. Charles).


May 9, 2006
Governor signs legislation allowing City of Chicago to lease Midway Airport
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed Senate Bill 2872, legislation allowing the City of Chicago to lease Midway Airport to a private entity that will continue its operation. SB 2872 was sponsored by State Sen. Don Harmon (D – Oak Park) and State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D – Chicago), and is effective immediately.


May 9, 2006
Governor Blagojevich, college students celebrate new plan to make college more affordable
Fiscal Year 2007 budget to help 225,000 college students pay for college; creates first grant program in Illinois specifically targeted at helping middle class families pay for college; FY07 budget includes a $48 million increase for higher education
CHAMPAIGN – Gov. Blagojevich joined University of Illinois students and faculty to celebrate passage of legislation that creates the first program ever in Illinois specifically targeted at helping middle class families pay for college. MAP Plus provides $500 grants to college sophomores, juniors and seniors from families with incomes below $200,000. The Fiscal Year 2007 budget also includes increased funding for the existing MAP program. In total, 225,000 students will benefit from the creation of MAP Plus and the additional funding for MAP.


May 9, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich welcomes Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and announces a gift of 25,000 HIV tests for pregnant women in Liberia from Abbott
Gift is part of an expansion of Governor’s BASUAH initiative
CHICAGO - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today welcomed Republic of Liberia President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf during her trip to Chicago, and presented her with a gift of medical supplies from Abbott to take back to her country.


May 8, 2006
First Lady leads mothers to champion children’s health at Baby Buggy Brigade
First Lady Patricia Blagojevich rallies support for the Governor’s mercury rule
CHICAGO— First Lady Patricia Blagojevich today joined Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Director Doug Scott, State Representative Karen May (D-Highland Park), Illinois mothers, children, doctors, and health and environmental groups to educate mothers on the health risks of mercury and to rally support for Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s proposed mercury rule.


May 8, 2006
Governor Blagojevich extends health benefits to state employee domestic partners
Merit Compensation employees join AFSCME members in receiving health benefits for same-sex domestic partners
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today filed an administrative order extending health benefits to same-sex domestic partners of all state employees in the agencies directly within the Governor’s jurisdiction. Effective July 1st, 2006, same-sex domestic partners will be afforded the same health benefits as those married employees and their dependants receive. These benefits, to be extended to all state employees serving in agencies under the Governor’s control, include health insurance, dental and vision coverage.


May 7, 2006
Governor Blagojevich joins parents and early childhood experts to celebrate major preschool expansion
New state budget means $45 million more for preschool, legislature also passes Governor’s Preschool for All plan
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich joined children, parents, and early education advocates today at Christopher House on Chicago’s North Side to applaud the Illinois General Assembly for passing a budget that provides historic funding increases for education in Illinois. The budget includes $45 million for the Governor’s Preschool for All plan, which puts Illinois on the path to providing high-quality preschool to every three and four-year-old child in the state.


May 5, 2006
First Lady Patricia Blagojevich rallies with Illinois Nurses Association to kick-off National Nurses Week in Illinois
The First Lady underscores key legislation that will help reduce the nursing shortage in Illinois
CHICAGO – First Lady Patricia Blagojevich today rallied with the Illinois Nurses Association to kick-off National Nurses Week in Illinois and highlight Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s efforts and accomplishments to recruit, train and retain nurses in Illinois. The kick-off event began as dozens of nurses and health care advocates marched from the Illinois Nurses Association offices to the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago, and after key legislation passed the General Assembly that will help reduce the nursing shortage in Illinois.


May 4, 2006
State Weapons of Mass Destruction Team takes down fictitious terrorist group during state’s three-day emergency response exercise
Overnight drill demonstrates award-winning team’s ability to respond to terrorist threat
CHICAGO – The state’s large scale three-day exercise continued last evening as the State Weapons of Mass Destruction Team (SWMDT) responded to reports that a fictitious terrorist group was hiding out in an undisclosed location. (Please note: this is an exercise only, designed to improve emergency planning and preparedness.) The scenario is part of an exercise that began Tuesday with a pandemic flu outbreak in the Chicago area and continued Wednesday with a terrorist attack scenario that brought in several special response teams.


May 4, 2006
Governor Blagojevich’s Preschool for All plan and college tuition relief plan win legislative approval
Illinois first state in nation to give all three- and four-year-olds the opportunity to attend preschool - 225,000 college students to get financial help; First grant program in Illinois specifically targeted at helping middle class families pay for college
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich applauded the Illinois House of Representatives today for passing legislation that makes Illinois the first state to make preschool available for all three and four-year-olds and for passing legislation that creates MAP Plus, the first program ever in Illinois specifically targeted at helping middle class families pay for college. Senate Bill 1497, creating the Preschool for All program, and Senate Bill 2225, providing new financial relief for college, now go to the Illinois Senate for final approval.


May 4, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich thanks Illinois General Assembly for swift passage of critical nursing legislation
Measure will help stem nursing shortage; ensures adequate level of frontline healthcare providers as baby-boomers age; Legislation also creates a scholarship program to help retain forensic scientists at state DNA testing labs
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded the Illinois General Assembly for passing legislation that will allow Illinois to recruit, train and retain nurses that will be critically needed to help provide quality health care to Illinois patients, and to meet the growing health care needs of Illinois’ aging baby boomer generation. The legislation, first outlined in the Governor’s budget address, will increase the number of faculty available to train nurses, make it more affordable for nursing students to attend school, and improve working conditions for nurses through a new Center for Nursing. Senate Bill 931, sponsored by Senators Maggie Crotty (D – Oak Forest) and Carol Ronen (D – Chicago), and Representative Lou Lang (D – Skokie), passed final legislative action in the Senate today, after being unanimously passed in the House, and is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his signature.


May 4, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF THE EXPANDED FILM AND TELEVISION PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT
New Legislation Will Help Attract More Movies and Television Productions, Jobs and Revenue to Illinois
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich applauded the Illinois General Assembly for ensuring the continued growth of the Illinois television and film industry by enhancing the successful film and television production tax credit today. In 2003, film production had declined to approximately $26 million as studios looked for less expensive locations, both across the nation and around the world. This meant that thousands of Illinois-based cast and crewmembers were largely without work within their professions. The film tax credit passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Blagojevich turned these fortunes around over the last two years by making Illinois productions even more attractive. By 2004, productions generated an estimated $77 million and led to approximately 14,000 people being hired by the industry. In 2005, production revenue increased to an estimated $94 million, which led to approximately 15,000 people being hired by various film and television projects.


May 4, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich applauds General Assembly for passing a budget that expands access to preschool, health care, increases education funding, boosts public safety, economic development
Illinois takes major step toward becoming the only state to give every 3 and 4- year-old access to high-quality preschool
FY07 budget includes funding to educate more nurses, make college more affordable, put more police on the streets, expand health care for veterans, give seniors one-stop access to comprehensive assistance, streamline state government, and create the Prairie State DNA Institute


May 4, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich commends the Illinois House of Representatives for passing landmark veterans health insurance legislation
Veterans Care will provide many veterans with access to affordable, comprehensive medical coverage
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today commended the Illinois House of Representatives for unanimously approving his landmark veterans’ health insurance initiative that will help make sure that more Illinois veterans have access to affordable, comprehensive medical coverage. Senate Bill 627 creates the Veterans Care program, which is designed to help up to 9,000 veterans in Illinois who earn too much to qualify for Veterans Administration Healthcare but who do not have health insurance.


May 3, 2006
ILLINOIS SUBMITS FOUR SITES FOR $1 BILLION COAL PLANT-OF-THE-FUTURE
Another Important Step in Continuing Illinois’ Leading Role in Developing Clean Coal Technologies
CHICAGO – After three years of extensive planning and preparation, Illinois has submitted four potential locations for the $1 billion FutureGen coal-to-energy plant that meet the rigorous site review standards established by the FutureGen Industrial Alliance. The sites, which are located in Effingham, Marshall, Mattoon and Tuscola, are part of the state’s bid to host this state-of-the-art facility. The Alliance will develop a short list of candidate sites this summer, and the final selection will be made sometime next year.


May 3, 2006
First Lady Patricia Blagojevich and Marc Brown, renowned children’s author of the Arthur Adventure series, announce May’s selection for Children’s Reading Club: Brown’s “D.W.’s Guide to Perfec
First Lady and Marc Brown discuss the importance of manners to over 200 students
GLENVIEW– First Lady Patricia Blagojevich today joined Marc Brown, author of the acclaimed children’s book and public television series “Arthur”, to announce Brown’s new book, “D.W’s Guide to Perfect Manners” as the May selection for her Children’s Reading Club literacy initiative. The First Lady and Marc Brown read excerpts from his new book and discussed the importance of manners to over 200 students at the Avoca West Elementary School in Glenview.


May 3, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich applauds Illinois House of Representatives for passing budget that invests in education, expands access to health care, and boosts public safety
FY07 Budget includes funding to send every 3- and 4- year-old to preschool, educate more nurses, make college more affordable, expand health care for veterans, put more police on the streets, and create the Prairie State DNA Institute
SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded the Illinois House of Representatives for passing a $45.8 billion operating budget that does not raise taxes.


May 3, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces State of Illinois’ April “Veteran of the Month”
Petersburg man honored for shaping state laws on behalf of state’s veterans and their families
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named Lou L. Myers Jr., of Petersburg, as the State of Illinois’ April “Veteran of the Month” for his help in shaping Illinois laws that benefit the state’s veterans and their families. “Not only do veterans bravely serve our country in defense of our freedom and liberties. Some of them, like Lou Myers, keep working on behalf of others and stepping up to the plate when help is needed,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “I commend Mr. Myers for all of his hard work on behalf of Illinois veterans.”


May 3, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF INNOVATIVE INITIATIVE TO DRIVE GROWTH AND REDEVELOPMENT ALONG ILLINOIS’ RIVERS – HELPING RESTORE THEM AS ECONOMIC ENGINES
New Pilot Program Will Provide Integrated Set of Resources To Revitalize River Communities
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded the passage of an innovative new pilot program designed to help revitalize riverfront areas by providing Aurora and East St. Louis, developers and businesses with the critical tools to revive and redevelop abandoned or contaminated properties that will stimulate economic development opportunities and create more Illinois jobs. The River Edge Redevelopment Initiative includes the designation of redevelopment zones that will be eligible to receive tax credits, exemptions and potentially new grant funding upon appropriation to support clean-up, remediation and redevelopment efforts that will lead to economic revitalization in these areas. This initiative combines resources across state agencies and will be administered primarily by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).


May 3, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich’s school district reorganization bill wins final legislative approval
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s proposal to make it easier for school districts to merge with each other to improve operations gained final legislative approval today, and now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Senate Bill 2795 was sponsored by State Senator George P. Shadid (D-Peoria) and State Representative Michael K. Smith (D-Canton), and passed unanimously in both chambers.


May 3, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich commends Illinois House for passing legislation directing Treasurer to release hundreds of millions of dollars for Medicaid providers, reduce payment cycle by 22 days
Treasurer’s Office is currently holding up fund transfers that will generate $900 million through Federal matching funds to immediately reduce payment
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich commended the Illinois House today for passing legislation requiring State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka to release hundreds of millions in fund transfers that she has held up over the last year that would pay down bills owed to state Medicaid providers. In total, she’s pledged to hold up fund transfers that would generate a total of $900 million. The legislation now goes back to the Senate for final legislative action.


May 3, 2006
State employees generously contribute $3 million to meet important social service needs statewide
SECA campaign reaches $50 million landmark in 23 years of supporting Illinois non-profits
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Department of Central Management Services Director Paul Campbell recognized the generosity of State of Illinois employees at a luncheon at the Executive Mansion today as he announced that the State and University Employees Combined Appeal (SECA) campaign raised more than $3,045,000 in 2005.


May 2, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich Expands Program to Help Small Businesses Reduce Energy Costs through Energy Efficiency
Small Business $mart Energy Program supported with $540,000 Opportunity Returns grant to the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
CHICAGO – Delivering on his Opportunity Returns commitment to help Illinois small businesses reduce their energy costs, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced continued support for the Small Business $mart Energy (SB$E) program, which is a partnership between the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Through SB$E, the School of Architecture, working in alliance with the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium, helps businesses evaluate energy efficiency improvements that will reduce their cost of doing business in Illinois. Many energy efficiency improvements are very cost-effective, both with new construction and rehabilitation projects, but businesses frequently are unaware of their opportunities.


May 2, 2006
Three-day exercise to test state’s ability to handle pandemic flu and terrorist events begins today
Nearly 2,000 to participate at several venues
SPRINGFIELD – An ambitious three-day exercise designed to test the state’s preparedness for handling a major health crisis and simultaneous terrorist attack begins today as state and Chicago-area officials begin dealing with a fictional pandemic flu outbreak (please note: this is an exercise only, designed to improve emergency planning and preparedness). Governor Rod R. Blagojevich ordered this large-scale exercise last fall after Hurricane Katrina revealed major problems with preparedness and emergency response in the Gulf Coast region.


May 2, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich’s mine safety legislation wins approval in House
Senate Bill 929 passes Illinois House, heads back to Senate for concurrence
SPRINGFIELD – Legislation proposed by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich providing Illinois miners and rescuers with additional safety measures in the event of an accident won approval today in the Illinois House, after passing unanimously. Gov. Blagojevich proposed the legislation, Senate Bill 929, in January following the tragic West Virginia mine accidents that killed 12 miners. It now goes back to the Illinois Senate for final approval.


May 1, 2006
Illinois kicks off mercury thermostat collection
Recycling pilot project builds on Governor’s efforts to reduce mercury in environment
Building on Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s efforts to reduce mercury emissions and protect the public health, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Director Doug Scott announced a new initiative to expand the collection and recycling of climate control thermostats that contain mercury switches. 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.

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