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Breen appointed to serve on bipartisan
Joint Committee on Administrative Rules

House Republican Leader Jim
Durkin has announced the appointment
of State Rep. Peter Breen
(R-Lombard) to the Joint Committee
on Administrative Rules (JCAR),
a bi-partisan, bicameral legislative
oversight committee.
“State government regulations
impact every aspect of the lives of
Illinoisans, so it’s an honor to be
selected to serve on this important
oversight committee,” said Breen, a
second-term lawmaker from DuPage
“We need to ensure that our regulatory
environment in Illinois helps
small businesses create jobs and reduces
government burdens on working
families. I appreciate Leader
Durkin’s faith in my ability to contribute
to this important work, and I
look forward to this new role.”
The members of JCAR oversee
the rule-making process by state
agencies, making sure the rules abide
by the original intent of legislators
when laws are passed. The committee
is composed of 12 legislators
who are appointed by the legislative
leadership, with the membership apportioned
equally between the two
houses and the two political parties.
It is co-chaired by two members representing
each party and each legislative
The members of JCAR are also
charged with making sure the General
Assembly is adequately informed
of how laws are implemented
through agency rulemaking and
facilitating a public understanding of
rules and regulations.

Breen supports
‘beer can technology’

Breen has recently filed legislation
that would help local craft breweries
remain competitive in an ever-changing
“The newest innovation in beer
can technology is the 360 lid, which
when pulled removes almost the entire
top of an aluminum can to create
an aluminum cup,” said Breen.
“It has become very popular in the
industry, but unfortunately it is illegal
in Illinois due to the ban of
removable pull tabs from beer and
soft drink cans in the 1980s. My
revision to the Environmental Protection
Act would permit this new
technology and allow our local
breweries to remain competitive.”
The idea for the legislation, filed
as HB 2386, was brought to Breen by
Jim Cagle, one of the three owners of
Noon Whistle Brewing Company in
Lombard. Cagle expressed his disappointment
that he could not offer his
customers this new innovation that
allows patrons to better enjoy the
full flavor and aroma of their beer,
and asked if a legislative remedy was
“This is great for our customers,”
said Cagle. “This would
be an absolute advantage for us.
We would be very excited to be
one of the first Illinois breweries
to offer this to our customers.”
According to Breen, HB 2386
would allow local business owners
to stay current with trends in the craft
beer industry.

Lack of funding threatens community
services for disabled
Federal court monitor spotlights low wages to DSPs

By Dee Longfellow

According to the offices of Ray
Graham Association, a federal monitor
has stepped up to say that the state
of Illinois is failing to comply with
a legal consent decree requiring adequate
funding to pay for community
services for persons with disabilities.
In a recent report, monitor Ronnie
Cohn spotlighted the harm that
can be caused by paying insufficient
wages to direct-support professionals
(DSPs) who help disabled individuals
with day-to-day activities, such as
bathing and dressing, as well as skill
development and behavioral support.
Low DSP wages can result in high
staff turnover and poor quality care
that is less individualized for the person.
Cohn noted that Gov. Bruce Rauner
had recently vetoed a bill that
would set a $15 per hour minimum
wage for DSPs.
“DHS has not provided … any
indication of how the agency will be
addressing the shortage of DSPs due
to inadequate wages,” Cohn said.
A group of community service
providers, statewide advocacy organizations,
families and unions are
collaborating to reintroduce legislation
to raise wages for DSPs.
“It’s been nine years since the
state provided for a DSP wage increase,”
said Kim Zoeller, president
of Ray Graham Association. “Our
workers and the individuals they support
can’t wait another year.”
“DSPs are the most valuable staff
we have – they are closest to the individuals
CCAR serves and the true
difference makers,” said Lyla Mc-
Guire, executive director with CCAR
Industries in Charleston, Ill. “If we
can’t recruit and retain DSPs, we
can’t meet the needs of those we are
asked to serve.”
Cohn is court-appointed monitor
for the Ligas consent decree entered
by U.S. District Court Judge Sharon
Johnson Coleman in 2011. Her report
includes five pages of evidence gathered
from families and providers.
Key excerpts follow:
“For the roughly 34,000 DSPs
working across Illinois, the major
issue is that their average hourly
wage is $9.35 or about $19,488.00
per year. This is less than the federal
poverty level for a family of three
which has led to over half of the
DSPs utilizing public benefits even
though they work full time. Without
a living wage, there has been and
continues to be high turnover among
these caregivers, which leads to instability.”
(p. 23)
“My daughter has experienced
five trips to the Emergency Room
over the past eighteen months, is
not being provided with the opportunities
included in her [service
plan], has only one staff member on
most shifts to meet the needs of all
four women who live together and
have significantly differing levels of
need, and isn’t always provided with
healthy food.” (p. 17)
“We have experienced several
times when staffing has dropped so
low that we were unable to staff all of
our [group] homes for the weekends
and have had to close some of them
to keep proper staffing ratios. Consumers
then have to be relocated to
another home for the weekend.”
“DSP turnover rate in our [group]
homes is 70.32 percent over the past
12 months. Due to the large amounts
of overtime, we have staff that are
tired and not at the top of their performance

Knit or crochet a hat for ‘Little Hats, Big Hearts’

By Jane Charmelo

To celebrate American Heart
Month, the American Heart
Association, in connection with
the Children’s Heart Foundation, is
raising infant heart health awareness
through “Little Hats, Big Hearts.”
Craft enthusiasts who knit and/
or crochet are invited to make an
infant-size red hat to commemorate
the month, to donate to Elmhurst
Memorial Hospital, which is
participating in the “Little Hat, Big
Hearts” program during February.
Heather Rodriguez, assistant
manager for the Family Birthing
Center, said she believes about 50
have already been distributed—one
for every baby born in February.
The hats come in various sizes
for infants and in different shades
of red, she continued, saying that
the staff hands out a hat and also
information from the Children’s
Heart Foundation about infant heart
“We screen every baby for a
potential heart defect,” Rodriguez
mentioned, adding that the test
measures oxygen levels in the
hands and feet. She said research
has shown that the larger the gap
in numbers between the two, “the
higher potential for a heart issue.”
“Families are so receptive,” she
said of the hats and literature on
children’s heart issues, adding that
the hats also initiate conversation.
After all—rather than being pink
or blue—the red hats, the manager
added, “will potentially stand out.”
At the same time, she concluded,
seeing the red hats “also reminds
the clinicians as well” about infants’
heart health.
According to the foundation,
congenital heart defects affect
roughly one of every 100 babies
(40,000) each year. The nonprofit
foundation raises money
for research and is an advocate
for children’s heart issues.
For more information on how
to donate a red hat, visit http://
There is also information on
what types of yarn to use and the
site has links to sample patterns
for knit and crochet infant hats.

Bond set at $2 million for man
accused of murdering ex-wife

DuPage County State’s Attorney
Robert B. Berlin and Wheaton Chief
of Police James Volpe announced
last week that bond has been set for a
man accused of killing his ex-wife in
her home in early late January.
Lee Leinweber, 56, appeared in
Bond Court where Judge Richard
Russo set bond at $2 million with
10 percent to apply. Leinweber has
been charged with one count of first
degree murder.
On Feb. 4 at approximately 6:45
p.m., Wheaton police officers responded
to a call of a deceased female
at 1321 Woodcutter Lane, Unit
A, the home of Leinweber’s ex-wife,
56-year-old Erin. Once inside the
home, officers discovered Erin deceased.
An autopsy conducted by the
DuPage County Coroner’s Office revealed
that Erin had suffered numerous
injuries including multiple stab
wounds about the neck, broken ribs
and injuries consistent with a beating
about her face.
Additionally, Erin was found with
a plastic garbage bag in her mouth
and her head covered by two plastic
garbage bags. An investigation led
by the Wheaton Police Department
led authorities to Leinweber.
It is alleged that on Monday, Jan.
30, Leinweber was at his ex-wife’s
home. It is alleged that at some point
in time a verbal argument between
the two turned violent. It is further
alleged that Leinweber attacked Erin,
beating her about the face and neck,
and choked her until she fell to the
floor. He then allegedly dropped his
body onto hers, breaking her ribs.
It is alleged that Leinweber then
forced a plastic garbage bag into her
mouth and placed two plastic garbage
bags over her head. It is further
alleged that Leinweber then retrieved
a knife from the kitchen and repeatedly
stabbed Erin. It is further alleged
that after murdering Erin, Leinweber
stole her money, credit cards and car
and fled the scene. On Sunday, Feb.
5, Leinweber was located in Ottawa,
Ill., and taken into custody.
“The sheer brutality alleged in this
case is extremely disturbing,” Berlin
said. “I offer my sincerest condolences
to Erin’s family and friends
as they grieve their loss. While nothing
can be done to bring Erin back
to those who loved her, thanks to the
outstanding work of the Wheaton
Police Department we will be able to
bring a strong prosecution against the
man who allegedly took her life.”
“The men and women of the
Wheaton Police Department are
committed to protecting and serving
our community” Deputy Chief
Bill Murphy said. “Our detectives,
officers, and support staff worked feverishly
to ensure Erin Leinweber’s
killer was identified and brought to
justice in an expeditious manner.”
Leinweber’s next court appearance
is scheduled for Feb. 21 in front
of Judge Robert Miller.

Durbin, Duckworth announce more than
$1 million in federal funding for sexual
assault prevention and education

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin
(D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth
(D-IL) recently announced
$1,141,194.00 in federal funding
to help prevent rape and sexual
assault in Illinois.
The Illinois Department
of Public Health will use
today’s funding to support
rape prevention and education
programs, as well as to increase
support for counseling services,
24-hour crisis hotlines and
criminal justice assistance.
“This federal funding will
help prevent rape and sexual
assault in Illinois and improve
support for victims of sexual
violence throughout our state.
Preventing sexual violence
is a daunting challenge and
I am pleased Illinois will be
receiving critical CDC support
to strengthen prevention and
education initiatives,” said
“Funding education and
building awareness in our
schools and communities will
help prevent sexual assault in
Illinois,” said Durbin. “We must
do everything within our power
to protect women and men from
sexual violence and these federal
investments will help do just
The funding comes through
the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention’s
(CDC) Rape Prevention and
Education Program, which aims
to strengthen sexual violence
prevention systems in all 50