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 County. “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 house. 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 marketplace. “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 possible. “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 FOR THE LOMBARDIAN/VILLA PARK REVIEW
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 abilities.”
Knit or crochet a hat for ‘Little Hats, Big Hearts’
By Jane Charmelo LOMBARDIAN-VILLA PARK REVIEW STAFF REPORTER
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 health. “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:// www.heart.org/HEARTORG/ General/Little-Hats-Big-Hearts_ UCM_487734_SubHomePage. jsp. 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 Duckworth. “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 that.” 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 states.