05042017CM0445RS

SPRINGFIELD— State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) worked today to investigate the cybersecurity breach at the Illinois State Board of Elections.

During the 2016 election year, 70,000 to 80,000 names from the State Board of Elections voter registration system were compromised.

Hastings convened the Illinois Senate Subcommittee on Cybersecurity to receive a full report on the cybersecurity breach that the Illinois State Board of Elections experienced during the 2016 election year to ensure Illinois residents that protections are in place to protect their personal data and resolve unanswered questions.

“Our elections are a sacred component of our nation’s democracy,” Hastings said. “I cannot stand up as foreign agents meddle in Illinois and U.S. elections. I do not care what political party the people of Illinois pick to represent them, but I do want outcome of our elections to be accurate.”  

The Illinois State Board of Elections reported that seven IP addresses were linked back to the Netherlands. Two servers were reported to have participated in the attack, “Fancy Bear” and “Cozy Bear”, which are the two largest hacking groups rumored to be tied to the Russian federal security systems run by King Servers, which is stationed in Russia.

Hastings reiterated that the hacking of voter registration data in Illinois was similar to security breaches at the national level and in France and Denmark.

A key finding from the hearing, found as local election authorities synced and update data with the Illinois State Board of Elections, was that the local election authorities databasescould possibly become compromised as well.

Hastings is calling for the Illinois State Board of Elections to aid local election authorities to scrape their system of potential malware software to remove any type of security weakness.

His office will be sending out a letter to every local election authority urging them to scrape election databases to prevent possible hackers and intrusive software that may be hiding within their systems.

“I am extremely concerned that our local and state election authorities may have hackers hiding within our databases phishing for future attacks,” Hastings said. “Our democracy is important. It is important enough that I put my life on the line for our nation, as many others have. I will not rest until we take every precaution to ensure similar attacks on our liberties and righteous values do not happen again.”

Hastings commended the representatives from the Illinois State Board of Elections for their forthright and honest answers.

Category: Press Releases

March2 RS

SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) is working to combat alarming veterans suicide statistics in the nation.

According to a recent study by the U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S.

House Bill 2647 is a collection of comprehensive recommendations that work to ensure veterans have better access to services, treatment for mental trauma and depression as well as better access to employment opportunities.

State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park), a former U.S. Army captain, is proud to be part of this vital initiative. Hastings served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is in constant contact with many men and women from his unit.

As he meets with veterans in his community there is a common theme, disconnect between state and federal veterans benefits.

“Our nation’s heroes shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to receive benefits they qualify for,” Hastings said. “The state and federal government is trying their best to make sure veterans have the necessary resources to transition back to civilian life. However, the hurdles, redundancies and extra paperwork they have to go through to actually receive the benefits don’t make sense.  Our goal is to streamline the process to ease the burden on our returning veterans.”

This week, House Bill 2647 advanced with bipartisan support out of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

“One veteran that is lost to suicide is one too many,” Cullerton said. “The proposals outlined in this legislation are common-sense solutions to help Illinois remove barriers between veterans and the resources they qualify for. This initiative wasn’t compiled in haste but over hours and weeks of testimony, input and concerns raised by veterans, their loved ones and veterans organizations throughout the state. This is a true testament to their hard work and dedication to our nation’s heroes. I’m proud to advance this measure and be part of this monumental effort.”

A common theme throughout the process is finding ways to access veterans resources promised to the state as well as disconnect between federal and state resources. House Bill 2647 creates a connection between the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense to help streamline and remove redundancies when returning veterans redeem benefits.

Read more ...

Category: Press Releases

March1 RS

 

SPRINGFIELD— One of the biggest challenges returning servicemen and women face are figuring out how military training credits transfer to college credit.  

To tackle this hurdle, State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) passed Senate Bill 736 to direct Illinois higher education institutions to establish a policy for awarding academic course credit for military training.

“Our nation’s heroes have on-the-job training,” Hastings said. “It’s my honor to work with higher education facilities and the state legislature to ensure returning veterans receive credit for the valuable skills they acquire during their time in the military.”

After talking to many returning veterans, Hastings found the current system is imprecise. This creates a complicated and inaccurate process to translate military experience into college credits at Illinois’ universities and community colleges.

There are a number of reasons for the confusion, the main reason being the descriptions for military training and college courses do not always match up perfectly. Also, military acronyms on transcripts may also mean different classes or curriculum based on each branch of service.  

Often it becomes a matter of the higher education institutions willingness to research ways to find equivalent civilian academic courses. A standardized system will end confusion and create an easier transition for our military personnel.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, over 773,000 veterans are now using their GI Bill benefits to go to college, spending a collective of $11 billion a year.

“Repeating coursework promotes a slow and unnecessarily expensive educational process for veterans,” Hastings said. “Here in Illinois, we have workforce shortages for registered nurses, EMTs and other medical specialties. Who is better equipped than our returning servicemen and women to fill these job openings?”

Hastings’ initiative will require community colleges and universities to submit their policies for awarding credit to the Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board for review before June 30, 2019, and before June 30 every other year afterwards.  

“This entire process can be complex and discouraging,” Hastings said. “It’s our duty to create an easy transition for Illinois’ veterans into civilian life, not force them through overcomplicated bureaucracy.”  

Hastings passed Senate Bill 736 with bipartisan support, and it now moves to the House for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

GeneralDavisSPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) advanced a resolution to honor General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. by designating a day in his honor.

Senate Resolution 212 seeks to declare August 2, 2017 as General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. Day to honor his extraordinary legacy of service and dedication to our nation.

“It is extremely important for us to take the time to honor the sacrifices and milestones General Davis Sr. accomplished during his service to our nation,” Hastings said. “In his 50 years of service in the U.S. Army, he became the first African American general in the United States with a promotion to brigadier general. This is a big deal and a small example of the path and progress he carved out for future generations to come.”

General Davis Sr. entered Howard University in 1897. A year later he enlisted as a volunteer soldier in the 8th U.S. Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War.

“General Davis sought out ways to help our country,” Hastings said. “During divided times, he looked for ways to reunite our troops. This is testament to his leadership and character.”

General Davis was appointed to the Committee on Negro Troop Policies, where he helped solve racial problems within the military and was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for combating segregation in the armed forces.

“I’m proud to represent a VFW named in his honor,” Hastings said. “My hope is everyone will take a second to read about his life. Let’s keep him in mind when we face adversity and work toward ending discrimination once and for all.”

Click here to read the the resolution.

Here is a full biography.

SR 212 passed the Senate’s Committee on Veterans Affairs with bipartisan support and will move to the full Senate for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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CONTACT SENATOR HASTINGS

Welcome to the official website of Senator Michael E. Hastings. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Hastings directly or you may call any of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

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