CHICAGO – State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) joined with several airline employees for a press conference Thursday to advocate for legislation that would give those employees the chance to use earned sick time to care for sick family members.

“Today marks the next step in our fight to make sure those hard-working folks who go above and beyond to make travel seamless are able to use their earned sick time to help loved ones in need,” Hastings said. “This is, quite simply, the right thing to do for working families in Illinois.”

Hastings was inspired to lead the measure by two residents of the district he represents, both of whom are flight attendants for Southwest Airlines. Corliss King’s husband was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease in 2017 and was hospitalized several times, receiving various surgeries that left him in need of care at home. Corliss was able to use her own accrued sick time to help care for her husband and children until 2017 when a law was passed that removed coverage for airline employees.

“In the event of a personal family emergency, airline workers are currently forced to choose between caring for a sick family member and earning their paycheck. To me, there should not be professional consequences for having a family that needs us just because you chose the airline industry as a career. We aren't looking for special treatment, just equal treatment for all Illinois workers. It is the right thing to do."

Susan Lyons has a similar story. When her brother, a single father, suffered a heart attack, was pronounced dead, and revived but in a stable coma, Susan was forced to take unpaid Family Medical Leave Act leave, rather than use any of the 300+ sick hours she had accrued on the job. She lost over a month of income during the time she was caring for her brother and his child.

“Our loved ones deserve to know that we can be there for them in their time of need without risking our careers,” Lyons said. “We are not asking for much.”

Senate Bill 645 passed the Senate Labor Committee on March 18 and will be considered before the Senate in the coming weeks.

Category: Press Releases

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FRANKFORT – A measure led by State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) that would expand access to utility bill assistance programs passed the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee Thursday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic forced many working families into untenable situations with skyrocketing energy bills they cannot afford,” Hastings said. “As a public servant, I take the responsibility to safeguard the livelihood of our most vulnerable residents very seriously, and I believe the legislature has the chance to do so by acting on this proposal.”

Under Senate Bill 265, families above 60% of the Illinois median income level would be ineligible for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). Additionally, the legislation establishes a priority application period for households with children under age 6 and extends LIHEAP and PIPP availability to all eligible low-income residents.

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program and Percentage of Income Payment Plan offer bill payment assistance to low-income residential utility customers by helping eligible households pay for their gas and electric utility service. Both programs are administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs (DCEO).

“Unfortunately, too many working families are slipping through administrative cracks or are unaware of the assistance available to them,” Hastings said. “By expanding and promoting these programs, we can give those struggling the chance to emerge from this pandemic stronger.”

This legislation now awaits consideration before the Senate.

Category: Press Releases

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FRANKFORT – School districts in the 19th District are set to receive $97 million in additional funding to help address the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) says this funding will jumpstart the state’s recovery efforts.

“For just over a year, teachers, students, and parents have worked diligently through less than ideal learning conditions,” Hastings said. “By robustly investing in broadband infrastructure, addressing our students’ mental health needs and retaining quality educators, we can give our kids the ability to grow and jumpstart the state’s recovery process, despite the unfortunate circumstances of the past year."

The funding comes as part of the most recent federal COVID-19 relief packages. Schools, students and parents have overcome challenges that no one could have imagined before the pandemic began, including remote and hybrid learning, digital connection issues, new processes for receiving state and federal aid that normally flow through schools, and more.

Local school districts are set to receive the following amounts:

  • Prairie-Hills Elementary School District 144 - $16,502,652
  • Arbor Park School District 145 - $2,831,311
  • Community Consolidated School District 146 - $4,341,454
  • Elementary School District 159 - $6,917,056
  • Country Club Hills School District 160 - $7,188,682
  • Matteson Elementary School District 162 - $10,347,724
  • Rich Township High School District 227 - $9,704,306
  • New Lenox School District 122 - $1,476,819
  • Mokena School District 159 -$974,967
  • Summit Hill School District 161 - $1,320,568
  • Lincoln Way CHSD 210 - $1,637,916
  • Consolidated High School District 230 - $15,281,735
  • Bremen Community High School District 228 - $13,781,814
  • Kirby School District 140 - $4,740,875
  • Union School District 81 - $351,091

The majority of the funding comes from the American Rescue Plan, which gives local schools a great deal of flexibility in how they can use the money over the next 3 ½ years. At least 20% of the funding must be used to address learning loss, but beyond that, school districts can use the money to address many different issues and costs. For example, it can be used to better equip schools for safe learning, to prevent layoffs, to address students’ social and emotional needs, to fund summer programs, or to ensure all students have access to reliable Wi-Fi and technology.

The State Board of Education, in collaboration with other state agencies that address education, has produced a guide for local school districts to help them decide how to best use their resources. While the guide and other state-sponsored services are completely voluntary, the state aims to support local districts during this difficult time.

“With the state’s vaccination efforts increasing, the COVID-19 pandemic nearly behind us, our focus must be shifted to recovery,” Hastings said. “I am confident this funding will give our school districts the relief necessary to move forward after a turbulent time.”

In total, Illinois received nearly $7 billion to support local school districts.

Category: Press Releases
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FRANKFORT – The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee, chaired by State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort), held the first public hearing on the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act Tuesday.
 
“We have embarked on a journey that will culminate with increased investment in our state’s capacity for clean energy and in our working families,” Hastings said. “Our top priorities must be guaranteeing our infrastructure can maintain the necessary baseload to power Illinois homes, solidifying our status as a leader in energy generation and distribution space, and sustaining good-paying jobs.”
 
Under the Coal to Solar and Energy Storage Act – found within Senate Bill 529 – millions of dollars in grants would be available for five solar energy stations at the site of existing coal plants. Those eligible coal plants would be provided with grants to remain open until 2025, protecting the jobs of thousands of hardworking people.
 
“Communities across the state have relied on these coal plants as a source for a path to the middle class for generations,” Hastings said. “Enacting this measure would protect that path for future generations while simultaneously enabling the state to do its part to curb the very real effects of climate change.”
 
The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee will meet again on April 1 at 9 a.m. to consider additional measures related to Illinois’ clean energy future.
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.

Springfield Office:
111 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-9595

East Office:
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Matteson, IL 60443

District Office:
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Frankfort, IL 60423
(815) 464-5431

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