02072018 RSSPRINGFIELD – Two measures taking aim at sexual assault in government by promoting transparency and the responsible use of taxpayer dollars are headed to the governor’s desk thanks to State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park).

The first, House Bill 4243, prohibits any public funds – including money that is appropriated for office allowances – from being paid to any person in exchange for his or her silence regarding an allegation of sexual harassment against an elected official.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used as ‘hush money’ by disgraced elected officials who have betrayed the public’s trust,” Cullerton said. “Our goal is to let government officials know that we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment.”

Cullerton also passed House Bill 4242 which aims to stop the use of taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims by requiring taxing bodies to notify the public if they enter into a severance agreement with an employee or contractor that has been accused of sexual assault or discrimination.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay off administrators and employees who are guilty of committing sexual harassment or discrimination,” Cullerton said. “The Me Too movement is an essential effort to push workplaces and society toward a zero-tolerance atmosphere and this is a good step to move Illinois in that direction.”

The bill requires the taxing body to notify the public within 72 hours of their entry into the agreement. The notification would include the name and title of the person receiving the payment, the amount of the payment, and whether the reason for the severance was for alleged sexual harassment or sexual discrimination.

The bipartisan measures were sponsored in the house by State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) and are headed to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Bill would create alert system for missing veterans


american flagSPRINGFIELD – The State of Illinois currently does not have a procedure in place to alert police and emergency professionals of missing veterans, but State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is working to change that.

Cullerton passed House Bill 4212, which expands the use of the Endangered Missing Person Advisory system—also known as Silver Alert – to veterans who are believed to have physical or mental conditions related to their service.

Similar to the circumstances that lead to employment of an Amber alert, the public would be notified when a high-risk veteran goes missing in an effort to quickly locate them.

“Our servicemen and women have made great sacrifices to protect our freedom and democracy,” Cullerton said. “When they return home, it’s our job to look out for them. Every life we can save is priceless.”

In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes.

Cullerton created and served as a chairperson on the Illinois Veterans Suicide Taskforce to help address the veteran suicide epidemic in Illinois. This is another step to help ensure veterans receive the vital resources when they return home.

“This measure puts protocols in place to help immediately notify authorities and emergency networks to bring our veterans home sooner,” Cullerton said. “I urge any veteran struggling with suicide and depression to take advantage of available, free, state resources. No one expects you to tackle these internal struggles alone. There is help out there”

Cullerton, a veteran himself, served in the Army from 1990 to 1993 as an infantryman.

Last General Assembly, Cullerton passed a series of laws to help his fellow veterans combat the veterans’ suicide epidemic in Illinois including Senate Bill 866 which will help expand the use of service animals to veterans to help them cope with PTSD.

Cullerton urges veterans and their loved ones to call the confidential and toll free hotline, 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, if they need support.

RSWEBSITE2017SPRINGFIELD – Three years after the initial outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy, residents of that facility and others like it are still waiting for Gov. Bruce Rauner to be proactive in detecting and removing Legionella bacteria from state-run facilities.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) took charge of the situation Thursday by passing House Bill 4278, which requires an Illinois veterans Home to notify facility residents and their emergency contacts within 24 hours if two or more residents in the home have been diagnosed with an infectious disease in period of one month or less.

“This is a commonsense measure that puts the health of our veterans ahead of bureaucracy,” Cullerton said. “In 2015, the families of the servicemen and women residing the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy should have been notified of the Legionnaires’ disease epidemic, but Gov. Rauner’s administration left them and their loved ones in the dark. This is simply unacceptable and we can’t let it happen again.”  

House Bill 4278 also requires veterans homes to post notification of the incidence of the infectious disease in a visible place near the facility’s main entrance.  Once those requirements have been met, they must notify the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Public Health of the incidence of the infectious disease.

“When your loved one is in harm’s way, you want to know,” Cullertons said. “This measure ensures that caretakers and family members have health care information as soon as possible to make the best possible medical decisions.”

The measure was introduced in response to Rauner’s mismanagement of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Quincy Veterans Home. Despite signs of the spread of bacteria reaching epidemic proportions, the state did not notify the public about the deadly 2015 outbreak until nearly a week later.

This week WBEZ reported that a workplace safety reprimand was issued by the state Department of Labor which said the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to effectively notify all employees of the outbreak. This undermines the insistent claims by Director Erica Jeffries that her department was “very clear” in its Legionnaires’ warnings to Quincy staff.

“This is a real shame. The gross mismanagement of the Quincy Veterans Home is disgraceful,” Cullerton said. “If the governor’s administration is refusing to use common sense, the General Assembly will put protocol and procedures in place to ensure our nation’s heroes receive the best possible care and service we can offer.”

House Bill 4278 is supported by the Better Government Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Illinois AMVETS. It passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

resizeSPRINGFIELD  –  A bill introduced in the Illinois Senate would mandate transparency and accuracy in the governor’s annual budget proposal.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) advanced House Bill 5814, which forces the governor’s office to record late interest payments as a separate line item in its appropriations to state agencies. This paints a clearer picture of the state’s funds and slows the depletion of funding needed to run those agencies.

“As legislators, we can’t negotiate a proper budget when we don’t know how much money is owed or where it is going,” Cullerton said. “Utilizing responsible accounting practices in state government will allow the citizens of Illinois to know how and where their valuable tax dollars are spent.”

Currently, most late payment interest penalties accrue at a rate of 12 percent per month for bills unpaid after 90 days, while healthcare bills accumulate interest at a rate of 9 percent after 30 days.

The interest penalties are paid from the same appropriation line, depleting the amount a state agency can spend for its operations. Cullerton’s bill forces the governor’s budget to include separate line item requests to for prompt pay interest payments.

“This practice will force all future governors to be more realistic when presenting a budget to the general assembly and public,” Cullerton said. “We need to make sure governors, whether they are republican and democrat, do not attempt to hide behind phony numbers.”

The comptroller’s January 2018 Debt Transparency Report confirmed that taxpayers owe approximately $887 million in late payment interest penalties — despite the fact that over $140 million in interest penalties was paid out in calendar 2017.

This bipartisan measure is an initiative of Comptroller Susana Mendoza and is supported by the Better Government Association.

House Bill 5814 passed the Senate’s State Government Committee with bipartisan support and moves to the full Senate for consideration.

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CONTACT SENATOR CULLERTON

Welcome to the official website of Senator Tom Cullerton. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Cullerton directly or you may call either of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

District Office
338 S. Ardmore Ave.
Villa Park, IL 60181
P: (630) 903-6662
F: (630) 903-6643

Springfield Office
122 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-9463