120116CM0760Members of the Illinois Senate approved term limits for both the Senate President and the Minority leader of the chamber on Thursday.

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton), who supported the action, said this is a common-sense step to take that places additional checks to ensure democracy is working for the people of Illinois.

“I think it is important to have measures in place to ensure no one person presides over the chamber for too long,” Haine said. “Legislative leaders have significant autonomy over what happens in the legislature, and to ensure that person remains accountable to the state, that role should come with limits. I strongly hope the House will follow suit with similar action.”  

The measure is imposed by Senate Rule, which has the effect of law in the Senate. Future attempts to alter term limits would require a public vote by the Senate.

The adoption of the rule is effective immediately and limits senate leadership to five two-year terms, or 10 years. It does not have to go to the House or the governor for approval.

Category: News

steel

Laid-off steelworkers soon may be receiving some relief. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Monday a measure sponsored by State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) and State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville) that will extend the unemployment benefits for laid-off steel workers.

Since April 2015, the Granite City Works plant has faced a temporary closure leading to layoffs of more than 2,000 employees. While the plant is running at partial capacity now, many of those who are still laid-off are facing another holiday season with no paycheck.

“It’s unfortunate the U.S. steel market has seen such a decline over the past years. Granite City Works is a major part of our local economy,” Hoffman said. “When these men and women are out of work, we all feel the burden. Although this measure will provide some much needed relief to these men and women, we need to get that plant running at full capacity again.”

Current Illinois law provides unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks during a one-year period. The legislation that was signed into law extends unemployment benefits for steelworkers, who were laid off between April 1, 2015, and the effective date of the bill, which is immediate.

“This measure is so important in our community,” said Haine. “These individuals are facing a lot of uncertainty right now, and we need to do all we can to help them. We also need to get to the root of this issue and stop the flooding of cheap, low-grade Asian steel into the market. The steel industry was once a thriving industry in our area. We need to bring it back.”

Under the proposed legislation, workers are eligible if they have been laid off from a steel manufacturer, have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are not receiving federal benefits.

The Illinois Department of Employment security will administer the program to extend the benefits.

Category: News

roadsState Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) and State Representative Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) have been awarded the Friend of the Industry Award by the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association for their work on the Safe Roads Amendment that voters approved in November.

The Friend of the Industry Award is the highest honor bestowed by the IRTBA. It is awarded to individuals whose dedication and accomplishments reflect the professionalism and commitment of the transportation design and construction industry.

"Senator Bill Haine and Representative Brandon Phelps were not only the chief sponsors of the legislation that allowed the Safe Roads Amendment to get on the ballot, but they took it a step further and publicly advocated for the measure," said Mike Sturino, president & CEO of the IRTBA.

The amendment prevents revenues from the state’s road fund from being used for purposes unrelated to transportation. It also creates a lockbox for funds that are dedicated to transportation and prevents a governor from sweeping the road fund for something else.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Haine. “This measure has always been about ensuring Illinois has the means to keep its infrastructure functional for years to come. When Illinois has a solid infrastructure, our economy is able to grow, and that is what Illinois needs right now: growth. When we invest these funds into keeping our roads functional, we create jobs employing people who have contracts with the state.”

The Friend of Industry Award is given only upon the recognition by the President and Board of Directors of the Association for truly outstanding achievement.

"The road building industry has not had a higher priority than creating a lockbox for The Road Fund, and these two legislators deserve recognition for their efforts that made that goal a reality," said David Rock, chairman of the IRTBA.

Over the past 10 years, $6 billion has been swept from the road funds leading to insufficient funding to ensure Illinois’ roads are repaired and keep the state’s infrastructure up to date.

“Our highways, roads and bridges are in constant need of repair and Illinoisans know it,” said Phelps.  “This amendment is a win-win, and will provide many good paying jobs for hardworking Southern Illinoisans who will keep our roads in good shape for the families who use them.”

The measure, House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 36, more commonly referred to as the Safe Roads Amendment, was overwhelmingly approved by voters in November.

Category: News

050515CM1030As the United States steel industry continues to suffer, the impacts have been heavy hitting throughout the metro-east.

Over the past year, the Granite City Works plant has faced a temporary closure leading layoffs of almost 2,000 employees. While the plant is running at partial capacity now, many of those who are still laid off are facing their second winter with no pay check.

Many have attributed this issue to the dumping of Chinese steel into the U.S. economy, thereby causing U.S. companies to use Chinese steel in construction projects.

State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) has filed a resolution in the Illinois Senate calling on Congress and President-elect Donald Trump to commit to using American-made steel if a national building plan becomes law.

“I don’t want my tax dollars used to buy low-grade, low-cost foreign steel. I don’t want my tax dollars used to prop up overseas steel mills and foreign workers,” Haine said. “We have steel mills and steel workers here who are more than up to the challenge. I want to see Granite City Works at full production and full staffing cranking out steel for these projects, not continually undercut by cheap foreign steel dumped into the U.S. market.”

One of the first things President-elect Donald Trump proposed was putting people to work building roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects across this country. Haine’s resolution calls on the President-elect to do this by stopping the imports and using American made steel in any national building plant.

“While I support the president-elect’s idea of investing in America, I have to admit that I am troubled by his own history of using this cheap foreign steel to build his skyscrapers,” Haine added. “The bottom line is, if we’re going to rebuild America, let’s rebuild it with American steel.”

Senator Haine is also leading the initiative with an online petition. Those interested in signing the petition to urge Congress to use American-Made steel can sign on at www.SenatorHaine.com.

Category: News

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