SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – During the 2019 legislative session, state Rep. Fran Hurley, D-Chicago continued her work to support individuals with disabilities, passed legislation to provide property tax relief for senior homeowners and continued her commitment to support police, firefighters and other first responders through a variety of efforts.
“Our first responders face an incredible stress in their day-to-day duties, so I worked to expand the mental health education and resources available to them,” continued Hurley. “Increased education will help our community’s first responders manage the immense stress they are under, understand when to get help and how they can help their fellow emergency services officers.”
Hurley passed a legislative package, House Bills 2766 and 2767, to support first responders by expanding the mental health resources available to them. Hurley’s measures will require the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to develop and implement courses including job-related stress management and suicide prevention training, to be added to first responders training. The measures also add safeguards to ensure those who seek help at any point in their career will not automatically lose their position on the force or their FOID card, and will protect confidentiality in peer-to-peer settings. Hurley’s legislation will also create the First Responders Suicide Task Force, to pursue recommendations to help reduce the risk and rates of suicide amongst first responders.
Hurley has also worked to provide property tax relief for area homeowners, and sponsored House Bill 833, which will allow seniors who have previously received the Senior Citizens Homestead exemption to qualify for it again, without having to reapply, provided that they continue to reside in their own home.
“For years I have worked to provide property tax relief for Cook County seniors, who are required to reapply for their homestead exemption each calendar year. This can be very burdensome,” added Hurley. “Many seniors live on fixed incomes, so missing out on property tax savings could make a huge difference in being able to afford food, medication or even having to move. I am proud to have passed bipartisan legislation that will provide property tax relief to senior homeowners in our community.”
Currently, Cook County is the only county in which seniors must reapply annually for the Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption.
This year Hurley backed new legislation to strengthen Scott’s Law in response to the 2019 deaths of Trooper Christopher Lambert, Trooper Brooke Jones-Story and Trooper Gerald Ellis of the Illinois State Police, who were fatally hit by passing vehicles while on duty.
“Illinois has tragically lost three state troopers this year, who were killed in the line of duty by drivers violating Scott’s Law, which requires drivers to move over for any emergency vehicle that is stopped with its lights activated,” said Hurley. “Moving over and slowing down is crucial in protecting the safety of that first responder and of the people they’re assisting. With the rise in officers injured and killed during routine traffic stops I knew that action needed to taken, and I worked to strengthen our existing law to ensure that the officers who work to keep our roadways safe return home safely.”
Hurley’s Senate Bill 1862 increases penalties on drivers who violate Illinois’ “Move Over” Law, also known as Scott’s Law after Lieutenant Scott Gillen of the Chicago Fire Department, who was struck and killed by an intoxicated driver while assisting at a crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway. Under Scott’s Law, drivers must reduce their speed and change lanes if possible when approaching a police or emergency vehicle stopped along the side of the road.
“I have continually worked to reduce barriers for persons living with disabilities, and have fought for affordable health care for these individuals. Individuals with autism can experience extreme stress when visiting the dentist, which often results in the use of anesthetics for routine cleanings and other procedures,” said Hurley. “Since ensuring dental hygiene is so important for overall health, it is critical that individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities are not burdened with the high cost of anesthetics and other procedures that are necessary for them to receive basic dental services.”
Hurley has been a strong advocate for individuals with austim and other developmental disabilities. Hurley sponsored House Bill 273, which would require insurance companies to cover the cost of anesthetics for patients with autism who are 19 or older. Presently, insurance companies are only required to cover the cost of anesthetics for patients with autism if they are under the age of 19.
Hurley also supported a budget plan that increases funding for long term and community based providers for persons with developmental disabilities, so that employees of these facilities are paid fairly by providers, ensuring the best possible care. The budget plan Hurley supported also increases grants to support new placements for developmentally disabled individuals transitioning to more independent lifestyles.
“I will continue working to move Illinois forward and be a strong advocate for our first responders, seniors and all other members of our community,” said Hurley. “There is still work to be done to get our state back on track, and I look forward to having continued conversations with local residents and community leaders to hear new thoughts and ideas on how we can improve our local community and state as a whole.”
For more information, contact Hurley’s constituent service office at 773-445-8128 or RepFranHurley@gmail.com.