ChildrenEatingFewer Illinois schoolchildren would start the school day hungry under legislation sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).

Senate Bill 2393 would require every public elementary, middle and high school with a student low-income rate of at least 70 percent to offer breakfast to students after the instructional day has begun. The legislation had unanimous support in the Senate Education Committee Tuesday and will head to the Senate floor for a vote.

Under the proposal, each school would be able to determine the Breakfast After the Bell model that suits its students, such as breakfast in the classroom, grab and go breakfast and second-chance breakfast. Schools that participate in the program are able to capture federal money to pay for the cost of offering these meals.

“It’s difficult to learn, let alone stay awake or pay attention if your stomach is growling from hunger,” Harmon said. “For many Illinois children, the unfortunate fact is that the best and sometimes the only meals they get each day are served at school.”

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Category: News

Yoga ClassYoga instructors would continue to be free from state government regulation under legislation sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).

Senate Bill 2743 exempts yoga instruction and yoga teacher training from state regulation as a trade, occupation, vocation or profession.

“Over-regulation of yoga training disproportionately would impact small, women-owned businesses and advantage large chain fitness clubs,” Harmon said. “That’s not good for business in Illinois.”

The Illinois Board of Higher Education has discretion in determining what types of programs and courses it considers to be occupational or vocational in nature. For example, IBHE regulates training for nurse aids, dental assistants, accountants and HVAC technicians, all of which clearly are vocations.

However, teaching yoga typically is a personal pursuit, not a profession or a career path, Harmon said, noting that the state does not regulate certain ballet, karate or pilates instruction.

Yet several yoga teacher training schools in Illinois recently were notified by IBHE that they are subject to state regulation for training programs and that they must obtain IBHE approval to operate in the state.

“Yoga has been practiced successfully for thousands of years without government regulation. I see no reason to intrude now,” Harmon said.

SB2743 unanimously passed out of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee and will head to the Senate floor for a full vote.

Category: News

Children playingIllinois must continue to make poison prevention, treatment and education a priority, Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said today.

Harmon, a longtime champion of the Illinois Poison Center, last week voted for Senate Bill 2059, which would appropriate $2 million for the center. The legislation also would appropriate money for other important public health programs, including AIDS/HIV services, breast and cervical cancer screenings, prostate cancer research, local health protection grants and more.

The poison center is among the 10 percent of state programs and services that are not receiving state funding during the budget stalemate; the other 90 percent of state operations are running on autopilot largely because of court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations.

“The Illinois Poison Center helps tens of thousands of residents and health care professionals every year. It is a vital component of the state’s public health network,” Harmon said. “Withholding state funding from it means lives potentially will be put in jeopardy as the state’s budget stalemate drags on.”

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Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) joined members of the Illinois Senate Thursday in voting to authorize the governor to put money toward the state’s contractual obligations, higher education and more as the budget stalemate continues.

“Today we took action to fund colleges and human service providers, but also services and programs that matter locally,” Harmon said.

“These are the programs and services that are priorities in my district and in communities throughout Illinois. The governor should keep that in mind as he continues to try to leverage his anti-worker agenda, which is not a priority for most Illinoisans.”

The Senate approved legislation Thursday that authorizes Gov. Bruce Rauner to meet the state’s contractual obligations with human service providers and Amtrak rail service, pay for universities and colleges, and put money toward local libraries, rape crisis centers, autism programs, homelessness, after-school programs, school construction grants, job training, mental health services, medical screenings and research, local tourism and more.

As Gov. Rauner’s impasse with the Legislature over a state budget continues, human service providers statewide are closing their doors because the state has not paid them since July. The same is true for public universities around the state.

The legislation also includes money to support Illinois’ legacy by authorizing state money for the long-standing and nationally respected Papers of Abraham Lincoln historical research project, which was featured in a New York Times article Sunday because it has been ensnared in the governor’s political and ideological standoff with state lawmakers.

Category: News

HarmonRockResolutionSPRINGFIELD – Members of the Illinois Senate on Thursday paid their respects to the esteemed former Senate President Phil Rock, who died Jan. 29 at the age of 78.

The Senate approved a memorial resolution to celebrate Rock’s wisdom and leadership in the Legislature, as well as the lasting impression he left on politics in his district and throughout Illinois.

Rock was an Illinois state senator representing Illinois' 8th District, including Oak Park and parts of Chicago's west side, for 22 years from 1970 until his retirement in 1993. He was president of the Senate for 14 years from 1979 to 1993.

Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) now represents Rock’s former district in the Illinois Senate and sponsored the memorial resolution.

Harmon said that even though most members of the Senate today never had the opportunity to serve with Rock, the former Senate president to this day is remembered for his fairness, his decency and for his fierce advocacy on behalf of his constituents.

“The truth is that for 22 years he prowled this floor with a presence rarely seen, and his accomplishments in this chamber were quite defining,” Harmon said. “Phil Rock served 14 years as Senate president, and I know that when he retired there were many people who wished he would have served longer.”

Senate President John Cullerton is the only current member of the Senate who served with Rock.

“I just wish more of you would have known what a super guy he was,” Cullerton said. “After all these years, I still miss him.”

Rock authored more than 450 laws during his time in the Senate and championed many causes to improve the lives of children, including reforms in special education, child adoption, foster care, domestic violence and child support. He also advanced laws to establish Illinois’ first child abuse and neglect reporting act and mandatory insurance coverage for newborns.

One of his most cherished and signature accomplishments was helping to create the nation’s first public school for individuals who are deaf and blind. That school in Glen Ellyn was renamed the Philip J. Rock Center and School in 1987 in the former senate president’s honor.

Rock is survived by his wife, Sheila; his children, Kathleen Snow, Meghan Simmons, Colleen Mueller and John J. “Jay” Rock; and 12 grandchildren.

Category: News

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Springfield Office:
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Springfield, IL 62706
(p) 217.782.8176
(f) 217.558.6013

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6941-B W. North Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302
(p) 708.848.2002
(f) 708.848.2022

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